Tuesday, October 16, 2018

In defence of "manspreading"

"How can anyone defend such an inconsiderate habit?" might be an understandable response to my heading above.  And I have yet to see a defence of it.  And yet the truth is obvious:  It is natural for men to sit that way when relaxed.  Why?  Because men have a package between their legs that does not like being squeezed and does like a bit of air.  Women don't have that so have more of a tendency to sit demurely.  And the male and female pelvises are different too so that could be an influence that someone who knows more about anatomy than I do might be able to talk about.

Note below that two Royal Princes who were very much in the public eye sat like that recently.  And they are occupationally obliged to avoid offence

Needless to say, men CAN sit more considerately and will usually do so if in a crowded situation.  But it is an effort, though not a great one.  So men who do take up more than one space or seat on a crowded bus or train should politely be asked to make way. And men who fail to give up their seat altogether to an obviously pregnant woman are low types who deserve censure, and, in some cases, prosecution.

But feminists never see the other side of any question so I have yet to see any complainer about manspreading refer to the common female practice of taking up an extra seat for her handbag, tote, shopping etc.  Women too can be inconsiderate in their use of space.  It is inconsiderate PEOPLE we should condemn, not one sex or the other.  Matthew 7:5 again applies.

Now here is an interesting picture below:

We see an odd way of sitting that is sort of half spread.  It's the way I and my son naturally sit -- with one foot tucked under. We automatically and just about always sit that way.  We don't know why. We just do it.  It feels most comfortable to us to sit that way.  For many years it had never occurred to me that I sit in an unusual way until the boy's mother remarked to me one day,   "He sits in the same funny way that you do".  I initially thought:  "Funny way? I don't sit in a funny way!" but I eventually realized she was right

Clearly some unusual gene has got into us in some way and there it rests.  It doesn't bother us in the least.  We sit in perfect comfort.  But it does tend to show that even your manner of sitting is genetically determined.  But it is very common for feminists to argue futilely with genetics.

Look what you made Taylor Swift do

by Jeff Jacoby

ENDORSEMENTS IN Tennessee election campaigns don't usually draw international headlines. But when Taylor Swift on Oct. 7 told her 112 million Instagram followers that she intends to vote next month for two Democrats — US Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and Representative Jim Cooper — news outlets the world over rushed to report the news.

It has never been clear to me why anyone would care about the political loyalties of a pop singer (or an athlete or supermodel), and until recently it wasn't clear to Swift, either. Though she has made a career out of oversharing the details of her personal life, she always drew the line at politics. When Rolling Stone asked her just after the 2008 election whether she was a Republican or a Democrat, she declined to say. "I just try and stick to my specialty and my specialty is music," Swift said. "I voted yesterday, but I don't think it's my job to try and influence people which way they should vote, because it's a very personal thing."

She was equally reticent four years later as she was promoting her fourth album, Red. "I just figure I'm a 22-year-old singer," she told Swedish TV, "and I don't know if people really want to hear about my political views. I think they just want to hear me sing songs about breakups and feelings."

By 2016, Swift's public neutrality on politics was infuriating liberals. She was blasted as a hypocrite for not endorsing Hillary Clinton and for being "complicit in every hateful statement" uttered by Donald Trump. The Daily Beast castigated her as "spineless." The pop-culture Australian website Junkee thundered: "If Taylor Swift Wants To Address Her Bad Reputation, She Should Start By Condemning Donald Trump." The editors of Marie Claire didn't let up even after the election. "We're still waiting for an explanation of Taylor Swift's decision to remain apolitical during the 2016 election," they tweeted. Last November, the Guardian labeled her an "envoy for Trump's values."

On the kooky far-right fringe, meanwhile, some basement-dwelling white supremacists took Swift's avoidance of politics as evidence that she was secretly one of them. Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in 2016 that the "very white and very blonde" Swift had hard-core alt-right conspiracists swooning. At least one besotted admirer, the founder of the white-supremacist blog Daily Stormer, pronounced her "a pure Aryan goddess."

Well, goodbye to all that. As Swift's Instagram post exploded across the Internet, liberal and Democratic activists exulted, while the Aryan goddess-worshipers grieved. The president told reporters that he "like[s] Taylor's music about 25 percent less now." And Swift's vast legion of young fans? Most probably won't care one way or the other. But there was a spike in voter registrations after she urged her followers to sign up.

My surmise is that Swift wearied of the incessant pressure to declare her political loyalties, and decided that the benefits of remaining publicly apolitical no longer outweighed the costs. With partisan passions so intense and tribal these days, the clamor for her to take to the barricades would only have grown shriller. Her capitulation, if that's what it was, is understandable.

But it's also a pity, and I'm sorry the old Taylor can't come to the phone anymore. America's public discourse is stiflingly thick with acrid political fumes; the last thing we need is even more of the stuff. Representative Marsha Blackburn "appalls and terrifies me," Swift wrote, referring to the Republican candidate in Tennessee's Senate race. Racism in the United States is "terrifying, sickening, and prevalent." I don't know if Swift is really just another left-wing Hollywood ideologue, but she's already doing her best to sound like one.

She's not the only star who has waded into politics after long refusing to do so.

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart declined for years to inject politics into his act. "My job as a comedian is to spread positivity, to make people laugh," he once said. "I don't want to draw attention to what's already pissing us as a people off." But that changed at the Video Music Awards a few weeks ago, when Hart used his time on the stage to taunt the president for his criticism of NFL players who protest during the national anthem. "At this game, you guys can kneel. You can do whatever the hell you want. There's no old white man that can stop you," Hart said. "In your face, Trump! Suck it!"

As a free speech near-absolutist, I unreservedly defend the right of Swift, Hart, and anyone else to trumpet political views.

But more than ever I admire those celebrities who steadfastly resist the temptation (or the hectoring) to talk politics. There are still some of them, including Bruno Mars, Mark Wahlberg, Reba McEntire, and Josh Duhamel.

They follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest entertainers in American history. At the peak of his long career, Elvis Presley's influence on popular culture was unparalleled, but about politics he would say nothing. A classic illustration occurred during a pre-concert press conference at Madison Square Garden in 1972. It was at the height of the antiwar movement, and Presley, an Army veteran, was asked for his thoughts on the Vietnam War protests.

"Honey, I'd just as soon keep my own personal views about that to myself," he answered modestly. "I'm just an entertainer and I'd rather not say."

Faced with the pressure to get political, Elvis knew how to shake it off. Would that could still be said about Taylor Swift.


Proof that foreign aid DOESN'T work: Scathing report reveals £11million scheme backed by Bono failed to reduce poverty or hunger

As I drove through villages in northern Ghana, bumping along pitted dirt roads and passing mud-splattered men pushing bicycles, the grinding poverty was painfully obvious.

Exhausted farmers, some wearing faded football shirts, sprawled in the shade beside mud-built houses. Women chopped leaves for dinner, surrounded by children in tatty clothes. Goats and guinea fowl scavenged among rubbish.

In one village after another, people told of their daily fight for survival. Farmers said they couldn’t afford fertiliser.

Headmaster Abdulai Shefu teaching his group of students. His pupils sit on the floor because the desks are broken    +6
Headmaster Abdulai Shefu teaching his group of students. His pupils sit on the floor because the desks are broken

Mothers couldn’t afford medicines for their children. Pupils couldn’t afford pencils.

I heard similar stories of hardship six years ago when I last visited this savannah region. ‘In terms of our poverty there have been no changes,’ said Sule Mantable as he planted beans beside a river.

I first met Sule, a father of four, in 2012 when I told him his village of Nabari had been chosen for a British aid project designed to prove that big cash injections could transform such deprived rural communities.

‘We don’t believe it will work,’ he said then.

And he was right to be sceptical, because now we have the scathing verdict of a five-year study into this project funded by British taxpayers, which lavished £11 million – £2,906 per household – on 35 impoverished villages in Ghana.

And the landmark 182-page report for the Department for International Development (DFID) has serious implications for the entire aid sector – and a Government that insists on donating billions to hit its discredited target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income.

The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) began in 2005 to show that chucking cash at some of the planet’s poorest places could end extreme poverty, foster diversification from farming and spark sustainable development in just five years.

It was created by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, dubbed a ‘rock star economist,’ from Columbia University in New York, backed by the UN and billionaire philanthropists, and promoted by celebrities such as U2 frontman Bono.

But the DFID report concludes the project failed to meet many key aims and targets, saying: ‘Far from breaking the poverty trap, the project does not appear to have reduced poverty or hunger at all,’ adding that it had ‘fallen short of producing a synergistic effect’.

The authors admit to surprise that ‘the project did not improve some of the outcomes explicitly targeted by the intervention, such as child mortality, immunisation rates, antenatal care, access to drinking water and usage of mobile phones’.

They also criticise ‘misguided’ efforts to attract more girls than boys to school and suggest preferential help for some schools drained others of good teachers. Yet ‘the project did not improve children’s cognitive skills’.

The evaluation – commissioned by DFID to test the theories and agreed with Professor Sachs – found little difference between villages drenched in British aid and others in the region that were not helped.

Although attendance improved at new clinics and schools, incomes rose (‘probably temporarily’) and there was a fall in the impaired growth of children, ‘what has been achieved could have been attained at substantially lower cost’.

The report also discloses the dismal, yet all too typical, fact that nearly a third of funds went on management and overheads, while admitting there was ‘large-scale’ fraud involving a key local partner.

There is savage irony that far from proving the success of foreign aid, this project – announced by Sachs and Bono on a visit early in 2012 – has ended up highlighting core problems.

For a start, there is the dependency culture. Inevitably there were improvements when villages were flooded with cash for new schools, extra teachers and street lights, tractors were lent to farmers and women were given inducements to give birth in clinics.

But this was not enough to spark sustainable transformation of poor societies.

So in Kpasenkpe, where Sachs made impassioned promises six years ago to hundreds of villagers, I heard desperate pleas for more foreign assistance now that the project has ended.

Neaba Alhassan, a farmer and father of ten children told me. ‘It was better when you were helping, but now we are poor again.’

The investigation noted ‘a pervasive expectation for donors to fix problems’ – and that one village adopted a more community-led approach to construction only when funds became limited.

But just as in Britain, I found profound cynicism over the aid industry. ‘Lots of white people and NGOs came and made lots of promises but they have not been fulfilled,’ said Michael Diyuri, a farmer in the village of Sariba.

‘They come and ask us questions about our families, our lives and our farming. They never come back. The next year, someone else comes back. ‘They just tick their boxes after listening to our problems. They are using us to earn their money.

Michael, 31, a father of one, added: ‘They changed the environment but nothing else. They promised they would change our lives and our poverty. But nothing changed.’

Then there were claims of corruption. In several villages, desperately poor farmers said they were given fertiliser supposed to be free or bought with cheap loans – if they handed over hefty amounts of their harvested maize or rice to local officials.

One farmer, who earned £160 ‘in a good year’, told me he had to hand over one bag of maize in the project’s first year, then three of the nine bags grown the next year. Another said they were forced to hand over food even when crops failed.

There were also complaints of blundering outsiders ignoring locals. In Nabari, for instance, the project left five concrete scars with capped pipes sticking out from the fertile red ground, the legacy of failed efforts to drill boreholes for water.

‘They came with their equipment saying they would find water to help us farm better,’ said villager Sumani Gamiw. ‘But they did not listen to the villagers so they did not succeed. We still depend on old supplies, so when it’s dry there’s not enough water.’

In another village, the MVP workers succeeded in drilling a borehole, but it broke after a year. The residents clubbed together to spend £60 on repairs but it broke down again, so children are now missing school to fetch water from a river.

At many villages there were complaints that there were no attempts to create jobs with the aid money.

Head teacher Abdulai Shefu told me that during the rebuilding of his school in Duu by contractors, locals were used ‘only to carry water and build blocks’ rather than learn new skills.

Since the solar power system broke down after a year, there is now an empty room that once held seven donated computers.

There is another filled with broken furniture, so many pupils must sit on the floor.

‘Gradually the desks are falling apart and we can’t pay to rebuild them,’ said Shefu, who has a master’s degree in development and has spent a decade teaching in the village. ‘You must put local people at the centre of activities.’

His school has lost five teachers since the MVP scheme ended last year, leaving six others to hold lessons for up to 200 pupils at a time.

I watched Achiri Kwaku energetically teaching maths to a crammed classroom, with many pupils sitting on the floor.

‘Look at the children,’ he said. ‘They need desks but cannot even afford pencils sometimes. ‘It is very difficult to teach so many of them.’

Outside the classroom, the sad sight of a broken swing in the playground, surrounded by collapsed wire fencing, seemed to symbolise this scheme’s apparent failure to create enduring change.

Health clinics have seen sharp falls in attendance and often run out of drugs. ‘If the situation stays like this, our clinic will close since there is no money,’ said one nurse.

These schools and clinics are emblazoned with inscriptions about British funding. Yet for all the fine intentions, they show the futility of attempts to impose lasting development in poor places with sudden flows of funds from abroad.

Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development think-tank, praised Dfid for its investigation of such a high-profile scheme. He said it proved the project had not achieved its self-declared aims of assisting poor parts of rural Africa to lift themselves out of poverty in five years. ‘The project failed to do that. Full stop,’ he said.

Clemens argues that development cannot be imposed by outsiders and he believes the cause is harmed by diverting scarce resources into ‘flashy, one-off, quick-fix projects that promise to solve everything in a few years’.

He said: ‘If this new evaluation ultimately diverts resources away from such projects and towards longer-term, African-led partnerships, then DFID’s support for it will have done a great deal of good.’

A Dfid spokesman insisted its programme helped reduce poverty, but admitted it did not meet its aim of achieving Millennium Goals – a UN initiative to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.

He said: ‘Dfid stands by its decision to fund the project but accepts the robust, independent evaluation, which concluded it should not be scaled up.’

Sachs remains unbowed, pointing to a recent article in The Lancet he co-authored for ‘independent analysis’, insisting the new report’s ‘cost effectiveness observations were a joke’ and saying that the authors had never built schools and clinics themselves.

He added: ‘The report does make clear there were several significant gains in wellbeing. The claim about poverty not declining is simply wrong and strange. Incomes rose statistically, as clearly noted in the report, and multi-dimensional poverty fell.’

Sachs claimed he told Dfid that five years was not enough time to realise all the Millennium Development Goals, and added that there were ‘many notable advances in the MVP’ and other projects across Africa. ‘To say the project failed would be to deliberately misrepresent the truth,’ he said.

Certainly debate over sending torrents of Western cash to spur progress in poorer parts of the world will continue.

But there is no doubt this highly significant report has dealt the cause – and leading figures in the aid lobby – a severe blow.

Perhaps Sachs and his friends should stop sermonising and head back to Ghana. For not one of the people I met in these villages said their prosperity had advanced with these giant dollops of British aid, despite their gratitude for new clinics and schools.

Indeed, it is hard not to wonder if these African villagers have a better understanding of their own development issues than all those Westminster politicians blowing billions on neocolonial policies, egged on by sanctified professors and rock stars.

For as that dedicated head teacher struggling to sustain his school in Duu told me, you must put local communities at the centre of development to create lasting progress. ‘It is not just about money,’ he said, wisely.


Hollywood’s Real Kryptonite Is Tolerance

If you thought being a conservative in America was hard, try being one in Hollywood. It takes real courage to stand up in a culture that's suffocatingly liberal and speak your mind on issues like ours. Ask Dean Cain. The former Superman star almost had to be made of steel to withstand the number of attacks fired his way just for doing what other celebrities are applauded for: speaking his mind.

Like other Hollywood conservatives, Dean is used to the harassment in an industry where your liberal credentials are almost as important as your acting ones. When he came to this year's Values Voter Summit to talk about his new film “Gosnell,” he knew how the left would react. For days leading up to VVS -- and every week since -- his Twitter page has been lit up by people who can't understand the concept of open debate. He was threatened, harassed, called intolerant (and much worse) by a social media mob bent on forcing him to back down.

He didn't.

"I will happily defend the things that I say, and the things that I stand for," he told the crowd at VVS. "I take that sort of heat and abuse every single day, but it doesn't bother me in the least … it doesn't make me mad, it just shows people's intolerance towards listening to another opinion. Just the fact that I'm here, just the fact that I'm here people were blowing me up all day long with the most ridiculous things that you could ever hear. Talk about intolerance. It's ridiculous. I take heat. It doesn't bother me, I welcome it, because I sleep well at night. I know I'm doing something that matches my convictions and my heart, and I'll happily defend the things that I say and I stand for."

It's been three weeks since the Summit, and some people in Hollywood still can't let it go. Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporter leaked a video of actor Tom Arnold getting in Cain's face for associating with FRC. "@RealDeanCain is another @realDonaldTrump loving fake Christian coward which makes Dean Cain anti-LGBTQ & racist. #complicit," he posted. In person, things got even more heated.

"The onus for Arnold's tweet," according to insiders, "was his objection to Cain appearing at the Values Voter Summit, hosted by conservative Christian group the Family Research Council." In an R-rated tirade, Arnold says FRC is what makes teenagers kill themselves. "They try to keep them out of f---ing schools... Don't be with them. If I was with Nazis, if I go to their convention, they're like that, Dean, I'm telling you. They're that bad. They're hurting people."

"I speak my mind," Dean fired back. Both men were in a Glendale studio as part of a "Larry King Now" show, where Dean was on hand to promote his new movie, “Gosnell,” about real-life serial killer/abortionist Kermit Gosnell. "It's a s---t-f---king movie," Arnold says. "I was giving him a break by not assuming he was stupid about FRC, which I do liken to Nazis, and now I see he's one of them. … He played this icon, Superman, but he's an idiot."

This from the "tolerant" left! And, of course, the greatest irony is that the Nazis are the ones who wanted to exterminate millions of people. We're trying to protect them, protect life, and protect women. If you're looking for supremacists, try the roots of the abortion movement and the eugenics of Margaret Sanger. This pioneer of the Planned Parenthood ethic was crystal clear about her motivations. "We don't want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population," she wrote. Even today, 79 percent of the group's surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of black or Hispanic neighborhoods. And Hollywood is calling us racist? Planned Parenthood takes the lives of about 247 black babies every day. Where is Tom Arnold's outrage about that?

Dean Cain has done nothing but try to have an honest conversation about the state of our culture. You can help him by going out and supporting the opening weekend of “Gosnell.” Hollywood hates the truth -- so go see the movie that helps spread it about abortion. Click here to find one of the 600 theaters closest to you!



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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