Category Archives: Sundries

Posts on sundry matters of life the universe and everything: Culture, Environment, Life, Politics & Government, Science, Social Science and Society, Technology etc.

Weekly salon 4/5

1. Thailand is ‘least miserable’ country in the world again

Thailand is happy about being the least miserable country in the world in the in the Bloomberg Misery Index, which is an economic indicator devised by Arthur Okun, and is derived by simply adding the forecasts of unemployment and inflation for the following year.

However, Thailand’s performance in the index is due to the Thai government’s unique way of tallying unemployment. More noteworthy are the performances of Switzerland, Japan and Singapore. For what it’s worth, here are the 10 least miserable: Continue reading Weekly salon 4/5

Election 2019 follies 2: Who won the first TV debate?

I can tell you who won the studio audience’s vote – Bill Shorten by a country mile. 48 undecided voters were selected by YouGov Galaxy who run Newspoll for The Australian. The West Australian reports:

    After the debate, 25 emerged giving their vote to Bill Shorten, with 12 giving theirs to Scott Morrison.

    11 of the audience members said they could not decide.

Continue reading Election 2019 follies 2: Who won the first TV debate?

Weekly salon 28/4

1. Any clown can lead a country!

What with our ScoMo and Donald Trump as POTUS, you might think that any clown can run a country. Now in Ukraine we have – Comedy is a tool, a trick – Ukraine will soon see that running a country is no joke. Jack Bernhardt, a comedy writer and occasional performer, takes a look at the news that:

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian with no political experience other than playing the role of president in a TV series, has won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, with near-complete counting showing he has won over 70% of the vote.

Continue reading Weekly salon 28/4

Is religion good or bad for us?

Over Easter, apart from wondering Where is heaven? I read an article in the New Scientist Is religion good or bad for humanity? Epic analysis delivers an answer

    A scientific review of 10,000 years of history is finally revealing the unexpected truth behind religion’s role in human civilisation

The author is Harvey Whitehouse, who is chair of social anthropology and director of the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion at the University of Oxford. Back in 2015 I took a look at Karen Armstrong, ‘the myth of religious violence’ and the secular state. Whitehouse claims his investigation is ‘scientific’. It is certainly impressive. Continue reading Is religion good or bad for us?

Where is heaven?

When I was really young there were no Easter bunnies around our place. The idea was introduced by the teacher of the small Lutheran Day School at Downfall Creak, near Guluguba, north of Miles, west of Toowoomba, when I was about seven or eight. We did have hens eggs coloured with dye, but no chocolate at all, let alone as eggs.

However, that’s not what Easter is about. It’s about the risen Christ, right? He conquered death and rose to heaven in a cloud, to sit at the right hand of God the Almighty, with a promise to return some day. So I was interested in an article What and where is heaven? The answers are at the heart of the Easter story. Continue reading Where is heaven?

Election 2019: follies 1

The Grattan Institute found that providing tax cuts in the never-never while reducing government expenditure from 24.9% of GDP in 2018-19 to 23.6% during the next decade will necessitate cutting existing programs by more than A$40 billion a year in 2029-30. That should have been the story of the week, but somehow it wasn’t.

That’s Scott Morrison saying the claim is “absolute complete rubbish”. I’ll come back to that. Worse was to come. By the end of the week Bill Shorten was accusing the Liberal Party of running a “low-rent, American-style fake news” campaign on a “ridiculous death tax scare”. Continue reading Election 2019: follies 1

Weekly salon 14/4: election edition

1. Tax scare campaign

In its first major scare campaign of the 2019 election the Coalition is claiming that Labor will impose ‘$387 bn of new taxes on your income, your house, your savings’ over the next 10 years.

This is really quite simple. Continue reading Weekly salon 14/4: election edition

Final chapter on Adani?

Probably not. There is more than one issue to be finalised before Adani can press ‘go’, and all the time the social licence to mine coal is fading.

Adani’s Carmichael coal mine site in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin, pictured in December last year.

Just before the Federal election was called, on 8 April 2019, environment minister Melissa Price signed off on groundwater approvals under clear and public political pressure from her Queensland colleagues. But the report from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia gave the Adani plans anything but a clean sheet:

One election coming up

Laura Tingle virtually announced on the 7.30 Report that Scott Morrison would be heading to Yarralumla tomorrow to kick off the election campaign. All the signs around Parliament House were pointing in that direction.

It’s almost bound to be 18 May. In any case it will be called by the end of the coming weekend, so I thought I’d do a short post so that we can compare notes here. Continue reading One election coming up

Weekly salon 7/4

1. ‘Kill Bill’ is alive and well

    “Labor has become a party of lies, negativity and grievance. They have nothing to offer but a long, dreary whinge, interrupted by falsehoods”; and for good measure: “Bill Shorten is a liar. He cannot tell the truth. There is no point being mealy-mouthed about this. He is a liar*.”

That was actually Malcolm Turnbull last July, but if you Google you get similar stuff going back to at least 2012. The asterisk was to a note saying the Turnbull had joined with Mark Latham, who had once said: Continue reading Weekly salon 7/4

The original Brexit

The first Brexit happened a very long time ago. According to Richard Webb in Brexit, 10,000 BC: The untold story of how Britain first left Europe (New Scientist), the white cliffs of Dover did not exist 450,000 years ago, just rolling hills. However, as usual, there was an ice age, and a glacial lake was formed in what is now the North Sea:

Continue reading The original Brexit