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Society

Back to energy, again

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Politics, Research, Society | 293 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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On the downfall of George Pell

By | ABC, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 81 Comments

I should begin by saying that I am not a Catholic, and not even a Christian in any practising sense. I have said this before, but it is a necessary opening to this essay. I add to it the fact that I have never spoken to Cardinal Pell nor heard him speak save on television, though I have read a good deal of what he has written. With these caveats in mind I would argue that the sentence on Pell was wrong in terms of natural justice, for the details of the alleged crime were simply improbable in the extreme. They…

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Oh dear, elections are approaching

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Politics, Society | 20 Comments

For weeks now there have been short election ads urging viewers to vote for a new party, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. The really old ones amongst us, that is, people older than me, will remember another UAP which flourished in the interwar years in part because of a Labor split. But there have been no ads from the majors. It hardly matters, since the nightly news telecasts have abundant image and text about the coming election and the daily promises made by the leaders. But I guess we’ll see a proper Labor or Coalition ad once there is an…

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There’s nothing like a good ban!

By | ABC, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 34 Comments

The ABC announced the other day that the ACT Government was considering a total ban on single-use plastics, like plastic bags, knives, forks and other picnic and fast-food essentials. The relevant Minister said that the Government thought a ban was a good idea, but the community ought to be involved, so there would need to be a discussion paper. We in Canberra have a lot of discussion papers. What effect they have on public policy is rarely clear. Before I could gather my own voice, I heard my wife say, loudly, ‘What a silly idea!’ and I agreed. It is…

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An unexpected hazard of using email

By | History, Language, Media, Society | 29 Comments

I was an early user of desktop computers, and I think I bought my first Apple IIe in 1988. Throughout a series of ISPs and an apparently unending set of Apples I have had a relatively untroubled run with these devices. Indeed, I wonder how I ever managed to write and publish without them. It was certainly a much slower process in the days of typewriters. Well, what follows is instructive. Read on. The English is not great. I have redacted my password and my email address, and done some editing for neatness. Hello! I’m a programmer who cracked your…

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From Tribal to What?

By | Books, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 170 Comments

This essay has been in my mind for some time, though writing it has been prompted by reading a book review in October’s Quadrant. The review was by James C. Bennett, and the book,Shadows of Empires: the Anglosphere in British Politics, was written by Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce. I’ll return to both in due course. Human beings started in families who formed groups, which I here label ‘tribes’, both for protection and for mutual support in other ways. The tribes met other tribes, and in time competed with each other for land and other resources. About twelve thousand years ago…

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Two new reports on climate change

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 78 Comments

Two reports bearing on climate change have been published in the last few days. The first is from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is full of forebodings about the future of the planet. This one is a Special Report on the implications of global warming above 1.5 degrees C. There are more of these special reports to come. The basic point or take-home message seems to be that limiting warming to 1.5 C is better for everyone than allowing warming to grow to 2.0C. No matter that both the 1.5C and 2.0C ‘boundaries’ seem to have been pulled…

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