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The problem of passionate demands

By | Climate Change, Education, Health, Other, Politics | 103 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 art of helpful communication

By | Climate Change, Language, Other, Politics | 5 Comments

Judith Curry published recently a short summary of a paper she admired, on scientific communication, and mentioned a longer version of it, which I went to, and found it equally useful. So here is my summary of the longer paper. It is important to me, because I try to follow the advice it contains. So much of what I read is biased in this way or that, and I fin I have to wade through the exaggeration to get to the point. And I don’t want to make the same mistakes in my own writing. Though the original paper is…

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How important is the Declaration of Human Rights?

By | Other | 7 Comments

In a few weeks will we pass the moment where, in 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations agreed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It had earlier been announced by Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his fourth term as President of the United States of America. No subsequent President has served for more than two terms, because a constitutional change limited later presidents to a maximum of two terms. Eleanor Roosevelt was an important woman of her time, and we have just passed the anniversary of the moment where she declared the Declaration…

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The ACT elections

By | Other, Politics | 12 Comments

I thought I might leave the USA and its elections for a week or so, to allow something to happen there other than wonder at what might happen next with the President’s health, and give a brief account of what is happening on my own doorstop — the four-yearly elections for the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). To be able to do that properly, especially for those who live elsewhere, I need to say something about Proportional Representation (PR), because that is the system through which we in the ACT elect MLAs and thus a government. All…

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The primary and the electoral college

By | Other, Politics | 7 Comments

This is the second piece on the coming US presidential election. As I explained in the last essay on this theme, November 3rdis not simply an election of the President, but the election of a host of other candidates for a host of other offices. The ‘primaries’ are gone, but I mention them now  because we in Australia don’t have them, and they are a good thing. The primary system is a device, organised a long time ago by progressives, to get the business of endorsement of party candidates out of the hands of the party machines and back to…

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On television advertising

By | Other | 12 Comments

Over the past few months I have become more and more aware of, interested even, in what passes for advertising on our commercial TV channels, and on the SBS as well. I don’t watch the ABC much, and have nothing to offer there. I look after my wife in the afternoons, and she will watch TV if there’s nothing else happening, and she likes a set of programs that I am happy to watch as well. I need to declare an interest. Some of my family are involved in commercial TV, and point out to me that my criticisms of…

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Elections, Australian and American

By | Other | 227 Comments

I was asked some months ago to write something about the US Presidential elections, coming in just a few weeks. This is the first instalment. For those who have lived in both countries, it is pretty basic stuff. But just as there are millions of Americans who simply don’t know that Australia exists, or think it is Austria, there are hundreds of thousands of Australians who think we are just like America. We’re not, and this essay gives some context. Yes, we have a common language, we borrowed their federal system from the US, and a few other things as…

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On the matter of Pain

By | Other | 9 Comments

I wanted to write about pain, because I’ve experienced a fair bit of it in the last little while. Also, I felt I didn’t know much about it and it was time to learn more. My hazy view was that physical pain (‘ouch’) was part of the body’s warning system. Don’t do that again, or fix it, were the messages. Then there is the problem of the pain that comes from grief, the loss of a dear one, the ‘woe is me’ pain that seems to be with you forever until, at last you can emerge from the box and…

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Issues and outcomes

By | Other | 92 Comments

Election time is approaching in the ACT and in Queensland, with Western Australia early in 2021. We’ve just had an election in the Northern Territory, where Labor won comfortably. One of my interests, as an ageing political scientist, is what will happen as a result, and what they might tell us about ‘the mood of the people’. A second element is the effect that Covid -19 will have on the outcomes, which are likely to be different from State to Territory. A third is the difference in political acceptability between climate change and the pandemic as items in public discussion….

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