Utopian dreams and engineering reality

By | Other | 13 Comments

The other day someone asked me where I got the ideas for my essays. Some come from an abiding interest in Australian society, politics and economics, public policy and good government. Others come from something I’ve read and pondered on for a while. A third set is what comes to pass in what we call ‘the news’. What actually happens, or happened today, is often important enough to prompt an essay even though I had intended to write on something else. The bushfires forecast for the ‘unprecedented and catastrophic’ Tuesday last week were an example. This essay comes from the…

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Climate change and the bushfires

By | Other | 137 Comments

The alarmists are sure: climate change makes bushfires even worse, because the planet is hotter, hence the bush is drier. Well, that’s what The Guardian says, and we know that its position on climate change is wonderfully balanced, even if the Deputy Prime Minister says that such a proposed cause is rubbish. The IPCC sort of agrees with him. Adam Bandt, Greens MP, thinks the fires are due to the Government’s lack of a proper climate-change policy. He too is a noted dispassionate observer of climate. Barnaby Joyce MP says the cause is the conservationists’ opposition to fire-hazard reduction-burning. The alarmists…

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The Vision of Mr Albanese

By | Other | 18 Comments

At the end of the last month Anthony Albanese MP, the Leader of the Opposition, delivered what he called ‘the first in a series of Vision Statements’. I’ve had to produce a few of these in the past myself, so I groaned a little, and then read on. The media scratched around trying to find how to summarise it, as I had to, and they decided that it was about climate change. It isn’t, really. Mr Albanese seems to take some kind of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change for granted, so there are only a couple of references to it. I…

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Trump and Placido Domingo

By | Other | 12 Comments

This week I was going to write on something else, but that subject has become a companion to this piece, which I have cobbled together from the website of a well-known Israeli/American, Caroline Glick. She is mostly worried about a ‘what if’ question: if the Democrats win in 2020, what will happen to Israel? Born in Texas, with a degree from Columbia, she moved to Israel and served for five years as a military officer there, did other civil service work, and became a writer and think-tank person. I mention this to indicate her assumptions and likely bias. Nonetheless, the…

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Deplatforming

By | Other | 96 Comments

‘Deplatforming’ is a form of political activism whose purpose is to deny the opportunity to speak or write, to those with views the activists find unacceptable. It is a form of censorship, and can be official, unofficial or a mixture. At the extreme, as in the former Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, the state apparatus deplatforms any criticism of the ruling regime. Dr Goebbels was the head of the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. He didn’t like the term ‘propaganda’ because of the baggage that came with it, but Hitler did like it, so the name stayed. Press,…

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Another dose of rebellion

By | Other | 41 Comments

Not long after the first of the Australian Extinction Rebellion sit-down protests, Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon spoke on radio to the effect that these traffic-disrupting acts of civil disobedience were not doing the climate-change protesters any good, at least in winning people over. The visuals on television later that day were of the disrupters at work (ie. first still, chained or glued to things, and later being carted off by the police) followed by angry commuters venting their annoyance to camera. No one that I saw was at all sympathetic to the cause. And it is hard to imagine why…

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How ‘special’ is Australia?

By | Other | 9 Comments

Some little time ago one of our leaders made an assertion that Australia was ‘special’, but did not give much of an explanation of what he meant or why it was so, or why anyone should care. In what way is our country ‘special’? Compared to which other country or countries? Of course, we are special in where we are situated on the globe, but that’s not what was being implied, I think. So I had a look at the data to see how special we were and are. Wealth? Australia is the world’s 14thrichest country, just after Spain, Russia…

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Greta and the Hornsby Council

By | Other | 197 Comments

I had not taken much notice of the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, thinking that she was simply part of the children’s crusade about climate change. Then I learned that she had given a great speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and that the world was buzzing with it. So I thought I had better see what the buzz was about. There are various versions of it, most of them shortened. Just go to You Tube. I don’t think it matters a great deal which versions you watch: you’ll get the same message. For those…

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The Conversation that isn’t one

By | Other | 259 Comments

Some years ago ‘The Conversation’ website came into existence. It was to assemble the writing of academics in their areas of interest, conveying them to the broader public. It seemed a good idea for a while, but before long it became clear to me that only some academics were to be favoured, while the editorial tendency was very much to the current Left-leaning orthodoxy. Nowhere was this tendency more obvious that in the area of ‘global warming’, or as it later became, ‘climate change’. I thought some of the stuff that was being published was so biased that I wrote…

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Why Nations Fail

By | Other | 45 Comments

In early 1966, armed with a letter of introduction, I went to the Harvard offices of Seymour Martin Lipset, arguably at that time the most distinguished political scientist in the USA, if not the world. His offices were simple but extensive. You passed from one to another until you arrived at the real office. He had more books on his shelves in the other offices than had my first university. The great man was most pleasant, affable and prepared to give me time. It must have been what was inside the letter of introduction, whose contents I did not see….

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