Saturday salon 25/10


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. Jacqui Lambie refuses an invitation to visit a Sydney mosque

“I’m a Catholic; I’m religious,” she said.

“It’s not my moral upbringing. I’m Australian. I simply believe in the church.

“… I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.”

No comment!

2. $4 billion hit to Queensland schools

Queensland schools are set to take a $4 billion hit to their revenues over the next decade due to cuts announced in the federal budget in May, according to the state’s education department.

Education Queensland’s analysis, obtained by the ABC in a Right to Information request, revealed Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek was advised that over the 10 years from 2014, state schools would be $1.66 billion worse off.

Non-government schools fared worse, with cuts totalling $2.284 billion.

The revenue reduction formed part of $80 billion in savings announced by the Federal Government in the areas of health and education.

Other states would be similarly placed, and comparable cuts in health funding are in the budget.

The good news is that the cuts apply from 2017 and there will have to be an election by 2016. So we’ll get what we vote for!

3. New York doctor diagnosed with Ebola

A harlem doctor returning from Guinea has contracted Ebola.

He took several trips on the subway in the past week, visited a bowling alley and took a cab before he began to display symptoms. His fiancée and two friends have been isolated.

Questions arise, I think, as to whether precautions were adequate. He was taking his temperature twice each day.

Contra the article, I heard on the radio that New Yorkers were calm, trusting their public institutions.

4. New president of Indonesia

Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s new president, is a reform-minded technocrat who will need to make tough decisions if he wants to realise his grand ambitions to improve Indonesia’s creaking infrastructure, healthcare and education systems, analysts say.

He seems a man of principle who will take no nonsense. I wonder how he will view the funny games we play with asylum seekers.

I believe Al Jazeera has been airing an investigative report into the horrors of Australian offshore detention of asylum seekers.

5. Run silent, run deep in Canberra’s naval battles

The AFR has been severely hollowed out in Fairfax’s effort to make a buck, but Laura Tingle is still there. Recently she took a look at how we are going about acquiring submarines.

She reckons the politics wavers between regional concern for jobs and wanting to be mates with the Japanese. When senior LNP politicians were spruiking the possibility of saving billions by buying Japanese subs off the shelf, she says the subs were too slow and lacked the range to be useful in our context. Apparently there is no such thing as an off-the-shelf sub.

She has the impression that while the political talk “wobbles wildly” the Defence technocrats are moving “stealthily but relentlessly forward based on assessments of the best option from a Defence perspective.”

That’s a mercy, say I, once a bureaucrat!

6. Interesting houses

Via Mark’s Facebook, Los Angeles 1960:


From the road:


“Heliotrop”, University of Stuttgart’s “sunflower”-house which produces energy using a large photovoltaic sail on its roof: