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I have been incredibly busy – writing up a new course (on “Economics and Ethics”), trying to learn how to use my new digital SLR camera (Canon 7D) and, as usual, in pursuing the hopeless task of trying to reduce my golf handicap. Many commitments with postgrads are suffering (mea culpa) and I need to […]

Measles back but democracy works

We are all experts on everything and any person’s view on any topic is just as valid as that of any other person. We live in an intellectual democracy. The crazies at Quadrant and Catallaxy and other blogs know more about climate change than the thousands of scientists who have spent a lifetime studying it. […]

Immigration policy idiocy

Alana Lentin in The Guardian has the solution to Australia’s asylum seeker difficulties – an open borders policy. This policy avoids all border protection costs by abolishing border protection – anyone who wishes to reside in Australia could do so.

In the previous post I cited a link to Amnesty that summarises current information on […]

Rudd & the illegal arrivers

Wow hasn’t Rudd changed his stated views since he attacked John Howard’s approach to successfully dealing with illegal entry to Australia. What a total disaster Labor’s policies have been. Even given Rudd’s well-known electoral awareness (the full page ads in today’s newspapers warning that illegal arrivals will not gain Australian residency are directed entirely at […]

Cultural vandals in Botanic Gardens

What they have done to the ancient trees in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens by ring-barking them is horrible. What is says about the mentality of certain sections of the human race is much worse. The cretins who did this were born by mistake. The world would be a better place if they had never existed. Moreover, […]

Mortality costs of Chinese air pollution

I discussed my experiences with air pollution in some southern Chinese cities. It is far worse in the northern China which is home to some of the world’s most polluted cities. This paper by Yuyu Chen, Avraham Ebenstein, Michael Greenstone and Li Hongbin on China’s Huai River Policy has astounding implications. The while paper can […]

Big deal: Rudd repeals carbon tax one year early

Given that Kevin Rudd faces a tight electoral battle I suppose introducing an ETS a year early seemed like a good idea to him. The opinion polls are ambiguous – most Australians favour the tax – hardly surprising given its minuscule influence on living costs and industry profitability despite the frantic bleating of The Australian’s […]

Turnbull should challenge Abbott

I am disappointed by the comments of Malcolm Turnbull suggesting that he would not challenge Tony Abbott for the Liberal Party leadership prior to the forthcoming election. The Labor Party is a train wreck being led by a verbose simpleton who really should retire. The Labor Party should be replaced as the government if he […]

Genes & neurology – virtue & criminality

The “ought implies can” principle of ethics suggests that it is only if people are morally autonomous that they should be required to act ethically. So what if neurology or genes program people to behave in a way that society condemns? Is a pedophile an evil monster or simply a human with predetermined, unusual tastes? […]

Growing Gymea lilies from seed in Melbourne

Gymea lilies – among the most spectacular native flowering plants in Australia – do grow well in Melbourne – successful plantings are on my golf course. While wandering around (‘playing’) the course in autumn I noticed a green-keeper collecting used flower stems with their seed pods from the Gymeas. I asked for some – he […]

Plain packaging effective

Plain packaging of cigarettes (or better, aversive packaging since the “plainness” is dominated by a scary graphic health warning) is effective. Those who smoke claim the cigarettes “taste worse” with such packaging. So branding does affect the desirability of smoking and not only brand choice.

Interesting that the link delivering this message is in the […]

Lucia Popp does Mahler

I generally abandoned listening to Gustav Mahler at about the time Paul Keating took it up. Mahler was a neurotic (and an unpleasant person) whose neuroticism spills over into his music just as it does with profound, obscurantist French novelists that I read as an existentially-lost teen. What’s it all about Gustav…? But I do […]

Egyptian happenings

This miserable piece of Mid-Eastern real estate is quite large in area (1 million sq. kms,) but mostly Western Desert. Almost all its 83 million inhabitants live in a ultra-densely (3,820 persons per square km) populated strip along the Nile. As befits a poverty-stricken country with a lengthy past and no obvious future it is […]

Some thoughts on Chinese environmental issues

I am back in Australia after a month in China in Changsha, Hunan Province. It was a most enjoyable and instructive stay. People have asked me about my visit and what I learnt and I think there are two core messages that I would like to (tentatively) convey.

Environment. The first and most obvious problems […]