Saturday salon 7/2 (on Sunday)


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.

SS delayed

It looks as though I didn’t hit the ‘publish’ button last night, although I’ll swear I did! Here goes!

1. Dead malls

By some estimates, half the shopping malls in the USA will close by 2030, suitable only for horror movie sets.

The big problem is oversupply. America has more retail space per capita than any other country.

The question is whether the same will happen in Australia. I tend to think not, at least I can’t detect any sign of it in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

Thanks to John D for the link.

2. Rightwing rules rather than governs

Or you might say it’s government of the people rather than for. Jason Wilson peers into the rightwing mind and is horrified by what he sees. The article is a tour de force. Very impressive!

From Tony Abbott all the way down to pundits in the conservative press, the verdict is clear: elections are illegitimate when it returns a result they don’t like.

This extraordinary outpouring of contempt for the voting public is not simply a fit of rightwing pique. Rather, we can see that conservatives and a broader swathe of the political elite revealing some of their basic assumptions when put under pressure. To argue that democracy fails when it resists the imposition of fiscal austerity is simply to argue for our permanent subjection to the rule of property.

Apparently we are not competent to determine our own interests, or the kind of community we want to live in. Democracy becomes equated with disorder.

3. Growing brain drain as one young scientist chooses not to work here

Award-winning Dr Danielle Edwards applied for four years for work in Australia, but could only find it in the US. Eventually she was invited to apply for a position at the CSIRO, but the Abbott government was elected, a freeze was put on hiring and the job disappeared.

Then she was offered a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, or DECRA, by the Australian Research Council.

Hugely competitive, her grant is worth $385,000, but Dr Edwards has chosen to turn it down.

She says the most recent round of funding cuts to science, and the prospect of university fee deregulation, means she sees no future in Australia.

The award-winning Dr Danielle Edwards has conducted research from the Greek Aegean to the Galapagos. She’s an evolutionary biologist specialising in reptiles, researching how genetic diversity is affected by factors like the environment.

Dr Edwards says her work feeds into important questions around what species can survive extinction, and why.

She’ll be doing her research, and raising her child, somewhere else.

4. No institution has the right to kill, whether it’s a nation state or Isis

That’s the view put by Gay Alcorn at The Guardian.

She points out Indonesia’s inconsistency in objecting to Saudi Arabia executing Indonesian nationals working there, and paying “blood money” to save them.

She points out our inconsistency in objecting to ISIS beheading sundry people, but ignoring Saudi Arabia where people can be put to death for such things as apostasy and witchcraft.

The death penalty is always brutal and violent and is never acceptable, no matter what the crime.

Elsewhere Greg Craven, Vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University and a campaigner against the death penalty warned staff at the ABC’s triple-j radio station that they’ll bear some responsibility if the Indonesian government executes the two Australians on death row in Bali.

The station conducted a survey showing a slim majority of those Australians who were polled support the death penalty for drug offences in other countries. The survey is being quoted in Indonesia to support its actions.

5. Mark is here

My son Mark is here, staying with us for a few days, which for me makes blogging difficult.

Catch his latest at The Monthly, telling us why Malcolm Turnbull gives him the irrits. People of the left who favour Malcolm should remember a few things!