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Insanity plea for Hamlet?

Was Hamlet mad or did he contrive madness?

A Washington jury have recently sought to determine whether Hamlet was sane or not and whether, accordingly, he should be held criminally responsible for the fatal stabbing of Polonius. The trial took place on March 15 in a sold-out, 1,100-seat theater at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center […]

Endurance test for Godwits

It has just been discovered that common migratory wading birds, Bar–tailed Godwits, make a 10,000 klm. non-stop journey from New Zealand to the Yellow Sea, refuel for a month and then head off to Alaska. This is an interesting site with a link to a site enabling tracking of flight paths.

The Godwits […]


I have been working for the last couple of weeks on smoking. If you want to get a good feel about the dimensions of the global smoking epidemic I recommend this site.

If you wish to become very well informed about harm reduction approaches to dealing with the smoking catastrophe I recommend this site. It […]

Is anyone entitled to their own opinion?

I enjoyed this piece in The Australian Higher Education this week – ‘Opinion trounces fact’ by Gary Olsen. We have become so obsessed in our education system with eliciting opinions (‘what do you think?’) that we neglect understanding:

Not long ago, a scholar of postmodern thought delivered an honours seminar on the French philosopher Michel […]

David Hicks guilty

David Hicks has pleaded guilty to providing ‘material support for al-Qaeda terrorism’. I felt a moment’s sorrow for this deluded nitwit who hates Jews and who sees misogynist, hateful Taliban thugs, with nappies around their heads, as the future of civilization. It is the same type of sorrow I feel for a drunken teenager who […]

The sick rose

Oh Rose, thou art sick!

Oh Rose, thou art sick!The invisible worm,That flies in the night,In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bedOf crimson joy,And his dark secret loveDoes thy life destroy.

William Blake This poem comes from William Blake’s Songs of Experience. I have always enjoyed it but not because of any […]

Land degradation in 400BC

The Importance of Forest Preservation

‘Contemporary Attica may accurately be described as a mere relic of the original country, as I shall proceed to explain.

In configuration Attica consists entirely of a long peninsula protruding from the mass of the continent into the sea and the surrounding marine basin is known to shelve steeply […]

Unions want to turn back the clock

The Business Council’s Michael Chaney has a short piece in this morning’s AFR (subscription required but see the BCA press release here) on WorkChoices which came into operation a year ago on 26th March 2006.

That was the day mass sackings were due to commence with pay and conditions destroyed throughout the workforce. But […]

Harm minimization & effective drug policies

Harm minimization (HM) drug policies focus on reducing the harmful consequences of drug use rather than attempting to directly limit use itself.

To the extent that drug users factor in expected harms when they make decisions to use illicit drugs one can reasonably suppose that reducing harms will, in itself, increase use. Thus a larger […]

Chop chop

A tax on tobacco will encourage the use of illegal, untaxed sources of tobacco or chop chop*. Smoking chop chop means that the Commonwealth Government loses out on revenue (in 2003 the estimated loss was $500 million) but, more importantly, that the tax on legal tobacco to avoid health problems will indirectly create new health […]

Rudd on broadband

I am too lazy to post something original myself today. I’ll settle on this gem from Peter Martin on how Kevin Rudd will do the bidding of Murdoch and Packer in raiding the Future Fund to pay for an expansion of the broadband network that will reward the commercial interests of these major media players. […]

Milton Friedman on legalising dope

Commentator Shawn pointed me toward this marvellous interview with Milton Friedman in America’s Drug Forum. Friedman’s argument for the legalisation of all drugs is not an argument I agree with but the source of disagreement is empirical not ideological.

Friedman acknowledges that the single adverse effect of legalisation may be to increase demand. I […]

Benefits of a solid religious upbringing

Children of Palestinian Suicide Bomber Rim Al-Riyashi on Hamas TV: Mama Killed Five Jews and She Is in Paradise.

Film clip here.

Rebutting errors in the Great Global Warming Swindle

Good articles in the latest New Scientist sort out fallacies in The Great Global Warming Swindle. See here and here.

The main errors:1. Volcanoes do not as TGGWS suggest emit more CO2 than human activities combined. If they did, the curve showing the rise in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 would show irregular jumps, representing […]

Second life

I was fascinated by the last edition of Four Corners, You Only Live Twice.

It is about living in virtual online worlds where you enjoy making money, adventure and sex. Participants in this world are other real players and the game interacts with the real world – game money can be converted into US […]

Benefits of cigarette smoking

As the biggest preventable cause of death in developed countries today (lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, emphysema) smoking nevertheless, has numerous benefits for smokers. I thought I’d articulate them.

Smoking provides pleasure in terms of euphoria and, of course, reduced withdrawal symptoms from those addicted to nicotine.

Smoking produces decreased tension and an anxiolytic effect […]

Sugar dummies provide advice to sugar daddies & sugar mummies

A Deakin study has found that kids who drink fruit juices are twice as likely as kids overall to get fat. Has that got something to do with the fact that fruit juices contain nearly as much sugar as soft drinks? Is is just that loving parents, teachers and government bureaucrats ‘encourage’ kids to drink […]

No future for Australian car assembly?

Peter Martin has a good article on troubles in the Australian car industry. I’ll comment on a few points.

Australians have traditionally had a liking for large medium cars. This was the market segment where our manufacturers had a comparative advantage. We then imported small cars and exported, with for a time growing success, […]

Keep cannabis illegal

Those who enthusiastically urge the decriminalisation of possessing and growing cannabis – in Australia primarily the Green Party – are engaging in an unethical advocacy. It is just far too risky.

The Independent argues that, in the UK, modern forms of cannabis are unambiguously linked to psychosis and to addiction. The evidence in Australia for […]

Maliki better than Saddam

It isn’t surprising that Iraqis prefer their present government of Iraq to that of Saddam.

‘Despite sectarian slaughter, ethnic cleansing and suicide bombs, an opinion poll conducted on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq has found striking resilience and optimism among the inhabitants.

The poll, the biggest since […]