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Gong gong & gong for ex-VC

Yesterday I went to a ceremony honouring La Trobe University’s former President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Osborne. He was given (i) an honorary doctorate, (ii) had the former Institute for Advanced Studies renamed after him and (iii) was given a large painting.I had mixed feelings at this ceremony. Anyone who works in a job for […]

A prosperous & strengthening Australian economy

The just released OECD Economic Outlook provides a positive assessment of the Australian economy. Interest rates should ease mid-2007 when inflation will fall. With recovery from the drought and given the effects of interest rate increases in stabilising demand growth in GDP, while slumping in 2007, will increase to 3.4% in 2008. Exports will grow […]

Heidelberg Road – An early instance of road pricing in Australia

In trying to dig out some facts on how Melbourne developed its road system I came across Max Lay’s, Melbourne Miles, The Story of Melbourne’s Roads, Australian Scholarly Publishing 2003.This is not my idea of light reading though Dr Lay obviously loves this stuff. My main finds in this book were parochial. I live north-east […]

The truth demolishes illusion

The Cole Inquiry has completely cleared the Federal Government and its civil service (including DFAT) of any role in AWB deceptions. These groups were not corrupt and did not ‘turn a blind eye’ to the illegalities AWB was claimed to be engaged in.A quick search around the blogs that have been severly critical of the […]


We had our street-based annual Xmas Party today. Like many who live in the suburbs these days we don’t see that much of our neighbors. We are often busy motoring kids around, working nights and so on. To use a bit of jargon our urban lives contain rather little ‘unstructured time’.Most people of my generation […]

Labor retains power in Victoria

The State Labor Government was yesterday returned to office in Victoria. The Liberal Nationals will hold about 32 seats in the new parliament while Labor will hold about 55. There are a few seats in doubts but the Liberal-Nationals seem likely to pick up between 3-7 seats with a two-party preferred swing to them of […]

Transport Victoria

It interests me that Melbourne’s urban transport problems have become an election issue in the current Victorian State elections. Like Sydney, Melbourne’s population is expected to grow strongly over the next 20 years and, while the city is expecting much higher levels of car travel, and hence much higher congestion, the public transport system has […]

Nice try Ted

Labor Premier Steve Bracks should be comfortably returned to office this Saturday in the Victorian State Elections although his Opposition challenger, Ted Baillieu, has performed well.On primary votes an ACNeilson poll sees the Labor Party with a narrow lead on primary votes of 41% compared to the Opposition’s 40%. The Greens should gain about 12% […]

Robert Altman RIP

American film director Robert Altman has died. I reviewed his A Prairie Home Companion a few weeks back and have followed Altman’s films for more than 30 years – a more complete review of some of his best films is here. Tributes to the cantankerous old man are here, here and here.

Altman is one […]

Huge copper discovery?

I’ve been inactive in terms of stock-market activity for months – but this story from this morning’s SMH partly humoured, partly annoyed me. It spurred me to post at my lazy stockmarket blog.

Greed & avarice in the blogosphere

I am surprised at surging acceleration of my blog’s ‘popularity’ over the past 8 days – I have advanced to a mere 87,998th on Technorati’s ranking of visitation strength among the world’s 57 million blogs. Traffic to my site has doubled over its sustained levels of the past 6 months. Where’s the Bollinger?Many of the […]

Melbourne’s oedipal revolt

Freedom of speech and assembly are vital in a democracy and must be guaranteed even if they involve some irrationality and infringement of rights of non-participating citizens. But the scenes in Melbourne yesterday, engineered by a tiny group of militant thugs, in assaulting police and journalists and in destroying property, create the basis for non-reflective, […]

Brain food

I have previously posted on the idea that religious need might stem from something hardwired into the human brain. In my view religion is a widely-practiced irrational blind faith that has some beneficial social outcomes (‘trust’ reduces transactions costs in a market economy) and also has outcomes beneficial for the individual (religion has evolutionary advantages […]


It is worthwhile to look at the Australian Bureau of Meterology website for its discussions of the current drought.

The map above shows rainfall for the 10 months to 30 October relative to historical experience. The dark red areas are areas where rainfall over this period is the lowest it has been in the […]

What makes us fat?

The standard answer, consistent with the first law of thermodynamics, is that we intake too many calories as food or we expend insufficient calories because of our sedentary lifestyle. We either eat too much or are slobs. There’s evidence that these factors alone however cannot explain it all – see here. New Scientist sets out […]

RIP Milton Friedman

I have just read on Andrew Leigh’s blog of the death, at age 94, of Milton Friedman.There are tributes here and here. I don’t have much to add – I feel a lot of emotion regarding this remarkable man. Certainly Friedman was one of the great economic liberal thinkers of the twentieth century, Friedman […]

Carcinogens in cars not for kids

I posted just a few days ago on the possibility of banning cigarette smoking in cars where children are present. It happened today in South Australia – a bill was introduced to fine those who smoke in cars with children.Supporters of the bill claim smoking in a car is 20X as dangerous as smoking in […]

A faction-based theory of Labor sleaze

The Australian’s Mike Steketee supports my claim that it is the factional system in the Labor Party that hands out favors to career-length membership of strong factions that leads to the problems the state Labor Governments are having with sleaze.Steketee claims that Milton Orkopoulos who was sacked last week as NSW minister for Aboriginal affairs […]

Balance of power

The High Court’s decision yesterday to reject challenges by the states and unions to the Commonwealth’s workplace relations laws has momentous implications for Australian federalism. The Commonwealth has the legal power to override state industrial legislation.But more than that the ruling gives the Commonwealth the right to regulate almost all aspects of corporations in our […]

Tony Abbott gets stuck into Coke

In view of his past ‘weak-knees’ this broadside from Health Minister Tony Abbott directed at the most sacred institution of Western capitalism has pleasantly shocked me.

It is an extraordinary reversal of his position that childhood obesity issues are a problem for parents not for food and drink manufactures.