Category Archives: Social Science and Society

Cashing in on refugees at Manus Island

As the crossbench celebrated passing a vote to medivac refugees from offshore detention camps at doctors discretion:

Scott Morrison did not seem to be unduly perturbed:

I am sure he likes having refugees mired at Manus and Nauru, so he can scare Australian voters about the danger of letting Bill Shorten anywhere near The Lodge and the treasury benches. There are some other people who also cash in big time – for example Paladin Group, one of the biggest government contractors in Australia, having won tenders worth $423 million for its 22 months work on Manus. Continue reading Cashing in on refugees at Manus Island

Weekly salon 1/2

1. How does ScoMo intend to face up to parliament?

You will recall that back in December ScoMo closed parliament and scarpered rather than face up to a bill promoted by Kerryn Phelps on setting some rules which would see doctors’ assessments of health matters being taken seriously in relation to medical evacuations from Nauru and Manus Island.

Continue reading Weekly salon 1/2

The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

According to the AFR:

    A Shorten Labor government has been tipped to initiate an overhaul of National Broadband Network policy within months or even weeks of a federal election, opting for a more comprehensive fibre-optic cable network than the Coalition’s controversial “multi-technology mix”. Continue reading The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

Towards civilising capitalism

As I noted back in 2014, Immanuel Wallerstein, the great sociologist of capitalism in the late 20th century, has been writing about the instability of the ‘world system’ (a term he coined) for over 40 years. He believes that the ‘world system’ of capitalism has been in decline since about 1968, so that we are now in a transition phase. The new system will not necessarily be better for ordinary people. In an intriguing piece from May 2014 – “The center isn’t holding very well” – he says:

    As our existing historical system is in the process of dying, there is a fierce struggle over what kind of new historical system will succeed it. Soon, we may indeed no longer live in a capitalist system, but we could come to live in an even worse system – a “rough beast” seeking to be born? To be sure, this is only one possible collective choice. The alternative choice is a relatively democratic, relatively egalitarian system, also seeking to be born. Which one we shall see at the end of the struggle is up to us, bottom-up.

Continue reading Towards civilising capitalism

ABC: chaos at the top with more to follow

Just when the most important thing going on in our fair land was preparation for football finals, our national broadcaster puts on a reality TV spectacular, except it is real. First the ABC’s board sacks the managing director Michelle Guthrie, now the chairman of the board Justin Milne sacks himself. Or more accurately dug his own grave as this David Rowe cartoon suggests:

That was from an article by Philip Coorey, who says the whole board, including the ABC staff representative should go. Continue reading ABC: chaos at the top with more to follow

Australian cartoon puts fuel on Serena fire

Here’s Mark Knight’s Herald Sun cartoon which initiated a social media and general media storm around the globe:

My wife drew my attention to it in an article ‘Racist’ Australian cartoon of Serena Williams prompts global controversy in The New Daily.

Strangely, the cartoon is no longer there, and to save you trouble, none of those links lead to it. Continue reading Australian cartoon puts fuel on Serena fire

Serena meltdown a missed opportunity

Much has been written since the women’s final of the 2018 US Open Tennis Championships saw world number one Serena Williams beaten by a young rising star Naomi Osaka after receiving a code violation warning, then a point penalty and finally a game penalty, which put Osaka in an excellent place to win the second set 6-4 and the match. Elite opinion, especially overseas, has come down heavily in Williams’ favour, blaming the umpire Carlos Ramos for his handling of the incident, which, it is said, was an example of sexism because he would never have treated a male player so harshly, and probably racism to boot.

I’ll tell you my opinion, on the evidence I’ve seen (I didn’t watch the match) and comment on the commentary. My conclusion is that tennis needs to put its house in order, and has missed a golden opportunity to enforce rules so that tennis fans can expect to see excellent tennis being played, rather than players venting. Continue reading Serena meltdown a missed opportunity

Care of strangers

Australian Border Force missed a Vietnamese boat, so now we have Dozens of migrants missing in crocodile-infested Daintree rainforest after boat sinks:

The boat containing irregular migrants that ran aground near the mouth of the Daintree River on Sunday 26 August 2018.

Steve Ciobo, newly minted Minister for Defence Industry, and a Queenslander from the Gold Coast, declared they should be taken to Nauru. Continue reading Care of strangers

‘Populate or perish’ still a strategic imperative

Last week we passed the 25 million population mark. (See the ABS media release and fact sheet.) Apparently early this century we were forecast to add an extra million every seven years. Now we are doing it every two and a half years. Earlier this century we were told we’d hit 25 million in 2051. We got there 33 years early, and are told we’ll be at 40 million by 2048.

Some people are uncomfortable with this, but defence specialist Andrew Carr says that few acts would do more to undermine our long-term national security than cutting the number of migrants we take in. ‘Populate or perish’, he says, is still a strategic imperative. Continue reading ‘Populate or perish’ still a strategic imperative

Arms and the man: what does the Second Amendment really mean?

FILE PHOTO: An exhibit booth for firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson is seen on display at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago, Illinois, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo – RC11E7FED7A0

Many see the individual right to bear arms as a basic American human right secured by The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, from 1791 to 2008 the matter has been debated:

    by attorneys and senators, slave owners and freedmen, judges, Black Panthers, governors and lobbyists. For some, the militia was key; for others the right that shall not be infringed; for yet others, the question of states versus the federal government.

The case of District of Columbia v. Heller in the Supreme Court in 2008 appeared to settle the matter, although the decision was quite narrow and constrained. Now new information has come to light which demands a reconsideration. Continue reading Arms and the man: what does the Second Amendment really mean?

Saturday salon 7/7

1. How realistic is space travel?

As reported in the New Scientist, Frédéric Marin, an astronomer at the University of Strasbourg, France and Camille Beluffi, a physicist who works for Casc4de, a data firm in Strasbourg, have done a thought experiment on the feasibility of reaching the nearest Earth-like planet, which happens to be Proxima b, around 4.25 million light years away, a mere 40 trillion km. Continue reading Saturday salon 7/7

Saturday salon 2/6

1. CSL and Cochlear say ‘show us the money’

Or at least show a bit of interest.

Here they have to chase government, whereas other countries, such as Singapore and Ireland:

    “actively come out and court companies like ours” with a unified package of incentives and benefits, he said. These could include a lower headline tax rate, and other financial concessions or benefits in exchange for specified investment, jobs and revenue outcomes from biotech and technology.

Continue reading Saturday salon 2/6