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Don Aitkin

A Climate Dictionary

By | Climate Change, Environment, Humour, Politics, Religion, Research | No Comments

Willis Eschenbach is a citizen scientist who thinks outside the square. I like his work, and have referred to it before (for example, here and here). I had planned to write a piece on the use of terms in the climate debate, but Willis has done it for me. I think it’s funny, and readers are welcome to supply their own additions. I’ve added a few from the Comments to his original essay. TERM                                                         …

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Taxes and transfers

By | Economy, Education, Health, History, Media, Politics, Society | 45 Comments

I seem to be caught up in a variety of conversations and readings that focus on the sort of society we actually have in Australia. An artist preparing a large piece for the Sydney Biennale said, if I remember his words correctly, that our policy with respect to asylum seekers gave ‘Australia a bad image internationally’. In comparison to which country, I wondered (there is more below). Dick Smith wants us to stop immigration entirely, or almost entirely. Another speaker described Australia as one of the last outposts of ‘capitalism’. Again, I wondered where the other outposts were. I came…

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The #MeToo phenomenon and what, if anything, anyone can do about it

By | History, Media, Politics, Society, Theatre | 131 Comments

For those who have somehow missed all this, ‘Me, too’ is what someone wished she had said when a thirteen year-old girl told her she had been sexually abused. #MeToo became a digital movement in 2006, and spread astonishingly in October last year after allegations were made against the alleged sexual predations of film producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein was fired from the company he started, and suffered other losses as well. His career is in ruins. Thereafter came a cascade of allegations about other alleged baddies in the media, Hollywood and television, which you can see here. In the USA…

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The March Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 89 Comments

I have had a busy few days, hence the delay. This thread is for observations and comments that are not related to the current essay. I note that the Northern Hemisphere has had a particularly nasty winter in many parts, and it is not yet over. I’ll post a reference or two here shortly.

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On diversity

By | ABC, Education, Health, History, Media, Music, Politics, Society | 63 Comments

In earlier essays I have written about the virtues of optimism versus pessimism,  on multi-ethnicity rather than multi-culturalism (for example, here), and on the nation-state versus internationalism (for example, here). I remain firm in my preferences there, but in this essay I retreat a little from a related past position. I have come to see some further virtues in ‘diversity’, or perhaps some further justifications for it, which had previously passed me by. ‘Diversity’ today is mostly code for people of different ethnic origins, religions and gender. But it can and should apply to cultural styles as well. I start with…

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Whose universities are they, anyway?

By | Books, Education, History, Politics, Research, Society | 25 Comments

The publication of three books about the recent past and possible future of higher education, not to mention articles in journals and on the Internet, suggest that all is not well in academe. While all has never, at least since the end of the second world war, been well in academe (the AVCC first used the word ‘crisis’ in 1947), it may be true that the level of tension within higher education today is notably high. The three books are Glyn Davis’s The Australian Idea of a University, Stuart Macintyre’s No End of a Lesson, and my own Critical Mass….

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By | History, Media, Politics, Society | 101 Comments

At the time of writing it looks as though Barnaby Joyce will keep his positions as Leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister. The Nationals seem to have given him ‘another chance’, as his deputy put it. Quite what would, after this episode, make its members think otherwise is not clear. Throughout this trial by media two thoughts kept running in my head. The first was why the press gallery had decided to run as a pack after him, and who might be the next MP or Senator to be brought forward for public excoriation. For, as I…

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President Trump and climate change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 111 Comments

Some months ago I agreed to give an address in February this year on the topic ‘President Trump and climate change’. At the time I wondered whether it would be a sensible topic in 2018, but it is, so I’m giving it as asked. This isn’t the address, but it is the sort of mulling around that you need to do before you write your speech notes. It’s not difficult to see what President Trump thinks about climate change, and what he has thought about it. He had said, during the election campaign, that it was a concept dreamed up…

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In weather terms, how did 2017 stack up?

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 101 Comments

As regular readers know, I now do this little examination each year, waiting until Ole Humlum, of climate4you, has assembled the global data from all the climate datasets. Most of what follows has been distilled from his latest bulletin. As always there were excitable people who wanted to tell us, even before the end of 2017, that the year would prove to be the hottest ever, and were asking why we weren’t doing something about it. So a few preparatory remarks are in order. First, the planet has emerged from a notably cool period, often called ‘the little Ice Age’….

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The February Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 62 Comments

This is a thread that allows readers to post their own thoughts on subjects that are not relevant to the current essay. I start it with the note that President Trump, in his State of the Union address to Congress, did not refer once to climate change or global warming, for the first time in nine years in such a Presidential address. That might be expected, given his known views. But the Democratic  right-of-reply sequel, given by yet another Kennedy scion, Joe III, likewise didn’t mention that, or rising seas, or any of the other warming themes. Later: Because of…

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