The last 12 hours have been very tearful for me. After a long battle, Chris Brand has just passed away.  Chris and I were born on opposite parts of the world but we could well have been twins. We were the same age, we both had a classical education (though Chris acquired his in  circumstances much more distinguished than mine) and both of us were very self-confident and independent and thought very similarly.  To defy all the nonsense that is taught in our society we had to be very self-confident and independent.  Both Chris and I waged an unrelenting war on political correctness.

Sadly, I never met Chris in person but I am pleased I had a proxy with him up to the end. My stepson Paul and I had always got on exceptionally well.  Paul too is very independent and there was a time in his teens and early 20s when I was the only person Paul would listen to if any kind of advice was being offered.  So when Paul moved to Edinburgh for business reasons I was greatly pleased that I could send him a friend very much like myself.  And Paul did indeed develop a great friendship with Chris.

Something that upsets me about Chris's death is that I could have prevented it if I had known earlier what I know now.  He died in an NHS hospital of hospital-borne infections. He got one after another, progressively weakening him until he had nothing left to fight with.  NHS hospitals are riddled with hospital borne infections and Scottish NHS hospitals are said to be worse even than English ones.  Private British hospitals are however usually free of such infections.  With the benefit of hindsight I would have asked Paul to put Chris in a private hospital very early on.  I could have funded it and he would be with us today.

Curse and goddam the NHS!

It is however a comfort that Chris's wife, Dr. Shiou-Yun Fang [nataliasyfang1974@gmail.com] sat with him to the end.  Perhaps in deference to a Chinese custom she even sat with him for some time after he died.  She is from Taiwan and is a distinguished art historian. Those who enjoyed Chris's thoughts in life may wish to comfort her in her great loss by sending her your condolences and prayers and recollections of Chris's wisdom. I will leave his blog in place for as long as Google permits it. It is IQ & PC.


New 50c coin commemorates Mabo decision and 1967 referendum

The events concerned were significant so it is not unreasonable to commemorate them but what about some centenaries that could have been commemorated?  In 1917 Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara became the first Australian airman to receive the Victoria Cross; in 1917  The two halves of the Trans-Australian Railway met; in 1917 The second plebiscite on the issue of military conscription was held and defeated. But who cares about old white guys and their history these days?  

But while we are on the subject, I might at least note what the 1967 referendum actually showed.  I am guessing that you won't see much discussion of that in the media.  For a start it showed a big majority (91%) of the population voting in favour of Aborigines.  So even in those days of inspissated darkness,  Australians were NOT generally racist in any sense.

But the second finding is more interesting.  Who were the blackguards who voted AGAINST Aboriginal recognition?  As Mitchell showed, they were the people who had most contact with Aborigines.  So dislike of Aborigines can be reality-based rather than based in any racist ideology.  Pesky!  Details here

The face of Eddie Mabo is etched into the newest 50 cent coin, as the Royal Australian Mint commemorates 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the Mabo decision.

As well as the historic figure, the coin features Torres Strait Islander and Australian Aboriginal flags, and iconic pamphlets from the referendum.

Designed in collaboration with Eddie Mabo’s granddaughter, Boneta-Marie Mabo, the coin was unveiled in a ceremony at Old Parliament House.

Also attending the event was Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion, and people who were involved in the 1967 referendum campaign.

Ms Mabo said she was proud to represent her family. "I am so honoured that the Royal Australian Mint invited me to work with them as an artist to design the coin and that they have given me the opportunity to be a part of such a nationally recognised celebration which means so much to me and my family," she said.

Royal Australian Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid told SBS World News the anniversaries were two of the most significant events in Australian history.

"Once we realised that these things were coming together and it was also the start of the national reconciliation week it seemed obvious to us that we could create a coin that was going to be a recognising the significance of both of those occasions," he said.

He hopes when people come across the coin they will "stop and reflect on what message might be associated with that coin."

Four million of the coins will be released into circulation at buildings in Canberra, such as the National Library, the National Portrait Gallery and Parliament House, and from there they will make their way around the country.



Was Hitler right?  Are Germans a Herrenvolk?

My heading above is of course exceptionally and deliberately provocative so I think I had better go into damage-control mode straight away. 

Anybody who shows any awareness of racial, ethnic or national differences is normally excoriated by the Left as a "white supremacist".  So I think I should point out that I am in fact a N.E. Asian supremacist.  We now have an abundance of evidence that the N.E. Asians (Japan, Korea, China) are on average roughly a third of a standard deviation more intelligent than the average European.  And a third of a standard deviation is a lot, particularly at the upper end of the distribution.  See here for full details on that.

And we don't need IQ scores to conclude that this century will be the century of China.  The economic strides they have already made in recent decades make that an obvious inference, I think.

And although my own ancestry is wholly British, I am quite happy about all that. I see N.E. Asians as patient, hard-working family-oriented people who already have a huge influence on the world so we can know pretty well what the world will be like once they realize their full potential.  I am even prepared to concede to China their nine-dash line. I would object if a N.E. Asian nation showed signs of wanting to conquer some other nation but I think that the dreadful events of WWII have convincingly shown both Europeans and Asians the great folly in that.

With that bit of throat-clearing, I think I can now go on to what I initially wanted to say here.

There is here an extensive article accompanied by a profusion of maps which locates the main sources of economic, cultural, scientific and technological advances in recent centuries.  And it shows something that every schoolkid once knew: That the evolution of modern industrial civilization traces back to innovations made in N.W. Europe, principally in  Britain and Germany.  Other European nations have contributed -- France, Italy and Russia -- but their influence has been nothing like the influence of N.W. Europe.

The article I refer to above is from an anonymous author on an anonymous site.  And you can see why.  N.W. Europe is in fact a euphemism.  What is in fact being referred to is the Germanic countries.  The author has shown not that the Germans are a master race but that the Germanic people generally are a master race of sorts.  They have given us the modern world and the rest of the world has hastened to follow in their steps.

Hitler's term Herrenvolk is  not ideally translated as "master race".  A "race of masters" or a race of Lords would be  better translations.  And that is what Hitler had in mind -- a people who lorded it over a great mass of inferior people.  Each German would be the master of an estate worked by inferior races.  And as a libertarian, that whole idea is anathema to me.  

But in English, "master" has another meaning -- meaning someone who is very good at something, a master craftsman, for instance.  And I think it is very clear that Germans, broadly speaking, continue to be master innovators.  There is actually more German ancestry among Americans than there is British ancestry so the combination of those two Germanic nationalities makes the USA still a largely Germanic nation despite the large movement of other peoples into the USA. And the fact that Yiddish is a German dialect is evidence of how strongly Jews have been absorbed into Germanic culture and continue to participate in it. 

And that makes Israel a Germanic country too -- bitter though that thought may be. And Israel is not only Germanic culturally but to an important extent also ancestrally.  You don't have to walk for long among the Ashkenazim to see a lot of people who look distinctly Northern European. Ever since Ruth, Jews have always been only weakly endogamous, much to the grief of many a Yiddisher Momma in NYC.  The tendency of Irvings and Sheldons to get into bed with "shicksas" is often deplored by the mothers of the Irvings and Sheldons concerned.  The strength of the feelings involved may perhaps be revealed if I disclose something not normally disclosed:  The literal German meaning of "shicksa".  It means "prostitute".

So I reject Hitler's claim that Germans ("Deutschen") are a master race.  But I think a similar-sounding claim is true:  That Germanic people ("die Germanischen") are master innovators. And combine a Germanic culture with the high IQ of the Ashkenazim and it becomes plain why Israel is a hugely innovative society in scientific and technological matters.

I think that everything I have said so far is entirely factual but no doubt some Leftist will find in it some reason to call me a racist. They called a sentimental Christian gentleman named George W. Bush a Nazi so they live in a world of the borderline insane.  The classic test of insanity is loss of reality contact and that seems pervasive in the words of the American Left.

Now we come to the interesting part, the speculative part:  WHY are Germans innovative? The anonymous author I refer to above has an elaborate answer to that but I think I can give a much simpler answer.  But to do that I think we first have to look at some history.  We have to go back to the time when the Saxons  were a South Baltic people.  They were a very hardy people who normally won their battles with the Scandinavians -- and the Scandinavians were no pushover.  Vikings anyone?  So the Scandinavians got the less hospitable lands North of the Baltic while the Saxons and their allies got the more hospitable and promising land South of the Baltic.

But the Baltic Germans, the Saxons, were restless. Germans always were.  They struck South right down into Italy even during the days of the Roman Republic.  And the Romans had the Devil of a job repelling them. The expansion of the Roman empire stopped at the Rhine. Strikes across the Rhine ended in disaster.

But the Romans had a sort of revenge on the Germans.  They civilized them. The only way the Empire could effectively guard its borders was to co-opt the German tribes adjacent to those borders.  The Romans made Germans into "limitanei", border guards.  And they incentivized that by giving the Germans land for farming.  So Roman ideas spread gradually North to the extent that most Germans took up farming and abandoned their previous lifestyles as hunter-gatherers. 

And note that the great Roman defeat at the Teutoburger Wald was at the hands of German tribes led by a ROMANIZED German. Arminius was actually a Roman citizen.  So there had long been a Roman influence on Germans near the borders of the empire.

But the further North and East you went, the less was the civilizing effect.  And when you got to the Baltic, the Germans there, the Saxons, were the genuine originals, not at all softened by civilization. And, like other Germans before them, they too got itchy feet.

So they moved  into lands already occupied by others.  To the South were lands occupied by a mix of Celts and "softened" Germans and to the West was Britannia, the land of the Romanized Celts which we now know as England.  And they came to dominate both those places.  To this day we speak of the predominant people of England as "Anglo-Saxons" and a large and rich part of central Germany today is Saxony. Many people reading this are probably descendants of Saxons. I am.

So it is striking that the two great fountainheads of modern civilization, modern Germany and Britain, both came to be dominated by South Baltic German tribes.  It is to those original South Baltic Germans that we have to look if we want to understand the rise of modern civilization.  It was their descendants who created modern day civilization.

At this point however we can only move into speculation.  We can prove nothing.  Arguments can be more or less plausible only.  So I offer an argument that is much simpler than the one offered by our anonymous friend above.  And under Occams razor that argument has preference.

I think the starting point for an explanation is that the Saxons remained primitive culturally for thousands of years after the beginnings of civilization in the near East.  The ancient civilizations of the Near East required a high degree of group effort for the purposes of irrigation and that fostered a very group-oriented civilization.  And that was copied by others. The Indo-Europeans were originally hunter gatherers but gradually adopted a Near Eastern lifestyle.  

But that near-Eastern lifestyle had very important political consequences.  We need to understand what was lost by that. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle was one that did NOT require much co-operation for survival.  The hunter fed himself and his family without being accountable to anyone.  It fostered a very independent frame of mind.  There were occasional needs for co-operation but getting such people to co-operate could not successfully be done except by consultation and agreement. Hence among such people there were frequent consultative assemblies where decisions were made by consensus. It was democracy, in short.

The tribe was governed as much by a "witangemot" or assembly as by a king.  If there was a king he could even be deposed, usually without bloodshed.  Ultimate authority resided in the whole people, as led by their elders.  We do much the same today.

Interestingly, though, sparks of the old hunter-gatherer lifestyle did survive in Europe for a while.  The various city states of ancient Greece and the early Roman republic were substantially democratic, which means that ultimate respect was given to the whole of the people, not to a king-emperor.  

So the whole of the European people were originally hunter gatherers with a democratic method of government.  But the Eastern model of government gradually encroached to cover much of Europe, with even the holdouts of democracy in Greece and Rome eventually coming under the control of tyrants.

But up near the Baltic the Near East is not so near and the Saxons were among the few representatives of the old way. The personal independence fostered by a hunter-gatherer lifestyle lived on there.  But the fact that it survived there suggests that the South Baltic was a sort of "goldilocks" environment for supporting the old ways.  It was midway between the crushing winters of Scandinavia and Russia but not lush enough for an agricultural lifestyle.  There were enough juicy animals to hunt and kill for food but never enough for much of a surplus.  The hunt had to be almost daily but it was enough.

So we come to an independence of mind as the key feature of the Saxons.  The whole of Europe had it once but it never succumbed in them.  They were the last survivors of the old ways but it was enough to give rise to something remarkable under the right circumstances.

And what those circumstances were is not very mysterious.  They moved to rich agricultural lands and the easier lifestyle that implies. And being the fierce warriors that they were, nobody could either resist them or push them out.  So they retained their old culture of respect for the individual and the independence of mind that comes from that.  And because they were now prosperous they had time to think. And independent thinking has enormous potential, as we see from that time on.  

The process of asserting independence was however hampered by the attractions of civilization.  City life had much to entice one and from top to bottom Europe gradually became civilized. But civilizations has its burdens too -- particularly the need for some form of permanent government.  So the Saxons and other Germans did accept the rule of Kings but it was not to their liking.  Something that helped such acceptance was the church.  The church was itself a heavily centralized institution and it supported the rule of Europe's kings and emperors.

So along comes Luther.  Luther was not the first man to lead a movement hostile to the church.  Predecessors such as John Huss, Giordano Bruno and Savonarola come to mind.  But all the European rebels before Luther were eventually put to death and their movements erased.  So how come Luther survived?  He survived -- wait for it -- because he was a Saxon.  The people of Saxony loved his message of independence.  Even the King was on his side. And that was crucial.  When the whole of Europe was out for Luther's head King Frederick "The Wise" of Saxony hid Luther in his remote Wartburg castle.

So the Germanic spirit of independence emerged in a form of Christianity that suited Northern Germans, a form that put power and responsibility for salvation right back on to the individual, with no intervening priest needed.  We call it Protestantism.  The emergence of Protestantism is proof that the old Germanic independence of mind survived into relatively modern times -- initially in Saxony and fairly rapidly in all the Northern German lands.

And something similar happened in England, that other  great home of Saxon genes.  I refer of course to Wycliffe and the Lollards.  Wycliffe was over a century before Luther in fact. Luther wrote his "Ninety-five Theses" in 1517 whereas Wycliffe  was officially condemned in 1377 by Pope Gregory XI.  Wycliffe  was a great critic of the church and advocated most of the things that we would now recognize as Protestantism.  But he never left the church.  He wanted to reform the church not destroy it.  But his criticisms were swingeing and the church hated him for it. They would have loved to have killed him.  But, again, it was the people and their king who mattered.  Wycliffe was very popular not only with the common people but even with the King and his court.  So Wycliffe survived.  He eventually collapsed in church while saying a mass and died a couple of days later.

Wycliffe did not give rise to a movement that long survived him but he had awakened the old rebellious spirit and that spirit was the principal support for the actions of King Henry VIII.  When Henry dispossessed the priests, the people loved him for it.  They supported their King, not their priests.  Wycliffe had lit a slow-burning fuse that eventually gave rise to an explosion. And that fuse kept burning for so long because it was founded on a Saxon independence of mind among the people.  Wycliffe died in 1384, Henry became king in 1509.

I have more or less come to the end of my tale here.  The next question is why was there a considerable latency between the Protestant reformation and the Industrial revolution?  Why did not one lead directly into the other?  There is much to be said on that topic but I will have to leave that for another day.

But it seems clear that independence of mind, not only in the individual but also in the society as a whole, is the major precondition for continuing innovation. So the respect for the individual that has always been part and parcel of that is both a normal part of daily life and an instinctive driver of political thinking among Germanic people  -- still to this day most noticeably in Britain, Germany and the USA.

The centralizing tendencies that characterize most of the rest of the world are always there too and ready to horn in but it seems unlikely that they will eventually take over.

My big article on Anglo-Saxon conservatism includes an extensive history of respect for the individual, starting with my notes about Disraeli -- JR


Muscular men less likely to support social and economic equality, study suggests

So conservatives are muscle-bound bullies?  That is what the authors would undoubtedly wish us to believe.  But as for proving it: Nice try but no cigar.  Their measurement of physical strength etc. was carefully done but their measurement of attitudes was naive.

They used two sets of questions ('scales') to measure attitudes.  The first was the Social Dominance Orientation scale principally associated with Jim Sidanius. It is rubbish, hopelessly multifactorial. So scores on it could mean many things or nothing.  See here for a detailed rundown of that scale.

The second scale is about redistribution of the wealth but I could find no answers to the things that psychometricians normally want to know about a scale:  Reliability, validity, internal consistency, factor loadings etc.  For present purposes however it suffices to assume that it was a well-constructed scale.

So the only findings of interest in the research are the correlations between the socialism scale and other variables. The academic journal article is "Is sociopolitical egalitarianism related to bodily and facial formidability in men?" and the research findings are in their Table 1. And we see there only a barely significant correlation of .19 between bodily formidability and support for redistribution.  That means that bodily formidability was only the most minor contributor to anti-socialist attitudes.

And when we note that the research was not conducted on any kind of representative sample but was based on an available group of students, we have to conclude that no generalizations from it at all can be justified.  The study proves nothing

Physically stronger men are less in favour of social and economic equality than weaker men, new research from Brunel University London indicates.

Dr Michael Price and colleagues assessed 171 men aged 18-40, collecting information on height, weight, waist size, flexed and relaxed muscle circumference, hand grip, and arm and chest strength.

They also surveyed participants on how often they go to the gym, their wealth, whether they support the redistribution of wealth, and whether they approve of the idea that some social groups should have dominance over others (‘social dominance orientation’).

As well as focusing on bodily signs of perceived dominance, the researchers also focused on facial appearance: they had groups of independent raters view participants’ faces and rate whether they saw the men as dominant and attractive. They also used software to analyse faces in terms of the masculinity of their shape.

Prior research has shown several aspects of face shape and appearance, such as height-to-width ratio, are linked to ability to compete for resources in the modern world.

The results showed a significant correlation between those with higher bodily formidability and the belief that some social groups should dominate others. These men were also much less likely to support redistribution of wealth.

But contrary to predictions, there was no correlation between being considered attractive, as measured by waist-to-chest ratio and various facial measures, and whether or not the men supported ‘social dominance orientation’ or redistribution.

The study showed that more muscular men were less egalitarian, and the number of hours actually spent in the gym was also linked to having less egalitarian socioeconomic beliefs.



More genes linked to IQ

Because IQ is linked to so much else, psychometricians have long expected it to be polygenetic: Many genes have an input into it.  I have always favoured the view that a high IQ is simply one aspect of general biological good functioning.  The brain is just another organ of the body, after all. So if that is the case, the number of genes linked to IQ should be very large indeed.  So the work below is just a first step.

Various reports of this study distort its results --  with the NYT in the lead on that.  So let me answer them here:

The NYT says: "These genes do not determine intelligence, however. Their combined influence is minuscule".  That is exactly the opposite of what the study found.  I append the journal abstract below so readers can check for themselves.  The authors found that their 52 genes explained 5% of the variance in IQ.  That per cent of variance explained is about normal in psychological research and has been used to support many claims of causality.  And the 5% will rise as more genes are analysed.

Other reports misunderstood the links to Alzheimers and Schizophrenia.  The study found that people with high IQ genes had LESS Alzheimers and Schizophrenia, not more.  It is interesting, however, that high IQ genes are associated with autism.  As is well known, autistic people often have extreme mental abilities in some fields, so the finding is not too surprising.  Most high IQ people are not autistic, however.

I liked the finding that high IQ people are tall, thin and unlikely to smoke. I am an example of that.  I am 5'10", was very skinny in my early life and have never smoked. 5'10" is not that tall these days but when I was born 73 years ago it was. The average male height in Australia has increased 3" in the last 50 years.

Intelligence is one of the most investigated traits in humans, but so far, only a handful of genes have been associated with the trait.

Now, researchers have made a major advance in understanding the genetic underpinnings of intelligence, uncovering 52 genes for the trait, 40 of which are new discoveries.

In particular they found that many people with these genes are more likely to have other traits, including being tall, thin and unlikely to smoke.

Scientists hope the findings could provide new biological insights into brain function and understanding, and help to define the genetic component of IQ.

The findings also turned up a surprising connection between intelligence and autism that could one day help shed light on the condition's origins.

"For the first time, we were able to detect a substantial amount of genetic effects in IQ," said Danielle Posthuma, a researcher at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam, and the main architect of the study. "Our findings provide insight into the biological underpinnings of intelligence," she told AFP.

An international research team led by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam studied genetic data from over 78,000 individuals. The data included information on DNA genotypes and intelligence scores, which led the team to discover new genes and biological routes for intelligence.

Despite high heritability estimates of 45 per cent in childhood and 80 per cent in adulthood, until now, only a few genes had been associated with. But the new study uncovered 40 new genes, most of which are mainly expressed in brain tissue.

Professor Posthuma said: 'These results are very exciting as they provide very robust associations with intelligence. 'The genes we detect are involved in the regulation of cell development, and are specifically important in synapse formation, axon guidance and neuronal differentiation.

'These findings for the first time provide clear clues towards the underlying biological mechanisms of intelligence.'

The results showed that people with the genes were more likely to have high educational achievements, and were also likely to be taller, not to smoke, and to have autism spectrum disorder.

In contrast, people with the intelligence genes were less likely to have Alzheimer's disease, depressive symptoms, smoking history, schizophrenia, high body mass index, or obesity.

Dr Suzanne Sniekers, who also worked on the study, said: 'These genetic correlations shed light on common biological pathways for intelligence and other traits.

'Seven genes for intelligence are also associated with schizophrenia; nine genes also with body mass index, and four genes were also associated with obesity. 'These three traits show a negative correlation with intelligence.

'So, a variant of gene with a positive effect on intelligence, has a negative effect on schizophrenia, body mass index or obesity.'

The researchers stress that future studies will be needed to clarify the exact role of these genes in intelligence in order to gain a more complete picture of how genetic differences lead to differences in intelligence.

Professor Posthuma added: 'The current genetic results explain up to five per cent of the total variance in intelligence.

'Although this is quite a large amount of variance for a trait as intelligence, there is still a long road to go: given the high heritability of intelligence, many more genetic effects are expected to be important, and these can only be detected in even larger samples.'


Genome-wide association meta-analysis of 78,308 individuals identifies new loci and genes influencing human intelligence

Suzanne Sniekers et al.

Intelligence is associated with important economic and health-related life outcomes1. Despite intelligence having substantial heritability2 (0.54) and a confirmed polygenic nature, initial genetic studies were mostly underpowered3, 4, 5. Here we report a meta-analysis for intelligence of 78,308 individuals. We identify 336 associated SNPs (METAL P < 5 × 10−8) in 18 genomic loci, of which 15 are new. Around half of the SNPs are located inside a gene, implicating 22 genes, of which 11 are new findings. Gene-based analyses identified an additional 30 genes (MAGMA P < 2.73 × 10−6), of which all but one had not been implicated previously. We show that the identified genes are predominantly expressed in brain tissue, and pathway analysis indicates the involvement of genes regulating cell development (MAGMA competitive P = 3.5 × 10−6). Despite the well-known difference in twin-based heratiblity2 for intelligence in childhood (0.45) and adulthood (0.80), we show substantial genetic correlation (rg = 0.89, LD score regression P = 5.4 × 10−29). These findings provide new insight into the genetic architecture of intelligence.

Nature Genetics. (2017) doi:10.1038/ng.3869


Even the Antarctic peninsula is cooling

The Antarctic peninsula is the most Northerly part of Antarctica so by reason of that alone is the warmest part of Antarctica. Additionally, it is known to have a degree of subsurface vulcanism, which warms bits of it even more, so it is the part of Antarctica that Greenies normally talk about.  A glacier breaking off or splitting there gives them erections.  But glacial ice is always splitting off somewhere so what they see proves nothing.  I put up something about peninsula glaciers yesterday.

Implicitly, they tend to generalize a slightly warmer area of the peninsula to Antarctica as a whole and regard what they observe as proof of global warming.  It has long been known however that Antarctica as a whole is cooling so that claim is just the usual Warmist dishonesty.

The article below, however, rubs salt into the wound.  Not only are a few bits of the Antarctic peninsula not typical of the Antarctic, they are not even typical of the Antarctic peninsula.  The peninsula overall is cooling too!

Recent regional climate cooling on the Antarctic Peninsula and associated impacts on the cryosphere

M. Oliva et al.


The Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is often described as a region with one of the largest warming trends on Earth since the 1950s, based on the temperature trend of 0.54 °C/decade during 1951–2011 recorded at Faraday/Vernadsky station. Accordingly, most works describing the evolution of the natural systems in the AP region cite this extreme trend as the underlying cause of their observed changes. However, a recent analysis (Turner et al., 2016) has shown that the regionally stacked temperature record for the last three decades has shifted from a warming trend of 0.32 °C/decade during 1979–1997 to a cooling trend of − 0.47 °C/decade during 1999–2014. While that study focuses on the period 1979–2014, averaging the data over the entire AP region, we here update and re-assess the spatially-distributed temperature trends and inter-decadal variability from 1950 to 2015, using data from ten stations distributed across the AP region. We show that Faraday/Vernadsky warming trend is an extreme case, circa twice those of the long-term records from other parts of the northern AP. Our results also indicate that the cooling initiated in 1998/1999 has been most significant in the N and NE of the AP and the South Shetland Islands (> 0.5 °C between the two last decades), modest in the Orkney Islands, and absent in the SW of the AP. This recent cooling has already impacted the cryosphere in the northern AP, including slow-down of glacier recession, a shift to surface mass gains of the peripheral glacier and a thinning of the active layer of permafrost in northern AP islands.

Science of The Total Environment. Volume 580, 15 February 2017, Pages 210–223


Obsolete health advice in NSW schools

This is a good lesson in the folly of relying on governments.  The "health" advice below is based on minimizing the intake of dietary fat and salt.  That was of course conventional wisdom for many years.

Over the decades however, the research did not support that and current  medical advice is that fat is actually GOOD for you and that it is sugar that should be minimized.  There is however a lot of research indicating no harm from sugar. And the advice on salt is that it is only a deficiency of it that kills you.

So governments should get out of the health advice business.  Their current advice is just an obeisance to fads.  It is actually contrary to the best current scientific advice.  It is nothing more than a parade of ignorance

SCHOOLS have been told to stop using butter in the latest NSW government crackdown on the food sold at ­canteens.

Banning or severely restricting fairy bread, Vegemite, schnitzels, pies and cream is also part of a dreary new regimen for kids.

“We can’t teach good ­nutrition in the classroom and then sell rubbish in the playground,” Education Minister Rob Stokes said.

Under a blanket regimen starting next year, public schools are being told they must not buy hundreds and thousands, butter, cream, salt, Nutella, icing and chocolate chips.

The war on fat has also spread to Vegemite, which may now only be used in “small amounts, lightly spread”.

Fattier foods such as schnitzels, bacon, hot chips, pies and other foods must make up no more than one-quarter of canteen menus — and they must be healthier versions.

New Education Department advice says these ingredients “should not be used in your school canteen”.

The department has prepared a list of meals it would prefer kids have, including hummus, rice paper rolls, a “veg-o-rama burger” and a bean and corn salad. It wants canteen menus to contain at least 75 per cent healthy food, and water should be the kids’ “main drink”.

“The nanny state is getting ridiculous — governments are interfering too much in our lives,” Liberal MP Peter Phelps told The Saturday Telegraph.



The incorrectness of Soylent

Soylent is a liquid meal replacement born in California a few years ago. For people too busy to eat or too busy to prepare meals, it offers great convenience.  You can live on Soylent.

It is a cleverly-made product that embodies answers to most criticisms that might be made of it.  It is for instance made from grains and other vegetable products so is acceptable to vegans. Yet there has been great opposition to it. Before I look at why, I should perhaps declare that I have an interest of sorts.  

In 1967 when I was in the 4th year of my psychology degree, our professor of physiology mentioned to the class that skim milk has a very similar nutritional profile to the liquid diet that American astronauts at the time were being fed.  Just add a few vitamins and you should be able to live permanently on nothing but skim milk.  Being both busy and having little money at that time, the idea appealed to me.  So for six months I lived on skim milk plus some supplements.  I was fine.  The diet worked.  No problems. I gave it up only because of boredom.  So I have the experience to find the Soylent story reasonable.

So what have people got against Soylent?  Just Google 'Soylent' and you will come across a whole lot of grouchy comments on it. I have read a lot of those comments.  The most scathing seem to come from people who have their own barrow to push -- from GMO opponents to sugar-opponents.  Soylent obviously does not bow down sufficiently to their particular obsession. From my reading of the medical journals, I consider opposition to GMOs and opposition to sugar as ill-informed so I regard all that they say in their attacks on Soylent as unreliable and not worth pursuing.

The majority of the negative comments however just seem to come from the break with normal human food practice:  It's unnatural; it deprives us of pleasures; and disrupts social interaction. And some of course didn't like the taste, texture etc.  Though the critics who actually made an attempt to live on Soylent for a little while were generally rather surprised by its palatability.

And like all new products it had teething problems, with early formulations triggering food insensitivities in some people.  Those problems were met with slight reformulations of the product and it should not now give those problems.

So, basically, it seems to me, the opposition to Soylent is mainly a combination of snobbery and a fear of the new.  As an alternative to a normal diet it would seem to have few problems. Living on it would probably reduce your social interactions and it will never taste as good as a well-cooked T-bone but nobody claims otherwise.

The only real scientific objection to it that I can see concerns the bioavailabilty of its ingredients.  Its micronutrient profile fits well with official guidelines but there are various ways of meeting those guidelines and some ingredients may have greater bioavailability than others.  Some further research on that may be worthwhile.  The product would however seem in general to do well what it purports to do.


How to lie with statistics: Climate change is turning Antarctica GREEN

Choosing your start and finishing points is a great trick when you want to use statistics misleadingly.  Below they have arbitrarily chosen the last 50 years for their calculations.  And their calculations may be correct.  What they don't say is that all the supposedly causative temperature rise happened in the first (approx.) 30 years of that period.

The most recent 20 years have seen no effect, no change -- the famous "hiatus" during which there has been no statistically significant net temperature rise globally.  So if the greening has continued into the last 20 years -- which they imply -- it is NOT due to global warming. Things that don't exist can't cause anything.  If it has NOT continued into the last 20 years it is a finished trend of no current interest.

I note also that their data was obtained from the extreme end of the Antarctic peninsula, and the peninsula as a whole is known to be anomalous to Antarctica as a whole. It shows occasional warming (probably due to subsurface vulcanism) when the great mass of Antartica is cooling.  The study below is therefore from several viewpoints inadequate to sustain any generalization.  Putting it plainly, it is just another bit of  slippery Warmist propaganda

Few plants live on Antarctica but scientists studying moss have found a sharp increase in biological activity in the last 50 years.

Plant life exists on only 0.3 per cent of Antarctica. However moss is well preserved in chilly sediments.  This offers scientists a way of exploring how plants have responded to such changes.

Scientists gathered data from five ice cores drilled from three islands off the Antarctic Peninsula. They then looked at the top 20cm of each of the cores.

This allowed the scientists to look back over 150 years and explore changes over time. Changes included the amount of moss, and its rate of growth.

They also looked carbon in the plants that indicates how favourable conditions were for photosynthesis at a certain point in time.

The latest study claims the rate of moss growth is now four to five times higher than it was pre-1950.

A team including scientists from the University of Exeter used moss bank cores – which are well preserved in Antarctica's cold conditions – from an area spanning about 400 miles.

They tested five cores from three sites and found major biological changes had occurred over the past 50 years right across the Antarctic Peninsula.

'Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,' said Dr Matt Amesbury, of the University of Exeter.

'If this continues, and with increasing amounts of ice-free land from continued glacier retreat, the Antarctic Peninsula will be a much greener place in the future.'

Recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is well documented with warming and other changes such as increased precipitation and wind strength.

Weather records mostly began in the 1950s but biological records preserved in moss bank cores can provide a longer-term context about climate change.

The scientists analysed data for the last 150 years, and found clear evidence of 'changepoints' – points in time after which biological activity clearly increased – in the past 50 years.

'The sensitivity of moss growth to past temperature rises suggests that ecosystems will alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region,' said Professor Dan Charman, who led the research project in Exeter.

'In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic. 'Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking.'

The research teams, which included scientists from the University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey, say their data indicates that plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming.

The same group of researchers published a study focusing on one site in 2013 and the new research confirms that their unprecedented finding can be applied to a much larger region.

Plant life only exists on about 0.3 per cent of Antarctica, but the findings provide one way of measuring the extent and effects of warming on the continent.

The researchers now plan to examine core records dating back over thousands of years to test how much climate change affected ecosystems before human activity started causing global warming.

The paper, Widespread biological response to rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, is published in the journal Current Biology.

SOURCE.  The academic journal article is "Widespread Biological Response to Rapid Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula"


Western Australia’s catastrophic forest collapse

A thoroughly lazy article below. It does seem to be true that West Australian forests are retreating but the galoots below have no idea why and don't try to find out. They just chant the tired old mantra of global warming. But global warming COULD NOT be the cause. As any number of studies show (e.g. here) increased CO2 in the atmosphere has a GREENING effect, not a browning effect. The writers below, George Matusick, Giles Hardy and Katinka Ruthrof, are all academics specializing in forest studies so they are quite simply a disgrace to their professions. It's just a bit of opportunistic Warmist propaganda below.

Even aside from its building block effects, elevated CO2 reduces transpiration time for plants and makes them less needful of water; Warming oceans give off more water vapor which comes down as rain.  So both CO2 rises and its allegedly associated temperature rises are good for plants.  They certainly don't dry anything out.  So what they say below flies in the face of all the facts.  They are just grant-hungry crooks

Recent, unprecedented, climate-driven forest collapses in Western Australia show us that ecosystem change can be sudden, dramatic and catastrophic. These collapses are a clear signal that we must develop new strategies to mitigate or prevent the future effects of climate change in Australian woodlands and forests. But society’s view of forests is ever-changing: are we willing to understand ecosystems and adapt to changing conditions?

The south west of Western Australia has experienced a long-term climate shift since the early 1970s, resulting in dryer and hotter than average conditions. This shifted baseline, or average, has also led to more frequent extreme events. In 2010, the region experienced the driest and second hottest year on record.

These climate changes have resulted in significant decreases in stream-flow and groundwater levels. For example, formerly permanent streams now stop flowing for considerable periods. Groundwater levels have fallen up to 11 meters in some forested areas, with larger decreases in populated areas. Clearly, soil water reserves have dried out substantially and will likely continue to do so; we are now starting to see the implications of this. Although most of the West Australian society, particularly those in urban environments, may be well-buffered from these changes, ecosystems are not.

The climatic changes occurring in the south west of Western Australia are contributing to deteriorating woodland and forest health. In the past 20 years, insect infestations and fungal diseases have plagued many iconic tree species, including tuart, wandoo, flooded gum, marri, and WA peppermint, increasing their mortality rates. Many of these disorders are likely triggered or incited by changing climate conditions.

In extreme climate conditions, woodland and forest health suffers most. For instance, during the record dry and hot period in 2010 and 2011, large patches of trees throughout the region suddenly collapsed, with little recovery in some areas. Along the coastal plain surrounding Perth, some areas of Banksia woodland suffered losses as high as 70-80%, while over 500 ha of tuart woodland collapsed and over 15,000 ha of exotic pine plantations (~70% north of Perth) were destroyed. In the northern jarrah forest, over 16,000 ha of forest suddenly collapsed, with mortality rates 10.5 times greater than normal.

In several ecosystems, species have died out and not been replaced, permanently shifting vegetation structure and ecosystem function. Some believe that species and ecosystems will transition slowly in response to climate change. But following the extreme conditions experienced in 2010-11, we now know the transition in many West Australian woodlands and forests will likely occur in sudden, catastrophic, step changes. Many species may not have time to adapt.

These often sudden and dramatic shifts in vegetation health, structure and function have profound consequences on associated flora and fauna, including many critically endangered species. The Mediterranean type-ecosystems of the south west were recently named among the top 10 ecosystems most vulnerable to climate-induced tipping points and degradation by a panel of 26 leading Australian ecologists. The region is one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots, harbouring approximately 1500 plant species, most of which aren’t found anywhere else.



The debt

Under Obama, the quantity of U.S. dollars on issue grew exponentially.  If all holders of dollars tried to spend them, however, the result would not be pretty. The quantity of goods and services available would remain largely unaltered but with trillions of dollars competing to buy them, the value of a dollar would fall dramatically -- as far as one cent in terms of today's purchasing power.  Virtually all savings would be wiped out -- as has happened in many places in the past, Weimar Germany, modern Venezuela etc.

So the USA is essentially bankrupt.  It cannot give value for what it owes.  Fortunately, all that huge overhang of money is at present stashed in financial institutions and overseas debt, with China being a big holder of U.S. dollars, so the money is not being spent and the buying power of the dollars has remained fairly stable.

China, however saw some years ago what was happening and has taken steps to rid itself of its possibly worthless dollars. It resists taking in any new dollars and has gone on a worldwide spending spree to unload the dollars it already holds.  It is buying up real estate, farmland and profitable companies worldwide. Basically the Chinese government encourages its companies and people to buy up anything overseas that moves and some things that don't.

What could happen, however, is that all that money locked away in banks and company reserves could start to be spent.  Mr Trump has engendered a feeling of optimism in business and many businesses are going to feel encouraged enough to start expanding.  And they will go to the banks and make good cases for borrowing.  And the banks will see what looks like good uses for their money.  They will see that they could start to earn interest on their otherwise unused money.  So they will lend on the applications to them and business will get a big new pile of money in their hands.  And what will business do with that pile of money?  Spend it!

And then comes the crunch, a whole heap of new money will be added to the money already in circulation and that will greatly increase the demand for goods and services.  But the available goods and services will not increase significantly so the only way anybody can now grab what is available will be to offer more money for it.  Prices will soar and the buying power of everybody's dollar will drop.  America will have roaring inflation and all that money you spent years saving will become near-worthless.   What you can buy today for $100.00 will in future cost you $1,000.00 or more. You will have been comprehensively robbed of your savings.  You will suddenly be poor.

What happens then is the question.  What normally happens in response to roaring inflation is that the existing currency is scrapped and new money is issued.  You might get one new dollar for a million old dollars.  America will have walked away from its debts.  The nation will be effectively bankrupt

Is that going to happen?  I am not alone in expecting it.  All the gold bugs expect it and I see that some wiseheads expect it soon. Below is an email just received:


Dear Reader,

I just got wind that the people in charge of "the Fed" are scrambling to keep America's money system alive...

According to my source, Fed members just wrapped up a special "behind-closed-doors" meeting to discuss one of the most dramatic changes to the U.S. dollar in the last 100 years.

A change that not only affects how we spend, save, and earn...

But that will also transform the very nature of "money" itself.

To uncover the story, I flew down to Aspen, Colorado to meet with NY Times Best-Selling author, currency expert and multi-millionaire speculator Doug Casey.

Casey is one of the most connected men in the financial world.

He was Bill Clinton's classmate at Georgetown... He's debated presidential candidates... He's met with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan... And he's also been invited by the leaders of twelve different countries to discuss monetary reform.

Some even credit Casey with introducing the concept of "economic citizenship," where individuals can become citizens of a country simply by making an investment.

In my interview with Casey, you'll hear his warning to Americans regarding the consequences of a new potential money plan by the Fed that could start in the next 6 months.

You'll also hear the four steps he's personally taking today to prepare himself and protect his savings.

To watch my exclusive interview with Casey, click here.


Bob Irish
Retirement Insider


How should the government handle the problem when it comes?

With close co-operation between Congress and the administration, the crisis could in fact be handled very constructively -- so should be handled while one party controls both the administration and the legislature, as it does at the moment.

The first step should be a total abolition of the old currency, meaning that debts owed in that currency cease to exist.  People laboring under student debt, people who have borrowed big to buy a house and businesses labouring under huge borrowings would suddenly find themselves debt free and owing nobody anything.  A great cry of joy would arise across the fruited plain.

Cities and states owing huge retirement benefits extorted by strong labor unions would also feel their budgets freed up for urgent roadworks etc.  The retired unionists would have to get by with social security, like everybody else.

As soon as the old currency is abolished a new currency should be issued, called (say) "Federal Notes", abbreviated as "Feds". And the distribution of the new money could be used first and foremost to benefit the little guy.  All dollar savings deposits in the banks could be transformed into deposits of Feds on a one-to-one basis up to a maximum of 5 million.  That should keep 95% of the population happy immediately.

Businesses actually making things like cars and machinery could be given Feds to the value of 6 months of their turnover. Service business are not usually very capital intensive so could get the equivalent of one month's turnover.  Their ongoing revenues should keep them going after that.  Freed of debt, American business should roar ahead.

So who would be the losers?  Basically China and Wall St.  And I can't see many Americans crying over that.  Wall Street is basically a parasitic tumor on American productivity anyway so would hopefully die out at that point.  And China has its own currency so is in no way dependent on U.S. dollars.

It would all generate lots of uproar to be dealt with so everybody would be in agreement that such a disruption should never be repeated.  People would agree that the cause of Obama's excess money issue should be addressed.  And the cause is plain:  The great expansion of the Federal bureaucracy under Obama.  Obama spent three dollars for every two he raised in taxes.  And he mostly spent it on useless bureaucrats whose main job was to hold America back in various ways.

So the bureaucracy would have to be drastically trimmed.  And there is an easy way to do that.  All Federal departments that overlap with State government departments could be abolished.  There are extensive State departments dealing with the environment, healthcare, education etc so there is no need for Federal activity in such fields.  In effect America would be re-Federalized, with most functions going to the States.  And that is how America was during its great period of growth so nobody could plausibly say that that would not work.  America would be returning to its healthy roots instead of becoming just another version of a corrupt and overweening European state.

And such a big shrinkage could enable useful Federal tax cuts. Company taxes and death taxes could be abolished, freeing up big constructive energies. The whole world would want to set up business in America, with the result that all those unemployed Federal bureaucrats could get jobs doing something useful.

So there would be something for just about everyone. Even the Democrats might like to see the worker liberated from his debts -- if they do really still care about the worker. And the Left worldwide has traditionally been hostile to Wall St. Again, however, we could not rely on the Democrats for that. Big Wall St contributions to their campaign coffers seem to have "bought" just about all of them by now.


Reading to children at bedtime: ABC questions value of time-honoured practice

I question it too.  All the studies show that children read to subsequently do better at school but is that a result of the reading?  It is more likely a social class effect.  Middle class people are more likely to read and they also have higher IQs.  The question could easily be answered by controlling for IQ  but IQ and social class are both largely forbidden topics in the social science and medical literature.

There is however one well controlled study here which found that NO parental lifestyle differences, including reading to children, had any effect on the subsequent IQ of the child

THE ABC has questioned whether parents should read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an “unfair advantage” over less fortunate children.

“Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?” asks a story on the ABC’s website.

“Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”

The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.

“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”

Contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Gelonesi said the bedtime stories angle was highlighted by the ABC “as a way of getting attention”.

Asked if it might be just as easy to level the playing field by encouraging other parents to read bedtime stories, Gelonesi said: “We didn’t discuss that.”

Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.

“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.

Professor Frank Oberklaid, from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute said he was bewildered by the idea. “It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard,” he said. “We should be bringing all kids up to the next level.”



Does Christ influence Leftists too?

It's unlikely that he has much effect on their behaviour but he clearly has a lot of influence on their arguments.  They work within a Christian value system.  Their devotion to political correctness, for instance, is based on an avowed aim not to hurt the feelings of minorities.  And being kind to others, in particular being kind to the disadvantaged, is a major Christian message:  "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).

The Left don't of course see themselves as preaching Christian values.  They think they are just appealing to what most people would agree with.  They don't look at WHERE those values come from.  And they do of course come from hundreds of years of Christian culture. Many people are no longer Christian but the values their culture gives them are of Christian origin.

A good way of seeing that is to look at our own culture before the arrival of Christianity.  There are only a few literary remnants of it left but one that we do have is revealing:  Beowulf, an epic Anglo-Saxon poem.  It takes you into a quite alien world but it is the world of the people from whom we are mostly descended.  It is unlikely that there is much genetic difference between us and them.

In Beowulf, the prime virtue is heroism in battle.  And the King is not a dictator who is always telling us how to behave.  He is simply a "giver of rings" -- someone who gives formal recognition to heroism. He does NOT reward people for being kind to the poor and lowly. Physical strength and prowess is the dominant value in that world. The meek are certainly not blessed there.  Quite to the contrary.

So the Left do pay homage to Christian values, albeit indirectly. They actually PROPAGATE Christian values, while not realizing that they are doing that.  They really do preach: "Blessed are the meek".

A Christian correspondent has further thoughts on the matter which I append below:


Even those “spiritual” lefties who despise Christianity and like to say “I’m spiritual not religious”, in the same breath call themselves humanitarians, egalitarians, etc., thus showing they do have quasi-religious attitudes. And they all hold Christianity as their reference point from which they have conjured up their leftist alternative to Christianity, and they use all the Christian concepts like non-judgemental, caring, so they are Christianised in the sense that they are what they are because of Christianity.

They would not have their ideas if not for Jesus teaching them, and themselves perverting them into their alternative, and they have made hollow poor replicas.

Leftism/lefties are the anti-Christs that John talks about that came into the world with Jesus’s message. John said that “They went out from us but are not of us.” (1 John 2:19).  John predicted the rise of Anti-Christs: People focused on Christ but enemies of him.

Every teacher of anything cannot help but also teach the opposite concept and those with dark hearts  will get the opposite idea automatically without the teacher saying it, just because that is the way they are.

Teaching something good makes bad people worse. Just like giving cognitive behavioural therapy to psychopaths just makes them better manipulators of others. In that same way Jesus created  leftism, or rather, he brought it here as the opposite concept to his own teachings.

He certainly made leftism as extreme, cunning and powerful as it is in the West today because he divided and widened our hearts with his teachings, gave each a wider potential for good and evil, he gave our hearts their extreme left-right potential, as Socrates did our minds. That is the sword that divides us that Jesus mentioned.

Not all westerners are Christian, but all westerners are Christianised, because the wide left-right expanse of the western heart is the result of Christianity. Jesus knew what he was creating in this world. His teachings are full of advice and examples of how to differentiate between his teachings and leftism.

He used the Lefties/hypocrites of his time [e.g. the Pharisees] as examples of what not to be like, (and they were only dumb and mild ones compared to the cunning treacherous ones of today) knowing that with his teachings on love that he was widening the left-right potential of human hearts and that the future lefties would be even more left, cunning and treacherous than what they were then.  He was teaching greater love/goodness than existed at that time, and that would in turn be matched in extent on the left, for the more love/goodness existed in the world, the more love/goodness they would have to learn to fake, like a see-saw getting longer on one side must get longer on the other side to stay level.  


Is Mark Latham angry because of his own humble background?  Do his anti-elite barbs reveal his pain of being an outsider?

Rick Morton says below that coming from a poor background has marked him and he thinks Mark Latham's similar background accounts for his angry rants.  It's a conventional explanation but may be wrong.

I too come from a poor background but am a positive, contented person.  I also sailed to the top of the socio-economic tree quite quickly and effortlessly and regard my life as a blessed one: No anger or resentment there at all, no consciousness of obstacles.

Latham too sailed to the top of his tree quite quickly and effortlessly so I think my experience might be quite a good simile for his life.  I sailed to the top of the education tree by becoming a university lecturer while Latham climbed to the top of the political tree by becoming the Federal parliamentary leader of the ALP. Neither of us have any grounds for resentment about our progression through life.

So I rather see Latham's utterances as the work of a commendably honest but temperamentally aggressive man.  There is no need to invoke his childhood to explain his actions.  It seems clear that Rick Morton dislikes what Latham says and it is an old tactic to attack disagreements by demeaning one's opponents.  It's called "ad hominem" argument and I cannot see that Morton's article is anything more than that. It is a purely speculative attempt to "psychologize" Latham in order to discredit his arguments.

A man with a parliamentary pension of $80,000 a year called me elite this week, just over a decade since I took a half-eaten chicken from outside a stranger’s hotel room because I had no money for food. Now it is possible I achieved this mythical elite status in the intervening years; I am writing this column. But my assailant is a Well Known Commentator whose only stumbling block in his many well-paid media gigs is that he holds on to them like a man in a greasy pig competition.

I do understand where he is coming from, however, having grown up in similar circumstances. Mum raised me and my two siblings on her own while working for meagre pay. Our father paid $21 a month child support for most of that time. Were it not for the local Catholic Church and its community, we would have had more than one desolate Christmas.

This man, whose father died when he was a teenager, became mayor at 30 and leader of the ALP before losing an election. His wife is a lawyer. He breeds racehorses for fun. None of these are bad things, unless you’ve glazed your persona in the resentment of never fitting into the class you’ve now belonged to for decades.

What commentators — well-read, well-connected — never disclose is that elitism is built on cultural capital. Not just the big stuff, either. By the time I’d finished high school I had read only three classics. I never finished Pride and Prejudice, as mandated, but nailed the essay based on the four-hour BBC drama. I knew of some artworks, but only by indirect means. Whistler’s Mother was famous, I knew, because Mr Bean ruined it in a movie. I saw a few foreign-language films on SBS, but only because we had dial-up internet and I stayed up late to see naked people. Such were the times.

We laugh, but there is an acute shame in all of this. I won a scholarship to a private univer­sity, about which I cared little, but it came with a newspaper cadetship so I went. During one of the valedictory speeches I listened to a student give a speech in which he lamented the rise of scholarships “diluting the elite status of the university” for the full-fee paying among them.

I cried when, in my late teens, I sat next to some of these students at a teppanyaki restaurant during an official function and went hungry because I did not know how to use the chopsticks and was too embarrassed to ask. Days before, I’d never even heard of such a restaurant.

It’s enough to make a man angry, I get it.

My provocateur must have known this feeling. It has riled him for decades. I suspect not, however, out of concern for the millions of other Australians to whom this continues to happen but on account of his own wounds, which have festered.

Both Mark Latham and I made it out of this milieu, whether he wants to admit it or not, though I remain tethered to it in weekly battles to support Mum through the drug addiction of a very close family member that has raged for years. I have feared for her safety more often than I care to think about. None of us has the resources or social leverage to even start an intervention, let alone make rehab work.

There is a certain access that comes to being in the media, though nothing of the sort the anti-elites would have you believe. It is true that when Mum feared our relative had been involved in a serious car accident I called police media to get some basic details and put her mind at ease. It wasn’t him. I did not feel elite.

This is the “real Australia” the commentators claim to represent, though of course they do not. They peer in, as if through a window at a zoo, and sketch clownish caricatures of our lives. I use my experience only because I know it, though there are many whose experiences outside mainstream politics and power deserve to be captured in minutiae instead of airbrushed by pointless slogans.

But I get it, the residual hurt and anger. I know the fissures outsiderism can leave on the soul, particularly when you’ve wanted to belong somewhere but end up between the start and the finish. Even now, I find myself wondering if this might have been more powerfully argued, more eloquently put, if I’d known more people who’d read the right books when I was younger.



Oceans are at the 'edge' of losing all oxygen: Event could lead to mass sea life extinction that will last a MILLION years

I could spend time pointing out the leaps of logic committed below but I will simply look at a conventional commentary on the Toarcian event.  They predict a repeat of that event.

Quote 1:  "The T-OAE has been extensively studied in the past three decades although there is no general consensus about the causes or triggering mechanisms behind this event"

Quote 2: "Results from the Paris Bassin as in other localities indicates that the increasing greenhouse conditions may have caused acidification in the oceans, hampering carbonate bio-mineralisation, and provoking a dramatical loss in the CO2 storage capacity of the oceans."

Quote 2 is very confused.  The statement, "increasing greenhouse conditions may have caused acidification in the oceans' is the opposite of what happens.  Warmer oceans outgas CO2, leading to a reduction in carbonic acid and increased ALKALINITY of the oceans. But from that illogic they do in fact somehow come to a correct conclusion, that warmer oceans carry less CO2.

So, basically nobody understands what caused the Toarcian event and others like it and the degree of confusion in the thinking about it offers little hope of any increased understanding. We would have to understand the causes of such events to predict them.

The thing that seems to have sent the galoots below off into their voyage of non-sequiturs is the finding that oceanic oxygen content has decreased slightly in the last 50 years. But that is no surprise. There was a slight temperature rise over the early part of that period so we expect the oceans to outgas some O2 over that period. So the non sequitur indulged in there is to expect that the O2 would continue to fall, which in an extreme would one day give a Toarcian-like end point. But will it continue to fall? Nobody knows. What we do know is that global temperatures have shown no significant net movement for nearly 20 years, despite a considerable CO2 rise over that period. NASA/GISS Tell us that the global December 2016 temperature anomaly was .77, which was DOWN on December 2015 (1.10)and even slightly down on 2014 (.79). So the recent trend is downwards, for what that is worth.

In all the circumstances, then, there is NO WAY we can link Toarcian-like events to anything in the present time. The scare is nonsense

University of Exeter scientists fear the modern ocean is 'on the edge of anoxia' - when the oceans are depleted of oxygen. And while this dramatic drop in oceanic oxygen comes to a natural end, it takes about a million years.

Scientists believe the modern ocean is 'on the edge of anoxia' - and the Exeter researchers say it is 'critical' to limit carbon emissions to prevent this.

A study last year by researchers from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, showed that while the levels of carbon dioxide are increasing, the concentration of oxygen in the oceans is decreasing.

Researchers analysed over 50 years’ worth of data looking at a range of parameters from ocean salinity to temperature. From this, they calculated that over this period, the world’s oceans have lost an average two per cent of their oxygen.

The main process through which the oceans are losing their oxygen is the heating of the water. As oceans warm, they lose their ability to trap dissolved oxygen.

And because the warming is normally contained to the upper levels of the water, it decreases the density of the surface water, preventing it from dropping to the depths and taking oxygen with it. 

Studying what happened during the Jurassic period, they found the drop in oxygen causes more organic carbon to be buried in sediment on the ocean floor.

This eventually leads to rising oxygen in the atmosphere which ultimately re-oxygenates the ocean. But it took a million years to get the balance right again.

Lead researcher PhD student Sarah Baker said it was now 'critical' for modern humans to limit carbon emissions to prevent this. She said: 'Once you get into a major event like anoxia, it takes a long time for the Earth's system to rebalance.

'This shows the vital importance of limiting disruption to the carbon cycle to regulate the Earth system and keep it within habitable bounds.'

The researchers studied the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, which took place 183 million years ago. This was characterised by a major disturbance to the global carbon cycle, depleted oxygen in Earth's oceans and mass extinction of marine life.

Numerical models predicted that increased burial of organic carbon - due to less decomposition and more plant and marine productivity in the warmer, carbon-rich environment - should drive a rise in atmospheric oxygen, causing the end of an anoxic event after one million years.

Testing the theory they examined fossil charcoal samples to see evidence of wildfires - as such fires would be more common in oxygen-rich times.

These were taken at Mochras in Wales and Peniche, Portugal.

They found a period of increased wildfire activity started one million years after the onset of the anoxic event, and lasted for about 800,000 years.

Ms Baker added: 'We argue that this major increase in fire activity was primarily driven by increased atmospheric oxygen.

'Our study provides the first fossil-based evidence that such a change in atmospheric oxygen levels could occur in a period of one million years.'

The increase in fire activity may have also helped end ocean anoxia by burning and reducing the amount of plants on land.

This is because plants can help to erode rocks on the land that contain nutrients needed for marine life - therefore with fewer plants, fewer nutrients are available to be carried to the sea and used to support marine life in the oceans.

Less marine life - that would use oxygen to breathe - would mean less oxygen being used in the oceans, and could therefore help the oceans to build up a higher oxygen content, ending anoxia.

It may therefore be essential to maintain the natural functioning of wildfire activity to help regulate the Earth system in the long-term. 


Has Judas been misunderstood?

Apologies if that heading seems flippant but it does ask a serious question. It asks a question that just about no-one normally asks:  What was Judas's motivation?  It is normally assumed that it was greed for the famous 30 pieces of silver.  But if Judas was as callous as that, why did he commit suicide when he saw Jesus executed?  And what are we to make of it that Jesus predicted to him what he would do?

No-one at this distance can get into his mind but there is one explanation for his behaviour that does make considerable sense.  Could it be that he was overawed by the miraculous powers Jesus had displayed and wanted Jesus to use those powers on a large scale -- perhaps even to drive the Romans out?  Did he think Jesus only needed a small push to get him to do that?

And when Jesus predicted to him what he would do, did he take that as a sign that Jesus actually WANTED him to do that? And was he heartbroken at the actual outcome of his actions?  Was his suicide born out of a realization that he had got it tragically wrong?

Broadly, that explanation seems to explain what actually happened. It fits better than actions motivated by mere greed.

A Christian correspondent of mine has attempted to go even deeper into the matter, however, so I reproduce below his thoughts as well:


I don’t think Jesus so much prophesied that Judas would betray him as told Judas to betray him.

I think Judas was spiritually immature, a material man, a little too hooked on the material and emotional pleasures of life. He didn’t understand Jesus’s teachings in a spiritual/heart/soul sense.

He believed Jesus should be some sort of worldly king or leader.  Judas had seen or heard of Jesus perform many miracles, healing people, walking on water, disappearing from the midst of a crowd trying to kill him, killing the fig tree by pointing at it.

Judas was enraptured by Jesus’s power and presence. He thought something like, “Just let them try to take my master, and see what happens. My master will cast them aside and destroy them like he did the fig tree.”

Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but not betray him out of spite, but out of immature love, like the childish love a little boy has for his father, thinking his father is the strongest man in the world and can beat up any other man.

Judas not only thought that Jesus would defeat any attempt to capture him, but he also thought that an attempt to capture him would force Jesus to demonstrate his powers upon the authorities, and thus give Jesus the recognition Judas believed he deserved. Then Jesus would be elevated to some sort of leader, as Judas believed he should be.

Jesus knew that Judas thought like that.

And he let Judas go and betray him, even told him when to go.
Not that Jesus encouraged him, but knew that he could not be stopped from doing it because of his immature love for Jesus.

And Jesus knew betrayal would serve his cause, and he also knew the awful suffering that would come back upon poor Judas afterwards when we would realise what he had done.

And that came true. When Judas saw Jesus powerless and being tortured to death, Judas could not bear it, he realised his awful error and went and hanged himself.

He was not a betrayer so much as an immature man with a childlike love.

The lesson is that betrayal need not be consciously treacherous, it can be merely immature.



President two scoops

I have been having a great old chuckle about Mr Trump's latest appearance in the news. He put on a dinner for some "Time" magazine journalists but gave them lesser dinners than his own.  He had two scoops of ice-cream and a diet Coke whereas the journalists got only one scoop of ice-cream and only water to drink.

This utter triviality has attracted great attention, being reported even in Australian newspapers.  And what it says about Mr Trump has also generated a lot of opinion, with the most frequent opinion being that it shows Mr Trump as childish.  But that overlooks the obvious.

Leftists rarely listen to conservatives so tend to have strange and derogatory ideas about what makes conservatives tick. And on this occasion they have revealed that they don't even know the basics:  Conservatives DON'T believe in equality.  They think there never has been any equality and never will be and that seeking it is striving after wind.  So Mr Trump saw no problem in giving unequal serves of food and drink. It's as simple as that.

Because of the torrents of abuse that Leftists hurl at anyone they disagree with, it has become normal for conservatives to give lip service to Leftist beliefs.  It has become good manners not to emphasize inequality.  So any other President would have given equal serves of food and drink to both himself and his guests -- purely as a courtesy.  But Mr Trump is not any other President.  He is his own man and rewrites the rules all the time -- to the rage of Leftist journalists.  We have been living in a Leftist-dominated consensus about many things and Mr Trump has shone a light on that by violating the consensus almost daily. He has done a great service to us all by that -- JR


Making a muckle out of a mickle

My heading above is in Scots.  It means making something big out of something little.  Its the expression that leapt to mind when reading "More errors identified in contrarian climate scientists' temperature estimates" from diehard Warmist, Prof. John Abraham.  He has been refuted many times so I see no point in reproducing his effusion, let alone fisking it. His modus operandi is to present as established fact Warmist beliefs, with no supporting references to substantiate them.  He has to do that. Most of them are at best controversial if not outright false.

Like most Warmists he has to clutch at any straw that might support his beliefs.  And he has found a recent paper that appears to have given him an erection. I reproduce the abstract below.

The paper is not even about global temperatures.  It is about the Arctic only.  It reports minor disagreements in the way the satellite data for the Arctic is presented.  It does not address the fact that the various methods concerned give global temperatures that correlate around .90 and that the disagreements in reported temperatures are in hundredths of a degree.  But, most importantly, all the measurements show the same trend -- temperatures flatlined for many years with the only rise coinciding with the recent El Nino weather oscillation. Naught for the comfort of Warmists there.

A Comparative Analysis of Data Derived from Orbiting MSU/AMSU Instruments

R. Eric Swanson


Spencer and Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) recently introduced a new method to process MSU/AMSU satellite brightness temperature data with their version 6 (v6) data. A comparison of UAH v6 north polar lower stratospheric (TLS) data with that from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) is presented, indicating a possible bias between 1986 and 1988. Comparing UAH and NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research (NOAA) TLS data produces a similar result. An additional analysis utilizing midtropospheric (TMT) data also found a similar bias. Comparing the NOAA TMT data for the May 2016 release against UAH and RSS TMT evidenced another excursion, dated at the middle of 2005, that was corrected in later releases. These comparisons reinforce the concerns expressed by other analysts regarding the merging procedure for UAH v6, repeating similar concerns regarding the earlier UAH v5 products. Any biases in the UAH, RSS, or STAR products would impact the trends calculated for these products and could explain the differences between these trends. Biases in the UAH series would also impact the UAH TLTv6 lower-troposphere product, which is a linear combination of the UAH TMT, tropopause temperature (TTP), and TLS series.



The puzzle of Matt. 5:38-41

In Matthew’s report of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

Mainstream Christians essentially ignore this pretty clear instruction.  They go to war, they fight back, they sue etc.  It is only some of the smaller denominations who take it seriously: Traditional Quakers, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses etc.  I respected my Bible from an early age so, at around age 14, I became a pacifist in obedience to that scripture.  Not long after I became an atheist, I joined the army.

But the reason why the scripture is mostly ignored is that it runs against all nature.  No-one naturally behaves that way.  It is anti-instinctual.  But despite my defection from Christianity, I have always wondered if I was missing something in that teaching.  And I now think I was.

As any serious Bible student will tell you, context can be enormously important in studying scripture.  The "proof-text" approach to exegesis can easily get it wrong.  You have to study what went before and after a passage as well as the passage itself.

So what context do we need to understand Matthew 5:38ff?  Is it the commandment to love others as ourselves?  That would certainly fit as equally unrealistic. But "I came not to bring peace but a sword" (Matthew 10:34) would seem an outright contradiction.

I think the context we need is in fact the whole of the Gospels.  We have to look at the whole message of the Gospels.  And that message is that Jesus knew from the beginning he was a new and different teacher and that his difference would get him killed.  And he saw great meaning in his life and death.  And the time he spent teaching his disciples tells us that he did not see his death as the end of his message.  He wanted his teachings to survive and be passed on. And exactly that happened, of course.

But part of his foresight was that his disciples would be persecuted -- so it was important that he give them ways of surviving that.  He had to tell them to behave in a way that would protect them.  He had to give them what modern-day psychologists call "de-escalation techniques".  Above all else they had to avoid getting killed by hostile others.  And in Matthew 5:38ff he taught exactly how.  He taught his disciples to be unthreatening and even likable when confronted with hostility.  He was giving them lessons in survival against great threat -- things to do right from that point onwards, not rules for all times and all situations.  And when modern-day psychologists look at his rules they will see that his de-escalation techniques were pretty good. You can turn down hostility if you go about it the right way.

So Matthew 5:38ff was the practical aspect of his teachings.  What at first sight seems totally impractical was in fact superbly practical. The survival of Christianity attests to that. -- JR


Australians want company tax spent on environment, survey finds

A most amusing "survey" below.  It calls to mind the way "elections" in totalitarian countries usually find 99% support for the dictator.

Some obviously leading questions were asked.  To what ordinary voter would it occur that company tax in particular should be diverted to fund environmental programs?  It is just a Greenie wet dream.

And the suggestions were put to an undefinable group of people via an automated telephone poll on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).  And they got the resounding result the ACF undoubtedly wanted. If I had designed the questions, the result would show very little support for the environment.

Not to put to fine a point on it, the findings are garbage.  And nobody actually talked to any of the people surveyed!

Australians have given the thumbs down to Australia's environmental protection in a new survey, which shows a high level of scepticism about the Federal Government's commitment to protecting nature.

The poll has revealed more than two thirds of Australians want a share of company tax spent directly on protecting the environment and more than 76 per cent want a levy imposed on polluting companies to protect reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife.

Nearly 3,000 people were interviewed for the pre-budget sounding, conducted by market research company ReachTel for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

Six out of 10 said protecting the environment should receive a bigger share of the federal budget, while nearly three quarters said they would support a political party with a policy for "a national plan where nature thrives".

Just 11 per cent thought that nature protection should receive less funding.

Yet spending on environmental programs is in decline and set for further cuts, with conservation groups arguing that protecting the environment is shouldering a disproportionate share of "budget repair".

The environment budget has declined by 20 per cent since the Coalition first came to office in 2013, according to analysis by the ACF, and is projected to decline by 38 per cent on 2013 levels through to 2019.

Over the same period, overall spending is projected to increase by 22 per cent.

The political leanings of those polled in its survey were broadly consistent with the findings of most voting intention surveys.

They translate to a two-party preferred result of 47 per cent Liberal, 53 per cent Labor.

The survey also showed four in 10 Australians thought the Government has "a plan to protect the reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife for current and future generations".

This was outnumbered by 45 per cent of respondents who disagreed with that statement.

ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shannassy said the poll showed the Federal Government is "completely out of touch with what Australians expect their elected representatives to do".

"The only way for the Prime Minister to restore his credibility on environment and climate change is to reverse cuts and develop a comprehensive national plan to protect nature and move to clean energy," she said.

"The polling shows that Australians support long-term measures that would provide increased funding to protect and restore Australia's reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife."

The survey results come in the wake of the independent State of the Environment report, released by the Turnbull Government in March.

It found that despite significant improvements on key benchmarks, resources for environmental management and protection were "insufficient".

The State of the Environment Report also said the nation lacks "an overarching national policy that establishes a clear vision for the protection and sustainable management of Australia's environment to the year 2050".

The office of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has been contacted for comment.