All Posts By

Don Aitkin

The cancel culture is here

By | Indigenous, Language, Politics, Religion, Society | 13 Comments

I played tennis from the time I was six until the day in 2018 when I hurt my back during a game and discovered I had multiple myeloma and a compression fracture on T8, which spelled the end of my tennis. I followed my favourite players, men and women, until I was too old to care. My favourites were Ken Rosewall, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. I was once a ball boy for a doubles match between John Bromwich-Adrian Quist and Mervyn Rose-Ken McGregor. Only the oldies will know whom I’m talking about. I used to wonder why we didn’t have…

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The problem of passionate demands

By | Climate Change, Education, Health, Other, Politics | 95 Comments

Over the past few weeks I have been having drives and talks with my elder son, whose interest are like mine, though he is more interested in the philosophical aspects of politics than its day-to-day jousting. What follows comes from one of these talks we have had while driving through back roads in the bush, which we both enjoy. There is an incompatibility in all human societies in terms of what we want from our society and its government. We want X, but don’t always realise that it almost certainly involves Y, which we don’t want. Take our treatment of…

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The gentle art of blaming

By | Climate Change, Environment, Health, Politics, Research | 196 Comments

I rely on Judith Curry of Climate Etc to alert me to useful and provocative essays, articles and books, and she recently wrote a new essay herself, which you can read here. I think that the core element of her essay is the proposition that blaming gets in the way of doing anything sensible about whatever the problem is thought to be. Or, putting it another way, that the goal of the blamers is the immediate punishment of the offenders, not searching for a solution to the imagined problem. She uses material from the pandemic to try to find what…

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Our 30th Prime Minister

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Politics, Religion | 9 Comments

Our Prime Minister is not someone I have ever met. At 52 he’s much too young! The last PMs I knew moderately well were Paul Keating and John Howard. Morrison has been PM since August 2018, though it seems that he has been there much longer. Perhaps that’s because he’s been around for some time. He was the state director of the Liberal Party in New South Wales twenty years ago. He made his way into the Parliament as the MP for Cook in NSW in 2007, and served as shadow minister shortly afterwards in a variety of portfolios. In…

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A tribute to my leading lady

By | Health, History | 22 Comments

Those of us who live in aged care facilities don’t exactly live with death, but it is about us all the time. From our quite pleasant environment in Canberra  there is only one way to go — up or down. We trust that our friends have all gone up, to God in his heaven, or whatever an equally enjoyable dwelling place might be. There is one here who might benefit from going down, but we’ll leave him out of it. I don’t know what the average length of residence here might be, and I haven’t asked. I’ve been here a…

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The art of helpful communication

By | Climate Change, Language, Other, Politics | 5 Comments

Judith Curry published recently a short summary of a paper she admired, on scientific communication, and mentioned a longer version of it, which I went to, and found it equally useful. So here is my summary of the longer paper. It is important to me, because I try to follow the advice it contains. So much of what I read is biased in this way or that, and I fin I have to wade through the exaggeration to get to the point. And I don’t want to make the same mistakes in my own writing. Though the original paper is…

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The sine wave in politics

By | History, Politics | 12 Comments

I’ve had another a spell in hospital, with ‘septic shock’, and this essay was written, ready to go, a week ago. No matter. It makes no less sense (or more) now than it did then. A few weeks ago I was chatting with my grandson Jesse about his next assignment in Politics which centred on the right/left divide, and I put to him the issue of the slow move of bodies politic from one side to the other, a sort of sine wave, a gentle smooth regular movement like an ocean swell. You could see it happen over time, and…

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Why do scientists disagree about climate change?

By | Climate Change, Politics | 554 Comments

I promised a further essay on climate change, and this is it. It focuses on disagreement, the disagreement between scientists on various aspects of the issue. There is a belief, shared by climate activists, that all serious scientists are of one mind: that climate change is real, serious and potentially catastrophic unless we abandon the use of fossil fuels. If that were true, then the game would be over. There would be global agreement by governments, global action to phase out fossil fuels, and we would get used to much higher prices for electricity. What we would do for industries…

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Meanwhile, back at climate change…

By | Climate Change, Politics | 123 Comments

I keep seeing suggestions that now we know how to deal with Covid-19 (do we?) it’s time to deal with the biggest threat of all, climate change. Greenpeace and other climate-action voices are arguing, for example, that since New Zealand’s Jacinta Ardern no longer needs populist support to govern, there are no more excuses for inaction on climate change in that nation. The same source alleges that New Zealand’s agricultural sector is its main source of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), ‘as large sheep and cattle herds belch methane…’ I’ve visited the land of the long white cloud many times, but…

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Final thoughts on the US elections

By | Politics | 87 Comments

This probably my last piece on the US elections, unless something quite extraordinary turns up. My focus here is on the issues, and my basis is some work done by the Pew Center in July and August, and published in August. Yes, it’s a while ago, but my own experience with election issues is that the real ones are pretty constant. What is also important is that there can be sharp partisan differences in the relative importance of particular issues. Issue X may be most important to Democrats, but not really important, or so important to Republicans. I’ll use some Pew…

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