On television advertising

By | Other | 6 Comments

Over the past few months I have become more and more aware of, interested even, in what passes for advertising on our commercial TV channels, and on the SBS as well. I don’t watch the ABC much, and have nothing to offer there. I look after my wife in the afternoons, and she will watch TV if there’s nothing else happening, and she likes a set of programs that I am happy to watch as well. I need to declare an interest. Some of my family are involved in commercial TV, and point out to me that my criticisms of…

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Elections, Australian and American

By | Other | 64 Comments

I was asked some months ago to write something about the US Presidential elections, coming in just a few weeks. This is the first instalment. For those who have lived in both countries, it is pretty basic stuff. But just as there are millions of Americans who simply don’t know that Australia exists, or think it is Austria, there are hundreds of thousands of Australians who think we are just like America. We’re not, and this essay gives some context. Yes, we have a common language, we borrowed their federal system from the US, and a few other things as…

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On the matter of Pain

By | Other | 7 Comments

I wanted to write about pain, because I’ve experienced a fair bit of it in the last little while. Also, I felt I didn’t know much about it and it was time to learn more. My hazy view was that physical pain (‘ouch’) was part of the body’s warning system. Don’t do that again, or fix it, were the messages. Then there is the problem of the pain that comes from grief, the loss of a dear one, the ‘woe is me’ pain that seems to be with you forever until, at last you can emerge from the box and…

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Issues and outcomes

By | Other | 92 Comments

Election time is approaching in the ACT and in Queensland, with Western Australia early in 2021. We’ve just had an election in the Northern Territory, where Labor won comfortably. One of my interests, as an ageing political scientist, is what will happen as a result, and what they might tell us about ‘the mood of the people’. A second element is the effect that Covid -19 will have on the outcomes, which are likely to be different from State to Territory. A third is the difference in political acceptability between climate change and the pandemic as items in public discussion….

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A few days in hospital…

By | Other | 16 Comments

Perhaps I should precede this essay with the sort of solemn warnings we get on television that what we are about to see might shock or worry viewers. If there be such among the readers I apologise in advance. I simply needed to get this experience out of my mind. Earlier in August I entered my 84thyear, and wondered again, as you do at this age, how long I had left. I don’t have a bucket list, neither my wife nor I will travel overseas again, and I am more or less content with what I currently do, write books,…

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Even when you’ve read the fine print…

By | Other | 138 Comments

I’ve come across an interesting court case in the energy area, but first I’ll comment on a change in my circumstances. Now that I’m in an aged care facility I don’t get mailed messages urging me to adopt solar technology on my roof. If I do, I was told, my electricity would be free! But I still see the ads on the television screen. Alan Border, of cricket fame, is still offering me, at $4691 up front, a package from the company he pitches for. At least he doesn’t say that the power thus generated is free. A couple of…

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Which is more important, virus or climate change?

By | Other | 31 Comments

Some months ago I received in the email a British cartoon, showing a harassed Pom sitting in front of his TV. On the screen you could see dozens of signs with the word ‘coronavirus’ and someone is lecturing viewers about what they now had to do. His wife was staring out the window at the street, where people are marching with ‘coronavirus’ banners. Husband is saying to wife, ‘Oh, how I wish they’d bring back Brexit!’ It was worth a good laugh then, and perhaps an even bigger one now. But there is touch of real fear in the laugh….

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Preposterous Political Posturing

By | Other | 103 Comments

I just couldn’t believe it. ‘Coon’ is no longer to be the name of a well-known style of cheese. Apparently its use offends people, and one man has been campaigning for twenty years to have the name removed. What’s it to be called now? Why can’t I believe it? Well, Coon Cheese is named after the man who invented it, Edward Coon. It has had nothing whatever to do with racism. Edward William Coon (1871-1934) was an American inventor who used high temperature and humidity to produce cheddar cheese quickly. The process he patented in 1926 is called ‘cooning’. Now…

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Writing to the Queen

By | Other | 14 Comments

For some years now Professor Jenny Hocking, a political scientist who is absorbed with the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975, has been trying to get the Archives to  release the letters from and to the Queen at that time, which have been kept from public scrutiny. The Government argued that they were privy to the Queen. Professor Hocking’s FOI requests finally succeeded, and now we can read them all. One side of the dispute, which continues, says that they show how the Queen was deeply involved in the dismissal. The other says that the letters absolve the Palace from…

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The Impossible Claim

By | Other | 55 Comments

A few years ago the ACT Government declared that it would so organise things that the ACT would be carbon-neutral before very long. It was going to achieve this outcome by providing more alternative energy sources. At the time I wrote that this was a most misleading claim. You can see the most recent version of the claim here. No matter what the ACT Government does, ACT consumers are part of the eastern electricity grid, which is supported overwhelmingly by fossil fuels, mostly coal and gas. What the government and the media should have said was that the addition of…

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