Saturday salon 28/1

1. Migration and economic activity

The above article (thanks to John D for the link) explains why it’s almost impossible to have a recession when we have high migration. The economy keeps growing, because there are more people operating in it. Governments can boast about economic growth, and it’s good for business, but not necessarily for workers.

Here’s how real net disposable income (per capita income) has been going for the last 20 years:

We are on average getting poorer.

Our population is growing by 1.7 per cent each year, double the rate in the USA. At the same time there are 2 million people on temporary visas in the country, 1,608,460 if you take out visitor visas, which is a rise of 4.3 per cent in one year.

Bill Mitchell has a graph that shows the decline in per capita income in percentage terms against GDP:

We are doing particularly poorly since Abbott/Turnbull gained power.

Mitchell says there is a continued decline in private investment expenditure, which is undermining future prosperity. Now is not the time to cut back on government expenditure, he says.

2. Brisbane City Council’s technology upgrades to cost extra $60m, already delayed 18 months

Brisbane City Council is showing us how you do privatisation these days.

    A blowout costing up to $60 million to Brisbane City Council’s technology upgrades will result in more money being spent on a new system than it is projected to save over 10 years.

    Lord Mayor Graham Quirk today revealed that a $122-million IT contract awarded to TechnologyOne is experiencing a cost overrun of up to 50 per cent, and a delay of up to 18 months.

    It was expected to deliver $146 million in savings to council, as well as upgrade outdated technology.

3. Trump watch

Trump peeled off four executive orders as soon as he got his knees under the desk. The TPP is gone, Malcolm, time to face reality. Now he has 3,518 more executive orders to go before he catches FDR. Lots to look forward to.

Here they are, along with his Presidential Memoranda and Proclamations.

Trump said he cancelled the scheduled meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but Nieto says he cancelled first. Any way Trump says he’ll pay for the wall with a 20% tariff on Mexican imports, which means that the American people will pay.

Trump seems to quite like the idea of using torture, which will please the CIA. It seems the USA wants to lose its credibility on human rights all over again. A senate probe found in 2014 that its record was plain awful. My understanding is that the FBI worked out in the 1950s how to get information out of people without torture. This report talks of the FBI had actually handed over a bloke from whom they had gained information, together with the information. The CIA tortured him anyway, and then falsely claimed they had extracted the information they got from the FBI.

Mark has done an amazing piece Trump, ideology, and American exceptionalism. It’s a must read, I can’t summarise it, but here’s a sample:

    President Trump will continue to be more incoherent than imagined. There’s no point ascribing logic to his discourse because it has no grounding in truth or reality. This is what anti-politics looks like. Welcome to the desert of the real, as they say.

Trump’s main enemy now is the mainstream media, who are his ‘Other’.

4. Getting to know our first peoples

Amy McGuire at new Matilda explains some of the achievements of our First Peoples.

Their achievements include being the first bakers of bread, the first farmers, have the oldest burial rituals, may have been the first astronomers, and had perhaps the world’s first art galleries, with possibly the oldest depiction of a human face.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

54 thoughts on “Saturday salon 28/1”

  1. Trump says he’ll pay for the wall with a 20% tariff on Mexican imports, which means that the American people will pay.

    I’m glad there is recognition of tariff effect and corrupting free trade, bravo!.

  2. ( please ignore the source but the ABC or Mother Jones are not going to give this the airing it deserves , just focus on her argument )

  3. Came across the term “Toxic Masculinity” for the first time today. Makes an angry “old white man” I copped the other day seem a benign compliment.
    I can understand what is meant but can’t say that it’s use is going to be a helpful at changing men’s behavior or avoiding the damage done by gender wars.

  4. If that’s what is comfortable for you to believe Bilb, go right ahead.
    You’re wrong but comfortable, good for you.

  5. John, given there is loads of stuff on the Net from Dr Elizabeth Celi, what is your take on her views ?

  6. On 4., a paperback Dark Emu – Black seeds – Agriculture or accident? by Bruce Pascoe [Broome: Magabala Books, 2014] is a good source.

    ISBN 978-1-922142-43-6

  7. Oh, Jumpy, you want to attempt a serious discussion about this?

    Long and short, oppressed husbands, there are some but it is rare. What is far more common is men with a victim mentality.

    In the sociopath stakes women present one to seven men with the condition, and there is a reason for that which my daughter put forward from her research. It is (I have not tested this theory my self) that females are born with more white matter than males. White matter in the brain is essentially hard wiring, and so that suggests that the female brain is set to be more stable from berth. It is commonly known that the living condition of boys in their mid teens can have an impact on their empathy development. Psychopaths usually have had a brutal childhood, from my reading of it.

    I had a business partner who said to me early in our connection “you’re looking at a battered husband, even as I was driving away for the last time my wife was trying to hit me through the window of the car”. It later became obvious that he was an abusive control freak and anyone would have wanted to hit him through the window. He drove off in the family Range Rover and with all of the family’s money, he hid the car to deprive his wife of it, as there was an order for him to return it (it was never driven it just rotted in a paddock), and went to great lengths to never pay any money towards his children’s upkeep.

    I put the question to my sister who had been a police detective for many years before transferring to another government role where at her peak she managed 600 people. She said “husband abuse, does happen quite rare” . Her extreme example of such was

    There you have it. There is a lot more I could add to this but the conclusion will always be the same. I think Elizabeth Celi is really touting for business rather than attempting to solve some huge social injustice.

  8. Jumpy: Had a brief look at Elizabeth’s homepage and would agree with quite a bit of what she says. However, I have had a protected life, haven’t had a lot of experience with dysfunctional families and am aware that it is an area where “alternative facts” can be frequently found.
    Agree that some men and some women have difficult lives and that relationship problems including domestic violence often contributes to these difficulties.
    Think the idea of “people liberation” is important because both men and women can suffer from inflexible expectations.

  9. Marks article is a good read. I think I am on record as pointing to China’s actions in the South China Sea as being a player that commands the lives of over 2 billion people when you add together the populations that Mark identifies as moving to China’s influence. That puts Australia and New Zealand in the wrong place for our allegiances at the wrong time. Four years is a long time to be out in the cold when your defence alliance best friend has decided to become a navel gazer. Will the Barrier Reef become the next Chinese Island Province? What would we do about it? Barnaby Joyce would be talking up the trade potential, and “that reef was dead anyway”.

  10. If you look at right now there are zero low around the equator except one forming off WA. And accross the Pacific the Easterly trade winds are a blowin.

  11. The ABC did a fact check on domestic violence stats, focussing especially on the claims that men suffer too. Seems you can say:

    Fact Check’s survey of domestic violence data in Australia showed that one in six women and one in 20 men have experienced at least one incidence of violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15.

    Beyond that proceed with care. There are problems with categories, definitions and such.

  12. Jumpy talks about “men’s situational decline” then links Elizabeth Celi whose thrust from my re-watching is really about “treatment” to allow men to cope with regular life. Celi mentions women “hitting biting and scratching” (which according to Will Smith in Hitch is a good thing) but her main thrust is about intimidation and denigration of men by women, and teaching men how to “fight back fairly”.

    I’m still having trouble taking Celi seriously in the context that Jumpy has.

    The fact check is talking about something completely different

    “The terms “domestic violence”, “family violence”, “domestic and family violence” and “domestic abuse” are used across the different jurisdictions.

    The types of behaviour included in different jurisdictions is broadly consistent, according to Ms Nancarrow.

    The Commonwealth Family Law Act 1975 defines to “family violence” as “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful”.

    As well as assault, this behaviour also includes withholding financial support and preventing contact with friends and family.

    Stalking behaviours are regarded as domestic violence in some but not all jurisdictions.

    The Victorian royal commission found solid support for these broad definitions of the relationships covered by family violence, but noted that “many in the community still do not recognise emotional abuse and economic abuse as family violence”.

    Fact Check has based this analysis on the broad definition of domestic violence to include all violent, threatening or controlling behaviour that affects intimate partners who may or may not be living together, and other family members and carers.”

    …completely different to Celi’s line of argument. That was the tack I took so I am talking at cross purposes to Jumpy.

    I invite Jumpy to say how he feels Men’s situations have declined. Are we talking here about men being expected to do more around the house with both partners now routinely needing to work to pay mortgages? Or are we talking about women being more assertive and the affect that has on men?

  13. I’m still having trouble taking Celi seriously in the context that Jumpy has.

    What context have you imagined I put it in BilB.

  14. Jumpy what you said was “men’s situational decline”.

    How have men’s situations declined in your mind?

  15. Going back to the ABC fact check, another figure is given:

    of the total victims of partner violence since the age of 15, 23 per cent were men and 77 per cent were women.

    That sounds like more men that one in six women, and one in 20 males.

    It’s actually the same if you have 5 in 100 males and 16 out of 100 women and work out the proportions of the victims.

    Male victims are one in four, or one to three, not one in three as claimed by the group One in Three.

    I suspect a lot of Dr Celi’s stories are real, but the figures quoted are done with gay abandon and without due attention to the detail of what they mean, how they were collected, error margins and such.

    There is an interesting article by Bill O’Chee, who relates how Natasha Stott Despoya was chosen as the expert on Q&A and Celi given the flick. The resulting program framed the issue as one entirely gendered with men the sole villains. O’Chee says 45% of children killed in families are victims of women.

    I cant check out the veracity of that, but the ABC fact check figures related only to people 15 and over, so child victims is a different issue.

  16. I think Bill O”Chee put it very well with regard to the physical violence narrative. I just put up a rare, expert opinion that tells a few untolds.
    It’s such a complicated issue. So hard to get usefully stats, Media reporting is too often do from one ” angle ”

    With children I can’t find any surveys on smacking, which I believe is the earliest and longest lasting influence on peoples tendency toward violence.
    Are boys smacked more than girls, do Mothers smack more than Farther. This is important.
    I can still laugh with my Mum recalling how she belted me in circles once while screaming ” Don’t hit people ” after my older sister made up that I hit her.

    I’m not attacking women, let me make that clear, rather adding another piece of perspective.

  17. The original premise was that there is a declining situation for men. I don’t see any evidence of that. Other that is, when I was in London some years ago on the tube there was a TNT company magazine, left on a seat, in which there was an article claiming that English women were preferred as wives amongst Australian expats as they were lower maintenance than Australian women.

    So what could that possibly mean, and how would it help Jumpy? Does it suggest that living in a prosperous country with freedom of pretty well everything make women harder to live with? Or are men becoming less able to cope with life’s challenges?

    Regarding upbringing and discipline, the Katherine Knight example is the worst extreme, well there was one equal or worse in ChCh NZ where the parents had their 4 children locked in a backyard shed feeding through a whole like caged chickens, for years.

    But generally smacking is highly subjective. My sister as a baby would often cry when my brother was in the room. My mother finally left the door ajar when she left only to see my brother pinching her to make her cry again the moment she left the room. I don’t recall ever being hit by my father only my mother occasionally being whacked in a circle as Jumpy said. My brother got a hiding from my father when he shot the neighbour’s kid through the leg with a native hunting bow and arrow. I think we were treated well.

    There are all manner of discipline stories. I think if there is an issue it would be that we have gone too far down the privacy road. The best way for averaging out violence issues is mutual observation with community sharing and caring. In the Crocodile Dundee version, “someone with a problem tells Walter, Walter tells everyone else, problem solved”.

  18. The original premise was that there is a declining situation for men. I don’t see any evidence of that.

    Your don’t see the rise in the destructive view that Men are but ” ornaments ” and ” surplus to humanities survival ” ?

    How about a mirror ?

  19. I do apologies for the rushed answer, the quotes are wrong, but the toxic sentiment remains.

    My views are simple. The world is really all about women, men are an accessory. Women are magnificently crafted by nature to perform all of the tasks of perpetual regeneration of their species. Men are an accessory. Women not only regenerate, but they educate, sustain, support, delight, and provide the impetus for community and continuity. Men are a sometimes useful accessory.

    The problem with men is that they are all bastards, mostly. When another one gets creamed on the roads, I don’t grieve much. The problem we have is that the world structure as it is was mostly created by men, so if it is not working for men then they only have themselves to blame, and I am for one am not sympathetic in the slightest. Male suicides are, I imagine not the ones you would hope for, they are more likely the victims of themselves or the more bastard of men.

    Read that to your child Son every night as a bed time story and see how fucked up they become.

  20. “”How about a mirror””

    Dear o me! Here is the ‘victim’ of the “invasion day” thread personalising the issue to extreme again. No wonder you get reflections back which may hurt. Remember how you pursuit Brian on the abortion thread, the “why not give our properties back to Indigenous, etc?

    Mate you are a serial offender and if you like some sympathy then you may have to stop stepping on peoples toes with your clogs. Moreover, such behaviour rises the temperature in the comments and usually derails the thread from the topic and it ends up being unproductive.

    As someone else commented to you recently, it is “not always about winning”, it matters too how you do.

    If you can’t hold an argument without getting excessively personal, then you have no argument really.

  21. Ootz

    I was commenting on the topic.
    You, however, did not.
    If you want to be the Blog Cop, paying more attention would help.

  22. Gee, that’s the pot calling the kettle black, Jumpy.

    But obviously you pick issue with the notion that men are bit players in the game of life? I have two daughters so your last comments not going to happen.

    To understand why what I have said is true it will help if you take some time to watch some of the videos on Robert Sapolsky’s work with primates. Then once you have grasped that read up on the Aboriginals who lived around Sydney Harbour before Europeans turned up. These guys had a pretty cushey life. They did not have to work too hard, there was plenty of food, their environment was awesome. The contrast with Europeans and their plight could not be more stark. In other words human females in the right environment do not need the things we assume men exist for ie protection mostly, because the protection is about protecting from other men. In other words we are an accessory.

    Fortunately females like to have accessory males around, and that should solve your other issue, about your situational decline.

    Just be nice and you will be appreciated, wherever you go.

  23. Bilb: Re your challenge to Jumpy, the following comes from a previous post of mine on men’s issues:

    Jessica Irvine (1) had some relevant comments about what is happening to men and women in Australia. She said that there is more polarization among men and that more men are working at the top and bottom of the skills ladder. “The proportion of men in the highest fifth of highly skilled jobs rose in the decades since the 1970’s but to a lesser extent to the gains of women. But crucially, the share of men working in the lowest skilled jobs also rose in the 1970s, 1980s 1990s but not in the 2000s.” By contrast, “in every decade since the 1970s, the share of women working in the lowest fifth of skilled jobs has shrunk” and “the proportion of women working in the highest fifth of jobs…has risen.”

    She goes on to say that: “This loss of secure, full time traditional jobs is fueling an undercurrent of dissatisfaction among working-class men that is being increasingly exploited by charismatic politicians.”

    This is a female economist commentating on the basis economic stats on the situational decline for one group of men.
    As a general comment I would say that domestic violence stats must be treated with caution because both genders can be reluctant to report and may try to explain away even serious domestic violence injuries as “accidents.”
    Even when we are talking about death’s it is not always clear what has gone on. (Think of cases where a woman claims to have killed a man because this was the only way of escaping chronic violence.)
    In addition, many suicides, both male and female, may be driven by domestic dysfunction.
    The stats don’t tell us much about psychological and verbal violence. All I can say here is that I have seen long term damage done to both males and females from this type of violence.
    What I do think is that the damage done by dysfunctional relationships can be reduced by increasing the relationship skills of both men and women. In some cases this training may be about training people to avoid dangerous partnerships or to get out of the relationship before it is too late. In other cases it may be about teaching people basic relationship and negotiating skills and……
    I don’t think saying that it is all the men’s (or women’s) fault is helpful because it encourages people to ignore some potential solutions.

  24. Hi John,

    What you are referring to in that is the outcome of the fact that girls do far better at school and boys, who take longer to develop do worse. Girls are doing better in tertiary education in certain areas and hence as a group are moving up the opportunity ladder. The jobs that went off to China are the jobs that trades guys traditionally did, so that only leaves farming and construction work in the volume trade end of the market. That was all predictable, it is sad indictment that our politicians fail to show the ability to predict.

    My interest is essentially in understanding the drivers of human interaction rather than the situational aspects. To that end today I have identified another reason why women keep men around, and not surprisingly it relates to empathies. Because nurturing takes many years for humans the duration that a woman needs to maintain a high empathy environment for the successful raising of children, it is less compatible to nurse the baby one minute and decapitate the chook the next. Women can do both, but there is a conflict there. It is a fine balancing act for men, how brutal is too brutal and how brutal is just enough to do and be the things one must for survival in the area where they live. This is possibly why nature has made men’s brains more mouldable than womens and why they mature later. Bring that understanding into the modern city life and you have real issues to contend with.

    Consider then what is happening in Syria and you can see the tragedy of the impact of one Psychopath on millions of young lives and the huge number of boys deprived of empathy development. Those you teens will fire the next 60 years of anger and strife in that part of the world. Going back to lessons from Sapolky’s studies, for there to be a harmonious society all male alphas should be fed contaminated food.

    So do I sympathise with Jumpy? No. But it is good that someone else might, if he is nice.

    How to solve relationship issues? Considering how chemically loaded that first kiss is, maybe all couples should be psychologically evaluated before being allowed out and be required to wear a badge that says nice/loving, vindictive bitch, or aggressive/abusive. Those who don’t make it can work at the Soylent factory. That is, if you really want a solution.

  25. This lesbian only society you picture Bilb, have you any successful examples that endure today ?
    And if not, why not ?

    I mean, if your theory is to be taken seriously, a group of women would have created these utopias before now.

  26. Soylent, ah there’s a foodstuff to reminisce about.

    Any favourite recipes you’d like to share?

  27. I mean, if your theory is to be taken seriously, a group of women would have created these utopias before now.

    An excellent principle, which can be applied in many areas.
    For example, if Ayn Rand’s theory is to be taken seriously, a group of Objectivists would have created a libertarian utopia before now. Does anybody know if any are thriving, or even in existence?

  28. Bilb: If you think about some of the places our human ancestors lived there would have been places and times of the year where women depended on a reliable share of the results of the hunting of the men for them and their children to thrive and survive. (It is hard for a woman with child in tow to hunt compared to a man.)
    Women had a much better chance of getting a reliable supply of meat if they had a relationship with one of the men that was strong enough for the man to bring meat home to the woman instead of just sharing and eating it with his mates.
    Which brings us us to one of the unusual things about human females. Unlike most animals, women are sexually receptive most of the time even though sex is distracting and distraction can be dangerous. This dangerous behaviour only makes sense if it brings other benefits such as getting a reliable share of the meat.
    In addition, like many animals human groups compete for territory. I would put it to you that a group that includes men would have a far better chance of winning a confrontation than a group of women and children.
    In Aboriginal society the women usually start trying to have children as soon as they reach puberty so the selective pressure on women is to become responsible adults at young age. By contrast, the men marry later because they need to acquire the skills and status in society that will discourage other men from stealing their wives. Some of this status comes from doing the brave and reckless things that are typical behaviors of young men.
    I would put it to you that men have been important in human society for far more than fathering children for a long long time and that some of the benefits and problems that men bring to society a a result of the different selection pressures on men compared to women.
    Both men and women should be treated with understanding and respect.

  29. Of course you are right, JohnD, mostly. One thing common in indigenous societies is a clear understanding of areas of performance between the sexes, and respect for those. Less so in the so called civilised societies from the Egyptians forward where warfare becomes an occupation.

  30. You are being romantic about Aborigines Bilb. There is a lot of conflict between groups of men and much of this conflict results in death. Conflict between women armed with digging sticks is not all that uncommon and this can cause damage too. Then there is the killing of women by men because the men get it into their heads that the women are playing up. Women are the property of men and women’s male relatives will do nothing if the woman is killed by the husband.

  31. And you have just made my point, John. Men are an accessory, a problematic accessory for women. Take the males out of the picture and the conflict goes away, this was Robert Sapolsky’s revelation from his studies of primates.

  32. Labeling men as accessories and trying to blame men for everything that is wrong with marriages and the world is just the same old same old destructive gender warfare that has been stuffing up people’s lives since time immemorial Bilb.
    It is worth remembering that men often go to war at the urging of their women.

  33. John, I liked your comment @ 10.37. The only thing I’d add is that humans look after young that they didn’t genetically propagate and develop filiative love and care. It is especially significant that human males do this.

    Baboons don’t, which turns out to be the kernel of what Robert Sapolsky said in the link provided by BilB.

    He related a story of a troupe of baboons who were feeding from the local dump. There had been a problem with infected meat, which the humans chucked on the dump. The aggressive males, who were there first gutsed up all the meat and duly died.

    The interesting thing is that they were not replaced by a new lot of Alpha males in the group. The culture of the group changed to become much more socially sympatico.

    It’s noteworthy that baboons did not have a habit of taking food back for the group to share.

    In answering question he suggested that culling all aggressive human males might not be a bad thing. Nowhere, as far as I can see did he suggest that males were accessories.

    I believe that wolves take food back to share, and also look after stray young.

  34. BTW the baboon story was incidental to the Sapolsky talk. It was about what is unique about humans.

    The best insight I got is that it is not the genes as such. We share 98.6% of our genes with chimps. Rather it was quantum in our brains enabling vastly more complex and rich patterns to develop.

    Ther was no real attempt to quantify how much of the difference is cultural or epigenetic. I’d think a fair bit.

  35. Many years ago I read a book about a famous baboon group called the Pump House Gang. This along with other stuff i have read on baboons painted a very different picture from that of a group dominated by macho, aggressive males. In reality the group was matriarchal with the group dominated by a hierarchy of high status females who passed on their status to their daughters. (Their sons left the group to make their fortunes elsewhere.) The males who tended to fertilize the females were the quieter males who had put the effort into becoming friends with particular females over time. The aggressive males were newcomers who were trying to establish themselves within the group.
    Foreign human societies can be similar. For example, one of my missionary friends said that when he first came to Angurugu he went to council meetings and assumed that the younger men doing most of the talking were the ones with power. After a while he realized that the older men who said very little had more power. Finally, he realized that the real power lay with that old man who lived down in the village and never came anywhere near the council meetings.
    My wife also reported that under some circumstances women had real power. For example, one day my wife found herself in the middle of a spear fight After she extracted herself she stopped to watch what happened and then sought explanations from her old missionary friends for explanations. The fight ended when this old lady walked into the middle of the fight and took the spears off the men. She could do that because she was in the right relationship to the men from both sides and could, in effect, by her actions, say to the men that they had shown that one side really cared about a young man who had died unexpectedly and that they had filled their obligation to back up the men in the right relationship to them that had got into a fight.
    It is also worth noting the fight had nothing to do with trying to harm the men they were throwing spears at. It was demonstrating that people cared about something and were fulfilling important obligations in a society that is organized around obligations.
    The point of all these stories is that it is very easy to misinterpret what you think you are seeing when dealing with cultures that you know little about including our past. When you get down to the details both women and men will share the power in various ways. “Women are boss of the kitchen” is just part of it.

  36. It seems there is a maximum comment size error 403 and I crossed that limit so two comments equal one.

    Where a couple make a bond to create a family and they work together to make that successful and fun, then there is nothing better. But where the male partner decides to live for his own purposes, only, and the family he was part of creating no longer suits those purposes, then he becomes a liability to female. The family once created must carry on and it is most common for the female to be fully committed to that responsibility, at which point a non contributing male becomes an accessory. This is not an uncommon scenario.

    It is just a movie and a fictional tale, but watch the “Waitress” to get the sense of this.

    John, all good comments and observations, but let me say, culture is an overlay on human dynamics, it is not the fundamental machinery that drives us.

  37. No, it is something in the text that brings up a 403 error.

    Where I have said that in a broken family it is the female that takes over, it is a common reaction to say “well the man can do the same”. Wrong. The man can attempt to do the same. To understand this all you need to do is study communication in women. In the female this is unbelievably complex. A woman uses nearly every part of her body in communication. The female human is magnificently crafted to bond families together and manage that family, and they do most of that totally subconsciously. More essentially though every woman in the world does exactly the same thing in the same way, albeit to different degrees, so this is hard wired into their brains, and it is an ancient adaption.

  38. Don’t believe this? Take the time to observe how young women communicate. It is most visible in late teens.

  39. I have had to break up this comment to find the words that wordpress is rejecting.

    Females use voice, content, facial expression in a huge variety of ways, eye angle, eye movement and head tilt, head direction, head angle, shoulders, arms, hands, posture, position, and so much more. All just to converse.

  40. And they do this all simultaneously and synchronously with the idea they are putting across. This is all part of the bonding, teaching, and people management processes that females must perform in order to make a family work. Females do not need size to perform the regenerative process, they use integrated flexibility. We dumb this down into the “body language” notion, but it is a truly complex capability that only the female has, Men have only a faint reflection of this capability.

    Now that does not explain why the male is an accessory, but to me it fully demonstrates that where regeneration is the game, then the female is the focal point of that, and the male is an outer layer, not part of the primary core of that regenerative process. Men overate their importance, and are able to drive that self importance home with brute force. ie family violence.

  41. Sorry, that was totally weird. I still don’t know which combination of words where the problem.

  42. Don’t know what’s going on BilB. I think it’s the host.

    I’ve been working in the heat over the last few days, and a different day yesterday. Now I’ve got busy days again.

    I’ve indulged myself with a tennis post, but I’m working on one about the Gulf Stream and James Hansen’s view, which is taking my breath away.

  43. Not pertinent to these very detailed and provocative observations and ideas, but to John’s remark:

    The point of all these stories is that it is very easy to misinterpret what you think you are seeing when dealing with cultures that you know little about including our past.

    My favourite instance* is the book published decades ago on South Sea Island loving and carnality, published by the young Margaret Mead; which helped rocket her to stardom (unusual then for an anthropologist?); and endeared her to generations of liberal-minded persons in the Anglosphere.

    Much, much later, another visitor to the same idyllic islands interviewed locals who said their grandparents and others, once they caught Ms Mead’s drift, outdid each other in telling her lurid tales. Likely they could gauge their inventive, mischievous “success” by her reactions. The joke was on her, the publisher, and generations of readers. Not to mention a whole field of social science research.

    Is “fake news” new? Not in the slightest!!!

    *A cautionary tale for all of us, I think.

  44. Ambiguous: At at least one stage or another the people who Meade interviewed gave people false information. It could have been the young ones pulling her leg or it could have been the old ones who wanted to paint themselves as respectable. Then again, on both occasions, the women may simply have been being polite according to the conventions of their culture and told the interviewer what they thought the interviewer wanted to hear.
    In many cultures, including our own at times, it is considered more important to be polite and tell people what they want to hear than to be honest. (Sometimes people within the culture are able to tell when someone is simply being polite and may be able to appreciate the politeness while being able to understand what the real message is.)
    There are similar problems with asking people like Aborigines do do things. In their society it is rude to refuse but OK not to to get around to doing anything about it. Aboriginal culture avoids some of these problems because the culture is fairly specific about who has got the right to ask for what and there may be hints that tell that nothing is going to happen. (“Maybe sometime” is a useful hint.)
    Think about the politician who rocks up to an Aboriginal community, asks them if the want X and goes away and says he “talked to the community and they said they wanted X.” No wonder there are a lot of failed X’s around.

  45. Bilb: My parents had a very good marriage and I have had a very good marriage. In both cases I would have said what both the adults did was important even though my mother was a very different sort of person to my wife. Trying to label one parent as an accessory or arguing about who made the greatest contribution sounds to me like same old gender wars.
    My own marriage is based on people liberation and respect and consideration of the other partner.

  46. John

    Thanks for both your 6.25pm and 6.37pm.

    Retraction and apology:

    Above at 3.12pm, I repeated the attacks made by Derek Freeman, on the research in Samoa by Margaret Mead.

    * Unlike both Mead and Freeman, I have never been to Samoa.
    * I speak no Samoan
    * I am not trained in ethnography
    * I do, however, remember newspaper articles about Freeman’s criticism of Mead; which I took at face value.

    Uncle Google has now helped me out. There is a brief article = an excerpt from a book by Paul Shankman, apparently published in Skeptic magazine vol. 5, no. 3 (2010).

    Shankman’s final words there are:

    …..there is no compelling evidence that Mead was hoaxed. It was a good story
    — a story that many people wanted to believe. Alas, it was a story that was too good to be true.

    * mea culpa

    There is a longer article by Paul Shankman in Current Anthropology vol. 54, no. 1 (2013) on the same controversy. Appended are brief responses by several eminent experts.


    Please take due care in assessing anything I may write in the future, or did write in the past.

    caveat emptor

  47. Thanks Ambiguous for the apology. Not needed.
    One of the things we learned from the time spent with the Warnidilyagwa is just how foreign some cultures are. After 8 yrs on Groote my wife said that “you think you have worked out how something works and then something happens and they do something completely unexpected! My wife is not an anthropologist but she spent a lot of time with the Aborigines and talking to long time missionaries, linguists and anthropologists.
    The preference for valuing politeness while being less concerned about honesty or following through is common in a lot of cultures. Conflict can be deadly.

  48. Ambigulous, I think the Mead issue may not be ever conclusively decided. There is a piece on the controversy in her Wikipedia entry.

    I think I read Growing up in Samoa when I was at university the first time, and certainly read and owned Bengt Danielson’s Love in the South Seas. He lived there after the Kon Tiki expedition, and his work supported and extended Meade’s.

    Someone pinched my copy of the book, for some unknown reason.

    Later in the 1970s, when I was doing sociology as part of my education degree, I heard the Freeman line. He said he tracked down some of the people who spoke to Meade and they admitted they were exaggerating. But maybe they were also telling him what he wanted to hear!

    I think Meade spoke to girls at a boarding school, and perhaps she was not sufficiently rigorous in her sampling. But mores have no doubt changed under the influence of Christianity, so who knows?

  49. Thanks John and Brian.

    Books of that ilk attract readers, or so I’ve heard, Brian!!

    John, I didn’t realise you and your wife had experienced such a length and depth of observation and anecdote on the spot.

    Politeness also locally. Anecdote: academics developing new teaching software for medical students, avoiding dissections etc. Got students to evaluate early versions. “But they knew we were the authors, and that we were keen on the project. We felt they may have been more positive in their comments, to please us,” remarked one of the developers.

    This was in Melbourne, far from Groote Eylandt.


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