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Sandpit

August 16th, 2012

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. August 16th, 2012 at 07:07 | #1

    Hey, well… I’ll plug this post by Cory Doctorow, which plugs a post by Mark Fisher, which plugs a post by Federico Campagna. http://boingboing.net/2012/08/12/time-wars-our-finite-lives-fr.html

    “Mark Fisher’s essay ‘Time-Wars’ riveted me. It’s an analysis of the way that stories about technology and work — both explicit political/ideological stump speeches and futurism, and science fiction stories — have failed to keep pace with the reality of work, automation, and ‘precarity’ (the condition of living a precarious economic existence). After all, time is finite. Life is finite. Automation makes it possible not to work, or to work very little, at least in the rich world. The system distributes the gains of automation so unevenly that a tragically overworked class is pitted against a tragically unemployed class. Meanwhile, the only resource that is truly non-renewable — the time of our lives — is frittered away in ‘work’ that we do because we must, because of adherence to doctrine about how money should flow.”

  2. Hermit
    August 16th, 2012 at 09:47 | #2

    Symptomatic of this malaise is that we worry ourselves sick about non-issues while resigning ourselves to the genuinely insidious. For example whether Japanese nuclear plants will poison the Pacific Ocean which I suggest is numerically unlikely. Yet we only have to extrapolate 1% a year Euro style economic contraction to see that we may not have dignified jobs or pensions in 20 years time. Another is the effect of heatwaves such as that in the US. We are on the threshold of what is physically safe yet somehow we think it will go away on its own. We seem hard wired for irrational optimism while fascinated by lurid sideshows.

  3. Ben
    August 16th, 2012 at 12:29 | #3

    Thanks Professor Quiggan for your posts on the Qld budget and your comments on 612 4QR. It really helps to have an expert talking about the lies being put out by the Newman “Government”. Presumably the latest Moody’s report condemning the Qld economy (and cheerfully endorsed by Campbell Newman on 612 ABC this morning, who even pretended to sound disappointed) is in the same major league of porkies?

  4. Freelander
    August 16th, 2012 at 20:29 | #4

    The latest development in relation to Julian Assange is (almost) unbelievable.
    The UK has informed the Ecuadorians that if Assange is given asylum their intention is to simply enter the embassy and take him.

    The UK is joining the US as a rogue state. Who will complete these two to form ‘an axis of evil’?

  5. August 16th, 2012 at 20:59 | #5

    Beyond Blue and Mr Kennett

    Mrs Tierney’s comments below (Hansard, Council Proofs, Tuesday, 14 August 2012) on our economic and democratic environment and depression are very perceptive. It has always struck me as ironic that Jeff Kennett (former Liberal premier of Victoria) is a patron of an organisation for people with severe depression:

    Manufacturing industry: former Premier Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) —

    Members may be aware of recent comments by past Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett in the Geelong Advertiser advocating the closure of both the Ford factory and the Alcoa plant at Point Henry. Contributions such as this are entirely unwelcome to the manufacturing industry, and to talk it down at a time when it is facing its most difficult challenges beggars belief.

    Both companies are impacted upon by the high Australian dollar, with Ford’s impact being twofold, in that the Australian dollar makes its exports more costly and makes foreign imports more competitive. These issues require a policy solution from governments, not self-seeking platitudes from past premiers.

    It is clear that Mr Kennett has not changed his views since being defeated by the regional voters of Victoria in 1999. He regarded regional Victorians with contempt then, referring to them as the fingers and toes of the economy, with major government investments going into Melbourne and its suburbs. It is clear from his recent comments that this attitude has not changed.

    What is particularly disappointing, given his association with beyondblue, an institution that does excellent work, is that he seems to be oblivious to the conflict between his statements and his association with that organisation.

    Job loss leads to depression, family breakdown and sometimes worse. This is well documented, and Mr Kennett must know this. His disregard for the human cost of his statements is a perfect example of why Victorians made the correct judgement on his time in office, but the failure of the current state government to comment on his statements is an alarming sign that some in this government may share his views.

  6. Ikonoclast
    August 17th, 2012 at 09:27 | #6

    Freelander :
    The latest development in relation to Julian Assange is (almost) unbelievable.
    The UK has informed the Ecuadorians that if Assange is given asylum their intention is to simply enter the embassy and take him.
    The UK is joining the US as a rogue state. Who will complete these two to form ‘an axis of evil’?

    You only need two points to create an axis in euclidean geometry. ;)

  7. Ikonoclast
    August 17th, 2012 at 09:43 | #7

    @Malthusista

    Certain elements in the Campbell Newman government seem to suffer from anti-city parochialism in contrast to Kennett’s pro-city parochialism. Vaughan Johnson has highlighted this by clearly indicating his view that job cuts in Brisbane are fine and will be beneficial for the state economy but job cuts in rural Queensland will be deleterious in both regional and state terms.

    This highlights the fact that “small government” proponents are always partial and hypocritical. They always say “cut somewhere else but don’t cut government jobs and spending in my home town.” It illustrates that they actually realise and embrace the reality (at least at the local, parochial level) that government spending boosts the economy.

  8. Freelander
    August 17th, 2012 at 12:14 | #8

    @Ikonoclast

    True. But having three in an ‘axis of evil’ seems a tradition.

  9. J-D
    August 17th, 2012 at 14:52 | #9

    Freelander :
    The latest development in relation to Julian Assange is (almost) unbelievable.
    The UK has informed the Ecuadorians that if Assange is given asylum their intention is to simply enter the embassy and take him.
    The UK is joining the US as a rogue state. Who will complete these two to form ‘an axis of evil’?

    You haven’t got the facts exactly straight.

    The UK has advised Ecuador that the power exists under UK law to withdraw the diplomatic status of premises. This is true. But that particular UK law says the power can only be used if it is permissible to do so under international law.

    The UK has not said it will use that power, and the UK Foreign Secretary has specifically said that the UK is not going to ‘storm’ the embassy, as some reports have suggested.

  10. Alan
    August 17th, 2012 at 16:06 | #10

    @J-D

    We know. It’s perfectly normal for:

    (1) police interviews to be leaked to rightwing tabloids not once but twice

    (2) the Uk to threaten to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy

    (3) a Swedish government minister to call Assange a coward and scumbag

    (4) the vice-president of the United States to identify Assange as a terrorist

    (5) the Australian government to peer firmly up its own fundament while insisting that everything is perfectly normal in the this most normal of all possible worlds.

    We know also that nothing is acceptable as evidence and that we all have to suspend judgment for the foreseeable future, if not forever, preferably while singing ‘Kumbaya, vote Labor, kumbaya’.

  11. Ikonoclast
    August 17th, 2012 at 19:05 | #11

    Freelander :
    @Ikonoclast
    True. But having three in an ‘axis of evil’ seems a tradition.

    Perhaps they mean the “three axes (āk’sēz’) of evil”, namely the x, y and z axes. However, as their thinking is often off in the fourth dimension, they really should be talking about the four axes of evil.

    The fourth axis is the w-axis! Get it? The Dubya Axis!!!

    Don’t misunderestimate the dangers of the Dubya Axis. ;)

  12. Tony Lynch
    August 18th, 2012 at 10:24 | #12

    @J-D

    “the UK Foreign Secretary has specifically said that the UK is not going to ‘storm’ the embassy, as some reports have suggested.”

    Well, that settles it!

    Seriously, do you call citing this, getting at “the facts”?

    As Claude Cockburn said: “Don’t believe it until its officially denied”

  13. Alan
    August 18th, 2012 at 14:19 | #13

    Apparently a diplomatic threat is not a threat unless it comes with several impressive wax seals and the word ‘threat’ stamped on it in large unfriendly letters. It was pure accident that the UK foreign office happened to mention this anti-terrorist law in a dispatch to the Ecuadorians. In the unlikely event that the brits persuade themselves they can actually do this (and after all they persuaded themselves that invading Iraq was lawful) any number of governments starting with China will immediately cut and paste the UK act into their own statutes. China, after all, continues to claim it was unlawful for the US to give diplomatic sanctuary to Wang Lijun, the Chongqing police chief.

    The Act was not included in the dispatch lightly and driving a truck through diplomatic immunity is a measure of the desperation with which someone is trying to secure Assange’s person.

  14. Freelander
    August 18th, 2012 at 14:41 | #14

    @Ikonoclast

    Interesting. The three dimensions of evil?

    Re: Assange, they are really out for his blood. The Australian government silence is shocking. Support for human rights and decency have died a death in the west, even if hypocritical lip service remains.

  15. Freelander
    August 18th, 2012 at 14:51 | #15

    Interesting. “that law can only be used if it is permissible under international law”. If the UK tries to invade the embassy to get Assange and international law is offended, there will be lightening, a clap of thunder, and the invading British party will disappear in a puff of smoke.

    Like to see that!

  16. Freelander
    August 18th, 2012 at 15:02 | #16

    Also shocking is the large number of prominent Australians who have kept their silence on the Assange affair. Well when China is on top, China will have a wide range of precidents to follow to ensure its behavior is unconstrained.

    In the new world might will be right.

  17. Freelander
    August 18th, 2012 at 19:08 | #17

    Apparently, according to Emerson, that the Washington embassy is making preparations for Assange to mysteriously find himself in the US, in US custody doesn’t mean anything. The embassy regularly prepares for eventualities they think wont happen (and avoid preparing for those they think will).

    I guess I can understand the stoney silence of those who won’t speak in defense of Assange. If they made one single squeeck in defiance of the empire, they would never get a visa to travel there again. And that would be for starters! Freedom of speech is something they have had little time for, even for their own citizens. We’re talking a country where everyone self censors and says quaint little things like “Oh my gosh!”
    How adorable!

  18. Freelander
    August 18th, 2012 at 19:20 | #18

    Given that the floundering fathers saw the USA as the new Roman empire, maybe their current patriots see the ‘ends of the earth’ persecution of Assange as paralleling the Roman hunt for Hannibal. But maybe that episode has lessons for us. Those who disowned Hannibal gained nothing from their treachery.

  19. Mel
    August 19th, 2012 at 15:42 | #19
  20. John Quiggin
    August 19th, 2012 at 16:59 | #20

    I wonder if they will also go after Bolt?

  21. Freelander
    August 19th, 2012 at 17:45 | #21

    I particularly liked Nova’s “some of my best friends …”

  22. Ikonoclast
    August 19th, 2012 at 19:22 | #22

    @Freelander

    Be fair, Jo and her other half agree on everything! Don’t you know that proves they are right? ;)

  23. Freelander
    August 19th, 2012 at 19:35 | #23

    And some of their best friends agree with them?

  24. August 20th, 2012 at 10:28 | #24

    Just in case people are interested, South Australia’s electricity has been almost entirely wind and solar for the past 24 hours. The wholesale price has been a little over zero cents a kilowatt-hour all that time except for a spike after midnight when all the off peak hot water systems switched on the the price shot up to 20 cents a kilowatt-hour for a short period.

  25. J-D
    August 20th, 2012 at 10:35 | #25

    Alan :
    @J-D
    We know. It’s perfectly normal for:
    (1) police interviews to be leaked to rightwing tabloids not once but twice
    (2) the Uk to threaten to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy
    (3) a Swedish government minister to call Assange a coward and scumbag
    (4) the vice-president of the United States to identify Assange as a terrorist
    (5) the Australian government to peer firmly up its own fundament while insisting that everything is perfectly normal in the this most normal of all possible worlds.
    We know also that nothing is acceptable as evidence and that we all have to suspend judgment for the foreseeable future, if not forever, preferably while singing ‘Kumbaya, vote Labor, kumbaya’.

    Ah. Abuse.

  26. Troy Prideaux
    August 20th, 2012 at 12:07 | #26

    Ronald Brak :
    Just in case people are interested, South Australia’s electricity has been almost entirely wind and solar for the past 24 hours. The wholesale price has been a little over zero cents a kilowatt-hour all that time except for a spike after midnight when all the off peak hot water systems switched on the the price shot up to 20 cents a kilowatt-hour for a short period.

    Pardon my ignorance, but how does that wholesale price work? If there’s little demand, and lots of wind or solar supply, the energy suppliers virtually give the captured energy away? What am I missing? Thx

  27. August 20th, 2012 at 13:10 | #27

    Troy, that’s right. Wind and solar are price takers which means that accept the price set by other generators. And since the price of electricity is down to about a third of a cent per kilowatt-hour at the moment, it looks like electricity from price setters isn’t required. Obviously fossil generators aren’t going to produce electricity when the price is a third of a cent as that wouldn’t cover the cost of fuel and carbon tax. Today’s low electricity prices are good for consumers and good for the environment but not so good for people trying to make money from selling electricity.

  28. Troy Prideaux
    August 20th, 2012 at 13:51 | #28

    Ronald, so what’s the deal with those forecasts (from some industry participants) earlier on in the year about SA becoming the most expensive state or province in the world for energy? Is there such a discrepancy between wholesale and retail rates or between peak and off peak rates?

  29. Ernestine Gross
    August 20th, 2012 at 17:08 | #29

    Intellectual property rights and the Euro crisis. [Irony alert]

    Imagine Big Tobacco would offer its lawyers on IP to the Mediterranean countries – every Greek letter used outside Greece would attract a fee, the Arabic countries would charge for each numeral with a particularly high price for the zero and the Italiens would charge for each of at least 20 letters … The Euro crisis would become a trivial redistribution problem. No?

  30. Hermit
    August 20th, 2012 at 18:20 | #30

    RB how come the retail price of electricity in SA is about 34c per kwh and I’m told about 19c in coal intensive Qld? If the wholesale cost of electricity in SA is 0.3c then somebody is making an astronomical profit.

    I see Santos recently said Adelaide will have to pay a lot more for new Moomba gas supply created by infill drilling and fracking. Does wind and solar mean Adelaide can now shake itself free of gas fired electricity? It all seems a bit contradictory.

  31. August 20th, 2012 at 18:46 | #31

    Well it’s six o’clock in the evening we’re sucking down 1.6 gig in South Australia and the wholesale electricity price still appears to be a bit below a cent. Troy, the deal with those forecasts is that some people were lying. Either flat out lying or lying through negligence. And as there being a discrepancy between wholesale and retail rates, welcome to Australia where we have (I think) the cheapest wholesale rates in the developed world, but high retail rates. A large chunk of the retail rate is a result of the tryanny of distance. Something that’s not a big problem in Hong Kong.

  32. August 20th, 2012 at 19:05 | #32

    Hermit, the average wholesale electricity price in South Australia and Queensland are roughly the same at around 3 cents or so a kilowatt-hour. Their being roughly equal is a fairly new thing as in the past South Australia always had much higher prices due to the lack of cheap coal, but wind and solar have pushed the prices down in SA while Queensland has no wind power and considerably less solar per capita.

    And I don’t pay 34 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity. What I pay has gone down. If you know anyone who is paying 34 cents a kilowatt-hour in SA tell them to change their distributer. They’re getting ripped off.

    Can Adelaide shake itself free of gas fired electricity? Well yeah, that’s what it’s done for the last day and a half. Of course this isn’t going to last forever, but we are using considerably less gas than we used to. And as more PV is installed we will use even less.

  33. August 20th, 2012 at 19:09 | #33

    I see that the price of electricity in South Australia hit zero cents from about two to six this morning. I’m guessing that’s because the transmission lines between here and Victoria were maxed out.

  34. Freelander
    August 20th, 2012 at 20:10 | #34

    If the branding IP is so valuable then as well as buying the plain packet of smokes, the punters should be allowed to buy separately stickers, from the manufacturers which they could then stick to the packets. However, as the tobbacco companies claim the IP is so valuable, the price of those stickers should be high enough to reflect that claimed value. Then it would be interesting to see if the market agreed and whether they sold any stickers. The IP claim like many IP claims in nonsense but that doesnt mean the government will win. Courts can always come up with bad decisions. If they didn’t lawyers might starve.

  35. Freelander
    August 20th, 2012 at 20:16 | #35

    @Ernestine Gross

    I love that idea. As well as IP for the alphabet and numerals they could also claim recompense for the “spiritual dimension”!

  36. Chris O’Neill
    August 20th, 2012 at 20:54 | #36

    Jim Rose:

    I do not know what Assange is reluctant to go back to Sweden. “Swedish rapists ‘enjoy impunity’: Amnesty International”

    Now if Assange can just rape someone in Sweden he’ll have nothing to worry about.

  37. Ernestine Gross
    August 20th, 2012 at 21:21 | #37

    @Freelander

    I suppose the quantification problem of the “spiritual dimension” wouldn’t be much bigger than the distortion or hiding of the evidence problem. Should we expect it would work for about half a century?

    The sticker sales idea is an interesting one. Would rational consumers buy cheap cigarettes but stickers for currently more expensive brands? Would bottom line [FN1] producers of currently expensive brands produce cheaper cigarettes and make money on the stickers? Would rational consumers all smoke the same type of cigarettes but pay different prices for the stickers? How long is the learning or discovery process, measured in calendar time? Can derivatives be written on the sticker trade?. ….

    [FN1] Bottom line is the empirically relevant label, IMHO, because ‘profit maximisation’ is a concept that isn’t really defined independently of other elements of ‘the economy’.

  38. Ernestine Gross
    August 20th, 2012 at 21:23 | #38

    Chris O’Neill :Jim Rose:

    I do not know what Assange is reluctant to go back to Sweden. “Swedish rapists ‘enjoy impunity’: Amnesty International”

    Now if Assange can just rape someone in Sweden he’ll have nothing to worry about.

    Good one.

  39. Freelander
    August 20th, 2012 at 23:56 | #39

    @Ernestine Gross

    Clearly, under the new regime the high value pleasure would originate in buying the sticker. The might forgo buying the smokes altogether ..

    That would be a win win all round! (Assuming nothing unnatural happened to the sticker!)

  40. Freelander
    August 21st, 2012 at 00:00 | #40

    @Ernestine Gross

    Yes. That must be the need to question Assange. They suspect that he didn’t rape anyone. In that case he would be in real trouble!

  41. August 21st, 2012 at 07:48 | #41

    I am now very confused. I can’t find the data on AEMO I was looking at yesterday, so I apologise if what I wrote yesterday wasn’t true. (I believed it because it was a warm day for winter.) I think I may be going out of my mind. Or rather further out of it than I already was.

  42. August 21st, 2012 at 07:55 | #42

    Looking at a separate source of information I see that wind production was only high enough to meet demand for a short period yesterday, so I don’t know what I did to bring up a page that made me think otherwise. (The chances of the page being wrong instead of me are probably rather small.) So please, call me bad names. It will make me feel better.

  43. J-D
    August 21st, 2012 at 12:52 | #43

    Tony Lynch :
    @J-D
    “the UK Foreign Secretary has specifically said that the UK is not going to ‘storm’ the embassy, as some reports have suggested.”
    Well, that settles it!
    Seriously, do you call citing this, getting at “the facts”?
    As Claude Cockburn said: “Don’t believe it until its officially denied”

    If a news report had said ‘the UK government will storm the embassy’, that would not have been reporting the facts.
    If a news report had said ‘the UK government will not storm the embassy’, that too would not have been reporting the facts.
    When I’m reciting the facts, I don’t say what the UK government _will_ or _will not_ do. If I were compelled to place a bet, I know which way I’d _bet_, but I don’t claim to be in possession of _facts_ about the future.
    However, the statement ‘the UK government has said that it will storm the embassy’ is not about the future, it’s about the past, and it’s factually inaccurate. It is a fact that the UK government (more specifically, the Foreign Secretary) has _said_ that the UK will not storm the embassy.

    I am aware of what the UK government did say about its legal powers. I am also aware that the statement has been described as ‘a stupid bluff by a stupid bureaucrat shooting his stupid mouth off about a matter that will be decided above his pay grade’. I do not know that interpretation to be factually accurate, but I see nothing in the facts to exclude the possibility.

  44. Alan
    August 21st, 2012 at 13:21 | #44

    @Alan

    The mild satire in my post may be abusive. We have no way of knowing on the evidence you’ve presented. We will just have to suspend judgment.

  45. J-D
    August 21st, 2012 at 15:51 | #45

    Satire is judgemental by definition.

  46. Alan
    August 21st, 2012 at 16:00 | #46

    @J-D

    We have no way of knowing on the evidence you’ve presented, although it is not self-evident that either satire or judgment are congruent with abuse. We’ll just have to suspend judgment.

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