Friday, July 12, 2013

Dissident scientist fired:  Shades of the old Soviet Union

How did Soviet values get transplanted to an Australian university?  No mystery.  The Soviets were Leftist; Universities are mostly Leftist.  Tolerance and free speech are alien to both

Last month we spotlighted here the devastating synopsis of the case against conventional climate alarmism by Macquarie University physicist Murry Salby, presented last spring in Germany.  It seems the Luca Brazis of the climate campaign have not taken this sitting down, and apparently Salby has been sacked from Macquarie.  Over on Australian science writer Joanne Nova’s blog, Salby gives an account of what has taken place.

It is a long account you can read in full at your leisure, but the overall point is that the university apparently regretted its hiring of Salby and reneged on its commitment of support for his research, is penalizing one of his graduate students, and has used technicalities to dismiss him.  Here’s the key section:
8. Under the resources Macquarie had agreed to provide, arrangements were made to present this new research at a scientific conference and in a lecture series at research centers in Europe.

9. Forms for research travel that were lodged with Macquarie included a description of the findings. Presentation of our research was then blocked by Macquarie. The obstruction was imposed after arrangements had been made at several venues (arranged then to conform to other restrictions imposed by Macquarie). Macquarie’s intervention would have silenced the release of our research.

10. Following the obstruction of research communication, as well as my earlier efforts to obtain compliance with my contract, Macquarie modified my professional duties. My role was then reduced to that of a student teaching assistant: Marking student papers for other staff – junior staff. I objected, pursuant to my appointment and provisions of my contract.

11. In February 2013, Macquarie then accused me of “misconduct”, cancelling my salary. It blocked access to my office, computer resources, even to personal equipment I had transferred from the US.

My Russian student was prohibited from speaking with me. She was isolated – left without competent supervision and the resources necessary to complete her PhD investigation, research that Macquarie approved when it lured her from Russia.

12. Obligations to present our new research on greenhouse gases (previously arranged), had to be fulfilled at personal expense.

It is likely that Tim Flannery, one of the leading climate campaign thugs who is also at Macquarie, is behind this purge.

I’m still convinced that I was correct when I said in my post on Salby last month that “I suspect there are a lot more Salbys out there in the sciences in academia.”  But his treatment shows how hazardous it can be to challenge the “consensus” if you aren’t tenured.  Which reminds me of a story on this point.

A few years ago a young lady I know, teaching in a top environmental engineering program at a top university, was approaching her tenure review.  She had a solid record of published peer reviewed technical papers on subjects having little to do with climate, and strong teaching evaluations.  But she had written one newspaper op-ed expressing skepticism about one aspect of the climate change narrative that came squarely in her field of special expertise.  This was enough for some faculty to argue her tenure should be denied.

If you know anything about science departments in leading universities, they are desperate for women faculty.  (At MIT, I am told the science departments are to look first for a woman for every new faculty vacancy.  Unofficially, of course, since an explicit policy like this would be illegal.)  Armed with this leverage, I told my friend that she should march into the dean and tell him bluntly—“If you want to give in to this crap, go right ahead.  I’m sure if I start calling around at lunchtime I can get five offers by the end of the day from other universities.”

I don’t know if she spoke to the dean thusly, but she got her tenure.


The devaluation of marriage is costing society

There is a disconnect in our national discussion about marriage. On the one hand we have had a very strong movement for same-sex marriage rights but on the other hand, there exists a general silence on the value and function of marriage in society.

If we are fighting for the right for all individuals to partake in an institution, is it not also critical that we discuss the inherent worth of that institution?

Marriage in Australia is on the decline as it is elsewhere. Social inequality is also increasing - now approaching the highs of the 1920s, according to Labor MP Andrew Leigh's Battlers and Billionaires, published just this month. Paediatric epidemiologist Fiona Stanley says: "If you want to have a future that is secure, successful and productive, you must invest in healthy mothers, healthy children and young people." One in six Australian children live below the poverty line, and one third of babies are born out of wedlock. The social justice argument for marriage is yet to be made however.

One reason for this is that high-quality de facto partnerships between men and women give the same benefits for children as traditional marriage does. But it's difficult to generalise about the effects on children of cohabiting relationships because results are entirely dependent on whether relationships are long term and stable, or fragile and part of a series.

But the fact that so many people are invested in the right to marry for same-sex couples suggests that marriage itself is still highly regarded. People are not fighting for the right of same-sex couples to cohabit or enter into civil unions, but to marry, indicating that the cultural significance in the social "fact" of marriage remains.

Despite this, media conversation around heterosexual marriage is generally coloured by cynicism and 1970s feminist-negativisms. Progressive public commentators do not like to admit that marriage is actually good for women and children, or that a happy marriage is associated with better well-being, longevity and lifetime health.

In February, Jill Filipovic of The Guardian wrote a piece condemning "outdated" notions of marriage, citing the "male as breadwinner myth" as central to her argument. Filipovic writes that "marriage confers tangible benefits to men, and far fewer to women … for women, it means more work and less pay, or the financially tenuous position of staying home full time and hoping your marriage (and only source of income) lasts". Filipovic's argument is based on the premise that a woman's economic position should always be independent from others. A woman's wealth should not be shared with her husband and vice versa, because independence and autonomy should at no point ever be compromised.

As a young woman about to have a baby, this argument does not compute. In the first few months of his life, my baby will be dependent on me, which means that I will be dependent on others, including my husband. That women are dependent at different times in their lives should not be stigmatised. Healthy interdependency in family relationships should not be constructed as the antithesis of feminism.

Filipovic argues that our society suffers from the "male as breadwinner myth". This "myth" reinforces an outdated gender role where a man works in order to provide for his family. Such a myth is believed to reinforce gender roles, and allows men to shirk their housework duties. This "male as breadwinner myth" is not just a product of popular journalism, however, it is echoed by serious feminist scholars such as Cordelia Fine, who argues in Delusions of Gender that "hard-wired accounts" portraying men as being intrinsically motivated to provide for their families are not only inaccurate, but harmful to women. They exist merely as an excuse for men to get out of doing childcare, cooking and cleaning.

This "myth" might be relevant in marriages between two university professors, who squabble over who gets to take the next research sabbatical overseas, but what Fine and Filipovic fail to acknowledge is that for a lot of women and children, having a male breadwinner around actually makes life a great deal easier. Whether such provisioning is hard-wired or not is irrelevant.

Although some women do not like to admit it,men give up a lot to be married, especially in an era of commitment-free sex. Internet forums are awash with men who voice grievances about the state of contemporary heterosexual marriage, but it has taken female advocates to bring this message to mainstream audiences. So for progressives who champion same-sex marriage but not male-female marriage, it may be timely to consider evidence which suggests that marriage may actually be conducive to health and well-being for both men and women. It may also be timely to consider that marriage may actually be a good thing for our children too.


DOCS plays 'Russian roulette' with lives

And its not getting better

The failure to intervene and save the life of two-year-old boy Zoran Ivanovski was akin to playing Russian roulette, according to a senior caseworker at the Department of Community Services.

The boy's death in August last year from multiple blunt force injuries, allegedly delivered by his mother, sparked industrial action by staff from his local DOCS office at Coniston, who described it as "tragic and avoidable".

"We play Russian roulette with every case that comes before us. To some degree that's always been a reality for us, but it's getting worse," the caseworker said.

"Unfortunately for this child, a decision was made that nobody could take the case, that it couldn't be allocated at that time."

The caseworker said the south coast Community Services office, which was repeatedly warned about the risks posed to the two-year-old, was decimated by a government freeze on the use of temporary staff to fill vacant positions.

Fairfax Media later revealed the boy was not visited by child protection workers despite multiple reports from concerned carers at Towradgi Preschool, who saw fresh bruises and bites each time he attended.

The toddler's plight was discussed at a meeting of child protection workers a day before he died, but his case was not allocated to a caseworker because others were considered a higher priority.

The caseworker said the failure to replace employees was dealt with by getting rid of one child protection team, which had only two caseworkers left in it, by moving those staff into two vacant Out-of-Home Care positions. It reduced the number of child protection teams from four to three.

He also said there had been a freeze on the use of people from the organisation's temporary staff database to fill gaps left by staff going on leave or acting in management positions.

A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward maintained her office's previous position that vacancy rates had remained at their lowest level in many years.

"Caseworker numbers go up and down all the time, they always have," the spokesman said. "There is no freeze on recruiting caseworkers in the Wollongong area, or in any areas across the state. There never has been.

"The government has not cut frontline child protection caseworker positions. The minister has instructed the director-general that the government expects budgeted frontline caseworker positions be filled."

The mother accused of murdering her two-year-old was expected to apply for bail on Wednesday but the case was adjourned.

Speaking for the first time since the death, Zoran's father Kire Ivanovski said he was "devastated".

Mr Ivanovski said all he had left to remember his son were a few photos. "He'll always be in my heart but now I just have his photos," he said. "I'll always see him as a little baby. But I'll never forget him."

Mr Ivanovski said his "beautiful baby boy" had been a well-behaved child who loved playing with toy trucks and cars.


Man kicked off NT bus because his Victoria's Secret model singlet was too sexy

A YOUNG man has been refused passage on a Darwin bus because the driver deemed his singlet to be too racy.

Twenty-two year old Daniel Willis attempted to board a bus with his girlfriend on Sunday afternoon but the driver told him he would not let him on "because you can't get on with that singlet".

Mr Willis' tank top depicts a Victoria's Secret model posing in her underwear, which he bought from a surf shop in NSW.

"It's not offensive - I'm a real beachy person and it's just a print on the front of a beachy singlet," he said. "No one has ever said anything bad about it before.

"Victoria's Secret models are on television and (billboards) all the time. Maybe (the bus driver) is living a bit in the past. It's the 21st century and times have moved on."

In the end Mr Willis and his girlfriend were forced to walk to their destination.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Singlet looks OK. I'll get to it in a minute.