A new/old "privilege": Thin privilege

Kelsey Miller, who writes below, is fat (see above) and she envies the better treatment that thin women get.  And the everlasting Leftist grumble about "inequality" provides her with a peg to hang her envy on.  What she says below is that liking for thin bodies is unjust in that it offends against the equality doctrine and that we as individuals might not be able to change social values but we can be equally nice to fatties and slenders.  And it would be REALLY good if slender people could be made to feel guilty about being slender.  Let fatties rule!

Like all fat grumblers, she makes no enquiry about WHY slim is seen as better.  It's just something "society" does for inscrutable reasons.  As with Leftists generally, the fact that their dreams of a different world never come about, seems to escape her attention.  The world SHOULD be different and that is that!

But let us take a quick glance at why her dream will never come about.  Let us ask why this world is as it is.

It's old hat to go back to the cavemen but they probably do have a role here.  Slim people can run, jump and climb faster so are the ones most likely to catch a tasty animal for dinner.  And evolution is a slow burn so much of our behaviour and values reflect our caveman past.  It seems highly probable that natural selection has built into our genes a preference for slimness.  Fat-lovers are fighting a million years of human evolution.

Aha!  Someone will say:  How come fat women are ADMIRED in the poorer parts of the Arab world and China?  Where did their genes  go?

Human being are very flexible.  Witness the fact that fat ladies do normally acquire a husband.  The husband will mostly be short or a smoking, drinking, gambling type but he is male and does help to bring forth children.  In other words, there are circumstances in which the genetic influence can be overridden. In the absence of better alternatives the fatty may take on a man who is rejected by women with better alterantives.

I once ran a large boarding house in a poor area and it was amusing to see the couples walking down the street in that area.  It was common to see  short, spherical women trotting alongside a short, thin and very scrubby man puffing on a fag (cigarette). Both had wisely compromised and gotten what they could:  A useless man and a lady prepared to tolerate a lot. At least they were not alone.

And such flexibility is observable in poor countries too.  In poor countries, the problem is food.  It seems strange to most of us in the modern world but, until quite recently, there were a lot of people everywhere who had to struggle to put bread on the table for their families.  And in some countries only a tiny elite escaped that position.   In those circumstances, food abundance was greatly admired.  Someone who had plenty of food was envied.

And what is sure evidence that the pesron is one of those who are blessed with lots of food?  Fat!  Fat was the mark of a prosperous and successful family.  So a fat lady was socially desirable.  She could open the door to FOOD!  A poor society is the fat woman's nirvana.

And I have seen it in operation.  I was walking along a street in Australia with a number of benches beside it.  And on one bench I came across a very amusing sight. There was a rather good looking man of Arab appearance who was clearly expressing great admiration and affection to the Caucasian woman he was sitting beside.  And the woman was very FAT!  And the look of utter confusion on her face was a treat.  Here was this handsome man being very nice to HER!  Why?  Why was she being treated as a great beauty?  She basically did not know what to do.  I walked on so saw no more of them so I will never know if she figured out that she really WAS beautiful to Arab eyes.

But in our bountiful societies none of that applies.  Other values, including caveman values, come into play.  And caveman values are only part of it.  Another really important value is YOUTH.  And those of us with creaky bones will emphatically assure you that youth is better.  But what is associated with youth?  Slimness.  In our teens, the great majority of us are slim.  But that does not usually last.  Even those of us who started out skinny do expand over time.  So admiration for slimness is largely an admiration for a youthful appearance and no amount of Leftist equality-mongering will change that

Fatties go to the back of the bus!  Actually, they are there already. It is easy to say that fat is a choice.  We can always diet to lose it.  But, as Kelsey Miller knows, that is easier said than done.  Separating a fatty from their food is almost impossible long term.

So what can a fatty do?  One thing guaranteed to do no good at all is to write angry articles condemning “thin privilege”. So the really vital thing to do is to accept how the cookie crumbles.  Accept how the world about us works and adapt yourself to it as best you can. So for fat ladies, I would suggest that they re-evaluate that pesky short guy who seems to be the only one interested in you.  He may be the best you can get -- and half a loaf is better than  none.  Perhaps you can concentrate on his pretty eyes, or how well he plays the spoons, or something

If we claim to care about equality, then we must acknowledge this inequality, too: thin privilege.

What’s your gut reaction to that term? Defensiveness, anger, hope, curiosity? Before stepping further into this subject, I think it’s important to recognize where we’re all coming from.

When I hear the term “thin privilege,” my first response is anxiety. I feel anger and interest and hope as well, but first and foremost, I feel nervous when the subject comes up, because I am not a thin person.

Illogical as it may sound, naming another group’s privilege feels almost like picking on them. The thing to remember is that privilege isn’t about us as individuals. It’s about the system we all live inside. It’s no one’s fault, yet it is everyone’s responsibility.

“Acknowledging that you have privilege is not saying that your life hasn’t been difficult,” says Melissa Fabello, renowned body-acceptance activist, academic, and managing editor of Everyday Feminism. “It's simply acknowledging which obstacles you have not faced.”

As a thin person working in the realm of body activism, Fabello frequently affirms the obstacles she herself hasn’t faced.

For example, “when I walk onto a plane, I don’t have any thoughts about whether or not I'm going to be able to sit in the seat,” she says. Going to the doctor, she doesn’t deal with automatic assumptions about her health.

“It's always, ‘Okay, let's treat whatever issue you came in here for.’”

Fabello offers these examples with no caveat or defense. That’s a rare attitude when it comes to any topic about our bodies — particularly women’s bodies.

Because, for one thing, thin privilege doesn’t protect her from other harmful experiences and damaging beliefs. We live in a world that scrutinizes and judges women’s bodies, period. Furthermore, “our current cultural beauty ideal for women is this weird skinny-but-curvy thing,” she says.

The beauty standard has evolved in the past few decades (“in the latter half of the 20th century [it] was very stick-thin,” Fabello notes), but it hasn’t become any more flexible or generous. It used to require visible hip bones, and now it demands curves — but only in the “right places.” By its very nature, a beauty standard is exclusionary, and women of all sizes are vulnerable to it.

“That’s an issue of women's bodies being seen as public property. That’s an issue of women's bodies being seen through the lens of the male gaze,” says Fabello.

“It is not about size discrimination, which is a separate issue.”

In fact, this new twist in the beauty standard may be feeding the ever-growing elephant in this room: skinny shaming. While it is an entirely different topic, we cannot have a conversation about thin privilege or size bias without contending with skinny shaming. And that’s a problem.

While things like privilege and bias are systemic, shaming happens on an interpersonal level. It may be within your family, your peer group, or even your broader community. It’s simply a different form of harm.

“Oppression isn't one, two, five, or one hundred people saying something bad about your body or making you feel bad about your body.

That’s not oppression,” says Fabello, “Oppression is something that is woven into society so that it is inescapable.” That doesn’t make body shaming of any kind invalid or harmless — and no one is arguing that.

Yet, many thin people still present skinny shaming as a counterpoint in an argument that isn’t happening.

“I would say nine out of 10 times, thin people only complain about or bring up the concept of skinny shaming as a way to derail a conversation about fat shaming,” says Fabello.

They’ll offer evidence as if to say that their experience is exactly the same as a fat person’s. “You know, ‘Well, I'm so thin that when I go to the doctor they tell me I just have to gain weight.’

Or, ‘I can't shop in the average clothing store either. I have to buy kid's clothes, because they don’t make clothes in my size.’ They come up with these counter-examples, which then makes it a difficult conversation.”

Of course, anecdotes like this just don’t add up against the basic, big-picture facts: The world does not hold thinness and fatness as equal. “We are all socialized not to want a fat body,” says Fabello.

But stating the obvious is a fruitless tactic when faced with someone like this. If you can’t acknowledge these basic truths, “you’re not actually trying to learn or understand. You’re just on the defensive.”

We are all prone to that defensiveness. It’s a knee-jerk response when someone checks our privilege for us (see: #AllLivesMatter).

This is why the system hurts us all so deeply: It perverts our empathy into something fearful and selfish and utterly nonsensical.

When thin people argue like this, Fabello points out, they’re saying, “‘Well, what about me? I'm also shamed for my body, so therefore thin privilege can’t exist and fat oppression can’t exist because I have this experience.’”

That is why body positivity isn’t just about accepting your own body. It’s about actively acknowledging others’ — particularly those who don’t benefit from your own privilege.

Absolutely, it begins with self-acceptance. “We all need body acceptance,” Fabello reaffirms. “Everybody wants to have their own pain acknowledged and everybody should have their own pain acknowledged in whatever appropriate way there is.”

For her, that means being mindful of the room she’s in. “If people are hurt, then I think people need to have that conversation to heal.

But I think that it should be had within one privileged group and also with context.” Imagine an able-bodied person walking into a room full of quadriplegics, complaining about her broken arm.

Even better, imagine a straight, cis, white woman walking into a room full of queer, trans quadriplegics of color — and complaining about her broken arm.

When in doubt, remember to look for and note all the privileges we cannot see — or which we’ve been conditioned not to see.

It’s not an overt maliciousness, this blind spot in our vision. Shaming is overt. Privilege, like prejudice, is something so old and so ordinary; it’s the mottled lens through which we see everything.

It’s our idea of average. “And whenever we have an idea of an ‘average person,’ it's always someone who is the most privileged.”

The world is built around this idea of a person, and everyone else is an exception to be accommodated. Some accommodations are more easily made than others; the left-handed kid needs a lefty desk, so the teacher runs around looking for one, apologizing to the student because, of course, that’s only fair.

When it comes to something like size, it’s different. “You go to a restaurant and the table is nailed down to the ground,” says Fabello.

“There's this assumption that the blank-slate person who things are created for is a certain size.” It’s a bias you might not notice unless you’re pressed right up against it.

When you’re sitting comfortably, it takes effort to notice — and even more effort to question.

But really, it’s not that hard. The problem is that we take the word “privilege” so personally, when it’s not so much about you as it is us.

Actively acknowledging your own privilege isn’t saying, “I’m the bad guy.” It’s saying the system is bad. It does not invalidate your own pain, but validates the pain of others — which is just as real, though not as recognized.

In voicing that injustice, you are not giving up your seat at the table, but demanding a table at which all of us can sit with comfort and be heard.



Racism or a realistic perception of danger?

A farmer in Saskatchewan lives near a "First Nations" (Canadian Indian) settlement and there has been a great deal of crime among the Indians concerned.  So when he saw a carload of Indians driving onto his farm, he fired first and asked questions later.  He was probably too impulsive but if you were in fear of being  violently attacked, you might shoot first too.

The shooting was undoubtedly based on a perception of racial differences but it was also a realistic perception of racial differences.  So are we here dealing with realism rather than racism in any other sense?

That the farmer has been charged with murder has enraged many Saskatchewan whites who think he acted reasonably in self defence.  They back up that belief with many critical comments about Indians which justify the farmer's fear.  Are such comments "hate speech" or are they a reasonable comment on real differences?  A bit of both, perhaps

Comments like  “He should have shot all five of them (and) be given a medal” and “his only mistake was leaving three witnesses.” undoubtedly express hate but what has provoked that hate?  Two things mainly, dysfunctional Indian behaviour and coddling of Indians by the government.

Government favoritism is undoubtedly a great way to poison white attitudes to Indians.  Racism begets racism. A new system in which Indians and whites are treated equally would undoubtedly do much to defuse tensions.  A perception of injustice would be removed and a perception of injustice is almost always a great source of anger. But such a reform will not happen while Pretty Boy runs Canada.  Odd how Leftists are great preachers of equality but are in fact major sources of unequal treatment.  Wouldn't it be great if Leftists had some real principles that they stuck by?

Much has been said and written in recent days about racism following the shooting death of a young man on the Northwestern Saskatchewan farm of Gerald Stanley, who stands charged with murder.

What happened that day to 22-year-old Colten Boushie was tragic; for his family, loved ones and community it is an unimaginable loss.

Racism against aboriginal people in this province is very real. It is part of a long and sad chapter of our history and culture.

As recently as the late 1990s, an interesting analysis of this was undertaken by Mr. Justice Ron Barclay of the Court of Queen’s Bench when asked to rule that prospective jurors in a murder trial could be questioned on their perceptions of an aboriginal accused.

He wrote: “Widespread anti-aboriginal racism is a grim reality in Canada and in Saskatchewan. It exists openly and blatantly in attitudes and actions of individuals.

“It exists privately in the fears, in the prejudices and stereotypes held by many people and it exists in our institutions. Furthermore, examination of racism as it impacts specifically on aboriginal people suggests they are prime victims of racial prejudice.”

What possessed a landowner to allegedly pull out a loaded gun? All the self-defence laws in the world will not excuse the use of lethal force for trespassing on land.

The context of life in rural Saskatchewan will be considered, where increasingly vandalism, thefts and occasionally grotesque acts of violence befall some farm families that are alone and living miles away from help.

The area around Colten’s hometown of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation is particularly notorious.

It is where the execution-style slaying of two men happened on a nearby farm in 1994; recently stolen cars from Wilkie appear on Red Pheasant; in 2005, a family at Cando, fed up after eight attacks in a year, said they were being driven off their farm after two Red Pheasant men and several youths trashed their farm, set vehicles ablaze and looted their house.

Racism happens when someone becomes a target not for what they did but for what they look like, or, in this case, where they live. The death of young Colten Boushie, in the wrong place at the wrong time, deserves answers.

There are many facts yet to be revealed. Allowing the courts, the rule of law and justice to prevail is the correct first step.



Scotland's rare mountain plants disappearing as climate warms, botanists find

Let us assume that the fieldwork described below is entirely accurate and adequate.  Let us also assume that there has been some warming in Scotland and that the warming is having an adverse effect.  That still tells us nothing about WHY the warming is happening.  Is it local warming or is it anthropogenic global warming?  It is NOT anthropogenic global warming.  Why?  Because there has been none of that this century.

So could it be due to the recent warming caused by El Nino?  As it happens, no.  Why?  Because they tell us below that there has been unusually heavy snow in recent winters. El Nino missed Scotland, apparently. So what we are left with is that plants WERE retreating during a period of NO anthropogenic global warming but are not retreating now.  It would take the wisdom of Solomon to make something out of that

UPDATE:  A reader comments as follows:

"Iceland purslane has a rather wide distribution, for such an endangered species.   Also, it is edible and somewhat nutritious, so may serve as a forage plant for the local fauna? Highland saxifrage also appears to have a wide distribution.  NOTE - that as with Iceland Purslane, none is shown in the British Isles, so it must indeed be very rare there.  Snow pearlwort is also not shown in the UK, but is quite common in cold regions elsewhere in the world"

There is clear evidence that some of Britain’s rarest mountain plants are disappearing due to a steadily warming climate, botanists working in the Scottish Highlands have found.

The tiny but fragile Arctic plants, such as Iceland purslaine, snow pearlwort and Highland saxifrage, are found only in a handful of locations in the Highlands and islands, clustered in north-facing gullies, coires and crevices, frequently protected by the last pockets of late-lying winter snow.

A series of studies by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), the historic building and landscape charity, has found these plants – relics from the last period of glaciation, are retreating higher up the mountainside or disappearing entirely. In some cases they are being replaced by grasses previously found at lower, warmer altitudes.

Iceland purslane, an Arctic species which is extremely rare in the UK and found only on the Hebridean islands of Skye and Mull, nestles in protected spots on areas of volcanic basalt at heights above 400m.

Surveying on the Burg peninsula of Mull had found the tiny annual plant was being severely hit by increasingly warm springs, which had also led to increased growth by other plants competing for space.

On Bidean nam Bian next to Glencoe in Argyll, the latest field surveys found a 50% decline in Highland saxifrage at lower altitudes compared to the numbers detected in 1995.

Their surveys on Ben Lawers, a 1,214m high peak on Loch Tay in Perthshire which is regarded as a mecca for botanists, had found “a very worrying decline” in the numbers of snow pearlwort. An inconspicuous cushion-forming flowering plant, it which only survives in the UK on Ben Lawers and several places in the surrounding Breadalbane mountains at heights above 900m.

Sarah Watts, a seasonal ecologist for NTS, said the plant was at the southern limit of its natural range on Ben Lawers. Half of the sites found in 1981 had now become extinct, although heavy snow in the recent winters had helped halt the effects of climate change.



Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

Rather good if the Green/Left breeds itself out of existence.  You would have to be pretty Green or pretty credulous to believe the stuff below.  I note that anti-reproductive thinking has a long history on the Left, starting with Karl Marx's hatred of the family.

Such thinking is a logical outcome of the Leftist hatred of the world around them.  "If the world is so flawed, it would be cruel to bring children into it" is the thinking.  Such thinking also affects feminists.  They dislike the whole sex-role system about them so see a refusal to  be a mother as a rejection of the system they hate.

In the days of the Soviet confrontation, the fear was of imminent nuclear war -- and that possibility was seen as a reason not to bring children into a world in which they could suddenly die

And the old Leftist "zero population growth" movement was also  anti-natal. That movement was an outcome of Greenie scares about impending resource shortages (e.g. by Paul Ehrlich) and pre-dated the global warming craze

It is rather cheering that the Left keep finding reasons not to have babies.  May they succeed in their campaigns!

Standing before several dozen students in a college classroom, Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children. Or at least not too many.

He's at James Madison University in southwest Virginia to talk about a "small-family ethic" — to question the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good, throws parties for expecting parents, and in which parents then pressure their kids to "give them grandchildren."

Why question such assumptions? The prospect of climate catastrophe.

For years, people have lamented how bad things might get "for our grandchildren," but Rieder tells the students that future isn't so far off anymore.

He asks how old they will be in 2036, and, if they are thinking of having kids, how old their kids will be.

"Dangerous climate change is going to be happening by then," he says. "Very, very soon."

Rieder wears a tweedy jacket and tennis shoes, and he limps because of a motorcycle accident. He's a philosopher with the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and his arguments against having children are moral.

Americans and other rich nations produce the most carbon emissions per capita, he says. Yet people in the world's poorest nations are most likely to suffer severe climate impacts, "and that seems unfair," he says.

There's also a moral duty to future generations that will live amid the climate devastation being created now. "Here's a provocative thought: Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them," Rieder says.

His arguments sound pretty persuasive in the classroom. At home, it was a different matter.

"I have been one of those women who actually craved to have a baby," says Sadiye Rieder, smiling as she sits next to her husband in the sunroom of their Maryland home. "To go through pregnancy and everything, that mattered to me a lot."

Sadiye also wanted a big family. She grew up among extended relatives in the Turkish part of Cyprus and says she enjoyed having people around all the time.

This was not a problem early in their marriage, as each focused on their studies. But by the time Sadiye began feeling ready for motherhood, Travis' research had delved into the morality of adoption, which led to the ethics of procreation and to its impact on the climate.

They knew they had to talk.

"It's not easy to convince a philosopher!" Sadiye says with a laugh.

Scientists warn that a catastrophic tipping point is possible in the next few decades. By midcentury, possibly before, the average global temperature is projected to rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius, the point scientists and world leaders agree would trigger cataclysmic consequences. Last year's historic Paris climate agreement falls short of preventing that, so more drastic cuts in carbon emissions are needed.

Adding to that challenge, the world is expected to add several billion people in the next few decades, each one producing more emissions.

In fact, without dramatic action, climatologists say, the world is on track to hit 4 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century, and worse beyond that. A World Bank report says this must be avoided, and warns of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought and serious impacts on ecosystems and "human systems."

"It's gonna be post-apocalyptic movie time," he says.

The room is quiet. No one fidgets. Later, a few students say they had no idea the situation was so bad. One says he appreciated the talk but found it terrifying, and hadn't planned on being so shaken before heading off to start the weekend.

Still. Even given the apocalyptic scenarios: Can you actually expect people to forgo something as deeply personal as having children? To deny the biological imperative that's driven civilization?

Rieder and two colleagues, Colin Hickey and Jake Earl of Georgetown University, have a strategy for trying to do just that. Rieder is publishing a book on the subject later this year, and expects to take plenty of heat. But he's hardly alone in thinking the climate crisis has come to this.

"The climate crisis is a reproductive crisis"

Meghan Hoskins is among a dozen people gathered in the spare office of an environmental group in Keene, N.H., earlier this year. They sit on folding chairs in a circle, the room humming with multiple conversations.

"If I had told my boyfriend at the time, 'I'm not ready to have children because I don't know what the climate's gonna be like in 50 years,' he wouldn't have understood. There's no way," says Hoskins, a 23-year-old whose red hair is twisted in a long braid.

This is one of 16 meetings over the past year and a half organized by Conceivable Future, a nonprofit founded on the notion that "the climate crisis is a reproductive crisis."

Hoskins says she's always wanted "little redheaded babies" — as do her parents, the sooner the better.

But she's a grad student in environmental studies, and the more she learns, the more she questions what kind of life those babies would have.


Taller people tend to be conservative

One should not get too excited by this study as the effect was small.  Height is only one influence behind conservatism. The authors below explain the finding as an effect of income but fail to ask WHY taller people have higher income. I think the answer lies with temperament.  Larger people and larger dogs tend to be more placid and less aggressive.  Why that is so is one for the neurologists. 

But, whatever the reason, that placidity makes taller people  easier to work with and better suited to managerial positions.  And it also explains their politics.  It is Leftists who are the discontented people.  A tall placid man, by contrast, will be by that fact alone more contented.  It is people who are fired up by some grievance who become Leftists.  Taller people are harder to motivate in that way

I append the journal abstract to the article below

If you want to guess what political party someone supports, just take a look at their height. A new study has found taller individuals are more likely to back Conservative political positions, identify with a Conservative party and vote for Conservative politicians.

Researchers studying UK voters found that just a one-inch increase in height raises the person's support for the Conservative Party by 0.6 percent and their likelihood of voting for that party by 0.5 percent.

These findings may be linked to other studies that show taller individuals generally have a higher income than those who are short in stature.

After reviewing surveys from 9,700 people, which included the person's height, income and political views, the team found that not only are taller people more likely to support the Conservative Party and vote for Conservative candidates, they are also more likely to take a Conservative position.

These findings were observed in both men and women, however it was found to be twice as strong among men.

'If you take two people with nearly identical characteristics - except one is taller than the other - on average the taller person will be more politically conservative,' said Sara Watson, co-author of the study and assistant professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

Although these results may sound strange, Watson explained they do coincide with previous studies that show taller people generally earn more than those who are shorter – which suggests the two may be linked.

Watson said they conducted the study because, while political scientists have long theorized about an income-voting relationship, studies using real-world data have shown mixed results.  Some researchers find a link, while others see little or no effect.

'We were thinking about why there were so many seemingly contradictory findings,' she said.

During the study, Watson and her team pulled data from the 2006 British Household Panel Study, which includes self-reported height, income data and questions regarding the political views of a little over 9,700 adults.

After sifting through the data, researchers found that not only are taller people more likely to support the Conservative Party and vote for Conservative candidates, they are also more likely to take a Conservative position.

Researchers explored this further by investigating whether the effect of height on political beliefs could be explained through other channels, including race, education level, marital status and religion.  However, the team found that after all these factors their initial findings were found to be true.

The researchers also took into account potential explanations such as cognition and utilization of public health care. But no matter what was controlled in the study, the link between height and voting remained.

And although the relationship between height and political views were found in both men and women, the team discovered it was twice as strong among men.

For men, each additional inch of height increased their likely hood to support a conservative by 0.8 percent, whereas women it was just 0.4 percent.

In the second portion of the study, the team used height in an 'instrumental variable strategy', a way to estimate casual relationships, to further analyze the link between income and voting.

The team found that $665 was associated with each additional height and that a 10 percent increase in income raised the likelihood of voting Conservative by about 5.5 percent.


Height, Income and Voting

Raj Arunachalam and Sara Watson


The claim that income drives political preferences is at the core of political economy theory, yet empirical estimates of income’s effect on political behavior range widely. Drawing on traditions in economic history and anthropology, we propose using height as a proxy for economic well-being. Using data from the British Household Panel Study, this article finds that taller individuals are more likely to support the Conservative Party, support conservative policies and vote Conservative; a one-inch increase in height increases support for Conservatives by 0.6 per cent. As an extension, the study employs height as an instrumental variable for income, and finds that each additional thousand pounds of annual income translates into a 2–3 percentage point increase in the probability of supporting the Conservatives, and that income drives political beliefs and voting in the same direction.

British Journal of Political Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007123416000211


People like people  -- but high IQ people need their solitude

The above heading encapsulates the findings of a paper from earlier this year by Li & Kanazawa.  Man is a social animal so the finding that people are happier if they have a lot of contact with friends is no surprise.  But why are high IQ people different?  I personally certainly fit the pattern described.  In a typical week I would see the lady in my life for an evening twice a week but have no other social contact in that week.  Since he lives in the same building as I do, my son drops in for a brief chat every few days but that is it.  I do however go to family birthdays and there are a few of them.

So can I offer an explanation of why high IQ people are so anti-social?  The easy answer is that high IQ people find normal people boring, and there is some truth in that.  But, on the other hand, people at all intelligence levels tend to choose their friends from people around their own IQ level.  So a high IQ  person would normally have pretty bright friends.  So boredom would be unlikely to be the crucial factor.

I am afraid that I can offer no general explanation but I note that in my own case, I consider my self-chosen "work" of keeping up with the politics of 3 countries -- the USA, the UK and Australia -- to be pretty engrossing and I need most of my time for that.  From my POV, I haven't got the time for a lot of socializing.  People do to a degree socialize when they have got nothing else to do.  I am rarely in that situation.

I do have both a brother and a son who see things very much as I do. But that is not as good a thing as some might imagine. Because we see eye to eye we basically have nothing to say to one another. Anything we say would just be a repetition of something that the other believes. So there is surprising complexity in the way we high IQ people behave.

There is an extended discussion of the matter here. Information on the sample used is here

Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness

Norman P. Li & Satoshi Kanazawa


We propose the savanna theory of happiness, which suggests that it is not only the current consequences of a given situation but also its ancestral consequences that affect individuals’ life satisfaction and explains why such influences of ancestral consequences might interact with intelligence. We choose two varied factors that characterize basic differences between ancestral and modern life – population density and frequency of socialization with friends – as empirical test cases. As predicted by the theory, population density is negatively, and frequency of socialization with friends is positively, associated with life satisfaction. More importantly, the main associations of life satisfaction with population density and socialization with friends significantly interact with intelligence, and, in the latter case, the main association is reversed among the extremely intelligent. More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends. This study highlights the utility of incorporating evolutionary perspectives in the study of subjective well-being.



Another unpleasant multicultural doctor in Britain

Both Hindus and Muslims from India and Pakistan come from sexually very repressed cultures.  But sexuality is a strong force and it tends to burst its bonds in one way or another -- often in inappropriate ways.  We see the same happening with pedophile Catholic priests.  And in England the incidence of various sorts of sexual offending is high among Indians and Pakistanis, particularly if they are Muslims.

Consider the guy below, probably married to a middle-aged dumpling he didn't even choose for himself.  He goes out on the street and sees occasionally floating by bright young things  with short skirts, low-cut tops, long blonde hair and red lips.  Such self-presentation is meant to be attractive and it is.  But our multicultural brown man has never had one of those and knows he is not allowed to.  It must create frustration.  And for his own peace of mind he should probably stay home on Friday and Saturday nights, when the skirts get shorter, the necklines get lower and the behavior gets more expansive.

Hanging on to traditional restraint in a society  that exhibits a lot of open licentiousness is hard.  There is a loss of ambient  support for traditional cultural values.  So although subcontinental men do sometimes behave in disgusting ways, it is worthwhile understanding the full context of it.  Where no physical harm was done, we could well accept that the brown men concerned are themselves victims of an out-of-context culture.  As below, the men concerned can lose distinguished occupations because of their foolish behaviour.  That is victimhood too

A former Harley Street doctor bombarded female colleagues with lewd and 'heaving breathing' phone calls at 2am after he got drunk following a wedding anniversary meal with his wife, a tribunal has heard.

Consultant psychiatrist Nadir Omara, 49, is said to have rang two women a total of 20 times during their night shifts at a clinic after he drank up to five double whiskies in front of a movie whilst his spouse was asleep in bed.

During one call, Omara told one of the support workers 'I want you to open your legs' before 'huffing and puffing' as if carrying out a sex act, the hearing was told.

Police were called in after the women - called Miss A and Miss B in court - complained of being frightened, upset and shocked by the sexually explicit calls between 1.20am and 2.30am at the Abbeycare addiction treatment centre, near Newmarket, Suffolk.

One of the women recognised the voice of Omara - an expert in treating addictions - and he was arrested the following day. He claimed he was only ringing the clinic as he needed medication and was 'burping and retching' at the time of the calls.

But last February he was jailed for 12 weeks after a court hearing at which he fainted in the dock when he was told he was going to prison. He was subsequently referred to the General Medical Council.

The Medical Practioners Tribunal Service in Manchester this week was told that the incident occurred in November last year after Omara, from Rushmere St Andrew, Ipswich, had been out for dinner with his wife.

The clinic is an independent drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit where people can ring any hour of the day to seek help and Omara would assess suitability of patients who needed help on detoxification programmes.

Counsel for the GMC, Nicholas Walker said: 'Shortly after 1am the first phone call came and it was silent. The second call followed but it was not until 1:20 he spoke to Miss A. He asked Miss A what she was doing and introduced himself as James and told her he was watching a bad film.

'Miss A asked what he wanted and he said "I want you to open your legs". Miss A told Dr Omara she was not going to be spoke to like that and put the phone down. He rung back and said he was a bad person, told her she didn't know what he had done and asked her to open her legs once more. She put the phone down but felt obliged to keep answering it in case a patient rung.

'She feared a genuine patient would call and she would not be able to deal with it. In his next call to her he told her he wanted her to 'make him come'. By 2:30am the phone has rung almost continuously and consistently. In that period Miss A thought it was about 20 times.

'She described those calls as vulgar and depressing and she had made a note of the number. She was frightened and upset and she went to wake Miss B and handed her the telephone.

'Miss B knew Dr Omara, she was able to describe him as being breathless, excited and panting, moaning and groaning, she said it sounded like he was masturbating. He was huffing and puffing and Miss B terminated the call and the doctor phoned back a further five or six times.

'Miss B recognised the number as there was a white board in the general office at the unit which has written on the doctors' telephone number.'

Mr Walker added: 'There were 18 calls between 2:25 and 2:54am. The police, through the telephone and the details of the doctor, were able to trace him and he was arrested the next day and interviewed. He said it was his anniversary and he had enjoyed a meal with his wife. He said that he had stayed downstairs after the meal to finish a film, whereas she went to bed without him.

'He denied the offences in their entirety, he said rather than this vulgar and abusive pattern of telephone calls, he had phoned the unit but that he was unwell due to drinking alcohol he had bought that night.

'He was unable to say exactly how much he had drunk but it was a good portion of a bottle of whiskey. He thought it was a medical emergency. He said he introduced himself as Nadir the consultant and asked for mediation to stop him exhibiting the effects of the alcohol.

'He said he called two or three times and said he had started vomiting and forgot the conversation. He said he was not masturbating but burping and retching and that there was no sexual gratification.

'He said he measured his drunkenness at seven out of 10. He said he had a very good relationship with the staff at the unit.'

Mr Walker added: "This is a case where the doctor has never accepted the underlying conduct. Given the circumstances and the conviction, he was in a senior role, he was the senior practitioner, the consultant psychiatrist.. These were two people beneath him that should have been treated with the dignity and courtesy that one expects a fellow professional to extend in those circumstances."

Omara was not at the MPTS hearing, which will decide whether Omara should be able to continue working in the profession.

At his criminal trial in January the doctor who also worked at addiction rehabilitation charity Focus12, claimed he had bought a bottle of whiskey on his way home from the anniversary meal. After his wife went to bed, he said he began watching the film American Hustle and had 'four or five' double whiskies.



Earth's hottest month on record was July -- but what was the trend?

The lies start with the second half of the first sentence below.  Far from "record-shattering warmth shows no signs of stopping", the record shows that July was the SECOND COOLEST month of 2016.  And that is despite what they correctly say below -- that July is normally the hottest month.  Here are the GISS figures for this year:

Jan    Feb   Mar  Apr  May  Jun  Jul

116  132  128  108    94    79   84

Clearly, the trend is downwards, interrupted only by the usual July effect.  The Earth is COOLING from its El Nino high!  How come no Warmist mentioned that?  It's there in their own figures.

For three months now, the temp has been less than one degree above the 1951-1980 reference period, and we already knew that 1980--1999  was a period of (slight) warming

But in any case, no skeptic has ever claimed that there is NO global warming.  What they dispute is the cause of it.  They don't think mankind had much to do with it.  So they  point out  the lack of correlation between the claimed "cause" of the warming -- CO2 levels -- and the actual temperature changes.

So if the 21st century hiatus HAS come to an end it is no more disturbing to skeptics than was the cessation of the grand hiatus of 1945-1975.  In both cases large temperature plateaus occurred even though CO2 levels were rising steadily.  The CO2 level in December 2000 was, for instance, 369.67 ppm, which rose to 398.95 in December 2014, a period in which there was no statistically significant global temperature rise.  Whether the earth warms or cools, the one thing we can be certain of is that no-one knows why.  The Warmists certainly don't

Earth just had its hottest month yet, and the record-shattering warmth shows no signs of stopping.

According to NASA, global average surface temperatures during July were 0.84 degrees Celsius, or 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit, above average. This beats all previous Julys, with July 2011 coming in second at 0.74 degrees Celsius above average.

The large anomaly seen during July 2016 means that the month was the hottest on Earth since instrumental records began in 1880.

July is typically the planet's hottest month of the year due to the fact that the Northern Hemisphere has more land area than the Southern Hemisphere, making Northern Hemisphere summer the warmest month.

July is now the tenth month in a row to be the warmest such month on record in NASA's database.



Greenie food faddism kills Orang Utans

Food processors used to use a lot of animal fat in making their products.  Then Greenies discovered that such fats were "saturated", which was a very bad thing -- even though the human race has been consuming animal fats as far back as we can go.  Anyhow, with their constant attention-seeking activism, the faddidsts managed to get saturated fats banned and looked with favour on the alternative: hydrogenated vegetable oils.  But wait a minute!  Hydrogenated vegetable oils contain trans-fats, which are VERY bad.  So after a while  everybody had to dance to that insane tune.  

But there was a substitute to trans-fats which the manufacturers wearily adopted:  Palm oil.  So a huge new demand for palm oil arose.  It was a new goldrush.  If you had palm oil you were in the money.  So businessmen in S.E. ASia started huge palm oil plantations.  OK?  No problem?

BIG problem.  To create those big new plantations,  lots of natural jungle had to be cut down.  Greenies might have objected to that but did not.  So lots of jungle was lost.  But the jungle was where the Orang Utans lived.  They were thrown out of their homes and often died along the way. So that is how food faddism kills the Orangs.  People who care for them are doing what they can but they are up against a juggernaut

Major zoos in New Zealand are joining their Australian counterparts in calling for the clear labelling of palm oil in food products.

Auckland Zoo, Hamilton Zoo, Wellington Zoo and Orana Wildlife Park have joined the initiative, spearheaded by activist group Unmask Palm Oil, asking patrons to send postcards to NZ Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew to show their support.

Unmask Palm Oil founder Ben Dowdle said palm oil was estimated to be in about half of products available in supermarkets, and was only currently required to be labelled as "vegetable oil" in Australia and New Zealand.

"Every New Zealander should be able to choose what's in their food," he said.

"Clear labelling is the best step forward."

Palm oil is controversial due to its environmental impact — its production is linked to deforestation, which Unmask Palm Oil says results in the deaths of up to 1,000 orangutans in South-East Asia each year.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has previously rejected an application for its mandatory labelling.

The New Zealand campaign follows on from a long-running initiative of Zoos Victoria to have palm oil clearly labelled in Australian products.

What's the deal with palm oil?

What you need to know about the environmental impacts of palm oil and the worldwide movement to make it sustainable.

"We have worked on the palm oil issue for the last seven years," Zoos Victoria general manager of communications Jacquie O'Brien told the ABC, adding that she was thrilled to see New Zealand's zoos on board.   "It's really important because this is really about the consumer's right to know what is in their food.   'How they use that information is up to them.

"[Whether they have] environmental values or health values ... what we're asking is to give people that right."

She said polling conducted this year by Zoos Victoria in Australia and New Zealand showed 84 per cent of Australians supported palm oil labelling, along with 92 per cent of New Zealanders. The research included 1,125 New Zealanders and 1,003 Australians.

So far, 50,000 people have signed Zoos Victoria's petition for more transparent food labelling.



Shocking moment a Manus Island refugee collapses in a police station after being bashed with an iron bar

As usual, you are not given any context below.  The context is that the refugees on Manus are Muslims and treat non-Muslims with the usual contempt.  Australians generally ignore that but slight one of the Melanesians who live on Nauru and you are likely to get thumped.  Melanesisans are a notably warlike and aggressive people and they now know what the Afghans think of them.

And let us not forget that all the "refugees" are there of their own accord.  There is a standard offer open to them of an airfare back to their own country if they want to go.  Only problem:  They would have to work if they went back to Afghanistan. Getting free food and lodging on a pleasant tropical island is much more relaxing.  The natives are pesky but not nearly as pesky as their fellow-religionists

Two refugees on Manus Island who were attacked by locals wielding an iron bar have been pictured with deep gashes and blood dripping down their arms.

The Afghan refugees were set upon by several men as they walked from the beach to the bus stop in the main city of Lorengau on Wednesday around 5pm.

The refugees, who were verbally abused, robbed and beaten, were taken to a local police station and CPR was performed on one of the men after he collapsed on the station floor.

'They were surrounded by a group of seven locals who shouted abuse at them, demanded their clothes and shoes, and beat them up, and the attack ended when another local intervened to save them,' Human Rights Law Centre spokesman Daniel Webb said.

Shocking photos show the men walking to the station bloodied and in shock. One of the men held his arm up to stem the blood gushing down his wrist.

Bystanders helped to carry one of the men out of the police station and to hospital after he passed out from his injuries.  Both men were later returned to the detention centre, the Guardian reported.

Police believe there may have been a third refugee with the men as they walked from the beach, but he reportedly ran and hid in bushes during the attack.

'These guys have been on Manus for three years. They have seen their friend beaten to death in front of them,' Mr Webb said. 

'One refugee has been shot. Another has had his throat slashed. They've been bashed by guards. They've been attacked by locals. They are genuinely fearful'.


The best Pergolesi yet?

I came across a new video of a great favourite -- Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" just recently.  It is the best rendition I have heard and I have heard many.   See and hear below:

The way the soprano threw herself into it was truly impressive. Never has "pertansivit gladius" been sung with greater passion. Sadly, whoever put the video up gave no information about it. So I had to do a bit of digging to find out all about it.  But I did in the end find this:

"Accompanied by the French musical ensemble Les Talens Lyriques, Spanish soprano Sabina PuĂ©rtolas and American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux perform Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. It is composed in 1736, in the final weeks of Pergolesi’s short life (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736), and scored for soprano and alto soloists, violin I and II, viola and basso continuo (cello and organ). Conductor: Christophe Rousset"

The performance seems to have been in April this year.  In Spain, Ms PuĂ©rtolas is not Spanish.  She is Aragonese (from Aragon, ancient Aragon).  There is an artistic history of her here, which shows her as a very busy singer -- so she is obviously widely appreciated. I tried to find out some personal history, even trawling through the notices in Italian, but could not find a thing.

I may have to take more notice of Spanish singers.  I was greatly impressed by the performance of Evelyn Ramirez Munoz as the divine voice in the premiere version of Falvetti's "Il Diluvio universale".  Munoz is a Spanish surname so I assume Ms Munoz is Spanish but you can never be sure these days.  Argentinian? See below:

I note that there is another rendering of the Falvetti just out and she seems to have grabbed her old role in the latest version as well.  See below.  She is the lady in black.

I guess that by Northern European standards she over-acts but in singing a work from Sicily, what the hell?


Olympic Athletes Challenged by New Opponent: Global Warming

It is hard to know where to start with the nonsense below:  Yes. It does get hot in Rio:  Rio is in the tropics.  No. Past Olympic records have not been adjusted for the climate of the host city.  It was pretty cold in Helsinki but that did not make anyone run faster.   There is far greater variation in host city temperatures due to latitude than any fancied rise in temperature due to global warming

And the prediction that Britain would fade out is looking silly, seeing that Britain is third in the gold medal tally, behind only the USA and China

And if warming is slowing down the athletes generally at Rio, how come world records are being broken there daily?  The scare below is totally made-up with no factual basis

Climate change warnings poignantly made during the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday are likely to resonate with athletes as they struggle to train and compete in Brazil’s tropical heat.

Marathon runners, swimmers, volleyball players and even soccer referees will succumb to extreme temperatures and lose concentration during the games, in some cases risking their lives to heatstroke, according to a report released Monday by Observatorio do Clima, a Brazilian civil society group.

“Because of warming, sport will never be the same again,” and fewer records than in previous games are likely to fall as a result, the report said.

Global warming was a key theme of the opening ceremony, featuring maps, charts and graphics of rising global temperatures, melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels encroaching on cities from Amsterdam to Shanghai.

Brazil heated up faster than the global average, warming 1 degrees Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the last 54 years, and four cities smashed new heat records in 2015, according to the report. If countries don’t deliver on goals to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, 12 Brazilian cities may have to limit play in similar games by the end of the decade, it said.

Rising Heat

Sharply higher temperatures so far haven’t impacted this year’s Olympiad, according to Jose Marengo, a climate scientist at the Brazilian government’s National Center for Monitoring Warning of Natural Disasters. Temperatures in Rio could climb to about 30 degrees Celsius on Aug. 15 from about about 24 degrees Celsius on Monday, according to Accuweather.com.

Even though the games are taking place during Brazil’s winter, the heat may still impede performance, particularly in the marathon where Olympic records have only been broken in temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius. Runners perform best between 8 degrees and 11 degrees, well below the level expected this month in Brazil, the report said.

Over the coming years, athletes are likely to “give into fatigue earlier on, even if they remain in the competition until the end,” according to the report.

‘Fade Out’

The next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 could more heatwaves because climate change tends to create hotter summers and colder winters, Marengo said. Temperatures in the Japanese capital may top 36 degrees Celsius this week, according to AccuWeather.

“Temperatures are getting higher and heatwaves are getting more frequent,” Marengo said. “We don’t see many studies showing how this heat stress will impact people working outdoors.”

The heat is likely to be painful for athletes from colder climates, says Brazilian tennis player Fernando Meligeni. He reckons European players won’t be used to the humidity, which will make them sweat more than usual.  “I believe that the English and the Swedish, for example, will fade out,” Meligeni said, according to the report.

Warm temperatures have already caught out athletes. Two soccer matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil required technical time when so-called “wet bulb” temperatures -- a measurement used in occupational health -- reached 32 degrees Celsius, which is the “stop play” threshold for FIFA. Several athletes in the test events for the Rio Olympics had heat-related injuries. Eleven of the 18 race walkers succumbed to the heat and one fainted, according to the report.



The senseless census

I was one of the many who criticized in advance the arrangements for this year's census.  Retaining names and addresses instead of anonymizing the data is a basic breach of good survey practice and would significantly degrade the quality of the data, as people become less frank about their replies.  So the claim that the new system would yield better and more useful data was an obvious lie.  It would do the opposite.

I was also derisive of the claim that the data would be hacker-proof. Just making that claim would undermine it.  It would be like a red rag to a bull to all the world's hackers. It was an almost certain invitation to hacking.

So when the system failed long before the census was complete, I initially felt rather pleased.  It suggested that my prediction of hackers treating it as a challenge had been vindicated

As soon as a bit more information came through I abandoned that thought, however.  And the initial claim by the government -- that the system had been hit by a DDOS attack seemed informative.  My conclusion then was that the system had not in fact been hit by a DDOS attack but rather by something very similar to a DDOS attack: A meltdown caused by large and unexpected numbers of legitimate users trying to log on.  In short, the system ran out of capacity.  All the good and dutiful Australians logging on to do their duty once the evening meal was cleared away were the problem.  They should not have been the problem.  They were the people the system was built for.

So the problem was not any politician or bureaucrat but rather the firm -- IBM -- that had the contract to provide and operate the system. They totally goofed.  Their estimate of the resources that would been needed was way too low.  And I think a lot of people are now converging on that as the explanation. I think that that will soon become the accepted explanation for the meltdown.

IBM are a famous company so it is no discredit to Malcolm Turnbull or anyone else in the government that IBM was given the job.  Champion whiner Bill Shorten seem to think that the government was at fault in the matter but had he won the recent election, he would have found himself at the nominal head of exactly the same IBM-run system.  What would he have done differently?  He does not say.

That IBM made a huge mess on this occasion was however not without precedent. A few years ago, they totally stuffed up the  payroll program that they provided to Queensland Health.  You would think that a payroll program was such a routine thing now that nobody could stuff it up.  But IBM did.  A program that had to look after only 40,000 people took years to get right and ended up costing the Queensland taxpayers ten time what it should have.  One suspects that IBM is now not the company it used to be.

Presumably, the system will in due course be modified so that the census can complete.  The question then is whether or not we should boycott the whole thing.  I think it is clear that we should give them as little information as possible.  Governments are champion misusers and losers of all kinds of data, so the less they have the better.  And the current chaos is surely excellent evidence of that.  Other disastrous mistakes will be made and any one of us could become a victim of that.  Anyone who trusts governments is a fool.

And on this occasions there is an extra reason to tread carefully.  After this census each of us will be given a permanently identifying code-name linked to our natural name.  And that code-name will become the core of a vast data-sucking apparatus that will work silently for the rest of our lives.  It will be used to search through all existing government and non-government databases -- Centrelink, Medicare, Telstra, the courts, the hospitals etc -- to form an absolutely huge body of information about each of us.  We will have a new national ID no. that will follow us everywhere.  Anyone with access to a government computer will know everything about us that has ever been written down.  To think that such access will never be misused would be very naive indeed.

Let me give an example of a problem.  Say that one of us just once has an episode of depression and visits a doctor about it.  That will be known.  Even if the problem was transitory -- due to a relationship breakdown or some such -- it will be there on record to be used against us.  And if a government wants to discredit a whistle-blower who is revealing important and embarrassing information about that government, it has the tool it needs to hand.  It can say that "He has a history of mental illness and what he says should therefore be disregarded".  That fleeting depressive episode will be used to discredit anything we might say.

I a personally am a most buoyant person but I am not made of stone so I did once have such a episode at the end of a valued marriage.  Eventually the local doctor I consulted gave up his business.  And at that time he gave all his record cards back to the patients concerned.  It was with some satisfaction that I burnt mine.  You won't be able to burn any present-day records.

And an interesting thing is that our new personal ID no. for everything would resurrect Bob Hawke's "Australia card" of a few decades ago.  Bob Hawke nearly got that through to great and widespread consternation.  Fortunately, the project fell at the last hurdle amid widespread relief.  But the snoops never go away.  This is their second chance to get all the information they need to control us.  They must fail

Cruelty to dogs

Woof woof! I can never understand it when people are cruel to dogs.  Dogs are such friendly creatures towards their owners that they are a major source of comfort and companionship to a lot of people.  I have not myself owned a dog for years now but I was once a registered dog breeder.

I always think that a man who is cruel to his dog reveals himself as a depraved human being.  Being cruel to a creature that gives you so much love reveals you as a very dangerous and undesirable person.  It's a lot like the way Muslims give hatred to Western societies who give them homes, sustenance and refuge when they are fleeing their own depraved societies -- a towering  ingratitude that makes them just the lowest of the low and barely human.

It is my view that crimes against dogs should be treated as if they were crimes against people.  In both cases innocents suffer because a basic part of being human was missing in the offender.


A young American woman detects that she is seen as "white trash"

I accept that every word she says below is gospel truth so I am glad that I had a much easier ride.  I come from a similar background.  My father was a lumberjack and we lived in a small Australian country town -- where everybody thought that "poofters" (homosexuals) were disgusting and most men could fix most things with wire. We had churches for even the smaller denominations and there was culture -- the better-off mothers were keen to get their daughters into the State Eisteddfod, for instance.

But I really had no difficulty in going where I wanted to go.  To this day I still have most of my old country values and am profoundly glad of it.  But I did go  through academe in only 6 years to get my BA, MA and PhD.  And I got a teaching job -- with tenure -- at a major university straight out of my Ph.D.  So that is surely a very easy ride!

So how come?  Part of the answer is that I am a born academic. Academic tasks are easy for me. I once spent 4 months preparing for an exam that normally requires 4 years of study -- and passed with a 'B'.  And I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks!

But the point is that, given the ability, there was nothing else holding me back. I have never been aware of social barriers in my life.  Like all conservatives in academe, I was definitely an outsider but the interesting thing there is that I was not an outsider because of my social origins but because of my views, even if those two things are not totally separable.

So why the lack of social barriers?  It goes back to the distinctive egalitarianism of Australian life. No society has ever achieved pervasive equality but Australia has very nearly achieved equality of respect.  People are overwhelmingly polite and friendly towards one-another regardless of economic or occupational differences between them.  And when I tell people that I was born in Innisfail, the response is usually interest rather than contempt.

And there is usually little reserve between family members.  There are of course "black sheep" everywhere but lots of things that would make you a "black sheep" elsewhere -- such as poor economic success -- mostly just don't matter here.  My marvelous brother had an avocation quite as strong as mine -- for motorbikes.  He is basically a motorbike mechanic -- but he sells bikes too.  But when you read his Facebook posts, you note that he sounds just like me. Neither of us have ever changed from our underlying conservatism.

And, during my longest marriage, my wife -- who, as the daughter of a wharfie (longshoreman)  -- is definitely a working class girl -- always insisted on including a handicapped or otherwise marginal person along to our Christmas celebrations.

So in Australia, people basically do what they want to do -- regardless of any social class implications.  Most people can recognize some social class differences but don't think they are important. Australians are genuinely tolerant.

There are other countries with claims of being tolerant, but that usually means tolerant of Leftism only.  Fascists like Hillary Clinton and Communists like Bernie Sanders might both be tolerated as mainstream but no such toleration extends to Donald Trump.

And in the famously tolerant Nederland, the anti-immigrant Geert Wilders has had a very torrid time. He always seem to be under  prosecution for his political opinions and is generally treated as a pariah by the Dutch establishment.

And in Sweden, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have risen to a significant presence in the Riksdag despite huge censorship and various prosecutions from the mainstream Swedish Left.

Australia does have its own anti-immigrant politician -- Pauline Hansen -- but the media seems rather fascinated by her. Like Trump, she gets reams of free publicity even from Left-leaning media. In the recent federal election, her party got 4 Senate seats out of 76.

I have written these few sketchy notes as a sort of antiphon to the story below.  You CAN go wherever you want to go from a humble background -- but that is, as far as I can tell, easiest in Australia.  Snobbery is pervasive in Britain and America but it is avoided like the plague in Australia.  We can think well of ourselves without thinking ill of others.

I was presenting at a panel at the Media and Civil Rights Symposium at the University of South Carolina. I noticed that one of my fellow panelists was from a small college in my home county. I quickly ran up to him and shared that I was from a small town near the college he taught at. At the end of our conversation about history and Central Pennsylvania, he looked at me and said, “it’s good to see a local kid actually do something.” While he certainly meant it as a compliment, my first thought was “fuck you.” This comment sowed the seeds of the bitter chip I was developing on my shoulder.

In college, the micro-aggressions weren’t so noticeable. They came out when anyone familiar with my Central Pennsylvania hometown responded with an “ugh” upon meeting me. When friends of mine would shame people for smoking cigarettes or drinking soda, I would internalize this disapproval. I quickly learned not to say “cuss” or talk about my love of NASCAR racing. I spent my time trying to find my place in Philadelphia and crush my origins under books and my love of history. My senior year of college I took a small interdisciplinary research seminar, the kind of class that sticks with you for years afterwards. I was in the midst of applying to graduate schools, when my professor tried to explain some unknowable, intangible quality of graduate students and academia that wasn’t and couldn’t be taught at my working-class public university. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about.

That fall, I entered a M.A. program at an SEC school. Even at a large public university in the deep south, most of the graduate students came from high-ranking public schools and liberal arts colleges. I didn’t. Most of my peers had parents who were professors or lawyers or professionals. I was raised by a medical scheduler, a mechanic, and a farrier. My grandparents lived in a house trailer in the woods of Edenton, North Carolina, for much of my childhood. There were no concrete or tangible disadvantages to having a working-class background, or for being from towns that elicited an “ew” from anyone in the know. But I very clearly lacked something, something that united my colleagues and resulted in a confidence of place and belonging that I would never have. My differences — in public education and cultural knowledge — couldn’t be undone, but I could learn how to hide them. In my personal life, I wore them like a badge of honor — but I also wanted to get an academic job someday.

I bought The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, a terrifying book full of blunt (and much needed advice) about navigating the academic job market. While the author gives outspoken advice about the struggles of the job market, particularly for women, she also implicitly argues for the importance of hiding one’s class. She wrote about clothing and makeup and speaking patterns in women. Around the time I read this book, I realized that I, for a lack of a better term, code “white trash.” I have bad teeth, frequently say “ya’ll” and “how come,” and have a habit of running around South Philadelphia in a Dale Earnhardt Jr. t-shirt. It is one thing to have your hometown judged by your peers, but it is quite another to realize that qualities you possess, habits born of a lifetime that you don’t even realize you have, make you read as unqualified or unfit for your chosen profession.

But you can’t go home either, as they say. The more formal education I acquired, the larger the gap between my family and I became. My parents are incredibly proud of me and have never been anything other than supportive. But everyone from cousins to former employers have insinuated that I am arrogant because I left my small town for the city and enrolled in a Ph.D program. Why couldn’t I get a real job in the Harley Factory? What could you even do with a history Ph.D anyway? And most common of all, was I ever coming home? Slowly I realized the answer to that question had to be no.

Coming home still feels like a relief, a break from a life of pretending. But very gradually, my life has become very different from that of my family and old friends. We no longer watch the same TV or drink the same beer or read the same books. It takes a good week to get acclimated to the Folgers coffee my mom still buys. And many of my friends have no frame of reference for my chosen career, having never gone to college or even finished high school themselves. And sometimes my liberal and quasi-socialist opinions run up against those of the people in my hometown. How can I contest their sometimes racist, homophobic, or anti-intellectual opinions without confirming their stereotypes about who I have become, an elitist snob from the city?

The result is an in-betweenness, a lack of belonging. I will never fully belong in the world of academia, and frankly I don’t want to. But I also no longer fully belong at home. And I can’t complain (nor do I want to). I am incredibly lucky. I graduated from a high school where many students never see a community college or a technical school, much less a Ph.D program in the humanities. I am the dream, the local kid who did good. But nobody tells you what it’s like, the incredible loneliness that accompanies that kind of class jumping that many people dream of.

So, I continue to pull out that well-worn Dale Earnhardt t-shirt. I wrote the majority of my M.A. thesis while listening to Tim McGraw, and am in fact listening to him as I write this essay. And Barnes and Noble still seems to me like an intellectual mecca, “the city on the hill.” After all, Flannery O’Connor once wrote “when in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.”



Muslims are the sea in which the Jihadi fish swim

Consider this: A Muslim man in England decides it is time he made his trip to Mecca, which is religious obligation for all Muslims who can do it.  So he arranges his affairs, books his tickets and arrives in Mecca.  He marches around the Kaaba 3 times and abuses the Devil.  And when he gets back home he is pleased with himself and will have honorific title "Hajji" from then on.

So he will have met the obligations of his religion.  Except that he has not. Going on a Haj is only a minor command in the Koran. The big and often repeated commandment is to wage Jihad on unbelievers.  But he doesn't do that, nor do 99% of Western Muslims.  Why?  Because it is obvious  that if he does so he is very likely to end up dead or in prison for a long time.  He has the normal human instinct for survival.

But in supporting his local Mosque, he supports the teaching of the Mullah. Mullahs are always urging Jihad on their congregants.  And there will be some listeners in the Mosque who like the idea of being a hero.  They will usually be people who are psychologically or socially marginal but the point is that the Mosque is where they get the sense of mission that they have. If there was no Mosque and no Mullah preaching Jihad, they would go off in some other direction.

So the local Muslim community is the life-support system for Jihadis.  Take away that community and no-one would hear of Jihad and would certainly not have it preached at them.  So Muslim populations should be sent home not because they have done anything wrong but because they are what in law is called "accessories before the fact".  They share a responsibility for the murderous attacks on us committed by their more devout members.

Those who change their religion could stay.  How would we know that a conversion was sincere?  Easy. Just ask them to say something no Muslim would say  -- e.g.  "Islam is a false religion and the Koran is the ravings of an insane pedophile"

So he will have met the obligations of his religion.  Except that he has not. Going on a Haj is only a minor command in the Koran. The big and often repeated commandment is to wage Jihad on unbelievers.  But he doesn't do that, nor do 99% of Western Muslims.  Why?  Because it is obvious  that if he does so he is very likely to end up dead or in prison for a long time.  He has the normal human instinct for survival.

But in supporting his local Mosque, he supports the teaching of the Mullah. Mullahs are always urging Jihad on their congregants.  And there will be some listeners in the Mosque who like the idea of being a hero.  They will usually be people who are psychologically or socially marginal but the point is that the Mosque is where they get the sense of mission that they have. If there was no Mosque and no Mullah preaching Jihad, they would go off in some other direction.

So the local Muslim community is the life-support system for Jihadis.  Take away that community and no-one would hear of Jihad and would certainly not have it preached at them.  So Muslim populations should be sent home not because they have done anything wrong but because they are what in law is called "accessories before the fact".  They share a responsibility for the murderous attacks on us committed by their more devout members.

Those who change their religion could stay.  How would we know that a conversion was sincere?  Easy. Just ask them to say something no Muslim would say  -- e.g.  "Islam is a false religion and the Koran is the ravings of an insane pedophile"


Equality of respect

There could be few more idiotic assertions than the compulsive Leftist claim that all men are equal.  The obvious fact is that all men are different.  But the absurd assertion does have a purpose.  It is aimed at getting everyone TREATED equally.  That is of course also hopeless but it makes slightly more sense than the original assertion.

So why do Leftists want everyone to be treated equally?  They don't.  They just use the prospect as a battle cry to get the less fortunate segments of society involved in the tearing down of the existing system which is their real aim.  It is just a con.

But conservatives are sufficiently disturbed by the potential aggression behind equality calls to propose a compromise.  Having seen what equality calls led to in Russia, China and elsewhere, it would be most unwise simply to ignore the push for equality.  So conservatives have embraced as a value that there should be equality of opportunity.

But that too is basically unreachable.  All people may (for instance) have an equal opportunity of gaining a High School education but some students -- the brighter ones -- will get more out of it and will go on to better things than the less intelligent students.  So there is no way that all students will have an equal opportunity to move into the top echelons of employment.  And, as a result, we don't hear much about equality of opportunity these days.  Cynicism about it has set in.

But there is one way in which equality can largely be reached and thus sidetrack social unrest.  It is equality of respect.  And I happen to live in a society where equality of respect has largely been achieved -- so it is not an airy-fairy idea. Australia has a national ideology of egalitarianism. It's sometimes summarized as "Jack is as good as his master". People largely treat one another in a friendly manner regardless of who or what they are.  The cleaner and the businessman will both normally speak to one another politely, with no  regard for the differences between them.  There will be no condescension from the businessman and no hostility or suspicion from the cleaner.

It is of course not perfect and social status differences are still there but the attitude that one man is as good as another does rule most interactions.  I am pleased to live in such a friendly society.  Australia does have a national ideology that makes everybody's life less stressful and more peaceful.

Could such an ideology be transplanted elsewhere?  Probably not.  Any attempt to transplant it to class-ridden England would be a joke and the competitive element in American culture would also  rule it out.  But it is nice to know that there is one way in which we can make practical sense of "all men are equal".  They are not equal in Australia but they mostly act as if they were.  Perhaps it's an aspiration for other societies.


Beware PFOS! A big, loud, extraverted, blonde publicity hound comes to Australia to warn us about it

Have you ever had your carpet or your uphostered chairs Scotchguarded?  If so, you are probably pleased with the results.  The stuff tended to make dirt and stains just slide off.  What you did not know is that you probably were a user of the deadly PFOS!

And Erin Brockovich is here to alarm you about it.  The big scare by which she first made her name eventually proved to be without foundation so we must be suspicious of her latest pronouncements.  She cost the company she targeted $600 million or so but that's fine because companies are evil

That the chemical underlying Scotchguard gets into people and animals one way or another has been known for decades.  But the concentrations are extremely minute -- measured in a few parts per billion. -- and, as always, the toxicity is in the dose.  So how toxic is it?  It certainly seems to be seriously toxic to a range of animals but evidence of toxicity to people is slight.  And don't forget that this has been under investigation for a long time.

Additionally, it has been estimated that there is by now some PFOS in every American, so bad effects should be pretty evident by now.  But they are not.

But the scare has been sufficient for American manufacturers to stop production of the stuff and the levels in people have gone into steady decline.  So if it is a problem, it has been dealt  with.  But publicity-seeker Brockovich is telling you none of that.  She has done very well out of her scares, so why would she?

You can still get Scotchguard but they have taken the zing out of it

ENVIRONMENTAL activist Erin Brockovich has described Oakey’s groundwater contamination crisis as worse than what she witnessed in the United States, as she called on the community to speak up for change.

Ms Brockovich, 56, flew into Brisbane this week to speak with Oakey locals about the spread of toxic PFOS and PFOA from firefighting foam used by the ­Defence Force for decades.

The activist consults on environmental pollution cases in the US and Australia, and has most recently worked as an advocate for communities, such as Oakey, poisoned by PFOS and PFOA.

Speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail, Ms Brockovich said the same contamination crisis was unfolding in several US states but that Oakey’s critical plight had not received the urgent government attention it deserved.

“These are toxic compounds that can wreak havoc with your health, and once they’re in you, they won’t leave,” she said.

“People (in Oakey) are sick, they have been harmed, and their property values have been degraded.”

According to Ms Brockovich — who is also an ambassador for Shine Lawyers, who is working with locals — the people of Oakey deserve to be heard by authorities.

“People need to get blood tests and arm themselves with information to make choices for their families,” she said.

“The Government’s job is to listen to these people and to let them know they’re not going to be ignored.

“This is going to blow up pretty quickly, but before we see a potential health crisis, we need to wrap our arms around this.”

Ms Brockovich visited Oakey last year to hear locals’ concerns and said today’s public meeting would educate them about the problem and the best way forward.

“There are innocent children in Oakey who are four years old with blood levels 10 times higher than the national median average … what will their futures look like?” she said.

“Australia has higher blood levels than I’ve seen in the US.”



More on the obesity "war"

The latest folly about this:  JAMA has an article recently up called Weight Gain Not an Issue With Mediterranean Diet by Anita Slomski (M.A.).  One would have hoped that a Humanities degree would have made Anita more knowledgeable about people than the average laboratory researcher but it seems not to be the case.

Her conclusion has already been widely quoted so a corrective to it is obviously needed.  The population she studied consisted of overweight diabetics so does a creeping doubt arise from that?  Is that a good population to generalize from?  Is what is true of them likely to be true of all of us? I suggest not. But it is actually worse than that.  Here is a fuller description of the study population:

It is difficult to see how you can draw any generalizations from that set of contrasts.  Even the two "Mediterranean" populations were not regular eaters of a Mediterranean diet but eaters of an "enriched" diet.  Clearly, the study population was not suitable for drawing ANY inferences about the Mediterranean diet.

It is of course all very well to be negative but can I offer better data bearing on the issue?  I can.  And it's real life data.  It's not quantified, sadly, but it is so obvious as to be in little need of that.

I grew up in a Mediterranean village.  It was also an Australian country town, but an exceedingly multicultural one.  About half of the population of Innisfail was of Mediterranean origin, mostly Italians but with Greeks and Spaniards too.  They were basically impoverished peasant farmers who had fled the hard soils of  their homelands for the rich and very well-watered soils of the Australian tropics.  So I think they offer far more in the  way of generalizability than most medical studies that I have seen

And what was there about these Mediterranean folk that was extremely obvious?  After their first flush of youth, they were, to put it politely, very "pyknic" in build.  "Stout" would be another word for it.  Weight gain they had in spades on their Mediterranean diets.  Anita Slomski has got it exactly backwards.


The contented versus the discontented people

I have been looking at the differences between the Left and the Right of politics since 1968, when I submitted my Master's dissertation  on that subject.  And my aim has been to understand WHY Leftists behave like SoBs so much of the time. How is it that implementing Leftist policies always results in harm and destruction of some sort?

So my interest has been not only in Leftist claims and policies but also in their underlying psychology.  I think, in fact, that it is only at the psychological level that Leftism can be understood.  And, in that, I find myself in a degree of agreement with Leftist psychologists.  Leftists never stop offering accounts of the psychology of conservatives, adverse accounts, of course. It is one of the more popular fields of research in psychology.  So Leftists are most emphatic that you need to delve into the psychological realm to understand politics.  In any argument on the facts they will be defeated by conservatives so impugning the motives of their opponent is essentially all that they have left.

I am VERY familiar with the Leftist claims in that regard. Most of my 200+ academic journal articles were devoted to showing that the research they relied on in support of their claims was flawed, often hilariously so.

But there was one redeeming feature in their research.  In purporting to decribe conservatives they usually were quite clearly describing themselves!  An accusation that they never seem able to let go of, despite much contrary evidence, is that conservatives are "authoritarian".  Yet what could be more authoritarian than wanting to "fundamentally transform" America? (In Mr Obama's words -- words which elicited an enormous cheer from his Leftist audience).  So to find out what is true of Leftists, a good first approximation is to look at what they say about conservatives. They do Freudian projection on a grand scale.  Real self-insight is beyond them.

But before you study a thing you have to define it and that can be tricky.  Conservatives themselves offer many different accounts of what is meant by conservatism and its opposite. The different accounts usually have a lot in common but none seem to me to strike at the heart of the Right/Left divide.

So I want to offer what is my simplest yet definition of the difference between the two camps.  I propose that the Left/Right divide consists of the discontented versus the contented people.  But the difference is a difference between characteristic mood rather than an invariable divide.  All the surveys show that conservatives are happier than Leftists but that does not mean that they are ALWAYS happy.  That would be absurd. And Trump supporters are clearly not content with the present Left-dominated state of politics, with its pervasive strictures of political correctness greatly limiting what everyone can say and do.

So conservatives have a DISPOSITION, presumably with genetic roots, to be happy and contented, whereas Leftists can't help  finding things to be discontented about.  One must rather pity them.

Exactly WHAT Leftists get discontented about will obviously vary.  There seem to be few things they are contented with and some of their discontents are quite amazing.  At the moment, for instance, they want to tear down most of America's electricity infrastructure in the name of the absurd global warming theory, a theory that is in constant divergence from reality.

So, basically, Leftists are discontented with EVERYTHING and, in consequence, want to tear down as much of the existing state of affairs as they can.  The harm and destruction that flows from their policies is INTENDED.

One of the more nauseous discontents among Leftists is discontent with their personal fame and prestige.  They have a very high opinion of themselves and are greatly grieved that the world at large does not have a similar opinion of them.  So they lash out in all sorts of ways.  Academics are particularly prone to that.  They have in fact by their employment reached a small degree of personal distinction but are quite burned up that many business people get paid far more than they do.

So they lash out at society by promulgating fanciful theories about the evils of the world that will get them taken seriously at least by other Leftists. They gain distinction by being seen by some as heroic critics of a world in vast need of reform and reorientation.

The global warming theory is a good example of that.  It's intellectual underpinnings are pure speculation but it has succeeded in creating great disruption.  And it continues to be taken seriously because a relatively small clique of scientists continue to proclaim it energetically.  The famous "97%" paper by John Cook in fact shows, if you read it carefully,  that only one third of climate scientists voice support for the theory.

So, because of their miserable psychological state, Leftists have great potential to do harm and we should never forget that, regardless of what face they put on it, their AIM is to do harm, harm that will usually affect us all in one way or another.  Their claims of "compassion" are no more than necessary camouflage for their destructive intentions.