School envy

Because the government schools are so woeful in most instances, parents send 40% of Australian teenagers to private schools.  That is such a big voting bloc that no government would dare doing much about it -- as Mark Latham found out.

But the Left see an easier target in State selective schools.  There are not many of them but the fact that you have to have a good record of academic achievement to get into them brings their standards up to about equal with private schools. And you don't have to be rich to afford them. They were conceived as schools that would give a private school education to the more able poor.

But the pupils who pass the adnmissions tests tend to be from affluent backgrounds so it is mostly they who get in.  The unmentioned fact in most discussions about this is that IQ and affluence are highly correlated -- so it will always be mostly  rich kids who can profit from a high-standard education.

But the numskulls below want to square the circle.  Because most of those eligible to attend selective schools come from well-off backgrounds they think the system is somehow "unfair".  So they want to let more poor students into selective shools -- which would make them less selective and therefore less able to offer an alternative to private schooling.

But surely, the obvious thing to do is to lift the game of the mainstream state schools, not try to pull down the selective schools.  That might seem blue sky but it is not.  At a small unselective country State school in the '50s I got an education modelled on Eton, including physical punishment for misbehaving.  And I profited greatly from what I learnt then.  I learnt stuff at primary school that these days is taught in High School, if at all.  I was a long way from Berkshire but I got something quite similar to an Eton education

How come?  In those days all politicians wanted "the best" for their schools and Eton was acknowledged as being the best.  I am inclined to think it still is.  So they simply modelled their syllabi on Etons'.  They even copied the Eton "house" system  as far as one could in a State school where all students went home at night.

So the problem is not privileged schools but the crazy ideology and unproved methods that most modern-day education theorists inflict on mainstream schools

Monica Garcia-Pineda remembers feeling as though the partially selective Sydney high school she attended was made up of two completely different places.

“I can’t describe it in any other way,” she says. “It felt like going to two schools. There was always this divide between the selective and community kids, because you weren’t treated like you were in the same school.

“The selective kids were always encouraged to choose more academically challenging subjects so there was very little opportunity for the cohort to kind of be alongside one another in class, which affects how you socialise when you’re not in class.

“We used to sit on different sides of the quad.”

Selective school policies have come under increased scrutiny in recent months as state governments grapple with evidence that the schools are overwhelmingly populated by students from advantaged backgrounds and may be reinforcing existing class differences.

The overwhelming majority of Australia’s selective schools are in New South Wales – 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective. Its education department last year announced a review of competitive entry tests to address concerns that the system was being gamed by wealthy families who could afford tutoring.

Garcia-Pineda was a selective student at Macquarie Fields high school in Sydney’s south-west. She grew up in Wattle Grove, only about 12km away but another world in the socially complex jumble of Sydney’s western suburbs.

“I never used to hang out in the area at all,” she says. “I really didn’t feel like I was part of it.”

Macquarie Fields is demographically typical of western Sydney. Unemployment is higher and wages are lower than the Australian average. Fewer people are university educated and the population is dramatically more multicultural than the rest of the country.

A few years before Garcia-Pineda graduated in 2008, Macquarie Fields made national headlines when teenagers threw stones and molotov cocktails at police officers during riots sparked by the deaths of two local teenagers who were killed during a police car chase.

The statistics are reflected in the makeup of most of the local public schools.

Education data published by the federal government breaks school populations down into four “socio-educational” advantage quartiles. At Ingleburn high school, 2km away from Macquarie Fields, 54% of students come from the bottom quartile while only 3% come from the top.

At another neighbouring school, Sarah Redfern high, the figures are almost identical.

Both neighbouring schools rank below the national average for educational advantage, a yardstick determined using the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, or Icsea, which measures factors such as parents’ occupations, education level and the location of the school.

But at Macquarie Fields only 15% of the students come from the lowest advantage quartile, and 27% are from the top. Its Icsea score of 1,054 is above the national average of 1,000.

It’s a trend which is reproduced over and over across Australia wherever selective schools are found.

Analysis of My School data by Guardian Australia reveals that students at selective schools are strikingly more advantaged than other nearby schools. They are overwhelmingly attended by the most educationally advantaged students and in many cases are dramatically unrepresentative of the suburbs in which they are located.

The divide is more pronounced in fully selective schools than partially selective. In fact, Guardian Australia’s analysis found that in some cases partially selective schools are less advantaged than their neighbours.

But at fully selective schools such as Penrith high school in western Sydney, the Icsea is 1,163, compared with an average score of 976 at the 20 closest schools. Only 1% of the school’s students are from the bottom advantage quartile. At Jamison high school, about 3km away, the figure is 42%.

The trend is even apparent for schools in highly affluent areas of Sydney and Melbourne, though these have the smallest gap between selective and non-selective.

The difference comes in part because selective schools do not have geographic catchment areas like public schools and can therefore be attended by students from anywhere in the state.

Education data suggests some selective schools may be becoming more advantaged over time. In 2013 the average score for students at Macquarie Fields was 1,047, rising to 1,054 in 2017.

But changes to the way the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (Acara) calculates disadvantage means it’s impossible to accurately assess how much the school’s demographics have changed over a longer period.

Christina Ho, an academic from the University of Technology, Sydney, says selective schools are reinforcing class and cultural divisions.

“They’re elitist. And not only are they elitist but they’re becoming more elitist,” Ho says. Any review of selective schools’ admissions would amount to “tinkering around the edges” of a system she says has become “warped”.

“There is obviously an education culture emerging that means these schools have a certain kind of status within the community which is quite different to what it was designed to be,” she says.

“Selective schools were supposed to be public schools that were accessible for gifted kids. The fact that there are almost no disadvantaged kids in these schools tells us they’re no longer accessible and they’re not genuine public schools because they’re not open to anyone except the most advantaged families in NSW.”

Not everyone agrees the system is broken.

Jae Yup Jared Jung, a senior lecturer in the school of education at the University of NSW, says the positive role of gifted education programs such as academically selective schools is backed up by research.

He points to a 2016 US academic paper which reviewed 100 years of research on ability grouping in education.

The study, published in the Review of Educational Research, looked at 172 papers on “ability grouping” published between 1922 and 1994, and concluded that the “preponderance of existing evidence” suggested special grouping for gifted students can “greatly improve K–12 students’ academic achievement”.

He says the process of choosing students for selective schools “isn’t perfect”, but that the system helps gifted students advance faster by coupling them with students of similar ability.

“There are certain selective schools with students from a higher socioeconomic background than other schools, but you could say the same thing about the Catholic and independent sectors,” he says.

“There’s no perfect way of selecting students for selective schools, but I have confidence in the NSW department of education that the current systems are such that someone who doesn’t deserve to be there isn’t being permitted to enter.”

Brendan Ma graduated from James Ruse Agricultural high school in 2015. The school’s Icsea value of 1,236 is one of the highest in Australia, and in 2017 87% of its students came from the top advantage quartile. [And most are Asian]

But Icsea doesn’t consider income, and Ma says it is wrong to assume that most selective students come from advantaged backgrounds.

“I had a lot of friends from my cohort who would have parents working double jobs, coming from an immigrant background where their parents still didn’t have a strong grasp of English,” he says.

For Ma, going to a selective school meant getting access to opportunities he never would have been able to afford otherwise.

“For a lot of people at my school who might have worked really hard or been academically gifted there were a lot of opportunities to advance those gifts,” he says.

“Study tours, musical events, things that cost a lot money. Usually it wouldn’t be something they could go to because their parents couldn’t pay for it, but our school made a really strong effort to make sure they could provide opportunities at low cost or for free.”

Guardian Australia’s analysis also compared the percentage of selective school students from a language background other than English with that of neighbouring schools.

It found that across fully selective schools the average proportion of students from a non-English speaking background in 2017 was 66.5%, compared with 36.2% at nearby non-selective schools.

In some schools the difference was more stark. At James Ruse, 97% of students come from non-English speaking backgrounds, compared with 38.7% at nearby schools.

In February Guardian Australia reported on research showing Indigenous students were disproportionately represented in Australia’s most disadvantaged schools. Christina Ho argues that the concentration of students – mostly from east Asia – in selective schools is another example of “monocultures” forming within the education system.

“Because these schools are now seen as ‘too Asian’ there’s been a real backlash from non-Asian families, so Anglo Australians are now saying ‘those schools are not for us’,” she says.

But Ma, the James Ruse student, says being at a selective school allowed him to explore his identity.

“I think for a lot of students who did come from immigrant backgrounds it did in some way support their development of an identity,” he says.

“My experience coming from a Chinese immigrant background was that as a young person you get conflicting signals about what your identity should be or how you fit into the Australian landscape.

“I found though that I could be more comfortable with my identity at school. All those doubts I had about being proud of my heritage or language I could be open with people who understood.”

In January the NSW education minister, Rob Stokes, said he was concerned selective schools could “create a rigid, separated public education system”, and raised the idea of opening more selective schools to local enrolments.

Laura Perry, an associate professor specialising in education research at Murdoch University, says schools with partially selective academic programs in specific subject areas such as music or sports are preferable to fully selective schools, because they have the dual benefit of keeping high-performing students in the public sector while “promoting socially mixed schools”.

For Garcia-Pineda, despite experiencing a social divide between selective and community students at her school in western Sydney, there were benefits in being exposed to students from different backgrounds.

“I think for a lot of kids who were in the selective part of the school it was a good experience for them because they mostly came from families with money and weren’t always exposed to that,” she says.

“I know for me it was confronting. When I came to high school I didn’t know people who came from single-parent households [or] grew up living in housing commission.

“I think that’s a major benefit of a school with a mixture of backgrounds. You become a different kind of person. It opens your eyes a little bit.”



The Royal wedding

As a confirmed monarchist I did watch the Royal wedding on TV, mostly on Australia's channel 9.  So I thought I might note here a few desultory impressions of it.

The first thing I liked was all the splendid cars, old and new.  The old Rolls bringing the bride was particularly magnificent.  It was a 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom-iv.  But there were a lot of impressive vehicles delivering the wedding party.

Then I was pleased to see Prince Philip looking so well -- in remarkable health for age 96

I was pleased to see that both young Princes wore military uniform. They wore the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals  -- which is Harry's old regiment.  Both men were of course fully entitled to wear uniform as both had served in the armed forces in their younger days.  The Royal family is a military family -- as most European monarchies once were. I thought Prince Charles would be in uniform too but he wore a tailsuit in a rather horrible shade of grey.  He obviously didn't want to outshine his sons

It was good too that Harry kept his red beard.  Red-headed kids traditionally got bullied in British schoolyards but with the very popular Prince Harry being a red-head that must have been ameliorated. My father was a redhead so I have sympathy for redheads

It was good to see how Harry and William stopped to greet their Gurkha guards as they entered. Harry did of course work with Gurkhas when he was in the army in Afghanistan. They were the only people the Royal brothers stopped for.  That would have been noted and justly celebrated in Nepal.  The Gurkhas are held in huge respect in England. Here is one reason for that respect.

It was also good to see how the two brothers interacted while they were waiting. They are obviously a great support for one another.

The Dean of Windsor seemed rather tremulous.  He sounded like he might break down.  Since he was running the show, that would not have done.

When it came to the actual marriage service, Cantuar was in good voice -- a most experienced preacher.

There certainly were a lot of Christian expressions from all who spoke. It went on and on, very repetitiously. God was so frequently invoked that one got the impression that he must be hard of hearing. Harry must have been bored but military men learn patience so he outlasted it without apparent difficulty.

There was a pronounced African presence throughout the proceedings, presumably in deference to Meghan's partial ancestry.  The cellist was good but I was unimpressed by the rest of it.  Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry was very active and dramatic in his speech but all he did was state some extremely anodyne comments repetitiously and with a lot of noise.

But you can't expect much more from the Episcopalians. Homosexuality seems to be the only thing Episcopalians care about. Had the bishop quoted Romans 1:24-27 that might have livened things up.  As it was, his  speech was just way too long.  It was supposed to last 6 minutes but in a rather good demonstration of black ego he performed for 17 minutes. Never in the field of human preaching has so little been said for so long.

The  media generally praised his speech highly but what else could they do with a black bishop from the world's most politically correct church?

Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E King's soul classic Stand By Me during the service. It was repetitive but sung with a lot of energy.  I noted that Camilla looked horrified when they came on.  I thought it was just noise.

I noted that St George’s Chapel had a medieval "rude screen", behind which all the "magic" happened -- out of sight of most of the congregation. The chapel was built in the 14th century so it reflects its times.

And I was rather pleased to see beadles in use guiding people.  Is it only Anglicans who have beadles?  I have never seen one on the more Protestant services I am accustomed to.

The departure of the married couple in an Ascot Landau with a big Household Cavalry escort was of course what one expects of a great Royal occasion.  Some of the carriage horses were clearly a bit spooked by the cheering etc but they were well managed. If there is one thing the Royal family and their attendants know about it is horses.  It's an equestrian monarchy.  Even the Queen still rides -- but only ponies these days.

The bride:  I was rather surprised by the strong resemblance between Meghan and her mother, though I suppose I should not have been.  I had supposed that Meghan's fine features would have come from her Caucasian father but clearly she got a bit from both -- JR.


Birds are dropping dead off Australia's coast, and it's all our fault (?)

There is no doubt of the problem but its real cause is getting the Nelson's telescope treatment.  The marine plastic debris does NOT come from developed countries such as Australia.  Such countries have efficient waste collection systems (garbage trucks) which take the waste to a place where it can be dissposed of responsibly. So the debris is not from Western countries.  It comes from AFRICA and ASIA -- where people dispose of their rubbish by tossing it into their local river -- whence it flows to sea.

But reforming Africans and Asians is "too hard" so the do-gooders pretend that the problem is where it is not.  To admit its real source would be politically incorrect.

If they could bear for any length of time to admit reality, they MIGHT be able to do something useful for the problem -- putting garbage collection barriers across the mouths of the major African and Asian rivers.  But that would be too practical, of course.  Much more attractive to go around finger-pointing and criticizing your own society.

Deep in their burrows, hungry shearwater chicks on Lord Howe Island await a meal. Their parents have been scouring the sea in search of fish and squid. Instead, they return to feed their babies clothes pegs, bottle tops and Lego pieces.

The flesh-footed sheerwater population at Lord Howe Island is dwindling due to a tidal wave of marine plastic being mistaken for food.

After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.

Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.

“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.

‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”

The flesh-footed shearwaters embody what the United Nations has called a “planetary crisis” posed by an unremitting tide of marine plastic.

In the few decades since mass production began in the 1950s, plastic waste is overwhelming rivers and oceans – tossed into waterways, carried by stormwater and winds, and lost overboard from boats.

In Australia 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in the year to June 2013 - about 65 kilograms for each person. Only 20 per cent was recycled [The rest went to a proper tip]

Brisbane City Council this week committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons from all council events. Environmentalists say other federal, state and local governments can do much more.

University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers said the birds “are not picky eaters” and easily tricked by ocean plastic. She said the birds’ numbers are declining due to a range of pressures.

NSW Greens MP Justin Field, who travelled to Lord Howe Island this month, said single-use plastic items such as straws or utensils were often unnecessary and could be limited through stronger regulation.

“It is going to require much more than a recycling mentality. It might even include banning single-use plastics,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that food courts had ceramic plates and stainless steel knives and forks. We need to return to that type of thinking.”

A Senate report in 2016 presented 23 recommendations, including developing alternatives to plastic packaging and urgently putting marine plastic pollution on the Council of Australian Government agenda.

The federal government has not responded to the report. It is developing a threat abatement plan to reduce the impact of debris on marine life – a draft version of which Mr Angel described as “unbelievably weak”.

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the government’s Return and Earn scheme will help meet the state goal of reducing litter volumes by 40 percent by 2020, and 320 million drink containers had so far been returned.

Most major supermarkets will voluntarily phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags this year and NSW was taking part in a national microbead phase-out. The mass release of gas filled balloons is against the law in NSW.

The federal Department of the Environment and Energy said a recent meeting of environment ministers agreed all Australian packaging should be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier, that Australia’s recycling capabilities be increased and waste reduction be encouraged through consumer awareness, education and industry leadership. A national waste policy will be updated this year and government agencies will prioritise projects that convert waste to energy.



Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month thanks to global warming (?)

This is a classic example of how to lie with statistics.  The 400 month figure is presented as an apparent proof of continued global warming.  It is equally consistent with continued plateauing or anything in between. It is in fact consistent with global warming having stopped. Judging by the satellite data, some initial annual warming was followed by plateauing.  So global warming has in fact stopped.  The annual temperature average rose slightly from about 1975 to 2000 and is now back at about the 2000 level

Amusing that they rely heavily below on monthly temperature levels.  Even in a year with an unchanged annual average temperature, monthly temperatures will vary greatly.  There is this thing called the "seasons", for a start.

It must be embarrassing for them that they have to report "the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year".   Only the 5th?  The earth must be COOLING!

Also interesting that in North America the temperature COOLED.  America has a dense network of temperature measureing stations so the temperature there is much harder to "fiddle"  LOL.  As in Orwell's "1984", Warmists revise history a lot, as the disrespectful Tony Heller often documents

It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.

Last month marked the planet's 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.

"We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm," said NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt. "Speeding by a '400' sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new."

Climate scientists use the 20th-century average as a benchmark for global temperature measurements. That's because it's fixed in time, allowing for consistent "goal posts" when reviewing climate data. It's also a sufficiently long period to include several cycles of climate variability.

"The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we've spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline," Arndt said.

NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.

Portions of Asia also experienced some extreme heat: In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the globe, according to Meteo France.

Argentina also had its warmest April since national records began there in 1961.

North America was the one part of the world that didn't get in on the heat parade. Last month, the average U.S. temperature was 48.9 degrees, 2.2 degrees below average, "making it the 13th-coldest April on record and the coldest since 1997," NOAA said.

For the year-to-date, the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year.

A separate analysis of global temperature data from NASA also found last month was the third-warmest April on record.

Another milestone was reached in April, also related to the number "400": Carbon dioxide — the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming — reached its highest level in recorded history at 410 parts per million.

This amount is highest in at least the past 800,000 years, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.



Will Posting Nutritional Information on Menus Prod Diners to Make Healthier Choices?

Some studies say no effect.  Others say a very small effect. The article comes from a major medical journal so the authors  conclude in favour of providing the dietary information.  But that is more an expression of political correctness than anything else.  A conclusion that the doubtful benefits don't justify the costs would also be warranted.

Note that the authors are also politically correct in demonizing salt (sodium). That is very poorly informed from a medical viewpoint.  There is now much evidence that salt is helpful rather than harmful. See here, here and here

On May 7, all US chain restaurants with 20 or more locations—and that includes coffee shops, bakeries, and movie theaters that sell food—had to start posting the calorie content of their menu items.

The rationale behind the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate, set forth in the Affordable Care Act in 2010, was that it might make customers think twice about ordering a meal that contained more calories than they should consume in an entire day. But whether posting calorie counts will help trim the proportion of US adults and children who are overweight or obese remains to be seen.

“About half of consumers’ annual food dollars are spent on, and a third of total calories come from, foods prepared outside the home,” according to the FDA’s final rule on menu nutrition labeling, published in December 2014 (implementation of the rule has been postponed twice from its original date of December 1, 2015). “Research indicates that many people do not know, or underestimate, the calorie and nutrient content of these foods.”

US consumers have had nearly a quarter of a century to familiarize themselves with nutrition labeling on packaged foods, required by the FDA since 1994. Mandating the posting of calories in restaurants “is a really good start to be more consistent with the way we have labeling on packaged foods in grocery stores,” said Heather Eicher-Miller, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition science at Purdue University.

A number of jurisdictions already require chain restaurants to post calories, beginning in 2008 with New York City. In addition, some nationwide chains, such as Krispy Kreme and Subway, already post calories.

Evidence Is Thin

Evidence that providing calorie counts on restaurant foods spurs customers to ditch fettuccine alfredo for filet of sole is pretty thin. Even if diners do opt for the lower-calorie items, it’s not known whether they’ll compensate by eating more than they normally would at their next meal.

Eicher-Miller coauthored a meta-analysis in 2017 that concluded that menu labeling in restaurants did not result in a change in quantity or quality of calories consumed by US adults. “But that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful or important,” she said, explaining that only time and further research will tell whether the FDA’s mandate might eventually have the desired effect.

A recent Cochrane Review found that adding calorie information to menus in restaurants, coffee shops, and cafeterias could reduce calories purchased by about 8%, or by about 50 calories out of a 600-calorie meal. And there was no evidence that posting calories caused unintended harm by increasing the number of calories purchased or consumed.

The authors’ conclusion was not a ringing endorsement of menu nutritional labeling though, due to a dearth of high-quality studies. “We tentatively suggest that nutritional labeling on menus in restaurants could be used as part of a wider set of measures to tackle obesity,” they wrote. “Additional high-quality research in real-world settings is needed to enable more certain conclusions.”

Higher-quality studies are needed to answer 2 key questions, said Theresa Marteau, PhD, director of the Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge Institute of Public Health in the United Kingdom and a coauthor of the Cochrane Review. How should nutrition labeling on menus be designed to optimize the impact on purchasing and consumption, particularly for those in lower socioeconomic groups who might be more likely to benefit? And how effective are menu nutrition labels alongside other efforts to promote healthier diets, such as availability of healthier options and smaller portion sizes?

While these questions have yet to be answered, Marteau said, “we believe that there is sufficient evidence of effectiveness for the FDA to proceed with required nutritional labeling on menus and for the UK, and other jurisdictions, to move toward mandating this.”

Nutritional Illiteracy

One reason the research so far has failed to find much of an effect from posting calories is because relatively few consumers use the information, said Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University. At restaurants, Ohri-Vachaspati said, “we are all impulsive eaters, and we are all used to making impulsive decisions.”

In a study published in 2015, Ohri-Vachaspati and her coauthors found that 60% of people interviewed outside of McDonald’s restaurants said they had noticed nutritional information on the menu boards, but only 16% of them said they had considered it when deciding what to order. Higher income and having a bachelor’s degree or higher were independently associated with a greater likelihood of noticing as well as using the menu calorie labels.

Simply slapping calorie totals on a menu isn’t enough, Ohri-Vachaspati said. Diners need to understand what calories mean in the context of their daily diet. The FDA is requiring that menus must say “2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” However, not everyone grasps what that means, Ohri-Vachaspati said.

“I think that the average American consumer does not understand what calories are” or how many they should consume in a day, said Sara Bleich, PhD, professor of public health policy at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s unfortunate that it’s just calories that are being reported.”

Beyond Calories

Besides posting total calories on menus or menu boards, restaurants must have available “on the premises” printed information about 10 other nutrients in their dishes, including grams of fat, carbohydrate, protein, and fiber and milligrams of cholesterol and sodium, according to the FDA.

Whether customers will actually use that information is another matter. “People generally do not ask for nutrition information beyond what’s printed on the menu,” said Karen Byrd, PhD, MBA, a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition, dietetics, and food management at Murray State University in Kentucky.

A recent study by Byrd and Eicher-Miller and coauthors suggests that it might be more useful to post sodium content on menus instead of calories, especially considering that US adults get approximately a third of their total daily sodium intake from restaurant foods.

Many US adults consume more than the recommended daily limit of 2300 mg of sodium, according to a recent study in JAMA led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers. They estimated that the average daily sodium intake of US adults was 3608 mg.

In her study, Byrd examined whether sodium warnings required on chain restaurant menus in New York City since 2015 had any effect. The restaurants are supposed to place a triangular icon with a salt shaker in the middle next to menu items that have 2300 mg of sodium or more.

“Based on my research, that’s not effective,” possibly because only 17% of all menu items contained at least 2300 mg of sodium, making it easy for consumers to overlook the icon, said Byrd, who conducted the study while on the Purdue faculty.

However, posting the number of milligrams of sodium next to each item on the menu did make a difference, although it depended on whether people perceived relatively healthier foods as tasty. Those who liked to eat healthy food selected meals with lower sodium content, Byrd found. On the other hand, 1 in 5 participants in her study said they thought lower-sodium foods weren’t tasty, so posting the sodium content drove them to order higher-sodium menu items.

In contrast, posting calories made no difference in the calorie content of the meals ordered, even among participants who thought healthy foods were tasty, Byrd’s study found.

Restaurants’ Role

Even participants in Byrd’s study who opted for lower-sodium menu items were unable to reduce their sodium intake at one meal to below 2300 mg, the maximum recommended daily intake, because so many dishes came close to or exceeded that level.

“Additional action by the restaurant industry to reduce the sodium content of restaurant foods, as proposed by the FDA, may be necessary to make a significant public health impact,” she and her coauthors wrote.

The problem is that simply eliminating salt added in the preparation of food or at the table might not meaningfully alter sodium intake in the population because it remains high in commercially processed foods, Joachim Ix, MD, MAS, and Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, MS, both of the University of California, San Diego, wrote in an editorial accompanying the CDC study in JAMA. “Because of this, strategies to reduce sodium intake should focus at the population level first and should include the industries that supply processed foods, beverages, and menu items,” Ix and Anderson wrote.

Recent research by Bleich suggests that large US restaurant chains are moving in that direction by cutting calories and sodium in their new menu items.

In one study, she and her coauthors found that the calorie-adjusted sodium content in newly introduced menu items in the 66 top-earning restaurant chains declined by 104 mg from 2012 to 2016. “However,” they wrote, “sodium content of core and new menu items remains high, and reductions are inconsistent across menu categories and restaurant types.”

In another study, Bleich and her coauthors found that items dropped from the chains’ menus during that period contained 71 more calories than the items that remained on the menu. “I think that’s probably a reflection of shifting consumer demands,” Bleich said.

Diners’ behavior is resistant to change, but eliminating higher-calorie menu items might have a “significant and positive impact on population health,” she and her coauthors wrote.

“The overarching point is it’s an overall good trend,” she said of the lowering of sodium and calories in restaurants, although “we want to keep an eye on some red flags.” For example, Bleich said, to cut calories, restaurant chains are often replacing healthy fats with sugar, which could leave customers less sated.

The mandated posting of calories in restaurants will likely motivate them to reformulate more dishes, Bleich predicted. “You don’t want to be known as the restaurant that has the highest-calorie appetizer.”



Where have all the babies gone?

Reducing the population is a big Greenie goal and they have convinced some foolish women to make the life-shattering decision to avoid having babies.  Women that foolish  and unnatural are probably not much of a loss from the gene pool however.

And it is not only conservatism that tends to stand athwart the trend to a baby drought.  Many religious people and economists also deplore it.  The Catholic church has an adamantine opposition to contraception -- so adamantine that even the heretical Pope Francis suports it.  But, like many church teachings, that one has largely fallen by the wayside.  There are now few Catholics who heed it.  Thank goodness for the Mormons, I guess.  And a shout-out to the remarkable Duggar family is surely appropriate here too.

As we see below, however, the baby bust has now hit the USA, mainly because minority women too have now caught on to the trend.  Prosperity has now influenced them too.  And it does seem clear that prosperity is the culprit -- enabled by the pill, of course.  When you have a  kindly welfare state to help you when you are sick or old, who needs kids?

Answer:  Everybody and nobody.  Nobody in the USA now needs kids for economic reasons.  But life is not all economics.  We do have other needs and other pleasures.  And babies are big in both those arenas.  Children are undoubtedly life's greatest pleasure.  As  ever, there is some pain with the gain but it is only the very unlucky where the pain is not well worthwhile.  And for real women, a baby is a need.  The many women who undergo IVF are one testimony to that.

Still there are many women who have one or two children only and I am not going to criticize that decision.  The women who have more than two are the key, however.  We need them to make up the many women who, for good reasons or bad, have no children.

Politicians of course love babies.  They see them as future taxpayers.  So many countries -- France was the first, I think, now have pro-natalist policies of various sorts.  They do what they can to encourage and accelerate baby-making.  Singapore has probably the most extreme of such policies but Russia has made great efforts too.  Australia actually pays for babies.

So  should the USA go down that road too?  Does it all really matter?  I'm doubtful.

As a kid, my hair was so fair that I remember being addressed as "Snowy".  So I like to think that will continue.  I would like to think that there will be many like me in the future.  And, where I hang out most of the time, I do see quite a few mothers with little snowy-haired kids.  And I love to see them.

Intermarriage does of course threaten that.  Australia's big (about 5%) minority is Chinese and the young Chinese ladies go all out to snag a tall Caucasian man.  So a tall Caucasian man with a small Asian lady on his arm is rather frequently seen in my neck of the woods.  And I see the fruit of that too. I myself now have  Chinese relatives -- in that a tall, blue-eyed cousin of mine married a Chinese lady who produced a brilliant and  beautiful Eurasian daughter.  Eurasians are commonly seen as good-looking and tend to be smart too.  So more Eurasians would please me.  But I do regret than none of them will ever be "snowys".

But nonetheless, most people marry others with backgrounds similar to themselves.  Psychologists even have a term for it.  They call it "assortative mating".  So it seems to me that there will always be snowys somewhere, even if in diminished numbers.

But hair color is a side issue.  Are there any other reasons why we should fear population shrinkage? I can't see it.  The USA could end up like Brazil or Mexico, where people of European ancestry rule the roost, despite most of the population being of non-European origin.  And that means that the entire population is ghettoized.  Whites live in walled-off areas in habitations that are much like European habitations elsewhere in the world -- and non-whites live in often very rudimentary accommodation.  In short, people will rise to whatever standard of living that they are capable of.  There will be exceptions to that, of course, but it is averages I am concerned with here.

So if the baby shortage among American whites leads to a demographic overturn that leaves whites in a minority, I think the effect of that on white lifestyles will be small. The crime problem will increase and foolish government restrictions on business will limit prosperity but walled estates and security guards are just some of the measures that can keep crime at bay for the more affluent population segment, while foolish government regulations are regrettably common everywhere. Obama and the Greenies did their best to throttle American prosperity but even under that regime there was some economic growth.

Economic restrictions just lead to ways for circumventing them -- the famous "black markets" are a case in point and successful entrepreneurship just entails a degree of corruption.  Italy today is a very prosperous place with many rich people (and over a thousand admirals!) but by most estimates about a third of the Italian economy is "black".

So I think that even under some fairly dire outcomes of a prolonged baby bust among American whites, a white population will continue to flourish for a long time.

If the baby bust goes on for a very long time, American whites would of course die out -- to cheers from whatever is left of the Greenies -- but that is not likely.  Even in today's world there are many maternal women who just hunger for a baby so they will continue to reproduce themselves regardless of what others do.  It may be that the white population will come to consist entirely of their progeny  -- in which case we will see a white population INCREASE occurring, even if off a much smaller base than we have today.

The United States just hit a 40-year low in its fertility rate, according to numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2017 provisional estimate of fertility for the entire U.S. indicates about 3.85 million births in 2017 and a total fertility rate of about 1.76 births per women.

These are low numbers: births were as high as 4.31 million in 2007, and the total fertility rate was 2.08 kids back then.



Who are the Mass. voters supporting Scott Lively?

The 2018 Massachusetts gubernatorial election will take place on November 6, 2018. The primary is scheduled for September 4, 2018. Incumbent RINO Governor Charlie Baker is running for re-election to a second term in office. He is very popular in Mass. so will win the Republican primary and subsequently the governorship. He has a real Republican challenger in the primary, Scott Lively, who has no hope of winning so some people are wondering why he is standing.  A report from the Leftist Boston Globe below

The Globe treats as ludicrous Lively's claims about the homosexual element in Nazism but it is well documented here

In addition to such well-known homosexuals as Roehm and Schirach at the top of the Nazi hierarchy there were others such as Heines -- whom Shirer ("The Rise and fall of the Third Reich") describes thus: "Edmund Heines, the Obergruppenfuehrer of Silesia... a notorious homosexual" (p. 307). Silesia is of course a major industrial area of great historic significance so command of the Nazis there was no mean post. Could a "notorious homosexual" get a prominent party job anywhere else in the world at that time? I think not. So Nazism did in its times embody an exceptional degree of "gay lib". Arguably it was in fact the first flowering of "gay-lib"

Roehm (L) and Heines (R)

DEMOCRATS WANT BIG WINS in the November midterm elections. But in primaries last week in Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia, not a single Republican critic of President Trump survived. In Massachusetts, nearly 28 percent of delegates to the state GOP convention last month voted for Scott Lively over Charlie Baker, the most popular governor in the country.

Lively has claimed that gays controlled the Third Reich. He also calls himself “100 percent pro-life,” “100 percent Second Amendment,” and “100 percent pro-Trump.”

Who are these Lively voters? Activists who want to send Baker a message to move to the right? Anti-gay bigots? Or mega-fans of Donald Trump, whose own extremes freed them up to support the ultra-extreme Lively?

It’s Trump, says Todd Domke, a long-time Republican analyst who resigned from the GOP after Trump’s election. The GOP base here is more conservative and populist than most realize, he says, and a president’s appeal is huge. Domke sites Ray Shamie’s stunning win over Watergate star and former Attorney General Elliot Richardson in the state’s GOP primary in 1984. Shamie wrapped himself around the swaggering Ronald Reagan. Richardson? Not so much.

The convention vote to put anti-gay crusader Scott Lively on the primary ballot is a self-inflicted black eye for the state’s Republicans.

Now we’re talking supper-swaggering Trump, a TV star billionaire with a cult-like appeal who drives liberal elites bananas. At a Belchertown Flag Day celebration last year, Lively supporter Chris Pinto of Massachusetts Gun Rights gave a speech detailing most every nasty remark made by such elites about Trump. Among them: Madonna, Robert DeNiro, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Colbert, Kathy Griffin, Snoop Dogg, YG, and Everlast.

Richard Howell, another Lively supporter, says that zeal for Trump turned into zeal for Lively, who’s wrapped himself around Trump completely. [Mass. governor] Baker, meanwhile, has kept his distance. He even blanked the 2016 presidential ballot, voting for neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton.

But it’s not just where Trump “stands on the issues,” says Howell. “It’s performance. Trump is not going to be threatened or intimidated.” And neither, he says, is Lively.

What about those Trump issues? The Iran deal? The Mueller investigation? Michael Cohen and his links to the Russian mob? All those women who’ve accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment?

Howell says he loves what the president is doing “with the mullahs in Iran.” He calls the Mueller investigation a “deep state operation” and wonders why nobody ever prosecuted Clinton for her e-mails. “If there were any truth to (the women’s claims) it would’ve come out sooner,” he says.

The zeal for President Trump turned into zeal for Lively.
You talk to deep-red Massachusetts Lively conservatives, and you realize: Although their numbers are tiny, their ideas echo talking points you heard in reports from Indiana and Ohio and daily on “Fox News.” Though no one I talked to embraced Lively’s crusade against homosexuality, they do oppose gay marriage and transgender rights. But mostly, they love Trump on guns, the wall, and anti-abortion judges.

Massachusetts’ progressives, meanwhile, may as well live in a different galaxy. They’re horrified by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to separate children from mothers at border crossings. They love talk of Cohen’s “slush fund” for porn stars and CNN debates between Alan Dershowitz and Jeffrey Toobin over Trump’s taking “the Fifth.”

GOP activist Steve Aylward of Watertown says he couldn’t vote for Charlie Baker, “who’s supported every kooky liberal program there is, from the bathroom bill (his term for transgender legislation) to bilingual education to this most recent crime bill, which may as well be called the let-people-out-of-jail bill.” Aylward, famed in state conservative circles for successfully leading the defeat of the 2014 gas hike ballot proposal, insists Lively support “has very little to do with gay rights. This is the anti-Baker Trump vote, if it was Scott Lively or Joe the Plumber.”

None of this is to argue that Charlie Baker needs to worry about Scott Lively on Election Day. But Trump fever clearly still thrives here in blue Massachusetts. And if it thrives here, Democrats may yet face a long, tough slog across America this fall.




I follow the report below by the underlying journal article.  It is under the lead-authorship of none other than that dedicated Warmist Kevin Trenberth.  The article is actually a retreat.  The latest schtick from Trenberth and other Warmists is to admit that hurricanes have NOT become more frequent but have become stronger. Global warming sure is selective in its effects!

Some comments from meteorologist Joe Bastardi offering another interpretation of what happened:

The counter to this was written last year,  because it was just a matter of time before this came out.

Harvey could not have dumped that much rain without the major cold trough that trapped it. Also it was not as bad as Flora over eastern Cuba that got blocked in 1963 -- prompting Castro to blame the US.

The point is I wrote this last year, because it was just a matter of time before this started.

They are weaponizing weather, and this is a classic example

AS COASTAL cities brace for the coming hurricane season, the destruction of the last one is still having a big impact, particularly on the hobbled island of Puerto Rico. And scientists are already able to draw some big warnings from last year’s carnage. “Several aspects of the 2017 season were not ‘natural,’ ” a team of researchers wrote in a paper published this week in Earth’s Future, a peer-reviewed journal run by the American Geophysical Union. “The first was the role of human-induced climate change.”

About humanity’s role in worsening the catastrophe, the scientists left little doubt: “While hurricanes occur naturally, human-caused climate change is supercharging them and exacerbating the risk of major damage.”

Noting that 2017 saw three enormous hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, they focused on Harvey and the intense flooding it caused in Houston. Before Harvey came through, the oceans were the hottest on record. This heat kept the hurricane going — and more. The scientists found that, when Harvey traversed the Gulf of Mexico, it soaked up ocean heat via evaporation, packing more moisture into the atmosphere. Harvey then dumped record amounts of rain on Houston, flooding large swaths of the city. “Record high ocean heat values not only increased the fuel available to sustain and intensify Harvey, but also increased its flooding rains on land,” the researchers found. “Harvey could not have produced so much rain without human-induced climate change.”

Harvey was only a single event. But it was a spectacular one, and a useful case because the researchers could study its before-and-after effects reasonably isolated from other environmental influences.

It is still a matter of debate whether climate change will increase the number of hurricanes, but it is more and more clear that human-caused heating of the planet will boost their severity. “There will be a warmer and wetter world over oceans, and more energy available for evaporation,” the researchers wrote. Nearly all of the extra heat trapped by the greenhouse gases that humans have produced goes into the oceans. More heat in the oceans means more water vapor and, therefore, heavier rain and more flooding.


Hurricane Harvey links to Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change Adaptation

Kevin E. Trenberth et al.


    While hurricanes occur naturally, human‐caused climate change is supercharging them and exacerbating the risk of major damage. Here, using ocean and atmosphere observations, we demonstrate links between increased upper ocean heat content due to global warming with the extreme rainfalls from recent hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey provides an excellent case study as it was isolated in space and time. We show that prior to the beginning of northern summer of 2017, ocean heat content was the highest on record both globally and in the Gulf of Mexico, but the latter sharply decreased with hurricane Harvey via ocean evaporative cooling. The lost ocean heat was realized in the atmosphere as moisture, and then as latent heat in record‐breaking heavy rainfalls. Accordingly, record high ocean heat values not only increased the fuel available to sustain and intensify Harvey, but also increased its flooding rains on land. Harvey could not have produced so much rain without human‐induced climate change. Results have implications for the role of hurricanes in climate. Proactive planning for the consequences of human‐caused climate change is not happening in many vulnerable areas, making the disasters much worse.



Donald Trump’s Mommy Issues

The report below is very light on evidence. It is by an amateur psychologist, PETER LOVENHEIM, who has devoted himself to "Attachment Theory" -- the claim that you need to have a lot of nurturance from your mother in the first 4 years of you life to grow up psychologically healthy.

It is a theory from John Bowlby, an early British psychoanalyst who was disowned by other psychoanaysts, who think the father is the key.  Bowlby himself lost his mother when he was about 4 so that seems to be the genesis of the theory.  Psychologists today -- such as Rutter -- generally think there is something in the Bowlby theory but see it as only one of several influences

But when you have got a hammer everything looks like a nail and Lovenheim sees attachment theory as an explanation of Trump's behaviour.  As Trump always talks warmly of his mother, that would seem to disprove the Lovenheim theory but Lovenheim thinks he knows better what Trump feels.  It's all just speculation.

For what it's worth, I just think Trump was rather spoilt in his upbringing but it has not hurt his ability to empathize with normal people

Donald Trump is easily the most psychoanalyzed president of modern times. His decision-making style and behavior have been hotly debated by journalists, voters, politicians, world leaders and pundits who have bestowed upon him any number of fanciful, grave-sounding mental conditions, calling him, among other things, a narcissist, a sociopath, a psychopath and a paranoiac. Trump has said he distrusts mental health professionals, so we don’t have access to a formal assessment of his psychology. But colloquially speaking, perhaps the best explanation for the president’s behavior dates back to his earliest interactions with his mother.

Although I’m not a psychologist, I have spent years researching a major field of psychology known as attachment theory for a book. According to the science of attachment—developed in the second half of the 20th century by British psychotherapist John Bowlby—we’re hardwired at birth to attach to a competent and reliable caregiver for protection because we are born helpless. The success or failure of this attachment affects all our relationships throughout life—in the workplace, on the athletic field, with loved ones—and yes, even in politics. Children who bond successfully with a primary caregiver—usually this is the mom but it could also be the dad, grandparent, nanny or other adult—grow up with what is termed a “secure” attachment. As adults, they tend to be confident, trusting of others, resilient in the face of setbacks, and able to enjoy long, stable relationships. Children who fail to achieve a successful attachment, on the other hand, may as adults have a lack of comfort with intimacy, difficulty trusting others, a constant need for reassurance from relationship partners, and a lack of resilience when faced with illness, injury or loss.

The biographical record is fairly strong on Trump’s failure to develop a healthy emotional attachment to either of his parents. It may have contributed to his tumultuous personal life, but it also endowed him with some traits that made him well-suited to his late-career entry in politics.

Donald Trump is the fourth of five children of Fred and Mary Trump. Because his father was busy building a real estate business, and it was the mid-20th century when dads didn’t typically do a lot of early child care, his mother cared for the children (with the help of a live-in maid) and was their primary “attachment figure.” What factors may have affected the quality of young Donald’s early care—his own temperament as an infant; the role, if any, of the family’s maid in child care; the demands on his mother’s time and energy of three older children and a subsequent pregnancy—we don’t know. The president’s own writings are largely silent about his early childhood; journalists and biographers fill in only some of the blanks.

But we do know that Mary Trump became seriously ill from complications during labor with her last child. An emergency hysterectomy and subsequent infections and surgeries followed—four in two weeks, one of her oldest daughters once said. As a result, at just two years and two months of age, Trump endured the trauma of the prolonged absence and life-threatening illness of his mother. It’s not clear how long she was incapacitated. Indeed, we don’t know that she ever really re-engaged with her son. According to a Politico Magazine story on Mary Trump, there’s evidence that Mary and her son didn’t interact much during his childhood (more on this later).

Infants who fail to receive that kind of care usually fall into one of two categories as adults. Either they have what’s called attachment anxiety—leading them as adults to crave intimacy but have difficulty trusting others and constantly seeking reassurance—or they have attachment avoidance, where as adults they generally distrust others and convince themselves they don’t need close relationships. The relationships they do have are often unstable. They also tend to be excessively self-reliant and desire a high level of independence. These last two traits—self-reliance and independence—are not necessarily disadvantageous, of course. They might be just the right recipe, for example, for an entrepreneur.

The only way to be certain of President Trump’s attachment style would be for him to take the Adult Attachment Interview, an hour-long, structured interview that is considered the gold standard for assessing attachment in adults. Since that isn’t likely to happen, we’ll have to make an educated guess. While mental health professionals are constrained by ethical standards to avoid diagnosing public figures they haven’t personally examined, I am not bound by those rules. Based on my seven years of research, reading countless academic studies and interviewing leading attachment researchers worldwide, I’m willing to say what they can’t. I would peg President Trump’s attachment style as avoidant. Here are my three reasons:

First, Mary Trump’s major health crisis appears to have compromised her efforts—no matter how well-intentioned—to care reliably for young Donald.

Second, as previously reported in Politico Magazine, Trump has over the years said many flattering things about his mother, calling her “fantastic” and “tremendous.” He’s also described her as “very warm” and “very loving.” And yet, I find no stories or other anecdotes of early childhood that support these sentiments. In fact, friends of the Trump family who knew the Trump kids when they were young have reported they “rarely saw Mrs. Trump” and that Donald, while “in awe” of his father, was “very detached from his mother.” A characteristic of adults with avoidant attachment is the tendency to idolize one’s parents without supporting evidence.

Finally, much of the president’s behavior, both before and since he took office, is clearly consistent with attachment avoidance: His powerful sense of self-reliance and near-inability to acknowledge self-doubt; his bragging about his sexual relations; his almost complete lack of close friends; his multiple marriages; and his unstable relationships with White House staff, Cabinet members and congressional leaders of both parties.

Trump’s almost compulsive need to be in the spotlight might be evidence of attachment anxiety if it were aimed primarily at needing approval. But in the president’s case, it appears to be more about needing admiration. Overt narcissism or grandiose self-regard, the leading attachment researchers Mario Mikulincer and Philip R. Shaver report, is associated with attachment avoidance.

By any number of measures, President Trump may be seen as an anomaly among politicians—after all, how many people have run for precisely one political office and landed directly in the White House?—but if my hunch is correct, in this one trait—attachment avoidance—Trump may, in fact, be rather typical.

Attachment avoidance accounts for about 25 percent of the general population, with about 55 percent of people being secure, 15 percent anxious and 5 percent disorganized (often those who were neglected or maltreated in childhood). But in the course of my research, I asked questions from the Adult Attachment Interview to diverse officials: a former presidential nominee, current and former members of Congress and a mayor. With only one exception, their results indicated attachment avoidance.

Some of this may be because avoidance—though generally not the ideal for anyone—does confer some advantages for the political lifestyle. Avoidant athletes, for example, do well when they compete individually—as politicians do in elections. Avoidant people travel well—think never-ending campaign trail—feeling little need to be near loved ones. And the avoidant person’s general reluctance to trust others can act like protective radar in a field like politics that is rife with betrayal and double-dealing.

Avoidant politicians have one more quality that under the right circumstances can lead to success in office: They are quick to respond to threats and to take action. In a clever study in 2011 where test subjects were exposed to what appeared to be a threatening situation (a room gradually filling with smoke because of a supposedly malfunctioning computer), people high in attachment avoidance—who prize independence and self-reliance—were the first to find a way out to safety for themselves and others.

So is having a president with an avoidant attachment style good or bad? According to attachment theory, human relationships would generally be healthier and more stable if more people had a sensitive and consistent caregiver during infancy—and grew up to have a secure attachment style. So it is likely that leaders with secure attachment—as, for example, Franklin Roosevelt had, according to researchers—can become truly transformational by encouraging and uplifting the population in times of crisis. And while it’s true that people with attachment avoidance can often be personally successful—in business and other individually focused activities—there are requirements for public office, such as the ability to connect emotionally with constituents or at times to act selflessly—that may be difficult for those with attachment avoidance to muster. While it is too early for history to judge this presidency, understanding President Trump’s likely attachment style—and the attachment styles of all our political leaders—can give us important insights into their behavior and actions in office.

We should keep in mind that as voters, we have attachment styles, too. According to research, these may affect our political leanings and the relationships we have with elected leaders.

Secure voters, for example, tend to be tolerant of ambiguity, flexible in their political views, and thus disinclined to embrace any rigid dogmatism, As such, secure voters are most often found in the political center. Insecure voters, on the other hand, may be attracted to the perceived safety of dogmatism and are more likely to be found on the far-left or far-right. For example, anxious voters—seeking security in a world that feels threatening—may find comfort in a liberal orthodoxy that advocates redistribution of wealth and political power, and aggressively demands “inclusion” and protection in the form of a care-giving government. Avoidant voters, on the other hand, often distrusting others and prizing self-reliance, may embrace a strident conservatism, both economic (the world is a “competitive jungle”) and military (“we can only depend on our own strength”).

So as we think about President Trump, we might consider that his presidency—and our personal reactions to it—may be influenced not only be his attachment style, but also our own.



Needy students squeezed at UMass Amherst

Once again we encounter the sense of entitlement that leftists encourage.  Some students think they are entilted to go to Amherst simply because they want to.  The reality is that  Amherst charges high fees in order to pay for what it takes to support its vast facilities and elite reputation.  

But poor students are not deprived of a good education.  They could go to UMass Lowell with very little out-of-pocket costs. Lowell is a big, selective, well established research-based university in a pleasant riverine location that will give you all you need if you have the ability.  And Lowell is much closer to Boston

Until recently, Massachusetts students of limited means could readily find a path to the state’s flagship public university and earn a degree that would likely catapult them up the economic ladder. But increasingly, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is moving out of reach for the state’s best and brightest if they don’t have a big enough bank account.

Rising tuition costs, fewer federal loan options, and a dip in financial aid have left some high school seniors in Massachusetts struggling this year to come up with thousands of additional dollars to pay for tuition.

After federal loans, institutional aid, and work-study money have been factored in, some of the neediest admitted freshmen will still have to come up with $8,130 on average this year if they want a seat at UMass Amherst, compared with $5,500 each of the last two years — a 48 percent increase. For some, that out-of-pocket expense is even bigger.

“This is not a good look. . . . A public university is supposed to be affordable,” said Kevin Fudge, the director of consumer advocacy at American Student Assistance, who is advising a single mother who has to finance $14,000 in costs annually to send her daughter to UMass Amherst. “A $14,000 bill for a high-needs student at a public university is pretty surprising. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I hope it’s not the start of a new trend.”

UMass Amherst officials said the university continues to support low-income state students and offers a much more generous financial aid package than many other flagship schools across the country.

“We stack up well,” to other large public universities, said Ed Blaguszewski, a UMass Amherst spokesman, when it comes to helping its low-income students. “Our commitment to this is longstanding.”

But officials acknowledge that the financial burden on families climbed for the incoming freshmen class. University officials blamed several factors.

The estimated in-state tuition for UMass Amherst for the upcoming school year increased by about $1,300, or more than 4 percent over last year, to $31,330. In addition, the federal government ended the Perkins Loan program, which provided low-interest loans of about $1,000 to needy students. The school also slightly decreased the need-based grants it offers students by $250 to $15,700.

Taken together, that means the neediest freshmen will have to cover on average about $8,130 of the costs annually, according to UMass Amherst’s calculations.

That spike is much higher than at UMass Lowell.

Incoming needy freshmen will have to cover $2,600 of the tuition costs at the Lowell campus this fall, compared to $2,200 last year and $1,950 in 2016.

UMass Amherst has traditionally been more competitive and expensive than the other campuses, such as UMass Lowell and UMass Boston. But Lowell also provides more grants and institutional aid on average to its needy students, about $18,820 to offset the $29,920 in tuition and fees.

UMass Lowell officials said the school also hasn’t relied heavily on the Perkins Loan and stopped automatically offering it to incoming students in 2015, because of fears the government would end the program.

For low-income students aiming for UMass Amherst, the options are limited, college admissions counselors said.

They can choose to take on more debt, such as parent-student loans or private loans. They can also apply for as many scholarships as possible in the hope of covering the difference between the costs at UMass Amherst and the aid the school has offered them. Or they can take on a part-time job.

“I worked really hard all high school to be hit with this reality, ‘Oh, you can’t afford it,’ ” said Yaleiny Feliz, a senior at Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain. “It feels that there’s such a heavy burden on students who are low income. It’s a setup for failure.”

Feliz, whose mother is a medical assistant and still paying off her own student loans, received grants and a federal loan to help offset the cost but was still left to pay $8,000 on her own next year.

This week, she learned that a scholarship will help her cover some of those costs; she will also have to take out a more expensive unsubsidized federal loan.

Across the country, students such as Feliz are increasingly having to scramble to afford their state’s flagship public university or are being shut out, said Stephen Burd, a senior policy analyst with New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Faced with declining financial support from state legislators, many of these universities are directing their limited financial aid dollars to attract wealthier students, many of them from out-of-state, who will pay more in tuition and help the campus climb up in the competitive rankings, burnishing their reputations, Burd said.

“Public flagship universities were meant to serve the children of all of the citizens in a state, not just the financial elite,” Burd said. “Unfortunately, more and more of these institutions are increasingly spending financial aid to attract wealthy students, while closing their doors to those who need the help the most.”

UMass Amherst continues to spend a bulk of its nearly $100 million in institutional aid money on low-income students, and more than three-quarters of its undergraduates are from Massachusetts. But the school’s share of money devoted to students without need has been climbing dramatically in recent years.

In 2016, 26 percent of the scholarships and grant funds awarded by UMass Amherst went to students who didn’t need money, up from just 8 percent in 2010, according to statistics the campus has reported. The number of freshmen without need who were awarded financial aid increased from almost 370 students in 2010 to more than 1,320 students during that same period.

These more economically well-off, out-of-state students are bringing in revenue to UMass Amherst and helping to lower costs for the state’s students, said James Roche, the university’s vice provost of enrollment.

The university this school year spent $30 million on merit aid to offset tuition costs for out-of-state undergraduates. But those students also brought in $85 million through net revenue, according to UMass Amherst. “The out-of-state students are supporting the lower tuition for in-state students,” Roche said. “It makes the whole institution stronger.”

Still, for Vivian Du, a senior at Malden High School, the price of UMass Amherst after she received her financial aid package came as sticker shock. She will have to take out about $8,000 in federal and private loans annually, even after getting a private $5,000 annual scholarship, Du said.

“It’s really hard,” Du said. “It’s my top choice, and I have to pay so much money for it. It was not as affordable as I was thinking.”



The ultimate feat of projection:  Leftist academics describe conservatives as being like Leftist academics

That's a bit hard to get your head around, isn't it? After years of reading and researching in political psychology, I have only just realized it fully myself. Projection consists of seeing your own faults in others and Leftists do it all the time. So it is interesting that the major academic Leftist account of what a bad lot conservatives are should list characteristics that are actually very prominent in Leftists themselves. And as Leftists the academics partake of those characteristics too.

It all started with a 1950 book under the lead-authorship of noted Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno (born Theodor Wiesengrund), a Jewish refugee from Hitler's Germany.  The book was called "The authoritarian personality" and had a theme only a Marxist could love:  The claim  that it was conservatives, not Leftists who were authoritarian.

And that claim was made just after the socialist Hitler had been defeated and the vast Soviet tyranny was straddling the Northern half of Eurasia -- a Communist  empire that stretched from Leningrad on the Baltic to Vladivostok on the Pacific.  That was a big blob of authoritarianism to overlook.

But in typical Leftist style, Adorno and his merry men (and one woman) were not concerned with actual on the ground reality.  They were concerned with POTENTIAL or theoretical authoritarianism.  And where would one look for that?  To conservatives of course.  To people who are skeptical of authority and who believe in democracy and the rule of law.  Apparently that makes sense in some weird Freudian sort of way.  And Adorno loved Freud nearly as much as he loved that great hater, Karl Marx.

When Adorno arrived in the USA he saw much that he thought was reminiscent of Hitler's Germany.  There were a lot of rather tough-minded social attitudes about.  He was right about that.  America at the time was at the tail end of a long dominance by "Progressives", with eugenics being widely accepted and practiced and Jews being kept at arm's length and away from much that was desirable in America -- such as enrollment at Harvard.  The Progressives and Hitler differed not so much in attitudes but in the fact that Hitler applied those attitudes with German thoroughness.

The idea of war as a purification of the human spirit and territorial conquest being a source of national glory had rather gone off the boil in America by that time but Hitler learnt those ideas off an American President who had been world-famous in Hitler's youth: Theodore Roosevelt, the man who was instrumental in the American conquest of Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. TR himself rather went off those ideas when one of his sons died in WWI but those ideas were still widely respected in America. TR was a great Progressive. He even founded a short-lived Progressive party and he personally remained widely respected and admired in America.

So you could see why Adorno feared a Nazi uprising in America.  The ideology was there.  But Adorno was a European.  He didn't understand the Anglo-Saxon temperament, traditions or ideas about government.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt had already gone as far as he could in enacting Progressivism in America and there was no chance that Americans would accept a Hitler-like regime.  Shortly after the Adorno book was published, Americans elected the conservative "Ike" (Eisenhower) to the Presidency, with Richard Milhous Nixon as Vice president.  Ike of course had made his name by playing a major role in the destruction of Nazism.

So how did Adorno & Co. put flesh on their naive fears about Americans?  They resorted to their old friend Sigmund Freud. Freud had told a merry tale about how a stern father could psychologically ruin a son for life (In Freud's era a stern father was thought to be rather a good thing) and Adorno had the brilliant idea that a son's relationship with his father was a relationship with an authority figure.  Therefore Freud's ideas told us all about our attitude to authoritarian governments. Despite much contrary evidence, that idea lives on to this day in the world of a-historical Leftist psychologists such as George Lakoff and Karen Stenner. See here for some of the research evidence that contradicts that neo-Freudian theorizing.

Anyway, from their Freudian ideas Adorno & Co deduced a whole series of personal characteristics that would be found in a pro-authority person.  He would show conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intellectualism, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, an admiration of power and "toughness", destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sex. Later authors would amplify that to say that the authoritarian would be rigid, closed minded and dogmatic in his beliefs, intolerant of ambiguity, not open to experience or novelty.

So there you have the typical conservative, a thoroughly bad egg!  But is that true?  No.  Every one of those characterizations has been found unsupported in subsequent research.  The first half of Altemeyer's 1981 book "Right-Wing Authoritarianism" gives a pretty thorough coverage of the contrary research. I see that a copy of that book is going for $499 on Amazon.  I should sell my copy.  Altemeyer's publisher, the University of Manitoba Press, sent me my copy for free.

Many of my academic publications also test and find wanting the Adorno theories.

So are there any real persons who fit the Adorno picture of villainy?  Was Adorno's picture of the authoritarian based on any real group of people?  I think it was.  It was actually a picture of what leftist academics are like.  Adorno and his merry men (and one woman) were making the classic mistake of judging other people by themselves.  They thought others thought like they thought.  Let me illustrate that by some contemporary examples.

Rigidity:  Academics are amazingly rigid in their adherence to Leftist ideas.  Particularly in the social sciences, a conservative is as rare as hen's teeth.  You just don't get anywhere in academe unless you are a Leftist.  And that lockstep Leftist ideology in academe also shows a conventionalism and a lack of openness to novelty and diversity.

Authoritarian submission: And how about subservience to authority? When those dreadful climate "deniers" (heretics) put forward facts that indicate that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on in the global climate, how do devotees of the climate cult respond? Do they question the facts or point to alternative facts? Almost never. They appeal to authority. They simply say that 97% of scientists accept global warming and that is good enough for them. They have an absurd respect for the current outpourings of scientists, quite oblivious of the 180 degree turns that scientific "wisdom" periodically undergoes. Whether or not dietary fat is good for you is a current example of that. They appeal to an authority with feet of clay

And they certainly overlook that the paper by Cook et al. from which the 97% claim originates in fact quite plainly said that only ONE THIRD of the scientific papers surveyed took any position on global warming.  Two thirds of the papers did NOT give support to the global warming theory.

Cook et al. were rather peeved by that lack of support so sent out a questionnaire to the non-confirming scientists to see what they thought.  Only 14% of the scientists surveyed even bothered to answer the questionnaire, however, so that tells its own story. It's all plainly there in the paper's abstract.  Read it for yourself here.

Closed-mindedness: So there is much faith invested in the claim that "The science" supports global warming. The adherence by Leftist academics to the global warming theory is therefore a good instance of conventionalism, anti-intellectualism, closed-mindedness and dogmatism.

Power and toughness: And when it comes to an admiration of power and toughness, what could be a clearer example of that than their unwavering support of international Communism?  They shilled for the Soviets until Ronald Reagan caused the regime to implode and to this day they have never ceased to find Fidel Castro admirable, a man who lived like an old-fashioned Spanish grandee while his people scraped by on minimal rations.

Exaggerated concern about sex: And what about an exaggerated concern about sexual matters?  Is not that a pretty good description of modern-day feminism?  Feminists deny basic biology and ascribe all the world's ailments to "patriarchy".  They judge everything and everybody by what you have between your legs.  They are completely obsessed with the importance of sex (or "gender" in their coy terminology).

Destructiveness:  And what could be more destructive than the chaos unleashed on American health insurance by Obamacare?  Under the pretext of making health insurance more affordable, Obamacare has in fact made it unaffordable for many.  Many employers have dropped health insurance for their workers as no longer affordable by them and skyrocketing deductibles have made many Americans effectively uninsured even if they are nominally covered.  When your deductible is $10,000 you have for most instances no useful insurance cover whatsoever.

Cynicism: And there is certainly vast cynicism in the Leftist response to Mr Trump.  Mr Trump is certainly a flawed character in some ways but we all are. Does the Left give any credence to the thought that Mr Trump might be on to something valuable and important?  Roughly half of Americans think he is but the Left greet his ideas with uniform hostility.  That he has brought American unemployment down to a near-record low (3.9%) and has proven to be a Prince of Peace in the Korean confrontation they can only greet with denial. There is no openness to new ideas in the Leftist response to President Trump, just unwavering cynicism and complete intolerance of ambiguity.

Authoritarian aggression: And how about authoritarian aggression?  What do we call it when Leftists (students abetted and encouraged by their Leftist professors) use all means they can to chase conservative speakers off university campuses?  They do a job not dissimilar to Hitler's brownshirts.  As well as being thoroughly intolerant, rigid and doctrinaire it is thoroughly tyrannical and often explicitly violent.

Intolerance: And when it comes to tolerance and openness to different ideas, what do we make of the constant censorship of conservative speech on social media?  It's a bit more sophisticated than book-burning but not by much.

I could go on but I think it is clear that the proto-Nazis in America today are Leftist academics, not conservatives.


Australia on dark road to Fascism: Greens

Talk about projection -- seeing your own faults in other!  It is characteristic of the Green/Left.  The Duke of Edinburgh once called the Greens "The stop everything brigade" and that is apt.  They want to control and change almost everything that people do. If that's not fascism, what would be?  The founder of Fascism was Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.  And he WAS a Greenie:

Mussolini the environmentalist:

As well as being an "anti-globalizer", there were several other ways in which Mussolini would have appealed to modern-day greenies. He made Capri a bird sanctuary and in 1926 he issued a decree reducing the size of newspapers to save wood pulp. And, believe it or not, he even mandated gasohol -- i.e. mixing industrial alcohol with petroleum products to make fuel for cars  Mussolini also disliked the population drift from rural areas into the big cities and in 1930 passed a law to put a stop to it unless official permission was granted. What Green/Left advocate could ask for more?

And to address the Fascist below directly:

It is the consolidation of several control agencies under one head that arouses him.  But that is not Fascist.  Authority in Hitler's Germany, for instance, was in fact polycentric.  There was the Schutz Staffeln, the Sturm Abteilung, the Heer, the Geheimestaatspolizei and the Polizei. And the various government departments all had various degrees of authority and mechanisms for control

Australia has taken the first steps on a dark road to fascism with the creation of the new home affairs super-department, a Greens senator has warned.

Nick McKim says the minor party has serious concerns about the powers handed to minister Peter Dutton in the new department, which includes national security and immigration portfolios.

"This country is walking ever more rapidly down the road to authoritarianism and totalitarianism," Senator McKim told parliament on Wednesday.

"Time after time this government demonstrates its disregard and contempt for the rule of law. That is one of the early warning signs of fascism."

The government had failed to give reasons for the new department which was created in December.

Legislation to finalise the establishment of Home Affairs and boost oversight powers of the attorney-general cleared parliament on Wednesday.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been brought into the new department, which also looks after federal law enforcement, national security, immigration, emergency management and criminal justice.

Despite raising concerns with the increased powers, Labor voted for the bill.

"Our primary concern is that the government has struggled to explain why the sweeping changes to be brought about by this bill are required at all," opposition senator Jenny McAllister said

Cabinet minister Mitch Fifield said the new department would ensure Australians had confidence in the scrutiny and oversight of intelligence agencies. "Security and integrity go hand in hand," he said.

Senator McKim took aim at Mr Dutton's record on the treatment of refugees in offshore processing, saying he didn't trust him with more power.

It's not the first time Senator McKim has targeted Mr Dutton, having previously labelled him a racist and a fascist.

For his part, Mr Dutton is a strident critic of what he's called the "hotbed of crazies" within the Greens.



Stanford science reformer Ioannidis exposes himself as incompetent or insincere — take your pick

Steve Milloy

I’ve always suspected that Stanford University professor John Ioannidis was only posing as a science reformer. His commentary in PLoS against the EPA science transparency rulemaking validates that.

Ioannidis pretends care about the quality of science. He has even published his claim that:

"Currently, many published research findings are false or exaggerated, and an estimated 85% of research resources are wasted"

Yet in his new article attacking the Trump EPA’s science transparency proposal,

Ionnidis praises the very secret science and science fraud that brought the EPA proposal about:

As readers of this page and my Amazon.com best seller “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” know, there is nothing remotely scientific or honest about the Harvard Six Cities and Pope ACS studies, or the alleged HEI review. The only thing that was “rigorous” was the fraud.

At the very least, Ioannidis has made no effort to learn the facts. At worst, he has been co-opted by Doug Dockery, Arden Pope and the EPA-funded air pollution mafia into aiding and abetting their fraud. Either way, Ioannidis has exposed himself.


I am certainly amazed that Ioannidis praises those rubbishy air pollution studies.  I have over time reviewed a lot of them (e.g. here and here and here) and found that they were all naive about controls to the point of making their findings at best moot.  A very simple demolition of the garbage mentioned above is here.  Note that the alleged 2005 confirmation of the original results was simply a re-analysis of the original data that did nothing to address the lack of basic controls -- JR


Do firearm-control laws make you safer?

A medical journal gives the answer "yes" to that.

One of the besetting problems with science is that academics often don't keep up with previous research on their subject. Example here.  They seem to think that no-one before them could have had such brilliant ideas as theirs.  So they do not check that.  A case in point has just emerged.  It is an article in a prestigious American medical journal under the title: "Interstate Association of State Firearm Laws With Suicide and Homicide", authored by a Robert Steinbrook, MD.

Dr Steinbrook probably knows a lot about colds and flu but he appears to know very little about scientific research.  In particular he seems to know nothing about bibliographical  research.  His article mirrors closely  a 2016 article under the heading: "Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study" -- by Kalesan et al -- also published in a prestigious medical jourtnal. 

Because of his failure to do comprehensive background research, he has fallen into the trap that background research is designed to prevent:  He has learnt nothing from the mistakes in the previous study.  He has repeated its mistakes.  And the mistakes are grievous -- as I pointed out in 2016. A failure of basic scientific precautions has rendered both studies a nullity.  They prove nothing. They are at best propaganda.

It rather bemuses me that a humble retired psychologist such as I has to point out basic howlers in prestigious medical journals.