More Americans are living alone after recession

The reasons why given below are all fair enough but the elephant in the room is being neglected:  The influence of feminism.  In that connection, i will simply recycle something I have said several times recently:

An obvious culprit would be feminism and the gradual breakdown of traditional sex roles.  We have evolved to be sexual specialists. At it simplest men did the hunting and women looked after the babies.  And evolution is slow to change.  We are still born with those old cavemen specialisms.  That is who we are and how we feel.

That all that specialization has become of little importance to survival in the last half century will have had no impact on our genetic propensities whatever.  We will still be most comfortable in traditional roles.  But women in particular have had ferociously preached at them that such roles are now WRONG.

And that can only result in discomfort and dissatisfaction for all concerned. Expectations will continuously be at odds with natural inclinations. Human beings are very flexible so some degree of accommodation to modern reality is possible but all flexibility has its limits.  So in many cases relationships will break down, leaving both parties alone

The number of Americans living with a spouse or partner has fallen notably in the last decade, driven in part by decisions to delay marriage in the wake of a recession that hit new entrants into the workforce especially hard.

Forty-two percent of Americans live without a spouse or partner, up from 39 percent in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures. For those under the age of 35 years old, 61 percent live without a spouse or partner, up 5 percentage points from a decade ago.

The higher number of spouseless households comes as the marriage rate declines precipitously. Just half of American adults are married, down from 72 percent in 1960.

The average American woman gets married just after her 27th birthday, while the average man waits until he is 29.5 years old to marry — significantly higher than the median ages half a century ago.

“The median age of first marriage has gone up significantly over the past several decades,” said Kim Parker, who directs research on social trends at the Pew Research Center. “But it’s not all about delayed marriage. The share of Americans who have never married has been rising steadily in recent decades. So, part of it is a move away from marriage.”

Pew researchers said the rise in those households without a partner or spouse is not a sign that more marriages are breaking up; the divorce rate has been stable, or even declining, since the 1980s.

Instead, analysts said, the decline in both marriage and partnerships is likely a result of the declining ability of men to earn a salary large enough to sustain a family.

“All signs point to the growing fragility of the male wage earner,” said Cheryl Russell, a demographer and editorial director at the New Strategist Press. “The demographic segments most likely to be living without a partner are the ones in which men are struggling the most — young adults, the less educated, Hispanics and blacks.”

Russell pointed to data that shows marriage rates increase for younger Americans in connection with salaries. Fewer than half of men between the ages of 30 and 34 who earn less than $40,000 a year are married. More than half of those who make more than $40,000 a year are married, including two-thirds of those who make between $75,000 and $100,000 a year.

“The point at which the average young man becomes ‘marriageable’ appears to be earnings of $40,000 a year or more,” Russell said.

The Pew data underscores the economic marriage gap: Adults who do not live with partners are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than those who have partners.

“Our surveys show us that one of the things that’s holding unmarried adults back from getting married is that they feel they’re not financially stable enough,” Parker said.



Fat and neurotic feminist needs a dash of Pauline wisdom

Overweight and chronically angry feminist Clementine Ford had a disabling neurotic crisis recently but seems to have learned nothing from it.  The Pauline wisdom she needs is in Acts 26:14, where Jesus advised Paul not to kick against the pricks -- i.e. not to resist the inevitable.

The inevitable is inborn male/female differences.  In our evolutionary past we have evolved to be sexual specialists. At it simplest men did the hunting and women looked after the babies. And evolution is slow to change. We are still born with those old cavemen specialisms.  That is who we are and how we instinctively feel

That all that specialization has become of little importance to survival in the last half century will have had no impact on our genetic propensities whatever. We will still be most comfortable in traditional roles. But Clem believes that such roles are now WRONG and resists them

And that can only result in discomfort and dissatisfaction for all concerned. Expectations will continuously be at odds with natural inclinations. Human beings are very flexible so some degree of accommodation to modern reality is possible but all flexibility has its limits

And Clemmie is one of those who kick against the pricks of her inborn feminine instincts.  She describes a lot of that below.  And it is obviously stressful for her.  No wonder she had a serious anxiety breakdown recently.

And against all probability, it appears that she has a partner, probably male. He must be a Trojan.  So her hormones are in good order even if her mind is troubled.  And the account she gives of her life with him makes it clear that therein lies another source of stress.

She would be a much happier lady if she went right along with her female instincts instead of obeying her feminist ideology.  But is it ideology?  She has an impeccably conservative father so she would not have got it from him. So she probably just is chronically angry, in the typical Leftist style. There appears to be no cure for that. 

I recently spent the afternoon in a park with a friend and our kids. It was a lusciously sunny and warm day, the first in a long time after such a cold winter. It was the kind of day that you want to prolong, so we decided to do exactly that and headed back to her house to drink wine and watch the sun set.

While the kids set about destroying the house on arrival, I asked my friend if I could use her bathroom. "Sure," she replied. "Just give me a second to make sure it looks okay."

I waited while she dashed in to make sure there were no suspicious marks in the bowl (or on the seat) or a forgotten flush. She came out a minute later and gave me the all-clear.

I knew this was what she was doing, because it's exactly what I do when guests ask to use my bathroom. I also apologise automatically for the general mess of the house, for any dishes that might be left dirty in the sink or food crumbs strewn across the counter. I do all that despite the fact that not only do I not care about the state of any of my friends' houses, I also loathe the gendered expectation that these are things women should care about, along with making sure everyone in the house has healthy food to eat and the kids' clothes are neatly ironed and stain-free.

Like many women – and feminist women in particular – I'm interested in what perpetuates this sense of obligation even in households populated by people who are arguably aware of the existence of these pressures and the essential inequality of them. Why do we feel that a dirty toilet will reflect badly on us alone, and not also on the people we live with (particularly if those other people happen to be men, whether partners or housemates)? I suspect there is a residual fear of being perceived as filthy ourselves or inattentive to the filth of those men, whose domestic harmony we're expected to take responsibility for.

Still, I'm far from the first woman to write about the gendered division of labour. By now, only the most obstinate and wilfully ignorant of people are in denial of the fact that women perform the bulk of the world's unpaid labour, even in the countries these same people love to believe are matriarchal dictatorships. Just recently, Gemma Hartley wrote about women's emotional labour in the domestic sphere for Harper's Bazaar. In reflecting on the example she and her husband were setting for their children (one girl and two boys), Hartley wrote: "I find myself worrying about how the mental load bore [sic] almost exclusively by women translates into a deep gender inequality that is hard to shake on the personal level. It is difficult to model an egalitarian household for my children when it is clear that I am the household manager, tasked with delegating any and all household responsibilities, or taking on the full load myself. I can feel my sons and daughter watching our dynamic all the time, gleaning the roles for themselves as they grow older."

Hartley is just one of many women in heterosexual partnerships who feels obliged to "manage" not just the workload of the home she shares with at least one other adult, but also the way her home is perceived by other people. I'm speaking generally here (and before I go further, let it be known that I acknowledge there are always outliers to every situation, which means of course there are house-proud men out there), but I've rarely, if ever, encountered the same level of domestic embarrassment in my male friends in hetero partnerships as I have in my female ones. They don't give the toilet a quick once over to check for rogue floaters, nor do they offer apology for presiding over a living room that actually looks lived-in.

And it isn't just that men who partner with women suddenly give up on doing the domestic workload they performed rigidly before. Let's just say that of all the men I slept with in my 20s, not a single one of them ever apologised for the fact that they were clearly sleeping on sheets that had never been washed and definitely smelled like it. Meanwhile, the majority of western women are conditioned to apologise to potential paramours for egregious crimes like having unshaven legs. (And if you don't think that's true, think of the Swedish model who recently posted a photograph of herself with hairy legs and received a slew of rape threats.)

Emily Shire nails it here when she writes that women are judged more for having messy houses and unkempt children than men are. In fact, I would wager the average person wouldn't even think to implicate husbands and fathers in either of these things, because the cultural stereotypes around both still hinges on a woman's worth or lack thereof.

So what's the solution?

In my own home, having open lines of communication has been hugely rewarding. My partner and I have ongoing conversations about how we can model equality to our son, from having set weekdays in which we both act as primary parent to making sure he sees both of us doing things like vacuuming, washing clothes and cleaning the kitchen. We each do our own laundry and often cook or organise our own dinner, both of which stop these jobs from being naturally assumed to be my responsibility. I'm not afraid to have endless discussions about our domestic dynamic, even though I find it boring and frustrating most of the time. Because this seems to be largely why women in hetero partnerships just throw their hands up and conform to gendered domestic expectations – it's too tiring and dull to keep having the same conversations over and over, so we just end up giving up and doing it.

I'm not saying we should stop doing the toilet once-over when guests arrive. But start questioning your partners if you notice they never do it. And for goodness sake, stop washing men's clothes for them.



Men find their 'bromances' are MORE emotionally rewarding than relationships with their wives and girlfriends

The article below is wildly overgeneralized -- based on the responses of 30 students at a prestigious British university! That men of different ages and different social classes might be different seems not to have been contemplated.

Age is particularly important. The teens and early 20s are ages when men tend to be "chased" by women.  And the women are right to do that.  If they don't nab a desirable man in that age bracket, some other woman will grab him -- and the more reserved women will be left with other women's rejects.  So you get single women in their 30s wailing that there are no good men left.  They are right. Other women have got the good men and they have missed the boat.

So the "sample" -- if you can call it that -- in the study below would have been finding women rather predatory and demanding -- and could easily have been unnerved by that -- or at least made uncertain about the wisest way forward.  So they retreat into social relationships that are less puzzling and challenging.

But that is just a phase.  As they gain more experience and confidence they will find what normal humans have always found -- that the closest relationship they ever have is with a member of the opposite sex

So why was the extraordinary uninsightful article below published?  One would have hoped that academics from the Department of Sport and Exercise at the University of Winchester knew young men rather well.

There is an old warning not to explain as evil what can equally well be attributed to stupidity but I will give the authors the benefit of the doubt when it comes to stupidity.  So I think the article does fit well into the Leftist attack on conventional sex roles.  It tends to show that the differences between men and women are decreasing and that maybe one day they will vanish forever.  Fat chance!

The journal article is "Privileging the Bromance: A Critical Appraisal of Romantic and Bromantic Relationships"

It is something that many long suffering wives and girlfriends have long suspected.

Many men find `bromances' - close friendships with other men - more emotionally rewarding than their romantic relationships with women.

Whether it is the lure of going down the pub, to the football match, fishing or just helping a pal with DIY many women feel they play second fiddle to a best mate.

Examples abound, from celebrity pairs like One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles, to Hollywood royalty George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Now researchers looking into close male friendship among straight men may have an answer as to why they form such close bonds.

Experts have found that many men find `bromances', like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's, more emotionally rewarding than their romantic relationships. Of 30 men questioned, 28 said they would rather discuss important emotional issues with their 'bromantic' partner

As awareness of homosexuality grew, peaking in the 1970s and 1980s, `straight men began to fear being homosexualised for displaying physical or emotional intimacy.'

This `interfered with the development of close male friendship' and research in the British Social Attitudes Survey found it was a high-water mark for homophobia.

Researchers studying male friendships found men did not like to talk about their feelings, and `instead young men knew they had a friendship with another male when they engaged in activities together, like playing sports, drinking, fixing things or gambling'.

In contrast during the same time, `women have maintained friendships through sharing emotions and disclosing secrets'

Boys during this time could be tormented by peers and teachers for performing feminine behaviours `such as skipping and poetry readings'.

Young men today are much less like Rambo and more similar to One Direction, the authors say, with much more interest in art, music and fashion.

Experts found that men felt `less judged' by their close male friends than their girlfriends.

They also found it easier to solve conflicts and speak openly about their emotions in their bromances.

Male friendships used to be considered lacking in many of the qualities seen in close female friendships, particularly emotional and physical intimacy.

But this has changed in recent years, the study found, with young men `openly pronounce love' to their male friends in a way that would be socially prohibited in previous years, partly out of fear of appearing gay.

The authors of the study say that strong friendships may be a progressive development, as men become less worried about appearing effeminate.

But they warn that strong bromances could challenge traditional domestic living arrangements between men and women.

Speaking to MailOnline the author of the study, Adam White of Winchester University, said: 'The key thing that we found was that bromances were somewhat more flexible and judgement-free relationships comparable to romances.

'The guys that we spoke to were clear that the only differences, other than sex, were that bromances were less judgemental, easier to resolve problems or arguments, and much more emotionally open, than romances.

'These guys found it easier to talk to their bromances as there was less judgement and regulation in their bromantic relationships.

'They didn't feel like there was a standard to be kept or adhered to. 'Therefore, they could express their feelings, anxieties and worries without being judged by their girlfriends.

'And on the occasions where conflict did occur, it was seen as easier to fix with their bromances rather than their romances.'

Mr White and colleagues interviewed 30 British male undergraduates for the study, published in the journal Men and Masculinities.

Male friendships, like Brad Pitt and George Clooney's, used to be considered lacking in many of the qualities seen in close female friendships but this has changed in recent years, the study found. Young men feel able to `openly pronounce love' to their male friends

Of the men, 28 out of 30 said they would rather discuss important emotional issues with their `bromantic' partner than their girlfriends.

One study participants, `Brad', said: `There are absolutely things I tell my bromances and not the girlfriend.

'She expects so much from the relationship and will have a go if I say something out of line, and with Matt we just tell each other everything.'

Up to the early 20th century, men would often write `endearing letters' to one another, and even sleep in the same beds.

Tripp (2005) highlights that, for four years, President Abraham Lincoln shared a bed with his intimate male partner, Joshua Speed, and that President George Washington wrote endearing letters to other men.

But as awareness of homosexuality grew, peaking in the 1970s and 1980s, `straight men began to fear being homosexualised for displaying physical or emotional intimacy.'

This `interfered with the development of close male friendship' and research in the British Social Attitudes Survey found it was a high-water mark for homophobia.

Researchers studying male friendships found men did not like to talk about their feelings, and `instead young men knew they had a friendship with another male when they engaged in activities together, like playing sports, drinking, fixing things or gambling'.

In contrast during the same time, `women have maintained friendships through sharing emotions and disclosing secrets'

Boys during this time could be tormented by peers and teachers for performing feminine behaviours `such as skipping and poetry readings'.

Young men today are much less like Rambo and more similar to One Direction, the authors say, with much more interest in art, music and fashion.

Another subject `Beck' said: `Guys nowadays, in my generation, there is so much kissing between guys because it's showing affection.



Married Americans Are More Unhappy Than Ever

And why would that be?  An obvious culprit would be feminism and the gradual breakdown of traditional sex roles.  We have evolved to be sexual specialists. At it simplest men did the hunting and women looked after the babies.  And evolution is slow to change.  We are still born with those old cavemen specialisms.  That is who we are and how we feel.

That all that specialization has become of little importance to survival in the last half century will have had no impact on our genetic propensities whatever.  We will still be most comfortable in traditional roles.  But women in particular have had ferociously preached at them that such roles are now WRONG.

And that can only result in discomfort and dissatisfaction for all concerned. Expectations will continuously be at odds with natural inclinations. Human beings are very flexible so some degree of accommodation to modern reality is possible but all flexibility has its limits

It’s logical, isn’t it? People who choose to stay married should be happier in their relationships. After all, it’s easier than ever to exit a miserable union, people tend to wait longer before making the jump and many just don’t get married at all. 

Despite that, the number of Americans who say they’re “very happy” in their marriages has fallen from 68 percent in the early 1970s to 60 percent. 

There are four types of people who tend to be happiest with the quality of their marriage: those who spend more time at religious centers, people with extreme political views (skewing to either spectrum), those who describe themselves as upper class—and men.


The Republican civil war is spreading (?)

Below is the opening salvo of an article by Leftist writer, Paul Waldman.  Its very first sentence is dubious. The Trump administration has seen an upwards leap in all sorts of economic statistics, from job numbers to the stock exchange. Unemployment claims for instance, have just fallen to the lowest level in 43 years, despite hurricanes. And nearly a million new jobs were created in September.  Trump is keeping his core promise spectacularly well. "Things" are in fact going extraordinarily well for the GOP.

Broadly, the article is just the latest of the almost daily declarations from the Left saying that the  Trump administration has just doomed itself to extinction.  Never has any death been more prematurely announced.

But it is of course true that Trump has upended American conservatism by injecting national pride as one of the desired policy outcomes.  Cries of "racism" from the Left had bullied the GOP into completely abandoning all mention of national pride -- thus taking away one of their most important rallying cries.  And in a patriotic nation like the USA, losing that rallying cry was epic.  The Left did extraordinarily well to take that weapon out of the hands of American conservatives for so long

So Trump has indeed been a disrupting force in the GOP -- a long overdue disruption.  But the Leftist control of America's political discourse does seem to have seeped into the bones of some GOP figures.  They are genuinely uncomfortable with Trump's loud declarations of America's national interests.  They were comfortable with their old go-nowhere talking points and have not warmed to more red-blooded ones.  And there is no doubt that Trump's personal style grates on them as well.  Trump has  redefined what it means to be "Presidential", rather to the amusement of many who support his policies.

So Waldman is tapping into a genuine ferment in the GOP.  But it is just assertion that the ferment is escalating.  The GOP establishment was not comfortable with Trump from the word "Go".  But many Trump opponents have gradually come over to his side.  And the recent outbreak of amity between Trump and Rand Paul over healthcare regulations is surely epic.

So, as I see it, unity is spreading among the congressional GOP, not civil war. Adjusting to Trump is still far from complete but it has come a long way.  It probably needs good results in the next mid-terms to cement the Trump transition.

Parties don't descend into vicious civil wars when things are going well for them. So the fact that it's happening now to the GOP tells you a lot about what Republicans are facing, even though they control the White House, Congress, and a majority of state houses and governorships. They are beginning to tear themselves apart over the question of who is to blame for their current difficulties, with one side saying it's the fault of a feckless establishment that is insufficiently loyal to President Trump, and the other side saying — mostly sotto voce, but occasionally out loud — that the responsibility lies with Trump himself.

If the president was right in his repeated insistence that his administration has been a smashing success, there wouldn't be anything to fight about. But in truth, things could hardly be worse: No major legislation has been passed, the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was a spectacular failure, Trump's approval ratings are abysmal and a majority of Americans say he's not fit to be president, one Republican officeholder after another is choosing not to run for re-election, polls show Democrats headed for a dramatic win in 2018, and even the one goal Republicans were all supposed to agree on — a big tax cut for the wealthy and corporations — looks like it might be in trouble.

All of which leads to dissension from within, as White House staff rush to tell reporters that the president is an infantile rage-monster whom they have to trick into not burning down the world. When Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed his concerns about Trump's erratic behavior, none of his colleagues came out to contradict him and say that in fact Trump is a wise and careful leader who is performing his duties successfully, no doubt because Corker was only saying publicly what the rest of them say privately.

But to some on the right, this all smacks of a slow-motion coup by quisling Republicans who lack the courage to stand behind Trump and testify to his greatness. Which is one of the reasons that this week, the hardline conservative group FreedomWorks wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding that he and his leadership team resign for their failure to produce a sufficient quantity of conservative legislation. While the signatories were a little on the has-been side (few are dying to hear what Brent Bozell and Ken Cuccinelli have to say these days), it was evidence of a disgruntlement in conservative circles.



Surf Life Saving Queensland boss says swimmers not safe from crocodile attack

A warning now amplified by the apparent death of an elderly lady at Port Douglas -- apparently the result of a croc attack.

Since crocodiles were made protected under Greenie influence, their numbers have spiralled, with at least 100,000 of them in Australian waters now.  So there is no sense in continuing protection across the board.  I would argue that they be de-protected South of Daintree.  That would still leave them a large safe habitat.  Once an area had been cleared, some crocs would move South into it but that would simply make good targets for sporting shooters.  The core population would continue to thrive and human users of the waters would be safe from them

And what is this nonsense about relocating them?  Relocating them to zoos does stop them but relocating them to other areas and releasing them is a crock (Pun admitted).  They just swim back to their old stamping ground.  One croc that was relocated to the Western side of Cape York peninsula swam back all the way around Cape York to his old habitat well South on the East coast -- a journey of perhaps 1,000 km

A SURF Life Saving boss is warning swimmers they should no longer feel safe in some of our most popular waterways — as crocodile numbers keep rising.

A SURF Life Saving Queensland boss says swimmers can no longer feel safe in the state’s waterways due to the increased threat of crocodile attack.

SLSQ chief operating officer George Hill yesterday told a public hearing into Katter’s Australia Party’s proposed Safer Waterways Bill there was a growing risk to both Surf Life Saving staff and the general public at Queensland beaches.

“We have seen a growing trend and a higher risk to our community,” he said.  “The reality is that there’s tourists sunbaking and there’s crocodiles (basking) less than 30m apart.  “It’s a risk that has the potential to have a catastrophic result for the community.”

The revelation comes after The Courier-Mail this week revealed crocodile sightings in the state have increased by more than 38 per cent in the past two years.

Mr Hill said while the service did not support killing crocodiles, it did want to see them removed from popular swimming areas.

“Both those levels (life guards and life savers) have identified a trend of seeing larger crocodiles in what we call public space, waterways where people can frequent. And when I say larger crocodiles, over the past five years the trend has certainly grown to see 3m to 4m crocodiles.

“(This) is in public spaces such as Port Douglas Beach, Four Mile Beach, there was one there last week that we closed the beach for, Palm Cove, Trinity Beach, Forest Beach in Ingham, Townsville’s Strand.”

Mr Hill said members were becoming hesitant to patrol waterways north of Townsville and that he was particularly concerned for the safety of SLSQ staff manning stinger nets in north Queensland.

“Unfortunately crocodiles can enter those (nets) and ... we have situations where every morning in summer our lifesavers and lifeguards will drag those nets for stingers.

“But they’re going in knowing there may or may not be a crocodile in there.”

Mr Hill said he supported changes to the state’s crocodile management plan if it meant safer waterways for swimmers.

“We need to protect our environment but certainly we need to protect the public and our users and future surf life savers and people that frequent our waters,” he said.

“While we don’t want to see the crocs harmed in any way, we certainly do support the removal of any crocodile that’s in a public space that could be a risk to anyone in the community whether it’s a bite or a fatal attack.”

The proposed KAP Bill would introduce a number of new measures including controlled crocodile culls and egg harvesting.

A spokesman for Australia Zoo also spoke at the hearing and slammed the Bill saying it was poorly researched and would not make waterways any safer.

“This legislation will be disastrous for humans and for crocodiles,” he said. “The environmental research has been basic and sketchy.”



Teacher quality

I agree with the claim below that teacher quality is the key to good learning but I doubt that more teacher training would enhance that.  From what students tell me, teacher training courses are so dumb and boring that many students drop out and do something else -- with mainly the dummies left.

The enthusiasm of the teacher is the key in my view.  My High School economics students did well in their exams because economics is a great enthusiasm of mine and I taught it with many indications of its relevance and importance. And I taught without one minute of teacher training behind me.

As to the poor pay of American teachers, that too can be attributed to quality. Many American classrooms are so chaotic that teachers are little more than childminders, with some students graduating high school barely able to read and write.  So such teachers are poorly paid and that drags the average remuneration down

And the idea that better teachers can be had by raising the bar for them to qualify is a laugh.  The opposite is going on.  In order to get people into their teacher training schools, they are LOWERING the bar.  Almost anyone can now enter teacher training, even people with poor literacy and numeracy levels.  Teaching in many of today's chaotic schools is so unattractive that is in the main only the desperates who will take it on.

But bringing back effective discipline would change everything

According to the report, Education at a Glance 2017, US teachers, on average, earn less than 60% of the salaries of similarly-educated workers. They have among the lowest relative earnings across all OECD countries with data. This is what teachers’ salaries, relative to that of other college-educated adults looks like in 24 of the OECD’s 35 countries:

There is ample evidence that the quality of teachers is the key ingredient to raising educational standards—more than money spent, or class size, or what curriculum is best designed. Pay doesn’t dictate quality, but it certainly influences it.

John Hattie of the University of Melbourne has examined more than 65,000 research papers (1200 meta-analyses) on the effects of hundreds of different educational interventions. He discovered that things we think matter a lot—class size and streaming by ability—don’t matter nearly as much as the quality of a teacher. According to the Economist, “All of the 20 most powerful ways to improve school-time learning identified by the study depended on what a teacher did in the classroom.”

Money and prestige matter. The highest performing education systems always prioritize the quality of teachers says Andreas Schliecher, head of the education directorate at the OECD. “Wherever they have to make a choice between a smaller class and a better teacher, they go for the latter. Rather than putting money into small classes, they invest in competitive teacher salaries, ongoing professional development and a balance in working time.”

US teachers spend 38% more time in front of the classroom than their international peers: 981 hours compared to an OECD average of 712 per year. This is time that they are not collaborating with peers, honing their knowledge of their subject or the practice of teaching.

Two top-performing education systems in the world are Finland and Singapore offer insight on the importance of teachers. They are markedly different: in Finland, kids start school later, around 7, they don’t have too much homework, there is little high-stakes testing. In Singapore, expectations are high, kids are tested frequently, and pressure is intense.

Both systems have one thing in common: Teaching institutions are highly selective, teachers are highly-trained, and they are trusted. They are given time to work with other teachers and administrators to solve problems, in the classroom, with the curriculum, and with parents.



Does smoking cannabis make people more violent?

The article below summarizes an academic study which claims to show that smoking marijuana causes people to beome more violent.  But I don't think the authors concerned have remotely proved that.  I myself have never smoked anything and I don't intend to so I have no dog in that fight.

I have read a great deal of the studies of the subject and I am reasonably certain that cannabis promotes psychotic delusions --    but violence is another matter.  My experience is that stoned guys are most likely to sit around passively and make profound remarks like: "Wow, man, like wow!"

So what is wrong with the study below?  Mainly the sampling -- or lack of it.  It was a study of patients released from psychiatric hospitals.  Generalizing from very ill people to normals is simply invalid, to put it mildly.

It's a common comment that any correlation between cannabis use and mental illness may simply show that mentally ill people like cannabis.  Mentally ill people are heavy users of tobacco so that is not an unreasonable view.  The patients are simply trying to self-medicate in both cases.

The authors of the current study, however, claim that they can disprove that theory and show that cannabis sends you mad, not the other way around.  But that too is an absurd claim. You can demonstrate cause only by way of a carefully controlled before and after study and that was not done on this occasion. Instead some statistical jiggery pokery was used.  But that finding too is derived from their non-sample so is again overgeneralizing.  The bottom line is that they have no data proving the matter either way.

A final concern is that the authors mainly seem to concern themselves with "skunk" cannabis, which is much stronger than other forms of cannabis and so should be studied separately.  Skunk does indeed appear to be of concern but what is true of it may not be true of all cannabis.  As toxicologists say, the toxicity is in the dose.

The academic article is Persistency of Cannabis Use Predicts Violence following Acute Psychiatric Discharge

Cannabis users are more likely to commit violent crime, pioneering research has shown. It warned those who smoke the drug regularly run an increased risk of using violence against others.

The project is the first to demonstrate that cannabis is not only linked with violent crime but is the cause.

Violent incidents monitored by the study based on the lives of more than 1,100 American psychiatric patients included assaults, attacks with weapons and rapes.

Researchers said that cannabis causes violence and they found no evidence that the link is the other way round – ie that violent people are more likely to use cannabis.

There was no support, they added, for theories put forward by campaigners anxious to free the drug from the taint of links with crime.

The academics said the effect of cannabis use was clear and not diminished by other factors such as patients who were heavy drinkers of alcohol.

The study comes after a series of American states have decriminalised cannabis – despite it being stronger and more potent than the hash smoked by hippies in the Sixties – or made it available for medical use.

The latest study by five researchers from institutes based in Montreal, Canada, examined the lives of 1,136 men and women who were patients at psychiatric hospitals in Missouri, Pittsburgh and Massachusetts.

Records were gathered from interviews carried out every ten weeks for a year after their discharge.

It said patients who were using cannabis at each of these five checks were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to have turned to violence than those who had not used the drug.

The study pointed to ‘significant findings regarding the adverse effects of cannabis use on violence’.

It found there was a ‘more constant relationship’ between cannabis and violence than between alcohol or cocaine use and violence. The researchers said the link between cannabis and violence was not two-way but ‘uni-directional’.

Contrary to claims that violent people were drawn to use cannabis, researchers found ‘it was cannabis use that predicted future violent behaviour’.

The academics said psychiatrists and medical staff should watch for cannabis users among those who had been in hospital for mental health problems. The team, led by Dr Jules R Dugre, said existing evidence on the links between cannabis and violence was ‘limited’ but their project had ‘clinical and violence risk management implications’.

Kathy Gyngell, a fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, welcomed the ‘definitive study’ and called for official action. ‘Government has been seriously negligent,’ she said.

‘Where is the public health campaign on the risks of cannabis? If ministers had any sense they would know that we cannot afford this public health and safety crisis.

‘It must lead the Government to review their community care policy for such potentially violent individuals to better protect the public.’

The study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry flies in the face of claims of former drugs tsar Professor David Nutt.

He was sacked by the Labour government in 2009 for opposing the decision to reclassify cannabis from Class C to Class B. Prof Nutt has long argued that alcohol was ‘considerably more dangerous’ than the drug.

More than 20 US states have in recent years legalised cannabis for medical purposes.

Four – Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington – have allowed its recreational use.

After the relaxation in 2012 in Colorado, cannabis use by students aged 12 to 18 has become the highest in the country. Figures show 57 per cent tested positive in high school tests.



Use of Firearms in Terrorist Attacks: Differences Between the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand

Below is an article just out in JAMA, a medical journal.  It is typical Leftist bilge.  It describes something troublesme without looking at WHY that bad thing happens.  They have of course not looked at race or race-denominated crime-rates.  Countries with and without large black minorities are in entirely different situations so they are not comparing like with like.  Depending in part on where they live, prudent Americans HAVE to own guns to protect themselves from home invasions and other crimes committed by blacks. So firearms are widely available.  And where they are widely available they will be used

By Robert A. Tessler et al.

Although firearms are used in only a small proportion of terrorist attacks, these highly publicized events shed light on access to weapons and mass shootings. The sociopolitical and cultural context surrounding firearms, including the proportion of individuals owning guns, varies between countries.1 The United States has a higher rate of firearms deaths than other high-income countries.2,3 We compared the proportion of terrorist attacks committed with firearms in the United States with the proportion in other high-income countries. We also compared the lethality of attacks with firearms to those by other means.

We queried The Global Terrorism Database from 2002 to 2016.4 Maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, this database incorporates a methodology that includes both machine learning and manual review to abstract high-quality information from more than 1 million daily media reports published worldwide in over 80 languages. The database defines a terrorist attack as the “use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”4 For each attack, the location, type, and number of fatalities are collected. The database categorizes weapons as biological, chemical, explosive, fake weapons, firearms, incendiary (eg, arson), melee, sabotage equipment, vehicle (nonexplosive), other, and unknown.

To avoid calculating proportions in countries with few data points, we calculated the proportion of attacks involving firearms among countries in the top 75th percentile (10 attacks or more) over the study period. The number of fatalities per attack was calculated by weapon type. Of the 23 countries with at least 1 attack, 17 were in the upper 75th percentile of total attacks; the countries are listed in footnote “d” in the Table. We estimated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) per fatality in the attack with a Poisson distribution for attacks using firearms, vehicle/melee, incendiary, or biological/chemical weapons compared with explosives.

From 2002 through 2016, the database captured 2817 terrorist attacks in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, of which 2403 (85.3%) were in Western Europe and 329 (11.7%) in the United States. The Table details the count of attacks by weapon used in country or region and year. Nearly all attacks (n = 2788, 99.0%) occurred in countries with 10 or more attacks. The types of attacks were as follows: explosives (n = 1379, 49.0%), incendiary (n = 1015, 36.0%), firearms (n = 260, 9.2%), vehicle/melee (n = 151, 5.4%), and miscellaneous (n = 88, 3.1%). In 2015 and 2016, compared with earlier years, there were notable increases in attacks involving vehicle/melee in the United States and Western Europe.

The Figure, A shows the proportion of firearms attacks among countries with 10 or more attacks, with the United States at 20.4% (n = 67) followed by the Netherlands at 14.3% (n = 3) (χ2 for all countries, P < .001). In the 2817 attacks, there were 1031 fatalities, of which 566 (54.9%) were attributed to firearms. The Figure, B shows the number of fatalities per attack by weapon type. Among all weapon types compared with explosives, the IRR per fatality was 4.75 (95% CI, 4.18-5.39) for attacks with firearms, 1.21 (95% CI, 0.91-1.59) for vehicle/melee, and 0.05 (95% CI, 0.03-0.08) for incendiaries.

Although firearms were used in fewer than 10% of terrorist attacks between 2002 and 2016, they accounted for about 55% of the fatalities. Among countries with 10 or more attacks, the proportion involving firearms in the United States was higher than in any other nation. Moreover, the risk of fatality was considerably higher in attacks committed with firearms than in attacks using other weapons.

In the United States and other countries, government policies and legislative efforts to protect citizens from terrorism should consider the proportions and lethality of terrorist attacks committed with firearms.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 6, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5723


Envy of success

A nice looking couple from a wealthy background get married but they reveal too much of their privileged background in the wedding announcement.  In an envious world I suppose that was crass but they were just doing what was normal for them.  And why should they hide their background? Their announcement has however attracted much criticism

Envious people could perhaps reflect on John F. Kennedy Jr., a very privileged person  who married a privileged lady, Carolyn Bessette.  They became the focus of society attention, including being invited to the White House by Bill Clinton. So they surpassed the couple below in social success.  But, like many of his class, Kennedy owned a light plane that he liked to fly. On  July 16, 1999, Kennedy crashed it, killing both of them.  Carolyn was only 33 at the time.  Light planes are always dangerous and Kennedy was probably coked up when he crashed it so "privilege" is not always what it seems, is it?

Imagine the distress of Carolyn's parents -- to have seen their beautiful daughter taken to the heights of social eminence, only to die young without even leaving the consolation of a child

THERE’S a specific type of upper class New Yorker who gets their wedding announced in the New York Times. They’re usually white, blonde, Ivy League educated and very, very rich.

Grace Hays Holcomb du Pont and Conor Jackson Sutherland — yep, those are their real names — fit those criteria perfectly. She’s a teacher and he’s an investment banker.

They were married on Saturday and their hilariously obnoxious and out of touch wedding announcement in the Times went viral on the weekend.

“Nothing at all elitist about them. Just your average Americans, offspring of ordinary hardworking billionaires, falling in love and deciding to walk through life hand-in-hand together,” wrote one Facebook commenter.

Another declared it, “The greatest white person wedding announcement of all time.”

The announcement:

Grace du Pont, Conor Sutherland

Grace Hays Holcomb du Pont was married Sept. 30 to Conor Jackson Sutherland in Manhattan. The Rev. J. Donald Waring performed the ceremony at Grace Episcopal Church. The bride and groom both graduated from Princeton, she cum laude and he magna cum laude.

Mrs. Sutherland, 26, was until Thursday at Achievement First Apollo Middle School, a charter school in Brooklyn, where she worked on special projects as a member of the operations team. From 2012 to 2014, she taught sixth-grade science with Teach for America at Ranson Middle School in Charlotte, N.C. She also received a master’s degree in teaching from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

She is a daughter of Jean Young du Pont and Pierre S. du Pont V of Tarrytown, N.Y. The bride’s father is a partner, in Manhattan, at HPM Partners, an investment and wealth management firm. Her mother was until 2016 the president and chief executive of the Garden Conservancy, an organization in Garrison, N.Y., and is now a legal, strategic and development consultant. The bride is a descendant of Éleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of what is now known as the DuPont Company. She is also a granddaughter of Pierre S. du Pont IV of Rockland, Del., who was the governor of Delaware from 1977 to 1985, and is a great-great-granddaughter of Llewellyn Powers, who was the governor of Maine from 1897 to 1901.

Mr. Sutherland, 30, helps buy, manage and sell companies in the portfolio at Apollo Global Management, an investment firm in Manhattan.

He is the son of Denise Jackson Sutherland of Glen Cove, N.Y., and the late Donald J. Sutherland. His mother was a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in Manhattan from 1969 to 1986, and served from 1987 to 2014 as a trustee of the Professional Children’s School in New York. His father was the founder and chief executive of Quincy Partners, a leveraged buyout firm that was in Glen Head, N.Y.

The couple dated at Princeton, but had met a few years earlier, in 2007, in North Haven, Me., when Ms. du Pont offered a ride to Mr. Sutherland and a friend, whom Ms. du Pont knew. The two men had just moored their sailboat and were preparing for a long row back to the dock, whereas she was piloting her family’s motorized tender. They took the ride.


Some wisdom from ancient times summarizes the matter: "Envy not the glory and riches of a sinner: for thou knowest not what his ruin shall be". (Sirach 9:16, Douay)


Book Review: The Sovereign Psyche

What I have to say below will be ferociously reviled by Leftists but that will not alter the truth of it.  The book author and the reviewer below are concerned about discrimination against blacks but make no attempt to understand it.  I wish to fill the gap.

For a start, it is true that the outcome of Lincoln's war on the South usually did not leave blacks much better off. As we read below, whites used various methods to keep blacks terrified and submissive.  But why did they do that?  Was it because they were evil men? Hardly. They were ordinary men much like any other population of European Protestant heritage.  So why?

Because they knew blacks well from their long and close association with them as slaves.  They knew that blacks were pretty dumb and had poor impulse control.  And they rightly saw danger to themselves in that.  A large population of blacks among them freed from the restraints of slavery were dangerous.  So they fastened other restraints on blacks.

And it worked for quite a long time.  Right into the middle of the 20th century, black on white crime was rare.  The Civil Rights Act (supported by more Republicans than Democrats) and other measures undid many of the meaures that had kept whites safe and we eventually arrived at where we are now -- where black on white crime is lamentably common.

There is no doubt that blacks are aware of past discrimination against them. The Left never lets them forget it.  But resenting it is like resenting the moon rising.  It had its causes and those causes are still there.

And lifting past restrictions has been a far from unalloyed blessing to blacks.  Frequent as black on white attacks have become, black on black attacks are astronomically more common -- to the point of the leading cause of death among young black males being attacks by other young black males.

In its perverse way, a modern, Left-led value system countenances discrimination against whites only -- but we all live much less safe lives because of that.

So what should we do now?

I think there is a non-racist policy that would achieve the desired objective of safety for us all.  It stems from the fact that most crime is committed by recidivists -- people who have already been convicted of criminal offences more than once.  I think that all recidivists -- black or white -- should be promptly hanged, maybe from a tree

A friend recommended this book as a reflection on the state of racism in America. My first thoughts this book was going to be just another long list of injustices committed on African Americans by European Americans. The book goes deeper than that, fleshing out a systemic racism that many European and African Americans may not realize.

The author, Ezrah Aharone, brings up interesting points of American and world history to show the imbalance of power. He compared the 1873 Treaty of Paris, the document that formally recognized the 13 colonies as separate from Great Britain to the 1865 13th amendment to the American constitution, the document that ended slavery. The former document was 2000 words long and was negotiated and signed by the leaders of Great Britain, the new United States, and France. The latter document was 50 words long, and no African Americans were significant players in the creation of this document. It was not a negotiation between two sovereign people, but a gift bestowed by Euro-Americans to Africa Americans, almost as if slavery had been a rightful act.

Not only that, a significant part of 13th amendment allowed governments to put people into slavery for criminal offences. The American South took advantage of that clause to round up African Americans on minor criminal charges and put them on the chain gangs, a practice which continued for almost 100 years. The goal of such actions was not, according to the author, punishment for crime, but rather to keep an African American community fearful of white authorities and militia. Thus these communities were both overtly and subtly traumatized.
When a community is so traumatized, it is not sovereign in its own right. It gains a feeling of worthlessness and powerlessness, and it cannot make effective decisions for itself. In this psyche, it cannot rise to its potential. Without coming to its potential, the cycle repeats itself—and African American communities are still feeling the effects of slavery even though they have nominally been free for five generations.

The author states the end of racism did not stop with African Americans being allowed in the front of the bus or be elected to the president of the United States. Like any traumatized person, most African Americans are not sovereign in their own minds.

This book proffers many more perspectives of American history. The reader will discover historical facts that seldom get much attention in the mass media and education system, which leads to a better understanding of racism today in America. This book is full of contradictions between the stated liberty of historical American documents and the domination/subjugation relationship of the two races.  I, as a white person, now have a better understanding of Black Lives Matter and the silent protest at American national anthems.

While Aharone is critical of institutions that subtly keep a certain degree of white privilege, he calls on African American to take charge of their own affairs. He calls for better understanding their history, then building their own institutions that will truly advance their cause, such as better schools in African American communities.

The true battleground, he says, is not in the streets or in politics, but in the minds of African Americans. There are societal forces to keep African Americans in their current mindset. But it will be up to African Americans to drive these subtle forces out. Then Africans Americans will be truly sovereign in their own country.



A puzzle solved

During my 20 year career doing survey research, the topic I looked at most often was authoritarianism -- or something allegedly related to it.  As a libertarian, authoritarianism is anathema to me and I wanted to know why authoritarians are like that. See here.

It was of course obvious to anyone with an awareness of history that Leftism was by far the chief source of authoritarianism in our society. Leftists never stop telling other people what to do and the authoritarian governments of the 20th centuty all had socialist inspirations, with THE great authoritarian regime of the 20th century -- the Soviet Union -- being undisputably Leftist.

The most frequent authoritarian regimes were however Fascist, regimes that combined socialism with some form of nationalism -- Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Peron etc.  Even the South American military dictatorships were Bolivarist, which was an early form of Fascism. Bolivar believed that the masses need to be "educated" and generally dominated by a self-chosen elite.  Bolivarism emphasizes the common good over the individual. And the remaining explicitly Bolivarist regime -- Venezuela today -- is virtually and disastrously Communist.

So with the obvious leaning towards authoritarianism among Leftists, one would have expected that in their answers to my questionnaires Leftist would have heartily endorsed statements praising authority and authoritarianism.  But they did not.  They were mostly middle of the road in their responses about authoritarianism.

That is no surprise to any psychologist.  The attitude/behaviour gap is very well known among psychologists. And I think we all know of people who say one thing and do another.

But what was the mental process behind that sort of thing?  HOW do people manage to say one thing and do another?  Psychologists would normally suspect social desirability responding or "faking good".  Authoritarianism has a bad name so people would be reluctant to endorse it.  It is a conscious avoidance of sounding bad.

But psychologists can detect that.  They have sets of questions that normally reveal that social desirability responding is going on.  And I of course included such questions in my surveys.  So did the Leftists show high levels of social desirability responding?  They did not. It looked like they were expressing an honest opinion.  But their behaviour reveals what they actually think so how come?

I used to explain it by saying that they know that their real thoughts are so dismal that they dare not admit them -- but it was still a puzzle that they scored normal on the social desirability measures.  I now think I know why.

It goes back to the nature of Leftism.  The are ALWAYS acting a part.  They are always claiming compassionate and tolerant values while boiling with hate inside.  They have to do that in order to get any kind of support.  Hate is not attractive to most people. But that hate does overflow into view at times.  The abuse and punitiveness directed towards politically incorrect people is a major case in point.  And the most politically incorrect person on the planet is undoubtedly President Trump.  And the incessant and seething rage directed towards him is now a wonder.  It reveals the Left as very worrying people.  And they never cease looking for ways in which they might unseat him.

So presenting as kind and compassionate what is in fact rage-motivated is a pretty tough requirement and it is only by a lifetime of pretence that it can be to some extent achieved.  And that habit of self presentation extends easily into answering political questionnaires.  What they are doing in answering the questionnaires is normal for them and is probably perceived as virtuous.  It requires no special pretence or effort. It is normal. It is a habit to them to misrepresent their aims and thoughts.


Hate speech is acceptable in Trump’s America – as long as it comes from Christian fundamentalists (?)

Just another desperate Leftist distortion.  Americans don't hate Iran or N.Korea but they do believe in self defense.  And self defense in the nuclear wars threatened by Iran and N.Korea would lead to near-genocides of those countries.

And conservative disparagement of Islam is also defensive.  We saw what Muslims do on 9/11/2001 and many times thereafter. Muslims repeatedly attack Americans.  It's a wonder that America has not sent them all back to the hellholes that generated them.

Only a Leftist would be unable to distinguish defensive speech and hate speech

Christian fundamentalists are among Trump's most rabid supporters. It doesn’t matter how 'unchristian' a more mainstream follower of that religion might find his behaviour

“Putting the Caliphate first may mean eliminating the US and UK from the map. If it comes down to the Caliphate or them, I vote the Caliphate all the way!”

Just imagine if that had been tweeted out by a Muslim cleric here or in America.

Such an incitement to genocide would spark outrage. There might be calls for the arrest of the person responsible, and for their deportation, depending upon their immigration status.

Now at this point I should come clean. What I quoted is a doctored version of an actual cleric’s tweet.

What it actually said was this: Putting America first may mean eliminating N Korea or Iran from the map. If it comes down to the US or them, I vote US all the way.

You’ve probably guessed by now that it wasn’t written by an Isis apologist. It was, in point of fact, penned by a preacher claiming to follow Christianity.

So there was no fulminating on Twitter from the President. Nor did any tabloid newspapers or rent-a-gob MPs shout and scream.

It seems it’s ok if a Christian endorses genocide if it's only North Koreans and Iranians that stand to be killed.



Climate Change and Nepalling food insecurity

Nepal's food scarcity is undoubted but attributing it to climate change is tendentious.  Might not the fact that they have been (and still are) run by Communists for the last 11 years have something to do with it? Food shortages are characteristic of Communist regimes. 

And note that the effect of global warming is said to be a reduced monsoon, which meant that less rain fell.  But global warming should INCREASE rainfall so that is also a false attribution

Food insecurity and malnutrition is one of the major health issues caused by climate change. It is irrefutably the most important consequences to the poor and least developed countries like Nepal where about quarter of the population are living in poverty. When the underlying population is starving and the fact that food security directly impacts human health is evident, all other problems besides being food secure becomes secondary. To aggravate the situation further, the constantly changing climatic pattern is constantly threatening the major basis of livelihood of the country i.e. agriculture.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of Nepal, “over the last decade, around 30,845 hectares of land owned by almost five percent of households became uncultivable due to the climate-related hazards”. Majority of the land under cultivation (76%) is rain-fed which has been affected by the erratic patterns of rainfall, drought, flash floods, landslide et cetera over the years. The reduced winter crop production due to lower post-monsoon precipitation directs a concern of food security amongst those residing in Hill and Mountain areas that are economically and environmentally highly vulnerable to climate changes.

Ranked 4th under Climate Vulnerability Index, it is not easier for Nepal to jump out of the vulnerable condition mainly due to the tough topographic barrier and low infrastructural sufficiency. The most relevant example of how unprepared we are to the climate-related risks is the occurrence of flash flood in 2017 which caused 80% of the southern agricultural belt to submerge in water causing a loss of about 57 million USD of agricultural crops and also claimed hundreds of lives.

Rice, which is a staple crop of the nation is also the crop which is most affected by water hazards. The food security of the country depends more on the production of rice than other crops which contribute 45% to the edible food grain production on a domestic scale. Looking at the extent of damage the current flash flood has done to the Terai “The Breadbasket of the nation” which occupies largest share of rice producing area, it is not too difficult to imagine a food insecure future that our unpreparedness to disasters is certain to follow.



The Leftist hate never stops

What is admirable in Mrs Obama is contemptible in Mrs Trump

First lady Melania Trump fired back Friday at a Massachusetts elementary school librarian who rejected her donation of Dr. Seuss books, claiming their illustrations are examples of “racist propaganda.”

Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for the first lady's office, said in a statement to Fox News that the response was "unfortunate," and Mrs. Trump wanted to use her platform "to help as many children as she can."

"She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to children across the country is but one example," she said. "To turn the gesture of sending young students some books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere."

To celebrate “National Read a Book Day,” the first lady had sent out a collection of 10 Dr. Seuss books to one school in each state across the nation. The titles included: "The Cat in the Hat"; "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish"; "Wacky Wednesday"; "Green Eggs and Ham"; and "Oh, the Places You’ll Go!"

She followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, Michelle Obama, who often read Dr. Seuss books to children. Former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush also read to children at Dr. Seuss-themed educational events.

But despite the gesture, Liz Phipps Soeiro, a librarian at a public school in Cambridge, wrote a letter to the first lady, which was then published on The Horn Book blog, notifying Mrs. Trump that her school would “not be keeping the titles” for their collection, explaining that her school didn’t have a “NEED” for the books, due to her school and library’s “award-winning” status.

But Soeiro seemed to be the most offended by the books themselves.

“Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” Soeiro wrote, giving  examples of "If I Ran a Zoo" and "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" as clear “racist mockery” in Seuss’ art.

While Soeiro bristled at Melania Trump's donation, former first lady Michelle Obama also read Dr. Seuss books to children a number of times during the previous administration, without controversy.

Soeiro’s profile on The Horn Book says she is “an advocate for inclusive libraries and active in her community to create spaces that are welcoming to all students.” [Christian students too?]



Phipps. Isn't she gorgeous in her plaits?

Judging by the expanded surname, Miss Phipps married a Hispanic with the surname of Soeiro and is pretty proud of herself for having done so: Leftist self-righteousness writ large. Matthew 6:2 would be incomprehensible to her.

The sheer hypocrisy of her words can be seen in this recent photo where she dressed up as the cat in the hat:

Apparently Liz Phipps Soeiro has only found Dr. Seuss books to be racist AFTER Melania Trump's thoughtful donation.  She seems seriously deranged


Stupid Spanish machismo bad for their future

The face of modern Spain

Machismo is a personality disorder common in peri-Mediterranean lands.  It arises from the fact that most societies there are mother-dominated or grandmother dominated.  The women concerned propagandize their sons about how much the sons owe them and insist that the sons act as "Mamma" requires.  Israel is of course a Mediterranean country and Yiddisher Mammas are well known for acting that way.  The Sheldons and Irvings of the world, however, seem to have better ways of establishing their independence and self-esteem rather than going macho.

Machismo is exaggerated displays of masculinity, toughness and strength. It is designed to deny that you are a "Momma's boy"  and assert your masculinity. So macho men are quick to take offence at any perceived slight.

And the Madrid government is lamentably and foolishly macho -- presumably reflecting what Spaniards tend to vote for. The folly of their approach is most easily seen in the case of Gibraltar.  It seems to be perceived by them as a wound in the body of the nation, a slight to their manliness.  So they never cease demanding that Britain cede it to them.

But they unintentionally make it easy for Britain to deny that.  The first step in "recovering" Gibraltar should surely be to get Gibraltarians on side.  Spain should make nice to Gibraltarians in every possible way, including substantial special concessions such as reduced taxes.  So does Madrid do that?  No way! They go out of their way to make life difficult on Gibraltar.  So, when given a vote on the matter, something like 98% of Gibraltarians voted to remain part of Britain.

And the shocking treatment of Catalans during their independence referendum described below is another example of stupidity inspired by machismo.

There were once some less emotional Catalans who saw advantage in remaining part of Spain.  And given a proper opportunity for discussion, they might have been in the majority.

Consider how Britain treated the call for Scottish independence.  Instead of trying to suppress a referendum they called one and enabled a proper and peaceful democratic discussion of the matter in Scotland. And despite the long-standing and vociferous calls for independence in Scotland, how did the vote turn out?  The majority of Scots voted to stay in the UK! Had Spain treated the Catalans as resctfully as the Scots were treated, the Catalan question might by now have been resolved in Spain's favour.  But brute force rather than respectful discussion is the macho way

So what will happen now?  Anti-Spanish attitudes in Catalonia will have become rock-solid and virtually universal.  And perceiving themselves as oppressed by Spain, Catalans will go down the well-trodden way to express that feeling:  Terrorism. Spain will soon have a fresh lot of domestic terrorists to deal with.  Clever!

Catalan officials claimed 90% of 2.2million voters had called for independence in an 'illegal' referendum blighted by violent scenes which left at least 888 people injured.

World leaders condemned the brutal scenes after officials revealed that hundreds of protesters have been injured so far.

Officers were seen stamping and kicking protesters as they stormed buildings and seized ballot boxes.

Footage captured in the village of Sarria de Ter in the province of Girona showed authorities using an axe to smash down the doors of a polling station where Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was due to cast his vote.

He said the region had won the right to become an independent state with the referendum results due in a few days.

And in Barcelona, the region's capital, officers fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters demonstrating against their votes being denied.

Boris Johnson condemned the violent clashes but said that the UK saw the vote as unconstitutional.

The Foreign Secretary said: 'We are obviously worried by any violence but clearly the referendum, as I understand it, is not constitutional so a balance needs to be struck. We hope very much that things will calm down.'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier called on Theresa May to intervene with the Spanish government over the police crackdown.

Mr Corbyn condemned the 'shocking police violence' being used as he tweeted: 'I urge Theresa May to appeal directly to Rajoy to end police violence in Catalonia & find political solution to this constitutional crisis.'

Pope Francis also urged Europeans not to fear unity and to put aside nationalistic and other self-interests during a speech in Bologna in Italy.

He did not mention the police violence during Catalonia's independence referendum - but in a speech to university students, he recalled that the European Union was borne out of the ashes of war to guarantee peace.

He warned that conflicts and other interests were now threatening those founding ideals.

Francis said: 'Don't be afraid of unity! May special interests and nationalism not render the courageous dreams of the founders of the European Union in vain.'

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon – who has campaigned for independence for Scotland – tweeted: 'Some of the scenes in Catalonia are quite shocking and surely unnecessary. Just let people vote.'

European leaders also voiced their disquiet over the degree of violence used, and called for dialogue between regional and national leaders.

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel tweeted: 'Violence can never be the answer. We condemn all forms of violence and reaffirm our call for political dialogue.'

Spain's Prime Minister claimed the Catalonian referendum had been prevented amid the scenes of violent chaos across the country.

And tens of thousands of fans were banned from attending FC Barcelona's football match with Las Palmas in a protest against the violence.

Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended the referendum and the central government says it is illegal.

But regional separatist leaders pledged to hold it anyway and called on the area's 5.3million eligible voters to show up to cast their ballots. They later said 90-% of 2.2million voters had opted for an independent Catalonia.

Mr Puidgemont condemned the Spanish government's crackdown. He said: 'Police brutality will shame forever the Spanish state.'

But the Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said officers in Catalonia are acting 'in a proportionate manner'. She added that the Catalan government 'has behaved with absolute irresponsibility' by going ahead with the referendum.

Shocking footage from Barcelona shows police officers throwing voters down a flight of stairs and stamping on people as they raid a polling station.

FC Barcelona condemned the violence on the streets as it announced that its game today would be 'played behind closed doors'.

The club has long supported Catalonia's right for a vote on independence, without throwing its weight behind the yes or no camp.

It said in a statement: 'FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken part in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression.

'Given the exceptional nature of events the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League's refusal to postpone the game.'

The club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: 'It wasn't done for security, the security was guaranteed.  'We have done it behind closed doors so that everyone can see our opposition at what is happening.'

This morning in Barcelona, police forcefully removed a few hundred would-be voters from a polling station at a school.

Daniel Riano was inside when the police busted in the building's front door.

The 54-year-old said: 'We were waiting inside to vote when the National Police used force to enter, they used a mace to break in the glass door and they took everything.

'One policeman put me in a headlock to drag me out, while I was holding my wife's hand. It was incredible. They didn't give any warning.'

Ferran Miralles said a crowd scuffled with police outside as they formed a tight perimeter around the door. Miralles said: 'They were very aggressive. They pushed me out of the way.'

Elsewhere in the city, police arrested several people outside the Treball voting centre amid scuffles on the street. Officers dragged some of the protesters away and detained them.



Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year (?)

The claims made below are more moderate than what we read from most media commentators.  They say that the earth is about one degree Celsius warmer than it was 150 years or so ago and that may be true.

Missing from their story is any proof that hunan activity is to blame for the warming and missing also is any assurance that the warming will continue to rise.  Since we are at the end of a warm interglacial, it could fall.  Temperatures are generally LOWER in 2017 than they were in 2016.

Image from NASA/GISS

The connection to human activity is, in other words, pure theory, and poor theory at at that -- considering the lack of synchrony between CO2 rise and temperature rise

Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years, a new report has found.

And yet this does not include this past months’ three major hurricanes or 76 wildfires in nine Western states. Those economic losses alone are estimated to top $300 billion, the report notes. Putting it in perspective, $300 billion is enough money to provide free tuition for the 13.5 million U.S. students enrolled in public colleges and universities for four years.

In the coming decade, economic losses from extreme weather combined with the health costs of air pollution spiral upward to at least $360 billion annually, potentially crippling U.S. economic growth, according to this new report, The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States, published online Thursday by the Universal Ecological Fund.

“Burning fossil fuels comes at a giant price tag which the U.S. economy cannot afford and not sustain," said Sir Robert Watson, coauthor and director at the U.K's Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research.

“We want to paint a picture for Americans to illustrate the fact that the costs of not acting on climate change are very significant,” Watson, the former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told National Geographic.

Watson is quick to point out that extreme weather events, including heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts, are not caused by climate change. However, there is no question their intensity and frequency in many cases has been made worse by the fact the entire planet is now 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C) hotter, he said in an interview.

While a 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) increase may seem small it’s having a major economic impact on the U.S. According to data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the number of extreme weather events causing at least $1 billion in economic losses has increased more than 400 percent since the 1980s. Some of that increase is due to increased amounts of housing and commercial infrastructure along coastlines. “However that doesn’t account for big increases in the last decade,” Watson said.

And much more global warming is coming—3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) temperature by 2050 and even greater warming beyond that—unless bigger cuts in fossil-fuel emissions are made than those promised in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, said Watson. “The impacts of climate change are certainly going to get more than twice as bad,” he said.


Zeke to the rescue,/b>

Zeke Hausfather below kicks back at the recent finding that Warmist models overstate the actual degree of global warming observed in recent decades.  He in essence attacks the existing Warmist models and constructs a new model of his own that gives a result closer to reality.  So he is actually an enemy of the IPCC models too!  Refreshing!

His reasoning for his new model seems sound so perhaps we can look forward to more modest models from Warmists generally.

Sadly, however, Zeke's model still seems to be too warm.  Judith Curry has the details.

A new study published in the Nature Geosciences journal this week by largely UK-based climate scientists has led to claims in the media that climate models are “wrong” and have significantly overestimated the observed warming of the planet.

Here Carbon Brief shows why such claims are a misrepresentation of the paper’s main results. In reality, the results obtained from the type of model-observation comparisons performed in the paper depend greatly on the dataset and model outputs used by the authors.

Much of the media coverage surrounding the paper, Millar et al, has focused on the idea that climate models are overestimating observed temperatures by around 0.3C, or nearly 33% of the observed warming since the late 1800s. For example, the Daily Mail reported:

According to these models, temperatures across the world should now be at least 1.3 degrees above the mid-19th century average, which is taken as a base level in such calculations. But the British report demonstrates that the rise is only between 0.9 and 1 degree.

Lead author Dr Richard Millar and his co-authors have pushed back against such media coverage, releasing a statement which says:

A number of media reports have asserted that our [study] indicates that global temperatures are not rising as fast as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and hence that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is no longer urgent. Both assertions are false. Our results are entirely in line with the IPCC’s 2013 prediction that temperatures in the 2020s would be 0.9-1.3 degrees above pre-industrial [levels].

[Carbon Brief’s guest post by Dr Millar earlier this week includes the paper’s key figures. Additionally, one of his co-authors, Prof Piers Forster, provides further reaction at the end of this article.]

Contrary to media claims, the study found that warming is consistent with the range of IPCC models, albeit a bit lower than the average of all the models.

Indeed, as Carbon Brief explains in detail below, the difference between models and observations turns out to depend largely on what climate model outputs and observational temperature series are used. The 0.3C value is based on a misinterpretation of the paper by the media and was not intended by the authors as an estimate of current model/observation temperature differences.

Other temperature datasets not used by the authors, such as those from NASA and Berkeley Earth, show much smaller model/observation differences than the one used in the paper, and these model/observation difference in turn disappear when model outputs more comparable to how temperature data is actually collected are incorporated, though differences in the implied future carbon budget would still remain.



Global carbon emissions stood still in 2016, offering climate hope

To use an old Australian expression:  "How'd ya be; How'd ya be? How would you bloody well be"?  I never expected the Guardian to publish something as deflationary as the article below.

I pointed early on that atmospheric CO2 levels did not rise in 2015/2016 and that was subsequently confirmed by others.  What the Guardian reports below may partly explain that.  Human emissions of CO2 in 2016 plateaued.  That is another nail in the coffin for the dishonest Warmist claims that the 2016 temperature rise was due to Anthropogenic global warming.  It was of course due to El Nino.

The logic of the finding -- logic which the Guardian avoids -- is that the panic is over.  CO2 levels ain't gonna rise no more.  So there's nothing to worry about now.  Global warming has stopped.

Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide remained static in 2016, a welcome sign that the world is making at least some progress in the battle against global warming by halting the long-term rising trend.

All of the world’s biggest emitting nations, except India, saw falling or static carbon emissions due to less coal burning and increasing renewable energy, according to data published on Thursday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). However other mainly developing nations, including Indonesia, still have rising rates of CO2 emissions.

Stalled global emissions still means huge amounts of CO2 are being added to the atmosphere every year – more than 35bn tonnes in 2016 – driving up global temperatures and increasing the risk of damaging, extreme weather. Furthermore, other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly methane from cattle and leaks from oil and gas exploration, are still rising and went up by 1% in 2016.

“These results are a welcome indication that we are nearing the peak in global annual emissions of greenhouse gases,” said climate economist Prof Lord Nicholas Stern at the London School of Economics and president of the British Academy.

“To realise the goals of the Paris agreement and hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C, we must reach peak emissions as soon as possible and then achieve a rapid decline soon afterwards,” Stern said. “These results from the Dutch government show that there is a real opportunity to get on track.”

Jos Olivier, the chief researcher for the NEAA report, sounded a note of caution: “There is no guarantee that CO2 emissions will from now on be flat or descending.” He said, for example, a rise in gas prices could see more coal burning resume in the US.

The flat CO2 emissions in 2016 follow similar near-standstills in 2014 and 2015. This lack of growth is unprecedented in a time when the global economy is growing. As the number of years of flat emissions grows, scientists are more confident a peak has been reached, rather than a temporary halt. In July 2016, senior economists said China’s huge coal burning had peaked, marking a historic turning point in efforts to tame climate change.



Freedom for Catalonia!

This weekend is a referendum in Catalonia sponsored by the Catalan regional government that asks Catalans if they want to be an independent republic rather than part of Spain.

The Spanish government is doing all it can to prevent the referendum from taking place as it knows what the result will be -- a bit majority in favour of independence.  Agitation for Catalan independence goes back a long way

As a libertarian, I always support independence movements so I feel obliged to do my little bit here to support the Catalans. Catalonia has a population similar to Israel and is very prosperous.  They also have their own language.  An article below gives some background -- JR

BARCELONA — In a mass demonstration of youth and enthusiasm, thousands of students marched down the Gran Via here Thursday afternoon, presenting the well-scrubbed face of a separatist movement hoping to sever the Catalonia region from Spain.

The rally, the largest in recent memory, featured throngs of university and high school students draped in Catalan flags and protected by cadres of sympathetic firefighters in yellow helmets.

The young people took countless selfies, smoked a little marijuana and plastered signposts with posters featuring cartoon characters.

The atmosphere was festive, raucous, contagious — with folk songs from a generation ago. When elderly supporters came out on their balconies to bang pots and pans in support, the students stopped to honor them with chants, “No revolutions without the grandmothers!”

But the situation is growing serious.

The secessionist leaders here are pressing forward with their promise to stage a controversial referendum Sunday that asks a seemingly simple question: Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state, in the form of a republic? Yes or no.

The central government in Madrid, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party, says the plebiscite violates Spain’s 1978 constitution that declares the country indivisible — and therefore is illegal.

The Rajoy government, backed byconstitutional court rulings, has vowed to stop the vote, and it has deployed thousands of national police and paramilitary Guardia Civil officers to the region.

“We have no idea really what will happen Sunday. But it’s hard to see a peaceful ending, no?” said Pablo Sanchez Crespo, 21, a psychology major hunkered down in the courtyard of Barcelona University, which has been occupied by striking students sleeping on mattresses and swinging in hammocks.

“If they want to stop the vote, they are going to have to put many, many cops at the polling stations, and if the people still want to vote? I don’t know,” he said. “I think there will trouble.”

A few minutes earlier, Jordi Graupera, a professor and pro-independence activist, was conducting a 2017 version of a U.S.-style 1960s teach-in in the courtyard, explaining to the students the concept of civil disobedience and telling them about the winning tactics of Martin Luther King Jr.

“You don’t have to attack anyone,” the professor said. “But you have the right to resist.”

He encouraged the students, if they were willing, to occupy and defend polling places — school gymnasiums, community centers, city halls — and to bring plenty of food and water.

The professor said they would not go to jail for forcing open the polling spots but might be fined.

The showdown between the prosperous but restive region of Catalonia and the distant central government in Madrid could become Spain’s most profound political crisis since the end of the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco four decades ago.

A lot depends on the next few days — and which side yields, and who is seen as oppressed or oppressor. Many editorialists in Catalonia describe the impasse as two locomotives rushing toward each other on the same track.

On Tuesday at a news conference, President Trump said, “I think that Spain is a great country, and it should remain united.”

A dozen Catalan functionaries have been arrested, charged and released. The police have raided warehouses and printing presses, and confiscated 13 million sheets of paper — including ballots.

Many of the students interviewed mentioned Franco and his 40-year oppression of Catalonia’s language, culture and autonomy as a rallying cry.

Asked what he knew about Franco, who died in 1975, a quarter century before he was born, Marc Garcia said, “We heard all about it from our parents and grandparents.”

Garcia and his friend Judit Marti, both 17, said they also had been informed and stirred by programing on the public broadcaster, TV3, which is sponsored by the Catalan government.

Some of the students said they thought the current standoff was a legacy of the Spanish civil war in the 1930s and all the unfinished business left after Franco’s long reign.

“Franco didn’t lose this war, he just died,” said Pau Subirana Garcia, 21, a computer science student. “All the people around him are still around.”

Subirana was carrying a black flag with a star and cross, which he said dated back to the 1714 Siege of Barcelona. “The black is about no surrender,” he explained.

The student said that many of his friends care less about whether Catalonia chooses independence than that they have the right to vote.

“Our ancestors gave their lives for these freedoms,” Subirana said. “It shouldn’t be a crime to vote,” he said. “We won’t do anything bad.”

Polls taken during the summer show that more voters in Catalonia would choose to remain in Spain than strike for independence — but moves by the central government considered heavy handed here might have shifted sentiments.

The students occupying the university and joining the rally spoke with passion, especially about their right to vote, but they were unsure exactly what independence would bring.

Catalonia pays an oversize share of its taxes to the central government, but the region enjoys fairly broad autonomy and controls its own police, education, health care, schools, parliament and media. The dominant language is Catalan.

There are now so many national police from outside the region in Catalonia that the Spanish government chartered two commercial cruise ships and docked them in the Barcelona port to berth the overflow.

One of the ships sports large cartoon drawings on its hull of Looney Tunes characters Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and Tweety, and the yellow bird has been adopted by the students as their symbol of resistance.

At Barcelona University, a pair of large photocopy machines sat in the hallway, churning out ballots for Sunday’s election. The students had erected tables to pass them out. How such votes would be counted — and seen as legitimate — is unclear.

“I know lots of friends — they say yes or no about independence. But the response cannot be to send in the police against the people. That means force wins,” said Elisabet Lliteres Deia, a student who said this was the biggest youth rally she had seen in Spain.

She was marching with two friends. The three represented a mix of yes, no and unsure votes. They also believed that the referendum was not binding.

Catalan politicians, however, have vowed that if more than 50 percent of ballots read “yes,” the regional parliament will declare independence within 48 hours, no matter the size of the turnout or whether the vote is disrupted.

Many people in Catalonia and Spain suspect that this is a bluff and that low participation would weaken the leverage of separatists.

Can Madrid stop the vote?

On Thursday, Catalonia’s interior minister said the region’s own Mossos d’Esquadra police force will act to protect public safety, but it would be impossible to stop thousands from gathering to vote. Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, vowed the plebiscite would happen no matter what.