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At last, some humour

By | Other | 5 Comments

A minor setback put me into hospital for five days, and that means I needed to find something from the archives, and the first thing that came out was a recent dry observation. I now forget where it came from, but it’s worth a chuckle or two: (I) Neologisms One of my favourite columnists, David Astle (who loves to play with words), came up with some names to replace  Democracy (people rule)  …. here are a few for you to chuckle over and perhaps recognise. Replacements for Democracy….. Narcissocracy  Uncumbent – the leader who suddenly isn’t (Malcolm) Adhocracy – unstructured…

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Thoughts on our present discontents

By | Other | 49 Comments

It was a bit of a shock for me finally to see the TV news and hear the words ‘Prime Minister Morrison’. Yes, I knew it had happened, but some days had passed, and here I was back in the land of the living. What else had happened? Much is still unclear. ‘Envoy’ positions for Mr Abbott and My Joyce may keep them quiet and out of harm’s way. They may also heal some of the hurt. I don’t know, and I doubt that anyone else does either. Are we going to have an early election? My sources say No,…

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Electric vehicles again

By | Other | 60 Comments

In the week since I last wrote the NEG has been replaced by the leadership issue as the principal topic of political discussion in our country. The search for agreement that I wrote about has failed. There is none. What we have is a reversal of aspects of the Prime Minister’s proclaimed policy, and a challenge to Mr Turnbull’s leadership by Minister Peter Dutton, which failed by a few votes. Every day there is a new story. I said that sooner or later someone would have to face the reality of the energy problem. No one has said anything about…

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Climate science in perspective

By | Other | 80 Comments

Judith Curry has provided us with her take on an eight-year old paper by Carl Wunsch, a highly regarded oceanographer. I am sure I have read it before, but I certainly have not referred to it. I think her summary is excellent reading. I have made a few editorial changes. Introduction From one point of view, scientific communities without adequate data have a distinct advantage: one can construct interesting and exciting stories and rationalizations with little or no risk of observational refutation. Colorful, sometimes charismatic, characters come to dominate the field, constructing their interpretations of a few intriguing, but indefinite…

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The August Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 53 Comments

A little on Pain. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong — avoid it, fix it up, and the pain will go away. We learn about it through toothaches, cuts, breaks and things like that. I have a spinal fracture, and fractures take six to eight weeks to fix up. I am in week seven, and it may take eight or nine or ten weeks to fix mine up because I am old. Old bodies don’t heal so well. Even then I may still have painful episodes. So I have chronic pain, and pain is…

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The July Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 188 Comments

As attentive readers will know, I am not well — specifically, a compression fracture of the spine at T8. These ailments will generally cure themselves  in time (six to eight weeks), but they are extraordinarily painful, and there are powerful painkiller to reduce the pain. Unfortunately, they have powerful side-effects, too, and one of them is a general dopeyness that is frightening. Moreover, they affect fine motor control too, and I can’t stand for long (I stand to use the computer). For all these reasons, I am finding it difficult to keep the website running. We’ll see how well I…

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Understanding Donald Trump

By | Other | 15 Comments

I have written about President Donald J. Trump before (here and here, for example). This essay was prompted by the Singapore meeting between him and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. I may be wrong, but the media treatment of the whole meeting process seemed to begin with Trump’s refusal to meet’s being seen as provocative, risking a historic possibility. Then when the meeting occurred, he was being damned with the faintest of praise — previous North Korean leaders had given similar promises, where were the inspection guarantees, the statement was long on rhetoric and short on detail, and so…

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The June Off-Topic Thread

By | Climate Change, History, Other, Politics, Research, Society | 57 Comments

(1) I’ll start this one with a reference to a new paper and a flashback to one of my own essays. The IPCC developed a concept for its last report called ‘Representative Concentration Pathways’ (RCP), which are scenarios  about what might happen given certain assumptions about the control of carbon dioxide. The scariest of these is RCP 8.5, which is, not coincidentally, the most favoured pathway if you are an alarmist writer. I wrote about it here. RCP 8.5 is not, as often claimed, a ‘business as usual’ scenario, but a highly unlikely scenario requiring people like businessmen to behave…

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Well, is the world improving or not?

By | Other | 67 Comments

This is my second essay on the argument and contents of Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness… You can read the first essay here. There have been some misguided comments on the book, for which I may be partly responsible. So let me clear a couple of matters up. First, when you make judgments of any kind you are engaging in comparison. There are three main forms of comparison: comparing something with the same thing elsewhere at the same time (eg domestic violence rates in Australia and in Argentina), or that something with the same thing in the same place but over time…

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