Friday, October 20, 2023

Most poverty is behavioral

The Left talk about poverty incessantly but their only diagnosis of it seems to be that it is because of evil men who have somehow grabbed all the wealth. So it is about time that someone gave the matter some reality-based thought.

If you are a poor Indian farmer, your big problem is definitely a lack of money.  But in the Western world it is not.  If you are poor in the Western world your poverty is usually a result of bad  decisions.

I was born into a poor family myself so I have seen a lot of it.  The poor decisions vary, from a lack of frugality -- foolish spending -- to a woman who gets her legs up for a man who will be unwilling or unable to support her through a pregnancy and child rearing. Most of the really poor are single mothers who have loaded the dice against themselves. Babies are expensive and demand a lot of time.

I once ran a boarding house in a poor area and the sort of thing I often saw was a tenant who would buy a packet of chips for a snack from a nearby service station when the same product could be had for half the price from the supermarket just a little further down the road.  Such people will always be poor.

And there are of course many these days who spend big on drugs and alcohol, not to mention cigarettes and various sorts of entertainment.  It's a rare person who indulges in much of those things who can save.

But saving is the key to not being needy. Even when people have a windfall of some sort -- as in a lottery win or when a rich uncle dies and leaves you a legacy, the benefited person soon returns to poverty in the absence of frugal habits.

So I think there is no doubt that most poverty these days is self-inflicted. Frugality obviously does not come easily to everyone and to some it never will.

But I do not like to be totally negative so I want to go on to setting out some ways of being frugal, in case there is someone reading this who needs encouragement in that direction.

Savings  is the key to having money when you need it.   So it might be helpful if I outlined some of my experiences with frugality -- spending less than you earn

I have been frugal from childhood.  Frugality was preached to me at my Presbyterian Sunday school and I took to it like a duck to water. So as a kid I saved my 2/- per week pocket money rather than spending it on confectionry  -- which is what most of my peers did.  Though I would always buy the latest "Phantom" comics. But every now and again, my mother would borrow the money in my money box to buy family needs.  How poor can you be when you have to borrow the money in your kid's money box in order to put dinner on the table? My mother's purchases were almost all from convenience stores so she just did not have a frugal mind.

So I have always lived simply and very economically, which has left me in a very comfortable situation in my old age.

The high point of my frugality came during my student days, when I lived on skim milk plus a few vitamins for around six months.  I bought the skim milk from the local dairy factory in the form of a 56lb paper sack of dried skim milk, which was almost a give-away product at that time but was very nutritious all the same.  So in modern terms my food bill was something like $5 per week.  It was ridiculously small.  As the recipient of a government scholarship to go to university I had a small living allowance and I saved virtually the whole of my allowance at that time -- and also remained in perfect health.

With my savings much reinforced, I gave that up after a while,  and moved back on to a more normal but still economical diet featuring a lot of cheese sandwiches.  I still like a slab of cheese on a fresh bread roll. Did you know that a dollop of plum jam on top of the cheese in your cheese sandwich really lifts it?  Plum jam has always been the cheapest jam.

There are many ways you can have a good and healthy diet for a small cost -- with anything featuring eggs being high on the list.  A 3-egg omelette makes a very good breakfast, with the eggs costing you a total of around one dollar only. And oats for making porridge are also very cheap. I still like a nice plate of porridge on occasions.  And you can often get day-old bread for a song.  It makes great toast.

These days my frugality consists of buying most of my groceries as "specials" and "markdowns" from my local supermarket.  And I buy most of my alcohol in the form of Vodka, which is generally the cheapest of spirits. And if I eat out, I eat at ethnic restaurants, which often give me amazingly good dinners for a very modest price.

And I am not seized with the vice of old age:  Travel.  Travel can be very expensive but I did all I want of that when I was younger and highly paid.

So I now spend very little on myself and give about half of my income away to friends, relatives and conservative causes.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Pygmy elder faces eviction

This article originally appreared in the Courier Mail of August 24, 2007

IN a "heartless" move, the 105-year-old elder of Australia's "lost tribe" of Aboriginal pygmies faces eviction from her far north Queensland home.

Lizzy Woods – who relies on a wheelchair, is blind and suffers dementia – is the mother of 10 children and the oldest surviving matriarch of the Jirrbal rainforest people.

She has been classified as a "living treasure" and is the sole surviving link to the pygmy "white cockatoo" tribe – most of whom stood less than 122cm (4ft) tall – of the Misty Mountain region near Tully.

Sitting in the humble three-bedroom Ravenshoe house she has called home for nearly 25 years, she told The Courier-Mail yesterday she was angry at the impending eviction.

"They are making me homeless," said the 110cm-tall elder, surrounded by some of her five generations of offspring. "I was born in the rainforest. I grew up chasing kangaroo and picking berries off the trees. I belong here. This is my land.

"The pygmy tribe – that is my mob. And this is the place I have chosen to die."

She's 3' 6" tall. The average for the tribe was 4' or 122 cm.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Left-wing authoritarianism: Hiding in plain sight

In 1950 a book called "The authoritarian personality" appeared. It was under the lead authorship of Theodor Adorno, a prominent European Marxist theoretician. It was immediately popular among psychologists but also had to be one of the most wrong-headed books ever written.

The very title of the book was faulty. It claimed to be about personality but everything in the book was in fact about people's attitudes. Personality tells you about what people normally DO whereas attitudes tell you about what people THINK. The distinction is important. It is not at all uncommon for people to say one thing and do another. And that was particularly so in this case.

The basic thesis of the book was that authoritarianism is uniquely conservative. And that has been the prevailing view among psychologists ever since. The vast authoritarian structures of the Soviet Union and Mao's China seem to be invisible. In a world beset by vast authoritarian regimes of the Left, there was somehow no Leftist authoritarianism!

And Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian anyway. What is a Leftist if he/she is not someone who wants to impose change on the world, whether the world likes it or not? Despite all that, Leftist psychologists often still insist that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism. Something foundational to Leftism is said not to exist. The whole thing is a vivid example of Leftist reality denial.

The way out of reality used by Leftist psychologists is to look at what people SAY rather than what they DO. And there is a great discordance there. It has been known for decades that attitudes do not always reflect behaviour. People often say one thing and do another. That would seem to me to indicate the relative unimportance of attitudes. What people DO is what matters.

But if we look at Leftists of all stripes, what they DO is to attempt to impose their idea of what is a good thing onto everybody else, whether by public shaming, legislation or revolution. So Leftist expositors of authoritarianism work almost entirely with attitude statements and largely overlook what is actually happening in the world. It is only by looking at words, not deeds that they can support their claim that authoritarianism is peculiarly conservative. The many Leftist criticisms of so much in the world about them are held to show Leftists as anti-authority, while conservative acceptance of existing arrangements is said to make them pro-authority or authoritarian.

This Leftist analysis of conservatives attitudes struck me as wrong-headed as soon as I heard of it so I spent the first 20 years of my academic career (1970-1990) questioning it and endeavouring to show by survey research that is was incoherent and wrong. See

My work did not budge the leviathan one bit. Leftist psychologists continued on their merry way of relying on a perverse analysis of attitudes to convict conservatives of authoritarianism and exonerate themselves from it. I was wasting my time.

20 years of banging my head against a brick wall was enough, however so I ceased my survey research and attitude studies and have focused my writing ever since on looking at what Leftists DO, largely using history as my data source. See

But my studies were still focused on WHY Leftists and conservatives do different things. The explanation for what they do does not rely on attitudes so what does it rely on? And I have concluded that it does after all rely on personality, even though attitudes tell us little about personality. I have concluded that the essence of conservatism is caution and the essence of Leftism is anger. Leftists and conservatives differ in those two fundamental ways. The stance that they take on the issues of the day will vary but underlying and influencing the stance will be one of those two personality types.

So I got a rather pleasant surprise recently when some mainly Norwegian psychologists published an article questioning the non-existence of Leftist authoritarianism (Lane et al., 2023) . And they did it by the old Leftist method of analysing what people say. And one of the things that they found was that Leftist attitudes were primarily influenced by anger! They too found that anger was fundamental to Leftist authoritarianism

So even using basically Leftist methods you can -- with a lot of work -- show that Leftists are the angry people. The study concerned is a very complex one and something of a brain-breaker if you want to follow it in detail but I reproduce the abstract from it below:

The Moral Foundations of Left-Wing Authoritarianism: On the Character, Cohesion, and Clout of Tribal Equalitarian Discourse

Left-wing authoritarianism remains far less understood than right-wing authoritarianism. We contribute to literature on the former, which typically relies on surveys, using a new social media analytic approach. We use a list of 60 terms to provide an exploratory sketch of the outlines of a political ideology "tribal equalitarianism" with origins in 19th and 20th century social philosophy. We then use analyses of the English Corpus of Google Books (n > 8 million books) and scraped unique tweets from Twitter (n = 202,582) to conduct a series of investigations to discern the extent to which this ideology is cohesive amongst the public, reveals signatures of authoritarianism and has been growing in popularity. Though exploratory, our results provide some evidence of left-wing authoritarianism in two forms: (1) a uniquely conservative signature amongst ostensible liberals using measures derived from Moral Foundations Theory and (2) a substantial prevalence of anger, relative to anxiety or sadness, in tweets analyzed for sentiment. In general, results indicate that this worldview is growing in popularity, is increasingly cohesive, and shows signatures of authoritarianism.


Wednesday, October 04, 2023

South American Military Dictators

In the late 20th century, it was a common rhetorical ploy of the more "revolutionary" Left in the "Western" world simply to ignore democracy as an alternative to Communism. Instead they would excuse the brutalities of Communism by pointing to the brutalities of the then numerous military dictatorships of Southern Europe and Latin America and pretend that such regimes were the only alternative to Communism. These regimes were led by generals who might in various ways be seen as conservative (though Peron was undisputably Leftist) so do they tell us anything about conservatism?

Historically, most of the world has been ruled by military men and their successors (Sargon II of Assyria, Alexander of Macedon, Caesar, Augustus, Constantine, Charlemagne, Frederick II of Prussia etc.) so it seems unlikely but perhaps the main point to note here is that the Hispanic dictatorships of the 20th century were very often created as a response to a perceived threat of a Communist takeover. This is particularly clear in the case of Spain, Chile and Argentina. They were an attempt to fight fire with fire. In Argentina of the 60s and 70s, for instance, Leftist "urban guerillas" were very active -- blowing up anyone they disapproved of. The nice, mild, moderate Anglo-Saxon response to such depredations would have been to endure the deaths and disruptions concerned and use police methods to trace the perpetrators and bring them to trial. Much of the world is more fiery than that, however, and the Argentine generals certainly were. They became impatient with the slow-grinding wheels of democracy and its apparent impotence in the face of the Leftist revolutionaries. They therefore seized power and instituted a reign of terror against the Leftist revolutionaries that was as bloody, arbitrary and indiscriminate as what the Leftists had inflicted. In a word, they used military methods to deal with the Leftist attackers. So the nature of these regimes was only incidentally conservative. What they were was essentially military. We have to range further than the Hispanic generals, therefore, if we are to find out what is quintessentially conservative.

It might be noted, however, that, centuries earlier, the parliamentary leaders of England -- led by Fairfax, Cromwell etc. -- did something similar to the Hispanic generals of the 20th century. Faced by an attempt on the part of the Stuart tyrant to abrogate their traditional rights, powers and liberties, they resorted to military means to overthrow the threat. There is no reason to argue that democracy cannot or must not use military means to defend itself or that Leftists or anyone else must be granted exclusive rights to the use of force and violence.


It might also be noted that the Hispanic generals were operating within a very different tradition. The abiding hero of Latin America is Simon Bolivar, the great liberator. But the ideas about government put forward by Bolivar were very authoritarian -- ideas about how the masses need to be "educated" and generally dominated by a self-chosen elite -- ideas that put Bolivar in the company of men like Mussolini and Lenin -- ideas that are totally outside the democratic traditions of Anglo-Saxon conservatism. He was thoroughly Fascist once he had wrenched control from the feeble hands of the Spanish monarchy. Bolívar proclaimed himself dictator on 27 August 1828

"Education was also touched upon by Simon Bolivar, especially in his Essay on Public Education, as a tool for governments to re-educate their citizens to the responsibilities and duties of participation in public life. Bolivar also commented on the weaknesses and limits of liberal democracy when writing to explain the necesity of a strong, republican form of government.... Spanish American people required that their new states be organized in such a way as to maintain order by checking the popular forces until they could be trained in the civic virtues. Bolivarism emphasizes the common good over the individual"
The Hispanic generals were doing very little more than putting Bolivarism into practice and Bolivarism was certainly not conservatism.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

(Updated from June 2013)

The extreme Right are actually the extreme Left

For the excellent reason that Right is the opposite of Left, opponents of the Left are commonly referred to as Rightist -- and that should be the end of the matter. But it is not. The problem arises from the expression "extreme right". What is "the extreme right"

The answer to that has been greatly distorted by Leftist disinformation about Hitler. Hitler was by the standards of his day a fairly mainstream socialist. Even his ideas about "Aryans" were shared by such Leftist eminences as U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, of WWI fame.


But Hitler's defeat in war created a desperate need in Leftists to deny all that. So they invariably describe him as "right-wing" to deflect attention from the fact that he was in his day one of them. He was in fact to the Right of Stalin's Communism only so the Communist view of Hitler has been conveniently adopted by the Left generally. See here for full details about Hitler's ideas and background. The name of Hitler's political party says it all: Die Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (The national socialist German Worker's party). A socialist worker's party is "Rightist"? If you can pronounce German, you will know why that party-name was abbreviated as "Nazi"

So Leftists tend to describe all tyrants and dictators as extreme Right on the grounds that their behaviour is like Hitler's. But all the great tyrants of the 20th century -- Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot -- were in fact Leftists so the various postwar tyrants should logically be called "extreme Leftists" -- though that's not logic that Leftists like, of course. It's only when a tyrant or a tyranny is clearly Communist (as in, for example, Peru, Nicaragua and Nepal) that Leftists will generally desist from calling the tyrant "Right wing". It would probably be most accurate to say that most tyrants are wingless: They believe only in their own personal power

So calling conservatives Rightists does little harm when normal everyday democratic politics is concerned but once we start talking about extremes of belief a large problem arises. Conservatives reject utterly the association with Hitler that Leftists try to pin on them. It was, after all, an eminent Conservative -- Churchill -- who was the most unrelenting opponent of Hitler.

And it was a British Conservative Prime Minister -- Chamberlain -- who declared war on Hitler.

And even in the 19th century, when racism was normal, the British Conservative party made a Jew their Prime Minister, the much honoured Benjamin Disraeli. There is surely some difference between making a Jew your Prime Minister and immolating millions of them. History matters.

There is clearly a lot of variation among postwar tyrants so presumably some are better examples of what Leftists call "right-wing" than others. The Latin American dictators seem to be prime candidates but what do we make of clowns like Idi Amin or democratically elected authoritarians like Lee Kuan Yew? Exactly WHICH dictators are good examples of "Right-wing" seems to be vague. Leftists appear to have no systematic thinking on that. So some lists include Fascists like Chiang Kai Shek, the monarchs of the Muslim world and even in some cases undoubted Communists like the Kim dynasty of North Korea.

So I too will have to leave vague just who is a good example of an "extreme Rightist". For the sake of looking at the subject at all, I will use "Hitler-like" or "Fascist" as a specification of what Leftists are talking about when they say "Right wing extremist" -- and leave it at that. I have however given separate coverage of the Latin American dictators elsewhere. They have mostly been Bolivarists, a form of Fascism. And that Fascism is/was Leftist I set out at length here.

There are also of course a few individuals around in Western countries who are Hitler sentimentalists but they are so few and so unorganized that they are essentially irrelevant to modern politics. I do however have a discussion of them here.

Extremism versus stability

We are accustomed in political discussions to describe both ends of the political spectrum as "extremists". But what are the extremes? In the case of the Left it is easy: Communism. But what is an extreme conservative? The Left are sure that it is someone like Adolf Hitler but the logic of conservative commitment to individual liberty and suspicion of government makes libertarianism a much likelier extreme form of conservatism.

At this point I am going to skip forward a little, however, and say where I think people go wrong. I don't think there IS any such thing as extreme conservatism. Libertarians believe in a lot of stuff that conservatives reject. But I do believe that there is such a thing as extreme Leftism. How come?

I think that the whole polarity of politics is generally misunderstood. The contest between Left and Right is a contest between stability and irritability/anger/rage. Conservatives are the sheet anchor of society. They ensure that there is some continuity and predictability in our lives. They are the anchor that prevents us all from being blown onto the shoals of arrogant stupidity in the manner of Pol Pot and many others.

For various reasons most people in society have gripes about it. Even conservatives can usually give you a long list of things that they would wish otherwise in the world about them.

But some of the discontented are REALLY discontented -- discontented to the point of anger/rage/hate -- and among them there is a really dangerous group: Those who "know" how to fix everything.

So the political contest ranges across a spectrum from valuing stability to various degrees of revolutionary motivation.

But can there be an extreme of valuing stability? In theory yes but I have yet to hear of ANY conservative-dominated government that lacked an active legislative agenda. BOTH sides of politics have changes they want to legislate for. Conservatives don't want stability at any price any more than they want change that threatens stability. So as far as I can see, ALL conservatives want change PLUS stability. And mostly they get that.

Pulling against that anchor that keeps society going on a fairly even keel, however, there is the Left -- who want every conceivable sort of change. Some just want more social welfare legislation and some want the whole society turned upside down by violent revolution. And the latter are indeed extremists.

So there is no sharp Left/Right dividing line -- just a continuum from strong support for stability amid change to a complete disrespect and disregard for stability among extreme advocates of change.

It is possible that there is somebody somewhere in the world who values stability so much that he/she want NO change in the world about them at all. If so, I have never met such a person. Everybody has gripes and change is a constant. The only question is whether we can manage change without great disruptions to our everyday lives. Conservatives think we can and should. Leftists basically don't care about that. For them change is the goal with stability hardly considered.

Now let me skip back to a question I raised earlier. I think we are now in a better position to answer that question. The question is why do conservatives and Leftists disagree over what extreme conservatism or extreme Rightism is? And the answer is now obvious. If it does not exist, no wonder people disagree over what it is. The theoretical inference would be that an extreme conservative wants ZERO change: he/she wants stability alone. But, as I have noted, such people appear not to exist and if they do exist they are surely too few to matter.

But what about the Leftist conviction that society is riddled by people like Hitler: "Racists" and "Nazis". Leftists never cease describing those they disagree with that way. Even a moderate and compromising Christian gentleman such as George Bush Jr. was constantly accused of being a Nazi during his time in office.

Again our conception of stability versus extremism helps answer that -- particularly if you add in a dash of history. Take the "racist" allegation:

Some history

Before WWII, everybody was racist in the sense that they believed that racial differences are real and that some of those differences are more desirable than others. Both conservatives and Leftists agreed on that. And if they feel safe to say it, many conservatives still think that. I do.

But, exactly as I have pointed out above, prewar Leftists went a lot further than that. They carried their views to an extreme. They did not care how many applecarts they upset. They wanted either to breed out the inferior races (American progressives) or to exterminate them (Hitler). See here. Where conservatives just accepted a complex reality of long standing, Leftists KNEW what had to be done about it and so hurt a lot of people and did a lot of damage in the process.

When their old friend Hitler lost the war, however, Leftists had a desperate need to disavow all he stood for and so threw their whole rhetoric into reverse gear. They were still obsessed in their minds by race and racial differences but denied their previous destructive intentions towards other races. They now claimed benevolent intentions towards other races. Abandoning all interest in race was apparently beyond them. And in good Freudian style, they projected what they now disapproved of onto their opponents, conservatives. They accused conservatives of being what they still deep-down were. To see what's true of Leftists, you just have to see what they say about conservatives. They are too alienated from society to understand their fellow-man very well so they judge others by themselves

Leftist ostensible attitudes had flipped. But since conservatives had opposed Hitler and Leftism generally, conservatives for a long time just carried on with their existing moderate, balanced views. But for various reasons, what is moderate and balanced will change over time and conservative views do change to reflect that. Conservatives hold the middle ground. And while there is some change, there is also a lot of continuity in the middle ground.

For instance, a conservative today will most likely welcome Jews to his club where a conservative of the 1930s would not. But having separate clubs is hardly a major impact on civilization and the stability of society is not threatened in either case. Club membership and gassing millions are worlds apart in any objective evaluation of the matter

So in a sense Leftists are right to see that Hitler and conservatives have something in common -- some willingness to admit racial differences, for instance -- but are very wrong in their implicit claim that conservatives would carry such views to any kind of extreme. Extremes are for the Left -- not just theoretically but as a matter of historical fact. So Leftists are now as extremely anti-racist in their advocacy as they were once pro-racist. Conservatives by contrast just jog along trying to keep a firm hold on reality

So Leftists now say that what they once believed (until it became inconvenient) is "Rightist". Beat that!

Leftists take some generally accepted idea and carry it to extremes, hoping to be seen as great champions by doing so. Their extremism is a "look at me" phenomenon, a claim on especially great virtue. So whatever is conventional at the time will be something that leftists loudly champion, hoping to gain praise for doing so.

If it is eugenics that is a popular idea (as it was before the war) Leftists will energetically champion that. And they did up to WWII. Conservatives at the time also saw some sense in eugenics but did little or nothing to push it -- pointing out how eugenic policies would conflict with other values (Christian values especially) and could lead in unexpected and nasty directions.

Antisemitism is also a good example of how the Leftist decides on policy. Long before and up to WWII, antisemitism was virtually universal. Nobody liked the Jews and some degree of discrimination against them was normal and accepted. Not allowing Jews in your club was the commonest form of that.

So Leftists took antisemitism to extremes and became the leading critics of Jewry, culminating in the holocaust, which was the work of the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Leftists transformed minor discrimination into mass murder. Leftists don't present new ideas. They just push existing ones to extremes.

When Hitler lost the war, however, antisemitism suddenly had bad associations so Leftists abandoned it forthwith and became, for a while, great champions of Israel. Democrat President Truman recognized the state of Israel within minutes of its being proclaimed and the Soviet Union was only three days behind him. Popular sentiment had changed so Leftists became energetic champions of the new sentiment.

The document above signed by Truman gives a vivid contrast to what his Democrat predecessor BEFORE the war did. FDR is of course well known for sending a shipload of German Jewish refugees (aboard the MS St. Louis) back to Hitler, rather than allowing them to disembark when they arrived at Miami.

For another example of "how we were" (or how prewar Leftists were) read the following from the Old Grey Lady (NYT) herself:

"In so far as Mexican immigration is concerned, it would be idle to deny the economic usefulness of Mexican laborers. But it is essential to face the fact that the great mass of Mexican immigrants is virtually not assimilable. For the most part Indian in blood, their traditions as well as standards of living are very different from ours." [Immigrants From The New World, Jan 16, 1930]

So the default meaning of "Right" or "Rightism" here will be: "committed to stability". That is only a minimum meaning, however. There is a lot more to conservatism than that. And I present elsewhere extensive historical evidence to show what conservatism is and show continuity in how conservatism works out in practice.

Flavors of Leftism

At this stage, however, I think I should flesh out my contention above to the effect that the beliefs that would be described by the Left as extreme Right are in fact just another flavor of extreme Leftism -- perhaps a broadly old-fashioned form of Leftism but Leftism nonetheles.

Leftists would decribe that identification as patently absurd. They would say say of the "extreme Right" that "they stand for everything we are against: antisemitism, capitalism, patriotism, eugenics etc."

That is a rather amusing list but before I go on let me introduce you to the People's Action Party, long-time rulers of Singapore. At first glance, the identification of the PAP as extreme Right would seem easy. They are arguably the most pro-business party in the world. They are a shining example of the economic triumph of capitalism. And they are also very authoritaraian, with strict limits on free speech and control of even minutiae of Singapore life.

So surely the PAP is a prime example of "far Right"? Just one niggling little detail, though. They were for many years a member of the Socialist International. Their origins are on the Left and their authoritarianism is what all Leftists try for -- as is the PAP's regulation of the private sector, activist intervention in the economy, and its welfarist social policies. And its self-identification as a "People's" party is in fact characteristic of the far-Left. And for a bit of color say what the party symbol below reminds you of:

Singapore is a long way from being Nazi but it illustrates that Leftism is a house of many mansions and that support for capitalism is no bar to being Leftist. The PAP was joined in that not only by Hitler but also by 20th century Sweden. And even the U.S. Democratic party gives at least lip-service to it when in campaign mode.

The PAP even has a eugenic program. It subsidizes and otherwise supports well educated women to marry and have babies.

And then we come to antisemitism. I feel I hardly need to say anything about Leftist support for antisemitism. It goes at least as far back as Karl Marx and, under the thin disguise of "anti-Zionism" is as virulent among the modern-day Left as ever. Truman represented only a short-term blip in Leftist antisemitism. So antisemitism is certainly no bar to being Leftist.

What about patriotism? Leftist intellectuals scorn it as a weakness of simple minds so can you be a Leftist and a patriot at the same time? Again I don't think we need to go far to answer that. The U.S. Democrats claim to be patriotic and the pompous challenge, "Are you questioning my patriotism?" always seems to come from Democrat politicians. Democrat patriotism does seem to be mostly a hollow charade these days but we only have to go back to the revered JFK to find it breathing unaided: "Ask not what your country ....". And the popular patriotic song "This land is my land" was written by Woody Guthrie, a Communist. And Stalin referred to his war with Germany as "The Great Patriotic war". Yes. you clearly CAN be patriotic and Leftist.

So there is nothing incongruous at all in identifying the so-called "extreme Right" as just another flavor of Leftism. Anybody who has had much to do with the far-Left will be aware of how fractious they are and the ice pick in the head that Trotsky got courtesy of Stalin is emblematic of that. Leftists can hate one-another at least as much as they hate conservatives and the rivalry between the "far Right" and the modern-day Left is sibling rivalry -- just as it was in the days of Hitler and Stalin.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Blackwashing: False stories about black prominence

There is a good summary of past blackwashing episodes below:

If you listen to some historians there have been blacks in Britain since prehistoric times. How you tell skin colour from a skeleton is unclear. But a new example of blackwashing has emerged in the form of a book called "Brilliant Black British History". It says; "the very first Britons were black” -- with not a shred of good evidence for most of the claims. Even Stonehenge was built by blacks, allegedly.

The one bit of real evidence offered is that the Roman historian Tacitus reported that the Silures people in Wales were “dark-skinned and curly-haired”. In Tacitus’ full account, he theorised that they may have been from Spain.

The account by Tacitus is confirmed by Jordanes in his "Origins and Deeds of the Goths , where he says, “The Silures have swarthy features and are usually born with curly black hair ... They are like the Gauls or the Spaniards.” So both ancient authors saw the Silures as having a Mediterranean appearance, not an African appearance.

A fuller critique of the book below:

Such appropriations have been rather common from American black authors -- again as mere evidence free assertions. Blacks built the pyramids, of course. I have written on that before. See:

One instance of blackwashing stands out, however: A BBC program in 2017 that describes black and mixed-race families in Britain during the Roman era. It has the distinction that a couple of British historians have defended it. A graphic from the BBC program.

I have commented on the claims of British historian Mary Beard elsewhere so will not repeat that. Link below:

A much more sustained defence of Africans in Roman Britain comes from Mike Stuchbery so I partly reproduce it below. Stuchbery's argument is mainly in a long series of tweets, which would be rather tedious to reproduce but the opening of the article concerned is as follows:
Alt-right commentator gets 'schooled' by historian over diversity in Roman Britain

An alt-right commentator who complained about the BBC portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse has sparked a row with a historian on Twitter.

Paul Joseph Watson (PJW), editor of alt-right website InfoWars, shared a screengrab of a BBC educational video on life in Britain, suggesting it was inaccurate. “Thank God the BBC is portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse,” he tweeted. “I mean, who cares about historical accuracy, right?”

Step forward writer and historian Mike Stuchbery, who gave PJW a quick history lesson on ethnic diversity in Roman Britain.

“Roman Britain was ethnically diverse, almost by design. To begin, occupying legions were drawn from other parts of the Empire,” Stuchbery responded.

“Every year we dig up new remains that suggest that Roman Britain, anywhere larger than a military outpost, was an ethnically diverse place.”

All the examples he gives of Africans in Britain are of Mediterranean people, not sub-Saharan Africans. North Africans were and are white, of course. To this day, telling a Berber he is black will get you a dusty response. He will think you are blind or mad.

Berber woman in ethnic dress. It seems likely that the Berbers are in part descendants of the ancient Carthaginians. They are at any event the native people of most of North Africa -- JR


Friday, September 22, 2023

Left-Right divide no longer relevant in modern politics?

A very good essay below which sets out how policy preferences change over time. The changes can indeed seem rather surprising.

What the author overlooks is that changing times require changing policies. A policy that seems right in one context may seem wrong in another. Change is always ongoing so policies have to cope with that and may need to change too

Because policies change so much, the author sees no continuity. He says a policy simply cannot reliably be described as Right or Left. There is no consistency over time in the policies of our major political groups.

He is however looking in the wrong place for consistency. Consistency can be found only at the psychological level -- at the level of basic motivations. The "Right" will always be cautious and the "Left" will always favour feelgood ideas. And those two can very easily be in conflict.

Feelgood policies are ones that make their supporter look good and kind and virtuous, regardless of what their long term-consequences may be. Because of their weak egos, Leftists in particular have a great need to be seen as supporters of such policies. Any long term ill results of the policy are simply ignored

The author gives as an example of change Donald Trump's support for import tariffs. When he did implement some tariffs, that did indeed make some conservatives' head spin. It was a major departure from something dear to the hearts of most conservatives: free trade.

But Trump's respose to free trade arrangements was a cautious one. And caution is the essence of conservatism. He was was acutely aware that by the time of his Presidency, free trade had become socially disruptive -- with vast swathes of American industry having been exported to China -- and he wanted to stop that disruption. He was cautious about how the loss of American industry was impacting the lives of many Americans and wanted to call a halt to the disruptions concerned. He felt that free trade had gone too far.

He was precisely NOT subservient to prevailing conservative policies. He saw the need to call a halt to something that had got out of hand. He saw that the prevailing circumstances in the world called for a new approach if Americans were to be looked after.

So he put forward a new policy that had very old and basic underpinnings. His cautious values had not changed, only the application of them to changing times. Trump was perfectly consistent in his love of America and its people

You’ve probably heard Donald Trump described as “right-wing” or “far-right” even. But what does this actually mean?

It turns out very little, given the former US president advocates policies that only a few years ago were considered “left-wing”, making a mockery of the idea that some timeless unidimensional spectrum informs how we should understand politics.

It’s really all just name-calling nonsense, as US politics demonstrates. Trump is in favour of higher tariffs on imports and a foreign policy anchored in isolationism, which were considered left-wing positions during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush less than two decades ago.

On the other side of the divide, President Joe Biden’s administration is in favour of empowering government agencies to censor “misinformation”, a position diametrically opposed to the anti-censorship stance of Democrats a generation or two ago.

For most of the 20th century it was “the right” in favour of political censorship.

In the US, as in Australia and throughout the world, the left-right dichotomy has become a divisive delusion, a legacy going back to who sat where in the National Assembly during the 18th-century French Revolution that has no relevance to the complexity of modern political life.

Modern political parties promote a hodgepodge of policies that bear little relationship to each other. Why, for example, should someone who supports the voice or abortion necessarily be in favour of higher taxes or using the military to “spread democracy” abroad?

What individual political leaders advocate at any given time and place determine the left and right, far more than any underlying ideology.

Lockdowns during the pandemic, for instance, became identified with left-wing politics in the US purely because Trump at one point opposed them – even though socialist governments in Mexico and Sweden roundly rejected them. “Ideologies do not define tribes, tribes define ideologies; ideology is not about what (worldviews), it is about who (groups); there is no liberalism and conservatism, but liberals and conservatives,” write Hyrum and Verlam Lewis, two American politician science academics (and brothers), in a provocative new book, The Myth of Left and Right.

We are social creatures who tend to feel strongly about one particular aspect of a political party’s platform, and then feel obliged to support the rest of it. Yet there is far more disagreement within political parties than between them.

“Why do we refer to Milton Friedman (a Jewish, pro-capitalist pacifist) and Adolf Hitler (an anti-Semitic, anti-capitalist, militarist) as right-wing when they had opposite policy views on everything?” the authors ask.

Of course, tribalism is often determined by social background and governs most political interaction. Julian Assange is widely perceived as left-wing in Australia, but right-wing in the US, simply because he infuriated the Democratic Party in the US by releasing its embarrassing private emails before the 2016 election.

Members of the two warring tribes like to tell themselves stories to justify their positions: leftists advocate for “change” and “progress”, while those on the right apparently “conserve”.

So why, then, do conservatives support capitalism, the most intrinsically revolutionary economic system ever devised?

Meanwhile, the supposedly pro-change left has for decades fought globalisation to maintain national and indigenous cultures.

The “left” is also for bigger government (except in the US for issues relating to policing and illicit drug regulation).

Why were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – Democrats allegedly in favour of bigger government – the most fiscally conservative presidents in half a century? Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan, a champion of limited government, increased US debt and deficits more than any other administration outside war time.

As for religion, for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Christian socialism was the predominant combination; the somewhat bizarre relationship between faith and free-market ideology developing much later.

Private banking, once the enemy of left-wing parties everywhere for a multitude of philosophical reasons, is now far more comfortable with parties of the left. Democrats in the US get far more donations from Wall Street, while the Labor Party has been the best friend to Australia’s funds management industry.

Italy’s “far-right” Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, was recently attacked by mainstream media outlets for proposing a tax on bank super profits, something Ben Chifley (one of Australia’s most left-wing leaders) would have been proud of.

Cynicism about mandatory vaccination was more common among those who considered themselves left-wing until Covid-19, when it became a “right-wing issue” across much of the West.

Left-wing China, meanwhile, was one of the few nations not to mandate Covid vaccines. Maybe Xi Jinping is right-wing?

The left-right dichotomy serves two purposes. First, it enables many of us to feel righteous and principled – even though the vast bulk of political participants are really tribal lemmings without any real beliefs except, perhaps, for personal career advancement.

Second, it provides a simplistic framework to dismiss people we don’t like. Because the bulk of those in the media and academia now consider themselves “left-wing”, one almost never sees individuals described that way. By contrast, the pool of alleged “right-wingers” has exploded.

Elon Musk, who openly supported the Democrats, is now “right-wing” because he wasn’t enthusiastic about the war in Ukraine, which is currently a “left-wing” cause. The top US podcaster, Joe Rogan, who openly supported Bernie Sanders, is now regarded as “right-wing” because he questions compulsory Covid-19 vaccination.

Germaine Greer has also been called “right-wing” for suggesting trans women aren’t real women. In a similar vein, a powerful essay by John Pilger, published last month about Western propaganda, could just as easily have been written by Tucker Carlson.

But Pilger remains firmly associated with the “left wing” because he’s in the “right” tribe, while Carlson is “right-wing” because he’s in the “wrong” tribe.

If the term “right-winger” has any meaning at all, it appears to be one that dissents from whatever official orthodoxy prevails at the time for any given policy.

Whatever, the terms are highly divisive and it’s time to move on from this meaningless division. Individuals have complex views and they should be treated on their merit.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

The writer (John Ray)

29 August, 2022

My academic publications are frequently cited

I have had a lot of good news lately but "wait, there is more". According to ResearchGate, a publication which tracks such matters, my academic publications are getting a lot of attention from other academics. They say that "Your Research Interest Score is higher than 95% of ResearchGate members". The score is mainly made up of citations.

Why is that surprising? Because I last published something in the academic journals back in the '90s. The general view of academic publications is that if it is more than 10 years old it no longer exists. But the advent of the internet means that someone researching a topic will usually do an internet search at some point and that will turn up something relevant regardless of date. So as long as your writings are online they are readily accessible. Most of my publications were written before the internet existed but I have made sure to put them online retrospectively. ResearchGate has them all. Being really old means that I can look a long way back.

And the fact that I have had so many papers published (250+) of course increases the likelihood that I will hit on something of interest to others.

But I mustn't get a big head about it all. I have kept some track of my citations and they mostly come from places like Pakistan and Poland -- not great sources of cutting edge academic endeavour

Another reason for humility is that my papers that other people cite are rarely the ones which I think are most significant or important. Instead people cite papers that are more technical or utilitarian. Still, it is nice to be still ahead of the pack even after 30 years. I did after all devote 20 years of my life -- from 1970 to 1990 -- to doing all that research and writing.

I have also now spent 20 years blogging -- from 2002 to 2022.

In all my writing I have aimed to say things that are informative or helpful to others and I think I have achieved that to a small degree. I do get "thank you" messages occasionally, which I appreciate.

NOTE: There is another way in which the academic journals indicate a high level of acceptance for my academic work: My rate of publication in the journals. A look at my list of publications will reveal that in some years I was getting papers published at a rate approaching one per fortnight. That compares with the normal academic expectation of one per year

There is a subject index to my papers here

-- JR


7 September, 2022

More on my academic status

I have just received another interesting email from ResearchGate.

They report that last week I had 6 citations. That means that someone somewhere is citing one of my papers at the rate of nearly one a day. I am rather stunned by that. And half of my reads were from academics in the USA, followed by India.

Several of my papers did refer to India so the interest from India is not too surprising

What is surprising is that my most-read article is one that appeared way back in 1971. So maybe there will be someone reading my papers long after I have gone. I like that thought


ResearchGate has a comprehensive database of academic publications. They are a sort of academic Google. If a paper is cited by someone already in their database they will try to add that paper also to their database. So they would appear to have just about all the academic papers on the internet. And if a paper they see cited is not already on the net they will ask for a copy of it and put it on the net

The list of "reads" is different. They refer only to reads from the ResearchGate database. Many people will of course have read the paper in its initial appearance elsewhere. So it would probably be safe to say that the total number of reads of any paper is at least twice what ResearchGate records. But the reads that they record could be seen as a useful estimate of total reads

21 September, 2022

Another update

I really am much read by my fellow academics. ResearchGate reports that my papers had 159 reads last week, including frequent mention of two that I regard as among my more significant papers. I am glad I have lived long enough to see it.

The two articles referred to are:

An "attitude to authority" scale


Half of All Racists Are Left Wing

It should be noted that almost all my papers are research reports rather than theoretical articles. And research reports stand as facts. You can disagree about the implications of the facts reported -- theoretical articles do that -- but you cannot disagree with the facts as such. The findings stand but what a reader does with the findings will be variable.

How much influence a reading of my papers will have is unknown. Since my findings were often uncongenial to a Leftist viewpoint they will no doubt often be read and then ignored. Leftists are good at ignoring reality

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The Feelgood versus the rational

I have set out at some length here why Leftists tend to have ego problems. They have a great need for praise and admiration. So if an opportunity comes up for a Leftist to say or do something that will win him/her congratulations for being caring (etc.), he/she will grab that opportunity. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The problem arises when the feelgood policy has consequences that are destructive or dangerous. What if some action that at first seems praiseworthy turns out to do a lot of harm if you take that action?

A Leftists will not normally be deterred by that. His/her need for praise will cause him to close his eyes to the bad consequences down the track and keep advocating anything that sounds good. He needs the praise too much to give up the feelgood policy

But conservatives are not like that. They are cautious and want to avoid doing anything that will hurt people. So they will point to the future harms of the feelgood policy and will oppose it because of those harms. The conservative does not allow the feelgood nature of some policy to swamp all other considerations.

And Australia is at the mmoment gripped by a debate over a policy that feels good to most people but which could do real harm if implemented: The "Voice" debate.

Leftist feel all warm and righteous at advocating a special voice in Federal parliament for Aborigines. Aborigines as a group are in a hell of a mess in many ways so "doing something" for them has great appeal. It shows how much heart you have for their problems and may lead to better treatment of them by future governments.

But conservatives know their history and are quite appalled by the prospect of racial privileges for one particular group. If the 20th century taught us anything, it taught us the evils of racial favoritism. There can be no doubt that racial preferences are simply evil and provoke disharmony.

So conservatives are against the Voice on that and other grounds. And that makes them the enemies of the Leftist feelgood policy. So what do the Left do when thretened with the loss of their feelgood policy? Do they simply concede the point and desist from advocating something that could be very harmful? No way. They like ther feelgood policy too much to abandon it.

So what do they do? In good Leftist style they resort to abuse and lies. They go "ad hominem". They cannot answer the conservative arguents so they impugn the motives of conservatives who oppose the polcy. In the oldest bit of Leftist abuse in the book, they accuse conservatives of racism. They say that it is racism that lies behind opposition to the "voice". That they are are the one who are advocating something racist seems quite lost on them.

So they pretend tat it is white supremacists who are their opposition while they are the good and noble guys. It's a sad commentary on the ego needs that drive such irrationality but it is a classic bit of Leftist argumentation.

The toon below describes the mythical world that the Left have created around the "Voice". One of the many things that the Left are sedulously ignoring is that it is not only white conservatives in opposition but many Aborigines too. Around half of Aborigines seem to be opposed to the Voice and say so. How come they oppose something that is supposed to help them?

The only way the Left have of dealing with that puzzle is by ignoring the Aborigines concerned. The toon features some well-known Aborigines who oppose the Voice and shows them as canvassing for a "No" vote


Sunday, September 17, 2023

An anachronism survives

While I am far from alone in it I appear to be one of the few still alive who had the benefit of a good classical education. That makes me an anachronism, a person from a bygone time

During my days in High school I gained a knowledge of the language and literature of three foreign languages plus ancient history and classical English literature. I entered High school at a time when a classics education was no longer compulsory but it was optionally available and I took good advantage of that opportunity

My classical education would once been have deemed incomplete without some knowedge of ancient Greek. To call a person "Greekless" was once to call them uneducated -- but to a small extent I remedied that deficiency by private study and can to this day recite two famous passages in Greek and debate the grammar involved. ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος etc

But the point of a classical education is not to know the declension of the Latin noun "mensa" but rather what goes with classical study: The introduction to assumptions and ways of thought from different times and places. It enables us to transcend our awareness of our own times and places. It "broadens" our minds, if I may be so old-fashioned as to use that phrase. It liberates us from seeing anything in our present as being inevitable or normal. It uproots assumptions

And of the three foreign languages I studied, the one I enjoy most to this day is Latin. German and Italian are more useful to me because I also like classical music and most classical music emanates from German and Italian sources. When I hear the great Bach aria "Mache dich mein Herze rein", I actually understand what the singer is saying. And when I hear the Monteverdi madrigal "Chiome d'oro" I marvel at the fact that blonde hair was admired even in Renaissance Italy -- 400 years ago.

But Latin is the language that I enjoy most for itself. I like it in part because of its succinctness. The most famous example of that is of course "veni, vidi, vinci" but a 19th century British General in the Indian wars allegedly did even better with "peccavi". And Latin is also a powerful way of putting something. "de gustibus non disputandum est" is hard to argue with.

So the point I am making is that a classical education opens doors to both enjoyment and wisdom. To have lost it is a serious deprivation. So the fact that I write from that perspective will help keep a small amount of that perspective alive and functioning for a while.

I am aware of an appearance of inconsistency in praising the classics while it is Cemiplimab that is keeping me alive but there is no opposition between the classics and science. And as someone who has had 200+ scientific papers published in the academic journals I am an embodiment of that. I even know what heteroscedasticity refers to.

And a classical education can in fact the helpful in science. Academic writing is notoriously hard to follow but a person with a background in Latin will usually be able to write English more clearly. So an academic colleague once said to me: "John, we don't always agree with you but at least we understand what you are saying"

Monday, September 11, 2023

The "extreme events" issue

The very gradual process of global warming that we have seen so far has produced no direct ill-effects that we can see.  Crops are more abundant than ever and some Pacific islands are growing rather than shrinking. So "extreme events" are the last refuge of the warmists.  Bad weather generally is routinely branded as an extreme event and is attributed to global warming without any shred of evidence for the link.

Any causal statement requires controls.  You have to show that the "caused" event would not have happened without the "cause" specified.  But that would require you to show what would have happened WITHOUT global warming -- and that is impossible.

Single events might or might not be due to some influence or other but you have no way of showing what the influence was.  It is known as the "attribution" problem and is in principle unsolvable where the event is a "one-off", a hurricane, for instance. You have to have variations in the causal condition to correlate with the alleged caused condition.  Would this hurricane have happened in the absence of global warming?  We cannot know.  We can only surmise.  And a surmise is no proof.

So the attribution of individual extreme events to global warming is LOGICALLY false.  It CANNOT be shown as be fact.   But science is at ease with hypotheses so it remains a hypothesis that COULD be true even if proving it is currently impossible.

And an hypothesis can be tested in various ways.  It is commonly tested by asking if it generates accurate predictions.  And it could be held as preliminary support for an hypothesis that the incidence of extreme events has systematically increased as the globe has warmed. Is there a correlation? So has it?  There are some claims to that effect but how well-founded are they?  Have extreme events in fact become more frequent?

A recent study has addressed that hypothesis.  They have looked at a big range of reports about extreme events and asked are such events becoming more frequent.  For each of a range or event extremes they have gathered published information about whether such events are increasing in frequency over time.  An abstract of the report concerned is given below.  It finds no evidence that any extreme event has become more frequent.  So the claimed connections are not only logically false but they are empirically false too.

The study was published 18 months ago and various climate skeptics have quoted it approvingly.  That approval has eventually got under the skin of the Warmists so they have tried to discredit the research concerned.  And their antagonism to the paper has borne fruit. The paper was "withdrawn" by its publisher, which counts as evidence that it is faulty.

But is it faulty?  A much  quoted attack on the paper in "The Guardian" lists a whole array of orthodox Warmists who say it is faulty but detailed evidence of the faults is conspicuously missing.  No detailed numbers are quoted and the issue  is entirely a matter of numbers.  The Guardian makes clear that orthodox scientists disagree with the paper but does not give chapter and verse why.  Link to The Guardian below:

Note that some of the attacks from Warmists are of the most intellectually discreditable kind:  "Ad hominem" attacks -- attacking the motives of the authors rather than the evidence they put forward

And that none of the critics quote the detailed numbers is a major scientific fault.  If a scientist disagrees with the conclusions of a particular paper  -- as I have often done -- he goes over the ground covered by the paper and shows where it went wrong.  In this case the paper at issue is a meta-analysis so the data behind it is readily available.  Its conclusions are readily tested by repeating  the meta-analysis in some more cautious way.  Nobody seems to have attempted that.  "Do better" is the obvious retort to the Warmists  but none seem even to have attempted that.

The next link takes you to an extensive discussion of whether the paper deserved withdrawal:

The abstract of the deplored paper follows:

A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming

Gianluca Alimonti et al.


This article reviews recent bibliography on time series of some extreme weather events and related response indicators in order to understand whether an increase in intensity and/or frequency is detectable. The most robust global changes in climate extremes are found in yearly values of heatwaves (number of days, maximum duration and cumulated heat), while global trends in heatwave intensity are not significant. Daily precipitation intensity and extreme precipitation frequency are stationary in the main part of the weather stations. Trend analysis of the time series of tropical cyclones show a substantial temporal invariance and the same is true for tornadoes in the USA. At the same time, the impact of warming on surface wind speed remains unclear. The analysis is then extended to some global response indicators of extreme meteorological events, namely natural disasters, floods, droughts, ecosystem productivity and yields of the four main crops (maize, rice, soybean and wheat). None of these response indicators show a clear positive trend of extreme events. In conclusion on the basis of observational data, the climate crisis that, according to many sources, we are experiencing today, is not evident yet. It would be nevertheless extremely important to define mitigation and adaptation strategies that take into account current trends.


Monday, August 28, 2023

The Bhagavad Gita

I have always respected India and Indians so I thought that it was time to read something of their great holy book, written around 200BC.

I have just read the first two chapters and am very impressed. Its thoughts resonate with me. Chapter 1 sets out very vividly the folly of war. Even though I am a former member of the Australian army, war has always seemed a horror to me: So many deaths of so many good men for so little gain. I am at the moment distressed by the war in Ukraine. I have Russian and Ukrainian friends so Russian and Ukrainian deaths are horrible thoughts to me. Why can we not put that ongoing disaster to a stop? And the Hindu prince (Arjuna) in the Gita expresses grief at war very vividly. He sets out the folly of war better than I could do. He sounds very modern to me.

I am no pacifist. I accept that if we are attacked, we have to fight back. But the Bhagavad Gita questions the very essence of that. It asks what is the benefit of any attack? Nothing is worth it. The Hindu prince asks should we simply refuse to fight. Is pacifism better?

I have some sympathy for that view. Would rule by Hitler be so bad? Germans loved him. Was it worth all the bloodshed to defeat him? Hitler did after all initially just want to banish all the Jews to Palestine (The Haavara Agreement) but the British and others blocked that. Those are the sorts of doubt that the Hindu prince had in chapter 1 of the Gita. And a couple of hundred years later Jesus said much the same: "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:38). That scripture has worried me since I was 14 and is why I was a pacifist in my teens

But the Gita said it first and said it much more vividly.

And in chapter 2 the Gita goes on to answer the pacifist doubts. It says your soul is indestructible so what you do in war can cause no serious harm. I don't believe in God or souls so that is no help to me. We atheists are stuck with reality.

I will read on

Saturday, August 26, 2023

7 day creation could be pagan

Did you know that, according to Genesis chapter 1 God did NOT create the heavens and the earth?  What's that?  You say.  What the heck am I talking about?

What I am talking about is what the original Hebrew  Bible says, not what the King James version or some other translation says.

You see, the original Hebrew Bible is very exact when it refers to God. It uses a specific name for him: "Yahveh" (or Jehovah in English).  I have a copy of the Hebrew Bible so does it anywhere in Genesis 1 mention the Tetragrammaton (Divine name in Hebrew)?  

It does not. The Tetragrammation is quite a short word, whereas Elohim is quite a long word.  You can't miss the difference.  What Genesis 1.1 to 1:3 says is that the Heavens and Earth were created by "Elohim", which in Hebrew means "gods", any gods.  Could be pagan gods.  Don't blame me.  That's what it says.

So what is going on?  Why is Genesis 1.1 to 1:3  so different from the rest of the Torah?  It's because that passage is what scholars politely call an  interpolation, in plain words a pious fraud.  It was not there when the original Torah was written.  It is a late addition, presumably put there by some priests.

The original creation story starts from Genesis 2:4.  And guess who gets a mention there straight away? Yahveh.  The divine name now appears.

So Genesis 1.1 to 1:3  is a document from somewhere much later than the rest of the Torah.  It dates from a time when Israelite priests had ceased using the divine name out of a fear of taking it in vain.  They used "Elohim" instead, as a respectful plural. It is quite a late document.

So Why?  Why did the priests do that? It's propaganda.  The Israelites have always had to exist among pagans and pagans all regard the Sun as a great god.  So they dedicate the first day of the week to him. So it has always been a battle for Israelites to defend their unique god.  

And one way they did that from early on was to defy custom and have their Holy day on the 7th day, not the 1st.  But that needed defending to the Israelite public.  They had to have a reason for celebrating the "wrong" day.  So in desperation the priests invented a story about God resting on the 7th day of  creation.  Keeping Saturday holy was simply following God's example.  Neat, eh?

I give a fuller account of the above matters here:


Monday, August 14, 2023


Below are four recent short posts which I think do make something of a coherent whole

August 09, 2023

Why the men are no good

Some excerpts below from an article that condemns the immaturity of most men on the dating scene.

The female author below, Karen Marie Shelton, does her best to explain why men become so unsatisfactotry to women but can come up with nothing definite. I am going to suggest that it is because she is a woman. It needs a male point of view to understand men. And I think I know a major thing she misses.

I know I will raise some hackles by saying so but I am going to suggest that men have been made selfish, unreliable and demanding because women have made them like that. Women spoil men. Men are inconsiderate, insensitive etc because they can be. Is is the "sisters" of the dissatisfied women who have made men so unsatisfactory.

OK. Why do I say that? For one reason: It is amazing what women will put up with from a man they like. Good looking men experience that regularly but even average-looking men like me experience it.

I am just going to give one example from my own life that I think drives home the point.

At one time I had a girlfriend who I would visit regularly at her house. Our routine was for her to cook us a dinner followed by a trip to her bedroom. And we went well together in that department. But she would get such a blast out of sex that she would fall asleep at about 9:30, whereupon I would make my exit and go home.

And when I walked into my bedroom at home I would find another woman in my bed waiting for me, naked under the covers. She knew perfectly well where I had just been but still wanted sex with me -- and I was able to oblige. And she was no dragon. She was rather pretty and quite bright

So what does that tell you? It tells you that women can be amazingly flexible in what they ask of a man. They can forgive the unforgiveable

So how does that affect the men concerned? It obviously makes them expect a lot of indulgence from women. And they get it. They have no reason to behave more considerately. Women not prepared to behave indugently will mostly not get what they want, sad to say.

And let's face it: What woman would not want a man who is "emotionally intelligent, kind, understanding, compassionate, and empathic" That's what the woman writing below expects.

And there are indeed some men like that. But the competition for them will be fierce. Men like that will get lots of offers and will therefore be in a position to pick the best of the available women. Most women will sooner or later have to settle for a less ideal man. And many do.

So do I have a message for the women who think most men are no good? I do. You are right. But are you any good from a man's point of view? The frankness of your answer to that will determine whether or not you have much in the way of relationships. We are all imperfect and the path of wisdom is to truly accept that. Two of the ladies in my life at present are very imperfect from certain points of view but I enjoy the company of both of them greatly

I’ve recently been watching the latest 2023 season of Peacock’s show ‘Love Island USA.’ The reality dating show features male and female singles in the 18–29 category looking for love.

Watching even a few episodes makes it painfully clear why so many men are single today.

As the show unfolds, the couple’s male or female can decide to dump their partners for other Love Islanders. This encourages a lack of loyalty, lying, cheating, hurt feelings, and drama.

Toward the end, couples have a few days to decide whether to have a more permanent relationship outside the villa. At this point in the reality dating show, the shit hits the fan.

Although there have been five seasons of the show — and I confess I binge-watched all of them — the current 2023 season has a toxic and unhinged cast.

While most female islanders seem genuine in their search for a permanent boyfriend, a long-time love, and maybe even marriage in the future, the male participants are not close.

It’s hard to begin to pick the worst of the boys.

The man-child syndrome is in full bloom

We’ve already experienced over-the-top toxic-male bullying and gaslighting from 28-year-old Victor Gonzalez.

Even though his partner, 22-year-old Carmen Kocourek, expressed a wish to go slow with the relationship, Victor continued to violate her boundaries. The rest of the women couldn’t seem to connect with him either.

Leonardo (Leo) Dionicio is a 21-year-old salesman who has already demonstrated some serious Island bed-hopping. He can’t seem to decide between two women, which allows him to act disrespectful, inappropriate, childish, or all of the above.

Harrison Luna Hans’ is also exhibiting relationship red flags. The 29-year-old diamond merchant has made it clear to all the men that he cannot be honest with his true feelings for his unsuspecting partner, Destiny Zammarra, 27.

There are so many other subplots of male immaturity and overt toxicity it’s hard to keep track of them all.

The man-child pattern is famously known as the ‘Peter Pan syndrome.’ Psychologist Dan Kiley first described in his iconic 1983 tome ‘Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up.’

Some psychologists use more informal terms to describe boys who refuse to become men.

A Peter Pan man-child is unreliable, struggles to form meaningful relationships, is socially and emotionally immature, may exhibit narcissistic behaviors, and often ‘mommy-zone’ their partner.

Those traits sound like many, if not most, of the guys from ‘Love Island USA.’

Although there isn’t much research on the triggers, some experts believe it might result from boys being coddled by their parents. Or conversely, they are raised in environments with strict gender roles.

The old theory that ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘boys mature slower than girls’ may have some value in this scenario.

Some might find it ‘adorable’ when men need a woman because they can’t cook, clean, do their laundry, express their emotions or handle adult responsibilities. Are all those things really that complicated?

Maybe it is if you’re a male who’s been socialized to believe it’s a woman’s responsibility to act like the mommy of the man you’re dating.

Being a man’s mommy, maid, cook, housekeeper, personal assistant, and whatever else they may want becomes incredibly exhausting, especially when a woman has their own life to manage.

It’s not like men can’t possibly know what most women seek in a relationship. It’s not some great mystery buried deep in a file cabinet somewhere.

Women have been outspoken about what they want in a man. They want one who is emotionally intelligent, kind, understanding, compassionate, and empathic.

They don’t want a self-centered man-child who’s needy, has zero emotional control, throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, and is overly focused on a woman’s looks.

Of course, not all men are like that, nor is that the only reason so many men are lonely, single, and sexless. But it’s definitely one of the reasons.

I doubt any woman in their right mind wants to babysit a fully grown-a** man. Most ‘Love Island USA’ couples don’t form long-term, off-island relationships. It’s not all that shocking, is it?

Some people speculate that the show’s producers intentionally cast immature toxic men because they want the viewers to get angry.

Is that true? Maybe. But the current season illustrates a broader problem women often face in heterosexual relationships: having to mother their partners.

August 10, 2023

Forgiving infidelity

I have  little to say about infidelity in marriages and other committed relationships because  my morality is very old fashioned.  Once in a committed relationship I don't usually look aside.  I am not "unfaithful" so there is never anything to forgive.  When women leave me they will usually have some gripes but infidelity is not one of them

But I am not always in committed relationships.  In the interval between such relationships it is not unusual for me to have two or three girlfriends at the same time.  And that is  a situation where women might conceivably feel hard done by and feel anger at the "betrayal"  So I think I might have something to add to the discussion below.

I think the discussion below is pretty moronic.  It presents itself as new and exciting wisdom but in a nutshell simply says that infidelity should be forgiven because the unfaithful one is simply "finding" themselves.  That would have to be the oldest excuse for infidelity in the book and does not even to touch on the big problem of infidelity:  The loss of trust.

It appears close to universal that lying and deception is associated with infidelity.  An unfaithful man will hide his affair from his wife for some time.  And it will be devastating to the wife when she discovers the deception.  A man in whom she confided her trust was not trustworthy at all and that will tend to upset her entire mental world.  She will have lost her condidence in her own judgment.  And recovery  from that will be very difficult and bromides about the man "finding himself" will be no help at all

So what can a man do to prevent such a devasting upset in someone for whom he still presumably cares?  I have an answer to that and it has always worked wonders for me: I don't lie to women.  And that is not as hard to do as you might think.  

Let's say you met a gorgeous female on a business trip and coupled with her.    What I would do would be to to tell immediately the other woman or women in my life something like:   "Sweetheart, I met this  attractive woman on my trip and we did go to bed together.  I think it will be a passing thing but at any event I will not hide it from you. I will make sure that you are kept aware of anything relevant."  

The admission might be upsetting but her confidence in you as honest and trustworthy will have been preserved. You will gain credit as an honest man. There may still be upset about your revelation  but the lady with be profoundly comforted by your trust in telling her everything.  You will be trusted in return.

And even in a committed relationship that strategy should be enormously beneficial.  What works for me in more casual relationships should work well in general.  It is certainly what I would recommend

And let me allude once more to what I pointed out recently:    It is amazing what a woman will put up with from a man they like.  I gave a rather vivid example of that. So I have some confidence that even in a committed relationship, honesty about infidelity would often preserve good will and trust

On the topic of honesty, let me give one more anecdote.  I was for some years married to a bright, shapely and good natured lady.  I was a lucky man.  And she had an equally bright friend who I came to like.  I eventually decided that I would like to sleep with that friend.  So what did I do?  Did I scheme to make an arrangement behind my wife's back that  would enable me to sleep with that friend?  Not at all.  I told my wife that I fancied her friend. Did she rage and scream?  Not at all. She arranged for her friend and me to get together.  In the event I didn't feel right to go ahead with it but  I think you can again see the great benefit of being honest.

I obviously have somewhat unusual relationships but I think there is something to be learned from them.   I have certainty had a good life with no angry woman in it at any time

I discovered Esther Perel a few years ago through a TED Talk.

She spoke about relationships and examined why people cheat. But it wasn’t just any TED Talk — it was more like an awakening. Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist and author, has left her mark on me. I ended up reading her books, saving her podcasts, and coming back to them every now and then.

I started reading The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity about three years ago, and I still haven’t finished it — only because I don’t want to. Every single page holds insurmountable wisdom and information. I would spend many days and nights reflecting on an idea or a particular discovery.

Perel has revisited modern relationships and given them a new meaning. She discusses marriage, infidelity, love, and monogamy like nobody else. Her ideas are new, rational, and sometimes shocking. To read and accept them, one must be brave.

Perel was the first to tell us that having an affair doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. And having an affair doesn’t always mean there’s something missing in the relationship — it means there’s something missing within us. She puts it like this:

“We are not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves.”

In a world that associates cheating with endings, Perel shatters our inherited perceptions and tells us that cheating could serve as a window to something totally different and new.

After years of reading and watching Perel, I wholeheartedly believe that we need a certain level of openness and readiness to welcome her ideas.

Here’s a glimpse of what Perel has in store for everyone who has ever been in a relationship:
“Divorce happens now not because we are unhappy, but because we could be happier.”

“Sometimes, when we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t our partner we are turning away from, but the person we have become. We are not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves.”

“There is never ‘the one.’ There is a one that you choose and with whom you decide that you want to build something. But in my opinion, there could also have been others.”

“The grand illusion of committed love is that we think our partners are ours. In truth, their separateness is unassailable, and their mystery is forever ungraspable. As soon as we can begin to acknowledge this, sustained desire becomes a real possibility.”

“However authentic the feelings of love, the dalliance was only ever meant to be a beautiful fiction.”

“When we select a partner, we commit to a story, yet we remain forever curious. What other stories could we have been part of? Affairs offer us a window into those other lives, a peek at the stranger within. Adultery is often the revenge of the deserted possibilities.”

“Until now monogamy has been the default setting, and it sits on the premise (however unrealistic) that if you truly love, you should no longer be attracted to others.”

“Sex is about where you can take me, not what you can do to me.”

“Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?”

“But one theme comes up repeatedly: affairs as a form of self-discovery, a quest for a new (or a lost) identity. For these seekers, infidelity is less likely to be a symptom of a problem, and is more often described as an expansive experience that involves growth, exploration, and transformation.”

“Monogamy used to mean one person for life. Now monogamy means one person at a time.”

“Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew — or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency, in the most positive sense.”

“It’s hard to experience desire when you’re weighted down by concern.”

“If you start to feel that you have given up too many parts of yourself to be with your partner, then one day you will end up looking for another person in order to reconnect with those lost parts.”

“Acceptance doesn’t mean predictability. Sex isn’t always for 11 at night — it’s also ‘meet at a hotel room at noon.’ What you feel during dating can exist at home, if you don’t suffocate it.”

August 11, 2023

Additionally ...

Ok. Ok..  I have had a bit of correspondence about my recent posts involving mention of my personal life.  Several men have been fascinated by my story of finding an attractive female form under the covers of my bed when I got home.  They want to know how they can arrange something similar!  Seriously, though, despite having only average looks I have had a lot of fine women flitting in and out of my life over the years, including 4 marriages.  My life story would make incels suicidal.  So how do I do it?

I can and will give an exact and succinct answer to that but before I do, I want to stress that I personally do NOT regard myself as a great success with women.  I see myself as more of a failure.  As my 4 marriages attest, I am very marriage-minded and at age 80 I find myself unmarried.  That is a great regret to me.  I do still have 4 fine women calling on me regularly but none stay all day which is what I would like.

So on to the point of this post:  How have I managed to attract many fine women into my life?  I am afraid my answer is a rather brutal one, that will not be of much help to anyone else.  I have always said that I am attractive to only about 2% of women but 2% is a lot of women. So who are those 2%?  They are unusually bright women.  

Women greatly dislike having man in their life who is dumber than they are and in the end they usually cannot stand it.  They just cannot respect him.  And the smarter the woman gets the bigger the problem that is for her.  The top-scoring ones have a devil of a job finding a man who is at least as smart as they are.  Smart men are a small minority to start with and such men often use their smarts to find a suitable lady fairly early on in life so are not long "on the market".

And that is where I come in. I am a genuine top-scorer in IQ.  I ran Sydney Mensa for a number of years.  So when a very bright lady encounters me it can be like finding water in the desert to her.  And I don't have to be all that good in other ways -- such as looks.  For the sake of having conversations on her own level, she will put up with a lot.

Let me give just two examples of the sort of conversation concerned:

I was sitting in her living-room with a very highly educated lady.  We were both reading but reading different things.  She piped up at one stage and asked me:  "What does "peynted" mean?  I replied immediately:  "It is Middle English for "painted".  That was the correct answer and what she needed -- as she had been trying to decipher a Middle English poem at the time. But 99% of women would not even know what Middle English was.  They would certainly not be prone to reading poetry written 600 years ago.  But high IQ people can be  that weird

Another episode was with one of my current girlfriends.  She is very bright and intellectual but is from Serbia.  So her cultural awareness is East of most of mine -- from Germany to Russia.  She has only a nodding acquaintance with English literature. So  recently she asked me something about Rilke.  Rilke who?  Rainer  Maria Rilke to be precise.  I not only knew who he was but had read some of his poems in the original German.  I even showed off a bit by pronouncing his name using Die gehobene Sprache, which was more than she can do.

So very bright women can be very advantageous.  They are usually pretty good-looking too.  But to be accepted by them you usually need to be on their level or higher and only your genes can take you there.  I do know women who have accepted a less intelligent man into their lives in return for various advantages but they know the bargain they have struck and live with it.  They are however derisive of their man on occasions, which is sad.

August 13, 2023

No mystery at all

Ted Bauer has encountered something he doesn't understand.  A lady said in his hearing something that is a mystery to him.  Yet it is in fact very common.  It even has a name:  The ‘intimacy-desire paradox’.  One description of it:

"That which we desire most in a relationship (read: security and comfort) rarely coexists with that which keeps us attracted to a partner (read: passion and sexual intimacy).

It’s a frustrating contradiction some sex therapists refer to as the ‘intimacy-desire paradox’. In short, this hypothesis proposes the more comfortable we are with someone, the more our sexual desire for them is likely to decline.

Which makes sense, given desire is essentially the result of wanting something we don’t already possess"

In plain terms sexual desire tends to fall off within established couples.  The commonest example is where the man  in a young marriage expects sex every night but the lady is not nearly as  keen.  It can be a source of friction.

When the crisis will strike is however a  bit unpredicable. Some men still want it every night even into their sixties and the women go along with it to keep a problem marriage alive.  As long as the guy uses lube there is no problem.  

In the particular case I have in mind, there was no loss of overall desire in the lady concerned. She was occasionally having great times with a much younger man. She is a respectable High School teacher by day.  I did not get even a kiss from her.

But that is an extreme case.  In one of my relationships I lost interest in sex with my lady after only 6 months while in a subsequent relationship we were still going strong after 7 years.  The emotions involved make a difference.

So what Ted has encountered is desire that has diminished to the point where it is a chore.  But the only odd thing about it is that the feeling was broadcast so publicly.  Her feelings were perfectly normal for her age and were known to be so

I get very confused about gender dynamics and relationship dynamics almost constantly, which shouldn’t be that surprising if you consider that I am divorced and remarried — and, like most 40-something males, I don’t have a ton of friends swirling around me. I have no idea what I’m doing in most relationships, which might explain why I write about relationships and friendships constantly. It’s an effort to explain some of the stuff I cannot seem to grasp. I just psychoanalyzed myself. Should I now bill myself $200 for this hour?

About two years ago, I was at some social event. I think it was related to horses because of where I live. About five feet over from me, there was a table of women in their 30s. I knew two of the seven, and maybe four of the seven’s husbands. I am not really “friends” with any of them.

One lady gets up and loudly announces to her girlfriends/mom friends:  “Well, (name of husband) turns 37 tonight. Guess I gotta go home and fuck.”

Admittedly this is one statement by one woman in one town at one moment in history, but it was still kinda impactful to me for a few reasons:

If it was his birthday that day — and in this specific case I do know they have children — why was she at this thing and not spending time with him and their kids?

Why is having sex with your husband a chore? (I know for many it is.)

Why is it a prerequisite on a birthday?

Why was it said with such resignation and an eye roll, and elicited laughter from the other ladies there?