Saturday salon 30/9

1. Stupidity over SA blackout

“Ignorant rubbish” is what Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews called Malcolm Turnbull’s initial comments on the SA electricity blackouts. “It’s the weather, stupid”, is more or less what Bill Shorten said, and he was right. The press has reported two ‘tornadoes’ in the north of SA which made pylons look like this:


The questions to be asked in this case are not about the reliance on renewables, rather on why fractures to the grid 200 km north of Adelaide took the whole state down.

A bunch of experts provide some answers at The Conversation. In general, the grid in SA is sparse and strung out, but then is only connected at one point to the broader Eastern Australian grid through the Heywood interconnector. A sharp voltage drop anywhere trips the system and triggers a total shut-down. In SEQ with summer storms we commonly get parts of the grid shut down while the rest continues to operate.

No doubt the engineering could do with a look.

Giles Parkinson emphasises that with renewables we can have decentralised power production and greater resilience overall. However, I suspect we’ll need a smart grid, which no-one in a position to do anything seems to be talking about.

Karl Kruszelnicki said the other day that we need smart grids, so that power can flow from anywhere to anywhere, and long distanvce DV interconnectors, including across the Nullabor.

Laura Tingle says has picked up on the need for a look at what new technologies can offer, and pointed out that the SA event provided Turnbull with an opportunity. Sadly, though, Turnbull schtick is himself to be “ideological and unrealistic”. Hopefully he will look west and see that WA looks to solar-storage micro-grids to replace poles and wires after bushfires.


Here’s the BOM satellite image of the approaching storm front, from The Guardian:


2. Strangers in their own land

Trump breaks all the rules in politics and by now it is impossible for him to say anything more outlandish, outrageous or stupid than he has before, so in a strange way it was impossible for him to completely bomb out in the debate with Hillary Clinton. In strict debating terms she spanked his backside, and initial polls have lifted a few points in her favour.

In the end it will depend, it seems, on how many supporters of each candidate go out to vote.

Tom Switzer thinks Trump probably won, because he was strong in the first 15 minutes, which may count more than the other 75.

Martin Wolf thinks if Trump wins democracy would lose credibility as a model for a civilised political life, and the US is done for:

It would mark the end of a US-led west as the central force in global affairs. The result would not be a new order. It would be perilous disorder.

Far from making America great, his presidency might unravel the world.

Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild left her liberal Californian enclave and went to the ‘super South’ to Louisiana to interview 60 people to find out why people support Trump. Then she wrote her book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. In essence, neoliberalism has left them behind and they no longer feel part of the American dream, they have lost faith in the political system to do anything useful. Trump in a way is their last chance, because he is unruly and no-one can control him, he is the outsider they don’t necessarily like. His rudeness is seen as strength.

That might be a bit simplistic, but what she found was along those lines. Trump supporters are decent people, not “deplorables”.

Trump took some bait offered by Clinton about his comments on a Miss Universe who won but got fat when he owned the franchise. Trump is threatening to use Bill’s sexual frolicks next time. The moderator should turn off the mike.

3. Labor says bank profits are too high

I do agree with Labor that we need a banking royal commission, especially after seeing on TV how the banks are lending up to $80,000 to pensioners on their credit cards. It’s a legal way of stealing their houses, I would think.

Joanna Mather in the AFR reports that Labor is going to give banks a hard time when the front up in Canberra next week. That’s fair enough, but they have the impression banks are too profitable. This graph shows their return on equity in relation to the European and US banks:


I monitor the financial performance of about 30 stocks on a spreadsheet, including return on equity. The average across the lot is about 19%. When they fall below 10% I mark them in red as an alarm.

Labor, it seems, wants to turn healthy banks into sick banks. That can’t be good for anyone.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


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.

17 thoughts on “Saturday salon 30/9”

  1. Post debate polls have been good for Hilary – Trump is dropping away again. Matt Yglesias argues that “The reality is that the underlying fundamentals of the race — a two-term president leaving office amidst paltry economic growth — favor a Republican victory. That’s what Vox’s “Trump Tax” model says, but don’t take our word for it. Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight thinks the same thing, as does Lynn Vavreck at the Upshot, and John Sides at the Monkey Cage.

    Yet despite favorable fundamentals, Trump has been consistently behind in the polls — leading in broad averages only for a couple of days between the two parties’ conventions.

    Not only has Trump been consistently losing despite favorable fundamentals, but he’s been consistently losing despite the luxury of running against an opponent with an underwater favorability rating.”

  2. Don’t know about ” favorable fundamentals “.
    He’s up against 100% of Dems, 50% of Reps,90% of MSM and 80 % of Uni protests.
    Recon he’s an over performing underdog given those.

    ( not a Trump fan, best make that clear at the outset )

  3. Thanks for that, Douglas.

    Jumpy, if you follow the link you can know about the fundamentals:

    To make a long story short, Donald Trump is the GOP nominee in a year when a generic Republican would be favored to beat a generic Democrat. Rather than running against a generic Democrat, he is running against an unusually unpopular Democrat. And he is losing.

    The fundamentals, they say, matter a lot in 2016:

    Clinton has major weaknesses in terms of weak economic growth and voter fatigue with Democratic Party leadership (manifesting in 2016 largely in millennial disaffection with Clinton, even as young voters eschew Trump). These factors keep Trump perennially within striking distance; it’s a very winnable election for him. But instead of winning, he is losing. And he has been consistently losing, because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    And here’s the graph, which tells the story. Trump was recently closing the gap, but it’s opening up again:


    I still think voter turnout is going to be important. They say the Dems have a good ground game, so let’s hope it works.

  4. Here’s the BOM satellite image of the approaching storm front, from The Guardian:


    Quite impressive!

    My impression is that when Turnbull first spoke he forgot to express sympathy for the people in the storm’s path.

  5. There is so much lying that both have done it’s a choice betwixt devil or the deep blue sea.
    I can’t split em.

  6. John, I think the electronic voting in the US is a huge problem. There is no paper record, so a recount can’t be done.

    FWIW I think Trump is trying. he’s arrogant and he’s a celebrity can didate. The US did it before with Ronald Reagan and it worked out better than expected.

    He’s probably no worse that some of the leaders in Eastern Europe and Duterte in the Philippines is no doubt worse, but Martin Wolf is right, he’ll take the Us down as leader of the free world.

    Hillary Clinton is probably the best Democrat money can buy. She’ll try a few things, but will probably have a hostile Congress and won’t upset business as usual for the one per cent.

  7. Reports from NY that Antonio Guterres is likely to be next UN Secretary General. Former PM of Portugal, Socialist Party.
    Had important UN leadership role for ten years.

    Sorry, Helen Clarke.
    Bye bye, Kevin.

  8. Voter turn out is a large factor in US or UK elections. Has anyone seen research on the psychological factors at play? Enthusiasm, distaste, idealistic hope, raging hatred, resentment, trust, …..?

    US politics is more mysterious, arcane, regionally varied and confounding to foreigners than ever, I think.

    I recall the fear of a Rep. Goldwater victory in 1964. Foreigners guessed Barry Goldwater would be nuclear-trigger-happy. Enormous relief when the calmer, more experienced LBJ won.

    It turned out he was a bit of a dab hand at non-nuclear warfare.

  9. Reports from NY that Antonio Guterres is likely to be next UN Secretary General. Former PM of Portugal, Socialist Party.

    Perfect fit.

  10. Ambigulous, I haven’t seen research on the psychological factors at play in voter turnout. You make a fair point.

    I did hear that some who vote for Trump will do so solely because he might appoint a pro-life Supreme Court judge. Might, not will.

  11. Seems Pence hasn’t jumped, or at least not yet.

    By most counts Trump did OK in the debate, but Hillary didn’t do badly. Trump needs more to rescue his campaign.

    I’ve wondered why Hillary didn’t leave Bill home to do the dishes, but her campaign has calculated that he is still a net positive in getting out the black African vote.

  12. Three bits about Trump from the news tonight.

    First, he thratened to put Hillary Climton in jail if he wins, acting like a third world dictator, and showing once again that he doesn’t understand the separation of powers in the American system.

    Secondly, some have pointed out that the leaked video has him bragging about actual criminal acts. What Bill Clinton may or may not have done is irrelevant, because he’s not standing for office.

    Third, they say that the big donor money has given up on the Trump camapaign and is now supporting Senate battles, as the GOP try to maintain control.

    Two links:

    Trump was prowling around like a silverback gorilla during the debate. And this:

    The New York Times checked 27 dubious-sounding claims made during the debate: 22 from Donald Trump and 5 from Hillary Clinton.

    It found three of Clinton’s claims were true, one was misleading and one was false.

    Meanwhile, Trump made 13 false claims, 7 that were misleading, and 2 that were true.

    Also in The Atlantic Trump Is a Climax of American Masculinity:

    His signature traits, confidence and bravado, are hallmarks of masculinity. Through them he convinces people that he’s correct, in control and trustworthy, even when his words are false or misleading.

  13. Thanks, zoot. Yes, narcissist, creep and loser with a “desperate need for validation and success”.

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