Weekly salon 4/7

1. Eden-Monaro by-election

The ABC election page has Eden-Monaro too close to call with Labor’s Kristy McBain leading the Liberal Fiona Kotvojs by 50.9 to 49.1 after preferences.

Paddy Manning at The Monthly set up the scene in Southern discomfort: Tomorrow’s result in Eden-Monaro is on a knife edge.

The base-line is that Eden-Monaro has long been a ‘bellweather’ seat, which means that it lines up with the existing government. However, Mike Kelly broke this trend in the last three elections, with a personal following reckoned at about 3%.

So Labor was justified in claiming underdog status, while the Libs point to governments not taking a seat off the opposition in by-elections over the last 100 years.

Phillip Coorey reckons that there would be grumbles within the ALP with a narrow loss, but serious leadership destabilisation with a big loss.

Antony Green says Labor has won the seat. Kristy McBain has claimed it.

A big issue was help to the region devastated by bushfires, and COVID-19. PM Scott Morrison said voting for Kotvojs would ensure funding. Anthony Albanese said a vote for McBain would remind the Government that they neglect regions like Eden-Monaro at their peril.

ABC funding cuts were an issue, Morrison said, What cuts? giving the lie direct. Albo said Labor would restore the $84 million cuts.

Kotvojs has faced persistent questioning about her past opposition to marriage equality and her reputed climate scepticism, according to Manning. This SBS article shows her equivocating on climate, which is what you do when you are a climate denier and don’t want to wear the tag. Her position allows the the Coalition to adopt pretend policies on climate change.

The Qld Sunday Mail this morning says the result is a “hammer blow to Albo”.

They wish. In two party terms it’s no change. You could say that the loss of Kelly’s personal vote has offset the usual by-election protest vote.

There are two things to see here. First, Albanese is not unelectable, that is, he is electable.

Secondly, Morrison’s applauded performance on COVID has not translated into votes in any unequivocal way.

2. Cormann to retire

Matthias Cormann has announced that he will retire from Parliament from the end of this year.

Cormann’s Wikipedia bio tells us Cormann grew up in a German-speaking district in Belgium. English is his fourth language, after German, French and Flemish.

He’s only 49, having been born in 1970. He came to Autralia, pursuing a love interest with and Australian in 1994. He ended up loving Australia rather than her, and was prepared to work as a gardner when he migrated here in 1996 because his law qualifications were not recognised.

Cormann cold-called Liberal Senator Chris Ellison,

    the chairman of the parliamentary committee on treaties, and asked to work in his office as a volunteer. After two weeks he secured a paid position as a staffer.

After diverse positions he entered the Senate in 2007, and is now the only Coalition minister to have retained the same portfolio from 2013.

On political views:

    Cormann is a free market economic and fiscal conservative. As a Senator, in Opposition and in Government, he has been a consistent advocate for lower taxes, smaller government, open markets and free trade. [25] [26] Within the Liberal Party he is associated with the economic dries.

    While Cormann personally opposed same-sex marriage and in 2017 argued “for a postal vote plebiscite to be held before a parliamentary vote on the issue”, after that survey went ahead and found most Australians support same-sex marriage, Cormann chose to vote in favour of the bill legalising same-sex marriage.

    Cormann is a constitutional monarchist.

I blame him for a lot that has been wrong about the Coalition’s economic policies.

It is said that he will be followed by Simon Birmingham, who will be followed by Peter Dutton, to see what damage he can wreak there. Morrison could use the opportunity to move Angus Taylor from energy, but it seems Morrison’s head is in the same place. After all it was Morrison who brought the lump of coal into parliament.

3. Three-quarters of Australians biased against Indigenous Australians, study finds

That’s according to The Guardian. Here’s the media release from ANU – Three in four people hold negative view of Indigenous people

This is a bit tricky.

    The researchers analysed the “implicit bias” of over 11,000 Australian participants over a 10-year period, and how this can lead to racist attitudes or behaviour.

However, the implicit bias is measured at the perceptual level. It doesn’t mean the 75% of us are racist.

From lead author Australian National University researcher Siddharth Shirodkar:

    “It’s the conscious part, that’s what can cause the discriminatory actions,” he said. “But the reality is if your unconscious bias remains unconscious and unchallenged and you don’t identify it, if you are not even aware of it, then it is potentially weighing on all of your decisions and how you behave.”

The researchers use the Implicit Association Test (IAT):

    Participants are given two sets of images and two lists of words: one with positive associations (“happy”, “love”); the other with negative (“tragedy”, “agony”). The images and words are set to flash up at random on a computer screen, and participants make their selections when the words flash up at the same time as one of the sets of images. Their response times are recorded. The images will be either of black or white people, male or female, young or old, depending on which bias researchers are testing.

    The theory is that, depending on our prejudices, we will subconsciously make the link between “male” and “clever”, or “young” and “beautiful”.

    When we are asked to make the link between a pair that goes against our implicit associations (for example “old” and “happy”) it will take us fractionally longer to overcome our bias. The longer the time it takes to accept a pairing, the greater our bias.

So it is not the association we make, rather whether we hesitate for a fraction of a second in making it.

Does it apply to me? I wouldn’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me. There were no Aborigines around where I grew up. They had been cleaned out after the Hornet Bank Massacre in 1857.

4. What should we do with statutes of bad white dudes?

The Monthly has an Open letter: Relocate the Captain Cook statue to the City of Sydney, City Arts Program:

    We, the undersigned, are writing to request the relocation of the statue Captain Cook (1879) by Thomas Woolner (1825-1892), currently sited in Sydney’s Hyde Park, to a public museum.

    … What Cook represents, his continuing legacy in First Nations peoples’ dispossession and social injustice, perpetuates suffering. Public spaces such as Hyde Park should be welcoming to all. For this reason, and those further outlined below, the statue of Cook should no longer be displayed in the park, but conserved in a public museum.

Then you have from CNN – The 28 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech. Here’s a sample:

    4. “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”
    9. “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.”
    11. “The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions.”
    12. “Our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.”

Mother Jones has The Five Most Outrageous Things Trump Said at Mt. Rushmore:

    On Friday night, the eve of July 4th, President Trump used another one of his incendiary campaign rallies to stoke the flames of a culture war. In his remarks at the foot of Mount Rushmore, Trump bashed a so-called “left-wing cultural revolution” and “new far-left fascism” while delivering lines that would have been virtually indistinguishable from a script for Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.

Here’s are some the most absurd, explosive, and outrageous things he said during the speech:

    There is a “new far-left fascism” in “corporate boardrooms.”

    Trump claimed, “In our schools, newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language performed rituals recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.”

    Corporate America, of course, has relentlessly pursued tax cuts and backed Republicans to get them.

Trump wants 10-year prison minimums for anyone who defaces statues.

Then he praised “The great Andrew Jackson”:

    Numerous presidents have led ruthless and abhorrent travesties of justice against oppressed groups: extrajudicial drone strike killings, the institution of slavery, Jim Crow. But Andrew Jackson is one of the only ones to have carried out an explicit campaign of ethnic cleansing. He literally signed a bill into law called the Indian Removal Act. Jackson was the linchpin in the Trail of Tears, in which 60,000 Native Americans were forced out of their homes.

And so on.

Trump is becoming increasingly ludicrous, and as such very dangerous. Will he allow a fair election? Will he accept the result if it’s close and involves a large number of postal votes?

The electoral college formal vote could be the crucial point. I don’t think the armed forces will go against what happens there.

Meanwhile Verity Platt in the Scientific American looks at Why People Are Toppling Monuments to Racism:

    I encourage my students to think of them as ideological powerhouses: physical objects that compress whole systems of authority into bodies of bronze or marble. Elevated on bases and columns, accompanied by inscriptions and framed by grand, civic architecture, they enshrine the deeds of the men (and it is usually men) that they represent. It is no accident that monuments commemorating the defenders and beneficiaries of slavery draw directly on traditions inherited directly from other slave societies—those of Ancient Greece and Rome. Nor that classical marble statuary is synonymous with the celebration of whiteness.

Elsewhere the words of Cato in Only Bad Dudes Want Statues in the First Place.

117 thoughts on “Weekly salon 4/7”

  1. Thanks, Cato.

    * * * * * *

    A cartoon from some years back showed an imposing statue of an outstanding and serious man.

    On the plaque – “ACB: Lawyer, Ambassador, Orator, Historian, Benefactor, Statesman; but Always a Disappointment to His Mother.”

  2. A recent Essential Report had an interesting series questions the truth of various questions re the treatment of Aborigines now and in the past. For example: “In the 19th and early 20th century, thousands of Indigenous Australians and people from the Pacific Islands were forced to work in Australia in conditions that amounted to slavery” had only 28% thinking it was definitely true, 9% definitely false and 23% saying they didn’t know enough to say. https://essentialvision.com.au/statements-about-indigenous-australian-history-and-protests.
    I guess I have had more to do with Aborigines and Aboriginal affairs than most but the lack of knowledge surprised me.

  3. John, there is a surprising amount of ignorance around. Need to check out the school curriculum, but that can’t be the only thing we do.

    Latest Eden-Monaro figures are 50.6/49.4 in favour of Labor, with 85% of the vote counted. I thought Antony Green called it a bit early. Labor could still lose.

  4. Brian: “John, there is a surprising amount of ignorance around. ” There is not only ignorance about bad and good things that happened to Aborigines but also good and bad things that happened to non-Aborigines in both Aus and the rest of the world. Think of all the people who were caught up in the horror of WWII or bad things done to their ancestors by the English, Zulus or….

  5. I’ve fixed as many typos as I could find.

    This link turned out to be wrong, don’t know how that happened. CNN’s – The 28 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech is worth a read to show how loopy Trump has become.

    Also Don Watson’s American carnage is simply brilliant.

    He is alarmed that 40% of Americans voted for someone as unsuitable as Trump.

    His analysis of how US politics has developed (or descended into failed state condition) over the last 70 years or so is comprehensive.

    He thinks Bernie Sanders was trying to reconnect with the politics of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

    He also thinks Obama had the opportunity to bring the US back on track, but fluffed it. After the GFC he gave important jobs to people who should have been charged and put in jail. Ended uo being a technocrat rather than a man of vision.

  6. The reputation of Lyndon Baines Johnson on his domestic policies and achievements seems to rise every month.

    Perhaps it’s a classic “compare and contrast” effect?

    For my generation, we were rather focussed on LBJ’s actions and policies in the American War in Vietnam.* He and Mr Robert McNamara and dozens of others presided over destruction and deceit on – what was actually (not just a cliche) – an industrial scale.

    Then the comeback kid, Richard Nixon, carried on regardless. But that’s another story.

    *LBJ had the wit and the grace to announce that he wouldn’t run for re-election as President in 1968.

  7. Perhaps our focus on LBJ’s warfare was understandable given that
    *Vietnam was relatively close, though very little known by Aussies at that time
    * Our Govt sent troops there, supported by Navy ships and Air Force aircraft
    * Some of the troops Australia sent were conscripts selected by a birth date ballot
    * Conscription and Australia’s participation became matters of controversy

  8. 100% agree on Corman, zero loss to the government of Australia. what a trail of ignorance and negative outcomes he has left behind. No doubt he would have loved to have seen a statue of Leopold II erected some where in Australia, probably has on in the back yard by the bar-b-que.

  9. On Eden Monaro result – very clear that Labor held on because of the choice of their candidate according to Peter Brent – ALP lost the Kelly vote but got a big swing 4-5% in the Bega shire – Albanese is a genius should be the call

  10. Libs won the popular vote

    No , Libs scored more first preferences and that’s the ‘popular vote’ only in a first past the post, winner takes all system.
    The voting method in Australia ensures the final result most closely reflects the electorate’s preference i.e. a popular vote.

  11. For more on the faults inherent in first past the post voting I can heartily recommend Patriot Act if you subscribe to Netflix. The particular episode is “We’re Doing Elections Wrong” in Season 6.
    It might be available on YouTube.

  12. Zoot, I recommend you research the Electoral College system that makes US elections NOT a “ first past the post “ system at all.

    Also take into account back room skulduggery that got Gillard and Adhern “ elected “.

    Ya can have it both ways at the same time troll.

  13. As far as I recall, they use pure “first past the post” in Britain’s House of Commons elections. No Electoral College; no preferential voting; no ‘list system’; no proportional representation. So electors, aware of that, sometimes “vote strategically”.

    Gee whizz! Some countries are different from ours, especially the overseas ones.

    Ya coulda knocked me over with a ballot paper.

  14. the Electoral College system that makes US elections NOT a “ first past the post “ system at all.

    Wrong again. The electoral college only applies to presidential elections. Every other election from Senate to Dog Catcher is winner take all.

  15. Jumpy, you are comparing apples and oranges.

    Doug, I think that’s about the long and the short of it. This one from Paul Bongiorno is worth a read:

    The Sunday Telegraph’s front page proclaiming that the “Popular PM delivers Labor a brutal by-election lesson” with the headline

    “Scomo’s Scorcher”

    was ridiculous – another example of NewsCorp’s fake news.

    If Labor had lost by 5 points 2PP then it would have been a disaster. As Swan said Labor is still in the game.

    OTH the Greens dipping by 3.2 to 5.6 must be a worry for them.

  16. Ambi, a few things about the Vietnam War are burnt into memory. I remember one headline

    We had to destroy the village in order to save it

    Like you I thought of Johnson mainly in terms of the Vietnam War at the time.

  17. Greens votes went to Science Party & HEMP – certainly are vulnerable to splitting to progressive micro parties – tends to happen less when they have resources to target a seat eg in inner city Melbourne where they are likely to win

  18. Doug: My Qld experience was that part of the Greens vote appears to be a general protest vote as distinct from support for Greens policies. It often went down when alternative protest options became available.
    In Eden Monaro the Greens may have lost votes from people who didn’t like their defense of forests or support environmental water in the Murray Darwin basin. But I am just guessing.

  19. Happy compulsory Workcover insurance Day.

    I do feel for the business owners that haven’t been able to trade at all, no work or income, slugged $12,000.
    Add that to rent, Superannuation ( yes, we pay that still on Jobkeeper ) license fees, all the other insurances and regos.

    Bankruptcies galore !!

    Well done Premiers.

  20. Jumpy: “I do feel for the business owners that haven’t been able to trade at all, no work or income, slugged $12,000.
    Add that to rent, Superannuation ( yes, we pay that still on Jobkeeper ) license fees, all the other insurances and regos.”
    I have sympathy with everyone living on the edge at the moment including you and other people who run businesses.

  21. John, it’s a small percentage of folk that have the courage to brave regular conditions to establish a business and create jobs, forget doing it in these conditions.

    We are in for a depression that today’s children will be deeply scarred by if they survive.

  22. Jumpy: “We are in for a depression that today’s children will be deeply scarred by if they survive.” I hope you are wrong but fear you may be right.
    Last time around it was the then radical economics of the mathematician Keynes that helped make the difference. I think we will need something more than Keynesian economics to deal with the crisis that need to be dealt with in our future.

  23. A small straw in the wind….
    Our electricity retailer offers a ‘green power’ choice.

    This from a notice dated 1st July:
    On 1 July 2020 we dropped our Green Power electricity charges by almost half for all residential and small
    business customers in Victoria.
    The falling costs of environmental schemes have contributed to this change.

  24. Simon Holmes a Court has published an article in “The Guardian” claiming that State Ministers for Energy are bypassing the Federal Govt and pushing ahead with renewables.

    Here’s a sample (on NSW, Minister Kean):

    Kean is short-circuiting the problem with the Australia’s first two renewable energy zones, or Rezs.

    Under Kean’s Rez plan, the state is stepping in to facilitate the development of infrastructure to support 11 gigawatts of new renewables – 3GW in the central west, near Dubbo, and 8GW in the New England region. Both Rezs have excellent wind and solar resources, and opportunities for pumped hydro energy storage.

    It’s almost a “build it and they will come” strategy, except the state is only spending $119m of its own money on planning and engineering design and will use federal funding to underwrite the infrastructure.

    Under the plan, renewable energy developers will purchase access rights to the new infrastructure. With secure rights, developers can start building sooner and access cheaper capital, which will result in lower costs to supply energy.

  25. Brian: Privatizing the grid would always be crazy horse stuff unless the contract pays largely for available capacity instead of transmitted power. The private vs public decision should be based on commercial considerations, not crazy horse ideology.

  26. Here is an interesting thing out of the blue, Ambi. I have noticed here in the Netherlands that some people with leanings make statements with no substance that are closely synchronised with right wing pushes in the US.

    So when you made your claims that Ardern had achieved nothing in NZ, but I could see all manner of positive performance, I was wondering what was going on. Then just now I find a possible explanation.

    https://youtu.be/UDNEKbcDJ4c

  27. BilB, can we have the exact quote from Mr A that Ardern has achieved nothing please.

    I can’t find it.

    Oh, and the YouTube clip, haha haha, tinfoil useless idiot he is.
    The conservatives are revolting!!!
    Haahaaaa!!!

  28. John and Brian, the power grid has never been the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, nor should it be.

    Oh there have been attempts, but all failed and will continue to do so in any positive way.

    Market democratisation is the best answer.

  29. Jumpy: “John and Brian, the power grid has never been the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, nor should it be.” Didn’t you notice that what I was commenting on was a NSW proposal?
    Having said that I have no strong feelings either way. It depends on what makes sense. The only grids I had anything to do with professionally were small, company owned grids.

  30. John, ideally it would be best that grids shrink until there are no grids.
    Subsidiarity to autonomy.
    Technology will eventually get us there.

  31. Hi BilB

    My claim was certainly not that she had done nothing.

    The instance I cited was from a close friebd living in NZ who follows their national politics closely.

    That’s all.

    Every politician has some faults.

  32. Jumpy, I agree in parts with your sentiments.

    In a lot of areas of government you need to run a compromise between local knowledge and democratic empowerment as contrasted with economies of scale and the need to build larger networks.

    For grids, I think states are about the right size.

    I can’t see a need for privatisation, as private management will never increase efficiency to provide the service plus a return on investment that would satisfy capitalists, who have other options for investing their money.

    Similarly with retail.

    With generation, I can see scope for competition to provide the most cheap and efficient technologies/methodologies. However, in that sphere some capitalists are married to limited solutions, like fossil fuels, or nukes, so at the very least the state has to limit or regulate for the public and planetary good.

    Your problem with market democratisation, Jumpy, is that the people can be subject to fashion or other influences whereby they cause harm or act suboptimately.

    Not sure I’m saying what I want to say.

  33. BilB

    I’m not aware of or attuned to “right wing pushes in the US”.

    I form my own judgements based on info I see. Of course “confirmation bias” is likely to operate.

    I admire anyone who can break free of that.

    For me, ‘vast right wing conspiracies ‘ have had a quaint air to them since the First Lady (H. Clinton) claimed that the President (W. J. Clinton) had been the victim of one, when it seemed that the Press was suggesting that Miss L…… you know the rest. It was more than 20 years ago.

    Was it an Australian who first said, “If I need an explanation of an event and the choice is between a conspiracy and a cock-up, I go for the cock-up every time”?

    So did Bill Clinton.

  34. Brians: “For grids, I think states are about the right size.”
    Larger grids reduce the amount of generating capacity required because % fluctuation in peak power demand over a larger area will tend to be less than peak demand for a localized area.
    For example, one of the localized grids I was familiar with had power fluctuation problems when a few shovels were cycling in unison or the concentrator started up without the power house being notified first. (Crash stops destabilized the power supply too.) It was not uncommon for the lights in the town to dim from time to time.
    Much the same can be said for power generation. Output from wind and solar changes with the weather, location and time of year. In terms of coal fired power “The Kogan Creek Power Station can generate up to 750 megawatts of baseload electricity, which is enough to power almost one million Australian homes.” (Kogan creek has only one generator. Much easier to avoid problems when this unit crashes if it is part of a large grid.)
    Crashing of part of the grid can be a problem. For example, I have personal experience of the problems of running a concentrator when the power line between the mine generator and the concentrator frequently crashed because of the activities of flying foxes. Really serious problem in a concentrator didn’t automatically shut down properly when the power failed. Operators running around in the dark shutting valves that needed to be shut if having to dig out the plant before the plant could be restarted.
    The combination of grid size, power storage capacity, demand management possibilities peak generator capacity and startup times, energy losses in grids and batteries and the cost of power losses all need to be considered when talking about what should happen with grids and who would own and control them.

    It is a question

  35. Brian

    For grids, I think states are about the right size.

    I’m thinking everyone off grid is the right size.
    I don’t know what you base your guesstimate on but mine is based in the inevitability of technological advances.

    Remember, apart from the last 150 or so years of human history , we all were energy independent for thousands of years before that.
    We’ll revert back to that when tech catches up, energy dependence on the State is a very recent and temporary thang.

  36. Jumpy: “I’m thinking everyone off grid is the right size.
    I don’t know what you base your guesstimate on but mine is based in the inevitability of technological advances.”
    Is your vision that each household going to produce everything they need without any need for others to produce anything they consume including what they build their house etc out of? Or are you just talking about household energy and food production?
    I like crazy visions like this because I have found the thinking you do to get to grand visions is different to what you think about if you are aiming for a 5% improvement and sometimes you actually end up with something much much better than 5%.
    People live underground in Coober Pedy to escape from the heat and most of us may end up doing that as a result of the hotter planet the right seems to crave. What else could we do to reach your grand vision?

  37. Robert Mueller is unhappy that Mr Stone is out of prison.

    This from “The Guardian”:

    Mueller wrote an opinion article for the Washington Post [paywall] published under the headline “Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so”.

    “The work of the special counsel’s office – its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions – should speak for itself,” he wrote.

    “But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office …

    “Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”

  38. I was doing a report on my op a bit earlier, hit a wrong key and crashed the link, losing the lot.

    My eye is as expected, grainy, a bit swollen, and blurred vision. So I’m not batting too well just now.

    Biggest event was that there was a computer glitch which meant I was prepped and then sat waiting for about three and a half hours in a chair which killed my back.

    Tonight we’ve had sh*thouse weather for these parts, and I have hay fever like I’ve never had in years.

    Of course that might mean that I’ve now actually got the dreaded virus. I doubt that, but we’ll see what the morrow brings.

    So I’m not feeling on top of the world, peering at the screen with one bad eye.

  39. Sorry to hear of your difficulties, BB.
    Hope the eye irritation lessens soon.

    We had a shocking overnight blast of “thunderstorm hay fever” in Melbourne a few years ago. We were in a concert hall in regional Vic at the time, when suddenly the hay fever persons began sneezing vigorously. Far more serious were the severe asthma cases in metropolitan Melbourne; hospitals seemed unprepared.

  40. History can be cyclical, Part 9,762

    Mehmet the Conqueror rode into Constantinople on a white horse and ripped down the statue of Emperor Justinian in front of the huge Byzantine church, Hagia Sophia. The church should become a mosque, commanded the 21-year-old ruler, and the ornate Christian mosaics were duly covered up. That was in 1453 and remained so for almost five centuries until Kemal Ataturk had the shrine turned into a museum.

    Now, the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided to end the unmosquing of Hagia Sophia, which still sits atop what is now Istanbul. A Bosnian imam has been appointed and the president hopes that Muslims will be able to pray there this week to give thanks for the squashing of a coup against him four years ago. Pope Francis is said to be dismayed, which is Vatican-speak for furious.

    Erdogan’s purpose is not just to deck himself in the mantle of Mehmet, the sultan who laid the foundations of a world empire. Like other long-serving autocrats he hungers for political immortality. Not the kind that the former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev wanted when he set his top scientists the task of finding the elixir of life; after two years and millions of dollars of investment the best they could come up with was a stomach-friendly yoghurt.

    – The Times (London), reprinted in “The Australian”

  41. Ambi, I saw the doc this am, and he was pleased with his handiwork. He said the hay fever would have been exacerbated by the anaesthetic, and to use steam. So I tried the old trick of bowel of hot water and a towel over your head, which made me feel much better.

    Not up to much yet, and reading is difficult.

    We went for a walk along the Coronation Drive reach of the river this arvo. Beautiful place for walking jogging and riding.

    We had coffee in the city. Completely unimpressed with their table layout, but only two other customers, so no problem for us.

    On hay fever, many years ago we tried to visit the New England National Park I think it is, east of Gen Innes. I was sneezing so bad I thought I was going to die, so we just had to get in the car and drive away.

  42. Look Brian

    I have no medical training at all, and have used the traditional steam inhalation method for sinus and common cold…..

    But I really and truly hope that what you used was a bowl of hot water rather than a bowel .

    Apologies; couldn’t resist the temptation.
    “Kindness in another’s sorrows” was recommended by an Aussie poet but evidently eludes me.

  43. All good, Ambi. My bowel is another story which I won’t share here.

    You’ll notice that ‘w’ is next to ‘e’ on the keyboard. That happens to me quite a bit. Started after I had a triple bypass years ago and doesn’t improve with age.

    Proof reading a bit ordinary too right now, but no drama. I think mine is better than average on this blog!

  44. Yours is much better than most.
    I should spend time every day in the bad corner wearing a dunce’s hat.

    I applaud your decision to avoid the bowel.

  45. I wonder what a corner bench of people sitting wearing dunces hats would talk about? fysics or football? I think I’d be talking about hotdogs!

  46. Fysics is Fun.
    Football is Fysical.
    Hotdogs, sadly, are neither hot nor doglike.

    We in Dunce’s Corner have some of the basics worked out. No worries.

    (Is that heroic young chap still saving the Low Countries by sticking his finger in the sea wall? We was told about him in Primary School. For the fysicist, it is redolent of instability and a system teetering on the brink. The hydrodynamics are less important.)

  47. So hang on Zoot, you told us you’re not on Twitter. What’s your id there, I would follow you.

    Great gallery, like the German one.

    @ootz_ my profile cover features a quote by Emil Cioran:

    For you who no longer possess it, freedom is everything, for us who do, it is merely an illusion

    These images are a sad reflection of humanity. It is almost fashionable to ditch critical thinking and sound risk management.
    .

  48. Ootz,

    Hope your tropical paradiso continues to provide fruit and warmth in abundance* Those placards are perplexing and sad.

    It seems that for some of those human beings, the only way of bringing the reality of COVID to them, is to bring the infection to them directly. But who would wish that on any fellow creature??

    Stay well, best wishes.
    Alles gut fuer dich

    * we who have cold Antarctic breezes envy your clime

  49. From Fysics to Football is Shorn Carroll, HDog Fanatic and Fellow Dunce of repute, keeping the Bench Chat lively.

  50. Thanks for the dikes link, BilB.

    When I were a lad, they told us about the Zuider Zee dike in Primary school. Considered a marvel of modern (1950s) engineering, like the Hoover Dam or the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

    The next time that I recall ‘dikes’ was in a controversy about aerial bombing iof some dikes in the DRV (North Vietnam) during the American War, circa 1970 (?)

  51. Onya BilB

    I found Sean Carroll – many thanks.

    (Being old fashioned, I’ve been more a Paul Davies, Alfven, Feynman, Einstein, Newton, Galileo person.)

  52. If you are interested in Fanciful Fysics, Ambi, I have a different take on Field Fury that explains the Gravity in Reality. It hinges of on the question “does Higgs’ Field permeate through Matter or does energy create a void in the Field to become Matter”. I believe that the Higgs Experiment proves the point.

  53. It takes a fisics bod to pun at your prodigious rate BilB.

    Just remember, Albert says c is the upper limit .

    Years ago one of the Coodabeens was made a Judge. Next week, they announced he’d “been benched”.

  54. BilB, you are obviously talking about the Higgs boson.

    I’m all ears, but I’m a simple person and like my information straight.

    Most particle physicists seem ultimately bamboozled, so if you want to enlighten us, feel free.

  55. Brian

    “The luminiferous ether” was the supposed physical medium in which light waves could travel by wobbling it

    Analogies: the water of a pond allows surface waves to wobble it; sound waves wobble the air.

    Maxwell said, no. Electromagnetic waves can travel across a vacuum. No “ether” needed.

    The Michelson-Morley experiment (19th century) showed the speed of light to be constant in any direction, whereas Galileo had said: “Look you, a ball thrown forward from a moving dray travels faster than a ball thrown backwards.”

    The Earth and stars move.
    Light speeds should vary.

    Albert Einstein said, nein.

    Thus Special Relativity (1905).

    N.B. some folk say “Einstein proved that everything is relative “. Not at all: he said the speed of light is NOT relative. It was Galileo (and Newton subsequently) and all physicists thereafter who said “all speeds are relative”.

    Here endeth the digression.
    All rise.
    Face the portrait of Herr Einstein and bow.

  56. Ambi, you explain these things so well.

    I just want to know the unknowable about what was there before the big bang and how is it going to end.

    My understanding is that as the universe expands as an accelerating rate it is not a matter of galaxies travelling through space so much as space opening up in between them. Is there a limit to the rate the universe expands?

    Some think the universe ends in a big crunch. Some think it will just be dead, dark and cold.

    Must go now. I have second cataract this afternoon.

  57. Yesterday Adam Triggs said JobKeeper and JobSeeker 2.0 look like failing three vital tests.

    To be effective, their new versions need to be permanent, generous and consistent.

    I think he will say the same today after the announcements.

    He said industry people put their hands in their pockets by and large until they can see what the government longer term settings are going to bet. So all this temporary stuff is sticking plaster.

    Signing off now.

  58. It would make a lot of sense to set up a temporary UBI to replace the complicated jobseeker/jobkeeper mess being proposed by the government.
    The new jobseeker and job keeper plans are out. (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-21/changes-jobkeeper-and-jobseeker-coronavirus-payments-explained/12476174)
    Once again what is proposed is complex, unfair and once again create risks of infection for those caught up in endless Centerlink ques.
    For example, “From the end of September, the fortnightly payment for full-time workers (we’ll get to part-time in a moment) is decreasing from $1,500 to $1,200.”
    By contrast “Payments for part-time workers are being cut in half
    One of the other major changes to JobKeeper is it’s now going to be split into “two tiers”, one for full-time and one for part-time workers.
    “If you were working fewer than 20 hours a week in February this year, or “pre-COVID” as Mr Frydenberg described it, your payment will drop from $1,500 to $750 a fortnight after September.”
    May be fair enough if all the part time employees had chosen to be part time. But a large number were seeking longer hours but couldn’t get them.
    Also keep in mind that people only get jobseeker if their employers want to be part of the deal and are able to prove that “they’ve lost turnover again.” (Doesn’t pass the pub fairness deal either.)
    Then there are the payments to unemployed who can’t get jobseeker: “The $550 supplement is being cut after September to $250 a fortnight, meaning the total payment will go from $1,115 to $815.
    But, from the end of September, you can now earn $300 a fortnight, instead of the previous $106, before your JobSeeker payment is affected.
    The Government hopes by doing that it can encourage people to get into work without worrying their JobSeeker will be cut.”
    $1200 is 47% more than what someone who is on jobkeeper gets in contrast to someone on jobseeker even though the jobseeker may have been doing exactly the same work as someone on jobkeeper. NOT BLOODY FAIR MATE.
    A UBI that I have in mind is a fixed fortnightly payment that may vary with age but would not be affected by assets, income, or martial status. It would at least replace old age pensions and unemployment benefits and may replace things like child allowances. (The current (July 2020) old age pension with supplements is $994 per fortnight – https://www.superguide.com.au/accessing-superannuation/age-pension-rates. Suggest that this should be the base payment.
    A possible way to start quickly might be to pay the UBI to every Aus resident who has a tax file number.
    You might argue that a UBI is unfair because the rich don’t really need it. This problem could be overcome by cancelling the current tax cuts and then adjusting tax rates for the better off to cancel out the benefits to them for a UBI. (As a matter of interest there could be enormous simplification of our welfare/tax system by combining a flat tax with a UBI to provide a progressive system.

  59. One minor point, John.

    You mention “queues at Centrelink”.

    It’s easy for we folk with good internet access at home, who can use the “mygov”* website, to forget that some citizens have to queue at an office, which may not be close to where they live, etc.

    *used to be a shocker, that site; looks like it’s better designed and can take more traffic, nowadays.

  60. So how much a week exactly John, and where was it trialed and not been abandoned ?

    Incidentally, a person on Jobkeeper receives $1,320.00 per fortnight at the moment.

    Also, some Tradies on Jobkeeper are making far more away from their employer doing cashies* on top.

    (*no insurances, taxation, regulations, safety, ppe, client recourse, licences bla bla bla ….)

    How would you ensure the Black Market not exploding under your UBI model ?

  61. Jumpy: “Also, some Tradies on Jobkeeper are making far more away from their employer doing cashies* on top.” I am a simple engineer who likes simple solutions because I struggle to understand complicated solutions. My need for simple has made big mobs for my employers from time to time.
    One of the attractions of a UBI is its simplicity, in particular the bit where it is not affected by income, assets or marital status. People doing cashies may be cheating the tax system but there won’t be an issue as far as the UBI system is concerned.
    Can’t see why a UBI would encourage a black market.

  62. I am working on that Brian, but there is a glitch in the editor which periodically flicks to another thread deleting the contents in the editor,..and that just happened to my detailed comment, so have to start again. Hanging five, catching 21, squaring to one, and stitching time, all while picturing the big thousand words. Blip!!x!x!!!xxxx____________________________

  63. Protestors in Hong Kong hold up blank sheets of paper, or put up blank sticky notes, Some change slightly the words of the anthem “Freedom for Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time” (banned).

    A game of cat and mouse between rulers and protestors.

    “There is a long history of censorship where we know that people will find ways to circumvent the system, no matter how you regulate,” said Fu King-wa, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s journalism school.

  64. I think I like both the Victorian and Federal politicians admitting they’re nonessential workers.
    And yet, at the same time, professing to be the most essential of all.

  65. After operation yesterday, new eye lens was like being in a snow storm. The screen here was mainly a pool of light, even with my ‘good’ eye.

    This morning new lens improved to a heavy fog.

    When I saw the doc, he said everything is fine.

    Short story, it’s improved enough in one day to make me believe him.

  66. Posting here to avoid derailing the Trump thread.
    I’ve been considering the question, “Who is the most dangerous man in the world?” and while Rupert Murdoch would have to be in the top ten I think the crown undeniably belongs to the Koch brothers. Their efforts to stifle any attempts to tackle climate change have been so effective that we now face the likely extinction of homo sapiens sapiens.
    Hitler, Mao and Stalin are rightly called monsters for killing millions of humans but David and Charles Koch are on course to kill billions.
    I hope I’m wrong.

  67. zoot, not sure it is confined to the Koch brothers, but I suspect you are heading in the right direction.

    Also, I certainly won’t be around to know, but I’ve never thought the species is in total existential danger since James Hansen changed tack on the ‘Venus syndrome’. Probably 5-10% of homo sapiens sapiens will survive in the worst case scenario.

    Trump and Xi would have to go down as accomplices who could have made a difference, but in both cases, I think, pursued policies that exacerbated the situation.

  68. I’ll see your Murdoch and Koch’s with Bloomberg and Soros.
    And raise you with Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey.

    Call, raise or fold…

  69. ROOFTOP SOLAR
    At last, a Govt trying to get solar panels onto rental houses:

    Tenants will be able to negotiate with landlords to install solar panels under a new government program aimed at subsidising installations.

    The Victorian government will offer interest-free loans to subsidise household solar panel installations in a bid to make energy more affordable for renters and landlords.

    Solar Homes Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced on Monday that eligible households can apply for loans of up to $1850 to supplement existing rebates for homeowners who introduce the renewable power into their energy mix.

    The government said landlords could work with their renters for a loan-repayment system where both parties contribute up to $19.27 a month to pay off the panels they say can reduce electricity bills by up to $74 a month.

    – Nine newspapers “The Age”

    Tenants save on electricity bills; the landlord adds an asset to the building. Win-win.

    (Before this, landlords had no direct financial incentive to install the panels, as tenants reaped the entire benefit of lower bills.)

    I suppose other mechanisms could be used, but this sounds like a good first attempt.

  70. Ambi: “At last, a Govt trying to get solar panels onto rental houses:
    Tenants will be able to negotiate with landlords to install solar panels under a new government program aimed at subsidising installations.”
    Move in the right direction but not sure that it will be attractive to both parties.

  71. Yes, in the right direction because a substantial proportion of dwellings are rental properties, very few of which (in Victoria anyway) have rooftop solar.

    It may be that existing tenants would find it attractive but landlords might feel it adds nothing to the resale value of the house.

    (A minor point will be how the ATO will view the expenditure : capital improvement = a whim of the owner? Or “essential maintenance” like fixing a leaking tap that’s costing the tenant in higher water charges or damage?)

  72. Jumpy has a point with Jack Dorsey, zoot. What is Trump without Twitter? Koch, Murdoch, and Trump are equal threats to the human race, although Trump, massive in impact, is a momentary threat, the others persist. But then Dorsey is cancelled out by Jumpy’s Soros pick, a billionaire who gives most of it away to promote better government? a Robin Hood investor hardly rates as a global threat. So Jumpy just threw that hand. You win!

  73. Haha, Robin Hood stole taxes back of the Sheriff of Nottingham to put back in people’s pockets, more like Reagan and Trump.
    Soros not so much.

    Your hand drawn joker is useless in poker.

  74. Here’s a pressie for you, BilB from Aotearoa:

    Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s party has raced ahead of rivals in the latest opinion poll, putting the charismatic leader on track for a comfortable victory in the elections in September.

    A Newshub-Reid Research Poll released late on Sunday showed the popularity of Ardern’s Labour Party rose to 60.9 per cent, the highest it has been in the poll’s history.


    – Nine newspapers “The Age” 27th July

  75. If NZ wasn’t so cold, we might immigrate.

    But they may not want us, what would we contribute? And it is a bit far out of town.

    I’m working on a post on Frydenberg’s grand fiscal plan, but I don’t think I’ll finish until about this time tomorrow night. Sorry.

    Tomorrow is not just another day, I’m going back to do a bit of work on a two and a half acre plot in Brookfield.

  76. Thanks Ambi,

    That high number is more to do with all the US expats counting their blessings for their wise choice in escaping Facist USA to NZ.

    I still need to get a handle on what Ardern’s achievements really are.

    Unfortunately I’m still swamped with Articles filling my in box. I’ve only got 3 Trump topics ticked : Trump Quits; Trump Lynched by Angy GOP crowd; Trump Assasinated. But instead I get endless garbage, and I’m fed up with it all. I want my calm evenings of CP reading pleasure back.

  77. Apparently, if you’re a former PM of Malaysia who helped yourself to four and a half billion dollars, you can be found guilty in a Malaysian Court in Kuala Lumpur.

    Reformasi!!!

  78. The PRC wants six persons in Britain to be arrested.
    But the UK Foreign Secretary has suspended the extradition agreement with China.

    The move by the PRC confirms the suggestion made by the UK, Australian, and other Govts that its new “Hong Kong Security law” overreaches by purporting to apply to humans anywhere on the planet.

    People’s Republic of China.

    We are all People now.
    We are all Chinese.

    Power Grows Out of the Barrel of a Trade Contract

  79. Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    – Voltaire

  80. Continuing my sermon here to avoid derailing the Premier Palaszczuk is ‘absolutely furious’ thread.
    Sometime last century I heard an address on the Balmain Basket Weavers’ network (our ABC) which gave some insight into fiat money.
    The speaker had recently been Canada’s Finance Minister and he described how, when someone approaches a bank for a loan (to build a house, say) the bank employee assesses the applicant’s ability to repay the loan (let’s call it $200,00). If the bank is satisfied and its employee grants the loan it’s at the precise moment he/she presses on their computer to confirm the loan that the $200,000 is created.
    Obviously there is much more to fiat money than this, but our governments (and our Mackay correspondent) keep making statements that could only apply if we were still on the gold standard, and there is not enough gold on the planet to give value to the money sloshing around the various financial markets.
    We can do “The Economy” in a better way.

  81. zoot, I could easily be wrong, but the link emphasises that there is a limit to how much money a bank can create. I think you will find that they have to have real cash reserves at around 10% of their lending, and this has gone up from about 6% since the GFC. So an extra 4% is a helluva increase. The banks have done this from retained earnings, dividend re-investment and issuing new shares.

    It is necessary to strengthen the banks against the kind of shocks they are now experiencing.

    FWIW, my broker can’t tell me if the banks are going to pay dividends, probably not before about December, which is over the horizon. However, the regulator has ruled that they can’t pay shareholders more than half of any profits they might make.

  82. zoot, I could easily be wrong, but the link emphasises that there is a limit to how much money a bank can create.

    I think you’re correct Brian.
    I don’t pretend to understand all the ins and outs of our monetary system; but I’m disagreeing with people who argue governments are limited to acting like small businesses and households.
    Money is a figment of our imaginations and there are better ways to manage its distribution within our communities.

  83. Learn about fractional reserve banking as another way of printing money from thin air just like treasury bonds.
    All inflationary to make actual savings unpalatable and debt desirable.
    Keynesian wet dreams to the detriment of us all in the long run.

    Look up Says Law while your at it.
    There will never be a lack of demand generally, never has never is.

    Zoot is correct, he doesn’t understand in the slightest.

  84. Jumpy, how is money created?
    (If you reply, which is by no means likely, please try to make your answer relevant to the twenty first century.)

  85. “Money” was invented to facilitate trading. For example, It allowed a herder to sell a bull and use part of the money he received to buy a loaf of bread from the baker and the baker to save the money from selling bread until she had enough to buy a cow. In the past money might have been something useful like working arrow heads. Over time money changed into something of no value in its own right like paper money or figures in a computer.
    Then there is the problem of monetary/economic theories.
    People tend not to understand that a theory that works under one circumstance may not Zoot mentioned the problem of “People who argue governments are limited to acting like small businesses and households.” They feel comfortable with balanced budgets and deficits turning into debts THAT HAVE TO BE REPAID.
    It s also worth remembering that Keynesian economics was what was needed during the great depression but it didn’t work when we had to deal with stagflation combined with high unemployment.
    Right now we are facing a situation where the government should be spending money that is not balanced by taxes and SHOULD PROBABLY NEVER BE REPAID. Money that is needed to pay for the covid fight, keep people fed and housed and keep businesses in a position where they can start up again when the virus is bought under control.
    What is needed is monetary and economic theories that do things like guide governments that will have to make decisions re how much they can spend, how much they should try and recover, how much of the deficit should be covered by loans that have to be repaid.
    Modern Monetry Theory (MMT) may be a good point to start. See: https://insidestory.org.au/no-time-for-austerity/

  86. John, just a thought, but maybe “money” is a concept that has outlived its usefulness? (I have no idea what might replace it)

  87. zoot, probably bitcoin and stuff like that, but really I don’t think money is replaceable. It may just be digits in a computer, but it does real work in the world.

    John, the Quiggin article is saying that MMT and Keynsians currently agree that we need deficit funding, but he also said this:

      The problem with MMT is that, if it’s applied successfully, it destroys the conditions under which it works.

    My understanding is that Treasury are going down the Keynsian track in that borrowings have bond holders at the other end, even if they are paid interest less than inflation.

    I said to my stockbroker that borrowing $100 billion was no big deal, because the interest was less than a billion pa, essentially small change in a budget of half a trillion.

    She said, remember the credit ratings agencies will decide how much interest you pay.

    Earlier this year, pre-COVID, we went to a lecture by Richard Denniss. He said MMT was BS, but when I looked through my notes I’m not sure he said why.

    I tried to google, can’t give any links, but I think he’s saying the debate is irrelevant, the government doesn’t legislate economic theories, it does stuff, and debt is an investment in the future, not an impost.

    Listed companies are marked down if they don’t carry debt. It means they have a lazy balance sheet and are not investing in wealth-creating activities. In my experience it’s about 30 to 60% of net worth. Happens that debt of 50% of GDP within the OECD is normal pre-COVID.

    Dennis also allows that a government can print money, within reason, which is what the MMT people say.

    I turned up a 2015 post from Kay Rollison Now for something completely different … which makes some very pointed comments about the metaphors we use. She is riffing from Bill Mitchell who I think was the first in Oz in 2013 to advocate MMT, so count me confused.

  88. Zoot: “John, just a thought, but maybe “money” is a concept that has outlived its usefulness? (I have no idea what might replace it)”
    Traditional Aboriginal society is obligation driven. You are expected to share with people who are in the right relationship.
    Me I think money gives me the choice re I want in a society where we enjoy a large range of goods and services. But I haven’t thought it through.

  89. zoot, going back to your first comment on this theme you used the example “when someone approaches a bank for a loan (to build a house, say)”.

    Clearly there is value in the house once it is built, created by materials, labour, design etc. If the market goes up then the increased value is fungible in the sense that you can re-finance, go on a holiday or whatever.

  90. Brian I would argue that the value of the house lies in its function. It has value as shelter, as a place to raise a family etc, etc. The materials, labour, design etc actually constitute the price of the house.
    The market reflects changes in the price of the property while, in my opinion, the value remains fairly constant.
    Yeah, I know, carping criticisms from a dewy eyed romantic 🙂

  91. Just on a side note, I’ve read (but not fully understood) that the concept of value is still in debate amongst economists… after a couple of centuries of modern economic thought in Scotland, England, Europe, North America etc.

    Marx proposed a Labour Theory of Value

    zoot favours an Everyday Use theory of value

    Others point strictly to Supply and Demand: is price the only measure of value?

    After “Capital” (Picketty) became a paperback bestseller a few years ago, I saw a brief review by an economist who said that Picketty’s analysis was under doubt because he and his team had used ideas of value that were debatable; he gave examples which I can’t recall.

    I would trust Prof Quiggin to give an educated and clear explanation.

  92. Ambi: “Just on a side note, I’ve read (but not fully understood) that the concept of value is still in debate amongst economists…”
    Hardly surprising given that it depends on context. For example it may be”
    The price you are willing to sell it for.
    The price you can sell it for.
    The buying equivalents of the above.
    What you would be willing to pay if you had the money.
    But there are lots of things in my life where money is not a good way of measuring the value of some of the more important things in my life. Quite frankly, economists are the last sort of people I would want to put a value on those things.

  93. Ambi, I would caution about Prof Quiggin. The last piece he did on universities seemed to be wholly from memory, without direct links and references, and (from my memory) completely missed The Martin Report – 1961 which I remember because it affected my career trajectory. He fumbled some other parts of the history also.

    Generally, he’s a polymath, but doesn’t understand the limitations of his knowledge in some areas beyond his core expertise.

    On economics, my understanding is that he believes the profession is discredited, in the main because it aspires to be a science in an area which is not susceptible to proper scientific inquiry.

    Which means you have to look for a different base to work from, and I’m not sure what his is. Conceptually, I can fit economics in as a subset of sociology, but that no doubt brings other problems, and certainly would not be accepted by most who trade under the label of ‘economists’.

    I don’t want to diss him too much, he has a remarkable mind and is always worth reading.

    The example of ‘value’ above I think brings us back to how we use language. I can accept zoot’s definition, and I can also accept Marx’s, Picketty’s and some others. Those who use the term ‘value’ must define it and use it consistently. If they do then their work may yield insights to enhance our understanding of the world around us, but it helps if we can also be clear as to where we stand.

    I stand in place where language statements do not equal ‘truth’ but constitute acts of communication with other members of the species who assign common meanings to a bunch of sounds.

    That’s where it all comes together, but at the same time splits into shards, because each of us comes to the project with different life experience. Most times the differences don’t matter much in practical terms, because our culture holds us together.

    That’s the best I can do on this day. Ask me tomorrow, and I’d say something similar but possibly different, because ‘I’ don’t stay the same.

    About an hour ago Scott Stevens talking with Waleed Aly reminded us that some of the most creative thinkers in history were rather odd people, didn’t fit in, and some could be rather unpleasant. That is no surprise.

  94. Ambi: Part of my problem with economists is that they like to drive changes by playing with prices and often want to ignore the idea that people’s decisions involve more than the price of things.
    For example, economists like Quiggan want to drive climate action by putting a price on carbon even though it causes unnecessary price increases (ex: price increase is not enough to justify action.) AND, as Abbot so clearly demonstrated, the carbon price can easily be reduced and provides no guarantee for investors.
    By contrast my construction background encourages me to want to drive climate action by using construction industry practice of awarding contracts after a tendering process. Contracts provide the certainty that investors need. (The renewable auctions that have driven a large part of the investment in large scale renewable power projects is just another set of words for the tendering process I mentioned above.
    The above does not mean that the process I have described is the only way of doing things.

  95. I was quite surprised when I found that Wittgenstein’s principal interest was the nature and limits of language. Please note I don’t pretend to understand it but I think he’s definitely right.
    So I believe the distinction between value and price is important, just as I think it is inaccurate to say Bezos or Zuckerberg or any other robber baron “earns” so many million dollars a day. They accumulate it, they collect it, they acquire it but there is no way they earn it.
    Until our “Economy” corrects distortions like this it is nothing more than a third rate pyramid scheme and almost completely useless as a tool for tackling the existential threats which confront us. (I must give JD credit for practical ways to confront climate change)

  96. Zoot, that’s pretty much on the money, I think. On Wittgenstein he alerted philosophy to the language problem, but he inadvertently kicked off the ‘linguistic school’ of philosophy, who thought they were doing philosophy, but were actually doing language.

    Mostly as boring a batsh*t.

    If John does not mind me categorising his philosophy, he went through an existential questioning period in his youth, which I’ve never escaped. Having got it out of his system, he has returned to good old-fashioned 19th century scientism, which says that by using reason and technology we can do stuff in the world that makes a difference.

    God became a redundant prop for those who couldn’t cope.

    John is a great lateral thinker, and I would suggest that because he got all that existential stuff out of the way, is impervious to the emotional traps that seduce the thinking of many.

  97. Brian: Thanks for the philosophical analysis. You got some of it right but have my doubts about “he has returned to good old-fashioned 19th century scientism, which says that by using reason and technology we can do stuff in the world that makes a difference.” I am more interested in broad strategies and the philosophy/sociology of how we are prioritizing and approaching issues. And I will still play with an interesting new idea/problem like a dog with a bone. And feel the sense of age and mystery in my private places in the Pilbara
    I have had difficulty explaining how my lateral thinking works. It a bit like some mystic meditating. It is about relaxing the mind, letting it expand and picking up patterns and things that feel right and wrong. (I sometimes explain it as thinking I am an octopus with the feelers feeling around to pick up the ideas and information needed to identify/solve a problem.
    Also do the literature survey last. The survey makes it harder to come up with something new.

  98. What zoot said. The name is secondary.

    When I was working in the Ed dept at times we had difficult and stressful situations. For a time I used to go for a 5-mile run most evenings. I used to try to forget about what happened that day.

    However, I often found that solutions or ways forward on the work problems would pop into my head during the 3-5 mile stretch.

  99. Brian: “However, I often found that solutions or ways forward on the work problems would pop into my head during the 3-5 mile stretch.” I have often said that I should have been paid to go bushwalking because that was where a lot of really valuable ideas came up and strategies for dealing with complex problems came up.

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