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Don Aitkin

Where do I stand, and why?

By | Other | 25 Comments

Judith Curry, of the Climate etc website, found herself involved in a wide-ranging Twitter debate which prompted her to summarise her position both in American politics and philosophically. I don’t use Twitter much, and am coming to the view that I should simply dispense with it, but I thought her summary position was well expressed, and thought further, why don’t I do the same? So here is mine, using her structure simply as a beginning. I have written about many of these points in the past, but here they are brought together. My politics I grew up in the country, and…

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The January Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 166 Comments

We still seem to be in a weak la Nina, and all the usual bushfire warnings are out. No doubt we will have some fires too. My attention was caught on Judith Curry’s website by a reference to a piece (abstract only) in Nature on the incidence of wildfires in the last two thousand years. The authors used sedimentary charcoal as the evidence and suggest that global biomass burning declined from AD 1 to ?1750, before rising sharply between 1750 and 1870. Global burning then declined abruptly after 1870. The early decline in biomass burning occurred in concert with a global cooling trend and…

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2017 — What’s to Review?

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics | 136 Comments

2017 was not at all my happiest year, though I can feel strength coming back in the sixth week of my recovery from double pneumonia. And while I was ill Australia’s industrious electors discharged their duties in Queensland and in the Federal seat of Bennelong, about which I wrote nothing at all. So perhaps I should venture a comment or two there. All I really observed with respect to the Queensland election result, and that from television, was that the Labor Government had been returned, with a massive swing against the Liberal-National Party Opposition. I thought I ought to have…

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The history of a working life

By | Books, Education, History, Politics, Research, Society | 26 Comments

At high school, and even as an undergraduate, I didn’t give much thought to my future working life. I would be a high-school teacher like my Dad and Mum. I had a clear acquaintance with the school system, and it seemed to have decent holidays, which I was used to. I would finally have to have a job of some kind, and the only one I had any interest in was teaching at school, preferably high school. I managed to get a teachers college scholarship to university, and that seemed to come with a Commonwealth scholarship offsetting whatever costs were…

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Heretical Thoughts about Science and Society

By | Books, Climate Change, Environment, Politics, Religion, Research | 116 Comments

I have mentioned before, with great approval (here and here), the English-born mathematician, astronomer  and physicist Freeman Dyson, who is 94, and has spent most of his working life at Princeton’s Institute of Advanced Study. I have been to Princeton a few times, but did not meet him, though I have had supper in Albert Einstein’s house there (and that was eerie). Dyson is extraordinarily diverse in his interests, and that may explain why he never won a Nobel Prize, though he has won a stack of other prizes in several fields. His friend, the late Oliver Sacks, remarked that A…

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The December Off-Post Thread

By | Other | 66 Comments

I start this month with a measured piece about the mismatch between strident claims about ‘climate change’ and the declining attention of citizens, by a former Canadian Minister. Joe Oliver: Ranting about climate isn’t good government policy, and isn’t convincing anyone Later, and for the benefit of reader Chris, are the paths followed by temperature and CO2 in the recent past. I’ve used GISS, the most heavily adjusted temperature set. Later Still: I enjoyed this little take on the extermination of species theme:  

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Is comedy still possible?

By | Other | 54 Comments

When I was about seven years old I was allowed to go to the Saturday matinee with another boy my age who lived across the road. We walked there and back (perhaps a kilometre), and we each had six pence. Threepence would get us into the pictures, while the other three pennies were for sweets. A small ice-cream in a cone would require the lot, so I tended to buy a musk stick (1d) and a small packet of jubes (2d). What we saw, every Saturday, were cartoons, a Movietone newsreel and a Western. I don’t remember a serial, although…

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The Dual Citizenship scandal/imbroglio/fiasco

By | Other | 15 Comments

Though I’ve waited now a few weeks to write this essay, it is plain that the issue will go for some time. While most of the media attention is on what nine sub jure parliamentarians mean in terms of the Turnbull leadership, or the effect on citizen attitudes towards parliamentarians generally, or the outcome of by-elections caused by the dual citizenship problem, my interest lies in the deeper questions. Do we want to exclude all dual citizens from parliamentary service? Or should we extend that exclusion to the public services? I was discussing the issue with a senior lawyer while…

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Climate change and electric vehicles

By | Books, Climate Change, Environment, Health, History, Politics, Religion, Research | 128 Comments

I’ve put the dual citizenship essay on hold for a week, partly because yet another person has decided that he might be at risk. He is only the President of the Senate, but there you are. There may be more, and the issue is getting more important by the day, because of the manner in which the High Court chose to decide the question. Instead I have my eye on a report presented to the relevant Minister in the ACT about the State of the Environment (in the ACT) in 2015. The Commissioner is Professor Kate Auty, and she formerly…

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