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I never liked the Victorian road safety campaign that referred to those who drink-and-drive as “bloody idiots” and I intensely dislike the current description of errant drivers as “dickheads”. It is offensive for a group of paid civil servants and politicians to endorse use of this sort of language in any campaign. The expression “dickhead” […]


I have been listening to Leo Kottke for decades – the first time in Chicago around 1983 – he has been performing for 40 years. He is an astonishing guitarist and has a warped personality that really appeals – “When Shrimps Learn to Whistle” (no I can’t steal a copy) is a favourite as is […]

Hu gets 10 years jail

Ex Rio Tinto employee Stern Hu cops 10 years in jail from a Shanghai Court. I am disappointed – not yet because of the verdict – but at present because of the way the way the trial was implemented. The bribery charges have not been fully articulated and the ‘stealing secrets’ charges have not been […]


Another nice paper from PEW.

Abstract: Over the last decade, a growing body of evidence indicates that soot and smoke from incomplete combustion are major contributors to climate change. Black carbon (BC), a soot component, is a potent climate driver that absorbs sunlight in the atmosphere, changes rainfall patterns, and when deposited on snow and […]

Who is winning the clean energy race?

It is China not the US – a fascinating report from PEW on the dawn of a new industry.

Globally the renewable energy sector is experiencing explosive growth – investment growth of 230% from 2005-2009. In 2009 global investment was $162 billion in clean energy. It is forecast to be $200 billion in 2010. Much […]

A fiscal train wreck

Gregory Mankiw ponders whether the US economy will default on its national debt, inflate to decrease the real value of its debt or (most responsibly) raise taxes massively to what he calls European levels. He favours the latter view. Grim reading. A default seems improbable but the second solution – to devalue the debt by […]

Why Indian students abroad suffer discrimination

It was the first day of a school in the USA and a new Indian student named Chandrasekhar Subramanian entered the fourth grade.


China & India & cooperation to sustain the global environment

India and China the world’s emerging economic giants will determine the world’s environmental future – there is also the threat of resource-driven conflicts between the two. This Science Magazine report sets out the issues. The report has to be purchased – I’ll summarise the main issues.


Attacking China

Paul Krugman suggests that the US should impose a 25 per cent surcharge on imports from China to protect American exports from an undervalued renminbi. The effect of the alleged undervaluation of the Chinese exports is to provide US consumers with a bonus – to subsidize their consumption. Maintaining a stable RMB also preserves for […]

China a great power

A fascinating and entertaining overview of Chinese history and where things will go from here – this is a podcast by Ross Garnaut. He is good at painting the broad picture.

Ross Garnaut only talked a little about climate change issues in China. This article suggests an approach to the issue close to my own […]

Fry on Catholicism

Stephen Fry on Catholicism. Yes, you would bring that up!


Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his address to the Australian Parliament said of the relations between Indonesia and Australia:

‘The most persistent problem in our relations is the persistence of age-old stereotypes, misleading simplistic mental caricatures which depict the other side in a bad light.’


China thoughts

Spring has arrived in Beijing though the lakes are covered with a thin layer of grey ice and it is cold (2-4oC) with icy winds when you wander anywhere that has some open space. Pollution-smudged snow drifts are everywhere. Black-tailed magpies (so-called ‘happy birds’) are raucously setting up to breed in massive nests in the […]

Positive & Welfare Effects of Carbon Taxes: Some Basic Economics*

I prepared these notes for a conference at Peking University, Beijing that I will be attending this coming Saturday. It is late in the day but comments are very welcome.

1. Introduction. Carbon taxes and, more generally, taxes on greenhouse gas emissions, are a widely advocated means of reducing such emissions to address anthropogenic climate […]

Australia’s international trade – numbers that shock & awe

What’s happened to Australia’s international trade over the past 5 years? Most people know that Australia’s trade has grown strongly but I wonder how many understand the dramatic nature of the transformation that has occurred so very recently and despite the global financial crisis. Colleague RW collated figures for the year ended 2005 and for […]


I found this curious and not because the ABC aired what is a taboo subject – this was the focus of subsequent press critiques. Is labioplasty a media-inspired (airbrush) aberration? Or is it analogous to having your hair coloured or wrinkles botoxed. Is curiousity about labioplasty a reflection of underlying sexual puritanisms or of male […]

Religious promotion of irrationalism

I guess that if you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, was raised from the dead – and could both walk on the water and raise the dead – that it is not completely incomprehensible that you might not believe the science of climate change or the Darwinian theory of evolution. The more […]


One of the world’s rubbish wines that I have always enjoyed is gamay Beaujolais. I drank a gorgeous, spicy entry-level Paul et Eric Janin Moulin a Vent 05 at Source Dining in Albury a couple of weeks back – I have already indicated that this restaurant offers some of the best food in NSW – […]