Category Archives: Other

The March Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 148 Comments

This is the place for comments which do not in my judgment have a clear relevance to the essay that began the thread. Neville says: February 26, 2017 at 7:46 am (Edit) More corruption and fra-d in the UK and these green fra-ds once again actually increase co2 emissions for even more waste of billions of $ for a zero return. Just incredible and Labor and the Greens will endlessly waste more billions here as well if they win the next election. power-stations-burning-wood.html Chris Warren says: February 26, 2017 at 8:14 am (Edit) Neville Grown-ups may have found a…

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Is the tide turning?

By | Climate Change, Environment, Media, Other, Politics, Religion, Research | 261 Comments

Even before the election of Donald Trump I had begun to think that there seemed within the body politic to be a move away from the notion that some kind of catastrophic doom faced humanity unless we kept carbon dioxide concentrations to 350 ppm/reduced greenhouse gas emissions/stopped mining coal/all bought electric cars, and the like. Now that President-elect Trump has set out some of what he proposes to do in the ‘climate change’ area, it seems that even in the mainstream media statements are being made that would have been unlikely before that Tuesday in November. What has drawn my…

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The US Presidential campaign and ‘climate change’

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Other, Politics, Religion, Research | 15 Comments

Much more than a year will pass before Americans go to the polling places to elect the people who will elect the President, and already the candidates are appearing, some only to find out whether or not it is sensible to go for party endorsement (it is a hugely expensive business), and a few because they believe they will be there at the voting. I am not one of those who thinks that the Republicans will win if they choose Donald Trump. Almost everything about him turns me right off. His is the hubris that goes with being extraordinarily wealthy, an attribute…

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I guess that I am a ‘lukewarmer’

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Other, Politics, Religion, Research | 23 Comments

I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the track I have argued that putting people or ideas into categories, while it may be useful for an early stage in sorting things out, is deceptive if it is carried too far. We don’t live in a binary world, but one with multiple shades of meaning. Not only do we not have to choose between black and white, there are almost certainly more than fifty shades of grey (the book with that title I found I could not finish). In the ‘climate change’ domain those who criticise what I call ”the orthodoxy’, a…

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The last essay for this year

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Food & Wine, Health, History, Humour, Indigenous, Language, Media, Music, Other, Politics, Religion, Research, Road Safety, Society, Sport, Theatre | 26 Comments

Even websites need a holiday, and mine starts tomorrow. I’m back at work in the week beginning 12 January, and wish all my readers a relaxing, safe and enjoyable holiday break too. I started this website in June 2012, so it is now two-and-a-half years old. Over that time it has attracted about 27,000 unique readers, who have in total visited the site more than 70,000 times, and read nearly 150,000 pages. Readers have made nearly 3,700 comments to my 608 posts, and of course to one another’s comments. Before I get carried away with such success, I should mention that my…

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How do we best understand human history?

By | History, Language, Other, Politics, Research, Society | 7 Comments

One of the commenters to this website wrote very recently of his ‘conviction that the history of the human race has been one of eventual progress, with lots of fits and starts’, and that remark coincided with a growing desire on my part, over the last few weeks, to write about the way in which history affects the way we think about the present. My approach is not at all critical of what the commenter wrote — indeed, I agree with him, for the most part. The urge to write about this theme came from watching the distress of the various…

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‘Really existing research’

By | Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, History, Other, Politics, Religion, Research | 17 Comments

A couple of days ago I came across a passage I had written 21 years before, when I had left the world of full-time research policy and research-funding, a most turbulent time for me, and long before I had become interested in anthropogenic global warming. On re-reading it seems to me that I could have written this whole passage (slightly edited for tense) today. See what you think. ‘Emigre Polish social scientists in the 1980s, fascinated and somewhat repelled by Western theorising about Marxism, coined the term ‘really existing socialism’ to provide a focus for their own analysis of Marxism as they had experienced…

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The tribal nature of Australian society

By | Other | 15 Comments

Anzac Day and football and what is happening in the Ukraine made me think again about the tribal nature of human societies, ours especially. ‘What holds us together?’ asked someone in a letter to the editor recently, and deplored the decline of organised Christianity. I’m not at all sure that organised Christianity ever did hold us together, but the sights of an ecstatic football crowd on television, then of the young people out there at dawn on Anzac Day, and then of the insurgents in the Ukraine with their girlfriends on the tank or armoured personnel-carrier — all that points to…

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Earth Hour

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Humour, Media, Other, Politics, Religion, Research | 34 Comments

Some years ago, when Ms Gillard was Prime Minister, I served as the Chairman of the National Capital Authority, the body charged with planning for and managing the ‘national capital’ elements of Canberra. In my mail one day came a message from the Government that all government buildings were to observe Earth Hour by switching off all the lights for the set period. I was astonished. ‘You mean, we have to do this, even if we are working at the time?’ I asked our CEO. (Yes, we might well have had people working at night.) He nodded. I said it…

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The funding of research

By | Books, Economy, Education, Health, History, Other, Politics, Research | One Comment

The Australian Quarterly is 85 this year, and is probably the oldest continuously produced  magazine in our country, certainly the oldest in the field of policy and science. I have a soft spot for it because I wrote its ‘Political Review’ that once drew thousands of readers for each  issue – well, maybe dozens. My summaries of what had happened in the past quarter were noticed by others, and led before long to my writing for newspapers, a practice that continues to the present. Anyway, to celebrate its birthday the AQ has produced ‘a special edition that no one who is invested [I think…

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