Monday, March 12, 2018

The war on "Throaties"

Note the little birdie

I gather that "Throaties" are officially regarded as confectionery rather than medicine.  On the rare occaion when I get a cold, however, I find them helpful.  And Woolworths is the obvious source of supply for them.

"Throaties" do contain various volatile compounds (menthol etc.) which are the active ingredients.  So "Throaties" are one of the cough lollies that come carefully double wrapped in order to prevent the volatiles from evaporating off.

Some lamebrain at Woolworths, however, didn't see the point of all that double wrapping so put all the lozenges together in a little plastic bag -- into which all the volatiles promptyly evaporated.  So as soon as you opened the plastic bag, all the stuff you wanted promptly escaped into the air.  So your "Throatie" no longer had any active ingredients.

I found that very frustrating but was consoled to find that a Bangladesdhi grocery on a corner near where I go had the olde "Throaties" in stock.  So I promptly bought 4 of them to tide me over.

Sadly, however, the Bangladeshi grocer is now a Mexican restaurant so when I got a cold recently I had to go in search of "Throaties".  My local chemist did not have them in any form.  Too grand for "Throaties", I guess.

But I knew how widely "Throaties" used to be stocked so on a hunch I called in to my local newsagent.  And there they were.  I bought 4 packs straightaway!

Jordan Peterson finds fellow travellers in the search for meaning


I want to start by saying: if you don’t have a ticket to see Jordan Peterson while he’s in Australia, run and get one. Beg, borrow and steal to get one. Except you can’t.

Peterson arrived in Australia this week for what, to their dismay, local organisers — a small company, True Arrow Events — immediately recognised is a too-short series of lectures in too-small theatres, on too few dates. He is sold out everywhere.

People can’t get enough of the 55-year-old psychologist. So, what will you be missing?

I went along to the Melbourne lecture on Thursday to find out. I’m not going to deny that I was already a bit of a fan girl.

Like many people, I stumbled on Peterson online last month when his interview on Britain’s Channel 4 with Cathy Newman went viral. I enjoyed it — enjoyed him — so much, I went and got his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos and inhaled it in a day. And OK, sure, since then I may have found myself, more than once, happily lost down a YouTube rabbit hole of Peterson ­lectures.

This was to be the real thing. The event was to be held in the sublime surroundings of the Melbourne Recital Hall. It was a warm night and the crowd was mostly on foot, and mostly young but not especially so — there were certainly people middle-aged and older.

I found myself seated in the second-back row, near the sound mixer, alone yet not, because it seemed like half the crowd had come alone, and I soon found out why: they hadn’t been able to convince friends to come along.

You want me to sit for two hours listening to some obscure Canadian drone on about the meaning of life — or else maybe pluck my eye out with a fork? Pass the fork.

They had shrugged and come along anyway.

To my left, I had a super clean-cut guy, Alex Roy, 32, who works for a non-profit. Behind us was the tattooed and beautiful Maggie Baines, 32, who is doing gender studies at the University of Victoria (she sheepishly admitted that her girlfriends weren’t all that happy about the idea of her “going to see Jordan ‘Effing’ Peterson because I guess he’s seen as a bit antifeminist”); and to our right we had brothers Tim and Nathan Morris, 24 and 26 respectively, who stumbled on Peterson while gaming, and soon found themselves “like, not talking about My Kitchen Rules, talking about big issues, like: what is the purpose of my life?”

Within seconds, everyone had introduced themselves and they were all getting animated, remembering the best things they’d heard Peterson say, when the lights dimmed and Peterson strode on to the stage.

To my complete surprise, they — indeed the entire audience — immediately rose as one and gave him a standing ovation. He hadn’t even said anything yet!

His first words were: “It’s three in the morning my time.” They cheered that, too.

Peterson did not say so but he had only just got off the plane. It would be an exaggeration to say that he has been on a speaking tour nonstop since the start of the year, but not by a lot. He’s touring the world and it’s different every night. He decided on his topic for Melbourne just 10 minutes before taking the stage.

He wanted to begin, he said, with something “spectacularly difficult”. The existence of God.

Peterson uses Bible stories to illustrate basic points in his lectures, and “people keep asking me, do I believe in God? And I’ve been accused of hedging my bets.”

It wouldn’t be fair to try to summarise his answer to that question. He spoke for more than 90 minutes, with no notes. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, know this: he does not drone.

Peterson has an unusual way of speaking that carries you along. Partly it’s the accent — he is a Canadian who has spent time in the US — but it’s also the way he speaks, with his long fingers pressed against his forehead, like he’s trying to push, or maybe even pry, the thoughts out.

Other times he’s like a mime artist, using his hands to draw boxes in the air, or else he’s doing a sucking thing with his fingers, drawing his hand back, like the movement of a jellyfish.

He does not shout or insist. He’s not a snake-oil salesman or a tub thumper.  He’s got his doubts, too. And depression.

There is also the manner in which he paces the stage, lean and hungry. All of Peterson’s clothes are new because he recently has lost more than 20kg by restricting his intake pretty much to moose, elk and steamed broccoli.

His daughter Mikhaila, 25, has suffered from chronic ill health almost all her life, including a form of arthritis that cost her a hip and an ankle when she was 17, and threatened to crumble more of her joints. She invented a diet that he has now adopted. It’s so strict, the tour organisers had to book him into self-catering hotels and Airbnb where the whole family can prepare their own meals (there being no elk in Australia, kangaroo may have to do).

Mikhaila Peterson credits the diet with curing her ailments and Jordan Peterson’s depression, which has been severe at times. He is now obsessive about food and veers dangerously close to those gals who claim to cure disease with food, except everyone knows he is right. You do feel awful when you eat junk food, and when you stop you’ll lose weight and feel better, and diabetes and arthritis may well be improved.

But on with the show. What did he say?

In essence, his point was not a new one: in a million years, who will care that you lived? You will be dust, and so will everything you ever did and everyone you ever loved. “Given that, you can decide that everything’s pointless, and yet we don’t,” he said.

Human beings tend to live like there is a point to it all. Not just here in the West. Every society has its parables. We are apparently hardwired to accept that there is more. Which maybe means there is more?  Maybe life does matter. Maybe we do, too.

On the other hand — and we all know this is true — with every person you meet, “you don’t have to scratch very much to find a bedrock of tragedy”.

“God only knows what’s wrong in your life,” Peterson said. “No doubt plenty, and there is more to come, you can be sure of that.”

That’s because even normal, well-functioning human beings are burdened by sorrow, and how could it be otherwise? We all suffer because bad things happen to all of us. We all lose people we love and in the end we all die.

Think about that for even a day and you’ll find yourself on the edge of nihilism. What can rescue us from despair?

“Happiness isn’t going to do it, that’s very fragile,” Peterson said. But meaning?  That may be the trick.

But what does it mean, to have meaning in your life?

Peterson’s ideas are difficult to summarise but essentially he believes that heaven and hell exist in some form on earth, and anyone who has ever done a bad thing knows it.

When you do a bad thing, you feel awful, and it’s the same when you find yourself being carried along by people or organisations whose values you don’t share, or working in a job that is not fulfilling, or telling lies about your drinking, or even when you’re not doing what you believe in your heart you were put on earth to do.

You feel awful because you’re walking in the wrong direction.  Let’s call that hell, since that’s how it feels.

When your house is in order, when you’re acting with clarity and honesty, when you’re moving in the right direction, you feel better, right?  That’s the opposite of hell.

Probably not heaven, since we’re human, but it is better than the alternative.

Peterson’s idea is that you — the sovereign individual — should start moving as quickly as possible away from hell. Away from things that would make you feel bad, and therefore make your world worse.

Pick your goal — a job more suited to your skills, a more honest marriage, a life filled with more kindness towards others — and head in that direction.

Catastrophic things will still happen. You will still suffer, because you’re human. But you will be able to bear it.

The reason we despair, he says, is because we have no target, “sometimes no bow, no arrow, no idea that we’re even meant to be aiming at”. So pick up whatever burden you’ve been given — your personal losses and grief, which you can’t escape anyway — and start moving rapidly in a direction that won’t make your life worse.

Make good decisions. Don’t tell lies.

Maybe the only life you’ll improve will be your own, but that’s a good start.  “Fix what’s in front of you,” Peterson said.

Peterson told the Melbourne audience he had received 30,000 letters in the six months since he rocketed to fame and, in broad outline, they said two things.

The first group says: “You put into words what I always thought was true, but couldn’t find a way to say it.”

The second group says: “I’ve listened to you, and I’ve been trying to put my house in order. I stopped making things worse, and lo and behold, they got better!”

The audience laughed and cheered.

Ninety-five minutes in, Peterson stepped briefly away from the stage and people were invited to line up behind the microphones, and half the audience rose and rushed toward the aisles, since everyone had a question for him.

No way was he going to get to them all, which was a shame because unusually for this format — audience participation — even the questions were good.

He was asked if there is a coming Christian renaissance — he thinks it likely — and about the looming civil crisis in South Africa.

One guy in an open relationship wanted to know if Peterson admired his decision to voluntarily face the fear and insecurity that develops when you know your partner is sleeping with other people (answer, in short: no).

A pale individual with a quaking manner asked whether “a person can continue to do graffiti and still say they were aiming to make the world a better place?”

The crowd laughed, but Peterson paused for a long time, like he wanted to give it serious consideration. “Mostly I think it’s a desperate attempt to get status,” he said ­finally. “And I think you should paint on your own property. But then there’s Banksy.

“So I hate to say this, but it depends on who you are. Probably you’re not Banksy.”

It went on for a bit longer, then it was time to go, and of course Peterson got a second standing ovation, but it wasn’t a long one, for everyone was rushing to get outside — and I soon figured out why.

Peterson was going to be signing. Buy a book and you’d get a chance to meet him, and didn’t that provide a moment to make a local author weep: the queue was 25 wide — that’s wide, not deep — and it snaked through the foyer and right up the staircase, and why wouldn’t it?

There just aren’t that many roaming rock star philosophers in the world today. You may think it mumbo-jumbo. You may profoundly disagree.

Even so, it will be a long time since you sat for two hours and considered the big questions with other people keen to have an animated conversation about the world, and our place in it.

I’d say get a ticket — but of course, you can’t.


Chilling fact is most climate change theories are wrong


You have to hand it to Peter Hannam, The Sydney Morning Herald’s climate change alarmist-in-chief, for his report last month - “ ‘Really ­extreme’ global weather event leaves scientists aghast”.

Hannam is often the ­canary in the coalmine (er, wind farm) when there is a sense that public belief in man-made global warming is flagging. With Europe in the grip of a much colder winter than predicted and with the ­abnormal chill spreading even to Africa, he did his best to hold the line.

Earlier this year, Climate Council councillor Will Steffen also climbed on board — for The Sydney Morning Herald of course. Extreme cold in Britain, Switzerland and Japan, a record-breaking cold snap in Canada and the US and an expansion of the East Antarctic ice sheet coincided with a ­Bureau of Meteorology tweet (later retracted) that January 7 had set a heat record for the ­Sydney Basin. Steffen told us these seemingly unrelated events were in fact linked. “Climate ­disruption” explained both. Whether fire or ice, we’re to blame. No ifs, no buts.

Now a warming Arctic provides the perfect opportunity for Hannam to divert attention from the latest deep freeze. He ominously warns: “Climate scientists are used to seeing the range of weather extremes stretched by global warming, but few episodes appear as remarkable as this week’s unusual heat over the Arctic.”

It’s true, warm air has made its way up to the high Arctic, driving temperatures up to 20C above ­average. But Anthony Watts, who runs a climate change website, puts things into perspective. He observes: “Warm moist air from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans has warmed the Arctic above the 80th parallel. It should be noted, however, that the Arctic Circle actually starts at 66 degrees north, meaning the record heat is over a much narrower area.”

Cato Institute atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue reviewed high Arctic temperature data going back to 1958 and says: “Data before the satellite era … has some problems, so it’s hard to say the current spike is for sure a record.” He says that if the baseline is 1973, when the polar-­orbiting satellites began recording the data, there is not much difference between today’s ice extent and then.

Indeed, we now have satellite confirmation that global air temperatures are back to the same level they were before the 2014-16 super El Nino event and, this January and February, the decline accelerated. Since 2015 satellites also have detected a fall in sea surface temperatures.

Solar expert Piers Corbyn, of British forecasting group Wea­therAction and famous for his successful wagers against the British Met Office forecasts, predicts Earth faces another mini ice age with potentially devastating consequences. He notes: “The frequency of sunspots is expected to rapidly decline … reaching a minimum between the years 2019 and 2020.” Indeed, the present decline in solar activity is faster than at any time in the past 9300 years, suggesting an end to the grand solar maximum.

Critics say while “it might be safe to go with (Corbyn’s) forecast for rain next Tuesday, it would be foolish to gamble the world can just go on burning all the coal and oil we want”. That’s the nub of it. The world has bet the shop on CO2 warming and the “science” must be defended at all costs.

But while spinning unfalsi­fiable “climate disruption” slogans may sway readers of The Sydney Morning Herald and resonate with believers in their centrally heated halls, those in the real world, witnessing hundreds of people dying of the cold and thousands more receiving emergency treatment, will consider they’ve been duped.

Not feeling duped are successive Australian governments that have become committed members of a green-left global warming movement promoted by the UN. On dubious scientific grounds they have agreed to accept meaningless, anti-growth, CO2 emission targets that enrich elites and burden the masses.

And, true to label, a Green Climate Fund supported by Australia and 42 mostly developed countries will redistribute $US100 billion ($128bn) annually to poorer nations as reparation for the unspecified environmental harm the West has allegedly caused them.

Big emitters such as China, India and Russia are conspicuously absent.

Policing Australia’s targets and helping to spread confirmatory propaganda is a network of international and local bureaucracies. The world’s academies and meteorological organisations, frequently found to be unreliable and biased, keep the faith alive. They reject debate and starve nonconforming researchers of funds and information. Students are indoctrinated with unproven climate-change theories that an unquestioning media gladly ­reinforces.

Meanwhile, the country ingenuously surrenders its competitive advantage by refusing to embrace its rich endowment of affordable baseload energy. This it happily exports while lining the pockets of renewable energy rent-seekers with generous taxpayer subsidies.

Should the world enter a per­iod of global cooling, we should ­expect concerted denial. Too many livelihoods, too many reputations and too much ideology ­depend on the CO2 narrative. Having ceded sovereignty over our economies’ commanding heights to unelected bureaucrats in Geneva, the West (Donald Trump excluded) repeatedly turns to expensive vanity projects to paper over this folly. If the iceman cometh, there can be no quick fix. Yet we know it takes twice as much energy to heat a home than to cool one. So pity the poor and infirm who respected medical journal The Lancet says are 20 times likelier to die from cold than heat.

While even to mention a mini ice age risks scorn and derision, recent research has shown a close correlation between solar activity and climate on Earth. That possibility alone should cause shivers. But it will take time and experience before we accept the global warming movement is really the triumph of ideology over science. Until then we will continue to commit life’s cardinal sin of putting too many eggs into one questionable basket.


Goverment regulations a huge part of the cost of new housing

What does a million dollars buy in Aussie capital cities?

Everybody complains about high housing prices these days. But would you live in a concrete jungle if it meant you could get a much cheaper home?

That’s the question Australia’s Reserve Bank is asking. It put out a report this week on how Australia’s housing market would look in the theoretical world where there were no zoning controls. It finds zoning rules — things like minimum block sizes and height limits — have raised Sydney house prices by 73 per cent.

The price of an average block of land in Sydney is $765,000, which is 36 per cent the true value of that land and 64 per cent the cost of what the RBA calls the Zoning effect.

Without zoning, you’d get Blade Runner cities full of high rise apartments, but they’d be damn cheap to buy. If a Blade Runner future doesn’t quite sound perfect for your family, that’s probably because zoning can be good. Even the RBA admits it.

Zoning rules mean we pay higher prices but we get a bit more breathing room to live in. More light in our homes and perhaps a bit more beauty. Zoning gets us nice leafy streets of one and two storey homes with big yards (…that we drive past on our way to the home we can afford!).

The question is whether having zoning rules that bring us high prices is worth it. The high cost of housing is a real burden on a human life. Two working parents slave away for years to pay off a mortgage, spending time away from their kids, getting stressed and unhappy at work. Do we really get more benefit from a heritage facade and a front yard than we would from 15 years less mortgage?

(Personally, I’ve always thought front yards are a total waste. We never really use ours and it’d save on gardening if the house went all the way to the street. If I could get rid of one rule, it would be the rule we must have front yards.)

It is worth pointing out that the Blade Runner cities would only be in the inner parts. Once the most valuable land is built up tall, larger houses would be available a bit further out

The fact we’d like to buy just a little bit of land to build a house on, but we have to buy a big block, suggests some people don’t get much value from being forced to have big blocks. It suggests that zoning rules such as minimum block sizes are making housing more expensive than they would otherwise be.

The RBA paper is partly an intellectual exercise — wrecking balls are not going to come tearing through the beautiful old suburbs tomorrow even if we decide to relax zoning rules. But it is also a political document. In discussing how much it costs us to have the zoning restrictions, it encourages us to think about getting rid of them. If we turfed out heritage controls and height limits and minimum apartment sizes, we really could make housing more affordable.

It’s a question worth thinking about, since to a large extent we seem to be heading that way anyway, with towers shooting up across Australia’s cities.

There is one city in the world that is most famous for existing without major zoning laws — Houston Texas. It is famous for having enormous urban sprawl and the lack of rules mean very different kinds of buildings can end up next door. They could build an enormous tower just over your back fence, for example:

But Houston, which is an extremely wealthy city, also has very affordable housing. House price to income ratios have been falling since the 1970s, which says housing is getting easier to buy there. (In San Francisco, where zoning rules are incredibly strict and locals fight back against development, median house prices are the highest in the USA.)

Houston has a few higgledy-piggledy moments, but it still has a lot of single-family homes. Meanwhile, the commercial parts mostly stick to the commercial areas and residences mostly get built in residential areas. The lack of zoning doesn’t end up changing it too much from a normal city, and it has managed to absorb a huge amount of population growth.

As our cities struggle to absorb big population growth, being just a little bit more like Houston might be in our interests.


Victoria police 'caught using and trafficking meth and ecstasy - as two officers joke over texts about going to work after a cocaine bender'

No wonder they cannot control the African teenagers who aree running riot

Police partying on ice, cocaine and ecstasy would meet up with known traffickers, peddle drugs themselves and return positive tests, says an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission special report.

The report takes in three investigations into claims of drug possession, trafficking and use by police since 2014 and says allegations against eight officers have been substantiated.

Operation Apsley revealed a group of police were using drugs regularly in their social lives - including one who used cocaine 'most days' for four months last year.

The officer, known as Senior Constable A, and a friend, Senior Constable B, used and trafficked drugs and were 'cavalier about the safety risks', the report says.

Both told IBAC they would not work if affected by drugs, but messages between them refuted these claims, including this exchange after a night out using cocaine:

Senior Constable A: 'Feeling slightly average but okay. Gonna be a long shift. Rad night.'

Senior Constable B: 'Kill me, I wanna lay down.'

Another senior constable messaged a civilian associate about putting MDMA powder into capsules - 'Now that you run a sophisticated drug syndicate you will be... essstremely bizzy' was the reply.

Two other IBAC operations also exposed regular drug use with one that focused on a constable leading to that officer's brother being arrested by federal and interstate police on drug offences.

While IBAC says allegations against eight were substantiated it says they were likely just 'snapshots of a more widespread and serious problem for Victoria Police'.

Of those eight officers, two were charged with giving false evidence, misleading or attempting to mislead IBAC, and inciting a witness to mislead IBAC, and one was charged with criminal drug offences.

One has been dismissed, three have resigned, three are suspended and one returned to work after an admonishment notice.

There are systemic deficiencies in Victoria Police's illicit drug prevention and detection, IBAC concludes.

'Police officers cannot be selective in choosing which criminal laws they will obey,' IBAC Commissioner Stephen O'Bryan QC said in a statement.

'While most of the police officers investigated were aware they were engaging in illegal conduct, they rationalised their off-duty criminality as being separate to their obligations as police officers.'

Victoria Police's alcohol and drugs policy says illicit drug use is not tolerated but there is ambiguity about the consequences, IBAC says.

Police have accepted the recommendations and are reviewing their practices and policies, a Victoria Police spokesman said in a statement.

A progress report is due on June 30 and Victoria Police must provide IBAC with a final report by June 30, 2018.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said drug use has 'no place' within the force.

'This investigation related to a small group of police officers, and Victoria Police has since taken appropriate action through criminal, disciplinary and management interventions,' she said in a statement.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles denied there was a systemic drug problem within Victoria Police, but conceded the eight instances didn't come as a 'total shock'.

'Our members are susceptible to more pressure and stress than the average member of society,' Mr Iddles said in a statement to AAP.

He said the report showed health and wellbeing services available to Victoria Police's 15,000 members needed to be improved.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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