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Youngest in class twice as likely to take ADHD medication

The use of Ritalin and other stimulant drugs to reduce unruly behaviour among children goes back a long way now -- around 5 decades or more.  And there has always been disquiet about the practice

And underlying the issue is treating certain behaviours as an illness: ADHD.  Behaviours that once would simply have been dismissed as "naughty" are now an illness.  No doubt there are some pupils who are appropriately and usefully medicated but too often medication can be a lazy way to cope -- a way of avoiding addressing real underlying issues and problems that the pupil may have.

And the findings below reinforce the view that what is going on in much alleged ADHD is not pathological at all -- unless youth is a pathology!

The process of growing up is a process of socialization:  Children learn to control their impulses in order to get on with others.  So the younger a child is, the fewer will be its internal restraints.  It will be less docile.

I remember fondly a little boy when he was aged 3.  He was a demonstration of perpetual motion --  always running around with a fair bit of screeching thrown in.  Now that he is 5 he often just sits quietly playing with his toys.  He still enjoys running around and screeching as part of a game but he is quite a different boy from when he was aged 3.  If you didn't know his age when he was 3 he would easily be described as an ADHD sufferer. But he was not.  He was simply young.

So the finding below that the youngest kids in the class had a lot of ADHD may simply have been an hilariously wrong diagnosis.  The researchers were misdiagnosing behaviours characteristic of younger kids as an illness!

There is a useful discussion below of problems with ADHD diagnosis

It may be worth mentioning that there was in the 1960s an "anti-psychiatry" movement including Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing and others who also challenged conventional diagnoses of mental illnesses.  The movement still has some adherents but it was up against the fact that some people really are mad:  They do see and hear things that are not there.  But the movement did succeed in considerably narrowing the definition of what is mentally ill.  It would seem that their work is not done yet


New research has found the youngest children in West Australian primary school classes are twice as likely as their oldest classmates to receive medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the research analysed data for 311,384 WA schoolchildren, of whom 5,937 received at least one government subsidised ADHD prescription in 2013. The proportion of boys receiving medication (2.9 per cent) was much higher than that of girls (0.8 per cent).

Among children aged 6–10 years, those born in June (the last month of the recommended school-year intake) were about twice as likely (boys 1.93 times, girls 2.11 times) to have received ADHD medication as those born in the first intake month (the previous July).

The ADHD late birth date effect was first demonstrated in four large scale studies conducted in the US, Canada and Taiwan. The prescribing rate for children in the WA study was 1.9 per cent, slightly larger than that reported in the Taiwanese study (1.6 per cent). The late birth date effects identified in WA and Taiwan were of similar strength to those in the three North American studies, where the reported prescribing rates were much higher (4.5 per cent, 5.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent).

Questioning ADHD as a diagnosis

The late birth date effect is not the only factor creating unease about ADHD. Multiple studies, including the WA study, have established boys are three to four times more likely to be medicated for ADHD. If, as is routinely claimed, ADHD is a neurobiological disorder, a child's birthdate or gender should have no bearing on their chances of being diagnosed.

Other risk factors for receiving medication for ADHD include race, class, postcode and clinician, teacher and parental attitudes; none of which have anything to do with a child's neurobiology.

In addition, sleep deprivation, bullying, abuse, trauma, poor nutrition, toxins, dehydration, hearing and eyesight problems, giftedness (boredom), intellectual disadvantage (frustration) and a host of other factors can cause the impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive behaviours central to the diagnosis of ADHD.

Another common criticism of ADHD as a pathological condition is that the diagnostic criteria "medicalise" normal - if somewhat annoying - childhood behaviours. Critics contend teacher and parent reports of children "often" fidgeting, losing toys and pencils, playing loudly, interrupting, forgetting, climbing or talking excessively, being disorganised and easily distracted, failing to remain seated, and being on the go (as if driven by a motor) should not be construed as evidence of a psychiatric disorder best treated with amphetamines.

Proponents counter that stimulant medication for ADHD children is like "insulin for a diabetic" or "eyeglasses for the mind". There is no doubt low dose stimulants often make rowdy children more compliant. However, a 2010 WA Health Department study found ADHD diagnosed children who had used stimulants were 10.5 times more likely to fail academically than children diagnosed with ADHD but never medicated.

As evidenced by rapidly increasing child ADHD prescribing rates in Australia and internationally, ADHD proponents seem to be winning the very public and ongoing ADHD debate. But history has taught us that as societal values change, definitions of mental illness change. It wasn't long ago that the inventors of ADHD as a diagnostic entity, the American Psychiatric Association, classified homosexuality as a disease treatable with electric shock and other forms of aversion therapy.

Perhaps in the future playing loudly, talking and climbing excessively, fidgeting and disliking homework will no longer be regarded as evidence of a psychiatric disorder, best treated with amphetamines and similar drugs.

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Politician does what he says he was going to do. World reels.

Leftists are a thousand times more upset at people from terror-linked countries being banned than actual Islamic terror attacks. Amazing.  

Funny, but the only time Leftists pretend to support religion is when a Republican President tries to protect America from Islamic terrorism

Obama banned Muslims entering the USA in 2011 for 6 months. Not a word

The elites are horrified at Trump leaping to keep his promises about immigration.  How gauche that is, they appear to think.  

But the uproar the elites have created has provided billions of dollars worth of worldwide free publicity for the new policy.  It will immediately be known to just about everybody in the target countries.  In his election campaign, DT got immense publicity by saying "extreme" things.  Now he is getting immense publicity by DOING "extreme" things.  He is a master media manager.  So whatever happens subsequently everyone will know now that getting to America is no longer a soft touch.

And the elites have long ago shot their bolt with Trump.  They have abused him so often and for so much that they are now like the boy who cried wolf. Their bucketsfull of abuse will bounce right off as they always have from Trump.  Had they been polite and measured in their comments about him they might now have been listened to.  But they were not.  So Trump has no reason to respect their claims and arguments. He has every reason to ignore them.  The only question for Trump will be what his voters think.  And you can be sure that they will be ecstatic at his quickness to keep his promise

Note that there is in fact no actual Muslim Ban. There's a temporary ban for 90 days from 7 countries. That's it.


Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter to praise the president's executive actions halting refugee admission to the United States

"Get used to it. @POTUS is a man of action and impact," Conway tweeted, along with a link to a Fox News segment in which she talked about how Trump followed through on his campaign promise to implement "extreme vetting" of refugees and migrants from certain countries.

"I don't think Washington is accustomed to somebody who's just been a brilliant businessman, who's accustomed to delivering and producing results, who's accountable to, in this case, the people," Conway said during her Fox News interview.

"Promises made, promises kept," her tweet continued. "Shock to the system. And he's just getting started."

Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that banned refugees from entering the US for 120 days. Syrians have been banned indefinitely, and asylum-seekers from six Muslim-majority countries -- Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, and Yemen -- have been barred entry for at least the next three months.

Critics of Trump's refugee ban say it is discriminatory and violates the Constitution's religious freedom guarantees.

"Today's executive actions dishonor our values and do not address the threat of terrorism," said a statement released by House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday. "Americans of all faiths must confront and reject any attempt to target for exclusion or discrimination anyone on the basis of their religion."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also slammed the president's executive actions. "Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded has been stomped upon, taking in immigrants and refugees is not only humanitarian but has also boosted our economy and created jobs decade after decade," Schumer said.

He continued: "This is one of the most backward and nasty executive orders that the president has issued."

SOURCE

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Changing climate has stalled Australian wheat yields (?)

As Warmist articles go, the study below shows unusual statistical sophistication. But the connection to Warmism is tokenistic.  The article would read much the same without reference to Warmism.  And it is refreshing that the model they use has had extensive validation.  Most unusual!  Warmist models normally have no predictive skill whatever.

In the end, however, they find that weather has reduced potential crop yields, not mainly via warming but mainly by reduced rainfall: "lower rainfall accounted for 83% of the decline in yield potential, while temperature rise alone was responsible for 17% of the decline"

And that is a problem.  Warmer seas should usually produce MORE rainfall.  How come the alleged warming was accompanied by LESS rainfall?  The authors do not know, or, if they do, they are not saying.  So the statistics are in fact incompatible with anthropogenic global warming.  A warmer globe should have produced more rainfall.  But there was LESS rainfall.

All one can reasonably say in the circumstances is that there were poorly-understood local factors at work, not global ones.  From any point of view, what they have to account for is the reduced rainfall and they have not done that


Australia’s wheat yields more than trebled during the first 90 years of the 20th century but have stalled since 1990. In research published today in Global Change Biology, we show that rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, in line with global climate change, are responsible for the shortfall.

This is a major concern for wheat farmers, the Australian economy and global food security as the climate continues to change. The wheat industry is typically worth more than A$5 billion per year – Australia’s most valuable crop. Globally, food production needs to increase by at least 60% by 2050, and Australia is one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters.

There is some good news, though. So far, despite poorer conditions for growing wheat, farmers have managed to improve farming practices and at least stabilise yields. The question is how long they can continue to do so.
Worsening weather

While wheat yields have been largely the same over the 26 years from 1990 to 2015, potential yields have declined by 27% since 1990, from 4.4 tonnes per hectare to 3.2 tonnes per hectare.

Potential yields are the limit on what a wheat field can produce. This is determined by weather, soil type, the genetic potential of the best adapted wheat varieties and sustainable best practice. Farmers’ actual yields are further restricted by economic considerations, attitude to risk, knowledge and other socio-economic factors.

While yield potential has declined overall, the trend has not been evenly distributed. While some areas have not suffered any decline, others have declined by up to 100kg per hectare each year.

The distribution of the annual change in wheat yield potential from 1990 to 2015. Each dot represents one of the 50 weather stations used in the study. David Gobbett, Zvi Hochman and Heidi Horan, Author provided

We found this decline in yield potential by investigating 50 high-quality weather stations located throughout Australia’s wheat-growing areas.

Analysis of the weather data revealed that, on average, the amount of rain falling on growing crops declined by 2.8mm per season, or 28% over 26 years, while maximum daily temperatures increased by an average of 1.05℃.

To calculate the impact of these climate trends on potential wheat yields we applied a crop simulation model, APSIM, which has been thoroughly validated against field experiments in Australia, to the 50 weather stations.

Climate variability or climate change?

There is strong evidence globally that increasing greenhouse gases are causing rises in temperature. Recent studies have also attributed observed rainfall trends in our study region to anthropogenic climate change.

Statistically, the chance of observing the decline in yield potential over 50 weather stations and 26 years through random variability is less than one in 100 billion.

We can also separate the individual impacts of rainfall decline, temperature rise and more CO₂ in the atmosphere (all else being equal, rising atmospheric CO₂ means more plant growth).

First, we statistically removed the rising temperature trends from the daily temperature records and re-ran the simulations. This showed that lower rainfall accounted for 83% of the decline in yield potential, while temperature rise alone was responsible for 17% of the decline.

Next we re-ran our simulations with climate records, keeping CO₂ at 1990 levels. The CO₂ enrichment effect, whereby crop growth benefits from higher atmospheric CO₂ levels, prevented a further 4% decline relative to 1990 yields.

So the rising CO₂ levels provided a small benefit compared to the combined impact of rainfall and temperature trends.

SOURCE

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Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce rubbishes calls to change the date of Australia Day

Changing the date would miss the whole point of the celebration.  We celebrate 26th Janusry because that is the day on which the first white settlers set foot in Australia.  We are pleased with what we have become because of their arrival.  Changing the date would be like taking Christ out of Christmas

And there is no reason why Aborigines should not celebrate too.  By all accounts there are more Aborigines in Australia today than there ever have been.  And they have access to services that would have been a fantasy in their original state.  There was no "sit down money" then



And calling the arrival of white settlers an "invasion" is hyperbole.  It is true that there were some isolated skirmishes in which some blacks and some whites died but there was no immediate or systematic resistance to the settlers.  The absurd death tolls proclaimed by Leftist historians have been comprehensively debunked by Keith Windschuttle


DEPUTY Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has rubbished calls to change the date of Australia Day, saying it’s “political correctness gone mad”.

The Nationals Leader’s message to anyone lobbying for the date to change from January 26 was “if you don’t like it, go to work or do something else”.

Speaking from his Tamworth home in New South Wales, Mr Joyce told 2GB radio in Sydney he was sick of people trying to make others feel guilty about celebrating Australia Day.

“I just get sick of these people who every time, every time there’s something on, they want to make you feel guilty about it,” Mr Joyce said this morning.

“They want to tell you you’re evil — they don’t like Christmas, they don’t like Australia Day, they’re just miserable gutted people who I wish would crawl under a rock and hide for a bit.”

It comes after former federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane — who readily admits he’s not normally a “bleeding-heart”, “latte-drinking trendie” — publicly announced his support for changing the date.

In a speech to Australian Unity’s Great Australia Day Breakfast in Melbourne this year, Mr Macfarlane said after the news of the last ever Triple J Hottest 100 and the announcement the City of Fremantle would also change the date, he asked himself what his Scottish ancestors would feel if they were forced to celebrate the Battle of Culloden, “where the Highlanders where cut down by English grapeshot” and survivors hunted down murdered.

“It was the moment I decided that as a conservative, Anglo-Celtic Australian, I want to play a part in the push to changing the date of Australia Day,” he said.

“I believe it is an important way to prevent a potential schism in Australia’s society and to remove a potential roadblock to reconciliation and a greater Australia.”

Mr Joyce didn’t comment on growing calls to change the date because it symbolised the beginning of Aboriginal dispossession.

He said Australia Day was about celebration.

“Don’t start your weeping and gnashing your teeth around me about the terrible evil that we’ve done, providing a nation where we’re democratic, where there’s free education, where there’s basically free health, where we’re well defended, where we basically look after the poor to the best of our ability, that has created a culture where we don’t see some of the craziness you see in some of the other parts of the world.” Mr Joyce said this morning.

“If that’s not important to you and you’ve got your nose bent out of joint because you think it should be something else, well that’s fine, find another day and go celebrate it by yourself.

“This is Australia Day — people have Barbecues, probably play a bit of cricket, here they’ll be walking up and down listening to a bit of country music.

His comments come as treasurer, Scott Morrison, has told the ABC’s AM he opposes the push to change the date as well.

He recognised that Australian stories “go back well beyond the time the first fleet arrived in Australia” but said “all Australians, I think, can embrace all of our stories”.

“That doesn’t mean we have to deny any parts of our heritage ... whether it’s our colonial heritage, our settlement history, our deep and long Indigenous history, our postwar migration with refugees coming to Australia,” he said.

“Today is our day and it’s a day to celebrate all of the things Australians have been able to contribute over all of that period of time.”

When asked about Indigenous Australians who can’t celebrate the day, Mr Morrison said Captain Cook’s arrival at Botany Bay was celebrated as a “day of reconciliation” and “a meeting of two cultures”.

“That was a time of two cultures, reluctantly or on purpose, coming together and much has happened since then,” he said.

“I take a much more optimistic view on these types of things, I’m a keen proponent of reconciliation. And I think reconciliation comes from all Australians combining together and celebrating all of our stories but also acknowledging all the things we have to learn from as well.”

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US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The account of the matter below is fairer than most but I think it needs a summary.  So, in summary:

There has been much media hysteria over the withdrawal being bad for Australia but most of that is just anti-Trumpism.  The TPP was NOT a free trade deal.  It just swapped one concession for another and many people IN AUSTRALIA were unhappy at the trades being agreed to.

It has costs for Australia as well as advantages and there was widespread disagreement over whether the trade-offs were on balance advantageous for Australia. Only "modelling" says it was and some of the negatives are difficult to quantify so it is  just guesswork.   And maybe I can be forgiven for mentioning the utter failure of economic modelling to predict the 2007/2008 financial crisis.

Even Australia's long-suffering sugar farmers did not stand to gain much from it in absolute terms.  $13 million is peanuts in international trade terms


THE withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be a huge blow to some Australian producers but its biggest impact could be to relations in the Asia-Pacific.

With the stroke of his pen and a smile, US President Donald Trump lived up to his promise of killing the TPP between America, Australia, New Zealand and nine other Pacific nations.

The agreement was originally billed as the gold-standard in free trade deals and a strategy to blunt China’s dominance in the Asia-Pacific.

But just three days after the TPP’s champion, former president Barack Obama, moved out of the White House, Mr Trump signed the executive order to withdraw the US from the TPP.

It is a major blow to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as the TPP was the key plank of the nation’s trade policy.

“Everyone knows what that means, right?” Mr Trump said at the signing ceremony. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s a great thing for the American worker.”

A slimmed down TPP, without the US, could emerge, although China is expected to move in and fill the hole left by America. China was not invited to join the TPP and had already been negotiating its own rival deal, the RCEP.

The TPP was between the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Peru, Brunei and Malaysia.

Australian Trade Minster Steven Ciobo, who is in the US, said on the weekend he had been speaking with remaining TPP nations “on ways to lock in the benefits from the TPP” without US involvement.

Negotiations began more than eight years ago and Australia’s prime ministers during the period — Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Mr Turnbull — all threw their support behind it.

The deal was signed last year and was in the process of being ratified. That looks unlikely to happen now that the US has pulled out.

Submissions to a Senate inquiry on the TPP highlighted some of the benefits to the Australian economy, with the committee expected to report back on February 7. In particular the Australian sugar industry was a big winner from the deal.

According to the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance, the TPP allowed Australian producers to export an extra 65,000 tonnes of sugar to the US — 74 per cent higher than the current limit — worth more than $13 million a year to farmers.

In addition to this, they would also be able to provide 23 per cent of any extra raw sugar allocations in the US, and the TPP also removed an in-quota tariff worth about $3 million a year to Australia.

If the US withdrawal means the entire deal falls apart, producers looking to unlock other markets are also set to lose out.

The Australian pork industry was expected to benefit from the removal of tariffs in markets such as Mexico, a significant pork-importing country.

Cheese makers were expected to benefit from the cutting of tariffs to Japan and increased access to the US.

The Business Council of Australia said reducing barriers and costs to doing business internationally would help generate new jobs and opportunities.

“Seventy per cent of our exports currently flow to TPP countries,” it said.

It quoted World Bank modelling that suggested Australia’s GDP would increase by 0.7 per cent by 2030, and exports would increase by 5 per cent.

The Peterson Institute’s modelling has estimated that the TPP would lead to a US$15 billion permanent increase in Australia’s real GDP.

But others have raised concerns with the TPP, in particular the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause that gives foreign companies the right to sue governments.

Consumer organisation Choice has questioned whether it could limit future reforms to require food labelling, the display of ‘health stars’ on packaged foods, ban certain imports or improve consumer law.

There were also concerns about whether the TPP would keep cheaper generic drugs locked out of Australia for longer, although the PM has insisted there will be no change to Australian laws.

Mr Trump said on Monday he was pursuing what he calls “fair trade”, not free trade, and he has China and Japan in his sights.

He called out Japan, a TPP member, for making “it impossible to sell” US cars in Japan. “If you want to sell something into China and other countries it’s very, very hard,” Mr Trump told a meeting of chief executives of some of America’s biggest companies earlier on Monday.

“In some cases it’s impossible. They won’t even take your product.  “But when they do take your product they charge you a lot of tax.  “I don’t call that free trade. What we want is fair trade.”

The President plans to cut regulations for businesses in the US and slash the company tax rate from 35 per cent “down to anywhere from 15 to 20 per cent” to bring manufacturing back to the country.

He said companies that moved factories out of the US and then tried to sell its products back to America would be punished with a “very major border tax”.

But one expert says Mr Trump’s decision to pull out of the TPP is giving China “a free hand to dictate trade in Asia”.

China was not invited to join the TPP, but Mr Trump could have opened the way for the Asian power by walking the US away from the massive free trade pact.

Mr Trump’s media spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday the US would pursue one-on-one trade deals with countries rather than complicated multi-nation pacts like the TPP.

“For someone who is so outwardly anti-China, many of Trump’s major policies, philosophies, and plans benefit China,” Asia Society’s centre for US-China relations senior fellow Isaac Stone Fish said. “TPP is just one of many examples.”

Mr Fish said Trump’s “discrediting” of the US alliance structure made China stronger in regards to Japan and South Korea.

“His isolationism, and his dislike of pushing China on human rights, improves the country’s image both domestically and internationally,” he said.

“His trade policies — and even a trade war — could push China towards an economy more reliant on domestic consumption, instead of exports. “And that is what many foreign experts, and Chinese liberals, believe is the way for the country to build a sustainable economy.”

SOURCE

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Children are a joy and a great delight -- but not so much for feminists

That a woman of no great physical strength will fight like a lion to protect her children tells you something about the bond that forms between normal parents and their children.  So much so that a lot of parents are embarrassed by it.  When asked about childrearing, a mother will often stress the negatives rather than confess the great happiness that children bring.  Children give the happiness that drug users seek but do not find.  Foolish people frantically seek pleasures in all sorts of places when the key to happiness is right under their noses: children.

But children are a burden, too, right?  They can be.  A single mother bringing up children by herself has to be unusually capable and resourceful to come through the experience well.  But single mothers are well outside what humans have evolved for. For almost as long as we have been human, a mother was surrounded by  helpful others:  a husband plus two sets of grandparents.

A husband took away much of the need to work so doing things with the children could be a fairly relaxed affair. And whenever a mother needed time out -- to work or unwind, there were as many as four grandparents to help out with the childminding. Often the grandparents did more of the child-rearing than the mother did. As a child, my son spent more of the day with his Nanna than with any other family member. And I won't mention aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins. To this day, they often help out too.

And the scenario I have described still actually exists in most of the world and is not uncommon even in "modern" societies.

But some "independent" people in their wisdom think they can do without all that.  Their values are quite simply unwise. And to them children can be a great stress and a burden.  They make out of their greatest happiness their greatest burden.  They find that "independence" is not all it is cracked up to be.  Independence and support are basically opposites.  Anybody reading this might do well to think for a little while about whether their various connections with others could be strengthened.

And one of the greatest sources of the independence folly are feminists.  Contrary to all human experience, they even preach that men and women don't need one-another.  So some women are misled into missing out on children altogether.  Biology being what is is, however, most feminists do seem in the end to have a child or two.  And that's where the "fun" starts.  The "sisterhood" turns out to be surprisingly unhelpful to the mother concerned.  They may even scorn the mother concerned and call her a "breeder", a term of great contempt for them.  Children are just not their bag.

If there is a man consistently in the mother's life, that can be a big help but may not be. A strong bond between a man and a feminist is inherently unlikely.  So when children arrive the man may run, or at least distance himself.  So a feminist mother will generally be stuck in the stressful single mother scenario.  Her only salvation from that will be that she has retained enough connections with her parents for them to help.  But she will still be more burdened that she would have been in a traditional relationship.

Traditional relationships are wise.  They will of course have some conflicts but they are what has evolved to fit us best.  They are traditional because they do fit what we are.  But these days a lot of mothers don't even have a husband so they haven't even got their foot on the first rung of the ladder.

Why are they so foolish?  Again, feminism is a big part of the blame.  Feminists fill women's heads with lies such as women can "have it all" and even deceive women about how desirable "all" is.  They fill women's heads with fantasies about how wonderful is this "career" that men have.

They fail to mention that a man enters onto a career as simply the best way to make money, not to achieve honour and glory.  And they fail to mention that a career entails spending the best part of most of your day in the company of people you don't particularly like and whom you would not seek out.  Sometimes you may get good feelings out of your career but all you usually get for all the stresses you endure is money. And many men would gladly throw it all away if they could reasonably do so.

And to cap it all, a feminist mother may well bear a boy.  And there is nothing more destructive of feminists delusions than a normal little boy.  90% of the time he will be indestructibly boyish.  Given him a choice of a dolly and a toy truck and 90% or more of the time he will choose the truck. I have two favourite real life stories about that:

* A woman has three boys in close succession, and being a kindly soul, she gave her boys toys that they chose.  She had however heard feminist ravings so wondered if they would like a dolly.  So she gave them one.  They promptly ripped it legs off, pulled its eyes out and threw it in a corner.  They decisively educated her about male/female differences.  She herself had a doll from her childhood which she greatly treasured. In a traditional society men fought the battles and women minded the children.  And that is now genetically encoded.

* I was at a party where there was a 4-year-old boy. I was talking to him about his toys and said to him, "Boys have trucks and girls have dolls, don't they? He promptly nodded.  But a more "modern" man nearby then said to the boy, "But boys sometimes have dolls too, don't they?"  The boy's reply was eloquent.  He simply said "AAARGH!".

And if the feminist mother bans her boy from having toy guns, he will simply imagine one into existence using a stick or something else as a prop.  So her boy will almost certainly disabuse a feminist mother of claims that males and females are born with no basic differences.

It probably eventually  occurs to a woman who has been "woke" out of feminist fantasies that maybe a husband might be a good idea after all.  But finding one at that juncture will make what is always a difficult task very difficult indeed.

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The harsh truth about Barack Obama: He failed



Some sad words from a disappointed Leftist below. He seems to have a better grasp of reality than most Leftists and is spot-on in fingering the unwillingness of Obama and his Democrats to compromise as the cause of Obama's failure.

In any Western democracy, there has to be a degree of bipartisan consensus for any reform to become entrenched.  Otherwise it can be reversed by the next government of another stripe.  It happened in Britain when it became clear to everyone but the British Labour Party that government ownership of industry was an abject failure.  So Margaret Thatcher was elected and proceeded to uproot decades of British Leftist "work".  The same is now about to happen to reforms associated with Obama.

Leftists tend to live in an eternal present, with no awareness of the past and a blissful lack of concern for the future consequences of their actions.  The quite hilarious actions of Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats in abolishing the filibuster is a prime example of that.  They didn't foresee a future GOP administration and are now left with no weapon in the Senate to obstruct Trump.  They ripped up an important constitutional safeguard in order to get their way on some relatively minor matters and now find that they have given Trump an easy glide  through the Senate confirmation process.

And that lack of vision was strikingly in evidence when Obama came to power.  The Donks were like kids in a candy shop when they found themselves in complete control of both the Presidency and Congress.  So they rushed to construct a huge piece of legislation that would fulfil all their addled dreams about healthcare and much else besides.

Even many Democrat congressional interest groups could see problems with the legislation but Obama and the congressional Democrat leadership piled on the pressure to get the legislation through. But such were the problems with what became known as Obamacare that most of that "golden" first two years of Obama control were wasted, with little else of significance enacted.

And given the problems with their own people, there was no way any GOP amendments would be considered.  And none were.  So the legislation passed with no hint of bi-partisanship. Which has now doomed it.  There is no constituency in GOP circles in favour of it.  Obamacare might have survived in some modified form if it had been constructed with a degree of GOP consent but it now looks like being completely uprooted.  The Donks just did not look far enough ahead to envisage GOP dominance.

And as the writer below correctly notes, that obstinacy on the part of the Donks generated an equivalent obstinacy in the GOP.  They regained Congressional majorities after the first two years and thereafter blocked most initiatives from Obama and his Democrat flunkies.  Legislatively, Obama was neutered.  And he and the Donks brought it upon themselves.

The major change in social policy during the Obama reign was the valorization of sexual abnormality -- but that was a product of SCOTUS, not Obama. And so many judges on the court are elderly that it seems Trump will have the opportunity to make appointments that will swing the court far to the Right for a long time.  So a more balanced approach to sexual abnormality could well emerge from that


ALL hope, no change.

The world still swoons over Barack Obama, but we need to face the harsh truth about his presidency: it has been a crushing let-down.

The greatest American presidents are renowned for what they did in office. Abraham Lincoln ended slavery. Franklin Roosevelt created the New Deal. Ronald Reagan stared down the Soviet Union.

Mr Obama will enjoy a broadly positive legacy, but for very different reasons. He’s a cultural icon. History will remember him for what he represented, not what he accomplished. He has been an admirable role model, but an ineffective president.

Eight years ago, when he first ran for the White House, Mr Obama spoke of “fundamentally transforming” the United States. His idealistic speeches and extravagant promises captured the imaginations of Americans suffering through George Bush’s wars and the start of the Global Financial Crisis.

Mr Obama’s achievements since then bear little resemblance to the soaring rhetoric, and many of them are about to be dismantled by Donald Trump anyway.

His administration did oversee America’s relatively slow economic recovery after the GFC, bringing the unemployment rate down below five per cent. It also reformed the regulations governing Wall Street. But all of that was quickly overshadowed by Mr Obama’s top priority — the health care law known as Obamacare.

The goal, to help millions of Americans who couldn’t afford health insurance, was noble. The law itself, and the manner in which it was implemented, set Mr Obama’s presidency on a toxic path from which it would never recover.

Early in his first term, with the Democrats in complete control of Congress, Mr Obama rushed to pass the controversial law in a down-the-line partisan vote, overruling widespread opposition from the American public. No Republican voted for it, and in the midterm elections several months later, the opposition party swept into power on a wave of anger.

For the next six years, Republicans obstructed Mr Obama’s every move, preventing him from passing any other significant reforms. The president was forced to use his executive powers to circumvent Congress wherever he could, particularly on issues such as climate change and immigration.

The problem? Mr Trump can rescind those orders the moment he takes office. Even worse, the health care law itself is extremely unlikely to survive after Mr Obama leaves the White House, as Mr Trump and the Republicans have pledged to repeal it almost immediately.

This means most of Mr Obama’s domestic agenda, including his signature achievement, will be entirely reversed within months.

Mr Obama’s record on foreign policy is just as dicey. He advocated a less interventionist approach than George Bush, withdrawing from Iraq and rehabilitating America’s image around the world. Those parts of his agenda, along with his decision to authorise the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, were popular.

He also ended the decades-long trade embargo with Cuba, and forged an agreement with Iran aimed at curtailing the rogue state’s nuclear weapons program, though Mr Trump has indicated he will rip up both deals.

Beyond those accomplishments, Mr Obama has left Mr Trump colossal messes to clean up in Libya, Ukraine and particularly Syria, which descended into a cataclysmic civil war on his watch. He was slow to react to the rise of Islamic State, famously comparing it to a “junior varsity” team, and mocked his opponent in the 2012 election for daring to call Russia a “geopolitical foe”.

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years,” Mr Obama joked. Since then, Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, flagrantly committed war crimes in Syria and apparently interfered in America’s presidential election.

So, on arguably the two greatest foreign policy challenges of his presidency — Syria and Russia — Mr Obama has not managed to find answers.

Mr Obama’s greatest disappointment, however, was his failure to honour the central promise of his 2008 campaign.

Millions of voters were energised by his pledge to end the chronic gridlock plaguing Washington. Sarah Palin infamously referred to this as the “hopey-changey stuff”, and perhaps she was right to make fun of it, because the bipartisan dream Mr Obama spoke of so eloquently never materialised. That wasn’t all his fault — the Republicans were determined not to play ball — but he could have done far more.

“Mr Obama is simply not the kind of politician that likes to get down and dirty with the kind of everyday politicking, and the horsetrading. He was simply not willing to engage in politics as it is usually done on Capitol Hill,” Dr Gorana Grgic, a lecturer in US politics at the United States Studies Centre, told news.com.au after Mr Trump’s election victory.

“A lot of people have said that it’s a kind of product of his personality and who he was previously. An academic, someone who’s very aloof maybe. He’d rather debate things, he’d rather try to show that his argument is plausible or he has more evidence to support his course of action than make those compromises.”

There was a fundamental contradiction at the core of Mr Obama’s presidency. He sounded like a centrist, constantly talking a big game about bipartisanship, but in practise he was condescending towards his political opponents and unwilling to compromise

That greatly hindered his ability to negotiate with Congress, and coupled with the Republicans’ own uncompromising shift to the right, it created “the most polarising environment ever” in the US, Dr Grgic said.

That environment led directly to the rise of Donald Trump. It decimated the Democrats, whose numbers have plummeted at federal and state level. Mr Obama’s party has seen most of its rising stars turfed from office, and now there is no obvious leader ready to pick up the pieces when he’s gone.

Mr Obama isn’t the only one to blame for this — not even close — but it’s an undeniable fact that he failed to bring the country together. Race relations have soured. Urban elites and rural voters openly sneer at each other. And in a sickening dose of irony, America’s first black president is about to hand over the White House to the man who spent years hounding him with a racist birther conspiracy theory.

It isn’t all negative. Mr Obama has been an exemplary role model in the Oval Office, as both a leader and an admirable father. He’s suffered no personal scandals, and has consistently appealed to Americans’ better angels. We won’t be able to say the same about Mr Trump, and you suspect the world will soon look back on the Obama years with fond nostalgia.

He will be remembered — perhaps even revered — as a progressive icon for decades to come, having personified a significant leftward shift in America’s social values. But few will remember what Barack Obama actually achieved, and for a presidency that started with such remarkable promise, that can only be considered a failure.

SOURCE


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2016 Global Temperature: The Pause Never Went Away

Interesting to see that someone in the climate establishment has at long last put a number on the influence of the recent El Nino.  And the Met figure of two tenths of a degree is substantial in the context of the very small changes in the climate record.  

Even so, the figure is far too low in the context of the accompanying CO2 stasis, making it difficult to see the figure as anything but a guess.  But David Whitehouse below takes it as read and shows that subtracting those two tenths leaves us with the familiar "hiatus" -- no statistically significant temperature change across this century.  There is NO ongoing global warming.


The [British] Met Office yesterday confirmed that the warm record of 2016 was mainly driven by a very strong El Nino.

Not that you would have heard this fact in the news. But Peter Stott, Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said in no uncertain terms that, “a particularly strong El Nino event contributed about 0.2°C to the annual average for 2016.”

By removing this temporary El Nino contribution from the Met Office’s 2016 data, it becomes obvious that global average temperatures would be essentially identical to where they were in 2014 (see fig 1). Since the El Nino warming is fading and global temperatures are dropping rapidly, they are close to being back to where they were before the latest El Nino started.

There are two ways to look at the just released global temperature of 2016 and press releases from NASA, NOAA and the Met Office work hard to reflect only one of them.

The emphasis is on long-term warming with the press releases stressing that we are living in the warmest decade of the past 150 years (since instrumental records began) concluding that global warming is continuing unabated. This is one way of seeing the data, but it is not the main lesson which comes out of studying what 2016 adds to the picture of recent warmth.

2016 was clearly among the warmest of years, but what distinguishes it from the previous years in this century? Everyone agrees it is the strong El Nino. But how strong was its influence?

The NASA GISS dataset has the global temperature of 2016 at 0.99 +/- 0.1°C compared to 0.87 +/- 0.1°C for 2015, a difference of 0.12°C. However, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt said that their estimate of the boost to global temperatures given by the El Nino in 2016 was 0.12°C, that is the difference between 2015 and 2016.

The press release from the Met Office says that 2016 is one of the warmest two years on record and that according to the HadCRUT4 dataset it was 0.77+/- 0.1°C above what it calls the long-term average, which is actually calculated between 1961-1990. 2015 was 0.76+/- 0.1°C making 2016 and 2015 statistically indistinguishable from one another.

However, Peter Stott, Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre said, “A particularly strong El Nino event contributed about 0.2°C to the annual average for 2016.” This means that without the El Nino 2016 would have had a global temperature of about 0.57+/- 0.1°C which is the same as 2014 and within the errors of 2010 (0.56) and 2005 (0.54). It would also have been in the 95% confidence range of 2013, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003 and 2002. In other words, using the Met Office’s 0.2°C El Nino (ENSO) correction 2016 has not been a record warm year but statistically in the same region as the previous 15 years. Gavin Schmidt of NASA disagrees, saying on Twitter, “Oh my. What tosh. In ENSO corrected data-sets 2016 is still record warm.”

According to NOAA 2016 was 0.07°F warmer than 2015, which is 0.04°C. Considering the error in the annual temperature is +/- 0.1°C this makes 2016 statistically indistinguishable from 2015, making any claim of a record using NOAA data specious.



Fig 1 shows the HadCRUT4 data for the so-called “hiatus” period. The recent El Nino years of 2015-16 are prominent. Also on the graph is the 2016 temperature without the El Nino contribution, as calculated by the Met Office. 2015 – a year with an equally strong El Nino effect – is cautiously interpolated – although the 2016 El Nino estimate is the main datapoint, (NASA Giss says that the correction for 2016 is 0.12°C and 0.05°C for 2015. The Met Office has a figure almost twice as much for 2016 which represents a significant difference of opinion between the Met Office and NASA).

However, even with just the 2016 El Nino compensation the data shows that the pause hasn’t gone away. It has simply been interrupted by two very strong El Nino years. Note that there were moderate El Ninos in 2002-3 and 2009-10.

Compensating for those El Ninos as well as the one in 1998 would make very little difference to the graph, and certainly would not invalidate the pause in the data. In fact it would make the temperature flatter.

Time will tell how far global temperatures will drop in the next couple of years. But there is a good chance that the pause will be re-established once the El Nino warmth tails off.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

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Finland's forested classrooms

There is no mention below of the national character of Finns.  Finns are in fact quite emphatic that they have a national character -- which they call "sisu". It means endurance, resilience, tenacity. Finns have an ability to face adversity and always overcome.  That it might help in their educational achievements would seem obvious.

The ideas below may be helpful but they don't seem to be too different from  the "progressive" (low discipline) schools of Britain and America -- e.g. A.S. Neill's "Summerhill" and Bertrand Russell's awful experiment.  And such schools have rarely been good at imparting knowledge and skills.  I taught in one such school and half of the pupils learned nothing.  Their skill at card games improved, though.

So the caution below about whether Finnish methods could be succesfully copied in other countries is well warranted.  I suspect "sisu" is needed to make them work


It is lunch time at the University of Eastern Finland's teacher training lab school in North Karelia, a lush forest and lake district on the Russian border.

Fourth-grade children race to the cafeteria in their stockinged feet, laughing, hugging, practicing dance steps and cavorting as they head for the cafeteria. One girl does a full handstand in the hallway. A distinguished-looking professor beams at the procession and doles out high-fives to the children. He is Heikki Happonen, head of the school and a career childhood educator.

As chief of Finland's association of eight national university teacher training schools, he is, in effect, the Master Teacher of Finland, the country that still has, despite many challenges and a recent slide in global test scores, the best primary school system in the world, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017.

According to Happonen, the hallway scene reveals one of the secrets of Finland's historic success in childhood education.

Children's brains work better when they are moving, the master teacher explains. Not only do they concentrate better in class, but they are more successful at "negotiating, socialising, building teams and friendships together".

Finland leads the world in its discovery that play is the most fundamental engine and efficiency-booster of children's learning. The nation's children learn through play until age seven, and then are given guaranteed 15-minute outdoor free-play breaks every hour of every single school day (regardless of the weather) until high school.

"Children must feel like their school is a home for them, it belongs to them," says Happonen. "They are very clever, they feel and appreciate an atmosphere of trust. We offer them an environment where they understand, 'This is a place where I am highly respected. I feel safe and comfortable here. I am a very important person.' My job is to protect that environment for children. That's why I come to work every day."

Happonen designed much of the Nordic-modern school building himself, a network of traditional classrooms linked by spacious hallways, cinematic soft lighting and warm colours, a palatial teachers lounge for coffee and collaboration (complete with a sauna for teachers), and comfortable scattered nooks, crannies and couches for children to relax and curl up in with a buddy or a book.

Connecting all the pieces, flanked by the high-tech science lab, a fireplace and plush sofas, is a modular, wide-open library of books and magazines for children to enjoy.

It is the focal point of the school. On a recent visit, a teacher from Spain was nearly speechless after a few minutes inside the school. "It's so beautiful," she said. "In Spain, our schools feel like prisons. But this - this is like a dream."

Happonen points to a colourful assortment of hand-carved wooden boats mounted on his office wall, featuring different shapes, sizes and types of vessels.

"I saw those boats in a shop," he recalls. "They were so beautiful. I decided I had to buy them, but I didn't know why. I put them up on my office wall so I could see them all day.

"Then I realised what they are," he continued. "They are children. They represent the fact that all children are different, they start from different destinations and travel on different journeys. Our job as teachers is to help children navigate their journeys through storms and adventures, so they move safely and successfully into society and the world."

Some aspects of Finland's primary schools may be culture-specific and non-transferable to other nations. But many other features may in fact be minimum "global best practices" for childhood education systems in Harlem, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Los Angeles, Dubai, Mexico City, South Africa and elsewhere.

These practices include early learning through play, equitable funding and well-resourced schools, highly professionalised teacher training, a research-based and whole-child approach to school management, warmth and respect for children and teachers, learning environments of strong academic focus with low stress and high challenge, high-quality testing run by teachers and not standardised data collectors, comprehensive special education, and treating all children as gifted and cherished individuals without sacrificing their childhoods to overwork or cram schools.

Why would any of our children, especially those from high-poverty backgrounds, deserve any less?

In the United States, decades of botched attempts at education reform have led to little or no improvement in schools. As one of the founding fathers of the education reform movement, Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, recently declared: "If you look over the past 25 years at all the reforming we've been doing and all the spending we've been doing and still see flat [achievement] and slow slog as the main outcome, it's pretty discouraging."

For any parent, teacher or policymaker looking instead for inspiration on how we can work together to actually improve our children's education, they can start by coming to Finland's dream school in the forest.

SOURCE

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Richard Muller's "Berkeley Earth" at least mentions El Nino

And they also admit that temperatures dropped in the second half of 2016.

But there's still some very squishy language below if you know what is going on.  They say El Nino was "imposed on top of a long-term global warming trend that continues unabated".  How can something be imposed on a trend?  It can't.  You could impose an El Nino effect on another source of warming, such as an increase in CO2, but the pesky fact is that there was a complete stasis in CO2 levels during the whole of the El Nino period. There was NO  temperature rise traceable to anthropogenic global warming.  The "imposed" claim is bunk.
 
And, rather hilariously, note the proud boast that Arctic temperatures are "interpolated" in their dataset -- "guessed", in other words.  Their entire data body and claims derived from it are rubbish


2016 was the warmest year since humans began keeping records, by a wide margin. Global average temperatures were extremely hot in the first few months of the year, pushed up by a large El Nino event. Global surface temperatures dropped in the second half of 2016, yet still show a continuation of global warming. The global warming “pause”, which Berkeley Earth had always stressed was not statistically significant, now appears clearly to have been a temporary fluctuation.

Robert Rohde, Lead Scientist with Berkeley Earth, said “The record temperature in 2016 appears to come from a strong El Nino imposed on top of a long-term global warming trend that continues unabated.”

In addition, 2016 witnessed extraordinary warming in the Arctic. The way that temperatures are interpolated over the Arctic is now having a significant impact on global temperature measurements. Zeke Hausfather, Scientist at Berkeley Earth said, “The difference between 2015 and 2016 global temperatures is much larger in the Berkeley record than in records from NOAA or the UK’s Hadley Centre, since they do not include the Arctic Ocean and we do. The arctic has seen record warmth in the past few months, and excluding it leads to a notable underestimate of recent warming globally.”

Headlines that claim storms, droughts, floods, and temperature variability are increasing, are not based on normal scientific standards. We are likely to know better in the upcoming decades, but for now, the results that are most solidly established are that the temperature is increasing and that the increase is caused by human greenhouse emissions. It is certainly true that the impacts of global warming are still too subtle for most people to notice in their everyday lives.”


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Helen Szoke shows her colours



From Wikipedia:  "In 2004 Szoke joined the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, holding roles as Chief Conciliator and Chief Executive, before being appointed in 2009 as Commissioner and Chairperson of the Board. Following a change of state government, these roles were separated, and Szoke continued as Commissioner".

Her determinations always seemed perverse, although carefully put.  We see from the excerpts below from an article by her just why.  She is a totally one-eyed far-Leftist, not an impartial public servant.  You will, for instance, not see her telling anybody that Life is getting much, much better for the world's poor, however you want to measure it – whether it's in terms of average incomes, life expectancy, child mortality, disease, poverty, or women's rights


As the world’s political and business leaders come together in Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum, Oxfam has released a new report revealing the shocking scale of the global inequality crisis.

The globe’s richest eight men have a staggering net wealth of $621bn – coexisting in a world of extreme poverty where one in 10 people are surviving on less than US$2 a day, and where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night.

While public attention will inevitably turn to the identity of the super-rich individuals, this is a distraction from the true crisis at hand: the current economic system is broken. It is one that serves the interests of multinational corporations and the super-rich, leaving the rest of us behind. The new statistics show that the global inequality crisis is more extreme than we had feared.

While there have been inroads in eradicating poverty, the stark truth is that the rich are becoming richer and dwarf the gains made by everyone else, leaving the poorest unable to lift themselves into better lives.

Oanh in Vietnam is just one of the billions of individual human faces of this great divide. She needs kidney dialysis three times a week. While Oanh’s dialysis is covered by insurance, the need for her to pay for medicine leaves her US$100 short every month.

Oxfam’s analysis shows that in Australia today, the richest 1% of the population own more wealth than the poorest 70% of our citizens combined.

Turning to the absolute extreme, the two wealthiest billionaires in Australia – between them worth US$16.1bn – have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 20% of the country. That is, they have more wealth than 4.8 million of the poorest people in this country. Meanwhile, the people in the bottom half of the Australian population have just over 6% of national wealth between them.

But there are ways to bridge the divide and fix the broken system that is breeding discontent, destabilising political institutions, fracturing societies and risking further economic instability.

The inequality crisis is being fuelled around the world by immoral and unethical practices of big business – the use of tax havens to avoid paying a fair share of tax, which could be used for essential public services; the failure to pay workers a living wage and the expenditure of billions to lobby governments for rules in favour of the super-rich.

SOURCE

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Overcoming the Leftist hegemony

"President Trump".  What a magical sound those words are!  I was intermittently laughing and crying with happiness for a couple of hours after listening to his inaugural address.  It is so good to have one of ours in the White House again.  It's been a long time.  The two Bushes were OK but you have to go back to Reagan to get a really revolutionary President in the White House.

Revolutionary?  Yes.  A believer in the American revolution and a counter-revolutionary against the Leftist hegemony; someone who will smash the Leftist ratchet:  The process whereby the government and society get steadily more Leftist year by year, with no going back even being considered by the governing elite.  Note the excerpt from his speech at a  pre-inauguration concert below. Trump speaks there of drawing on the past, of reverting to proven ways as the change that he has in mind.  What a horror for the Left!

To this day Leftists characterize conservatives as people who are opposed to change. They can't accept that it is just Leftist change that conservatives find wanting.  They do that because they have to defend themselves mentally from any suspicion that conservatives may have well-founded objections to their madcap schemes. Their claim has been an obviously false charge ever since Reagan and Thatcher but it is good to see Trump reinforcing the real story.  

Why is Trump so different?  Mainly because he isn't.  What he says was obviously close to the hearts of the millions that voted for him.  But he does differ in saying out loud what a lot of other Americans were only thinking.  He completely ignored political correctness when most others feared to do so. How come?  How come he is so free from the mental and verbal shackles that the Left have managed to place on most people? Even the GOP in recent years have just been Leftism-Lite.  How come Trump escaped that?

It's got to go back to his upbringing as the son of a very rich man.  His riches would have freed his father from much need to seek the approval of others so he did not inculcate young Donald with the then current middle-class notions of what is acceptable and what is not.  Donald grew up as  something of a "natural" child.  His instinctive feelings were minimally suppressed.  So he is rude to those who are rude to him and is annoyed by the rudeness.  He has not been taught not to sweat the small stuff and has not been taught that "A soft answer turneth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1).  As a kid, he went to a Presbyterian Sunday school, as I did, and he had a Scottish mother so he obviously got a lot of wise guidance, but it was not enough to suppress who he is.

And the charge that he is a rude man is one-eyed.  He certainly is rude to those who abuse him but he seems also to have learned long ago the two most important words in the English language:  "Thank you".  He spends a lot of time thanking people.  In his inaugural address he even thanked Mr. Obama for smoothing his transition to power, which visibly moved Mr Obama.  Obama seems to be basically a nice guy but he has just never managed to break the mental shackles placed on him by his Marxist upbringing. He is probably not terribly bright.  It was just a nice guy in a black skin that people voted for.

Trump's emphasis on the centrality and importance of the ordinary people is rather reminiscent of another great conservative, Benjamin Disraeli, who led Britain at the time of Britain's greatest eminence -- in the late 19th century.  Disraeli was himself a Jew (superficially converted to the Church of England!) but he greatly extolled the wisdom of the ordinary English people, and put his money where his mouth was by greatly expanding the franchise, so that more of those he extolled could vote in national elections.  Disraeli was a great success in leading his nation and Trump will be too


Thousands of Donald Trump supporters have gathered near one of Washington’s famous landmarks for a concert celebrating his upcoming inauguration. The president-elect is embarking on a day of inauguration activities

The president-elect has spoken to the crowd at the inauguration concert.

We’re going to unify our country,” Trump told a crowd of thousands in front of the Lincoln Memorial after a pre-inauguration concert.

“We’re going to do things that haven’t been done for our country for many, many decades,” he added. “It’s going to change. I promise you.”




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Media worldwide report another "hottest year"

The report below is from a major Australian news source.  Once again we have an example of how to lie with statistics. It appears to be true that ON AVERAGE, 2016 was unusually warm.  But my favourite graph below shows that the warm months were all at the beginning of the year during the El Nino weather phenomenon.  By the end of the year and the end of El Nino, temperatures had slumped, with December 2016 COOLER than December 2015 -- with an anomaly of 81 compared to 111 -- According to the NASA raw data here



And how sad for Australia's BOM, that they could only report that the year was only 4th hottest for Australia,  Australia is a rather large lump of real-estate so the warming we are looking at is not exactly global is it?

Two amusing things to note below:

1). The high temperatures reported are nowhere in the article attributed to "climate change". The BOM know that what was at work was El Nino and not CO2 and have become too embarrassed to lie outright about it.

2).  The BOM carefully define the record they are dealing with as:  "the 137-year history of modern accurate and standardised meteorological observation".  The point of that, of course is to avoid confronting the careful and validated 1790 observations of Watkin Tench, which show that Sydney has had near-unbearable hot temperatures long before the modern era


It's official: 2016 set another record for being the world's hottest. Three international agencies have confirmed today that last year was the hottest on record.

NASA reported that 2016 was 0.99 degrees Celsius hotter than the 20th-century average, while the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called it at 0.94 degrees Celsius. NOAA also calculated that global land temperatures were 1.43 degrees Celsius higher. The UK Met Office, using its own data, also reported that 2016 is one of the two hottest years on record.

The figures vary slightly, depending on the baseline reference period used.

Heat records don't linger for long any more. 2016 surpassed the 2015 record, which surpassed the 2014 record. Three record hot years in a row sets yet another record in the 137-year history of modern accurate and standardised meteorological observation.

For Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology described 2016 as a "year of extreme events" and the fourth hottest at 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average. The warming trend is clear.
BOM's key 2016 climate facts and events

Australia is already on average 8 degrees Celsius hotter than the average global land temperature, so further warming means our heat risk is far greater than for other industrialised countries.

This dangerous warming trend sends a dire warning, as average warming delivers many more extreme heat events, as we're currently seeing in Queensland and New South Wales. These are the killers.

As Australia lurches from heatwave to heatwave, the message is clear: extreme heat is the new norm - so Australia needs to get "heat smart".

Rising extremes

In Australia the number of days per year over 35 degrees Celsius has increased and extreme temperatures have increased on average at 7 per cent per decade.

Very warm monthly maximum temperatures used to occur around 2 per cent of the time during the period 1951-1980. During 2001-2015, these happened more than 11 per cent of the time.

This trajectory of increased temperature extremes raises questions of how much heat can humans tolerate and still go about their daily business of commuting, managing domestic chores, working and keeping fit.

SOURCE

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Moral conservatism and Nazism

I wrote the post below as an update to my big article on Hitler but I think it has a place here too

Nazis preached tradition and particularly traditional morality in a number of ways.  A well-known example was the role of women, with the traditional German conception of Kinder, K├╝che, Kirche (children kitchen, church) being honoured.  And as is equally well-known, the Nazis persecuted homosexuals.

Their artistic taste was also conservative.  Rather ironically they organized the most visited art exhibition ever seen:  The exhibition of Entartete Kunst (degenerate art.)  They put up an exhibition of modern German art which they saw as disgusting, in the belief that most other Germans would also see it as disgusting.  We will never know, however, how many of the viewers actually liked what they saw. Below is one of the exhibits:



So how can we reconcile that with their being Leftist? In answering that I once again have to stress that the Nazis were Leftist BY THE STANDARDS OF THEIR DAY.  Most Leftists of the time were conservative in the ways I have mentioned.  With the exception of the role of women, even the Soviets were fairly conservative morally.  Right up to the implosion of the Soviet Union, Soviet representatives claimed that there was no such thing as homosexuality in Russia: "That was before the revolution"

But there is no doubt that the Nazis preached the "conservative" elements of their doctrine more vigorously than other Leftists of the day.  And again, context explains that. Weimar Germany of the 1920s was a time in which social, artistic, and philosophical revolutions took root and flourished.  It was extraordinarily "progressive" and contemptuous of all traditional rules.  The surreal became commonplace in German cinema. The cultural atmosphere at that time was in fact startlingly similar to modern times.  There was open homosexuality and sexual promiscuity generally and traditional mores were mocked.  So the Nazis had a lot to react against. They were just conventional Leftists, not avant garde Leftists.

What is Leftist in any era changes.  The focus can be on many things. But what abidingly defines the Left is their wish to "fundamentally transform" their society (To quote Mr. Obama). In Hitler's case, he wanted to fundamentally transform the world -- JR

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March on Trump-haters, but remember girls mutilated at home

CAROLINE OVERINGTON below has some restrained comments about the butchered genitals of *Australian* Muslim girls.  I would add:  "What about Clemmie?" Alleged feminist Clementine Ford wrote recently and angrily about the rude way some young Australian men at a car rally spoke to some of the women present.  

Where is her sense of values?  There is no record of any women being hurt by men at the Summernats but there is ample record of what some Australian Muslim families do to their daughters.  If rude car-freaks burn up Clemmie, female genital mutilation should set her on fire.  But there is no record of that.  No rage at all.

It is quite clear that Clemmie, like most so-called feminists,    doesn't care about women at all.  All that drives her is her hate of her fellow Australians -- in the best Leftist tradition.  She is a towering hypocrite and a nasty piece of goods.   She should be proud that even while in a drunken mob, young Australian men did women no harm. Her misdirected anger defiles Australian society.  Does someone have to perform a clitoridectomy on her to get her attention to it?  I think it would take that much.


Now, I’m a feminist, obviously. I believe in equal rights for women: to work, to vote, to drive, to travel. But the Women’s Marches around the nation this weekend has me worried.

The Women’s Marches have been organised so Australian women can “show solidarity” with American women as Donald Trump becomes president.

The organisers hate him, obviously. He’s the pussy-grabber. The misogynist-in-chief. The group behind the Women’s March has a Facebook page that promotes Meryl Streep’s speech at the Oscars,; and the hashtag Love­TrumpsHate. And that’s fine. Trump was democratically elected but nobody has to like him, and protests against government are an important part of democracy too. So, march away.

But where, I wonder, is the thousand-strong march, the loud protests, the hashtags and the Twitter campaign for women and girls suffering the vilest forms of misogyny right here at home?

Last week the Australian pediatric surveillance unit at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in western Sydney released a report on female genital mutilation in this country. It found 59 brutalised girls. But here’s the line you don’t want to miss: the study’s author, Elizabeth Elliott, said “most of the procedures on the girls were performed overseas”.

The key word in that sentence is “most”. Most of girls had been cut overseas. But some were Australian-born. Meaning they had definitely been cut here. It’s very likely that some of the others had been cut here, too, after they arrived. Of the 59 — according to the report, that’s a gross underestimation of the actual numbers — only 13 were referred to child protection services. Why only 13?

These were girls whose parents — usually their mothers — had taken them to have them cut. What will happen to them next? Will they be shoved into an arranged marriage with a much older man to whom they already may be related? Because that, too, is happening.

Last October, a young Iraqi girl, Bee al-Darraj, told The Australian that she knew several girls from her former Islamic school who had been sent to Iraq to be married, while still underage. Nothing was done. She knew one girl who gave birth while underage in a public hospital in Sydney with her 28-year-old husband standing by. Nothing was done. She knew girls in Year 9 who were married and had 30-year-old husbands picking them up from school. Nothing was done. (To be clear, there’s no suggestion the school knew, for to know and not report would be a gross breach of mandatory reporting obligations. What we’re talking about here is child rape.)

Last week, we had a prominent cleric, imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, charged with conducting a child marriage between a girl under the age of 16, and a man aged 30.

This is real, and it is happening here, and it is right now. Dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of girls are suffering vile abuse, but it’s like screaming in an abyss. Where is the march? Where is the hashtag?

Genital cutting is not as fancy a topic as Hollywood pay for women, obviously, but it’s a creeping tragedy that threatens the freedom of all Australian women. A freedom our grandfathers and great-uncles died for. A freedom the feisty Australian suffragettes of yesteryear, with their dry wit and their long skirts and their button-up boots, once marched for.

I get that there’s cultural sensitivity. People don’t want to be accused of racism or bigotry. They don’t want to discriminate. But what about the discrimination against girls going on right now in Australian schools? Don’t believe it? Cast your eye over this, the official uniform list for the al-Faisal College in Sydney’s west (see below).

What jumps out? Only the girls, from age five, have to wear long sleeves, even in summer.

Only the girls have to wear skirts to the floor (ankle-length) summer and winter. The hijab, or head covering, also is compulsory for girls, from age five. It is compulsory even for sport. The boys scamper about in short sleeves.

A friend of a friend who is a teacher at the school recently sent out some pictures of children at the school receiving certificates at an assembly.

The boys are relaxed and grinning. The girls are swathed in so much fabric you can see only their faces. You support this, with your taxes.

It’s blatant discrimination. It tells girls that there is something sinful about them, something that will drive men to distraction, something they need to keep covered while out in the world.

The sight of your wrists, or ankle, or forearm is offensive and wrong.

Now, Australian women are smart, and most of them are very used to carrying more than one bucket at a time. Meaning: they know that you can adore pretty clothes and still want equal pay.

Likewise, you can be outraged by female genital mutilation, and forced marriage, and lousy school uniform codes, and Donald Trump. But which is more important? Macho bragging about pussy-grabbing in a trailer on the set of The Apprentice? Or acts of extreme violence against girls — and the rights of girls — here and now?

Yes, it’s possible to carry more than one bucket, so, if you’re marching this weekend, good on you, that’s your right — but maybe also carry a placard for your Australian sisters, suffering vile misogyny as we speak.

They’re hidden from view but they deserve attention, too.

SOURCE

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Photograph of women in hijabs on billboard advertising Australia Day celebrations sparks heated online debate

One would think that Australia day would celebrate Australia as it is.  It is definitely NOT Muslim. They are a small minority and a poorly assimilated one that that. They are distinguished mainly by their high rate of welfare dependency, meaning that the positive contribution they make to the rest of us is minimal

I can see a case for celebrating Australia's diversity with a picture that included someone from our largest minority -- people of Han Chinese ancestry.  They have fitted in brilliantly and differ from Caucasians mainly in their superior educational achievements.  With the many services they provide to us all -- from medical specialists to restaurateurs, we are lucky to have them. That could indeed be celebrated


A billboard advertising Australia Day celebrations in Melbourne sparked debate online for appearing to feature two women wearing hijabs.



A picture of the huge sign showed it having an Australian flag on the left with the two smiling women on the right underneath the event details. There were no other people in the design.

It was said to be by the side of a road in Cranbourne, in Melbourne's southeast, and first shared by far-right groups on Facebook on Friday.

The debate attracted hundreds of comments with a variety of opinions, and was shared thousands of times.

Some commenters were outraged that Australia was only represented by a pair of Muslim women instead of a more diverse crowd.

'Some culture doesn't belong! Meh all this multi cultural bs being rammed down our throats,' one angry Facebook user wrote.

'Muslims on that is a disgrace... I don't know what's going on in this country... It's just going downhill... Muslims are not the face of Australia,' another said.

'PC to the extreme. There's nothing wrong with including people from different backgrounds as Australia is more or less a melting pot of different cultures,' a third wrote.

'But to represent Australia as just Muslim people (as the billboard implies) is just as ignorant as assuming Australians are all Caucasian,' they added.

'I find this advertisement for Australia day offensive yes I'm proud that we are a multi cultural nation but sorry to all the bleeding heart public and politicians when it comes to Australian views on Muslim values,' another wrote.

But the billboard also had its supporters, with many pointing out that Australia was a diverse nation of different people that should be celebrated. 'It doesn't matter what is on the board. Only thing is Australia is [a] multicultural county and everyone who lives there must be proud [of] Australia. So stop that nonsense,' one wrote.

'I don't get why people seem to think that one race or any race owns any land more so then the other. Those views are so close minded. We share this earth together, even if you don't like it,' another said.

A third person replied to another commenter claiming the billboard was evidence of the government 'bending down to the minority to make them feel better about themselves' and that Australia would slowly become Muslim.

They replied: 'No one seems to be suffering mate, our country is multicultural and if you've got a problem with that then you've got a problem with Australia.'

The billboard was advertising a RACV Australia Day Festival at the King's Domain Gardens in the centre of Melbourne, including a parade and flag raising ceremony.

SOURCE

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SALT -- SALT  --  SALT: Dispelling the myths

1). A good example of an epidemiological disproof concerns the dreaded salt (NaCl). We are constantly told that we eat too much salt for good health and must cut back our consumption of it. Yet there is one nation that consumes huge amounts of salt. So do they all die young there? Quite the reverse: Japan has the world's highest concentration of centenarians. Taste Japan's favourite sauce -- soy sauce -- if you want to understand Japanese salt consumption. It's almost solid salt.

2). We need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. So the conventional wisdom is not only wrong. It is positively harmful

3). Table salt is a major source of iodine, which is why salt is normally "iodized" by official decree. Cutting back salt consumption runs the risk of iodine deficiency, with its huge adverse health impacts -- goiter, mental retardation etc. GIVE YOUR BABY PLENTY OF SALTY FOODS -- unless you want to turn it into a cretin

4). Our blood has roughly the same concentration of salt as sea-water so claims that the body cannot handle high levels of salt were always absurd

5). The latest academic study shows that LOW salt in your blood is most likely to lead to heart attacks. See JAMA. 2011;305(17):1777-1785. More here and here and here for similar findings. Salt is harmless but a deficiency of it is not. We need it. See also here
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German Greenies turn German water supply brown

Which has been very vexing. When water comes out of your faucet brown, you know something bad has happened.  You expect that only in poor countries like India. I have seen it in India.  The German authorities do in fact manage to bleach the water before it goes out to households but that's expensive. So why are German streams running brown anyway?

It's because of the German government's hostility to industry.  High electricity prices and other policies have chased a lot of German industry to saner countries and the remaining industries are heaviliy regulated in order to reduce pollution of all sorts.

And one effect of that has been a reduction in the industrial emissions of nitrogen compounds into the air.  But such componds do not stay in in the air forever.  They gradfually fall out into the soil.  And in the soil they react with a lot of other stuff, binding it so that it stays put.  So in the absence of all those nitrates  various other compounds are set free and get washed into the rivers.  And among those are brown plant wastes, "dissolved organic carbon".

So where to now?  Nowhere to go.  They just have to spend more money on treating the water before it is reticulated.  Extensive chemical treatment of the water supply before people drink it doesn't seem very Green, though, does it? Maybe brown drinking water is the way ahead for Germans! LOL

The abstract below puts what I have just said into more precise scientific terms

An interesting sidelight. Andreas Musolff  has written a book on Hitler which dodges the fact that Hitler's policies were socialist.  How did he get from history into hydrology?


Unexpected release of phosphate and organic carbon to streams linked to declining nitrogen depositions

Andreas Musolff et al.

Abstract

Reductions in emissions have successfully led to a regional decline in atmospheric nitrogen depositions over the past 20 years. By analyzing long-term data from 110 mountainous streams draining into German drinking water reservoirs, nitrate concentrations indeed declined in the majority of catchments. Furthermore, our meta-analysis indicates that the declining nitrate levels are linked to the release of dissolved iron to streams likely due to a reductive dissolution of iron(III) minerals in riparian wetland soils. This dissolution process mobilized adsorbed compounds, such as phosphate, dissolved organic carbon and arsenic, resulting in concentration increases in the streams and higher inputs to receiving drinking water reservoirs. Reductive mobilization was most significant in catchments with stream nitrate concentrations less than 6 mg L−1. Here, nitrate, as a competing electron acceptor, was too low in concentration to inhibit microbial iron(III) reduction. Consequently, observed trends were strongest in forested catchments, where nitrate concentrations were unaffected by agricultural and urban sources and which were therefore sensitive to reductions of atmospheric nitrogen depositions. We conclude that there is strong evidence that the decline in nitrogen deposition toward pre-industrial conditions lowers the redox buffer in riparian soils, destabilizing formerly fixed problematic compounds, and results in serious implications for water quality.

SOURCE
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The latest Bureau of Meteorology shenanigans

This summer has been very frustrating for the BOM.  As tireless global warming missionaries, they wanted the Sydney summer to be the "hottest yet".  And the headlines they generated have on several occasions claimed just that.

But the thermometers have in fact been unobliging.  If you read the small print, coastal Sydney has failed to get into the 40s. It was only localities that are normally hot which did that.

And hanging over their heads is the awful truth that the temperature in coastal Sydney reached 42 degrees (108F) in 1790, long before there were any power stations, SUVs and all the other Greenie bugaboos in Sydney.

So what  to do?  They have had a brainwave (below).  Instead of reporting maximum temperatures they are now reporting MINIMUM temperatures.  They say that various minimum (night-time) temperatures have been unusually hot.  But global warming is supposed to cause high maximum temperatures so it is a pretty desperate bit of fake news


SYDNEY residents sweltered through the harbour city’s hottest January night in recorded history last night.

But the good news for the sleepless masses is relief is in sight, with a cool change on its way.

Temperature records tumbled across Sydney as the extreme heatwave peaked overnight.

Among the new records set were in Observatory Hill, where the temperature dropped only to 26.4C, Bankstown (26.2C), Camden (27.1C), Penrith (28.6C), Richmond (28.2C), Horsley Park (26.2C), and Terrey Hills (26.9C).

But relief is on its way.

Conditions across the southern half of NSW are expected to ease over the weekend but the mercury will likely remain in the low to mid 40s in the state’s north.

After copping temperatures up to 45C on Friday, Sydney’s west is forecast for a milder maximum of 35C on Saturday while in the coastal parts of the city it is due to reach 31C.

But for those in the far north it is expected to remain hot with a predicted high of 41C at Grafton.

Queenslanders who have been in the grip of the same heatwave are set to endure another day of blistering conditions before conditions cool on Sunday.

A top of 34C is forecast for Brisbane on Saturday, which is five degrees above the average maximum for this time of year.

(Rubbish!  The temperature in my anteroom regularly tracks the official observations for Brisbane and at 34.5C yesterday  afternoon it did go higher on my thermometer than the forecast. But it had been right on 34C for a week or so)

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Barley

A new taste sensation!  Last night I had a dinner that I had never tasted before.  I have been eating out off and on since I was 16 and I am now 73 so it is rare to find a dinner that is new to me.  I have eaten much from all the world's cuisines.  I have had Chinese food in Hong Kong, Philippine food in the Philippines, Mexican food in Mexico, South African food in South Africa, French food in France, Indian food in India and Indian food in England (don't mention English food).  And during my 15 years in Sydney just about all the world's foods were available right there anyway. So I was surprised to encounter a taste I had not had before

It all began when I somehow noted that people in Northern Europe grow and eat a lot of barley.  I had never had anything made from barley.  So I bought some. And I wandered around the net looking for barley recipes.  I found one that looked promising.  But it looked a bit complicated for me to make so I put off making it.  Eventually I told Anne that I was going to cook some barley for our next dinner.  She was amused.  She was even more amused when she saw the recipe.  "You'll never make that!", she said. She knows that most of my cookery is just heating up something already prepared by the chefs at Woolworths.

So in the kindness of her heart Anne offered to make it for me.  There was clearly a lot of time and work in the recipe so I gladly accepted her offer.

And I have just had the result.  It was very good.  On the plate it looked rather like savoury mince but the taste was quite different:  Not a strong taste; a subtle taste but very more-ish.  I am going to be asking Anne for more of it.  I got the recipe off the barley organization so I imagine I might be getting some free barley soon if Google leads them to this post.

The recipe is below.  Anne used pork mince and cut up the mushrooms finely. The recipe says "cooked barley" without explanation so Anne soaked it in for half a day and then boiled it until it was soft.   Anne was surprised about the amount of salt but it was OK.  Despite what the food freaks say, salt is good for you.

Barley Mushroom Stroganoff

Family favorite with a twist.

1 pound lean ground turkey, chicken
or beef
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken seasoning base
2 cups low-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 cups cooked pearl barley*
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Spray large skillet with non-stick cooking
spray; heat over medium heat. Add ground
turkey; crumble and cook until turkey is no
longer pink. Remove from pan and drain.
Pour off liquid from pan. Add olive oil,
onion and mushrooms; saut‚ 4 to 5 minutes,
stirring occasionally. Season with oregano,
salt and pepper. Cook 4 more minutes. Stir
in water and chicken seasoning. Blend
together sour cream and flour. Stir in sour
cream mixture, cooked barley and meat.
Continue to cook over low heat until heated
through. Garnish with parsley, if desired,
and serve.

Makes 8 servings.