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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Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life

By | Other | 35 Comments

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist who has taught at Harvard and the University of Toronto. He is something of a celebrity, mostly through his YouTube and TV appearances, where he comes across as cool, urbane, polite and determined. I have watched, three times now, his interview on the UK’s Ch4 where he politely bested the interviewer, Cathy Newman, for twenty minutes, to the point where she simply couldn’t proceed. That interview has been seen more than 1.6 million times on YouTube. He has recently been in Australia to launch this new book, which I thought I ought to…

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The April Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 92 Comments

Cricket Like many others I was angry and sad in about equal proportion to discover the ‘ball-tampering’ event in South Africa. I  played cricket from an early age, and thoroughly enjoyed it, though it was always second to tennis and later to squash racquets. To me the action of Warner, Smith and Bancroft was simply inexplicable. It took me a day to calm down. Ball-tampering is now new, and du Plessis in South Africa was fined for doing it only a couple of years ago. At the core of it is the problem of money. Cricket is enmeshed in a…

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The March Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 185 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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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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Australia Day again

By | Other | 127 Comments

Richard di Natale, the Federal Greens leader, has managed to capture the holiday news, or at least the Australian politics section of it, with an almost daily cry to find another date for Australia Day, January 26th being apparently offensive to some Aboriginal people, because it signals the ‘invasion’ of their country. Since the Day remembers Governor Phillips’s planting of the flag close to Circular Quay and only the local Aboriginal people were there to observe, I think there is a good deal of specious talk in all this. Moreover, it is entirely unclear what Australia’s Aboriginal people think about…

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Where do I stand, and why?

By | Other | 27 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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