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Obsessive fatties grow in number

I haven’t posted for a while on obesity. I have not lost interest in the area, it is just that I think economists and others have frustratingly little to offer in the way of robust analysis of what is going on. It is not clear what is causing increased average body weights, whether weight increase […]

Mr Rudd & Luna power

Mr Rudd’s performance at this weekend’s National Conference has been uninspired. His policies are populism that will damage Australia and do little more than hold out a fillip of hope for a fading trade union movement. Let me pick a few of the issues that have made news headlines.

On renewables and water tanksThis […]

Smokeless tobacco users

I received the following letter from a Dave Fullarton who claims to represent smokeless tobacco users in Australia. As far as I can judge his claims are valid and I am happy to give these claims publicity. In my view it is better if you don’t use tobacco products in any form. But of the […]

Turn on, tune in & suspend your critical faculties

This recent article in Time asks whether Tim Leary was right – psychedelics are good for you?

The study of psychedelics in the ’50s and ’60s eventually devolved into the drug free-for-all of the ’70s. But the new research is careful and promising. Last year two top journals, the Archives of General Psychiatry and […]

The Zimmers

My Generation. Thanks Bernd

Living rationally under the volcano?

I am interested in Arcidiacono et al (2007) which deals with whether forward-looking ‘rational addiction’ models best explain patterns of smoking among late middle-aged men. The suggestion is that one cannot observe whether decisions by young people to smoke or drink are consistent with rationally thinking through the health consequences of smoking or not.


Americans win mid-east popularity contest

The leaders of Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and even Iran, Syria and the terrorist group Al Qaida all want the US to remain engaged in Iraq according to this Guardian report. The reasons for wanting the Americans to stay however often have little, or nothing, to do with US objectives in […]

ANZAC Day 2007

I posted on this special day last year when I went into Melbourne with my son William. We did the same thing today but again, to our joint shame, missed the Dawn Service.

It was close to a perfect autumn day in Melbourne – no wind and a clear sky – a wag on […]

Nikki taught Cho

Nikki Giovanni (more here) was one of Cho Seung-hui’s professors and is supposed to be a great black poet.

Below is one of her poems. It might help us understand her now deceased student.

The True Import of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro (For Peppe, Who Will Ultimately Judge Our Efforts) by Nikki Giovanni […]

Irrigation effects on ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin provides about 40% of Australia’s agricultural output by value. As I posted yesterday irrigators in the MDB face immediate difficulties because water allocations might be set at zero over the current year unless dramatic rains occur over the next 8 weeks.

I now comment on issues of water management in the […]

Gun control: murder & suicide rates

Christine Neil and Andrew Leigh have released a fascinating paper on the effects of the Federal Government’s gun buyback on murder and suicide rates in Australia. Generally the authors are careful to not read too much into their statistical findings but overall conclude that the buyback has reduced the number of murders from between 2–36 […]

A stupid endorsement of harm-minimization

Dr Alex Wodak made a statement to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services, as part of its inquiry into ‘The impact of illicit drug use on families’. Wodak is Australia’s leading protagonist for increasing the role of harm minimization in illicit drug management policy. In my view he is being […]

Ice plan

The Federal Government has announced a $150 million plan to tackle the ice/amphetamine problem. About $60 million will be spent strengthening law inforcement abilities to tackle the supply-side and $80 million to treat the 73,000 nitwits who habitually take these destructive drugs.

Australian use of amphetamines is large relative to other countries but has been […]

Exxon-Mobil: economic insights from big oil

An article on the firm greenies love-to-hate, Exxon-Mobil, that is in the latest Fortune particularly interested me. In terms of share-market capitalization and profits this is the largest Fortune 500 firm and one of the world’s biggest – profits in 2006 were the largest in US history at $39-5 billion*. Exxon’s business is mainly oil […]

Irrigators must experience tough love

This is stunning news. Irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin may be denied water allocations for the first time throwing into doubt up to $10 billion worth of agricultural production. This will push up food prices and reduce Australia’s GDP growth below 3%. According to PM Howard only town and urban water supplies in the MBD […]

Long-term trends in commodity prices

This article in the Reserve Bank Bulletin looks at recent trends in commodity prices in a longer-term perspective – in the main from about 1906.

Commodity prices have declined over the last century by about one half compared to a decline in the price of manufactured goods of about one-quarter. Overall commodity prices trended […]

Gondwana Link

One of my favourite places to visit in Australia is the southwest corner of the country. It has a fantastic variety of rare and interesting avifauna and some of the best natural wildflower displays I have seen. The area around Albany and particularly Two Peoples Bay interest me but the whole south west is a […]

University of Melbourne model

I posted on the Melbourne Model being pursued by the University of Melbourne last year. The idea is to have undergraduate generalist degrees followed by full fee postgraduate degrees along the lines of the US liberal arts model. Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis already seems to be getting nervous about the implications of the plan for […]

Of Substance

One of the better publications I receive on licit and illicit drug consumption in Australia is Of Substance.

This is published by the Australian National Council on Drugs and is available in printed version or online free of charge (at coutesy of the Department of Health and Aging. The April 2007 issue has […]

Soak the rent-seeking gambling firms

The decision of the Victorian Government to levy an extra $1300 charge on poker machines to help fund health care is an interesting one. It takes the levy per machine to $4333 which, Tattersall’s chief executive Dick McIlwain laments, could ‘prevent further investment in the industry’ (AFR today, subscription only).

The extra-normal profits the […]