The race to the race for the White House

By | Other | 4 Comments

The Australian Capital Territory will have an election for its Legislative Assembly in October this year. But the election most of the world is exercised about is that for the President of the United States, and that will take place in November. The incumbent President is Donald Trump, who looks to be  a shoo-in for his party’s nomination when the Republicans meet in August. The Democrats meet in July, and at the moment a series of ‘primary’ elections is taking place, state by state. The primary is an unusual American invention, and while we hear a lot about the outcome in…

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Identity Politics

By | Other | 10 Comments

It all started a long time ago, a century and a half, perhaps, when the conservative side of politics noted that the working classes were getting richer, and needed to be drawn into the body politic lest they follow the notions of Marx and Engels, and see life as a constant struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Political leaders like Bismarck in Germany and Salisbury in England invented things like the old age pension, public health and public education. What they accomplished were tiny steps at first, but almost revolutionary in their implication. Conservative governments could afford to spend,…

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Bad car ads

By | Other | 16 Comments

I spent twenty years in the road safety domain, mostly as the Chairman of the NRMA/ACT Road Safety Trust, and later as a member or chairman of several reviews of various road safety entities. Road safety is perhaps in my bones now, and certainly stays in my mind. The long-term trend in crash deaths has been  downward from the 1970s (the rate is now at about a third of the deaths per 100,000 people of 1970), but deaths in the last year from road crashes came to nearly 1200, and that was an increase of around five per cent over the same…

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My last ‘climate change’ essay, for a while at least

By | Other | 476 Comments

I started becoming interested in climate change in 2005, when I was writing a speculative book about the next fifty years in Australia. It was plain I would have to do a chapter on the environment, which forced me to come to terms with global warming, then the widely used term. I knew that Ian Castles, the former Australian Statistician, had written a piece on some aspect of it, and we began talking. He suggested that for the orthodox science I read the IPCC reports, and then talk to Bob Carter, the most prominent scientific sceptic. I knew Bob Carter…

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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…

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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….

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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,…

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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…

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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!

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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…

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