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Sandpit

April 18th, 2014

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

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  1. April 20th, 2014 at 01:54 | #1

    Nuclear and tu qoque.
    John makes the claim that nuclear issues can’t be resolved by reference to peer reviewed literature, but I think this isn’t true: there is now a large body of peer-reviewed literature on the health consequences of nuclear accidents, and it is fairly conclusive that they are minimal.

    I would also take issue with his claim that it isn’t clear that TMI and Fukushima could have been worse. I think it’s very clear that they could have been a lot, lot worse. Fukushima especially – a few design changes could have prevented the accident altogether, but a few more points of bad luck and it would have been catastrophic.

  2. Ikonoclast
    April 20th, 2014 at 11:18 | #2

    RIP Mike Ruppert.

    This Neil Young composition expresses my deepest feelings better than I can.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi-S9lrnLZ8

    Mike was a flawed man (are not we all?) and some of his conspiracy theories were ludicrous. He was one of the “burnt children”. The most intellectually honest will always become “burnt children”.

    “Nietzsche in “Beyond Good and Evil” holds that only a few people have the fortitude to look in times of distress into what he calls the molten pit of human reality. Most studiously ignore the pit. Artists and philosophers, for Nietzsche, are consumed, however, by an insatiable curiosity, a quest for truth and desire for meaning. They venture down into the bowels of the molten pit. They get as close as they can before the flames and heat drive them back. This intellectual and moral honesty, Nietzsche wrote, comes with a cost. Those singed by the fire of reality become “burnt children,” he wrote, eternal orphans in empires of illusion.” – Mikey Kampmann

    The pathos, sadness and loneliness of Ruppert’s final years was telling. Perhaps existentially it is better to pull back a from that fire of reality and adopt the final philosophy of Candide. Retreat from the world and do what is inconsequential or minor good in the eyes of the world but is important good to the few close to you.

  3. Ikonoclast
    April 20th, 2014 at 11:22 | #3

    I should have added, the tragedy was Mike had no close partner, no close family or friends to provide the succour required in an impersonal world.

  4. April 20th, 2014 at 11:53 | #4

    @Ikonoclast

    Indeed.

    I watched Mike Ruppert’s (last??) film “Collapse” last night on the great free-movies website “Films For Action”.

  5. April 20th, 2014 at 11:58 | #5

    Dr. Quiggin:

    The link to the .pdf of yours and Tim Lambert’s takedown of the anti-Rachel Carson bunch, seems not to be working. http://johnquiggin.com/2008/05/13/in-praise-of-rachel-carson/

    Is that article on line anywhere?

  6. jungney
    April 21st, 2014 at 12:57 | #6

    Bruno Latour’s 2014 lecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen, ‘On some of the affects of capitalism’, available here via John Keane’s post at TC:

    https://theconversation.com/rethinking-capitalism-20995

  7. Ikonoclast
    April 21st, 2014 at 14:43 | #7

    It’s academically proven. Item from BBC News.

    “The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

    So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

    This is not news, you say.

    Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here’s how they explain it:

    Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

    In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

    The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

    “A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time,” they write, “while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time.”

    On the other hand:

    When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

    They conclude:

    Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

    Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn’t surprised by the survey’s results.

    “American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media),” he writes. “The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious ‘electoral’ ‘democratic’ countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now.” “

  8. jungney
    April 21st, 2014 at 19:12 | #8

    @Ikonoclast

    It’s like watching people re-invent the wheel. They’ve proved that class is objectively real.

  9. jungney
    April 21st, 2014 at 19:39 | #9

    @Ikonoclast

    Not dead yet. Rise up:

  10. Ben
    April 21st, 2014 at 20:37 | #10

    I have a question about the economics of the proposed Toowoomba Bypass which I understand is to be a toll road. The proposed tolls for trucks (to ensure the road’s commercial viability) seem to be very high (between $30 and $40). If I was a truckie I’d just go through Esk or even Cunningham’s Gap (if I could get away with it) and if I was a local I would use other non-tolled (and more dangerous) local roads. Is it likely to go the way of Airportlink and can this be independently modelled? Also further to that would it be better for Queenslanders if loss making infrastructure like Airportlink was nationalized? How could this be tested?

  11. April 21st, 2014 at 21:10 | #11

    @Ben

    Even without a toll I have come across large trucks along the Lion’s Road (Rathdowney/Beaudesert shortcut to Kyogle) and huge trucks along the appalling Mt Lindsay Highway south of Rathdowney (Qld border to Tenterfield).

    The last time I travelled it, a few months ago, the locals had signs on their fences complaining that it was a death-trap. You don’t need kitchen-crafted non-ferrous metallic headwear to work out that the road has been deliberately run down (by ALP/LNP governments NSW/Qld/Cwth) to counter precisely the possibility you mention.

    When they avoid the toll via that route those truckies will be subjected to draconian policing – guaranteed.

  12. April 21st, 2014 at 21:21 | #12

    We were presented with a “fact” about politics in 2013: “Refugees”.

    It predates that of course, but any search of the establishment media will tell you that the most important thing on the minds of all Australians was to do with refugees arriving by boat.

    Whether it was because we were racist xenophobes or compassionate carers for the prospects of drowning, it was the number one issue.

    Of course, that was 100% factory-grade pre-fabricated BS.

    Proof is that all we hear today is “Reffos Living In Luxury”. Never mind tomorrow is the anniversary of the Refugee Convention, that this week PNG’s Supreme Court rules on an application to remove Justice Cannings from the National Court Human Rights inquiry into Manus, that it’s been 62 days since the murder of Reza Barati with no arrests, that the ‘Bali Process’ is convening this week in Indonesia etc…

    Proof that this was an establishment media/political class fabrication from the start.

  13. April 22nd, 2014 at 01:16 | #13

    PS: Apparently Jessica Mauboy is going to visit her cousins on Manus Island.

    There is a nascent theme emerging on the internet about Manus. The concept seems to be that people are denigrating Manus as a “hell hole”.

    This is BS. Nobody who advocates for humane treatment of refugees has called anything a “hell hole” on Manus except Australia’s prison camps. This idea that people are calling the rest of Manus a “hell hole” is pure PR/damage control designed to take the focus off our concentration camp there.

    Murdoch’s News Ltd has led the way with today’s dog-whistle “refugees stay in luxury resort” garbage.

  14. Fran Barlow
    April 22nd, 2014 at 16:46 | #14

    Interesting article on innovations in harnessing and commercialising wind energy …

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/21/real-innovation-wind-energy/

  15. April 23rd, 2014 at 01:05 | #15

    JQ: Did Amy Remeikis (Brisbane Times) actually interview you for today’s column “Qld asset sales ‘don’t stack up’: economist”?

    Or did she just write it up based on your website?

    This is NOT journalism! Anyone here could have written this piece just by cutting and pasting stuff from JQ’s site.

    Amy probably gets paid upwards of $60,000 p.a. to do this.

    We need better democracy, and to do that we need better journalism, and to get that we need more media diversity.

    To get that we need to get the ALP/LNP/News Ltd paradigm out of our democracy.

  16. Steve Bloom
    April 23rd, 2014 at 09:10 | #16

    Re: Nuclear and tu quoque

    “No one can say for sure that the worst accidents we’ve seen so far (TMI,Chernobyl and Fukushima) encompass the worst that can possibly happen.”

    Actually we can say that, the reason being the narrow escape from a catastrophic melt-down of the unit 4 spent fuel pool at Fukushima. You must have seen information on this, and I’m a little surprised you seem to have forgotten it.

  17. Paul Norton
    April 25th, 2014 at 07:27 | #17

    1500 years ago, the English were illiterate, unwashed, violent, drunken, barbarous pagans. Since then they have converted to Christianity.

  18. paul walter
    April 25th, 2014 at 12:10 | #18

    and still are…

  19. John Quiggin
    April 25th, 2014 at 13:15 | #19

    My statement “No one can say for sure that the worst accidents we’ve seen so far (TMI,Chernobyl and Fukushima) encompass the worst that can possibly happen.” seems to have been misinterpreted by at least two commenters, which suggests I was unclear, perhaps because of a double negative.

    So, I’ll cancel the double negative and restate my point as: “On the evidence we have, accidents worse than those we’ve seen are possible”.

  20. Julie Thomas
    April 25th, 2014 at 14:06 | #20

    @Ben

    The way I understand the plan, but I’m just hearing grapevine information, trucks will not be allowed onto the present Twba range road and cars won’t be allowed on the truckie’s $100 toll road.

    The current road up the range has been subject to long delays for years now because it is being upgraded after the damage floods caused so that is maybe why some truckies are take the Mt Lindsay highway despite the bad road.

    In an article on The Conversation “Too many loads on our roads when rail is the answer”,
    Peter Mackenzie, an independent Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher, posted this comment, ” the most bizarre thing about the proposed Toowoomba road bypass is that all the key players know that there is also a proposed Inland Rail line (IR) – that should have the section through the Liverpool range and Toowoomba constructed first.

    Yet there is NO study I can find that assesses how much of the freight currently on road could be shifted to the IR – and to rail connections west of Toowoomba, regauged to standard gauge of the IR, with intermodal connections to road freight at the end of those sections.

    It is apparent that certain interests and their political reps are determined to get the funds into building the road freight bypass before the IR is built, very likely knowing it may not be needed once the IR is built,

    Perhaps the good commissioners from the Productivity Commission along with those of the Commission of Audit, should be examining that issue, along with a raft of similar stories from around the nation- especially with an existing shortfall of upwards of $200 billion in transport infrastructure backlog/proposals/needs.”

    As The Conversation article explains, rail would be so much better than more roads for trucks, but the idea that we could go back to trains seems to be just too hard and even people who agree that it is a better way to organise things, think it can’t happen.

  21. Frankis
    April 25th, 2014 at 14:44 | #21

    @John Quiggin
    You did though get the sense right in your original wording. The last time I used two or three negatives in a sentence here I screwed it up.

  22. Ikonoclast
    April 25th, 2014 at 16:06 | #22

    @John Quiggin

    Since Fukushima is ongoing to this day it is indeed getting worse in the aggregate sense and probably worse in the cumulative sense. The risk from Fukushima is present and ongoing in every sense. It remains unstable and not yet able to be stabilised. Contaminated water continues to go into the ground and ocean. There are six reactors (8 counting a neighbouring plant) and 11 spent fuel storage pools overall, IIRC, that could all yet melt and spew masses of radioactice material on and into the leand, sea and air.

    The Ex-Japanese PM, PM at the time of the intial disaster, is now on record as saying the Fukushima meltdown was worse than Chernobyl and he now opposes nuclear power. He would have been privy to a whole raft of information kept secret from the public and he now has no political career to protect nor favours due to vested interests. His view now carries definitive and conclusive weight. Any number of scientists, dissident from the vested interests of the IAEA / UNSCEAR “revolving door” nuclear propaganda complex, agree that Fukushima is now the worst nuclear disaster and is onging and unresolved.

    It was revealed in January that the number of U.S. sailors who say their health was devastated when they were irradiated while delivering humanitarian help near the stricken Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant is continuing to soar. Seventy one of those serving on the USS Ronald Reagan at the time of the meltdown now have cancer.

    An average of 1.7 people per 100,000 in the general population between the ages of 15 and 19 contracted Thyroid cancer in 2007. This year, 12 per 100,000 people younger than 18 at the time of the disaster in Fukushima were diagnosed with the disease.

  23. yuri
    April 25th, 2014 at 17:29 | #23

    @Ikonoclast
    I had read your comment on Mike Ruppert and quoting Nietsche’s view of artists and philosophers’ “quest for truth and desire for meaning” and quoted you to a very erudite person with a notoriously vigorous mind and wide and detailed general knowledge. Interesting that he hadn’t heard of Ruppert but then, to quote him “I used to know who won all the athletics and rowing and skiing gold medals and who won all the country’s football premierships but after the 70s my brain decided to economise on all that”.

    However he did pose an interesting question which I toss to you. “What would count as finding meaning for someone engaged in a quest for truth who desires meaning?”

    If I could find the book I remember once finding a place on my bookshelves which is, from memory, “The Meaning of Meaning” by I.A. Richards (about 50 different meanings is my probably inaccurate recollection) I might be able to chip in with what may have been a 1930s anticipation of Derrida and post-modernists….

  24. paul walter
    April 26th, 2014 at 11:32 | #24

    @John Quiggin You bobby-dazzler!

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