How ‘special’ is Australia?

By | Other | 8 Comments

Some little time ago one of our leaders made an assertion that Australia was ‘special’, but did not give much of an explanation of what he meant or why it was so, or why anyone should care. In what way is our country ‘special’? Compared to which other country or countries? Of course, we are special in where we are situated on the globe, but that’s not what was being implied, I think. So I had a look at the data to see how special we were and are. Wealth? Australia is the world’s 14thrichest country, just after Spain, Russia…

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Greta and the Hornsby Council

By | Other | 192 Comments

I had not taken much notice of the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, thinking that she was simply part of the children’s crusade about climate change. Then I learned that she had given a great speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and that the world was buzzing with it. So I thought I had better see what the buzz was about. There are various versions of it, most of them shortened. Just go to You Tube. I don’t think it matters a great deal which versions you watch: you’ll get the same message. For those…

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The Conversation that isn’t one

By | Other | 259 Comments

Some years ago ‘The Conversation’ website came into existence. It was to assemble the writing of academics in their areas of interest, conveying them to the broader public. It seemed a good idea for a while, but before long it became clear to me that only some academics were to be favoured, while the editorial tendency was very much to the current Left-leaning orthodoxy. Nowhere was this tendency more obvious that in the area of ‘global warming’, or as it later became, ‘climate change’. I thought some of the stuff that was being published was so biased that I wrote…

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Why Nations Fail

By | Other | 45 Comments

In early 1966, armed with a letter of introduction, I went to the Harvard offices of Seymour Martin Lipset, arguably at that time the most distinguished political scientist in the USA, if not the world. His offices were simple but extensive. You passed from one to another until you arrived at the real office. He had more books on his shelves in the other offices than had my first university. The great man was most pleasant, affable and prepared to give me time. It must have been what was inside the letter of introduction, whose contents I did not see….

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How not to argue about climate change

By | Other | 225 Comments

A couple of years ago Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, published a cartoon which sent up the ‘climate change’ orthodoxy in a merciless way. If case you’ve never seen it, here it is. Needless to say, such a publication, from such an eminent cartoonist, was bound to get up the noses of the orthodox, and it did. It has taken some time, but there is now a rebuttal, from the Yale people (Yale Environment  360). Trouble is, it seems to confirm the argument of the original comic strip. You can read the whole piece here.h Written by Ross…

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What is human life for, anyway?

By | Other | 13 Comments

W My apologies to those who wondered what had happened to their comments. I was getting weaker and weaker, and was suddenly packed off to hospital for a long rest, which has done me a lot of good. There may need to be a return, but so far I am doing well. Apart from sleeping, I read, and one of the books I read, indeed, am re-reading  for the third time, I think, was The Seasons of a Man’s Life, written by Daniel Levinson and others, and published in 1978. My copy’s pages have turned yellow with time, but the content remains everlastingly…

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An Indian view of climate change, and where it led me

By | Other | 1,065 Comments

In Australia, and more generally in the Western world, we are accustomed to take seriously only opinions that come from our own languages and cultures. We will notice what the Americans say, the British, and the Dutch, for example. But if the opinions come from Russia, or China or India, we discount them. If they come from Brazil or Chile, we are unlikely even to know about them. A knowledgeable friend (peer-reviewed, yes, and an IPCC reviewer) pointed me towards an op ed piece in The Times of India, and I read it with some interest. The author is Sanjeev Sabhlok, who…

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Good government and Federalism

By | Other | 11 Comments

Good government and federalism This essay rises from musing about British PM Boris Johnson, Brexit and the European Union, and of course musing about our own situation in Australia. Since human beings came to settle in villages, grow crops and domesticate animals there have been two competing forces affecting ‘power’. The first, and certainly the earliest, was that power resided in the headman, the warrior-chief, and then the king. The second, and the weaker, was that the people of the village were able to make their own decisions, perhaps with the guidance of the headman or the elders, but they…

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Some further thoughts on EVs

By | Other | 25 Comments

Two conversations a few days ago made me think again about the electric vehicle, that proposed panacea for all our energy ills. One of my granddaughters has an important role in the advertising of the new VW concept car series that promises just about everything, and she is excited about them. She lives and works in New York City, and the cars are not yet for sale. What none of them has is a long run before recharging — about 500 km seems to be the limit. Anyway, the series is said to be launched in 2020, and when Australia…

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My mixed feelings about the Eucalyptus

By | Other | 15 Comments

My mixed feelings about the Eucalypt A few days ago some Canberra citizens in newly planned suburbs  asked the ACT Government not to plant eucalypts as street trees. My sympathies were entirely with them. I don’t dislike the trees at all, but I think they have no place in streets or backyards. In a bushfire the oil in their leaves becomes volatile, catches fire easily, and a strong wind behind the flames can send fire travelling at frightening speed. In the great Canberra bushfire of 2003 hundreds of houses were lost because of this tendency. More, eucalypts are territorial, and a…

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