Home > Life in General > It’s Xmas!

It’s Xmas!

December 24th, 2009

However you celebrate, or even if you don’t, I wish all my readers a Merry Xmas. I’ll be back in the New Year, and wish everyone a great 2010.

Categories: Life in General Tags:
  1. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    December 24th, 2009 at 07:31 | #1

    Merry Xmas John.

  2. Jim Birch
    December 24th, 2009 at 10:37 | #2

    Thanks for another interesting and edifying year. Enjoy your break.

  3. December 24th, 2009 at 11:00 | #3

    Merry Christmas to everybody and sorry to anybody that I have offended during the year, but remember words mean very little in the real world, it is actions that count.

  4. Alice
    December 24th, 2009 at 11:44 | #4

    Have a fantastic relaxing Xmas JQ and stay out of trouble. If you’d like me to take care of any (trouble, that is) while you are away….at your service! Though there is a slightly elevated risk I might create more than I take care of.

    Terje – next year. To be continued.

    Tony G – even troublemakers get to have Xmas. I have to also say that comment at 3 is humdinger coming from you!!.

  5. SJ
    December 24th, 2009 at 12:05 | #5

    Merry Christmas to all.

  6. Jill Rush
    December 24th, 2009 at 13:03 | #6

    Seasons Greetings to all. Thanks for your good work this year Prof Q.

    Tony G – never underestimate the power of words. Just think, we associate Christmas with snow and sleigh bells and yet the sleigh rides evoke images from another time. Enjoy the festivities just the same.

  7. Fran Barlow
    December 24th, 2009 at 13:25 | #7

    I saw the James Cameron movie Avatar last night. Can I just say that it was the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. If you are keen on the rights of indigenous peoples, biodiversity and the preservation of rainforests or sympathetic to Buddhism you’d be best advised to bring something to stifle the sniffles. I won’t spoil it too much for others by saying too much about the movie itself but this is a classic feelgood movie.

    The usages were familar. Dances with Wolves, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Star Wars and maybe Pocahontas all rolled into one with simply stunning cinematography. There can’t be too many people who wouldn’t find this movie very engaging.

    That said, one of the most perverse reactions was from Andrew Blot who in his now familar rants claimed that it was green propaganda while asserting that it would finally mark the end of environmentalism.

    MOST people will date the death of the great global warming scare not from the Copenhagen fiasco – boring! – but from Avatar.

    It won’t be the world’s most expensive warmist conference but the world’s most expensive movie that will stick in most memories as the precise point at which the green faith started to shrivel from sheer stupidity.

    Avatar, in fact, is the warmist dream filmed in 3D. Staring through your glasses at James Cameron’s spectacular $400 million creation, you can finally see where this global warming cult was going.

    And you can see, too, everything that will now slowly pull it back to earth.

    December 2009. Note it down. The beginning of the end, even as Avatar becomes possibly the biggest-grossing film in history.

    For me, this convinces me that whatever Blot once was, he is now completely unhinged — a psychopath. No properly socialised person who saw the film could use it as a springboard for embracing the filth merchant cause, and Blot is, after all, writing this because he fears just the opposite. His blog groupies weren’t slow to express this tension. For Blot now though, it’s like someone with reflexive OCD. When he sees red where others see green and he can’t not vent about it. Those indigenes on Pandora were metaphorically sticking him and his groupies through the heart with every arrow and spear they drove into the invading terrestrial hordes. With this latest piece, Blot at least has dropped the fiction that opposition to mitigation is not part of a broader disgust for things environmental.

    It did occur to me though that in theory at least, a true conservative might well object to Blot’s piece along the following lines:

    What’s more conservative than wanting to protect your land against alien invaders, who want to rob you and trash your traditional culture and murder you? Wouldn’t any true conservative side with the little people who just want to be left alone against greedy robber barons? Isn’t respect for the dead and for the wisdom of the ages to be preferred to the mad grasp for power and self-gratification? What did the original sin in the Garden of Eden entail?

    Perhaps it’s time for some of us to do a little concern trolling over in the Blotosphere. This he is going to find damn annoying.

  8. nanks
    December 24th, 2009 at 14:59 | #8

    and Merry xmas from me as well – my son loved Avatar(in 3D) as did all my daughter’s friends. I shall see it too and no doubt shed a few tears, as I always do, much to my children’s amusement. :)

  9. Tim Macknay
    December 24th, 2009 at 15:08 | #9

    Merry Xmas Prof Q, and all you interesting folks.

  10. Donald Oats
    December 24th, 2009 at 15:29 | #10

    @Fran Barlow
    All these extreme, religious, computer generated, power hungry one government greenies making movies and having conferences and wot-not guarantee that Andrew “Nut’n'” Bolt (nut and bolt, geddit? and nut’n’ is abbr “nothing”, empty, a void, ahh, I’ve pushed the analogy too far) will have a spectacular Xmas and New Year – just look at all that stuff to rail against! He’ll go so apoplectic that he’ll be happy for months :-D Might even burst a few blood vessels…

    For everyone else (except the person who kept leaving dirty plates and stuff in the staff’s communal kitchen sink back in 2002–2005 – you know who you are) Merry Xmas and Happy New Year, Good Health, Live long and prosper!

  11. Ernestine Gross
    December 24th, 2009 at 17:02 | #11

    JQ, many thanks for the stimulating and varied posts throughout 2009. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, your family and everyone else who has the good taste of visiting this blogsite.

  12. Bobimagee
    December 24th, 2009 at 19:00 | #12

    Merry Xmas Prof Q .. The people’s Professor. Thank you for the energy and commitment to providing your thoughts and findings to ius who are interested but time poor .. God where do you get the the energy? Please don’t stop!

  13. Bobimagee
    December 24th, 2009 at 19:01 | #13

    Merry Xmas Prof Q .. The People’s Professor. Thank you for the energy and commitment in providing your thoughts and findings to us who are interested but time poor .. God where do you get the the energy? Please don’t stop!

  14. Salient Green
    December 24th, 2009 at 19:34 | #14

    Thanks so much John Quiggin for your efforts this last year. This site is a personal development site as much as it is economics, politics, environmental and social.

    I especially want to pay tribute to the right wing posters who have stayed on and challenged the rest of us. Looking back, I wish I had been a bit more respectful of some of you and your different views as they are a valuable source of conflict and one should “never waste a good conflict” to improve ones understanding of others.

    Merry Christmas to everyone and especially those who love the Natural World and want to preserve it and restore it as it needs to be preserved and restored.

  15. Alice
    December 24th, 2009 at 19:49 | #15

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran – after that wonderful description of Avatar its on the must see list for my family and I in this Xmas break.

  16. Alice
    December 24th, 2009 at 19:57 | #16

    @Salient Green
    Ill second that Salient on the right wing posters and maybe I could have been a bit more respectful too…I almost said a “bot” instead of a “bit”. Now that would have been a classic freudian slip.

    On reflection I doubt it though…however I do hope they are still here next year (that means you Andy and Jarrah)…I like the parry and lets face it..how many of us get this sort of stimulating conversation over Xmas lunch unless your family happens to be in the business of politics?

    Also, how tedious would it be if we all agreed?

  17. 2 tanners
    December 24th, 2009 at 20:19 | #17

    Merry Xmas John and to all who make this an interesting place. That includes people with whom I agree and disagree, and excludes trolls, sock puppets and netlowlife. Like many, I suspect, I lurk more than comment but this is one of the better communities and I think JQ’s reasoned approach to things carries a lot of the responsibility for this, as well as his comments policy.

    I wish JQ, his family, and all who come here a truly great New Year and hope for a better climate outcome than I expect.

    About the only good thing I expect to really come is a climate that I like – around 30 degrees or more all year round.

  18. Salient Green
    December 24th, 2009 at 20:32 | #18

    Alice, I especially admire the way you put yourself out there, throw yourself into the debate, take risks and stimulate others. Mostly you are saying what I would like to but better and quicker. May the Universe embrace and reward you for the good person you are.

    Donald, you know what I am going through at the moment with the apricot harvest. We live pretty close and i would like for us to get together some time. Have a good one mate.

  19. Alice
    December 24th, 2009 at 20:35 | #19

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran – a blot on Blot! Im up for some concern trolling at blotosphere and if that fails we try hit, ridicule and run trolling. I could think of some good troll tactics (Ive learnt everything I know about what not to do, from trolls in here)…how about troll group therapy at Blotosphere? Ill see you there after Xmas.

  20. 2 tanners
    December 24th, 2009 at 20:56 | #20

    Although for a humorous take on observing Christmas see here

  21. 2 tanners
    December 24th, 2009 at 21:26 | #21

    Some messages to the distinguished individuals here:

    SATP: I’d like to know where the pub actually is. I suspect we could have a good chat in between you serving drinks.

    Alice: You discomfort me, because you remind me of me, a while ago. Have I just grown old, or are you too strong? Can’t say, can’t call and so the discomfort. Which is good for me.

    Michael of Summer Hill: There is more than one side. I’m often more sympathetic to your views than your viewpoint.

    Salient Green: I’m sorry, the name is so good you don’t get the critique your comments deserve (not criticism). Best of luck with the apricots.

    Terje: IMHO, AGW is real. As for the rest, your comments are well based. There IS a justification for government action in the case of externalities, AGW being a prime case. Minimal government is most other areas is a well acknowledged good. Please keep going and know that a lot of us appreciate the commentary in the non-AGW arena.

    JQ: I regret to say, no criticism. :p For as long as I have known you, you have been honest and forthright whether to your personal detriment or not. And I note your detractors have rarely had the courage to really attack your integrity, or the ability supply evidence where they have.

    Trolls, sock puppets and delusionists: You as sooooo boring. Thank the powers you get barred as soon as possible.

    HC: Like your work and your approach. I don’t always agree and as a fan of Bin 28, I’m not sure I’m ever going to forgive you for renaming your site. :)

    Others who haven’t been named: the reading pleasure of folks like me is all the better for your contributions. Please think before you post, especially here, and we will all be the better for it. It may be a matter of interest, or none, or a peccadillo. I delete two posts of every three that I draft for this site. Other sites have people who write the first thing that comes into their heads and it is obvious.

    If anyone finds this condescending or derogatory, please forgive me. It is intended as positive feedback on one of the best blogs, and to some of the best contributors, on the net. Merry Xmas.

  22. Michael of Summer Hill
    December 25th, 2009 at 04:47 | #22

    Wishing everyone all the best for the festive season.

  23. Alice
    December 25th, 2009 at 05:41 | #23

    @2 tanners
    That was very funny. Make it a Xmas tradition.

    We, of course, will try our best to stay off this dishonour list but what is wrong with JQs post? – it sounds perfectly sensible to me. Also, I feel obliged to take the Windschuttle approach and point out, there is an incorrect reference in there. JQ didnt make that comment about trolls, sock puppets and delusionists being sooooo boring…..

    How long does it take to cook a size 28 turkey? Thank gooodness for the internet.

  24. Ubiquity
    December 25th, 2009 at 07:21 | #24

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All. Thanks JQ.

  25. Salient Green
    December 25th, 2009 at 07:43 | #25

    Alice, long and slow is best. High temps cause meat fibres to contract and this squeezes moisture out. Start early, you can always keep it warm.

  26. Chris O’Neill
    December 25th, 2009 at 08:06 | #26

    Tony G:

    words mean very little in the real world

    especially to people like Tony G who don’t understand them.

  27. December 25th, 2009 at 10:18 | #27

    Merry Christmas, everyone. I do hope it’s a happy time for all.

    “the right wing posters…(that means you Andy and Jarrah”

    I can’t speak for Andrew, but I’m not right-wing. I’m not left-wing either. I’m a liberal democrat, a radical centrist, a revolutionary incrementalist, a moderate libertarian, a conservative experimentalist. :-)

  28. gerard
    December 25th, 2009 at 19:48 | #28

    Who remembers the Y2K Millennium Bug? That’s been exactly ten years ago now. Wishing everybody a happy new decade.

  29. December 26th, 2009 at 07:07 | #29

    Happy Xmas to you too, but what does the “X” stand for?

  30. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 07:26 | #30

    LOL Jarrah.

  31. Tin Tin
    December 26th, 2009 at 07:42 | #31

    To all the ‘lefties’ out there, merry x-mas, happy new year and may your talents, abilities and wares be exposed to market forces.

  32. Ikonoclast
    December 26th, 2009 at 11:53 | #32

    Happy Materialness to all. To all the “righties” out there, may your talents, abilities and wares be exposed to a more beneficial blend of cooperation and competition than you are currently subjected to by the blind implementation of free market policy.

  33. December 26th, 2009 at 13:33 | #33

    Happy Boxing Day, online denizens! Especially those leftwingers who apparently are the only ones being subjected to free market policy, because I can’t see any around here.

  34. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    December 26th, 2009 at 15:35 | #34

    2 Tanners – I also suspect that AGW is real but I don’t take it as a given. Thanks for your kind words regarding general comments.

    Alice & Fran – I’m intrigued to learn that you are both pro trolling. Why not attend blogs you disagree with and engaged constructively instead of advocating a negative approach.

  35. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 18:34 | #35

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Because Terje …I have been to a few alternative sites (for me) and found them inexorably withouit interest and Catallyxy is one of those. There is something unique about this site… it does have a certain freedom ..a certain je ne sais quois…a certain tolerance of a variety of views…a certain coolness Terje and even you have to admit that….or else why do you spend most of your time here? Be honest.

  36. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 18:35 | #36

    I have way too much ham….

  37. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    December 26th, 2009 at 20:37 | #37

    Alice – Catallaxy isn’t as good as it used to be. However it still has some gems occassionally.

    John Quiggin represents the best of Aussie statists. His arguments sometimes influence my thinking but obviously I have not been sold on his general worldview. None the less I do respect his contribution to the debate and he is clearly authentic in his beliefs.

  38. Fran Barlow
    December 26th, 2009 at 22:06 | #38

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    There’s nothing wrong with trolling per se, any more than there is anything wrong with guns or drugs or talking very loudly. What it is depends on the end to which it is put and of course, the context.

    In the case of the Blotosphere rational debate is barred. It is a mere echochamber for Blot’s madness. Concern trolling along the lines I suggested puts the finger on the incoherence of the Blot advocacy and thus serves insight.

  39. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 22:12 | #39

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran – lets face it. Trolling is better than guns and drugs.

  40. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 22:14 | #40

    And talkimg very loudly is better than trolling, guns or drugs…lets get the order right. Does your deaf Aunt talk loudly?

  41. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 22:18 | #41

    @Fran Barlow
    Im for trolling for remedial purposes at Blots blogosphere and bothering the hell out him and I dont see anything wrong with Fran’s ideas if she thinks Blot is a blot in blogosphere. Look at all the people who drop in here who clearly think JQ is a left wing blot in their weird blogospheres…fair is fair…why shouldnt we launch the occasional raid as well! I reckon we would be much better at it for the simple reason most of us in here are more intelligent!

  42. Alice
    December 26th, 2009 at 22:18 | #42


  43. Ikonoclast
    December 27th, 2009 at 07:07 | #43

    @Fran Barlow

    I am sure I will enjoy Avatar as entertainment just as I would enjoy being an “eco-tourist” on a visit to Antarctica. However, being the iconoclast I am, I must point out that in both entertainments I am creating more CO2 emissions, more pollution in general and wrecking more of the environment. Being “feel good green” is part of the problem not part of the solution.

    I don’t have the courage, committment or energy to be truly green. I would have to give up all my entertainments apart from second hand books, almost all my labour saving devices, sacrifice my marriage (my wife who wants to travel more would divorce me for sure), curtail the material possessions and education of my children and become a smelly isolated social pariah (in our society) living in a hut. There may be a little hyperbole in this but actually not all that much. It summarises how and why we are all locked into an unsustainable system.

  44. Fran Barlow
    December 27th, 2009 at 07:53 | #44


    No, guns and drugs are OK, in all contexts where they are the least of all harms

    Talking loudly when some psychopathic and murderous stalker is after you wouldn’t be nearly as useful as being possessed of a gun capable of delivering a sedative to the stalker in question at some distance.

  45. Fran Barlow
    December 27th, 2009 at 07:54 | #45


    The sentiment you utter is counterproductive because, as you note yourself, it is incapable of being applied at industrial scale or of making the kind of difference we seek at micro scale.

  46. Fran Barlow
    December 27th, 2009 at 07:59 | #46

    Oops … I hit submit too early.

    What is needed is a set of policies that can reduce and eventually put CO2-emissions into net decline and also abate the impact of other elements of the human footprint on the biosphere as a whole.

    While individual sentiment is all very well, and an underpinning normative behaviour, the program’s ultimate success will not be the aggregation of the moral efforts of a few but the application of system wide changes enlisting the support of the many.

  47. Fran Barlow
    December 27th, 2009 at 08:03 | #47


    And it’s not a matter of fairness. The Blot is not operating a site aimed at rational examination of the issues. The Blot is aimed at nourishing an army of cultural morlochs to do the work of affirming the subversion of the ecoystem in favour of his own dystopic viusion.

    Trolling there, to pursue the war metaphor, is like acting as a sapper for a rival army. Fairness isn’t the issue.

  48. Ikonoclast
    December 27th, 2009 at 08:13 | #48

    Fran, I won’t say any more on this blog as I will hijack the Xmas thread too far.

    A colleague at my old workplace did sum me up rather well. “What Ikon (name changed) says is often true but seldom useful.”

    I was silent for at least half an hour after that. :0

  49. Stan R
    December 27th, 2009 at 12:11 | #49

    Compliments of the season to you all. I hope you all had real eggnog, and if you did not, that you will make and consume some immediately.

  50. Alice
    December 27th, 2009 at 14:57 | #50

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran…it depends on how you interpreted “fairness”…..try thinking retribution in war instead.

  51. December 27th, 2009 at 15:17 | #51

    “Happy Xmas to you too, but what does the “X” stand for?”

    ‘X’ has stood for ‘Christ’ in many contexts for hundreds of years.

    “cultural morlochs”

    Nice one, Fran. Mind if I borrow it? Of course, I’ll use ‘morlock’ for tradition’s sake. :-)

  52. Fran Barlow
    December 27th, 2009 at 17:23 | #52


    Certainly … though I prefer the more gaelic spelling …

  53. jquiggin
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:28 | #53

    In writing the post, I chose X as deliberately ambiguous. Christians are welcome to make the substitution X=Christ, others need not.

  54. Fran Barlow
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:49 | #54


    I’d attack them even if they’d ignored us

  55. Kevin Cox
    December 28th, 2009 at 11:24 | #55

    @Fran Barlow
    A system wide change to reduce the level of ghg concentrations in the atmosphere is to make the financial cost of building a new zero emissions energy factory less than the financial cost of buying an existing energy factory.

    If we can arrange our financial system to put an extra charge on polluting energy then we can arrange our financial system to remove interest costs on investments in renewables.

    Let us hope next year will see some economists start to think like builders of wealth rather than manipulators of prices.

  56. Fran Barlow
    December 28th, 2009 at 12:22 | #56

    @Kevin Cox

    Of course, but in a more specific measure, we need to account all of the costs to the commons of various industrial and commercial activities and price all of it in. CO2, though important, is not the only factor. Losses to riparian systems from run of the river hydro, other pollutants, contamination of water tables, emissions of toxics that can enter the human use chain and so forth should be priced and where feasible, capped.

    Get this price right and low footprint energy/industry will be chosen over high footprint energy/industry.

  57. Alice
    December 28th, 2009 at 13:27 | #57

    I also have a special message for Salient…the turkey was fantastic.

    I hope you got some water on your farm and Don on his as well…!! It hasnt stopped raining here and Im getting sick of old Stephen King and everything else dvds (seen them all before..but not for a while). Schindlers list next!

  58. Alice
    December 28th, 2009 at 17:26 | #58

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran…I think they call that the good fight… mankind will always need to fight for the good for the majority against the few with power and considerable resources fighting for a minority. I think we always have had to do that in history…sometimes good wins, sometimes it loses…c’est la vie.

  59. Salient Green
    December 28th, 2009 at 18:05 | #59

    Alice, It’s quite a feat cooking a turkey successfully and I’m glad it turned out well. Many have tried and failed. Dry meat’s not much fun. I sure hope you have lots of hungry mouths for the leftovers. If you have too much ham you can freeze some. It’s new to me but they do it at the hospital where my wife works . Better check the net first.
    It’s dry here which makes it easier for drying apricots but we may get a thunderstorm on Thursday.

  60. Alice
    December 28th, 2009 at 18:13 | #60

    @Salient Green
    You wouldnt believe this Salient – I banked on half my family taking leftover ham and bought the whole leg….I did the fully monthy – glazed in brown sugar and dijon mustard and orange rind and juice….I was left still carving up the leftover ham for the freezer at 7pm!

    No-one took any….not a soul… they all said they had ham galore and now my freezer is full of ham.

    Ill tell you this though..you have to watch turkey. Its a very fine time frame between being slightly undercooked and slightly overcooked and dry…I reckon its about fifteen minutes. Thats all it takes.

  61. nanks
    December 28th, 2009 at 19:16 | #61

    We’ve done turkey buffet’s the last two years and they’ve been great – and my partner made (some of) the leftovers into turkey and leek pies which were fantastic. (love xmas, it’s when I don’t do the cooking :) )
    re the ham – prior to the turkey years we’ve done hams until we had two years in a row where our fridge died on xmas day, so no fridge until the new year because no-one is working during that holiday time! (can’t blame them either). Anyway, ham goes off in Brisbane heat, and an esky don’t cut it :)

  62. Alice
    December 28th, 2009 at 19:28 | #62

    No Nanks – an esky wouldnt cut it at all….This ham was one of those easy carve hams which only has a short bone at the end…except for the fact I was still carving at 7pm from lunch! Too much meat on the ham.

    Honestly tho – I liked the turkey much better (with a traditional stuffing) and I think i will just do that next year.

  63. nanks
    December 28th, 2009 at 19:40 | #63

    well I can recommend the pies for the leftovers, and the turkey buffet – what they are now calling the breast-on-the-bone is great – more managable size and you can still do the stuffing as per tradition

  64. Alice
    December 29th, 2009 at 05:56 | #64

    Sounds good Nanks – for next year.

  65. Ernestine Gross
    December 29th, 2009 at 10:57 | #65

    Talking of turkeys: May the turkeys of 2010 turn out to be pigeons.

  66. December 29th, 2009 at 11:57 | #66

    I remain convinced that the correct term for the 2000-09 decade was the “noughties”.
    But what are we going to call the 2010-19 decade?
    I am going to get in early and call the forthcoming decade the “tennies”.
    This makes sense as we characterize decades by their decimal founder, so to speak.
    00′s are noughties,
    20′s are twenties.
    So 10′s should be “tennies”.
    “Teenies” sounds just plain silly.

  67. December 29th, 2009 at 12:06 | #67

    Also we need a decade summing up post.
    I am going to get in early and call it the “time waster” decade.
    I sure spent more time on the internet than what was good for me.
    And the world failed to make progress, or even went backwards, on some of the great problems that confronted it at the beginning.

    - Terrorism: invading Iraq in response to 9/11 was obviously counterproductive. Multicultural follies in Europe made a bad situation even worse, as proved by 7/7.

    - Finance: failed to learn from LTCM, then dot.com, then Enron and now the housing bubble. Wall St fatcats still drawing obscene bonuses for causing economic chaos.

    - Environment: Neither the PRC or USA made any kind of real effort to cut carbon emissions. Kyoto was a dead cat bounce.

    - Technology: such promising beginnings with gene therapy, stem cells and various forms of AI. Yet by the end of the decade we still seem not much closer to defeating death, the Auld Enemy.

    It wasnt all bad. Wikipedia, google especially combined with more mobile hardware and more social software, sure made the life of the mind alot easier and more fun.

    Hopefully the tennies will be a decade when more concrete action will replace spin and pointless speculation.

    As always, I am going long on the PRC. Evolution will favour the regime that gets the right balance between individual and group selection. And the Chinese have done that in spades.

  68. Donald Oats
    December 29th, 2009 at 12:43 | #68

    The “noughties” was the decade (only a couple of days left so forgive the past tense) in which I finally saw broadband to the home – yay! A decade in which laptops become ubiquitous – and lightweight, double yay! – finally starting the prospect of a boom in knowldege access via the web. But the downside of kiddie porn, viruses and other attacks, and the rise and rise of in-your-face advertising has tarnished it. An arms race between professional computer attackers and security software makers shows no sign of abatement.

    The big hard-drive of 10-20GB has become the big drive of 1-2TB; the USB2.0 and portable pocket drives of 80GB to 1TB mean you can carry around your entire music and video collection – your entire digital lifetime in fact. Backup is now as simple as plugging in the pocket drive and copying, for those who don’t use dedicated backup software.

    To be continued…

  69. nanks
    December 29th, 2009 at 18:08 | #69

    the noughties accelerated the trend into reduced environmental variability – I see that as the critical psychological issue of our times. The idea of perturbation as a threat that needs be banished is profoundly negative. At a seemingly inconsequential level – that McDonalds is considered, by and large, as a food dispensed from a restaurant, speaks of impoverished experience.

  70. Salient Green
    December 29th, 2009 at 18:45 | #70

    The Tenners, or the Twenty Tenners. Tennies sounds New Zealand for Tinnies. If we start with Twenty Tenners would be good untill the zombie masses get their head around it and it will end up as Tenners anyway.

    Nanks, Impoverished Experience sums it up I think. Facebook, Ipods, Iphones, Movies, more phones, more channels, more stuff, bigger cars, bigger homes, bigger loans, more take-away, more obesity, more diabetes.

    Instead of the Tenners we could call it the Wankers for the self indulgence but that would include several previous decades.

  71. Alice
    December 29th, 2009 at 18:49 | #71

    @Ernestine Gross
    Ernestine… its “pidgeons”! At last someone who spells as badly as I do or who types as badly as I do! Either way, I know Ernestine and its no reflection on her intelligence.

  72. Alice
    December 29th, 2009 at 18:51 | #72

    @Jack Strocchi
    Jack – we are going to call it the dismal decade of wars and misdirection. Thats all we can call it.

  73. Alice
    December 29th, 2009 at 19:23 | #73

    @Salient Green
    “Wankers for self indulgence” is about right Salient except you neglected to say that not all got to be so self indulge=ent except the very top income earners and the wanker entrepreneurs that managed to convince everyone else they were worth far more than a market price and a far greater multiple of average earnings than we have ever known.

    Lets get it straight Salient – we was conned – the majority werent so self indulgent (unless you call home entertainment systems self indulgent when they were cheaper than they ever have been in living history). The vast majority just trying to meet their insane mortgages. No – self indulgence only appluies to the few Salient.

  74. Kevin Cox
    December 29th, 2009 at 19:26 | #74

    @Fran Barlow
    I know what you are saying is the orthodox theory but the fact is it doesn’t work. You cannot control a system through prices – prices are the governor not the driver of output.

    It is easy to visualise if you think of the governor on a steam engine. If you do not know what I am talking about visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifugal_governor

    Price acts as a governor in a market economy.

    You do not control the speed by trying to manipulate the governor. In fact you will soon discover that your attempts at control lead to chaotic behaviour. This is exactly what we see in today’s modern economy where the Central Banks try to control the behaviour of the financial system through manipulation of the price of money. Manipulation of the governor in a dynamic system just does not work and the financial system is a very dynamic system.

    Putting a price on pollution and other “externalities” will have the same result. (We have already observed the wild behaviour of various forms of carbon credits.)

    The alternative to pricing externalities is not to let them occur by favouring investments that do not have the externalities that concern us.

    If we make the financial cost of building new renewable energy plants lower than the financial cost of buying an existing energy factory then the system will rapidly change to renewables – without an increase in the price of energy. The price can be left as the control mechanism and we will find that renewable energy will soon become cheaper than fossil burning energy because we know that every doubling of output of any technology reduces the unit capital cost by a minimum of 15%. This is an observable empirical fact and for solid state devices like transistors (and solar cells) it has been 50% per doubling of capacity for the past 30 years.

    If we add to this the principle of giving the investment money to those who contribute the least to the problem then we get a doubling of the control feedback. People will change their behaviour to consume less energy which in turn will lead to cleaner fuel because of their investments.

    Whenever you hear the words – “we will encourage/discourage people through pricing policies” you know the policy will not achieve the desired result and even if it does move in the right direction it will be very expensive and not repeatable.

  75. Alice
    December 29th, 2009 at 19:53 | #75

    @Kevin Cox
    Ah Kevin – price, price, price and price….the warcry of the monetarists and the similarly afflicted.

  76. Donald Oats
    December 29th, 2009 at 22:02 | #76

    I was one of the original slam a tax on the carbon dioxide and other GH gases proponents, but slowly came round to accepting the idea of an ETS instead. The main reasons – as I remember it now – were related to the difficulties in gaining acceptance of a tax based solution, and to the fact that by limiting quantity of “allowed” pollution via permits, a mechanism for reducing pollution per year (via stepwise reductions of new permits or similar strategy) exists while allowing the price to move about as the industries compete for ownership of the permits. I’ve always had some reservations about the politics surrounding an ETS however. Nevertheless, it has surprised me to see the juxtaposition of a Labor government defending a market-based solution for reducing emissions, and a Liberal opposition to be railing against it while – very quietly – muttering about a tax instead. At least that was before Tony had finalised the coup. Now it is presumably no ETS, no tax, no nothing as far as a Tony opposition is concerned for now.

    The ETS got successfully killed on three fronts: 1) such a ridiculous bounty of concessions, subsidies and free permits undermined the target setting from the start; 2) such a low initial target was set that alternative energy solutions wouldn’t gain a measurable advantage – without an advantage there was no incentive to shift away from the worst polluting power technologies; 3) the sham sceptics – aka denierati – campaigned hard in the media with the intention of undermining any ETS policy being put to parliament.
    The first point was a direct and inexcusable failure of the Labor government, in my opinion. The second point was a failure of Garnaut et al in the review. Garnaut (correctly) accepted the science as solid enough to need the high reduction targets on a tight timeframe. However he didn’t just set the door ajar, but damn knocked it off its hinges when it came to giving the government a get-out clause on the targets. Garnaut stated that for the purposes of getting a successful outcome (at Copenhagen) the government would need to lowball the target at the start, or words to that effect. Of course the government took immediate advantage of that and set conditional and unconditional targets way below what Garnaut thought would happen. [Does anyone have a significantly different recollection of this, or a different opinion on my admittedly cynical interpretation?] When I saw Garnaut in an interview after the government announced the IMHO pathetic 5% target, my impression is that he was upset at the outcome.

    I’ve never understood how Garnaut could accept the science, agree on what the risks were and on what reduction targets would be required to have a decent chance of avoiding exceeding 2C temperature increase, yet would turn around and chuck the targets out the window as soon as he discussed the politics. IMHO, only Bob Brown has held a consistent position on the whole question of targets, even though he has been pilloried and lampooned for doing so. Either the risk analysis based on the scientific evidence was correct, or it wasn’t and needed to be corrected. If correct then Brown’s position was the only scientifically and economically compatible one.

    I am reminded of how it is said that economics is the dismal science: what does that make politics, I sometimes wonder?

  77. Donald Oats
    December 30th, 2009 at 00:02 | #77

    @Salient Green

    Hi Salient Green, I missed this comment until now. How is the apricot season going? If you are drying now you’ll get a couple of ripper drying days on Wed and Thurs – 40C or thereabouts :-P

    As for gasbagging over a coldie or a coffee sometime, I’m sure that something could be worked out. I’m on FaceBook so you could add me as your friend and pick up my contact details that way.

    Happy New Year all!

    PS: If you drink Drive, you’re a bubbly idiot! :-D

  78. Kevin Cox
    December 30th, 2009 at 04:53 | #78

    Perhaps you think I believe markets and monetary value are the whole story for you to make that comment?

    I view markets as algorithms. That is for a given resource a market place is a resource allocation mechanism where the price tends to be relatively stable. Markets are places where supply rises or falls to meet demand and where price is the regulator or governor. Markets are meant to keep prices relatively stable and to optimise (minimise) the total value represented by the sum of the price of sales times quantity. An open market for a given resource is currently the algorithm we tend to use for resource allocation.

    That is what markets are meant to do. Nothing more. Problems arise when markets are expected to do more than allocate resources for approximately the lowest total value. Markets should not be expected to decide what markets should exist, nor how assets and resources are allocated between individuals. Markets with value as the only objective variable should not be expected to reduce green house gas levels nor to increase well being and “happiness”. These are measured by other variables such as levels of green house gas in the atmosphere, and indicators of well being such as suicide rates, obesity, stability of relationships etc. and those measures should be part of our objective function. We should not try to use measures of value to measure things that inappropriately measured by value (such as the survival of the species, or the life of a person, or fairness in resource allocation).

    I am interested in mechanisms that enable us to achieve multiple objectives. In algorithmic terms the multiple objectives are represented by other objective functions – like the shape of the distribution of resources across the community.

    Economics as I observe it has only one objective function built into the models and that is value represented by the sum of price times quantity for trades. That is the only thing we attempt to optimise. All other objectives are meant to be achievable through the manipulation of price and through constraining markets. We do not build other objectives into the system operation. We might state them as policies but not make them part of the system operation.

    For the allocation of many resources open markets are not the best mechanism to achieve the lowest total value of trades. Examples are natural monopolies.

    You can tell when markets, with value as the objective function, are dysfunctional by observing price variations. If prices are chaotic in the sense of being unpredictable then you know the market is dysfunctional. Most of our markets tend to be of that type including the money market, the stock market, and the petrol market.

    The way to improve our systems is to fix those markets that are dysfunctional – such as the money market – by finding the reason for the chaotic behaviour and removing or neutralising the reason. The way to improve our total systems are to find other measures for other things we believe important and to include those measures in all our trading systems and not just trading systems where the trades are measured by value. Note I view trading systems as a subset of communication systems where part of the information that is passed between entities is the value of the trade.

    While we are doing this we have to fix the existing markets that are worth fixing. The ones that are critical today are the money market and the energy market. The money market should be one where there is sufficient money for monetary trade purposes, where prices (interest rates) are stable and where the value of money remains stable. (no inflation of the currency)

    The energy market should be one where we produce energy with the minimum of harmful pollutants.

    We cannot achieve these objectives through manipulation of prices and through measures of value (carbon price) that are surrogate measures for reducing the level of ghg concentrations.

    We can “fix” the money market and the energy market through the mechanism I have described where we reduce the financial cost to build new assets that reduce the level of green house emissions. We do this through the issuing of zero interest loans for that purpose. This gives a mechanism to increase the total money supply that can lead to stability in the price of money, zero inflation and a steady predictable reduction in the level of greenhouse gas concentrations. Distribute the rights to loans appropriately and we will start to flatten the distribution of wealth as a side benefit.

    My apologies for the length of the reply but the label of monetarist and the baggage that goes with it is not one with which I am comfortable:) Perhaps we can use a different label for my affliction. Maybe algorithmist but I would prefer evolutionist?

  79. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 09:16 | #79

    @Kevin Cox
    Kevin – we are on the same page here re “Markets with value as the only objective variable should not be expected to reduce green house gas levels nor to increase well being and “happiness””. I wasnt actually referring to you as a monetarist at all but rather, just generally to the mad monetarists and their mutant market theory offspring who have taken things to an extreme (and its the extremes that are so bothersome), discarded the public sector at every chance along the way and see the price in private markets as the only thing that matters. I forgot the ironly alert.

  80. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 09:20 | #80

    @Donald Oats
    Don says “I am reminded of how it is said that economics is the dismal science: what does that make politics, I sometimes wonder?”

    The science of desperation and depravity?

    So combining these for economics and politics yields the dismally desperate depraved science.

  81. paul walter
    December 30th, 2009 at 15:19 | #81

    Just reading Alice’s reply to Jack, #22, had me in mind of my own thoughts last night. “Misdirection” is a very careful, even generous explanation for the likes of Cheney and Wall, but the comment is right on the money, as far as I am concerned.
    And must say it feeds into the conversation with Kevin Cox, because it seems to me that the mechanism(s) required to correct market failure either do(es) not exist yet ( Copenhagen, London GFC talks failures?) or were vandalised when already in place from Keynesian times, thru deregulationist Thatcher/Reaganism, then neolib New Labour Clintonite moves over the previous generation, prior to the nasty farce that became the Bush presidency.
    Has me in mind of commentaries from JQ, Mark Bahnisch and Gary Sauer Thompson, that Obama is “post” the last abortive grab at global control by the declining USA; the US can’t enforce good, or bad, solutions on the world anymore.
    That is, Obama was at Copenhagen to “manage US decline”, (eg Iraq/oil) rather than deliver a more rational world to the masses as the old” US superpower could (not necessarily would) have done, before it was hijacked by scum like Cheney.

  82. paul walter
    December 30th, 2009 at 15:21 | #82

    Ps Alice, Good of you to correct Ernestine.
    A girl of some potential, but early correction will always ensure a brighter future once the foundations have been laid, even with the most intractable of subjects.

  83. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 18:12 | #83

    @paul walter
    Paul LOL – Ernestine, in the sense of knowing the underlying economic models, could correct all of us, but politely refrains from doing so! I admire that in a woman.

  84. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 18:23 | #84

    Or a man for that matter…a good economist should not only be able to converse with their peers but also to the ordinary man, which means coming down from the upper reaches of the tree of mathematica these days, to the lifeblood of prescriptive normative interpretations and remedies. A good economist knows always how to reach the people. Ernestine does that occasionally IMHO. So does the honourable JQ. Lots cant get out of their mathematical worlds to be able to communicate it to ordinary people. The art of elegant simplicity is forsaken by many in the profession lest it be beneath them to so communicate,……. bar the few who can see a need to interpret their own works more simply so that more can understand…and they are the most truly brilliant of all economists.

  85. John H
    December 30th, 2009 at 18:29 | #85

    Perhaps, it is worth considering that when a person spends many years training for a role there is typically a requirement to use jargon and become thoroughly familiar with it. It is easy to say one should be able to reduce such jargon to street level and while that can be done it is often much more difficult than many imagine and all too often leads into simplifications. To understand some concepts it is necessary to also understand a whole range of related concepts. Simplifying the message and avoiding simplification sometimes requires such a lengthy text that most would then not read it anyway.

  86. paul walter
    December 30th, 2009 at 18:45 | #86

    Alice, if Ernestine were a good girl, I would consent to give her a cuddle, were she to present herself in the appropriate way. But increasing frequency of spankings, I can assure you, is still the best way to deal with intractables.
    All this this modernistic spare the rod, spoil the child is just guff proffered by muddled do gooders, softcentres, sentimentalists and nanny state milksops and lickspittles.
    We are led to rack and ruin, I tell you!
    Madam, be told!
    The old tried and proven ways are the best, most of all concerning overly skittish, hysterical gels in need of urgent “guidance” back to the paths of lady like decorum, feminine modesty, acquiescence to apt. male rule, as well courteous deference those older, wiser and
    more trousered than themselves.
    Do y’ not read your Bible, Woman!

  87. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 19:08 | #87

    @paul walter
    Oh mi god Paul…I think you have had a bit too much Xmas something! I swear you are right off the beaten track now…but having read half this post…I will say this Paul Walter

    I am not taking the guidance paths or any paths back to “decorum” or “feminine modesty” or “acqiescence” (to freaking whom I might ask at this point??).

    Have you totally lost it Paul? Hysterical girls? Why arent those eejit others listening, that we have to get hysterical about it??

    Im here stamping my feet, arguring my heart out and I wont just shut up! (no no no) Anyone can call it hysterical or mad if they want to BUT Im here, I have a point of view and Ill make a lot of noise (from the bottom to the top). I can fight!….and I wont be told and neither should anyone else of my gender persuasion.

    Husbands, bosses and partners and sons…watch out! We women truly have much to make up to be on an equal footing with men.

    This fight …. is far from over. You provoked me Paul and no I dont read me “bible”. I dont find a lot in it, in terms of female male relationships, that isnt badly out of date. Mind you, the bible is not all out of date…

  88. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 19:10 | #88

    @John H
    John H

    Its the dfifference between good and great economists IMHO. It may be a fine line…but it is there.

  89. Ernestine Gross
    December 30th, 2009 at 20:01 | #89

    What an amusing discussion. Paul Walter, you fell for a wrong correction because you apparently don’t know how to spell the name of a bird belonging to the family of columbidae. (Everybody else ignored Alice’s ‘correction’). But you are not the only one who has spelling difficulties with the name of this bird in some locations in the ‘global economy’: http://www.deterapigeon.com/pidgeon_control.htm.

    PS: I assume all this amusement is quite consistent with having ‘merry xmas’.

  90. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 20:03 | #90

    @Ernestine Gross
    LOL – Ernestine – did I get trapped in a pigeon trap??

  91. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 20:14 | #91

    @paul walter
    Oh pigeon poo. Ill never spell that wrong again. Im sure you will find my other spelling malfunctions in not too long though. Yet Paul has something to answer for as well …he has gone completely off his tree!

  92. paul walter
    December 30th, 2009 at 20:31 | #92

    Alice, #37:
    “Oh migod Paul…I think you have had a bit too much Xmass something!”
    No such luck.
    Had you (been able to) read my pronouncements from on high in full, rather than as a headstrong gel who erroneously, as yet, but “half- reads” that sober guidance for which said gel is obviously in so much need of, from one membered to that more sensible portion of population, in whom Almighty God has entrusted stewardship over the suggestable, flighty and and emotional segment of the populace for their own spiritual betterment, you should have done well, my good woman..
    Rebellion, rebellion everywhere!
    Chaos reigns and the natural order is overthrown, egad.
    Can you not see how this futile revolt against very Nature itself, stands in the way not only of God’s Will and brings such suffering to those of a sensible and more benevolent disposition who seek only to guide womanfolk in that direction to which we know Woman is most suited temperamentally, which rests in the reproduction of a future generation of Christian humanity and the care and servicing of those saddled with the onerous burden of the True White Man; the very care of those less mentally and spiritually equipped by sex or race, in the fulfilling of the unique cerebral task for which the White Male alone has had adequately been provisioned, for facilitation of a higher Good to which Woman must bend; the higher provision God’s Will and Plan, as Outlined in His Holy Word.
    I tell you, my good woman, from henceforth I will “rule with a rod of iron” in the performance of my further duties in the advancement of womanhood, for their own ultimate fulfillment, regardless of silly protests from these foolish little flibbertigibbetts to the contrary.
    Even if these DO have no souls.
    Remember well the words of Amos Starkadder, the esteemed preacher of Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons, 1934):
    “Ye miserable crawlin worms… Have ye come like Nimshi, son of Rehoboam, secretly out of you homes..virgins…if there be any among ye… to hear me tell you of the great, crimson, licking flames of Hell-fire…already damned…hellfire…no butter in hell “?
    ( Inflates like John Howard at a teev interview where he’s been caught out on a lie, or a surly cane toad, ie same thing, whilst retreating into a stony silence that will brook no further dissent, provided the bluff works..).

  93. Alice
    December 30th, 2009 at 20:49 | #93

    @paul walter
    I am right – Paul has lost it! He has definitely had too much Xmas something! After reading this last post I find myself feeling wan and faint and suspect its time for me to lie down and rest my spirits with a nip of some spirits…or laudanum or something (I probably spelt it wrong for all you sanctimonious spelling bees out there – caught once today is enough for me). Well in this amazing other worldly (as in from another time and place – one where Im glad I never lived) Paul you got one thing right…there isnt a virgin amongst us Ill bet! Life is just fine.

  94. paul walter
    December 30th, 2009 at 21:19 | #94

    Wasn’t me on about virgins; I already well- know how many virgins are left in Australia in these modern times.
    (raises eyebrow)
    T’ were the words of Amos Starkadder!
    Btw, does this mean Alice has introduced “pigeon english” into this discourse, or am I a “stool pidgeon”, ma belle petite Ernestine?
    Speaking of which…
    “The Kraken Wakes”, eh?
    But I sense a peril. An owl (or wool)-like visage laden with forboding; a raised eyebrow that stares coldly from beneath pince nez half moon speculum of this other woman??
    Oddsbodkins, I will flee from this dark place lest forces of darkness descend in search of pitiless vengeance on a Wee cowerin’ timorous beastie.
    Ps, what is this persistence of women with the employ of feeble”poo” as a bloody euphemism for s—t?

  95. Kevin Cox
    December 31st, 2009 at 08:26 | #95

    Thanks for clarifying. I have to be careful about such things. Next someone might call me a libertarian when all I want is freedom to work for the common good:)

    You may be interested in some back of the envelope calculations on applying the principle that we should not pay interest on money used to construct new community assets. The National Broadband Network is being criticised because it will cost about $40 Billion dollars. If we have to pay interest on the $40Billion and repay the money in half the expected life of the asset then finance costs will take up 60% of the money earned from the asset then it deserves to be criticised.

    However, if we gave everyone in Australia $2000 interest free loan to buy shares in the NBN then each family of four would pay $600 per year to have telephone and broadband connections and would receive a dividend return of $250 per year for the first 40 years which would rise to $500 per year after 40 years.

    In other words we can rejig finances so that the people who pay for goods and services get the profits from those goods and services (or lower prices) instead of the money being syphoned off to so called financial investors and services.

    At the moment the cost to the Australian Economy for Financial Services is of the order of 20%+ of our total costs. It should be about 1% max. for the value of the service it provides. Imagine what we can do with that amount of money if we put it to productive use. It is very simple to fix which of course is why there is such a strong defence by those who currently pocket the 19%.

  96. Alice
    December 31st, 2009 at 09:34 | #96

    @paul walter
    Ahh Amos Starkadder? The Amos Starkadder – hellfire preacher at the Church of the Quivering Brethren.

    (ye’re all damned and we’re all damned)!

    That gives me “cold comfort” indeed Paul!

  97. Alice
    December 31st, 2009 at 09:36 | #97

    Paul – I rather like the names of the farm’s cows who were given to losing extremities….a new name for some of our political masters perhaps?

    Graceless, Aimless, Feckless and Pointless

  98. December 31st, 2009 at 10:53 | #98

    Another idea – why not give out billion dollar interest free loans to everyone? Would that not make us all very rich?

  99. Donald Oats
    December 31st, 2009 at 11:44 | #99

    I’ve been watching/reading the Australian again (yeah, I resumed getting the print edition on the odd occasion, but boy the change in font and layout is wriggly on the eyes), and even though it should have been impossible, they seem to have increased the fraction of AGW stories that are criticisms, compared to neutral informative or positive stories. So much for that catchcry of the Australian of “we give both sides of the debate”.

    The editorial is just ablather with one extreme statement after another whenever the envrionment or environmentalists are concerned, yet takes a more measured and analytical tone whenever the non-environmentalists (ie corporatists and far-rightwingers, etc) are discussed. Every opinion piece seems to be an attack upon the climate scientists’ character, having been deemed as consisting of serious character flaws; of course, this form of rhetoric is structured to lead readers to take on board the writer’s (tacit) assumption that there are serious character flaws in the climate scientists’ characters. So much for the “debate”.

    Anyway ’nuff o’ that. Happy New Year all. Unfortunately I cannot partake of the bubbly this year, so it is that I’ll be substituting non-alcoholic ginger beer. But the rest of the night should be good. Miss standing under the Sydney Harbour fireworks; there is such a sense of camaraderie among the crowd while waiting for the big show. No. 1 Waruda St was theplace to be for the best view! Awesome.

  100. Donald Oats
    December 31st, 2009 at 11:50 | #100

    Oh, and flibbertigibbetts? That word rings a bell in some dusty corridor of my brain – did you make it up or is there a tome or poem from which it hails? To wit:

    paul walter :I tell you, my good woman, from henceforth I will “rule with a rod of iron” in the performance of my further duties in the advancement of womanhood, for their own ultimate fulfillment, regardless of silly protests from these foolish little flibbertigibbetts to the contrary.

    [My use of bold in the quote.]

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