Weekly salon 12/1

1. 2021 in graphs

Peter Martin has assembled 10 graphs from articles he has edited in 2021.

Each tells a powerful story. For example, it is clear that sooner or later something will have to be done about JobSeeker when it is forecast to become a mere fraction of the old age pension, which is miserly by international standards. Remember around a third of pensioners already live in poverty.

This one on the effect of the carbon price looks clear:

However, if you go to the graphs in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quarterly Update: June 2021 you can play with the interactive graph showing the various sectors individually or together in any combination. This is what emissions look like without electricity and LULUCF (basically land clearing and tree growth):

In fact the big reductions have come firstly as a result of Queensland vegetation management legislation, which had a marked effect on Queensland cattle graziers’ ability to clear regrowth from 2007, and secondly policies to promote and subsidise renewable energy. Neither has anything to do a carbon price/tax, so I remain sceptical about the efficacy of generalised carbon tax.

Three graphs address the housing price situation. Back last century the average house cost less than three times the average income. Now this ratio has moved to above six:

Home deposits now almost require a whole year of household disposable income:

This one shows an incredible increase in home building, but an unexplained failure to finish:

My guess is disrupted supply chains and labour availability, shredded by COVID.

Crime is reducing, but we are locking more people up:

Deaths from COVID 19 have not markedly changed the pattern of deaths overall:

2. Climate change bursting out all over

The literature of climate change certainly has, with torrents of reports and warnings. One of the neater summaries of the year’s action was captured by Lethal Heating8 ominous climate milestones reached in 2021. As usual they add masses of links. The original in Live Science is worth a look, because they have links after each of the eight sections which LH leaves out.

Here we go:

  • Paris Agreement warming targets surpassed
  • The 2015 goal is already out of reach, we already committed to greater warming. See We’ve already blown past the warming targets set by the Paris climate agreement, study finds

    Was the study too late to be part of the IPCC considerations?

  • Record-breaking heat in 2020
  • NASA GISS scientists put 2020 slightly ahead of 2016, NOAA scientist think it was slightly behind. For both it means trouble.

  • Faster sea level rise
    • Prior models estimated that by the year 2100, global sea-level average would likely rise by 3.61 feet (1.10 meters), but scientists now suggest that oceans will rise even more rapidly than that, based on sea level rise events in Earth’s distant past.
  • Gulf Stream slowdown
  • The Gulf Stream has slowed dramatically and could stop completely by 2100, if global warming continues at its current pace.

  • Human influence ‘unequivocal’
  • We knew that.

  • Carbon factory rainforests
  • Many tropical rainforests such as the Amazon are releasing more carbon than they absorb.

  • ‘Last Ice Area’ melting away
  • Just north of Greenland is the Wandel Sea, known as the Last Ice Area. It is thinning more than thought, and could melt away in summer as soon as 2040.

  • Earthshine gets darker
  • Here, courtesy of NASA, we have Earth from a space station:

    The shine is coming off our planet due to human action.

    Also it seems someone other than James Hansen has thought of clouds. Plus planting trees does not help shininess.

  • Still not too late
    • While we can’t turn back the clock and reset Earth’s climate to conditions that predate the Industrial Age, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about climate change. … we can still slow or stop some of the global changes that are already underway, such as sea level rise and extreme weather events.

    That’s a soft-soap finish to the article to make us feel better. Balance that with Even Drastic CO2 Cuts Won’t Bring Back The Climate We’ve Lost, or better still, follow the devastating narrative of the real scientific situation portrayed by David Spratt, Ian Dunlop and Luke Taylor in their recent Climate Reality Check 2021, backed up by 72 citations of scientific literature.

    If you want to be further impressed and depressed about the progress of dangerous climate change, try these:

    That last one is blood-curdling.

    Meanwhile Climate change overtakes pandemics as greatest worry for global experts:

      Three environmental risks – climate action failure, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss – were more worrying than anything else, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual survey of global risks.

    Except for the Brits, where climate change does not appear in the top five, being more concerned about cyber insecurity.

    3. The fight for American democracy

    This article In-Depth: From the Capitol riot to vaccines and climate change, a look back goes through the year in the USA date by date, starting with pro-Trump rioters storming the US Capitol as members of Congress meet to certify the Electoral College results of the 2020 presidential election.

    A very troubled country.

    Jon Meacham, Presidential historian and former Biden speechwriter says that if Trump runs for POTUS in 2024 there will a constitutional crisis because ‘whatever happens, he will claim he won’.

    Three retired US generals wrote a recent Washington Post column warning that another coup attempt “could lead to civil war”. Apparently one in 10 of the Capitol Hill insurrectionists found guilty of a felony had a military background.

    In this article Barbara Walter, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and author of a new book, How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them thinks “It would look more like Northern Ireland and what Britain experienced, where it’s more of an insurgency”:

      “It would probably be more decentralized than Northern Ireland because we have such a large country and there are so many militias all around the country.”

      “They would turn to unconventional tactics, in particular terrorism, maybe even a little bit of guerrilla warfare, where they would target federal buildings, synagogues, places with large crowds. The strategy would be one of intimidation and to scare the American public into believing that the federal government isn’t capable of taking care of them.”

    Some 90% of the Republican Party are white. Some 71% of republicans

    Now the Assault on American democracy has gained pace since US Capitol attack. A tsumami of voter suppression laws has emerged in the states, which run the elections:

      There was also a surge of bills last year that sought to interfere with election administration in 2021. As of mid-December last year, 262 election interference bills had been introduced in 41 states, according to the States United Democracy Center. Thirty-two of those bills have become law in 17 states.

    More are on the way.

    Trump owns the Republican Party. Politicians and candidates not adopting his view of history and politics are being shoved aside, and now Trump acolytes vie for key election oversight posts in US midterms. The people who will do the hands-on work in 2024 are elected officials from the mid-terms in 2022.

    Biden is pushing voting rights legislation, but it is held up in the Senate. Republicans are using the notorious filibuster rule to prevent the legislation to be brought to a vote, saying it is unnecessary, and Federal government overreach.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I think the filibuster rule could be knocked out on a simple majority vote – it’s just that conservative Democrats Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia won’t do it even though they support the voting rights legislation.

    Just suppose the legislation does pass. The chances are that each state would operate under its own laws, ignoring the federal law, unless challenged in the Supreme Court.

    My untutored view is that American democracy, never strong, is going down the crapper as we speak.

    See also:

    4. German democracy OK?

    I have not done an in-depth analysis, but my impression is that German democracy is still working, where the largest party vote was for the SPD (Social Democrats) with only 25.7% of the vote. Here’s the vote result in an image:

    The four parties that have sufficient trust and respect for each other to potentially join in a coalition are the SPD (206 seats), the CDU/CSU (196), the Greens (118) and the Free Democrats (92). A total of 368 seats is enough to form government. So the options were by colours, red and black (Grand Coalition), red, green and yellow (Traffic lights) and black, green and yellow (Jamaica).

    Effectively the smaller two were the king-makers, and chose the SPD, so Traffic lights was the go.

    I heard that 22 separate groups involving around 280 people sat down for about three months and hammered an agreed policy framework and program for the new government for next four years.

    It seems to me eminently sensible and civilised, compared with the US and here where respect and trust have broken down.

    38 thoughts on “Weekly salon 12/1”

    1. In terms of the housing crisis it is worth reading a previous post on AFFORABLE HOME OWNERSHIP
      It was concluded that contributing factors included:
      A shortage of affordable accommodation in the places where it is needed.
      Unoccupied accommodation that is where accommodation is needed but owners choose not to sell, rent or consider splitting a house that is larger than the occupiers need.
      The Covid experience demonstrated that working at home can actually work while reducing the time and emissions associated with commutes. Problem is that this allows people to move to regions where they would prefer to live. However:
      Some of these regions haven’t got the capacity to accommodate all of these newcomers.
      The losers will be low income people who will struggle to compete with well paid newcomers for accommodation.
      Communities may also suffer because low income service workers such as teachers, health workers and police will no longer be able to afford to live there.

      It was concluded that:
      Home ownership is declining because more and more people cannot afford to buy a home of their own. This is particularly true for younger Australians.
      The combination of unusually low Reserve Bank interest rates and lack of bank home loan regulation is causing housing price hyperinflation. Banks and sellers are better off while mug buyers are lumbered with bigger loans.
      These low interest rates may also be setting the country up for a GFC type crash when home loan interest rates go back to normal.
      Average house size has grown dramatically with average m2 per occupant tripling since 1950 to 87m2, the highest in the world. (Average block size has remained about the same. This suggests that gardens and back yards have shrunk or disappeared entirely.)
      The mix of new housing seems to be driven by developers trying to maximise their profits by building large, prestige houses in prestige estates.
      The quest for developer profits may not providing the mix of accommodation communities need
      Housing has become a very attractive investment because current tax laws strongly favour investing in a “big family home.”
      Suggested Action:
      Federal government:
      Slowly tighten up housing lending and loan repayment rules to slow housing inflation and protect borrowers from the effect of rising interest rates.
      Cancel or wind back concessions that encourage investment in large, expensive homes.
      Support innovation and changes to Australian housing standards.
      Local/state governments:
      Establish what accommodation mix communities need to handle current/projected population mix.
      Do what is necessary to get the mix and quantity of accommodation required to meet these needs. This may involve councils:
      Taking a direct role in filling shortages of lower cost housing. (Finance by a special tax on rezoning profits?) AND/OR
      Insisting that developers have to put their resources into producing the required accommodation mix with priority going to meeting low cost housing needs. (This doesn’t mean that each development must have the same mix.)
      Keep in mind that some of these needs may be met by splitting existing large houses, allowing temporary accommodation in some free spaces etc. Not just building new affordable accommodation.
      Identify and change rules that make it hard or impossible for owners/developers to do things with land or buildings they own that could provide more affordable accommodation in the short or long term.
      Consider changing and/or discarding the current developer centric strategies.

    2. Thanks, John for reminding me about that post.

      I still plan to do something on bilb’s CGRPT proposal. It’s just that prior to the election parties are really not open to significant policy change.

      If Labor win they could be open to new ideas. If they lose, they will need to look to the next generation in their ranks. Things could be quite fluid.

      The big problem, though, is that if Labor lose there is likely to be major disaffection, and it could be a long way back.

      The other problem is a lack of personal time. I have an opportunity to go on a state Labor c’tee, but (a) I need another c’tee like a hole in the head, and (b) I don’t like zoom meetings, and at present I won’t go to face-to-face meetings.

    3. I meant to comment that the German electoral system, like the Mixed-member proportional (MMP) system in NZ, means that major parties can leave the loony stuff to loony parties. Such systems also favour the emergence of new parties, which is good for renewal.

      Smaller parties also have a chance of getting experience in government.

      In this case there is also continuity, as the SPD have been part of three out Merkel’s four terms.

    4. Brian: Key properties of a good electoral system:
      1 People can vote for a minor party without losing a say re which of the major parties should win. The Aus preference system of voting is one way of doing this.
      2 Preferences should be determined by the voter, not the party that gets their first preference or above the line vote.
      3 The Party/coalition that forms government is the winner of the 2PP vote or some equivalent.
      4 The government should not be blocked from getting the amount of money they need to do their job. However, parliament as a whole will be able to determine how the money is raised.
      5 Election outcomes should not be determined by boundary locations.
      6 The election process should be run by an honest electoral commission that is independent of the government.
      Australia does fairly well these days but the were Joh times when the system was badly rorted. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t alternatives that are better then the Aus system.
      The there is the US system that has lots to be desired.

    5. Today, for the first time since early 2020, the border of Qld is open to NSW.

      I’m sure this is great for those who live near the border.

      For the rest of us, we live more constricted lives than we have since pre-COVID short of a lockdown. Many of the tourism and hospitality venues who wanted an open policy, are now shut through lack of fit and able staff and/or customers.

    6. I don’t want to get into great detail on the Djokovic affair, but the immigration minister using his personal discretion to withdraw his visa has probably avoided some ugly scenes if he played.

      Djokovic has always struggled for crowd support, with crowds normally supporting his opponent. He probably got more support in Australia than elsewhere.

      In numerous talkback sessions there was extraordinary anger about what was seen as elite people getting special treatment. At the same time he clearly had a strong ethnic Serbian following which was very vocal.

      Internationally Australia looks ridiculous. Truly the matter should have been sorted before he got on a plane.

      Some think Australia’s bumble-a-thon could finally have gotten home to the politically disinterested segment of the public who end up deciding elections.

    7. John D, where I enjoy your thoroness, I question your conclusions on methods to achieve “affordable accommodation”.
      The notion that the government can achieve anything with interest rates and inflation I suggest is misguided. The only thing that has inflated in the last 2 decades is housing prices to the extent that Australian Housing has the need for that inflation built in ie people borrow needing the property value to inflate to enable them to afford the mortgage payments relative to the property value in the future. To tamper with that structure now is to invite a financial collapse.
      There could be a levy applied to house size as the only option to restrict over sizing of properties. To make a “rule” is to invite endless legal battles and “favorable treatment” political storms. The people who would object to a levy structure would be fewer in number.
      Local and State:
      The suggestions on zoning are valid, but what is really required is full community planning to offer communities that do not require long commutes. That is communities should have balanced access to commerce and manufacturing with comprehensive local employment within a few kilometers. One thing this would require is freedom to relocate without penalty ie no property sale stamp duty where people relocate for work opportunities.
      Certainly better building planning and alteration of building rules to encourage better utilization of land. I sent Brian an image of a supermarket here which has 30 units above it and still in a low profile construction as an example.
      The notion of subdividing houses is a furphy I suggest as since the 1960’s at least house designs do not lend themselves to the house splitting from the past. My first “flat” in 1970 was one of four single rooms in the back yard of a house (with side access) in Perceval Road Stanmore (still there). These units had shared showers and toilet. I doubt that this can be done today mainly due to vehicle parking limitations.
      I hasten to point out that none of the above (other than back yard flats) offer accommodation solutions for those who can only afford half or a third of the market rents and or debt servicing for owner occupiers. The offered solutions at best offer marginal improvement to property values, margins that offer at best a short stay of value increase before the new property inflation base line catches up.
      A global solution that affects all properties will not work as it threatens the entire economy, the solution must be one that offers an alternative property value structure. In the past this was done with Housing Commission properties where the government took the hit on the market property value managing this with special land releases as only the government can do and construction by Public Works Departments where profit was not required. These properties were all sold off for neo liberal ideological reasons with those funds being given to reduce taxation on the rich.

    8. bilb2, to my humble mind you make a lot of sense. The Jumbo supermarket in the Netherlands can be seen here.

      At present I’m trying to do a post on gas, which is worse than we thought. This one on the Channel Country and Lake Eyre Basin is worrying the bejesus out of me:

      Around half the new resources projects in country are in gas, oil and coal.

      The Qld govt has a draft 10-year resources plan which reads like corporate greenwash.

      The links are in the text and at the end of the article.

    9. Nothing surprises me about Australia and CO2 emissions greenwashing as you call it. Morrison is TrumpLite, but the Australian public are proving to be as gullible as maga heads. It’s very sad.

    10. Bilb: “The notion that the government can achieve anything with interest rates and inflation I suggest is misguided. ”
      The Reserve Bank, not government sets interest rates to match their perception of which way the economy needs to be tweaked.
      The Reserve Bank is not about setting interest rates to make housing more affordable. As a result, cheap money is driving up house prices to levels that will drive a GFC type crisis when the Reserve Bank moves from stimulating the economy to controlling inflation by putting up interest rates.
      When we built our first house the commonwealth bank limited housing loans to what could be paid by 25% of the male’s earnings. (Bit sexist but it kept housing prices down and made owning your own home a realistic goal or most of the population.) Nothing to stop governments putting limits on loans and limits on how fast loan repayments could go up.

    11. That was exactly my point, JohnD. Further, as politicians as a professional group are the highest users of Negative Gearing, they are unlikely to put limits on loans for any significant period. It’s also why politicians don’t want to consider CGRPT’s as they need a significant level of rental desperation to keep their negatively geared properties fully rented at high rental rates. Australia is between a rock and a hard place on property debt with so many people leveraged to the maximum.

    12. Bilb: You are sounding like the man who cries “We’ll all be rooned.” when ever someone has the cheek to suggest that something can be done about a problem.
      Governments can do things that regulates the banks and reduces the problems being created by the Reserve focus on stimulating the economy.
      What is happening at the moment is grossly unfair to the poorer parts of society. You don’t need to be a genius to see how some of the changes made over time have made things worse than they were in the pre-developer past.
      It may be difficult, but not impossible to split a large house into two or more independent dwellings. (If nothing else we can insist that large new houses are designed so that they can be split into smaller homes when the nest empties.)
      Stop being so negative.

    13. How am I being negative, John? I’ve offered a comprehensive solution that does not require impacting previous laws or regulations and is completely independent of the existing market, giving low income people the independence to decide how they want to spend their accommodation money, while letting government of the hook for providing social housing.
      What it does require is enabling legislation to make the Title Document a legal document, just as government has done a number of times before for Strata Title and Community Title.

      I don’t oppose splitting houses for shared use at all, in fact I have applauded such efforts a number of times. I am however realistic about the likely hood of such initiatives being taken at a level that really solves the problem. I’m also cautious about how many CGRPT’s would be built in a period and whether they would make enough of a difference.

      In the US the solution has been for many years Mobile Homes (effectively over sized camper vans) and many trailer parks were built to provide affordable rent for the space to park and live in them as permanent housing. But now the corporate sector have decided move in on these parks, buy them up, raise the rents to force people to either pay doubled rents, move or abandon their homes. In other words what was the US Social Housing backstop is in the process of a neo liberal corporate raid.

      That is the advantage of the CGRPT concept. The building prices are pre established, can’t become over priced, and can’t be “raided” by criminals such as Jared Kushner. The rest of the property market will carry on as before and that is where most people who can afford to will live for all of the benefits that high priced escalating value property offers.

      What I was pointing out though is that Australia is backed into a corner and cannot allow inflation or interest rates to increase, and most people’s superannuation has been moved from interest on investment savings to earnings from share and property trading by “investment” organizations.

      Hear what Yanis Varoufakis has to say about the current global situation. https://youtu.be/zu0lNnXAiL0

      I have tried to establish a debate about CGRPT’s and have failed completely. And that is fine as it is not my problem at all.

      As I have said a number of times, I believe that China will solve Australia’s housing situation by annexing the country, dissolving all land ownership into a national 50 year lease title, and applying their building methods to house the many millions of new nationals that will flood into Australia. It may even be the solution to the Evergrand looming collapse.

      That will affect me every bit as much as most others as my property value will plummet along with all of the rest. But such an outcome will be a boost for most young people providing a new surge of productive energy for a tired country.

      Of course I hope that I am wrong about this, and I put it out there so that people take a long hard look at Australia’s vulnerability in a world awash with Authoritarian influence funded by oligarchs with no conscience.

    14. bilb2, I enjoyed the Yanis Varoufakis link. Can’t say he’s wrong.

      There are a lot of analysts saying that something fundamental changed with the GFC in 2008.

      He did not say a lot about what is to be done, except that the social-democratic ‘Nordic’ dream is out of reach. Presumably it will be in his next book.

      Yesterday I heard yet another analysis by a Prof Adrian Pabst on Has COVID-19 killed liberalism? His new book Postliberal Politics: The Coming Era of Renewal:

        Hyper-capitalism and extreme identity politics are driving us to distraction. Both destroy the basis of a common life shared across ages and classes. The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate these tendencies further, or it could herald something more hopeful: a post-liberal moment.

        Adrian Pabst argues that now is the time for an alternative – postliberalism – that is centred around trust, dignity, and human relationships. Instead of reverting to the destabilising inhumanity of ‘just-in-time’ free-market globalisation, we could build a politics upon the sense of localism and community spirit, the valuing of family, place and belonging, which was a real theme of lockdown. We are not obliged to put up with the restoration of a broken status quo that erodes trust, undermines institutions and trashes our precious natural environment. We could build a pluralist democracy, decentralise the state, and promote embedded, mutualist markets.

        This bold book shows that only a politics which fuses economic justice with social solidarity and ecological balance can overcome our deep divisions and save us from authoritarian backlash.​

      Turning to practical politics and the coming election. the Coalition want small government, except for handing out industrial-scale election boondoggles.

      Labor wants to do good things, spend money on worthwhile projects, infrastructure and services, except they won’t have any money, having agreed to keep the legislated tax cuts.

      The Greens want to soak the rich and use it to do good things. Their problem is that they can only do anything if Labor wins, and they keep telling people it’s pointless voting for Labor who are just as bad as the Coalition.

      I’m concerned that the whole shebang is going to go down the crapper. There is a new concern about climate change and security. Erin Sikorsky says Climate Migration is Now a Major Geopolitical Risk says according to a new World Bank report 216 million people will be displaced by 2050, and that does not include China which could be one of the worst affected (30 million alone from sea level rise, water disappearing from the normal rain cycle, being replaced by sporadic floods, underground water 80% polluted, etc.)

    15. Adrian Pabst, says some interesting things there.

      First up he talks about “a common life shared across ages and classes” which speaks of a conformalism that was desired post war in the 50’s when the global population was under 3 billion and possessions were fewer and valued, but desired less so today. I think the core issue today is people themselves want to be valued and their “rights” respected, but the variety of life options is valued versus a “common life”, a difference he identifies as a life “centered around trust, dignity, and human relationships”, all features NeoLiberalism is completely devoid of.

      Finding a way through the fog of “Everything” is the challenge. Thinking about it here I know from everything that has transpired on LP and CP over the 17 years we have been at this is that there are too many opinions expressed in too many words, with too few conclusions and too little consensus. Rhetoric is a device for human pleasure but totally ill suited to the utility of strategic decision making. To defeat this I propose a comprehensive iconic communication approach. We already do this using terms such as “the left”, “the right”, “fascism”, “neoliberalism”, etc, but we need a more complete set of iconic terms to simplify discussion and reduce the scope for miss information and rhetorical gaslighting.

      I’ll expand on this idea as we go along here. Right now I have to work. But to finish off, I think that Labor need to follow Trump’s lead and build a cult of “intelligence” against the Liberal cult of “lies and greed”. Maybe a slogan like “Make Humanity Great Again” to rally behind!

    16. I’ll wait to see where you go with that, bilb. Pabst does say the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are redundant as terms.

      I should listen to it again, but my wife and I are watching too much tennis ATM, and on climate I need to charge at a few more windmills!

      We had Frydenberg on 7:30 tonight being given the rounds of the kitchen by Laura Tingle. He just keeps smiling.

      Most of the rest won’t front when Tingle is on duty.

    17. For want of a better term, Brian, I’ve decided to call this concept rhetorical iconography, or Rhiconography for short, which individual components called Rhicons. A Rhicon is a developed idea that can be used to build more complex ideas in few words as a kind of short hand . I find when I am talking to creative people i don’t need to give long winded explanations of conceptual components, a single word suffices for a whole system. Most people do this in their specialty field.
      Some engineering icons might be a factor for hydro power which is one cubic meter of water through 100 meters equals 227 watt hours, or a standard relationship for hot water and energy being to heat 200 liters through 40C requires 10 KwHrs of energy. A Physics icon is E+MC^2, the symbol for the relationship for Matter and Energy, also a handle for the standard model. Climate and environment are in desperate need of some icons as the subject suffers from long winded explanations.
      A rhicon could also be described as a “given”. Lets see what others I can come up with.

    18. The notion of Rhicons is important to understand (regardless of what you decide to call them) as they are an important political tool. Labor’s entire platform is routinely summarized with 3 Rhicons ….. health, education, worker’s rights …… terms inside each of which is the entire party policy position. Marketing people know the power of Rhicons for product branding, and it is this understanding that made Trump such a powerful force. Trump built a complete substance free political party with Rhicons, “MAGA”, “fake news”, “press the enemy of the people”, “rioters”, “the wall”, “invading criminal hoards”, “Antifa”, which he repeats over and over again. Rhicons that he uses his rallies to populate with the most horrendously false “information” to amplify some terms and poison others along with the groups he applies them to. A picture paints a thousand words, Rhicons do the same.

      So the challenge for Labor is to develop a set of Rhicons to amplify their presence on the political stage, and so that they can convey that message through repetition in the tiny media windows that are offered to them. Tony Abbott used the free gift of an hour a day with his “factory visits” in prime pensioner viewing time to destroy the value of climate action, time in which built the Rhicons so that when he mentioned them in public with just a few words he was able to denigrate every good thing that Julia Gillard had built up. He also used this technique to kill off the home insulation program.

      Make no mistake. This conservative authoritarian drive that is under way is a globally coordinated effort driven by at least three very well funded and centrally connected organizations, the main one being the International Democratic Union (which is anything but democratic, google it), there is a religious one which Thom Hartman did and expose on, and one other. The religious part of this is very effective. Just the other day I was taking to my friend in Chicago who was denigrating Biden on certain points, then 2 days later the owner of this business here in Rotterdam was denigrating Biden on exactly the same points with the same words. I should add that both of these people are members of different business oriented religious groups but in different countries. There is massive coordination with this drive towards Fascism. Yes there is a global Labour Alliance, but Rupert Murdoch is not a part of that.

    19. Can’t say you are wrong, bilb. We used to call them slogans. maybe a new word is needed, but inventing new language is not a simple thing.

    20. I tried a new thing today. Tipped my hot coffee into my boot.

      No-one was there to hear my scream!

    21. As long as your toes drank it all up, Brian, it was a good new thing.

      Slogans are usually sentences. A Rhicon can be a single word. Eg “Feminism” is a rhicon, and rhicons can carry different meaning or impact depending on the context. If you were carrying a banner in a parade with just the word “feminism” the word with all of its meaning is a rhicon, and if it is a gay parade it means one thing, but if it is a protest it can mean something else altogether.

      Using words as icons is not new. However I am exploring their use as icons when used in rhetoric as a condensed form of communication. Trump has already made a career with this, others have to understand it to compete.

    22. On coffee hot feet, if you periodically suffer from fungal foot itch as I do, I discovered that falling very hot (not scalding) water onto the itchy patch alleviates the itch (I’m referring to extreme distraction rub till the skin comes off itch). It is the combination of the pulsing of the water and the heat that is important. The other important thing with tinia is to boil all of your socks. The fungus dies above 70C a temp most washing machines don’t reach. Failure to do this is to continually reinfect your feet.

    23. Bilb, I’ve had tinea between the toes on my right foot since I caught it in a community shower in O’Reilly’s Guest House (Lamington Plateau) nearly 40 nears ago.

      It doesn’t bother me much if I spray it with a tea tree oil aerosol twice a day, but it never permanently goes away.

      I have heard that fungi are going to be more problematic to humans in the future than viruses, because they are more like us and harder to kill.

    24. I found fungus (the gunge) was a real problem over most of my body when we lived in the humid north. It was a start sweating in August, stop sweating in May sort of place. Various powders and liquid treatments helped as did wearing shorts with no underpants and going bare footed when practical.. Moving to the dry hot middle of WA and south to a cold place like Brisbane also helped.
      Currently I use aqaear if my ears start to rot and Solyptol Cream if my crutch starts to rot.

    25. Lamacil is the only pharmaceutical that reliably solves the between the toes tinia, but if you don”t boil all of you socks in a pot on the stove the tinia will quickly come back. Alcohol 80% hand gel also helps. I use that when the crutch presents a problem. It gives you a hot “why the hell did I just do that” crutch sensation, but it does make a big difference.
      But the pulsating hot water treatment on my feet is the most effective non chemical treatment, which I do while showering. Get the shower to as hot as you can bare it on your shoulder, then play that on your affected foot. The water temp drops by 10 degrees between shoulder and foot so you can’t hurt yourself.
      The other thing I discovered was I needed to keep my toe nails clipped as short as possible so as to not let toe nail fungus get a “toe hold” and establish.

    26. Brian @ 9.59

      ….. “nearly 40 ‘nears’ ago” …..

      The nears are the best. I’ve enjoyed most of the nears of my life, but my nears are becoming fars at a great pace, and my body is trying to tell me I’m nearly too far gone, but I am fighting back determined to enjoy the nears I have left, before I am gone altogether.

    27. Bilb, a couple of years ago I read a book by Barbara Ehrenreich titled Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer.

      She is best known for Nickel and Dimed which investigates the impact of the 1996 welfare reform act on the working poor in the United States. However, she has a PhD in cellular immunology, and in her new book took a look at aging in America.

      Her basic message is look after yourself, but don’t get to the stage where all you do every day is devoted to staying alive longer.

      I’m working in yards and gardens at an age that surprises most, but have to spend a fair bit of time on keeping my lower back and a gammy shoulder in working order. That’s apart from putting drops in my eyes about 10 times a day, and going through a routine (only about 5 minutes) that keeps me walking upright.

      However, I feel much better working in the open air, and with quality headphones, a phone and bluetooth, I learn and think a lot.

      It all adds up!

    28. Keeping everything active is the key (and not smoking).

      Which drops are you using for the dry eye? Does it have hyaluronic acid in 1 or 2 milligram? That is the one I have found to be most effective.

      I was having a lot of random muscle tweaks that would take days to come right, even bending down to put shoes on would risk a back muscle problem. I decided that my out of fitness body had a lot of out of tune muscles that had forgotten to work in harmony with the rest so started doing the full torso body tension thing you see wrestlers do to show off all their muscles. What this does I find is wake up all of the muscle pairs all at the same time so they are back in tune with all of the rest. I do that then can bend down to put the pants on with ease.

      I certainly do that before lifting anything that would be near my full lifting capacity.

      The walking upright thing is a real issue. Lately when I’ve been sitting a long time assembling parts, and get up to get things, I have found myself walking with a forward stoop a little, and have to consciously straighten up.

      And yes I am 100% percent with you on the headphones and cellphone. I have an iPad Pro and have YouTube on most of the day, half watching half just listening, and commenting furiously. It really annoys the guy who owns this business here, but has learned to live with it because I get results no one else can achieve. I am trying to wind back the YouTube. In Australia I would listen to ABC News Radio much of the day, in New Zealand it was Pacific Radio talk back.

      I’m really hooked into the Physics of subatomic particles and scavenge for every scientists perceptions. I find discussions on string theory totally absorbing. I have my own very different (though also very consistent) theory on how it all works and the pleasure is looking for both correlations and challenges to my concept.

      Good on you Brian, you’re a real Trojan, and a great mind.

    29. Interesting to hear what you old codgers are doing to keep physically and mentally healthy as well as productively employed. (I haven’t reached 80 yet.)
      Me I use a combination of physical and mental exercises to stay healthy and balanced (Loss of physical balance is an issue as we get older.) The physical stuff includes 2hr bike and canoe rides as well as walking. I find a pulse monitor helps monitor the amount of exercise I get. (I aim for at least 72 minutes/week within the recommended pulse rate range for my age. (70 to90% of max heart rate for age where max heart rate=220-age.) Can only get into the pulse rate range by hard bike riding or walking up steep hills.
      I am also being helped by being too active in the Greens and a wife who can provide challenging discussions over a range of topics.
      Here endeth the days sermon.

    30. John, I think we are best adapted to the mists and snow of northern Europe.

      Bilb, a lot to cover there.

      I have more than dry eyes, but the standard prescription, which I use, is Hylo-Forte, or sodium hyaluronate, made in Germany. Someone I work for mentioned casually the other day that she used special stuff made up by a compounding chemist. I’ll try to follow that up.

      My optometrist is keen on honey, so I use some Manuka dry eye drops, from Optimel, a Brisbane company. Also some Manuka Forte Eye Gel, which stings like crazy.

      I believe Optimel got into honey via wound healing in the veterinary sphere, and went from there. They make a good throat syrup. I believe they are setting up to market in North America and Europe.

      On fitness, I’ve done stuff with a massage therapist and a succession of good physios, so have multiple stretches, exercises with and without weights, stretch bands and such, plus pressure points for pain relief.

      Two comments. One, I’m told that as I age I can expect to lose muscle mass. The best way of slowing this is through strength exercises – all muscle systems. How you do this is really an individual thing.

      I find pain is a big motivator. It drives me to look after myself.

      Second, body positioning over long periods matters. We all put our heads down or forward too much. My gammy shoulder is 100% caused by working with my hands and arms forward, as in weeding, trimming, mowing, brushcutting etc. Brushcutting puts a strain in the middle of my back on the opposite side. Also my right leg is apt to jam up from propping when I work on slopes.

      Bilb, I’d be interested in your theory of everything. Personally don’t warm to string theory, but how would I know? Most good scientists who work in that area admit they don’t know either.

      Meanwhile I’ve solved a few things. ‘Time’ doesn’t exist as such. It’s just a human way of dealing with change.

      Similarly ‘what is consciousness’ is a non-problem. It’s just a word for a bunch of things we do which you can write a book about.

    31. John, your comment @ 11:35 got caught by the spam filter. And your photo is not there.

      Why do these things happen? The world is meant to be orderly.

    32. In short, Brian, my theory of everything postulates that there is only one component in the universe which within our universe exists in two forms, Dynamic energy (travels in straight lines) and Static Energy (looped energy which interacts with Dynamic energy to limit its passage to the speed of light ). In the pre universe there is only Dynamic Energy which is infinite, dimensionless and timeless. for the Universe to commence Dynamic energy must spontaneously transition in part to static energy. Static Loop Energy has the effect of interacting with Dynamic Energy to slow its passage through Static Energy to the Speed of light. Static Energy is also the Higgs Field. At the point of creation of the Universe when an amount of infinite speed Dynamic Energy entangled with Static Energy time and space began as now Dynamic energy was limited to the speed of light so time is required for energy to traverse. The main difference in this thinking is that static energy and dynamic energy do not mix or overlap. In the creation moment the Dynamic energy effectively formed an energy emulsion in the static energy field. An elementary particle (quark) is a quantum of energy trapped in a shell of Static Energy. Dynamic Energy inside the quark can operate at above light speed and that is what causes its confinement as it continuously is being deflected off the Static Energy Boundary. This boundary reaction is the strong nuclear effect, But the dynamic interaction also imparts energy to the surrounding Static Energy Field. This energy effect on the field is logarithmic and is in fact the effect we experience s Gravity. The more matter in one place the more energy is experienced by the field. In this thought model the broad field of low energy space pushes against higher energy matter containing space, so Gravity is actually a pushing “force” rather than a pulling one, so the Higgs Field pushes matter together while at the same time pushes large bodies of matter apart (Dark Energy Effect) this process also creates the matter web of the Universe as only a pushing force can create this. In this model as matter becomes more dense to the extreme of a Neutron Star the field becomes energised to the point where it can no longer contain the Dynamic Energy and the field finds a new equilibrium as the boundary of a black hole. In the explosive process a huge amount of energy escapes into space but the Dynamic Energy that now is contained within the Black Hole event horizon becomes dissociated from the intense field energy it had created and this elevated field energy becomes phantom matter which can drift away for me the Black hole as its energy level is above that of that required by the Black Hole’s mass. This Phantom Matter creates the effect we experience as Dark Matter. So Dark Matter is an effect rather than a physical matter reality but the Dark Energy is in fact the Higgs Field and there is a lot of it, as it fills all of space.
      In this thought model I remove mystery forces and demonstrate the possibility of actual physical energy connection for electron “shells” and electro magnetism. For instance the Proton is made up of two large quarks and one small one. This Construction leaves a small gap between the particle shells. I speculate that through this gap there is a continuous loop of induced energy which loops away from the proton in an isolated proton to form a circular energy string that is the positive charge. Where Protons are bunched together in an atomic nucleus these energy loops become pinched as they react with each other but also have different loop heights. Parcels of energy (electrons) attach to the proton positive charge energy loops, and then Chemistry is possible. Magnetism is a similar mechanism but created as an induced energy string created by a channel through the atomic nucleus cluster of protons and Neutrons to form an energy loop, but these energy loops can join with the energy loop of other particles to form ever larger loops that extend way beyond the matter itself. I am still thinking through the methods by which this phenomenon creates all of the perceived “forces” of electromagnetism.
      To Conclude, this thought model is an attempt to find a plausible solution where the one ExoUniverse element of infinite energy can create a Universe, and how the interactions of the only two forms that ‘Energy” can take can complexify into the Universe as we know it and how the on interaction between those two forms of energy creates all of the “Forces of Nature”, including Gravity, as we experience them albeit at different scales. the two fundamental connections with String Theory are the nature of the Loop Strings that form the Static Energy Field, and the nature of the Energy surging at many times the speed of light within the Quarks. Any alternative model must comply with all of the observed science, and that is where the maths comes in. This thought model could fall over in an instant, but it gives me great pleasure playing with its different features.

      So there you go, there is something for you to mull over as you sip you coffee from your boot.

    33. By the way, Brian, I’m sure that “nears” wasn’t a typo, that was you floating the thought that as we enter a new year we populate it with our look ahead plans and fill it with our thoughts, women particularly as they layout their schedule of birthdays, anniversaries, school year considerations, holidays,,,. the year ahead is a very busy place right there in front of us, a “near” so to speak. Any other year is a distant thought but right now we are in the present, the here and now, the near.

      I know that you meant to type “nyear” (as in new year) to create your very first rhicon. And to that I say good on you, go Brian. That was a good one.

    34. Bilb, I was quite advanced in age before I used a typewriter. After my triple bypass in 2000 one of the effects was to have more trouble hitting the letters.

      If you ask me where the letters are I have no idea, but my fingers more or less find the right place. However, they are getting less accurate.

      Also my fingers are slower than my head, so the whole thing is a bit of a mess that I have to straighten out, not always successfully.

      If a word is to be a rhicon others would have to pick it up. With our readership there is little danger of that.

      I enjoyed your thoughts of how the world hangs together. It’s the first explanation I’ve heard of the speed of light, and not a bad crack at gravity, which is problematic in that ‘dark matter’ has had to be invented to explain why galaxies hang together. I’ve always thought ‘dark matter’ was too simplistic and I’m not surprised they can’t find it when it appears to be, according to their definition, unfindable.

    35. Bob Carr says:

        The minister who shared the text with van Onselen and gave permission to use it was Peter Dutton.

      Sounds likely, but Bob Carr should tell us how he knows.

      Malcolm Turnbull told Laura Tingle it was Colonel Mustard, in the library, with an iphone.

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