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Politics

Final thoughts on the US elections

By | Politics | 70 Comments

This probably my last piece on the US elections, unless something quite extraordinary turns up. My focus here is on the issues, and my basis is some work done by the Pew Center in July and August, and published in August. Yes, it’s a while ago, but my own experience with election issues is that the real ones are pretty constant. What is also important is that there can be sharp partisan differences in the relative importance of particular issues. Issue X may be most important to Democrats, but not really important, or so important to Republicans. I’ll use some Pew…

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The ACT elections

By | Other, Politics | 10 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 the downfall of George Pell

By | ABC, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 80 Comments

I should begin by saying that I am not a Catholic, and not even a Christian in any practising sense. I have said this before, but it is a necessary opening to this essay. I add to it the fact that I have never spoken to Cardinal Pell nor heard him speak save on television, though I have read a good deal of what he has written. With these caveats in mind I would argue that the sentence on Pell was wrong in terms of natural justice, for the details of the alleged crime were simply improbable in the extreme. They…

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Oh dear, elections are approaching

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Politics, Society | 20 Comments

For weeks now there have been short election ads urging viewers to vote for a new party, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. The really old ones amongst us, that is, people older than me, will remember another UAP which flourished in the interwar years in part because of a Labor split. But there have been no ads from the majors. It hardly matters, since the nightly news telecasts have abundant image and text about the coming election and the daily promises made by the leaders. But I guess we’ll see a proper Labor or Coalition ad once there is an…

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There’s nothing like a good ban!

By | ABC, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 34 Comments

The ABC announced the other day that the ACT Government was considering a total ban on single-use plastics, like plastic bags, knives, forks and other picnic and fast-food essentials. The relevant Minister said that the Government thought a ban was a good idea, but the community ought to be involved, so there would need to be a discussion paper. We in Canberra have a lot of discussion papers. What effect they have on public policy is rarely clear. Before I could gather my own voice, I heard my wife say, loudly, ‘What a silly idea!’ and I agreed. It is…

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Climate change: has anything actually changed?

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics | 437 Comments

For some time now my only exposure to the world has been through five minutes of radio news on Classic FM, plus some TV news at 6 pm (how much I get is affected by our dinner time at this nursing home). But, bit by bit, I’ve been hearing and seeing more. The coming elections in Australia and NSW have rather passed me by, though I have become more impressed than I once was by the Prime Minister’s capacity to speak cogently and apparently without notes. The issue that has grabbed me most, especially in the last few weeks, has…

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From Tribal to What?

By | Books, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 170 Comments

This essay has been in my mind for some time, though writing it has been prompted by reading a book review in October’s Quadrant. The review was by James C. Bennett, and the book,Shadows of Empires: the Anglosphere in British Politics, was written by Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce. I’ll return to both in due course. Human beings started in families who formed groups, which I here label ‘tribes’, both for protection and for mutual support in other ways. The tribes met other tribes, and in time competed with each other for land and other resources. About twelve thousand years ago…

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An important essay by Richard Lindzen

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 166 Comments

I am an admirer of Richard Lindzen, an American physicist whose field is the dynamics of the atmosphere-ocean circulation. In this area he is probably without peer, and it gives him a strong position from which to talk about climate change. He is the most prominent critic of the orthodox, IPCCC view of global warming. He recently gave a speech in London for the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It is too long to simply republish here, but what I have done is to edit it down by about two thirds. He started his lecture with a quote from a famous…

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Two new reports on climate change

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 78 Comments

Two reports bearing on climate change have been published in the last few days. The first is from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is full of forebodings about the future of the planet. This one is a Special Report on the implications of global warming above 1.5 degrees C. There are more of these special reports to come. The basic point or take-home message seems to be that limiting warming to 1.5 C is better for everyone than allowing warming to grow to 2.0C. No matter that both the 1.5C and 2.0C ‘boundaries’ seem to have been pulled…

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