Why don’t more people appreciate classical music?

By | Other | 19 Comments

It has puzzled me for a long time that more people are not attracted to ‘classical’ music — music that is an explicit art form, rather than simply a quick source of entertainment. When I last looked at this matter, the entire classical music genre, plus jazz and film scores, made up just five per cent of the music market. Classic FM, my radio station, has about three per cent of the radio audience. Pop (= popular) music of various times, seems to have all the rest. Music is now everywhere, in shops, shopping malls, buses, lifts, markets. There are…

Read More

Bushfires and climate change

By | Other | 268 Comments

A commenter has urged me not to wait until the bushfires are out before I comment on them. He doesn’t think anyone cares what I think about legalised drugs (I hope he’s wrong) but goes on ‘Everyone is waiting to read your first post on the bush fires and climate change’. He thinks I should illustrate with some current photos of Lilli Pilli, ‘where your old holiday home used to be’. How could I resist such an invitation? Let me begin by agreeing that these fires have been ‘devastating’ in terms of scale, loss of life and loss of property….

Read More

Decriminalising Drugs

By | Other | 22 Comments

There has been a lot of exaggeration in the media about weather conditions, but I think it might be better to leave the whole subject until the fires are out and we take a deep collective breath. Instead I’m writing on a subject that I have wrestled with for most of my adult life, the decriminalising of ‘drugs’, meaning the illegal ones. These drugs, cocaine, heroin, LSD, Ice and all the new ones with initials, are not available for legal sale, and it is an offence to possess them. Cannabis is going through a slow decriminalising process. Alcohol is legal,…

Read More

My ABC, some of the time

By | Other | 300 Comments

I have written about the ABC before. It is an organisation and a service that has been important to me throughout my life. Our radio is tuned to Classic FM and its music is ‘the soundtrack of our life’ from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. But the ABC vexes me. Yesterday one of the presenters, doing one of the Corporation’s far-too-frequent recorded self-promotions, told us that New Year’s Eve would bring in not just a new year but a new decade. It wasn’t long at all before a listener sent in a message to the…

Read More

Merry Christmas and all that

By | Other | 44 Comments

There’s nothing very funny about Christmas, which can be deadly serious, or just deadly. Here are a few funnies to cheer up those who need cheering up. My thanks to commenters, those who write to me privately, and those who just read. Oh, my thanks also to those who created the cartoons, and those who passed them on to me!

Read More

Lessons from Boris and Brexit

By | Other | 88 Comments

There some eerily familiar aspects of the recent British general election. First, as I understand it much of the mainstream media was opposed to Boris Johnson and all he stood for, and sledged him and the Conservatives throughout. Second, the British elites, located both in southeast England and wherever there is a higher education institution, simply ignored the traditional working-class regions, notably northern England, and plumped for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of socialism. The northern workers wanted jobs and an end to immigration, not socialism, and they swung in an extraordinary way to the Conservatives. Third, and connected…

Read More

Investment policy and public policy

By | Other | 103 Comments

What remains of our savings, after paying for our aged-care facility residence, is tied up in a thing called a ‘wrap’, in which our capital is invested over a wide range of equities, property and cash. I’ve never been especially interested in the money market, so the wrap works well for us. We get regular reports, and one of them contained a most interesting essay, whose point was that the biggest problem for investors might be the investor himself or herself. What followed was eerily familiar. The problem is that all of us take short-cuts, or ‘heuristics’, that allow us…

Read More

The Map and the Territory: the problem with models

By | Other | 102 Comments

This essay is based on a peer-reviewed article by a statistician and a mathematician (who call themselves ‘physicists’ at the end) in an economics journal. Its title is ‘Escape from model-land’. It’s been about for a couple of months, but there’ll be many readers for whom the article is new and important, so what follows is my summary, which is informed by my own experience. . The authors start their abstract with what seems to me a great and often unrecognised truth.  Both mathematical modelling and simulation methods in general have contributed greatly to understanding, insight and forecasting in many fields including…

Read More

Is Australia a net source, in terms of carbon dioxide, or a net sink?

By | Other | 86 Comments

This question troubles some people, and on this website, and on many others, you’ll find contradictory answers: it’s a net SINK! No, it’s a net SOURCE! My past position was that by and large Australia was a net sink, though since we export a lot of coal, we’ve passed on some of our GGE to other countries. In short, I don’t think it’s a question of enormous significance. But others are sure that it is, so I thought I should do some more work on the subject and provide interested readers with a little background. Let’s start with the notion…

Read More

Utopian dreams and engineering reality

By | Other | 37 Comments

The other day someone asked me where I got the ideas for my essays. Some come from an abiding interest in Australian society, politics and economics, public policy and good government. Others come from something I’ve read and pondered on for a while. A third set is what comes to pass in what we call ‘the news’. What actually happens, or happened today, is often important enough to prompt an essay even though I had intended to write on something else. The bushfires forecast for the ‘unprecedented and catastrophic’ Tuesday last week were an example. This essay comes from the…

Read More