Category Archives: Social Science and Society

‘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

Bowen articulates Labor’s budget plans

In his Budget Reply Address to the National Press Club Peter Hartcher in a piece Bowen seizes chance to make history reckons Labor’s plans amount to a trifecta:

  • First, it has promised a tax cut almost twice as big as the government’s for lower and middle income earners, $928 a year against the government’s $530.
  • Second, Labor has promised to spend more on its “inclusive growth” agenda centred around education, skills training and health care.*
  • Third, it has promised to return the budget to a bigger surplus than the government’s planned $2.2 billion for 2019-20, and to press on to a surplus of at least one per cent of GDP.

Continue reading Bowen articulates Labor’s budget plans

Budget 2018 – a fair and decent society vs small government, ideology and sloganeering

The ABC election team on Budget night suggested that the purpose of the 2018 budget was to generate talking points that the government could use in the forthcoming election campaign. It has been going on for a while. Turnbull ScoMo and all reckon they offer “jobs and growth” whereas Shorten is going to hit you up for $200 billion extra in taxes, and simply can’t be trusted to run anything.

Shorten says Labor is going to “bring the fair go back into the heart of the nation.”

To me the nation is at a cross-roads. One way offers a small-government straight jacket with firmly embedded tax provisions that permanently reward success. The other seeks to provide the necessary infrastructure (human, services and physical) for everyone and the nation to become the best they can be, and to take care of those on the fringe. Continue reading Budget 2018 – a fair and decent society vs small government, ideology and sloganeering

Villers Bretonneaux comes to prominence

I’ve been wondering why on Anzac Day we celebrate a failed attempt tp invade another country. Australians did show great valor and bravery, as they did three years later to the day in 1918 Australians in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux:

    After the Anzac Day counter-attack, British and French commanders lavished praise upon the Australians. Brigadier-General George Grogan, a witness, later wrote that it was “perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war” for troops to attack at night, across unfamiliar ground, at short notice and with no artillery preparation.[32][3]

    These factors had proved essential to the Australian success.[9] Foch spoke of their “astonishing valiance [sic]…” and General Sir Henry Rawlinson attributed the safety of Amiens to the “…determination, tenacity and valour of the Australian Corps”.

Continue reading Villers Bretonneaux comes to prominence

China matters: Turnbull puts Australia’s future in play

When Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, Chinese media outlets gave him the nickname Tang Bao, which sounds like his surname and means sweet dumpling, according to Lisa Murray in the AFR. Yet the dumpling has turned sour as relations with China are assessed as worse than they were since the Tienanmen Square incident

On Saturday 9 December last year Turnbull stood in a leafy garden and let fly:

    Switching between Mandarin and English, Turnbull then said: “Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words: ‘The Chinese people have stood up’. It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride.”

    “And we stand up and so we say, the Australian people stand up.”

Historians may come to mark that day as a turning point, when Australia’s future was put into play, ending later during Bill Shorten’s period as PM with Australia declaring neutrality in relation to both China and the USA. Continue reading China matters: Turnbull puts Australia’s future in play

Saturday salon 1/4

1. Coached to cheat!

No I’m not talking about cricket, I’m talking about rugby league, highlighted by a match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks where 33 penalties were blown, and Cameron Smith, captain of the Storm, Queensland and Australia was binned for 10 minutes for dissent. I didn’t see it, but I understand Smith made very clear that he did not think he should go.

The fact is that teams had been coached to cheat for years. The NRL had reached the point where they either had to enforce the rules or change them. Players were not standing up before they played the ball, then simply rolling it between their legs. The defending players, back the mandatory 10 metres, were taking off before the ball had cleared the ruck.

If everyone played by the rules, the game would look cleaner, tidier, and would be more open. However, players had been coached to ignore the referees, who typically gave a couple of penalties, then put the whistle in their pocket. The public called for consistency. Now they are getting it, some don’t like it. However, if the referees give in now, then we may as well give up on the rules. Continue reading Saturday salon 1/4

The rise and rise of American gun culture

On the 4th of July in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence the thirteen American colonies then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain—New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia— announced that they would now regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states no longer under British rule.

It was a very brave thing to do, because there were very few guns in the colonies and they had no significant gun industry. Yet the American War of Independence (1775-1783) was won and with it the American gun industry was born. ABC RN’s Rear Vision program recently took a look at the origins of the American gun industry (transcript available) with some erudite published authors and scholars. Continue reading The rise and rise of American gun culture

Deep origins: patriarchy

Back in 2013 when I wrote the post Deep origins: language I had intended to follow with an examination of how patriarchy emerged within the societies that adopted the Indo-European language group. It is mind-boggling that so many languages from Iceland to Russia, to India, Iran and Mediterranean Europe speak languages evolved from the same source:

The exceptions in Europe are Basque, Estonian, Finnish and Magyar (Hungarian).

This posts gathers some thoughts towards that end, stimulated by the discussion on the Saturday salon 6/1 thread from about here. Continue reading Deep origins: patriarchy

It’s all John Howard’s fault

When we think of worst prime ministers, the completely useless Bill (Sir William) McMahon comes to mind, followed by the negative, sloganeering bully Tony Abbott. However, if you are looking for a PM who did actual damage to the country’s economic and social fabric it’s hard to go past John Winston Howard.

Mike Seccombe has a brilliant article on the topic in the Saturday Paper, where you are allowed one article a month free, or can take out a sub for about $1.90 per week.

Continue reading It’s all John Howard’s fault