1. Race is not a thing
Race is a social construct, largely based on culture and language. In biological and genetic terms it simply does not exist. Looking at the genes, scientists simply cannot form racial categories. Angela Saini, of Indian heritage and living in England, has been investigating the issue in her recently published book Superior: The return of race science. See her New Scientist article and in The Guardian Why race science is on the rise again.
In the 19th century there was a common assumption that a hierarchy existed with the European male at the pinnacle. Yet modern science shows that:
There is no gene that exists in all the members of one racial group and not another. We are all a product of ancient and recent migration.
Continue reading Weekly salon 9/6
1. A beautiful big black hole
The New Daily has the short story – Scientists share first ever image of black hole, a more complicated explanation at Astronomy, and a really informative one at the BBC. Continue reading Weekly salon 16/4: general edition
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:
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
We are all going to be thinking more about China for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse. Apart from trade we were most recently startled by the notion that China may be about to build a military base in Vanuatu. Fairfax announced that China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications. A day later we had Chinese military base in Pacific would be of ‘great concern’, Turnbull tells Vanuatu. Followed rapidly by denials by China and Vanuatu, both of which were a bit cranky over the suggestion.
However, China is building a cruise ship terminal near a new international airport it is funding, together with a new official residence for Prime Minister Charlot Salwai as well as other government buildings. Then there was a 1000-seat convention centre, a major sports stadium, and a $14 million school that will be reportedly the biggest education facility in the South Pacific. Early last year, Beijing donated 14 military vehicles to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is becoming vulnerable to the “debt-trap strategy” that has left a number of countries swimming in debt Continue reading China matters: Vanuatu
1. China has arrived
The biggest story of the week was probably the Chinese Communist party congress. Leader Xi Jinping is looking to stay for at least another 10 years and putting his “socialist thought” into the party constitution, places him alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the pantheon of revolutionary leaders. But Richard McGregor says the real star is the party itself, and the West should wake up: Continue reading Saturday salon 28/10
That was the headline on the front page of the AFR on Friday.
Households are facing increases of up to 20 per cent, but businesses on five-year contracts signed in 2012 are facing hikes of as much as 83%. Continue reading Climate clippings 209
Donald Trump in announcing that the USA will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement made a big fuss about the Chinese being able to increase their emissions, and that this was unfair to the US economy.
So what are the Chinese doing, and is it enough? Continue reading Are the Chinese doing their share on climate change?
Missouri lawyer Joshua Neally was driving his Tesla Model X home from his office when he suffered piercing pain in his stomach and chest. Rather than call an ambulance he set his Tesla Model X in self-driving mode and headed for a hospital 20 miles (32km) down the road. He was able to park it and check himself in.
He suffered a pulmonary, a potentially fatal obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs. Very probably, the car saved his life. Continue reading Climate clippings 180
Using a new model, researchers from the University of Queensland and Griffith University, predict the global average temperature could rise by 1.5°C as early as 2020. The model is based on forecasts of population and economic growth combined with rising per capita energy consumption. Continue reading Climate clippings 166
China exponentially increased its use of coal in the early part of this century, so that 64% of its energy comes from coal. Now studies suggest that coal use in China declined in 2014 and may have peaked in 2013. No new mines will be approved in the next three years. Continue reading Climate clippings 162
1. Greg Hunt the worst environment minister ever
I’ve just discovered this one from August, where Ben Eltham unloads on Greg Hunt, calling him our first minister for pollution:
There are no kind words that can be said about Greg Hunt. When it comes to protecting the environment he is useless, and actually seems to revel in eviscerating the portfolio he is responsible for. Continue reading Climate clippings 159
About 20 million children are born each year in China, and all but a quarter are bottle fed. Several brands of formula in Australia and New Zealand are disappearing from the shelves and being shipped to China, where they are selling for up to $100 per tin, five times the price in Australia. Continue reading The strange case of baby formula and the Chinese