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"Global coral bleaching event that has lasted three YEARS has finally ended - but reefs are still fighting for their lives"

Nonsense all round.  The Indian ocean was not affected so the event was not global.  And it is admitted below that the effect was largely due to El Nino, not anthropogenic global warming.  They say that El Nino and anthropogenic global warming together had an additive effect but -- even conceding that CO2 causes anthropogenic global warming -- there was no CO2 rise in the relevant years so there was clearly NO rise in anthropogenic global warming.  To put it semi-algebraically:  El Nino + 0 = El Nino.

And corals are at their most diverse and abundant in warm tropical waters so the claim that warm waters are bad for them is fundamentally perverse.  In Australia's case a sea-level fall was almost certainly the cause of bleaching in warm tropical water off the Far North Queensland coast

And both the extent of the loss and the difficulty of the recovery have been greatly exaggerated.  Do I need once again to mention the coral reef at Bikini atoll which was once the target of a thermonuclear blast -- but which is now again thriving?

 It's just all baseless assertion below.  Correlation is asserted as causation.  Factors like sea-level fluctuations are almost certainly involved but no attempt is made even to look at that.  One doesn't look to Warmists for a balanced account of anything -- which reveals them as fundamentally unscientific.  A scientific paper will normally look at all the possible causes of an event and evaluate them against one another. Warmists know just one cause for everything, ignore all else and assert it "ad infinitum"


A mass bleaching of coral reefs worldwide has finally ended after three years, U.S. scientists announced Monday.

About three-quarters of the world's delicate coral reefs were damaged or killed by hot water in what scientists say was the largest coral catastrophe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first announced a global bleaching event in May 2014.

It was worse than previous global bleaching events in 1998 and 2010.

The forecast damage doesn't look widespread in the Indian Ocean, so the event loses its global scope.

Bleaching will still be bad in the Caribbean and Pacific, but it'll be less severe than recent years, said NOAA coral reef watch coordinator C. Mark Eakin.

Places like Australia's Great Barrier Reef, northwest Hawaii, Guam and parts of the Caribbean have been hit with back-to-back-to-back destruction, Eakin said.

University of Victoria, British Columbia, coral reef scientist Julia Baum plans to travel to Christmas Island in the Pacific where the coral reefs have looked like ghost towns in recent years.

While conditions are improving, it's too early to celebrate, said Eakin, adding that the world may be at a new normal where reefs are barely able to survive during good conditions.

Eakin said coral have difficulty surviving water already getting warmer by man-made climate change. Extra heating of the water from a natural El Nino nudges coral conditions over the edge.

SOURCE


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My experience buying boots is the perfect example of why retail is declining

I sympathize with the woman's story below.  I have had experiences like this more or less forever.  It's worst of all in Britain but it crops up a lot in Australia too.  Computer shops are the worst -- I have written about them before --  but clothing shops can be bad too.  My most recent experience was from 28 August 2015, when I was trying to buy bespoke shoes.  My feet are a bit swollen due to a medical condition so regular shoes that fit me are hard to find.

So I went in to BFS Pedorthics in 128 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba  -- a specialist in bespoke shoes. Nobody was serving but I found a pair of shoes that suited me on the display and got out my $200+ to pay for them.  But nobody would acknowledge me.  The blonde receptionist was glued to her phone and when I went out the back nobody there wanted to help either.  So I went elsewhere and bought a suitable pair of shoes for $60.00.

So the blonde bitch saved me money but I felt sorry for the owner, a Mr Tye. So I wrote him the following letter:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This morning I made a special trip into your Logan Rd shop in order to buy a special type of shoe I need.  There was no-one to assist me but I did find a pair that seemed right.  They appeared to be over $200 but that was OK.

I could not however find anyone to take my money.  There was a young blonde there but she was glued to her phone and I could not unglue her.  I went out the back but no-one there was willing to help either

May I suggest that you train your workshop staff to handle customers if need be?

I also think that a customer who walks in should have priority over someone who just picks up a phone but that is for you to decide.  As it is you missed out on my $200+

I was offended by the lack of service that I received

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Was Mr Tye bothered by the fact that his receptionist took $200 out of his pocket?  Who knows?  He never replied.  The blonde probably intercepted the letter before he saw it. But I did what I could for the man anyway.


SOMEWHERE in the corporate headquarters of retailers, meetings are taking place.

Entire executive teams are seated around the boardroom table, laptops open, spreadsheets and sales charts as far as the eyes can see. No doubt the scent of caffeine permeates the air because everyone knows these meetings can be quite tiring.

The first slide comes up on to the wall and shows sales on a steady decline. Some of the stores this retailer operates have had days without making a single sale.

“It makes no sense,” opens the property development manager, “the shop is in an ideal location and the centre is really busy at the moment. There’s loads of passing traffic.”

“We have ample stock and the product range is up to the minute,” adds the planner.

“So why aren’t we selling any shoes?” wonders the sales manager.

It must be highly frustrating for this bunch of suits. They must be wondering why their businesses are not making money, and I know the answer.

Recently I went shopping with the express purpose of buying a pair of boots. I knew what I wanted; colour, style, price point — I had the whole thing sorted.

I was so confident in my pursuit I even wrangled my husband into joining me, there was going to be no endless dilly dallying, no hours spent browsing — just me and my credit card going into a shop and exiting with a pair of short-heeled, brown ankle boots.

The first store we went to didn’t have them. No drama, there is a shop across the way from them that seems to have an extensive collection of winter boots.

The fact that the stores are this close together doesn’t surprise me, I know the head honchos at headquarters like to position their stores in proximity for this very reason — if I don’t like what the first shop offers I am primed and ready for the next shop selling brown boots.

I enter the store and immediately see the boot I like. I also see the sales woman standing at the counter peering at her laptop. I take the shoe off the shelf and look to see what size it is. The saleswoman takes out a highlighter and starts to highlight things that are much more important than customers.

I walk over to her and ask her if she has the boots in my size. My husband asks her if she has a pair of socks that I can try them on with. She says no. It’s the only word she has said to us and we’re not sure if she’s saying no to the socks or the boots.

But then she reluctantly leaves her computer to retrieve the correctly sized boots which she thrusts at me before returning to her desk. I assume the no was for the socks. Clearly she is very busy and far too important to be selling shoes.

In fact she’s far too busy to serve customers. This I know because while I am trying on the boots two more customers enter the shop and she ignores them as well.

I’m not suggesting that the woman employed by the company to sell their products should fawn over me or tell me my feet look perfect in the boots. It’s just that the sale of product under her watch goes some way to paying her salary. Is it too much to expect her to assist the sale in some way?

Maybe she had really important documents to read and highlight, documents that couldn’t wait a single minute. But she lost my sale and the other two customers also walked out empty-handed.

Sadly she’s not alone in her refusal to sell the products she’s employed to shift, in fact she’s just one of the many people I encountered sitting behind their counters that day.

And before you blame Millennials or Generation X or any other group who you’d like to point at, let me assure you that the people refusing to help customers by actively avoiding contact with them, do not belong to one demographic or age group.

This is a retail issue. And with Amazon literally primed to enter the Australian marketplace and completely change the retail landscape surely it’s time for bricks and mortar businesses to step up the service a notch.

Somewhere in the race to be competing online it seems likes these businesses have forgotten to train their staff, or at least to incentivise them to do their jobs.

I eventually went online myself where I didn’t except any service other than an easy-to-load shopping cart. But I can’t help thinking about those people in head office who are wondering why their shoes aren’t being sold in their physical outlets.

It’s simply because no one is selling them.

SOURCE


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Is feminism incompatible with romance?

I think it is and I think that is a great loss.  I see feminism in very black hues.  At it extremes it lapses into insanity. The definition of insanity (psychosis) is loss of reality contact and I know of few feminist beliefs that are in good contact with  reality.

That can sometimes be shown by the conflict between their own beliefs -- conflicts which normally seem quite invisible to them.  For instance they believe in equal pay for equal work and yet when they note that women overall earn  less than men they regard that as unjust -- even though it is perfectly plain that -- for perfectly good reasons -- men and women do not do equal work.  Their call for equal pay for equal work justifies the inequality in pay that they deplore.

And one could go on.

But I think that by far the saddest thing they promote is their inherent hostility to romance.  It may seem strange for a sober old social scientist like me to be talking about romance but I note in possible mitigation that I have been married 4 times.  There has to be either insanity or romance behind that but I will leave it to readers to decide which.

Mostly here I want to draw attention to romance in popular music and I think my purpose is well served by drawing attention to an evergreen pop song called "I will follow him".  Its sentiments are everything that feminists anathematize.  It is about as "patriarchal" as you can get. Its lyrics follow:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow

I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go
There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep me away

I must follow him (follow him), ever since he touched my hand I knew
That near him I always must be
And nothing can keep him from me
He is my destiny (destiny)

I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow
He'll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now until forever, forever, forever

I will follow him (follow him), follow him wherever he may go
There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away
Away from my love (I love him, I love him, I love him)

I love…

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Andre Rieu does a splendid version as follows:



Follow the whole thing through and watch the faces on both the singers and the audience.  Have you ever seen so much happiness in one place? It is a song of ecstasy.  Feminism is antagonistic  to what is best in being human.  To them the song is just propaganda but has any of their propaganda ever evoked any ecstasy at all? Not as far as I can tell. An ecstasy of hate maybe.

Now let me draw attention to one of the most popular bands in the history of pop music: Abba:

I have always rather wondered why I have never heard criticism of ABBA from feminists. Both "Mamma Mia" and "Waterloo" recount how a woman is captivated by a man that she cannot give up -- surely the reverse of the feminist gospel. And in "Money, Money", the female singer aspires to marry a rich man! And "Dancing Queen" is a simple little ballad about a teenager who loves dancing. Again not quite a feminist priority. So at least the best known ABBA songs seem quite conservative to me.

Something to remind you below. Don't ogle the beautiful blonde Agnetha too much.







If by some magic all the embittered feminists of the world could suddenly transform into normal women, the world would be a much happier place -- JR

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Why did physicist Dr. Ridd conclude that corals thrive in warmer water and will flourish as global warming increases?

The above question appeared on Quora and the responses are instructive.  The first commenter, Hirsekorn, started out with an incorrect "ad hominem" assertion about Dr. Ridd's academic background.  I quote from Ridd's page at his university:

"Peter Ridd is a geophysicist with the following interests: coastal oceanography, the effects of sediments on coral reefs, instrument development, geophysical sensing of the earth, past and future climates, atmospheric modelling. In addition with his group in the Marine Geophysics Laboratory "

So Dr. Ridd's background leaves him amply qualified to speak on reef problems.

The next point made by the same author, Hirsekorn, is that individual corals differ in the optimal temperature of the waters surrounding them.  That is undoubtedly true but it offers no scale for that effect.  The acceptable range of temperature could be large and it could differ for individual corals.  And in fact it does, as we see here

So the comments by Hirsekorn have no merit whatever and, as such, are of the standard we have come to expect from Warmists defending their addled theory.

The second comment, by Reiner, is well informed, extensive and perfectly correct.  In particular, it has now been shown that sea level variations in recent times have been the major cause of coral bleaching.  I was unaware that Peter Ridd had predicted that some years back so he is revealed as a good scientist:  One whose theories are borne out by reality

The two original Quora comments below:


Answer by Alex Hirsekorn, lifetime seashore aficionado:

Assuming that you’re referring to Prof. Peter Ridd of James Cook Univ. I would guess that he reached such a conclusion because he is not a biologist but a geophysicist that apparently doesn’t talk to biologists very much.

There are something like 1,000 species of “reef building” coral worldwide and if you plot them by geographic location versus species you will see that they have definite preferences regarding temperature. Looking a bit more carefully will demonstrate that any given species’ numbers will diminish as you leave its temperature ‘sweet spot’ for waters that are either colder or warmer.

You don’t need to be a professor to understand this concept. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and say he was probably misquoted; the alternative explanation is that he’s either a moron or willfully ignorant.


Comment by Bryson Reiner, studied at PhD in Biochemistry:

Peter Ridd is a marine physicist and has published multiple studies on sediments and their effect on coral reefs. Having spoken with Dr Ridd, my understanding is that he was suggesting corals do well not directly due to increased temps-but rather due to increased sea levels. From what I can recall, and my memory is admittedly foggy on this as it was over 5 years ago, that the Great Barrier Reef along the Queensland coast has suffered from declining sea levels which destroys coral. I am pretty sure he was inferring that rising sea levels as a result of a warming trend would increase coral growth-not as a direct result of temperature increase.

To professor Ridd’s credit, he is a strong advocate for reproducibility in the marine sciences and decries sensationalism in science. In particular he mentioned the inability to reproduce studies indicating changes in ocean pH as huge shifts in pH occurred with upwelling and even recent rains which caused short term changes but the studies results were not reproducible over long term. As an aside, certain corals will die in cooler temps just as some may die in warmer temps.

Empirically, as an avid diver-I can attest to the fact that inshore reefs are very likely affected by run off. I've been diving at an unusually inshore reef with huge coral mounts not 20 m from shore since the early 80s which was almost inaccessible as it was on the side of a small mountain in the carribean with only 3 houses nearby and a sheer dirt road that was often washed out. The reef was healthy and vibrant until 2013 when a high end housing development went up complete with a paved road. The effect was immediate as the reef went from vibrant reds, yellows, greens and blues to dull gray. The coral closest to shore was the most affected with another swath of graying coral that went well out to 100 m from shore which I couldn't quite figure out until I saw it rain which produced a huge outflow that ran along a rock jetty as a current which ran identical to the swath of dead coral. The coral has become progressively grey with each visit being worse than the last although the most affected areas remain the ones described. Yes, pollution in petroleum products and detergents certainly have an effect on coral-but to suggest that all, or even most instances of coral bleaching are due solely to temperature change is likely not the case and has yet to be determined at best.

Additionally, there are thriving corals that survive with dramatic changes in temperature near and in the Atlantic gulfstream which shifts its location by tens of miles regularly with temperature changes greater than 20 F-it's a literal column of water where within 10 meters you'll have a 60 F reading and a 80 temp. These corals are still healthy and vivid in color with life teeming all round and withstand these temperature changes on a regular and frequent basis. To suggest less than 1 C degree of change is wiping out corals is likely an overstatement.

I'm a firm believer that coral should be protected as they serve as oceanic estuaries and are simply beautiful little wonders to observe. But I suspect we'll get much better results by investing resources in controlling run off and spills rather than trying to manage the global climate. Specific efforts targeted directly at saving our reefs and coral seem more feasible in this instance vs macromanaging daunting things like the climate which in this instance is inconclusive in the degree to which it may affect the viability of coral. I'll go a step further and guess that managing directly runoff and spills will have a more immediate and dramatic effect on coral health and sustainability than even a successful attempt to change global climate.

SOURCE

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That 14.8C degrees current global temperature again

A correspondent has updated me on the above issue. He points out that the 14.8C GAT referred to is also the Annual Average for 2016.  14.84C is shown at the NOAA Annual Summary here. They show .94 anomaly + 13.9 average, which is 14.84.

This compares with HIGHER temperatures reported for 1997 and 1998

NOAA say that their 1997 and 1998 averages were wrong and that they have subsequently been revised downwards.  They say:

"Please note: the estimate for the baseline global temperature used in this study differed, and was warmer than, the baseline estimate (Jones et al., 1999) used currently. This report has been superseded by subsequent analyses. However, as with all climate monitoring reports, it is left online as it was written at the time."

That is mightily convenient.  It becomes amazingly convenient when one notes that the original GAT for 1997 in the report was 16.92C -- ie over 2.0C warmer than 2016. Over the last 20 years they have lowered the 1998 temperature by 2.4C, and they currently say records are being broken by a measly tenth or hundredth of a degree.

Clearly, the average global temperature is at best an unreliable and wild guess of no worth for policy or any other purposes.  On the original NOAA figures, the earth has COOLED by 2 degrees since 1997/1998 --  JR

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Rough old feminist broad wants more imperial honours for women



Rather amusing to see a radical feminist arguing for the relevance of imperial honours. Few Australian Leftists would.  Though it is rare for anyone to refuse a gong.

But her basic argument is the same as Hitler's.  Hitler was in fact more reserved.  He only thought that Jews were unfairly privileged whereas Jenna Price thinks that men in general are unfairly privileged.

What Hitler overlooked is that Jews had earned their eminence in Germany by hard work and superior brains.  What Ms Price overlooks is that it is difficult to achieve eminence in any field while you are at home minding babies.  I am all in favour of women staying at home minding babies and I think they should be honoured for it.  They once were until feminists began deriding them and calling them "breeders".

But however you cut it, women are just not in large numbers in occupations that are likely to generate especial honour.  Some are but they are simply not there are often as men are.  And the imperial awards reflect that.  The demand from Ms Price that women be at least equally represented in the awards is then procrustean.  It seeks to impose an un-natural equality or a pretence at equality that is just not there in the real world. Procrustes would gladly have taken her as his wife.

But her demand is of course just another iteration of the manic and incessant Leftist demand for equality in all things -- an equality that has never existed, does not exist and never will exist.

I have written at greater length about Ms Price here


Once again the honours list has failed Australian women.

This cannot continue. It's a complete dishonour to the thousands of women across Australia who deserve to be recognised at the highest level.

The awards announced on Monday will show that the percentage going to women has sunk even lower than the five-year average, already an embarrassingly low 31 per cent. In the general division of the Order of Australia, it's 467 males and 206 females. Just 30 per cent women.

That said, there's no choice but to entirely recast the Council for the Order of Australia. If the organisation that oversees the awarding of honours to Australians can't get anything close to a semblance of Australia in those who receive these awards, the entire leadership needs to go. It must be replaced by people who are agents of change.

It needs to meet the government targets for 50 per cent of women on government boards. Of the 18 councillors, four are women. Of the four women, one, Elizabeth Kelly, comes from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Two others are state reps. And community rep and former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who must be losing her mind at the slow rate of change.

So why is this organisation failing? Here are some answers.

Chairman? Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston. Secretary? Mark Fraser. Official secretary to the Governor-General. Ex-officio representatives? Senator George Brandis. Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

All decent people but from worlds dominated by men. The military. The Liberal Party. None famous for equality. How is it possible to reshape this reflection of Australian spirit if all you see reflected is the people with whom you grew up, with whom you went to school; and now work alongside?

SOURCE
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An excellent result in Scotland

The real loser in the recent British general election was Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party.  They were routed.  They lost 21 of their 56 seats at Westminster. The Scottish Conservatives won 12 of those seats.



Nicola Sturgeon is short of stature, married but childless.  She is well to the Left of British politics. She is a former member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  The Scottish Tories are led by Ruth Davidson, a lesbian.  British conservatives are supportive of homosexuality.  Homosexual experience was traditionally common in British private schools.

It has been much noted that the Northern Irish handed government to the Conservatives, as the English Conservatives fell a little short of winning an overall majority.  But it is equally true that the Scottish Conservatives handed overall control of the UK to the Conservatives by their votes.

Which is a considerable irony.  Nicola Sturgeon is a hateful little bizzem, fanatically driven by her loathing for the English -- a common ailment in Scotland. But it was her poor campaign that delivered those 12 new Scottish seats to the Tories.  She campaigned on a second independence referendum for Scotland whereas economic issues were the big drivers among the Scottish voters.

So her obsessive hatred of the English delivered up government to the hated English Conservatives.  Most just.  She will be widely reviled in Scotland as the woman who delivered government to the Conservatives.

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What is the global mean temperature?

There is some excitement in Germany at the moment about what is the global mean temperature. After some years of reporting an annual mean of 15 degrees Celsius, the WMO and NOAA are reporting a current mean of 14.8 degrees. In other words, the global mean temperature has DROPPED. Read all about it here.

I am ready to be corrected but as far as I can see it is just a misunderstanding.  Here are the two relevant paragraphs from the WMO:

"NOAA said the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces in May was 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F), beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.

After five consecutive record months it comes to no surprise that the average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–May 2016 resulted in the warmest such period on record across the world's land and ocean surfaces, at 1.08°C (1.94°F) above the 20th century average of 13.1°C (55.5°F), surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.24°C (0.43°F), according to NOAA"

SOURCE

So there you see the 14.8°C figure.  It is pretty clear however that the 14.8°C figure refers to May average only, not the average temperature for the whole year.

So:  A storm in a teacup?  I think so -- JR


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Jimmah has left the Baptists

I have always doubted that Jimmy Carter was a believing Baptist.  His miserable Leftism seems at variance with the joy of heartfelt Christianity.  So I am not surprised that he has now left his church -- though it took him a heck of a long time to do so.

He has timed his exit to get maximum kudos from it.  Women's issues are big these days.  But his theology is shallow. He speaks of "a few carefully selected Bible verses" as if that proves something.  They are Bible verses or they are not and if you believe that the Bible is God's word -- as real Christians do -- the teaching is clear: "Women should keep silent in the congregation"  (1 Corinthians 14:33-35). That is a very unpopular teaching these days and few churches observe it.

But some do and the Southern Baptists apparently do. And one of the world's most Bible-observant groups is the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church in Australia.  And their theological seminary -- Moore College -- overflows with students, including a big representation of young women. It will no doubt be a big surprise to many but the old teachings often have strong appeal.  They have not been rendered nugatory by modern secular wisdom.

But Jimmah ignores all that in his seeking after secular righteousness.

He justifies his move by referring to the atrocities that Muslims inflict on women, in an amazing example of guilt by association.  What do Christians have in common with Muslim abominations?  Even male circumcision is not required of Christians, as the apostle Paul ruled (e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:18;  Colossians 3:11). Carter's reasoning is apparently that religions are all the same, which must be about a four-year-old's level of reasoning.

Jimmah also claims that there were female "deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets" in the early church.  But there were no such ranks in the early church. There were overseers ("episkopos") and servants ("diakonos") principally.  There were also prophets but what exactly they did is unclear. From Acts 21: 9 the impression is that their role was not part of congregational activities

Sadly, Jimmah gives no references for his assertions but the only women mentioned as prominent in the NT that I can recall were Dorcas, who was known for her needlework and Phoebe, who was a servant ("diakonos") of the congregation at Cenchrae.  In the King James Bible, episkopos was translated as "Bishop" and diakonos was translated as "deacon" but that goes well beyond the original meaning.  Diakonos, for instance, literally means "through the dust" portraying a humble visitor circulating among  members of the congregation.

There is no doubt that women were great supporters of their congregations in the early days -- and Paul greets several of them affectionately in his epistles -- but there is no doubt that there were  well-accepted sex roles at the time too. And the subordinate role of women in the congregation is repeatedly stressed.  See also Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:11,12; 1 Peter 3:11.

Jimmy's religion is Leftism, not Christianity.
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

SOURCE



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Melbourne Member of Parliament accuses judges of 'standing in the corner of terrorists'

This is a lively issue at the moment with overheated claims by some that the politician should be prosecuted for what he said.  So the Law Council has emailed out a comment on the matter which begins as follows:
The Law Council, speaking on behalf of the Australian legal profession, is calling for an end to political attacks on the judiciary, especially in cases where they might be perceived to interfere with matters currently before the courts.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said recent comments from Government MPs referring to "ideological experiments" supposedly being carried out by the judicial system were gravely concerning.

“It is inappropriate to suggest that judges decide their cases on anything other than the law and the facts presented to them by the parties,” Ms McLeod said.

“Attacking the independence of the judiciary does not make Australia safer, in fact it erodes public confidence in the courts and undermines the rule of law.

“It is Australia's robust adherence to the rule of law that has underpinned this nation's status as one of the most peaceful, harmonious, and secure places in the world.”

Ms McLeod said the Law Council has particular concerns about comments made in the media today by Government MPs about a terror-related case currently before the courts in Victoria.


Fiona McLeod

Respect cannot be commanded.  It must be earned.  So Fiona might do well to look at the CAUSES of disrespect for the judiciary.  Almost the whole of Australia would find leniency for terrorists obnoxious so it is about time that the judiciary responded to that.  They have plenty of leeway in their sentencing options to enable that.  And the right to criticize judges is democracy at work too.

If Fiona wants to end "political attacks" on judges, let her urge the judges concerned to come down from their ivory towers.  Let her urge them to have discussions with the family members of those who have been killed at random by Jihadis

I am afraid that to me Fiona just sounds like another mentally isolated Leftist twit.  She would probably have done better to keep her mouth shut.  She herself is provoking disrespect for the judiciary


A federal Liberal Party MP has launched an extraordinary attack on Victoria's Chief Justice and her judges, accusing them of 'standing in the corner of terrorists'.

The state's top judge Marilyn Warren is under fire following a controversial sentence for a teenager who had plotted to behead a police officer on Anzac Day.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing the Victorian Supreme Court's seven-and-a-half year non-parole jail term imposed last year on Sevet Ramadan Besim.

The 19-year-old criminal had plotted to cut off a police officer's head in 2015.

Melbourne-based Liberal MP Michael Sukkar, who is also Assistant Treasurer, said judges needed to be called out for soft sentences when it came to terrorists.

'As far as I’m concerned, we need to be asserting as much pressure as we can on lawmakers and calling out judges who seemingly are standing in the corner of the terrorists and not in the corner of our society and the victims,' he told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Tuesday.

The conservative Liberal PARTY MP, who studied law, clarified his comments to say judges cared more about the welfare of terrorists than the public. 'Seemingly, more interested in their rehabilitation than in the safety and security of our society,' Mr Sukkar said.

'There are multiple numbers of cases where you’ve got people who are planning the most heinous acts and the only reason they’re stopped is because we’ve got amazing law enforcement agencies that stop them from happening.'

He added that as the chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security committee, he believed 'the prospects of rehabilitation, particularly for Islamic terrorists is extraordinarily low'.

Last year, Besim pleaded guilty to an act in preparation of planning a terrorist attack, which would involve running down and beheading a police officer, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

SOURCE

UPDATE: Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar have been ordered to front the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday to explain "why they should not be referred for prosecution for contempt".

Free speech, anyone?

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The dilemma I faced when my daughter won a private school scholarship


Elana Benjamin

The mother below was probably right in deciding to send her daughter to a State School.  And I say that not because I went to one myself but because of something she does not mention:  It all depends on the school.  Not to put too fine a point on it, a State School in a poor area would probably be disastrous for the daughter of a professional family.  She would be greatly limited by it. But, reading between the lines, Mrs Benjamin is most unlikely to live in a poor area.  And State Schools in a middle class area can be quite good.

I sent my son to a fairly orderly State school for the second half of his primary years and it certainly didn't hold him back. Can I embarrass myself by once again telling my favourite story from that time?  There was once a schoolwide literacy and numeracy test conducted in his state school.  One would think that the highest scorer on the literacy test would be some kid in 7th grade. But it was not. It was a pesky little 5th grader.  That 5th grader was my son.  So as long as the school is reasonably orderly, ability will out.  I think that Mrs Benjamin's daughter might have an equivalent experience.

So why are schools in poor areas disadvantageous?  Sensitive souls should stop reading at this point because I am going to say something that, according to the Left, make me a white supremacist if not an outright Nazi. They can see a small moustache growing on my upper lip. I am going to mention IQ.

A school in a poor area will be bad in many ways because of the kids there.  As Charles Murray showed long ago, a low IQ is hereditary and has many unpleasant correlates, with poverty prominent among them.  So kids enrolled into a school located in a poor area will mostly be dumb, have less self-restraint  and will be more poorly behaved generally.  They will make life hell for their teachers and give the teachers little time for teaching.

It doesn't have to be that way. I grew up in Innisfail, a small Australian country town and I attended Innisfail State Rural School for my primary schooling.  And I have fond memories of that school and of some of the teachers there.  There was none of the dysfunction that would be expected of that school these days. The school no longer exists so I can safely say that.

So why was Innisfail State Rural School perfectly OK?  Because they had effective discipline back then.  If a kid stepped out of line he got sent to the headmaster for caning.  He would come back much abashed and no longer disruptive.  So lessons could proceed according to plan.  But it's no longer like that. Under Leftist influence, most forms of discipline are now forbidden as "child abuse".  The discipline tools available are few.  So a disruptive dummy kid will just act out and not be effectively restrained, thus derailing any education while that happens.

But Australia is relatively lucky in one way:  We rarely have a substantial African-origin population in a school.  In both Britain and the USA, by contrast, schools in a poor area will very often be quite black. And black students are notoriously disruptive.  As a result, British and American white mothers go to enormous lengths to keep their kids out of such schools.  There is substantial voluntary racial self-segregation so that helps.

But the lesson remains:  A "good" school is good primarily because of the kids who go there and a bad school is bad because of the kids who go there.  One hopes that the school Mrs Benjamin has chosen for her daughter has a student body who tend be like her own family.  She should check. That is what matters


My 11-year-old daughter has been awarded an academic scholarship to a private school. It's only a modest discount, but the scholarship means she'll bypass the snaking waiting list – provided my husband and I can fund the 20 grand a year shortfall. Should we commit to the abyss of private school fees, or choose free education instead at a partially selective state school?

I always assumed my children would go to private school, like I did. Not because my family is wealthy – but because I'd imbibed one of the mantras of my childhood home: Education is the best thing you can give your children, and its implied corollary: The best education is private.

Both my parents gave up their dreams of tertiary study in order to earn much-needed income for their families. Immigrants to Australia in the 1960s, Mum and Dad were textbook in that they worked hard to give my brother and me all the opportunities they'd been denied. They never pushed, but as a sensitive first-born, I absorbed my parents' unspoken hopes and aspirations: I would become a member of a profession and earn a good income, so I'd never have to struggle like they did.

At my academically oriented private school, the importance of education was reinforced. I learnt the lessons of Jewish history, a history filled with centuries of persecution and violent anti-Semitism. The message was clear: you may have to leave your birthplace, your home, your loved ones, but you can never be stripped of your education.

Against this backdrop, it took years for me to make peace with the fact that my two children attend our local public primary school.

They'll go to private for high school, I consoled myself. Yet here we are, our eldest now in year 6, and my husband and I will struggle to afford private school, even with that scholarship our daughter's been offered.

"Many families take a second mortgage to pay school fees," a friend cheerily suggests when I share my dilemma. But we're already drowning in debt, with my husband's salary bequeathed to a long line of greedy beneficiaries (first NAB, followed by Coles).

If we're to send our girl to private school, there's only one sane option: for me to increase my work hours and cash in on the benefits of the law degree I studied so hard for. The degree that was supposed to be my ticket to a good job and a solid income – except that's not quite how it turned out.

I aced the HSC, only to suffer through years of dreary law lectures at university, then advance to a career of well-paid but uninspiring jobs in corporate insurance. Now that I've finally escaped my creativity-starved cubicle, I'm not keen to resume my meaningless climb up the corporate ladder.

And yet I could still command a salary package that would pay the school fees, if I really had to. You can never be stripped of your education.

My husband – concerned I'll end up resenting the school-fee burden – isn't pushing me to resuscitate my career. My strong-willed daughter is unusually easygoing about the decision. "I have friends at both schools so I don't really mind," she says.

My parents, however, weigh in. "Thousands of children go to public school and they turn out fine," says my mother. "Why do you want to put yourselves under so much financial pressure?" adds my father, seemingly oblivious to the irony of his question, given he and Mum did the same for me.

The guilt and expectations are mine alone. As much as I don't subscribe to the "get your kid ahead" hype (I'm in the no-coaching, anti-homework camp), I'm quietly terrified that my daughter's potential will be wasted at the public school. That even in the selective stream, she'll be lost in the crowd. And yet I know that a return to corporate insurance will crush me.

Over many sleepless nights, I wrestle with the bullies in the classroom of my mind. The ones who taunt me, calling me hurtful names: "Selfish. Indulgent. Princess". And the meanest of all – the one who leaves me winded, gasping for air every time: "Lousy mother."

When I finally catch my breath, I confess to my tormentors that although I want the best for my daughter, I have my own dreams too. I cannot sacrifice everything for my precious girl, just so she can retrace my steps on the path from high ATAR, to university, to six-figure-salary but dissatisfied.

I explain that I want to be a positive role-model for my girl, and an unhappy parent is a terrible strain on a family. I point out that not even the privilege of private school will protect my beloved from ordinary outcomes, undesirable peers, disappointment or struggle.

And finally, the bullies back off. So it's decided. My daughter is going to the public school behind our home. She couldn't be more pleased. "I'll be able to sleep in and walk to school in one minute," she gloats.

It's taken me a little longer, but now I'm content. More than my fancy private-school education, it's my family that shaped me. With high school now 25 years in the past, I can no longer remember the mathematical formulae or Shakespearean quotes I once knew so perfectly. The lessons from my childhood home, however, have proved impossible to forget.

SOURCE

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Australian climate skeptics use Socrates to question global warming



AN ad published in a major newspaper purports to prove climate change isn’t real using a hypothetical conversation with Socrates. The Climate Study Group says it researches ‘climate truths’. I have deleted some opinionated adjectives below.

I can see no substance in the criticisms below. The argument is straightforward: High CO2 in the past was not bad so why is it bad now? Life thrived mightily in an era when CO2 levels were much higher than now so why is life threatened now, amid much lower levels of CO2? Is not raised CO2 good for life rather than threatening to life? Is not a small rise in CO2 likely to be beneficial on balance?

It is true that there were no humans in the Carboniferous but there were plenty of dinosaurs with respiratory systems very similar to ours.  And our metabolism is in fact more flexible than theirs so we are better at adapting.  So we should thrive amid raised CO2 as well


A GROUP that claims to study “climate truths” is behind a newspaper ad that uses ancient philosopher Socrates to try and prove climate change isn’t real.

The paid advertisement ran in The Australian newspaper, published by NewsCorp, which also publishes news.com.au, on Friday has shocked both scientists and philosophers as it tries to link the two disciplines to prove CO2 and fossil fuels have nothing to do with global warming.

The quarter-page advertisement features a large image of Socrates and showcases a “hypothetical conversation” between the philosopher and a fictional “strong believer in climate change”, dubbed Mr Smith.

The conversation sees Socrates question Mr Smith’s unwavering belief about emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels which were formed before and during the carboniferous period.

In the imaginary exchange, Socrates questions whether there was evidence of global warming prior to this period, and makes some other “philosophical inquiries”, which are then claimed to “reveal the truth with compelling logic and facts which refute longheld belief”. Mr Smith is led to finally “understand the truth” and ultimately reject climate change.

Social media users have slammed the add, and Reddit commentators have called it just plain weird. Actual experts are outraged too.

Deakin University senior philosophy lecturer Patrick Stokes said aside from scientific conjecture, the philosophical side of the group’s argument was dangerously flawed.

“The reason that climate change denialists like Socrates is they are wedding to a brave individual exposing the corrupt elite,” he said. “The problem is of course that science doesn’t work the way Socratic questioning works. The idea that you come along and lob a couple of Socratic questions and explode it all just doesn’t hold water.”

Mr Stokes said there were “glaring fallacies” in the argument, and argued that Socrates would have been “quite affronted” by the ad. He said on Twitter: “Whoever wrote this: Socrates would have kicked your arse, and rightly so.”

Melbourne University climate scientist Andrew King said the advert put forward “a nonsensical ill-founded argument”.

“Essentially their argument is the CO2 was higher in the past and that the carbon is from a natural source,” Dr King said. “One obvious criticism is that the Carboniferous Period (being 300 million years ago) is a poor analog for the climate of today. It was warmer but lifeforms were also very different with nothing similar to humans.

“Human life is adapted to the climate we have today. If the climate was much warmer, as in the Carboniferous period, we’d be in a lot of trouble! Really?  Our present tropics are many degrees warmer than Europe but people still thrive there, including high birthrates.  And warming up Siberia would be very congenial.  The man is talking rubbish

“They also talk about the lack of “dangerous global warming” in the Carboniferous period, but, in a large part, the problems that result from global warming are caused by the absolute temperature as opposed to the rate of change of temperature.” But that is what the skeptics are arguing

Dr King also argued it was unfair to invoke Socrates. He said that having been dead for a long time he wasn’t around to give his own opinion.

News.com.au spoke to the convener of The Climate Study Group, who described the organisation as “a group that studies the climate truths”.

The man asked to remain anonymous for fear of hate mail, but has previously publicly identified himself as the leader of the organisation in government submissions and articles.

He said he did not wish to discuss the advertisement or the research behind it any further.

The same organisation came under fire for another unusual advertisement that took a similar format and was published in the same paper in August 2015.

In an advertorial entitled “Psychology and the new climate alarm”, the climate-denial collective sought to use psychological research to prove there was no evidence that CO2 had affected climate.

See here for details of the 2015 advert

The Australian Psychology Society attacked the group, saying it was “disturbed to see psychology being used to mislead the public” and claimed the publisher had ignored a “huge body of scientific evidence”. Like what?

The same band of climate deniers has also been behind bizarre research papers and submissions to the Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Minister for the Environment, using its own research to back up allegations that economists were being alarmist due to their psychological makeup and that an ice age is the most urgent environmental threat.

SOURCE



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What I want you to know about my 'gifted' son

There is an extent below to which Wendy Wisner blames her problems with her son on his being "gifted" so I think I should note that his problems are unlikely to be from that cause. He sounds more like being somewhere on the autism spectrum. Autistics often have eerie abilities in limited areas, particularly in mathematics.

All the studies show that high IQ people are usually better off in all sorts of ways, from being better looking, for having more stable marriages to living longer.

But since stories tend to be more persuasive than statistics, let me mention my own son.  He did well in various educational tasks, including getting a first class honours degree in mathematics, and took to computer programming like a duck to water. He is now a well-paid IT professional. So was he a difficult kid?  Far from it.  He was a placid baby, and a relaxed and unproblematical child. He does have one addiction -- to flavoured milk, which he battles manfully.  And he has a pretty lady of admirable character in his life.  High IQ people are the ones who come closest to "having it all"


I don't like the term "gifted." It seems too exclusive a term, and doesn't encompass the breadth of talents that children can have. My son isn't especially gifted in sports, visual art, dance or public speaking. He's gifted in all things academic. He's brainy. And his giftedness doesn't always feel like something to brag about. In fact, some of my real parenting struggles are related to the way his brain is wired.

But I feel so alone, like I can't share this with other parents.

From birth, my son had an intensity about him that made him different from most kids. When he was happy, he was ecstatic, but when he was upset, he was prone to epic tantrums. Even as a young toddler, he argued with a voracity that was biting, complex and unrelenting.

I think it's normal to lack self-confidence as a new parent. But almost a decade into parenting my gifted son, I still often feel completely and utterly lost. I wonder: Is he normal? Is it really supposed to be this difficult? Does he need more intellectual stimulation? Does he need less?

And I wonder about me, his mother. How on earth will I muster enough patience every day to deal with his willfulness, his outspoken personality and unrelenting energy? How can I create appropriate boundaries without squashing his unique abilities? How can I help create a life for him that nurtures his innate gifts but also gives him the ability to function normally and be happy?

Like many gifted children, my son reached milestones at a different rate than his peers. He began reading when he was 3. At 4, he was multiplying and doing long division. We didn't push these things on him. He begged for more knowledge, more information.

When he was in pre-K, he took the New York City Gifted and Talented Exam to see if he was eligible to attend one of our city's coveted gifted programs - and also because we were curious to see how he would score. He not only tested as "gifted" but received the highest possible score on the exam.

And yet, at the same time that he excelled in his young academic pursuits, he was slow to meet other milestones (toilet training, independent sleep and certain fine motor skills). This is what experts call "asynchronous development," and while my son certainly has accomplished all his toddler milestones by now, he still lags behind in some developmental areas where his peers seem to excel.

It should probably be noted that gifted children share many of the same characteristics as children diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, including an absorbing interest in a particular topic, and an uncanny ability to hyperfocus.

While many children are diagnosed with both - often called "twice exceptional" - this is not the case with my son. He does not exhibit the socialising difficulties that are the hallmark of Asperger's. He is very social, makes friends easily and doesn't have trouble expressing his feelings.

We decided early on in his education that we wanted him to have as normal a childhood as possible. Even though he gained admission to some of the city's top gifted programs, when we found out how competitive the programs were, and how much extra work the kids are given at such young ages, we decided not to send him to any of them. Instead, we enrolled him in our small neighbourhood school.

This plan has worked out well for the past few years. His teachers give him extra challenges when he finishes the regular class work, and he has plenty of time to pursue his own brainy interests outside of school. He certainly spends a fair share of his free time playing video games, but he also has also learned how to code and create video games himself.

I can't predict what his life will be like. I certainly want him to be successful, but I also know that he has an intensity that can make life difficult sometimes. As his mum, I worry. I worry that he will start to find school annoying or stressful. I worry that his seriousness and impetuousness will make him seem aloof or unfriendly. I worry that his profound drive for perfection will leave him feeling frustrated and disappointed.

And yet, I know I have little control over any of this, and that all I can do is love him unconditionally, guide him to make good decisions and then trust that things will work out the way they are supposed to in the end.

I want my son to know that wherever life takes him, I will always admire him deeply. I'm his biggest fan. And I'm thrilled to watch him grow up to see where his dazzling mind takes him.

SOURCE


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Doing nothing can be good conservative policy

To this day it is widely accepted in Australia that Bob Menzies was our greatest Prime Minister. He was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total. He ran Australia in the '50s and most of the '60s in what many now look back upon as a golden age. There was great embarrassment if unemployment exceeded 2% and life was generally tranquil, though Communist unions did their best to make trouble.



But when people say what a great man Bob was, a common response was:  "But what did he DO?"  And that is a hard question to answer.  Whenever people came to Bob and suggested something that the government should do,  Bob would reply:  "But if we do that, that will create another problem here".  So Bob would send the suggestions away, saying that the best thing to do was nothing.

People are always calling on the politicians to do something so it takes great political talent to do nothing.  And doing nothing means that the size of the government stays pretty small -- unlike what mostly happens today when the government never ceases to expand.

So Bob's talent was to let the people of the nation create any change they desired, with little or no government interference.  If enough people backed the change it would happen.  If it had little backing it would not happen.  So prosperity and quality of life increased entirely through private initiatives.

Bob was however of Scottish origins and he inherited the great Scottish reverence for education.  So he saw it as a real problem that poor families could not send their children to university.  So, for once, he DID something about that. He instituted a scheme where the Federal government would send to university all children from poor families who had scored in the top third of High School grades.  The government not only paid the tuition fees but even gave the kid a living allowance.  It was called the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme and I was one of its beneficiaries.

But Bob was rare even among conservative politicians for his ability to do next to nothing. More on Menzies here

So let me mention another such rarity: "Honest" Frank Nicklin.  Would you believe a politician with the nickname "Honest"?  In WWI he was a war hero and after the war he was a banana farmer.  In 1957, he became the Premier of my home state of Queensland and ran Queensland for around 10 years in the 60s.  Frank was by all accounts a very nice man:  A pre-Reagan Reagan.  He got on well with the bureaucracy and even the unions.  So life in Queensland was very tranquil in his time.



How Frank did it can perhaps be gleaned from the words of a unionist who had just gone to see him with some request.  He was asked afterwards what had happened with his request.  He answered:  "Mr. Nicklin can say No in the nicest possible way"!

But, like Bob Menzies Frank did do something:  He spent a lot on upgrading the infrastructure -- roads and bridges etc. More on Nicklin here.

And then we come to an example that older Americans will know about: Ike.



Ike didn't like to rock boats and mainly just wanted to let people get on with their own lives.  He kept the government low-key and tried to reduce government financial deficits.  But he too did SOMETHING.  Like Frank Nicklin, he spent a lot on building up infrastructure -- a big network of high quality interstate highways.  That network is in rather bad repair these days but if all the money wasted on the global warming myth had been spent the way the three men above operated, there would be no such problem today. Has there ever before been so much money spent with nil result as has been spent on global warming?  It would take a war to equal it

But it is wrong to say that conservatives favour the status quo. Conservative-run legislatures legislate as energetically as any but mostly that is just to undo the damage caused by previous Leftist policies. It is Leftist changes that they oppose, not all change. But, as we see above, even the three champion conservative leaders did also make positive changes: carefully considered changes that generated broad consensus

Trump looks to be going down a similar road.  He is mainly unwinding Obama-era initiatives rather than launch initiatives of his own.  But he has launched one initiative: A Paid Parental Leave Entitlement.  Hopefully that will be his version of the "one thing" that deeply conservative leaders sometimes do.  Like their initiatives it will probably have broad support. Market-oriented conservatives don't like it very much but family-oriented conservatives probably will. And any welfare proposal will have the Democrats onside -- though they may feel burned that their name won't be on it.

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Australia isn’t the only country caught in a housing bubble

The writer below cannot find a common factor in housing price rises worldwide.  I can.  In China it's internal migration from peasant farms to the cities but in all the other countries mentioned there have been big inflows of "refugees".  Refugees have to be accommodated and that puts pressure on the housing supply, driving up prices.

In a free market the housing supply would expand to meet the demand but we don't have anything like a free market.  There are many rigidities to overcome, principally land-use restrictions supported most notably by Greenies but also by farmers and Nimbys.  Slowing down the migrant intake is the only way to rein in the housing price rises

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane should get some temporary relief from the extraordinary boom in Chinese-financed apartment-block  building but that is coming to an end so is no long-term solution


It’s only natural for Australians to be obsessed with our own property market woes, but there is a whole world of bubbles out there waiting to be popped.

We chatter endlessly about prices in Sydney and Melbourne, which is unfair to the other capital cities. But it’s understandable, as 57 per cent of the nation lives in Victoria and New South Wales, according to Australia’s statistics bureau.

And we’re right to be concerned. Only this week, Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter said Australia is in the midst of a “spectacular housing bubble”. He joined a great host of experts worried that our two main property markets have been running way too hot.

The numbers back him up. CoreLogic, one of our most widely cited property pricers, says Australian houses now cost 7.2 times the yearly income of a household, up from 4.2 times income 15 years ago.

Between the global financial crisis and February 2017, median dwelling prices almost doubled (+99.4 per cent) in Sydney, bringing them to $850,000, and in Melbourne (+85 per cent to $640,000), according to CoreLogic.

But we should not delude ourselves that a housing crisis is a uniquely Australian phenomenon. Cries of “Bubble!” are ringing out across the globe.

Sweden’s central bank boss Stefan Ingves this week issued a warning about sky-rocketing household debt and soaring property prices. Sound familiar?

In Switzerland, the cities of Zurich, Zug, Lucerne, Basel, Lausanne and Lugano face similar risks.

Then there’s Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada – an economy comparable in size and composition to our own. As it has for Australia, the International Monetary Fund has told the Canadian government to intervene or risk an economic crash.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued similar warnings for Denmark, which is battling soaring prices in the capital of Copenhagen.

Most important of all is China. Prices rose 22.1 per cent in Beijing, 21.1 per cent in Shanghai and 13.5 per cent in Shenzen between March 2016 and March 2017, CNBC reported.

The warnings are familiar. “If young people lose hope, the economy will suffer, as housing is a necessity,” Renmin University president Wu Xiaoqiu said recently.

The difference is, if the Chinese economy crashes because of a housing market correction, it will echo throughout the world.

Hong Kong is fighting bubbles, too. Reports on its property market are full of “handsome gains” and an impending “burst“.

Closer to home is Auckland in New Zealand, where prices have also doubled since the GFC.

Despite Brexit, the mother country is hurting, too. There are periodic predictions that London will “finally burst” after years of rampant price growth.

So what’s going on? The consensus is that these bubbles have been created by a combination of ultra-low interest rates, easy lending, rapid population growth, and an openness to foreign investment.

Saul Eslake, a renowned Australian economist, told The New Daily there are “common factors” across these affected nations, including immigration. But he cautioned against shutting the borders.

“It’s wrong, it’s factually incorrect to deny that immigration has contributed to rising house prices. It has contributed to it. But I would argue that to respond to it by, as Tony Abbott among others has advocated, cutting immigration would be the wrong approach.”

Dr Ashton De Silva, a property market expert at RMIT University, also blamed demographic change across the globe.

However, Dr De Silva said each country’s unique factors should not be ignored. “The fact that it’s happening the world over is important to note because there are many countries going through a very similar cycle, such as China,” he said.

“However, whilst we can take this overarching view, we need to be mindful that there is a very important local story going on. And that story is not always consistent.”

If Australia wants to beat its bubble, perhaps it should look to Singapore. It was fighting rampant prices too until the government intervened and did two things: boosted supply by building a whole bunch of new apartment buildings, and dampened demand by hiking stamp duty and cracking down on foreign buyers.

SOURCE

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Minimum Wage hikes don't cost jobs (?)

As the article below says, this is a contentious subject with evidence either way. The law of supply and demand is very much an 'iron' law, one incapable of repeal.  So increasing the price of labour must reduce the demand for it. And labour costs are a major part of costs for most businesses so the effect should be pretty obvious.

That is however in a "ceteris paribus" situation and other things are not always equal. A very old observation on the matter -- going back to Henry Ford and persuasively argued in modern times by Ron Unz -- is that workers are also buyers so giving them more money means that they will spend more and thus increase demand -- which will in turn increase the income of businesses, thus enabling them to pay their workers the mandated rise. That is something of a perpetual motion argument but is probably partly true.

A less adventurous argument is that large pay rises tend to be granted in periods of prosperity so the employer can afford them and all that happens is that the balance of returns to labour and capital is restored.

The least persuasive argument is that higher wages tend to incentivize higher productivity, thus enabling the boss to pay more.  That may happen but only in isolated instances, one would think.

Australia is in a very different situation to the United States.  Minimum wages are almost always set nationally in Australia, whereas American minima can be set Federally, Statewide or even on a municipal basis.  And high municipal minima do tend to spark evasion in the USA.  Businesses simply move out of town to where the set wages are lower.  Seattle appears to be an example of that. So the law of supply and demand is as reliably present as ever in the matter of minimum wages.

So, from that example, my conclusion is that offsetting effects are probably large in Australia but unregulated wages would probably still generate higher levels of employment


What was it thinking? On Tuesday, the normally hard-hearted Fair Work Commission drove up the cost of labour 3.3 per cent. From July 1 the full-time minimum wage jumps from $34,975 to $36,135 – that's an extra $22 a week, the biggest increase in ages.

It will spread far beyond the lowest-paid. The Commission believes that 23 per cent of Australian workers, almost 1 in 4, will benefit from the flow-on increase to awards. And it'll spread further, to enterprise agreements that need to compete with awards.

It'll cost jobs. There are "experts" who say so. "It's just got to be reducing employment, it's just got to be," said one, quoted in the Financial Review. Business will be forced to "reduce costs through cutting jobs or other investments," said another, in The Australian.

You'd think so. If a business' costs go up and its income doesn't, it'll have to cut back. It makes sense.

Just as it makes sense to think that lower class sizes improve educational outcomes.  They ought to. But while that's obviously true in extreme cases (if class sizes or wages were increased tenfold, it would hurt), normal-size adjustments, of the kind that are usually made, seem to have no effect whatsoever. And these are some of the most intensively studied questions in economics.

I'll leave class sizes for another day. On wages, the commissioners said those studies had "fortified" its view that modest and regular wage increases "do not result in disemployment effects".

The latest, and most damning, is a seven decade-study released in May by the United States National Employment Law Project entitled Raise Wages, Kill Jobs?

"If the claims of minimum wage opponents are akin to saying 'the sky is falling', this report is an effort to check whether the sky did indeed fall," the authors say.

They examined each of the 22 increases in the US federal minimum wage between 1938 and 2009 to determine whether either employment or hours worked had dropped in the year that followed.

"The results were clear: these basic economic indicators show no correlation between federal minimum wage increases and lower employment levels, even in the industries that are most impacted by higher minimum wages," they reported.

We find it hard to believe that modest wage increases don't cost jobs, because they ought to.

"To the contrary, in the substantial majority of instances (68 per cent) overall employment increased after a federal minimum-wage increase. In the most substantially affected industries, the rates were even higher: in the leisure and hospitality sector employment rose 82 per cent of the time following a federal wage increase, and in the retail sector it was 73 per cent of the time."

"Moreover, the small minority of instances in which employment declined, all occurred during periods of recession or near recession. That pattern strongly suggests that the few instances of such declines are better explained by the business cycle than by the minimum wage."

They go on to observe that their findings aren't really surprising. Study after study has found the same thing.

We find it hard to believe that modest wage increases don't cost jobs, because they ought to. Where's the employer going to find the money? But cutting jobs can cost money, and the money can come from higher prices and from getting more out of each worker, so-called productivity growth. Of late productivity has been growing faster than wages, so the commission's decision puts things back into balance.

And partly because when workers are paid more, they stay more and become better workers, and even become better ambassadors for the businesses that employ them. And because, occasionally, wage increases are really big. When they are big enough, low wage workers become higher wage workers and spend more, especially in shops and food outlets, the kind of industries that are likely to employ them.

There's just a chance the commission knows what it's doing.

SOURCE


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Global university rankings: one Australian university makes the top 20

The good performance of ANU is no big surprise.  It is Australia's most lavishly funded Uni.  It basically can afford any faculty members it wants.  Still, Australia is a small community on the world stage so to rank so highly out of thousands of universities worldwide is a considerable  achievement

It may be worth noting what the QS rankings are based on.  They are reputational rankings.  They tell us how highly a university is thought of.  That is important information but rankings of academic output are possibly more important.  The Leiden ranking is notable for the latter.  Several Australian universities get into the top 50 according to Leiden but the ANU is not among them.  It is way down at 191.  That does suggest the the high reputation of the ANU might not be fully deserved

By contrast, the fact that University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and University of Queensland score highly in both sets of rankings is persuasive. It indicates a deserved high reputation for them.  As I am a graduate of two of those three I am pleased about that. I think it is clear that the teaching there is world-class


One Australian university is among the world's top 20
universities and five are in the top 50, according to a major global ranking that shows Australian universities have made overall improvements in all measures, including teaching, employability and research.

The University of Sydney was the only Australian university to drop down the list, slipping four places from 46, while six of Australia's top universities improved in their rank from last year.

Australian National University is the highest ranked in the country at 20th place in the 2018 QS World University Rankings.

It is followed by the University of Melbourne, ranked at 41, the University of New South Wales at 45, the University of Queensland at 47 and the University of Sydney at 50.

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of peak sector body Universities Australia, said the ranking is especially important to international students choosing a university.

"Global rankings are a major factor for many international students in deciding where to study, so they're also very important to the $22.4 billion a year that international students bring into Australia's economy," Ms Robinson said.

"These impressive rises underscore the global competitiveness of Australia's universities and the excellent quality of our education and research on the world stage."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the top ranked university in the world for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Stanford University, Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, the University of Chicago and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

MIT has been described as "the nucleus of an unrivalled innovation ecosystem" by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the education analysis firm behind the ranking, which notes that companies created by the university's alumni have a combined revenue of $2 trillion, the equivalent of the world's 11th largest economy.

Despite the ongoing dominance of US and UK universities in the top 10, QS Quacquarelli Symonds also notes that many other universities from those countries are now being outperformed by "the best of Australia, Russia, China, Singapore and India – among others".

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What's Wrong With the Claim That '97% of Climate Scientists Agree' About Global Warming?

The 97% claim is the major underpinning of the global warming racket. Much of the literature on global warming uses scientific explanations that go over the head of the average Joe so Joe  simply decides that if the scientists say something, it must be right. He feels unqualified to disagree.

So it is welcome that the paper below covers comprehensively the whole 97% fraud.  But, again, that too might be be hard going for some readers.  I prefer a simpler approach.  I don't criticize the Cook paper.  I just insist that people look at what it actually says.  It says that two thirds of the scientific papers on climatology TAKE NO POSITION on global warming.  So at best only one third -- not 97% -- of climate scientists support global warming. That's even to be found in the second sentence of the paper's summary: "We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW"

I find that approach to be both comprehensible and crushing to just about everyone.  There is however the occasional tenacious Warmist who fights on for his belief.  I came across one recently on Quora named Rupert Baines, an electronics guy.

He pointed out that even John Cook had been a bit freaked by all the "no opinion" scientists and had tried to get around that. He had sent out questionnaires to those same scientists directly asking what their opinion of global warming was.  Out of the replies he got back, 97.2% said they agreed with global warming.

Impressive?  Does not that show that "No opinion" really meant "Agree"? Hardly.  The response-rate to the survey was only 14%.  Even when directly asked, 84% declined to state a position on global warming.  They just threw the questionnaire into the bin.  So on the first survey 66.4% of scientists did NOT support global warming but that rose to 84% who did NOT support global warming on the second survey.

When I pointed that out, Comrade Baines was still unbowed. He said that the scientists felt that the truth of global warming was so obvious that they didn't need to state it. Even if he is right about that, however, it is only a guess, not data.

The most likely reason for the silence, of course, is that they doubted some aspect or all aspects of the theory but thought it wise to shut up about that.  You can lose your job by doubting global warming


A variety of studies have purported to find an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists on global warming. However, the studies rarely specify what it is to which the scientists agree. Usually it is nothing more than that the earth has warmed since 1800 and that human activity has contributed significantly to the warming — something almost no skeptics would deny. 

No study — whether a survey of published articles or a survey directly of scientists — has found anything remotely near a 97% consensus not only that the earth has warmed and that human activity has contributed significantly but also that human activity has been the primary driver, that the warming caused by it is dangerous, and that attempting to prevent future warming by reducing CO2 emissions would do more good than harm — and those are the issues debated.

In 2004 Science published the results of a study by historian Naomi Oreskes claiming that “without substantial disagreement, scientists find human activities are heating the earth’s surface.” But an attempt at replicating the study both found that she had made serious mistakes in handling data and, after re-examining the data, reached contrary conclusions. As Benny Peiser pointed out in a letter to Science (Submission ID: 56001) that Science declined to publish but that the Cornwall Alliance summarized in 2006:

Oreskes claimed that an analysis of 928 abstracts in the ISI database containing the phrase “climate change” proved the alleged consensus. It turned out that she had searched the database using three keywords (“global climate change”) instead of the two (“climate change”) she reported — reducing the search results by an order of magnitude. Searching just on “climate change” instead found almost 12,000 articles in the same database in the relevant decade. 

Excluded from Oreskes’s list were “countless research papers that show that global temperatures were similar or even higher during the Holocene Climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period when atmospheric CO2 levels were much lower than today; that solar variability is a key driver of recent climate change; and that climate modeling is highly uncertain.” 

Further, even using the three key words she actually used, “global climate change,” brought up [not 928 but] 1,247 documents, of which 1,117 included abstracts. An analysis of those abstracts showed that:

only 1 percent explicitly endorsed what Oreskes called the “consensus view”;

29 percent implicitly accepted it “but mainly focus[ed] on impact assessments of envisaged global climate change”;

8 percent focused on “mitigation”;

6 percent focused on methodological questions;

8 percent dealt “exclusively with paleo-climatological research unrelated to recent climate change”;

3 percent “reject[ed] or doubt[ed] the view that human activities are the main drivers of ‘the observed warming over the last 50 years’”;

4 percent focused “on natural factors of global climate change”; and

42 percent did “not include any direct or indirect link or reference to human activities, CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions, let alone anthropogenic forcing of recent climate change.”

Peter Doran and Maggie Zimmerman’s “Examining the Consensus on Climate Change” (EOS, January 2009), concluded, “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.” 

However, Doran and Zimmerman counted only 79 out of the 3,146 responses to their survey in determining the alleged consensus, and the two questions asked in the survey were framed such that even the most ardent skeptics — like Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, and Roy Spencer — would have answered “Yes”:

* “When compared with pre‐1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”

* “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

Another study, “Expert credibility in climate change” (PNAS, April 9, 2010), by William Anderegg et al., reported that a survey of publication and citation data of 1,372 climate researchers found that 97 to 98 percent believed that “anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for ‘most’ of the ‘unequivocal’ warming of the Earth’s average global temperature over the second half of the 20th century.” 

But Anderegg’s study covered only the 200 most prolific writers on climate change, excluding thousands of others, and even the conclusion that humans caused “most” of the warming doesn’t mean that those scientists consider global warming a crisis or that we should spend trillions of dollars attempting to stop it.

Probably the most widely cited study claiming to find such consensus, John Cook et al.’s “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature,” purported to find that “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.” 

Of course, “Humans are causing global warming” is something that nearly every skeptic — including myself — could affirm. The question is not whether we’re causing global warming, but whether we’re causing most of the recent warming, whether it’s dangerous, and whether we should abandon abundant, affordable, reliable energy from fossil fuels in exchange for sparse, expensive, intermittent energy from “renewables” in an effort to stop it. 

Cook et al.’s paper was critiqued in another paper by David Legates et al., who reviewed the same papers Cook et al. had reviewed and concluded that the actual consensus supportable by their abstracts was only 0.3%. Legates et al. critiqued only Cook et al.’s statistical methodology and methods of interpreting the literature, not the quality of the selection process by which Cook et al. determined which papers to include and which to exclude from their survey. 

But another scholar, José Duarte, did look at the selection process and found it “multiply fraudulent.” So Duarte called for Environmental Research Letters to retract Cook et al. He pointed out that although Cook et al. had claimed to have excluded papers on “social science, education, research about people’s views on climate,” they had in fact included many such. He also listed some of the many properly scientific papers that Cook et al. ignored but should have included and that would have counted against their conclusion.

Cook et al. surveyed 11,944 papers on global warming that had been published from 1991 through 2012. They did not read the papers or talk to the authors, but they did read the abstracts. The results of the abstracts were divided into seven categories:


It appears that Cook et al. decided to compare only those scientists who had strong opinions. If that is the case, the first two categories represent scientists who believe man is causing all or most of the warming (986), while those in categories 6 and 7 believe man is causing none or almost none (24). This ratio is about 97%. But the most important result of this study is that almost 8,000 had no opinion or were uncertain. So much for the 97%.

Why were there only 24 papers published by skeptics? We found out in 2009, when 22,000 email exchanges between senior meteorologists in the U.S. and Europe were released. Many of the emails were published by Steven Mosher and Thomas Fuller in “Climategate: The Crutape Letters” (nQuire Services, 2010). We learned the following things from this scandal:

Those promoting man-made global warming:

Controlled the meteorology and climatology journals in the U.S.;

Controlled non-meteorological science publication (Nature, Science, etc.);

Controlled Wikipedia;

Manipulated data;

Demonized skeptics.

Papers by skeptics were blackballed and not published in U.S. professional journals. In contrast, Kenneth Richard has documented over 1,000 peer-reviewed papers published in Europe and Asia in 2014, 2015, and 2016 that challenge the hypothesis that CO2 has been the primary driver of recent global warming (and other aspects of the bogus “consensus”) and support solar, oceanic, and other natural cycles as the primary causes of global warming, but they are not found in the U.S. publications.