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Health

The problem of passionate demands

By | Climate Change, Education, Health, Other, Politics | 93 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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A tribute to my leading lady

By | Health, History | 22 Comments

Those of us who live in aged care facilities don’t exactly live with death, but it is about us all the time. From our quite pleasant environment in Canberra  there is only one way to go — up or down. We trust that our friends have all gone up, to God in his heaven, or whatever an equally enjoyable dwelling place might be. There is one here who might benefit from going down, but we’ll leave him out of it. I don’t know what the average length of residence here might be, and I haven’t asked. I’ve been here a…

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Yet Another Royal Commission

By | ABC, Climate Change, Health, History, Indigenous, Media, Politics, Society | 15 Comments

The Prime Minister’s announcement that there is to be a Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector caught me a little by surprise. After all, as Mr Morrison (who also wears hats as Minister for Health and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care) was careful to point out in his media release, there has already been a review into quality in aged care initiated by his predecessor Ken Wyatt. What follows is from the PM’s media release: We have already taken steps to improve the system [after the public outcry about the Oakden aged facility in South Australia]. In…

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Three cheers for Pollyanna

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics, Society | 85 Comments

One commenter to my last essay thought that I had ‘a Pollyanna view of the world’. I didn’t think it was a compliment, but it gave me the focus for another essay, which follows naturally from the last two. What has been most interesting in the Comments to these two essays about progress has been the determination on the part of some readers to continue to see the world as bad, dangerous, awful, unequal, unfair, what you will, in the face of good global data that don’t say the opposite, exactly, but make the point that for the great majority out…

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Why aren’t more people ‘factful’?

By | Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics, Research, Society | 68 Comments

I have written about the Swedish medico and educator Hans Rosling before, and have greatly enjoyed his TED talks, especially this one. He and his son and daughter have produced a book, Factfulness. Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. I had learned from the inside back cover that he has died, and that his book is a kind of summary of his world-view, and his earnest hope that people will become more optimistic about the future. They should, because his story, based mostly on data produced by agencies of the UN…

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The May Off-Topic Thread

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 22 Comments

This thread is for ideas and comments that are not directly relevant to the weekly essay. I’ll start this one with a link to another essay written by Michael Schellenberger, a well-known American environmentalist, who is running for Governor of California. It is not really about the US at all, but about the way in which alternative energy sources are affecting (upwards) the price of electricity, and is therefore directly relevant to we who live Down Under, because the same elements apply. Somewhere I have seen a Part Two, and when I find it I’ll link it too. How Solar…

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On the virtue of diversity in politics

By | Economy, Environment, Health, History, Language, Politics, Society | 12 Comments

This essay is in part an extension of the one I wrote on ‘diversity’, and in part an exploration of the party system that I’ve been mulling about for some time. One of the important elements of ‘electoral democracy’ (the sort of system we have), is that it allows pretty–well anyone to run as a candidate, and any group of citizens to call themselves a party if they can scrub up five hundred members from the electoral roll and $500. Why do they do it? Partly, because they can, and because to do so is an accepted and honourable way of saying…

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Taxes and transfers

By | Economy, Education, Health, History, Media, Politics, Society | 63 Comments

I seem to be caught up in a variety of conversations and readings that focus on the sort of society we actually have in Australia. An artist preparing a large piece for the Sydney Biennale said, if I remember his words correctly, that our policy with respect to asylum seekers gave ‘Australia a bad image internationally’. In comparison to which country, I wondered (there is more below). Dick Smith wants us to stop immigration entirely, or almost entirely. Another speaker described Australia as one of the last outposts of ‘capitalism’. Again, I wondered where the other outposts were. I came…

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On diversity

By | ABC, Education, Health, History, Media, Music, Politics, Society | 64 Comments

In earlier essays I have written about the virtues of optimism versus pessimism,  on multi-ethnicity rather than multi-culturalism (for example, here), and on the nation-state versus internationalism (for example, here). I remain firm in my preferences there, but in this essay I retreat a little from a related past position. I have come to see some further virtues in ‘diversity’, or perhaps some further justifications for it, which had previously passed me by. ‘Diversity’ today is mostly code for people of different ethnic origins, religions and gender. But it can and should apply to cultural styles as well. I start with…

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