Saturday salon 18/4


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. Hilary Clinton runs for president

As expected Hilary Clinton has thrown her hat into the ring to become the Democrat candidate for the US presidency. So far it looks like her against the Republicans, perhaps about 20 of them. Mashable Australia takes a look at alternative Democrat candidates.

It seems that Senator Elizabeth Warren is the only one that would cause real fear to the Clinton campaign, and she has said about 4,398 times she’s not running.

2. Neanderthals made jewellery 130,000 years ago


A team of American and Croatian scientists have uncovered evidence that European Neanderthals were manipulating raptor talons to make jewelry at least 130,000 years ago, or about 80,000 years before the first Homo sapiens even stepped foot on the continent.

In the popular mind Neanderthals are thought of as bumbling simpletons, but we should remember that their brains were bigger than ours.

The article also points out that catching three of four eagles to make the jewellery was no mean feat.

3. CEO radically redistributes staff pay after reading wellbeing research

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle, decided to pay everyone $US70,000 after reading wellbeing research. He did this by reducing his own salary from $1 million to $70,000 and redistributing some of the company’s profits. He gave two reasons.

Firstly the research shows that increased wellbeing tapers rapidly after reaching $75,000. Secondly, happy staff are more productive.

A very rational decision!

4. Not so good news

There’s been plenty to be sad and sorry about on the intertubes lately. The stories of bestial treatment coming out of the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton are beyond belief. It wasn’t just the priests and nuns who did the abusing. A Queensland Government official covered up the abuse. The former bishop allowed a priest to stay on at a parish even though he knew he was a paedophile, gave the priest a character reference and described reports of abuse at Neerkol as “scurrilous”.

On the box we were told that 31 women had died from domestic violence so far this year, shaping as worse than the 84 deaths recorded last year.

COAG laboured and came up with some measures which don’t cost money. It’s all well and good but probably won’t make much difference.

The biggest killer apart from probably tobacco has been suicide:

The National Mental Health Commission’s findings show more people die by their own hand than are killed in road accidents or by skin cancer. And it notes while Australia’s road toll has more than halved in 40 years, there has been little change in the suicide rate, which was double the road toll in 2012.

Health Minister Sussan Ley has sent the Commission’s report off to a reference group. She has “confirmed she won’t accept a key recommendation to channel $1 billion of hospital funding to community health programs instead.”

Truth be known we probably need additional funding to crank up community programs while then winding down hospital funding as the need diminishes.

5. Centre for Policy Development loses some sheen

The Centre for Policy Development is supposed to be a left wing think tank. Now it has supported a broadening of the GST base including a GST on fresh food. Mark Bahnisch, Eva Cox and John Quiggin have resigned as Fellows as a result. Here’s Quiggin’s statement.

Good on them!

One thought on “Saturday salon 18/4”

  1. April 2015 may go down in Australian history as the month of The Great Awakening.

    First of all. scientist and science popularizer, Karl Kruszelnicki, realized he had been misled and so he pulled the pin. Then sociologist, Mark Bahnisch, social justice activist, Eva Cox and economist, John Quiggen, realized they were expected to endorse an unjust tax on the poorest members of our society and so, they too, pulled the pin. Wonder who else pulled the pin this month – and who will be next?

    Looks like the national motto has changed from “Advance Australia” to “Rob the People – Reward the Greedy”.

    In a similar vein, whilst watching the SBS documentary on Putin, I kept thinking of the similarities and differences between the Australian and the Russian kleptocracies. Our kleptocracy is superior, of course, because we don’t have clumsy political assassinations like those awful Russians do …. I’m sure there are other differences but I just can’t bring them to mind at the moment..


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