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Some recent smoking trends in Australia

Some of the best data in Australia on the tobacco industry is expensive to purchase and mainly intended for use by the industry itself. It is obviously of interest for those concerned with reducing cigarette smoking. Cigarettes are, by far, the biggest component of tobacco use in Australia – their retail sales in 2010 were […]

Plain packaging podcast

An excellent, balanced account of the implications of plain packaging by Euromonitor’s Don Hedley The PP legislation a frontal assault on the decades of familiarity consumers have developed with particular brands. An attack on the culture of smoking that will fall heavily on major brands. An interesting point I had not picked up is that […]

The Project, Channel 10

I watch almost no TV these days. I used to watch the ABC but can’t even be bothered doing that. I used to watch some top golf tournaments on Foxtel but (generally) find that I’d prefer to play my own lousy game than to watch others play it really well. I have been inadvertently trapped […]

Latham on denialism

Mark Latham makes an interesting commentary on the origins of the prevailing foolishness of climate denialism:

“In the climate change debate, we are witnessing a puzzling shift in the foundations of public reason – the emergence of what might be thought of as anti-enlightenment. It is no longer sufficient for a large majority of scientists […]

Will plain packaging reduce cigarette smoking?

In this paper I wrote with David Prentice we say yes though it is difficult to say by how much because there have been no previous trials of this policy device. The policy is however essentially a tightening of opportunities to market cigarettes. We therefore use the industrial organisation literature and evidence from two previous […]

Cigarettes & Ratsak

The carcinogen producers and their allies must have felt a cold blast of terror creep up their anterior regions when comparisons were made between their tobacco products and Ratsak. Their legal counsel pointed out that more modest poison warnings on Ratsak are replaced by stronger warnings on fags. It is a chilling and apt analogy […]

iTunes music match

For $35 I have installed iTunes match as a component of iCloud on my home computer. On this computer I have previously installed several hundred classical and popular music CDs – 3,500 ‘songs’ in total in iTunes. ‘Match’ searches through these and locates which are held on the iTunes server that stores around 20 million […]

Economics of the Sicilian mafia

There are a few academic papers on this topic (see here) but my interest is in the sheer inefficiency of gangster-like rule of a country. I have not read any of the scholarly accounts but have gleaned most of my insight from Peter Robb’s meandering Midnight in Sicily – it is one of the most […]

Curious traffic accidents

There are more traffic accident fatalities in the US (both motorist and pedestrian) on April 15 – the final day that US citizens have to complete their tax returns. Frustration? Angst? Increased nervous tension? Should this be added to other deadweight losses to work out the true cost of a tax?

HT Ricardo


Supply-side climate policies

I very much liked this paper by Bard Harstag “Buy Coal” in the latest JPE. It is behind a firewall but you can access the whole thing verbatim here.

A key problem with attempting to achieve an international agreement on climate policy if of course the existence of a set of non-complying countries. If a […]

Evidence on plain packaging

Direct evidence on the effects of plain packaging on cigarette demands is impossible to obtain since the policy measure has never been tried. I am preparing some work on plain packaging and found useful insights either directly (or indirectly by following related web links) from this excellent Guardian article by Ben Goodacre.

As is well […]

Old & new – some Melbourne buildings

In the comments thread to my post on Federation Square a comment by IC pointed me to this excellent post on the old and the horrible new architecture of Melbourne. Worth a view as, more generally, is Danno’s blogsite that it came from.

Climate science at the ANU?

“Reducing GHG emissions will not eliminate the risk of climate change”. Interesting claim by Professor of Environmental Management at the ANU, Jeff Bennett. He has been recently spuiking his book on the “lies” of the Green movement. It is published by the same publisher (Connor Court) that published the nonsense of Ian Plimer and a […]

Federation Square

I agree with Andrew Bolt on at least one thing – Federation Square in Melbourne includes some of the ugliest buildings ever constructed. The architects who designed this rubbish should be restricted from designing anything else and the politicians who approved this nonsense should be turned into decorticated canine preparations. Furthermore, hang the expense and […]

Giving carp the clap

A possible scheme for ridding our waterways of their most destructive invader.

I’ve been reading……

Frank Brady’s fascinating biography of Bobby Fischer, Endgame. Fischer was literally a genius with a chess obsession who saw the world as a chess game. Up until he won the World Championship against Boris Spassky he was idiosyncratic and more than a bit difficult – certainly not at all an idiot savant. He read the […]

University academic sackings

There has been concern recently over the recent Australia-wide propensity to sack university academics who are not doing research. As a substantial part of an academic’s salary covers research activities my view is that if you cannot do research you should not be in the universities. That doesn’t mean I necessarily support the current sackings […]

Weight, diet & exercise

Some of my colleagues now run triathlons and, like them, I wonder why. I am certain that my body wouldn’t take this type of punishment and also unsure whether, from the viewpoint of fitness, such extreme forms of exercise are a good idea for relatively sedentary souls such as myself. My uncertainty increases when I […]