Category

Politics

Angels and Demons

By | Economy, Environment, Politics, Society | 8 Comments

This is not a critique of Dan Brown’s best-seller, or of the film of the book. Rather it is an exploration of the twin forces that drive us, and drive any collectivity to which we belong. It is connected to the paired notions of ‘tough-minded’ and ‘tender-minded’. It comes from a lengthy discussion I have been having with my elder son on our Saturday drives in the bush. And it provides a useful lens through which to view our politics and the society we are part of. I’ll start with tough-minded and tender-minded, categories that the 19thcentury American psychologist and…

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How feasible are these 2050 targets?

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Politics, Society | 120 Comments

The year 2050 is the target moment for those who want an end to greenhouse gas emissions, and a lot of countries have signed up to it. Ours hasn’t yet, thank goodness. The target year is a long way away, and nearly all of those who have signed up to it won’t be alive then, I should think. I shan’t be there — I’d be 113 if I were, and that is rather unlikely, to say the least. How is the process of transition going to work? I haven’t seen any detailed plans for implementation. I doubt there are any,…

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The Day of the Social Justice Warrior

By | Humour, Politics, Society | 119 Comments

One of my sons has begun to refer to ‘social justice warriors’, and the other day I came across the short form: ‘SJW’. The term applies to anyone who thinks he or she, or someone they like, has been hardly done by, and something should be done about it. Exactly what should be done is not always clear, but who should do it is always obvious: ‘they’, usually meaning the government, council, corporation or whatever. Sometimes it is an opportunity for the ceremonial wringing of the hands, as in ‘we ought to be able to do better than this’ and…

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What to do with Christian Porter

By | Health, Politics, Society | 23 Comments

The case of Christian Porter is a difficult one. He is the Commonwealth’s Attorney-General, and it is said that thirty or so years ago, when he was seventeen, he raped a sixteen–year old girl who was also part of a debating team. The girl killed herself many years later. She did report all this much later to the NSW police, who took no action, partly because the alleged rape happened a long time ago, partly because she made no sworn statement, and partly because of her assumed mental condition at the time of the police interviews. It was not long…

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Back to energy, again

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Politics, Research, Society | 387 Comments

Driving in the bush with my son on Saturday I saw some gigantic wind turbines on top of a small range, and he told me there was a line of them stretching up to Crookwell, quite a way away. That got us talking about the fantasy of wind power, while later the talk took me to another excellent Judy Curry piece, the origin of which I have begun to read. Since it is nearly 350 pp long I will give readers bits of the Extensive Summary instead. Written by two members of the European Parliament, Katinka Brouwer and Dr Lucas Bergkamp,…

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What do popular votes mean in the USA?

By | Climate Change, Politics, Society | 117 Comments

In this essay I want to return to the US Presidential election, not because I think there was anything suss in the outcome, though there might have been (see Time magazine’s expose here), but to point out some singular features of the result, and what they might mean both in the USA and here. First, the numbers. No one in American history has won more votes than Donald Trump did last November, save for Joe Biden, who won over 81 million popular votes, just over 51 per cent of the votes cast. Donald Trump won 74 million, or not quite 47…

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The Right Talk

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Media, Politics, Society | 25 Comments

There I was at the National Press Club, to hear the new Prime Minister. Some years have passed since I was last there. Often the take-home message has been given to the media, so you know what the speech is all about. But not this time. I had my recorder on, and I can tell you that this is exactly what he said. Friends, he said, I have heard a lot of people speak in this renowned venue, and most of them look happily to the future, because of what they and their government, or their corporation, are going to…

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The cancel culture is here

By | Indigenous, Language, Politics, Religion, Society | 20 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 | 105 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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