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February 8th, 2015

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

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  1. Tony Lynch
    February 8th, 2015 at 17:04 | #1

    Unless we have some sanity things might go all the way, starting in the Ukraine.

  2. Megan
    February 8th, 2015 at 18:34 | #2

    @Tony Lynch

    The usual dogs of war in the establishment press (NYT, BBC etc.) have started the lead-in propaganda already.

    I hope fewer people buy it this time, hopefully enough to prevent the war. Without the silent or complicit consent of the citizens of UK, US and Australia they can’t do it. But I’m afraid they will get their way again.

  3. jungney
    February 8th, 2015 at 18:48 | #3

    You fail to apprehend the opportunities for intervention that are provided by the conditions of war. For a start, if what the ruling classes want is war, then they should have it. But the ruling classes have not yet realised that their global state is trans-national and indeed surpasses the nation state altogether. The war they advocate is not in people’s interests. Remember, the bayonet is a weapon with a member of the working class on either end. We can, and ought, to bring ‘their’ war right home to where they reside and thereby show that the nationalist bargain between the national bourgeoisie and the national proletariat is come to an end. Why wouldn’t we seek common purpose with those with whom we might identify rather than the interests of a nice looking man in a suit. Turnbull. Shorten. Whatever.

  4. The White Mouse
    February 8th, 2015 at 21:58 | #4

    It would be a disaster if the west allowed Putin’s thugs to continue their march through Europe. This evil clown is emboldened each time the free world equivocates.

    * waits for Russia Today trolls to turn up …

  5. paul walter
    February 8th, 2015 at 22:34 | #5

    I’d much rather a thread explaining what it is Andrew Robb is negotiating away behind our backs as to FTA’s- that is, given the failure of msm to do its reportage job as to these neolib issues.

    Surely more useful that silly stuff about Russian plots.

  6. Tony Lynch
    February 8th, 2015 at 22:34 | #6

    Is that you, white mouse?

  7. Megan
    February 9th, 2015 at 00:21 | #7

    @Tony Lynch

    Is white mouse a Poe?

    It’s getting harder and harder to tell these days.

    The hint would be “Putin’s thugs” marching through Europe. But still, it could be the real thing.

  8. paul walter
    February 9th, 2015 at 03:08 | #8

    Megan, the other thing is the secret Soviet Divisions in Montana.

    What mischiefs might they be up to?

  9. The White Mouse
    February 9th, 2015 at 09:26 | #9

    Is John Quiggin linked to the left wing Can Do Better conspiracy theory website? I ask because some of his posts are reprinted by them. I’m hoping the answer is no of course.

    The link is candobetter.net These leftoids are so creepy they even think Martin Bryant was framed in a false flag operation.

  10. tony lynch
    February 9th, 2015 at 10:08 | #10

    Megan, I think it is a riff on “Send in the Trolls”.

  11. Sancho
    February 9th, 2015 at 11:59 | #11

    I’ve encountered the Martin Bryant conspiracy thing, but only ever from gun proliferation advocates, who are very right-wing, and very convinced that John Howard is a closet leftist who engineered the massacre to introduce strict gun control, then [U.N., chemtrails, groupstalking, LaRouche etc].

  12. Julie Thomas
    February 9th, 2015 at 13:14 | #12

    There are still 9/11 conspiracy theorists around too.

    I couldn’t believe it when a post turned up on my fb page telling me that there are actually 22,000 – thousands! – engineers and architects – wow – who have evidence of this. We all have relatives and friends who do things like that, surely?

    Perhaps white mouse doesn’t know how the internet works? The peeps who started the “I’m sticking with Tony” meme didn’t seem to understand how much fun ‘leftoids’ can have with teh electronic graffitti.

  13. February 9th, 2015 at 13:16 | #13

    BilB, in another thread you linked to an article on shipping. It wasn’t a very good one because the headline so far has resulted in a number of people concluding that shipping results in more greenhouse gas emissions than road transport when road transport actually burns more than 10 times as much oil and contributes more than 10 times as much to greenhouse gas emissions as shipping. The sulfur and other pollutants ships spew out in huge amounts are not good, but they are a different category of nasty.

    And the picture could have been better as Maersk has the most fuel efficient oil powered ships in the world and has significantly improved the efficiency of all the ships they build.

    Nuclear power is too expensive and too dangerous, or in business terms the insurance premiums are too high, to be used for shipping. And there is the problem of where they would be used. If Australia had any sense we wouldn’t let any into our harbours without at least a billion dollar bond being posted because the iron rule of the nuclear industry is not “safety first,” but rather, “We do not pay for damage that occurs outside the facility.”

  14. Hermit
    February 9th, 2015 at 14:23 | #14

    I think we’re covering old ground on shipping emissions. Bunker oil which is the black goo left when when fractional distillation towers have boiled off petrol, LPG etc is only about 30c a litre if I recall. Ship fuel tanks need immersion heaters to get it to flow in cold weather. However sooner than we think (my guess 2018 onwards) everything made from petroleum will be in short supply whether the price is high or not.

    Fair point you probably couldn’t dock a nuclear powered ship in Auckland Harbour. Still the beleaguered people of Haiti were grateful when the USS Carl Vinson supplied desalinated water after the 2010 earthquake, energy supplied by a 194 MW reactor.

  15. John Quiggin
    February 9th, 2015 at 14:41 | #15

    @The White Mouse

    Anyone who wants to can reprint my blog posts. Candobetter also publishes responses to my posts, some of which have been blocked under my comments policy regarding conspiracy theories.

  16. alfred venison
    February 9th, 2015 at 15:11 | #16

    dear editor, re: “doomsday preppers” – left-wing conspiracy theory t.v. show? or right-wing conspiracy theory t.v. show? or do we the viewers decide? is it a “foxtel-you-decide-situation”? please advise. -a.v.

  17. February 9th, 2015 at 15:15 | #17

    Provided every nuclear powered cargo ship comes equiped with 6,000 crew, some of the most deadly weapons ever devised to defend it, a flotilla of diesel ships to protect it, and the reputation of a superpower backing it safe operation, as the Carl Vinson does, nuclear accidents could probably be kept to a minimum. But as for a 25 year old Liberian cargo vessel with a crew of 9 non-Liberians, only one of whom will cop to being able to speak English – well, I’d be a little more wary, since that’s not too untypical of the international vessels that currently grace our beautiful and easily contaminated ports.

    And just in case Mr Greenwood is around, I will point out that it doesn’t how much you point out that the water above the nuclear core that melted its way out of the bottom of a ship effectively blocks all radiation, if the dockworkers refuse to go near it, economic damage is still done. Declaring them to be scaredy cats in no way magically transports cargo containers from one location to another.

  18. Julie Thomas
    February 9th, 2015 at 15:27 | #18

    Oh oh here is another ‘lefty’ publication linking to a Prof Quiggin article.

    “As the economist John Quiggin argues, recent volatility in election results actually reflects a very coherent and consistent view. Australians do not want governments that will further advance neoliberal economic reform as their central purpose and priority.”


    Nice title. Hairballs? ugh

  19. jungney
    February 9th, 2015 at 15:39 | #19

    Well put a.v. For mine, they appear to me to be yr average semi-literate shooters which would place them on the right. I’m unconvinced that imposing a left/right grid of meaning on other people’s ideas and beliefs is useful except in so far as the ideas themselves can be shown to have a right or left lineage.

  20. Hermit
    February 9th, 2015 at 15:47 | #20

    @Ronald Brak
    So what happens when you can’t get oil based fuel for love nor money? Great granddad came out from Old Blighty on a clipper ship but I’m not keen to do the reverse trip. It all points to the big coal revival.

  21. Paul Norton
    February 9th, 2015 at 16:08 | #21

    At some point this week the results of all 89 seats in the Queensland State election will be declared, meaning that parliament will be able to sit and a government will be formed comprising the 44 Labor MPs with the support of Peter Wellington (Independent). The LNP canard that a government can’t be formed until the status of the seat of Ferny Grove is resolved by the Court of Disputed Returns has been debunked by Antony Green. It is thereby a matter for some concern that ABC TV journalists are retailing LNP talking points on this issue even after they have been debunked by the ABC’s own election analyst.

  22. Julie Thomas
    February 9th, 2015 at 17:16 | #22

    I recently met and talked to a young man who loves his guns – and that’s an okay thing out here in the bush, farmers need guns.

    But the amazing thing is that I found out that he really truly believed that it was the Greens who changed the gun laws and did a bad bad thing. He was convinced that they – the Greens – want to totally disarm everyone. He is not stupid or particularly ignorant about the things he does for a living.

    Seriously, he was amazed when he realised that it was Howard and the LNP who were responsible for the gun laws and then he was willing to listen to the arguments for the gun laws and then to understand and admit that the gun legislation as it stands does not impede his legitimate use of his guns and that – nanny state or not – it prevents the gun nuts from hurting other people who don’t have guns and it also significantly lowers the chances that people will accidentally or in a fit of ‘bad temper’ kill members of their family and that is a good thing.

    Then he was interested in the Greens and what they offered that was different from the nonsense we have now. And I believe that he voted for the Greens in the last state election. There was a 2.2 swing to the Greens – I think – in our electorate. I can’t take credit for all that though.

    The difference I see between this young man’s ‘libertarian’ tendencies and the other sort of libertarian tendency that is on display by the IPA boyz, is that when ‘left’ libertarians are convinced that there is no conspiracy by The Left, that there are no actual living and breathing Leftoids, they do want to be cooperative and be part of egalitarian community that accepts and respects them.

    The IPA boyz not so much wanting to be like normal people.

    But I agree Jungney that right/left dichotomy just doesn’t work any more.

    Dan Kahan came up with an interesting way of categorising what he sees as the essential differences between people in different ‘cultures’ – with the cultures being the right and the left of politics in the US.

    He suggests that the relevant ‘world-views’ that separate right and life are better captured by our ideas and values about individualism/community and hierarchy/egalitarianism. He discusses some of his data using these categories from a few years ago here.


  23. February 9th, 2015 at 17:19 | #23

    Hermit, if oil based fuel cannot be obtained “for love nor money,” then I would suggest using something else.

  24. Hermit
    February 9th, 2015 at 17:44 | #24

    @Ronald Brak
    Incat just built an LNG powered ferry for Argentina. Even the LNG transport ships with spherical cryogenic tanks run modified diesel engines on boil-off from the tanks. Perhaps the dour and pragmatic could have nuclear ships call in while the romantically inclined (NZ et al) could get their containers delivered by clipper. If synfuel cost say $5/L compared to bunkers 30c things could get desperate.

    Another ‘something else’ scenario is that we earmark gas 100% for transport and everybody else (canneries, power stations, laundries etc) find another heat source. That would imperil the $13bn Curtis Island investment.

  25. jungney
    February 9th, 2015 at 18:08 | #25

    @Julie Thomas
    It can get weird in the bush around politics. A man of my acquaintance, ‘Roadie’, as he is known, approves deeply of the Taliban. ‘Mate’, he said, ‘the way they do justice is right I mean they just line ’em up on the ground and then go down the line and boom, boom, boom.’

    Now, I doubt that Roadie was ever a major consumer of msm, ever. In fact, I suspect he is functionally illiterate. But he sure knows how to use youtube and, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

    The sheer bullshit that is spread against The Greens, and environmentalists who are generically and sneeringly described as greenies, is so vile and uninformed as to be only comprehensible anthropologically. That is, public declarations of contempt for ‘greenies’, fed by years of bigoted msm coverage, are a display of tribal loyalty among the chronically ripped off and stupid.

    The worst recent example is the favourable coverage givenby The Land to the hillbilly farmer who allegedly shot and killed a NSW environmental officer because he (the farmer) had issues with the way that he had been ‘persecuted’ by bureaucrats for breaching regulations around land clearing. The Land, without apology, published a series of articles basically saying ‘well, bad policies deliver bad social outcomes’.

    Thereby adopting the logic of the terrorist, to which observation they remain obtuse.

    It seems to me that the lunatic Tea Party god bothering far right of the Liberal Party would be on to a good thing if they were intelligent enough to cultivate and then manipulate the drooling, grievance bearing and armed lumpen proletariat of the bush. Maybe they scare even Cory Bernardi?

    Let’s keep our eyes on that space. Watch out for an intelligent, articulate and persuasive authentic spokesperson from the bush who embodies rural ‘virtues’ and manages to link Australian xenophobia and racism to ecological values. That’s the real danger of fascist populism here.

    Fortunately, the gene and money pool in the bush is pretty shallow. They haven’t coughed one up yet and look unlikely to do so for a while.

  26. February 9th, 2015 at 18:22 | #26

    Hermit, if you are aware that ships can run off LNG, why do you suggest that synfuel at $5 a liter might be used when the energy eqivalent of one liter of bunker fuel of natural gas currently costs about 19 cents domestically and 15 cents in the US?

  27. Donald Oats
    February 9th, 2015 at 19:02 | #27

    The gun guys are an interesting, eclectic bunch, comprising far right, full on libertarian, through to people who just enjoy target shooting, the skill of using a rifle, and of course farmers, who feel the need to possess the means of putting down animals in distress.

    About the only ones you can’t really reason with are those who believe in the principle that they should be allowed to do anything they want, without government interference: they see it as a metaphorical “Up yours, guvm’nt!” to possess weapons of mass carnage, M16s, fully automatic, RPGs, and anything else that some one, some where, manufactures.

    Aside from those clots, I think most people who like guns can respect the fact that possession of fully automatic firearms is unnecessary, and carries a greater risk of evil use on a large scale, than does a single-shot-at-a-time weapon. There really is no need for a farmer (for example) to own a fully-automatic, or even a semi-automatic, firearm. Single shot is good enough for the purpose of putting down distressed animals, or clearing feral animals from the property.

    It is fascinating the learn that a number of the more rustic dwellers seem to think it was the Greens, and not John Howard and the LNP, which changed gun laws and performed the buy-back in the wake of the Bryant massacre. Bryant had/has a screw loose—sadly—but he also had weapons of mass carnage, which he used to most destructive effect. That anyone could believe in a “false-flag” operation involving Bryant is awful, awfully sad. I wonder what world they live in, meaning who their close friends are, that such a theory could hold any credence at all?

  28. Julie Thomas
    February 9th, 2015 at 19:58 | #28

    I live on the edge of Qld red-neck country, in a small town that is rustic enough to be aesthetically pleasing and close enough to a large town with some jobs and a Uni. But I can only live here because there is reasonable internet access.

    There used to be a dairy industry out here but many of farmers now work for corporate farmers and blame the Coles Woolies duopoly for the loss of their jobs. There are conspiracy theories about this sort of thing, about corporations and bank.

    But I never talked to anyone who thought that farmer deserved anything but locking up in a psych hospital for the rest of his life. He shot him in the back even!

    The hatred of the Greens seems to come from the lies they were told about land rights – and that it was the Greens allied with the blackfellas who were going to take their land and the main thing that people seem to hate about Labor is the interest rates back in the ’80.

    But these people are seriously confused and really do vote against their own interests, like they love their ABC but vote for cuts. Duh.

  29. Donald Oats
    February 9th, 2015 at 20:04 | #29

    @Julie Thomas
    …and yet, the high interest rates in the early 80’s came from Treasurer John Howard and PM Malcolm Fraser. Ditto the high unemployment. The ALP floated the dollar, which in turn changed the way the Reserve Bank of Australia had to use interest rates.

  30. Donald Oats
    February 9th, 2015 at 21:18 | #30

    Tony Abbott’s talk-a-bout was about as convincing as lipstick on a pig in the mud. Heard, heard it all before.

    Tony says we made some mistakes, they’ll fix it by changing a few things…meanwhile, people lost their jobs for no other reason than Tony felt like it. Of his own volition, he promised no cuts to health, education, ABC, and SBS…and then he did it. Noone held a gun to his head to come out and promise those things on the eve of the election.

    Under 17 months of Shakespearean comedy, the economy is messed up. Regressive taxes are extolled, progressive taxes reduced or removed. The wealth in the ground is granted to international companies for them to export, along with the taxable earnings. Manufacturing industry has been gutted, along with the surrounding suburbs (think car manufacturing), the renewable energy industry in sudden and brutal attack, increasing deficit, and a housing market made unaffordable for young people and/or single-income people; homelessness, especially the hidden homeless, is up. Mental health services under threat; medical research slashed now, but a shining monument to medical research in a $20 billion “fund”, supported by the mysterious medicare co-payment, which is not marked for anything beyond helping our universal medical healthcare system, apparently.

    Under PM Tony Abbott, our government is one of the most self-contradictory and confused group I’ve had the misfortune to witness. At least the ALP coalition could function and pass bills through Parliament, even as they fought spectacularly in public.

    Please let this play out as Hamlet did.

  31. Hermit
    February 9th, 2015 at 21:35 | #31

    @Ronald Brak
    Pundits expect world peak natural gas about 2030 notwithstanding the transient success of US fracking. Closer to home LNP stalwart Ian MacFarlane has predicted NSW gas shortages by 2016, that’s next year. Since very little gas is currently used as a transport fuel we would have to put a moratorium in non-transport uses for gas including LNG export. Currently gas provides 21% of Australia’s electricity (coal 64%) with the rest going for domestic and industrial heat, ammonia production and plastics feedstock.

    When it’s gone it will be hard to replace. We can’t produce enough fermentation biomethane or synthetic Sabatier methane to replace fossil gases like natgas and CSG. Same goes for biofuels unless we make liquid fuel from coal. That must mean a severe contraction in hydrocarbon based transport, a key idea in Limits to Growth.

  32. February 9th, 2015 at 23:39 | #32

    Hermit, let me get this straight. You are saying we will run out of both oil and natural gas and you are saying it will be impossible to produce replacements for them in the future for some unstated reason, but it will be possible to build cargo ship nuclear reactors without a problem? In what whay is that not crazy? I can build an anaeorbic digester to produce methane. I’m so talented I can even provide the feedstock. But I can’t build a nuclear reactor. (Honest.) If you want to play pretend and say that in your imaginary future nuclear powered cargo ships will be cheaper and safer than other alternatives that’s fine. But you’ve got to state these rules openly otherwise people will scoff, as I did, when they clearly depart from reality. If you don’t want to use phrases such as “let’s pretend” or “let’s play make believe” then some other phrases you can use are, “In the hypothetical situation that…” or even just, “If… then…”

    Hermit, you say that peak natural gas will be in might be in 2030? Well, we’ve been at peak oil for over ten years now with the recent peak in production only being about 8% higher than what was achieved in 2004. That’s a growth rate of about 0.7% a year. In that time world population growth has been about 1.2%. In other words we’ve had declining oil production per person for more than a decade. And you know what? It ain’t so bad. What have we seen happen in these past 11 years? Well, there’s been an absolute decrease in oil use in the US and many other countries achieved through improved efficiency and substitution. We’ve seen oil mostly eliminated for heating and electricity generation, we’ve seen internal combustion engine cars become lighter and more efficient, hybrid cars have become common place, just about every taxi in Australia become a hybrid or LPG powered, we’ve seen the development of an electric car industry. In other words exactly what one would expect to happen around peak oil. Well, one as in one me at least. I think one you might have expected something different.

    If peak natural gas occurs in the far off year of 2030 I expect we will see the same sort of thing occurring, with gas use being eliminated where it is easy to eliminate which leaves production available for where it’s hard to eliminate. But let’s hope we don’t have to wait 15 years for natural gas production to peak.

    Anyway, Hermit, you seem to be stuck in a pair of trousers. You seem to think that if you can’t go down the oil leg or out the natural gas fly, you have no choice other than go down the nuclear leg. But that’s silly because there are other options.

    nuclear is so expensive and the smaller the reactor gets the more expensive it becomes per kilowatt-hour of energy produced and the higher the security risks go. Electricity from Hinkley C costs about 20 cents a kilowatt-hour. Let’s say we can magically produce a cargo ship reactor that will operate for that much while even including a multibillion dollar insurance policy. Large industrial users in Australia pay a marginal cost of about 7 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity. Hydrogen production can be over 70% efficient, but let’s make it 50% to make up for losses. That’s about two thirds the cost of nuclear. Spreading solar capacity is dropping electricity costs for large users across Australia just as they have in South Australia.

  33. February 9th, 2015 at 23:41 | #33

    And again I acciently command my robo monkey to press the enter button too soon. Please ignore the above mess.

  34. JKUU
    February 10th, 2015 at 02:22 | #34

    In today’s Guardian Australia: Huffington Post to launch in Australia in partnership with Fairfax.

  35. Hermit
    February 10th, 2015 at 06:04 | #35

    RB quite a few bold assertions there. I too have made a methane digester but the stink and constant work was too much. The ACT is paying the same for commercial solar as the UK is paying for Hinkley C nuclear. The panels will give about 16% of their rated power for 25 years but Hinkley should give 90% power for 60 years.

    True we are using less transport fuel in the West but about 2 bn people who don’t have cars aspire to them. We can’t keep cutting fuel use indefinitely. Sydneysiders are supposed to use about 35L of petrol a week. Maybe they can get by on 20L but when it is forced down to say 5L some outer fringe dwellers won’t be able to get to work or the shops.

    In 2015 fossil fuels account for 87% of our electricity and nearly 100% of our transport and industrial heat. If that was easy to turn around we’d be further ahead by now.

  36. alfred venison
    February 10th, 2015 at 08:10 | #36

    thank you, jungney, “left-wing conspiracy theory blog” says less to me about the observed than about the observer. i know your focus is local these days & i dig that, but i’ll share this interesting development i found today, don’t know if it will penetrate the usual local news filters. http://cyprus-mail.com/2014/01/10/cabinet-gives-ok-for-russian-use-of-paphos-base/ -a.v.

  37. Tim Macknay
    February 10th, 2015 at 10:53 | #37
  38. February 10th, 2015 at 10:54 | #38

    Hermit, once again, I will respectfully ask you to ignore what’s there.

  39. Donald Oats
    February 10th, 2015 at 15:12 | #39

    @Tim Macknay
    No surprise to me. The PM has a history of backing losers, and this is just another one in his quiver of broken arrows. Anyway, “climate change is crap”, so we don’t need to worry about ineffectiveness of CSS, by our PM’s logic.

    On another note, I think Sean Edwards is probably feeling a bit peeved at having taken the PM at his word the other day: something about subs and competitive open tender being mentioned, but now it’s being called competitive evaluation process, something with no technical meaning. Kevin Andrews, when asked on the difference, basically said that words would mean what he wanted them to mean, or that he would choose the words he wanted to use—presumably meaning it is up to us to interpret what the f**k he actually meant. I’m sorry, these guys really get me down sometimes. I’ll end with the pertinent piece:

    Senator Edwards joined the Minister on his tour of the ASC shipyards and said “open tender” were the words that he had used after speaking with the Prime Minister.

    “But now I’ve heard about competitive evaluation,” he said.

    “It’s the ability for these people here at [shipbuilders] ASC to involve themselves.”

    South Australian Labor Senator Penny Wong has accused the Prime Minister of lying and using the defence contract to secure a vote in the party room spill motion ballot.

    “What we have are weasel words from the Defence Minister and the Prime Minister which are completely at odds with the commitment the Prime Minister made to Sean Edwards,” Senator Wong said.

    Will the adult running the show please stand up? [No, not you, Christopher, no not you, Mr Bookshelf Brandis, uh uh no not you PM Abbott, definitely not you Mr Andrews, sigh.]

  40. sunshine
    February 10th, 2015 at 20:18 | #40

    @alfred venison
    Those preppers on the Doomsday Preppers show are Left ,Right and everything inbetween . There are some old hippies ,young nutty people ,Libertarian types ,control freaks ,generally nice people with a paranoid streak, obsessive compulsives , socially awkward misfits , and lots of ex-millitary blokes.

  41. jungney
    February 10th, 2015 at 21:05 | #41

    @alfred venison
    That;s interesting. I’m a student of modern Greek history and have been taking a close interest in the new Minister for Finance in the Greek cabinet since I read that he is a dual citizenship Greek Australian, Yanis Varoufakis. Apparently he taught at Usyd, maybe political economy. He;s very funny and has described his career as an economist as being like ‘an atheist in a Medieval monastery’. He sees himself as a debunker and, so far, especially in the light of this development, the Greeks look to me as if they have a good handle on the state of play in the Eurozone. Yanis Varoufakis has a blog and looks to me to be one of those occasional tough minded radical democrats that history throws up from time to time.

    So, the Greeks, who had a good taste of fascism during and after the war, have scented gunpowder drifting down from the Ukraine. You’ll like this:

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the country has a “moral obligation” to claim reparations from Germany for the damages wrought by the Nazis during World War II.

    Greece had “a moral obligation to our people, to history, to all European peoples who fought and gave their blood against Nazism,” he said in a key address to parliament.

    Berlin has already sounded a firm “no” to requests for reparations nearly 70 years after the end of the war, but Mr Tsipras and his radical left party have vowed to tackle the issue. The issue risks aggravating already strained ties between Athens and Berlin, as Mr Tsipras bids to reverse austerity measures imposed by its international creditors.

    “Our historical obligation is to claim the occupation loan and reparations,” the new prime minister said, referring to Germany’s four-year occupation of Greece and a war-time loan which the Third Reich forced the Greek central bank to give it, and which ruined the country financially.

    Mr Tsipras’s anti-austerity Syriza party claims Germany owes it about around €162 billion ($236 billion), about or around half the country’s public debt, which stands at over €315 billion. The loan to the Third Reich was for 476 million Reichsmarks, which was valued at $US8.25 billion in a 2012 German Bundestag lower house of Parliament report.

    At the end of the war the Greek left had two million members and 150,000 hardened fighters under arms and failed to take advantage of their strength. I think they’ve learned a few things since then.

  42. jungney
    February 10th, 2015 at 21:24 | #42

    a.v., in relation the the article you linked, given the state of Greek finances I doubt they could pay for anything guaranteed to be effective. It is therefore very useful to have some heavy hitting armaments sitting around on your tarmac run by people who you don’t trust, but understand.

  43. Ikonoclast
    February 10th, 2015 at 22:57 | #43

    I hope I can raise this issue in the sandpit. Recently there have been several cases of police shooting and even killing distraught, oddly behaved or temporarily deranged people brandishing knives in public. There was a case today of woman being shot dead in Sydney. Usually, the arsenal of weapons mentioned as being available to police in those cases consists only of capsicum spray, tasers and pistols.

    Police need not be limited to these now conventional weapons and then always go (it seems) for the gun. It would be relatively easy for police to be trained in the use of fighting sticks. With such sticks, approved only for use against knife-wielders, a suitably trained person or persons, could easily disarm a knife wielder who continued to approach. Blows to knees, elbows, forearms and wrists would soon disarm and/or disable them. This would certainly be preferrable to shooting them. A broken wrist can be fixed, a fatal shot of course allows for no fix.

  44. Donald Oats
    February 11th, 2015 at 00:08 | #44

    A long knife wielded irrationally can cause serious injury. Police are quite wisely taught to keep the distance and to talk. I agree entirely with you on the need to find non-lethal methods for incapacitating someone in this situation, and certainly the handgun is a depressing choice.

    The trouble with the current non-lethal at-a-distance weapons is that they simply don’t work on everybody, especially on people who are full of adrenaline; once the police officer has exhausted their rather limited choice of non-lethal weapons which have range, they are left with either the handgun or the telescoping stick, the latter requiring them to be in hand-to-hand combat range, or just a step outside that. Even a quite competently trained person (by which I mean someone who is very well practised with the use of the stick) is at quite significant risk of physical injury in a full-on knife attack. There are simply no reliable one-on-one defences that are 99% effective against a knife wielding slash and stab attacker: once you are within their striking range, dumb luck plays a part.

    Honestly, I think the best tactic—if possible—is to wait until there are several more officers, say five or six, surround the individual, one officer doing all the talking and making direct eye contact, and then they use a coordinated stick strike at the limbs, and jump them, basically. Perhaps the circumstances changed too quickly, forcing an officer into a terrible decision. The fact that there were four officers in close proximity certainly provokes questions though, such as whether they had sticks, or could have tasered her (more than once). I haven’t watched the video footage surrounding this, and I don’t intend to. If someone can come up with a better and effective way of incapacitating someone without serious harm to them or the officers, please do it.

  45. paul walter
    February 11th, 2015 at 03:17 | #45

    That’s an interesting post, Jungney.

    I dont think morals will influence the troika and we must begin to see our own future in what occurs in Greece.

  46. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 07:47 | #46


    One finds this diversity of people out here in the rural areas; not the real ‘locals’, that is, those who were born here and never left, but of those of us who choose to come out here to live there is a great diversity of backgrounds and reasons for making this choice, but there is a also a growing consensus between and among ‘us’ and the locals about what is wrong and why we choose to leave ‘civilization’ and live among them and what we have to offer.

    In particular one of the people I met that I would not have talked to in a larger social environment, was an ex-military bloke – lots of gravitas and and air of being someone – but who is very reticent about talking about who he was and what he did but he told me that he once took a picture of himself firing a rifle down the main street of the small town he lives in at midday and sent it off to ‘George Street’. He is into old cameras that use film and set up the picture himself.

    I don’t really understand the significance of this act for him but it was clearly something that he valued and thought that he showed that he had done better than his former colleagues who were still in “George Street” and had made the right choice to move out here.

    Despite being from such different cultures we were able to agree on one small thing, that more tourists would be okay in our respective little towns but we would want them gone by 10 am on a Monday so we can have our peace and quiet back.

    Managing this diversity and using it to achieve a good outcome I think starts when we go about finding one area of agreement and then being motivated to work out what else there is that we can agree on. I think so anyway.

  47. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 07:53 | #47

    “There are simply no reliable one-on-one defences that are 99% effective against a knife wielding slash and stab attacker: once you are within their striking range, dumb luck plays a part.”

    What about the way dog handlers manage out of control dogs? They wear body padding; could that be useful against a knife also?

    It is worth the effort to try and resolve these situations without killing anyone because the social and emotional costs of a death like this in a family and a community are very significant and can have such a lot of repercussions.

  48. Ikonoclast
    February 11th, 2015 at 08:03 | #48

    @Donald Oats

    Certainly, my suggestion would not suit all cases. But in this case at least 4 police attended and surrounded the woman. This indicates they had numbers and presumably some time and space to operate in. Equipment including a long fighting staff, with gauntlets and a stab vest (very similar to a kevlar vest) might suffice although the femoral and carotid arteries might also need protection. Perhaps they could contain such a person at distance until a unit arrives with such gear.

    Other options also ought to exist for this situation. The riot shotgun is a possibility; a short barrel weapon shooting bean bag rounds (called flexible baton rounds) or rubber bullets.

    I simply don’t think the authorities are using enough imagination in coming up with ways to non-lethally detain a “mad” as opposed to a “bad” knife wielder.

  49. sunshine
    February 11th, 2015 at 08:14 | #49

    10 + years ago there was a kid with a kitchen knife shot and killed by police at the skate park behind the Northcote mall in Melb. He was having some kind of mental episode .At the time I never heard reported that the skate park is only about 150 meters from ,and is in direct line of sight, to a police station across the other side of the mall car park.

  50. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 11:08 | #50

    Holly crap. We have commenters on a lefty blog saying some people who like firearms are just possibly normal people. It seems pigs can fly.

    Given the extremely remote but still possible idea that minds may be open I’ll just leave this here:-

  51. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 11:34 | #51


    Seriously you are a numpty if you think, like my son’s friend used to think , that all left wing people want to take guns away from everyone; maybe when we evolve into that sort of human being this will happen.

    But now the relevant factor is how responsible the person with the gun can be, how in control of their behaviour are they, how socially intelligent and aware of the community values about guns and driving cars fast and other mostly male behaviours that are threats to other people are they.

    Sadly, your senator is not a responsible man and he is one type of person that I would not feel comfortable being around if he had a gun. I have read his emotional response to the Howard Govt decision and it is very similar to the attitude of my mad old uncle who buried all his guns when Howard did his bastard” act.

    My old uncle was once a warrant officer who renovated a huge old Queenslander from the army stores. No shame; that was his right apparently.

    Toward the end when his wife had to take the kids and get out; he used to sit on the back stairs and shoot mice as they ran past. He walks around naked how apparently carrying a weapon and nobody not even his children are willing to approach him.

    We do have them in my family.

    If someone is on the side of a fair go for all people and they have demonstrated that behaviour then I would trust them with a gun, with the regulations that we currently have.

    I can understand that some people like guns for their beauty and design just like I love really dangerous shoes that wreck my back and I could fall off and down the steps and die even.

    But your man thinks he is a better man than the rest of us and that means he will feel free to take my life if he judges me to be less valuable than him and …..he wants more gun ‘freedom’which is not freedom at all.

    I want more gun responsibility and less freedom for gun lovers to do their thing, not more gun rights and more freedom for these alpha males to walk around among the rest of us armed and feeling superior and judgemental.

  52. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 11:41 | #52

    So do we agree then that it should be legal for women to carry firearms for self defence. And for some beta males also. If so let’s take that point of consensus and reform the law accordingly.

  53. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 11:47 | #53

    But your man thinks he is a better man than the rest of us and that means he will feel free to take my life if he judges me to be less valuable than him and …..he wants more gun ‘freedom’which is not freedom at all.

    By the way you have basically called David a cold blooded murderer. Defamation territory. And rude as well.

  54. Ikonoclast
    February 11th, 2015 at 11:52 | #54


    “commenters on a lefty blog saying some people who like firearms are just possibly normal people…”

    Who were the people who said this? Which post numbers please? I want to see exactly what they said and whether or not you have miscontrued it.

  55. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 12:00 | #55


    Sue me then – I do have the sort of freedom that comes from being one of those with nothing left to lose – but in my world view your man David and your fellow glibertarians have been slandering me and mine for decades now. There is more but whatev… you have lost.

    Did you realise how clearly you show a fevered your imagination is when you say that I have “basically called David a cold blooded murderer”. What does basically”” mean in your language?

    And you have so totally misunderstood my accusation/assessment/judgement of David’s potential. I did try to explain that I believe from what I have read that he has written that he is more likely than not to be the sort of person who would in a situation choose? an emotional response that would lead him to conclude that it was more rational to just do it and shoot me rather than value my life sufficiently to try another way to alter my behaviour even if it was going to be less efficient.

    Do you understand that reasoning – sorry I am not good at talking to libertarians – or will you prefer to jump to another wrong conclusion that allows you to express your superiority over teh lefties in this exchange of views?

  56. jungney
    February 11th, 2015 at 12:08 | #56

    I ‘like’ guns as much as I ‘like’ my socket wrench set. Which is to say, I don’t like either but they are both useful tools in appropriate circumstances. Leyonhjelm, a known gun nut, speaks in the Senate about the need for ‘practical self defense’, by which he means short barrel weapons as well as pepper spray and ‘personal tazers’ instead of demanding to know how the dangerously deranged Man Monis got his hands on a shotgun.

    At the same time as the idiot Leyonhjelm seems to want to pursue the wider availability of firearms, you know, so ‘a good guy with a gun can take down a bad guy with a gun’, we in Australia are pretty much weekly regaled with stories from the home of freedom about toddlers shooting siblings, one parent and sometimes both. I have become calloused against the human tragedy of these stories because of their frequency and sheer stupidity.

    Just on the trope of how ‘good guys with guns can take down bad guys with guns’ I’ve yet to see any evidence of this actually happening in the US.

  57. Ikonoclast
    February 11th, 2015 at 12:17 | #57


    Fortunately, Australia does not have the idiotic “Citizens! – Arm yourselves to the teeth!” laws of the the USA. That is why our gun death rates are vastly lower per capita. It’s very simple.

    There are a large number of reputable gun law and gun ownership studies which show that strict gun controls and low gun ownership rates save lives.

    Fortunately, most Australians do not accept the arguments of the lunatic fringe who argue that the citizenry should arm up.

    Look up “High gun ownership makes countries less safe, US study finds” on the net. From that article;

    “They examined data from 27 developed countries, using gun ownership figures from the Small Arms Survey and deaths from the World Health Organisation, the National Center for Health Statistics and others. They also looked at crime rates compiled by the United Nations for an indication of the safety of each country.

    More guns meant more deaths, they found. “The gun ownership rate was a strong and independent predictor of firearm-related death,” says Bangalore. “Private gun ownership was highest in the US. Japan, on the other end, had an extremely low gun ownership rate. Similarly, South Africa (9.4 per 100,000) and the US (10.2 per 100,000) had extremely high firearm-related deaths, whereas the United Kingdom (0.25 per 100,000) had an extremely low rate of firearm-related deaths.

    “There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths with Japan being on one end of the spectrum and the US being on the other. This argues against the notion of more guns translating into less crime. South Africa was the only outlier in that the observed firearms-related death rate was several times higher than expected from gun ownership.

    “Regardless of exact cause and effect, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that countries with higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership.””

    The facts are clear. The call for higher gun ownership is illogical, irrational and counter to all empirical findings.

  58. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 12:37 | #58

    I did try to explain that I believe from what I have read that he has written that he is more likely than not to be the sort of person who would in a situation choose? an emotional response that would lead him to conclude that it was more rational to just do it and shoot me rather than value my life sufficiently to try another way to alter my behaviour even if it was going to be less efficient.

    My mistake. You think he is a hot head style murderer rather than a cold blooded one. You’re entitled to hold to your opinion that the senator is emotionally fragile and prone to violence. But having known him for nearly eight years and having watched his speeches and read his writing since becoming a senator I really don’t know the basis on which you form this view. It is divorced from reality.

  59. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 13:11 | #59


    Yep I did know that you wouldn’t understand me and the arguments that underpin my assessment but that’s your problem. I can suggest that this is typical of the way you think and behave; this irrational argument was the total substance of your support for Andrew Bolt’s good character, despite his bad behaviour sometime back.

    Let’s not talk about that irrelevant person any more; I’ll just tell you that he’s discredited even with my most anti-Halal neighbour up the street. We in the bush don’t like him any more apparently; do you know if this lack of interest is reflected in the ratings?

    I think that you might be suffering from the same problem in understanding the electorate and learning to understand us as Tony Abbott is. What do you reckon?

  60. Tim Macknay
    February 11th, 2015 at 13:17 | #60


    By the way you have basically called David a cold blooded murderer. Defamation territory. And rude as well.

    Terje, you’re on record on this blog as saying you don’t believe in defamation. Evidently that was just hypocritical cant, though. Why am I not surprised?

  61. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 13:49 | #61

    Tim – There is no hypocricy. I believe you can damage a persons reputation with dishonest or uninformed statements. I do not believe such damage should be actionable in law. If I did then there are several people here who might be in court for past remarks they have made about me. There is no inconsistency in identifying a remark as defamatory whilst opposing defamation laws. Just as there is no inconsistency in identifying a drug transaction as criminal whilst opposing the law that makes it a crime.

  62. Fran Barlow
    February 11th, 2015 at 13:57 | #62


    My own view on firearms is that as a matter of general principle, the burden should be on an applicant to show a legitimate purpose for having one. A mere ‘for my own personal safety’ would not suffice. Someone ought to show that they have a well-founded fear for their safety that could not be remedied by any modest and reasonable measure.

    The vast majority of people do not need firearms. I’ve made it to 56 years of age without recalling a single incident to which I have been a party in which my access to a firearm would have produced a better outcome. Nor can I recall speaking to an acquaintance, family member or friend where that would have been true, though there were plenty of occasions where the outcome might have become quite a bit worse.

    A tiny minority of people have legitimate reasons for possession — professional and sports shooters for example, security guards, police officers, members of the armed forces and if I though hard, one or two other categories perhaps. For such folk, the licence is witness to the competence of the person with the weapon, both to deploy it only in pursuit of their legitimate purpose and otherwise to secure it against misuse by adequate means. There is right now in NSW a serious issue with the mental health of police officers, which for a variety of reasons is being downplayed or not reported and the idea that these folk — who should be on light duties — have fire-arms, is troubling.

    For the record, although Mr Leyonhjelm’s politics offend me, I have no reason to suppose that he is likely to use it criminally. As far as I know, he is a law abiding citizen. For the reasons above, that doesn’t mean I’d like him or anyone else to have a firearm, other than as described above.

    On the broader issue that started this, it seems to me that there is no 100% fool-proof method of subduing dangerous offenders which does not entail an elevated risk either to the putatively homicidal offender or those seeking to protect themselves and the public. There is always a delicate and volatile calculus to be worked out.

    I favour the police having suitable protective clothing, being well trained and well equipped. The kinds of gear and approaches Ikono described seem about right to me. I’m not going to comment on the Sydney Siege because although I suspect that the inquest will reveal that errors were made, in such situations, lack of information can predispose these errors. I do wonder if the inquest will reveal that the weapons of choice were not standard issue 9mm Glocks, and if so, why not?

  63. Tim Macknay
    February 11th, 2015 at 14:13 | #63

    Sorry Terje, I don’t buy it. Pointing out that something is defamatory as a way of criticising it implies disapproval of the fact that it is defamatory. In the same way, pointing out that a particular drug transaction is criminal as a way of criticising or attacking the person who made the transaction would imply disapproval of the transaction, and would be inconsistent with the stance that such transactions should not be proscribed because there is nothing wrong with them. The hypocrisy arises from the inconsistency.

    Of course, it would be different if you were pointing out someone’s defamation (or the criminality of their drug sale) in order to help them avoid getting into trouble. But that’s clearly not what you did in this instance.

    Having said that, it’s obvious we’re not going to agree on this point, so I’ll say no more on it.

    I will say, though, that it’s done nothing to disabuse me of my view that “libertarianism” is essentially politics viewed from the perspective of a 13 year-old boy – i.e. to the “libertarian”, “liberty” essentially means “I can swear as my as I want and play my heavy metal music as loud as I want, and I don’t care how much it pisses you off, Mum!”.

  64. jungney
    February 11th, 2015 at 14:14 | #64

    Why are you always whining? Is it a personal predisposition or is it a political stance?

  65. Donald Oats
    February 11th, 2015 at 14:23 | #65

    If the officers are on the beat when called to a knife yielding incident, they won’t have much personal protection available, as they obviously can’t go walking around all padded up and carrying yet more heavy weapons; their belts are already used to carry an array of items weighing a total of several kilograms in some cases.

    While they are waiting for back-up, they have few safe means of containing a threatening individual, besides talking to them and keeping them occupied. They can gentle corral them by standing in the way but at a distance, but if the individual advances rapidly, they have to consider their personal safety, and what might happen if they let the person escape.

    I’ve wondered whether a net (sounds funny, I know) could be effective against a knife-yielding attacker. A net made of chain links (but lighter than chain mail, with bigger chain link diameter) might work. Nets were used in gladiator contests, so presumably they were effective then. A modern chain mail net wouldn’t allow the attacker to strike through the net, at least not easily. If made of kevlar, it would be very strong and still light enough to manoeuvre it.

    I gather the cops are going to look at whether there is some more appropriate training they can give their officers, given the rather frequent occurrence of this distressing situation.

  66. Donald Oats
    February 11th, 2015 at 14:46 | #66

    I have no particular problem with people using firearms in controlled environments, the gun range or on their farm property, to name two such environments. Carrying weapons for self-defence in civil society should be left to the police.

    We’ve had this argument before. There are two stable states with regards to weapons among the general population: there is the state in which most people do not possess firearms, only the police (and perhaps some security officers) are allowed to carry firearms on their person, and those civilians who do possess firearms are only permitted to carry/use them under specific conditions, the type of weapons being restricted as well; the other stable state is where so many people carry weapons in public, you’d be an idiot not to carry heat yourself, as any physical confrontation could escalate to a fire-fight.

    Which stable state you prefer depends largely upon your philosophical beliefs concerning freedom and responsibility, especially the balance of government intervention upon personal freedom in the interests of society as a whole. It has a similar mathematical character to the anti-vaxxer vs mandatory vaccination dichotomy.

    To put a political context on it, it is fair to say that a neo-con would favour the second stable state over the first, while a social democrat would lean more to the first stable state.

    If we carry out the thought experiment of envisaging a society with open-carry laws, no regulation on gun ownership of any sort, what would it really be like in our modern age? How would the law have to adapt, as surely it would need to? Once people are armed in public, any physically aggressive confrontation is a potential fire-fight, so how to police intervene—do they shoot anyone who is menacing towards them? Or do they stay out of it and clean up the mess afterwards? Without going into the moral dimension, there are plenty of ramifications insofar as the law goes. We probably couldn’t afford to give custodial sentences for everyone who got into a fight while armed, so a dilution of the legal remedies and penalties would be necessary.

  67. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 15:02 | #67

    My own view on firearms is that as a matter of general principle, the burden should be on an applicant to show a legitimate purpose for having one.

    When a person is accused of murder and they want to wander around freely we place the burden of proof on the state that wants to lock them up. Not just on the balance of probability but beyond reasonable doubt. A person who the police accuse of murder is on the odds a much greater risk to the community (IMHO) than an ordinary person who wants to own a firearm. As such I can’t see why when an ordinary person, with no history of violence, wants to own a firearm we suddenly switch the burden of proof from the state to them. In my view the default for society ought to be that all people are free. And if the state wants to reduce that freedom then the state, not the individual, should face the burden of proof. There are certainly times when reducing freedom can be justified on evidence but the burden of proof should not be on those that want to remain free. Of course some would say the evidence favours gun controls but before we even examine the evidence we ought to deal with this disagreement on who carries the burden of proof.

    The vast majority of people do not need firearms.

    I’ve never owned a firearm and don’t currently plan on owning one even if the law permitted. Likewise I never intend having homosexual sex and I don’t think anybody “needs” to. But I respect the fact that different people have different interests and live in different circumstances and I don’t think either act should be a crime just because I don’t want to engage in the act. If I lived in a remote location or in an area with a high rate of crime I might want to own a firearm. I certainly wouldn’t visit remote parts of Afghanistan without one although I have friends who recently did. Likewise if I was a female that frequently travelled alone at night in isolated places I might want to own a firearm. Or if I was a witness to a serious crime and due to testify I may also want one.

    Tom G Palmer, who I’ve met and who I converse with on a frequent basis, would be dead except for the fact that he was carrying a firearm. His testimony in the Heller case was instrumental in overturning the ban on handguns in washington DC. You can read his personal story here:-


    I favour the police having suitable protective clothing, being well trained and well equipped.

    Police have training, a pay packet and a badge. But they shouldn’t have more rights than any other citizen. If an ordinary person undertakes the same level of firearm training as a police officer, and they pass the same character test, they should have the same right to carry weapons. Any concern that makes it unlawful for a particular citizen to have a firearm should apply equally to a police officer. Police are generally not exceptional in the firearm training they receive. And why on earth shouldn’t an ordinary citizen be able to wear protective clothing? Police do an important job but they are just people like the rest of us. If there is some special test that shows that police cross some objective threshold of competence, integrity, compassion, character or otherwise that warrant them having a firearm then the same test should be open to ordinary citizens and if they pass the test they too should be allowed to carry weapons.

    If a person such as a bodyguard can carry a firearm to protect me because it’s their job, then it is ludicrious that if equally skilled and respectable I can’t also carry a firearm to protect me. Self defence should not just be for the wealthy. Likewise if a security guard can carry a firearm to protect a shipment of gold bullion, she should when off duty be allowed to carry the same firearm to protect her body.

  68. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 15:11 | #68

    If we carry out the thought experiment of envisaging a society with open-carry laws, no regulation on gun ownership of any sort, what would it really be like in our modern age?

    If you limit the scope of the experiment to the USA then Vermont is perhaps closest to the zero regulation scenerio.


    The state of Vermont neither issues nor requires a permit to carry a weapon on one’s person, openly or concealed. This permissive stance on gun control known in the US as Constitutional carry, since one’s “permit” is said to be the constitution. For many decades, Vermont was the only state where this was the case (hence the alternative term Vermont carry).[2] Vermont law does not distinguish between residents and non-residents of the state; both have the same right to carry permit-free while in Vermont.

  69. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 15:22 | #69

    In Vermont you can carry firearms concealed or open carry. You can have machine guns. There are no background checks. No waiting periods. You don’t need a license. No restrictions on the number of firearms you can acquire. It’s pretty much Laissiez Faire when it comes to firearms. You can compare the crime and violence rate with other parts of the US that regulate more strictly. Or with Australia and other countries if you prefer.

  70. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 15:27 | #70

    “”As such I can’t see why when an ordinary person, with no history of violence, wants to own a firearm we suddenly switch the burden of proof from the state to them.”

    What is an ordinary person Terje? Are you ordinary? How do you judge that?

    How far back can we go in the history of this ordinary person to determine the probability that they will use their weapon inappropriately?

    How about we go back to their kindegarden reports or even check their genes to see if they have that warrior gene? What do you reckon?

    Who do you blame for this ‘switch’ from the individual to the state that you see? Who turned the switch and where is the switch located?

    Of course if you limit the scope of the experiment you get the results you want but that is not research that is motivated cognition and this sort of thinking makes a person a bit slow to see their own hypocrisy and irrationality.

  71. February 11th, 2015 at 15:37 | #71

    Okay, I compare the US state with the least gun murders to the Australian state with the least gun murders and surprise surprise the American state has the most gun murders. Who would a thunk it? But don’t feel bad, in the land ‘o cherry picking every year is 1996 and America wins! Guns for everybody!

  72. February 11th, 2015 at 15:46 | #72

    Sorry for the length of this post, but we might want some actual reality here. Note that Australia’s population has increased by 38% since 1979.

    In Australia, annual deaths resulting from firearms total:

    2011: 188
    2010: 234
    2009: 228
    2008: 234
    2007: 237
    2006: 246
    2005: 212
    2004: 234
    2003: 287
    2002: 292
    2001: 326
    2000: 324
    1999: 347
    1998: 312
    1997: 428
    1996: 516
    1995: 470
    1994: 516
    1993: 513
    1992: 608
    1991: 618
    1990: 595
    1989: 549
    1988: 674
    1987: 694
    1986: 677
    1985: 682
    1984: 675
    1983: 644
    1982: 689
    1981: 618
    1980: 687
    1979: 685

  73. Donald Oats
    February 11th, 2015 at 16:11 | #73

    The government cuts $500m from programs which assist in Closing the Gap. The PM doesn’t honour the Indigenous people with a proper welcome-to-country. They stay and listen to him telling them they have to stump up and close the gap for him. Bill Shorten points out that closing the gap is a bit harder now, thanks to the recent cuts: several LNP members walk out, disgusted to hear the truth.

  74. sunshine
    February 11th, 2015 at 16:26 | #74

    Terje- Leftists are a varied group .Im a Leftist who likes guns ,I grew up around them ,I havent fired a machine gun but I’d love to. I will inherit dads guns one day – its very important to him that they stay in the family .I think guns should be hard to own and those that do should be monitored. Being a Leftie I feel conflicted about it, but cant deny my fascination. I like knives too and have a collection ,I like their weight ,lack of moving parts, and permanence -like jewellery. I also like MMA cage fighting as I can appreciate it on a sporting level and they are consenting adults- but I feel conflicted about that too as it can set a very bad example to young people. As proven by my life so far I am a very non violent person, I have never hit anyone in anger -not even when a child at school. Being a bloke I have been in lots of situations where someone (or a number of someones) were trying to provoke me.

    As far as detaining knife wielders goes I reckon long pole ,baton ,net ,and tranquilizer blow dart would work (or just poles and dart) .

  75. David Irving (no relation)
    February 11th, 2015 at 16:34 | #75

    Time for a lefty who is also a responsible gun owner to weigh in: I own a number of handguns, which only come out of the safe when I’m going to the range. I regard Leyonhelm’s attitude (that we’d all be safer if we were armed) as dangerously naive. As Tim Macknay wrote upthread, it’s the thinking of a 13 year old boy.

    The evidence is in, Terje. There was a sudden drop in firearms deaths in Australia which correlates pretty well with Howard’s buy-back, and Australia and other countries with low firearm ownership are safer than countries with high firearm ownership like the US.

  76. Ikonoclast
    February 11th, 2015 at 16:50 | #76


    LOL. The ridiculous Vermont cherry-picking argument again. I recall going down this path of argument before. Instead of considering the data of 27 complete countries which I mentioned, you want to consider the data from one small outlier state. Vermont is unusual in a number of ways.

    (1) Vermont is the 2nd least populous of the 50 United States: population 626,562 (2014 est). This is only about 100,000 more than the population of Tasmania.

    (2) Vermont is one of the most racially homogeneous states; 94.3% of its population identified as white in 2010. We can deduce from this fact that racist attacks on blacks and shootings of blacks by police are rare in Vermont because black people are rare in Vermont. Also, black poverty is rare again because blacks are rare in Vermont.

    (3) In Vermont, the median household income from 2002 to 2004 was $45,692. This was 15th nationally.

    (4) Vermont has the second lowest poverty rate of states in the Union (6.8% compared to the national average of 12.6% whereas ten states plus D.C. have over 15% poverty rates).

    (5) Vermont’s actual gun ownership is in the mid-range but its gun murder rate is very low.

    Plenty of data even in this to show that Vermont is an outlier state and unrepresentative of the whole Union. There is a cherry blossom festival in Montpelier, Vermont and many pick-your-own berry and fruit farms for tourists in Vermont. So, it is very appropriate. You can go cherry-picking in Vermont. TerjeP certainly likes to.

  77. jungney
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:16 | #77

    Yeah, I also had a look at Vermont’s profile. It is also the major producer of Maple Syrup in North America. See, high blood sugar is the key. Back in 2013 some loony toons wanted to impose a $500 fee on non-gun owners:

    This makes sense! There is no reason why gun owners should have to pay taxes to support police protection for people not wanting to own guns. Let them contribute their fair share and pay their own way. Sounds reasonable to me! Non-gun owners require more police to protect them and this fee should go to paying for their defense!

    …said one Daffy Duck.

    It’s all so obvious to them.

  78. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:38 | #78

    There was a sudden drop in firearms deaths in Australia which correlates pretty well with Howard’s buy-back,

    No there was a drop but it was not sudden. In fact it was just a continuation of the previous downward trend.

  79. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:43 | #79

    The ridiculous Vermont cherry-picking argument again.

    You can pick some other place with a Laissas Faire approach to firearm regulation if you prefer. There aren’t many such places however. Donald Oats suggested that we could draw conclusions by just imagining some such place. I mention Vermont because I think a real life example is more useful than a mere thought experiment. But I can just imagine a land of milk and honey and AK47’s if that is more scientific. :-/

  80. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:46 | #80

    David Irving – homocide chart here:-


  81. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:50 | #81


    Libertarians must sit around just making up ways that they can argue that they are paying their way and everyone else is a ‘free-rider’.

    Terje, can you tell me when and through what processes a baby who needs help from other people to survive becomes your “ordinary person”.

    Is there a special libertarian test you use to determine which type of adult a baby is going to become, or is it a judgement that you make in your bones? Because you have common sense?

    What makes the difference between an individual who either makes the right choice and thrives to become a lifter and the others who wrongly, stupidly and lazily, choose to be a free-rider?

    What social dynamics do you imagine might be responsible for the difference between Vermont and the other states with very high gun deaths?

  82. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 18:42 | #82

    Terje, can you tell me when and through what processes a baby who needs help from other people to survive becomes your “ordinary person”.

    By “ordinary person” I just mean to say that people should be free to own firearms and we should remove that freedom by exception rather than the other way around. The exceptions ought to be defined by laws. What leads a person to grow up and be “ordinary” is beyond the scope of this discussion.

  83. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 18:45 | #83

    What social dynamics do you imagine might be responsible for the difference between Vermont and the other states with very high gun deaths?

    What is it with people asking us to imagine answers and imagine what society might look like under a given policy? I offered Vermont to avoid the need for imagining a Laissez Faire society in respect to firearms. You can figure out the specifics if you wish.

  84. jungney
    February 11th, 2015 at 19:29 | #84

    @Julie Thomas
    I’ve been ruminating on the subject of Libertarians this afternoon. I’m unsurprised that they attract the monicker ‘Glibertarians’ because, well, they are glib, and provide no substance for reasoned criticism. I’ve concluded, without meaning to cause offense to other contributors, that they are sociological simpletons. That is, they lack training or even the capacity for compassion that is at the core of C Wright Mills’ notion of the sociological imagination. This is, in short, an ability to imagine yourself into another person’s shoes.

    It’s not hard, to do that, in my view, but my view is conditioned and constructed by class, gender, sexuality, history and ethnicity. Alert to the possibilities for self knowledge offered first by literature and later by the the humanities I set out to explore myself and my Lebenswelt, or ‘life world’ as according to Habermas. The intricacies and subtleties of that project have consumed me in many ways and have been the major project of my life, apart from my kids.

    But this project of the self is exactly what Libertarians do not understand. I have a view of your typical libertarian upbringing, obviously without any foundation other than that which derives from reading the words and witnessing the actions of neoliberals and scoundrels of all sorts, in which a male or female child is encouraged to engage with simple but adequate directions to build a small crystal radio. And they did. And it worked. And the world is like that.

    As adults such people have found the prescriptions of neoliberalism attractive: you plug this bit in here, that bit in there, and it works. Except, of course, they are now adults with authority who are intent on making the world fit to their simple wiring diagram regardless of the human and ecological costs. As we are seeing with the punch drunk ten-pound-pom Abbott, if the world defies you, then reshape the world o that it fits your (intellectually impaired) understanding of the world which is how it ought to be, not how it is.

    It may be genetic, this sort of sociological and compassionate lack of imagination. I hope it turns out to be genetic because, in a future global communitarian polity, the bearers of such defective genes should be deemed surplus to the requirements of a decent existence among the people’s of the earth, in the interests of all life on the earth and to decency in general.

    I’m sure that there is a perfectly sound argument for not extermination such defectives like vermin but that should be easily accommodated by a policy that doesn’t exterminate them like vermin but like something else equally redundant.

  85. Julie Thomas
    February 11th, 2015 at 19:38 | #85


    How does ‘ördinary man” mean the same thing as “people”.

    People are different you know, and there is no ordinary man or woman definition in any thing I have read in my years of being an academic who did research in psychology and aslo some community psychologist work. I read a lot you know.

    You seem to think that anything that comes from social science research is imagining stuff and yet it is the growing awareness psychology that has given ordinary people – perhaps you mean average person? mean median or modal person? – insight into the people who are supposed to be leading us.

    Did you notice that ordinary people were diagnosing Tony and very interested in discussing what was wrong with him? So it might be in your own interests to imagine things that you have never thought of imagining.

    I am not asking you to imagine answers though; try comparing the different societies that already exist. That is one way of doing social science research; compare and contrast and ask different questions than you usually ask yourself about what might be the relevant variables.

    I am asking you to understand that there is a very strong link between the child and the man, you know the saying, the child is father to the man? Do children just raise themselves you think?

    It goes like this: you plant the seed and create an individual and then water it and fertilize it and then there is some magic time when that child is an adult individual who makes the right choices …. or not.

    Do you think it is a magic process or just something that nature does and it’s got nothing to do with society or economics? Is that why this is beyond discussing here? It is a Sandpit and I am sorry if you think I am rude. I don’t think I am being rude at all. Just asking for clarification of your morality.

    What is a child in Libertarian theory? Private property?

  86. jungney
    February 11th, 2015 at 20:27 | #86

    @Julie Thomas

    What is a child in Libertarian theory? Private property?

    Libertarianism draws deep on Malthus. Libertarians don’t like to talk about Malthus because they have never read him and, just because, they went to a talk last night which almost induced the to rise up, and declare the Lord, and speak in tongues like Morrison and economists.

    Malthus, and please don’t think that I’m teaching here, but Malthus is one of dark secrts of liberalism and neo-l, he argued against poor relief because he thought that it only encouraged them, energised them to breed.

    Given that history, a child to neoliberalism is now no more than a child was in the birthplace of liberalism, capitalism and industrialism: england, the Uk all over. A child to these mofos is nothing now as it was then.

    I’ll come out here. I reckon I’m an old fart these days. It’s alright. But I also reckon that younger people need to read like hell to keep apace: on coal mines in the transition from feudalism to industrialism, Émile Zola; on slavery, which constitutes the future of many of the earth’s people, Eric Wolf and many others. I could go on.

    But sheers to ya’. I like your open minded and inquiring attitude.

  87. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 21:02 | #87

    I’ve concluded, without meaning to cause offense to other contributors, that they are sociological simpletons. That is, they lack training or even the capacity for compassion that is at the core of C Wright Mills’ notion of the sociological imagination. This is, in short, an ability to imagine yourself into another person’s shoes.

    So why then would libertarians who don’t own a firearm and have no plans on owning a firearm defend the position of those that do? Why do hetrosexual libertarians speak up for the freedom of homosexuals? Why do libertarians who don’t smoke, have never smoked and who find the smell of tobacco smoke rather vile, empathise with the complaints of people who do smoke? Why do libertarians on tiny incomes speak out against tax rates at the top end that they themselves do not experience? Why do libertarians defend the free speech rights of people that say things that they themselves find deeply offensive? Why do they defend the right to free association of bikies when they themselves are not a bikie? I actually think libertarians are libertarian precisely because they have looked at the world carefully from the vantage point of many others. Of course others do also. But rather ironically you paint a strawman style figure of libertarians that suggests you yourself lack the capacity to see things from the vantage point of others.

  88. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 21:11 | #88

    People are different you know, and there is no ordinary man or woman definition in any thing I have read in my years of being an academic who did research in psychology and aslo some community psychologist work. I read a lot you know.

    Julie – If you’re struggling with the language try refering to a dictionary.


    1. of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional:
    One novel is brilliant, the other is decidedly ordinary; an ordinary person.
    2. plain or undistinguished.

  89. jungney
    February 11th, 2015 at 21:25 | #89


    So why then would libertarians who don’t own a firearm and have no plans on owning a firearm defend the position of those that do?

    That’s what I mean. Why, if I put the diode in the place marked ‘diode’, and the transistor in the blue coded space, does it not work?

    I wouldn’t have a clue as to the thinking of libertarians or why they would engage in any sort of public dialogue. Doing so only exposes them and their locale. If I was one, right now, I’d be taking advice from the guy who owns the local servo which is, in general, that the customer is always right. Take the advice of the US propaganda campaign to normalize the possibility of nuclear annihilation- ‘duck and cover’.

    Or are you, as I suspect, so defectively unaware of modern history as to be ignorant of ‘Atomic Cafe’?

  90. paul walter
    February 11th, 2015 at 21:28 | #90

    Dont bother.. you wont get sense, just theology.

  91. February 11th, 2015 at 21:34 | #91

    Terje, plot the figures Ronald provided. There is clearly a sharp drop around 1996 and for a few years after, then the graph levels out again.

    The figures you provided are for homicides and percentage of homicides using a firearm. They don’t prove what you are trying to make them prove. It’s the number of firearm deaths that is the important figure.

  92. February 11th, 2015 at 21:40 | #92

    I suggest Julle is using ordinary in the sense of ‘normal’ ( and I suggest you know that already, and are using the boring trick of literal interpretation in a misguided attempt to ‘win’ the argument).

  93. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 21:48 | #93

    I wouldn’t have a clue as to the thinking of libertarians or why they would engage in any sort of public dialogue.

    Yes that was my point. You don’t have a clue why libertarians think what they think. So it would be best if you ceased offering commentary on it.

  94. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 21:59 | #94

    It’s the number of firearm deaths that is the important figure.

    That’s kind of like imposing a ban on the use of penicillin and then claiming success because there is a decline in the number of people dying from allergic reactions to penicillin. Whilst ignoring the number of people dying from infections. A daft sort of analysis.

  95. TerjeP
    February 11th, 2015 at 22:07 | #95

    I suggest Julle is using ordinary in the sense of ‘normal’ ( and I suggest you know that already, and are using the boring trick of literal interpretation in a misguided attempt to ‘win’ the argument).

    It’s the other way around. I was using the word “ordinary”. As in “ordinary people”. And it was Julie who was trying to score points by going on about no person being ordinary as if this insight was somehow enlightening when in fact it’s just sophistry.

  96. Patrickb
    February 12th, 2015 at 00:15 | #96

    Terje, possibly the most confused person on the planet. Use the word defamation to scare people. Doesn’t believe in defamation. Uses the word defamation in a non legally binding way which rkobs it of any power. It just doesn’t make sense. Still in my experience this is the mark of true libertarian. Just look at Commissioner Tim, he takes more positions than a library full of karma sutras.

  97. Patrickb
    February 12th, 2015 at 00:25 | #97

    You’re obviously not familiar with the concept of risk or strict liability. Firearms are inherently very dangerous and therfore possessing one imputes a duty of care such that the owner is liable for any injury even if the injured party was negligent. That’s the reasoning that leads to restrictions and regulations, it has nothing to do with the person. Somentime spent in the legal library might disabuse you ofnthese juvenile notions.

  98. Julie Thomas
    February 12th, 2015 at 07:39 | #98


    “I suggest Julle is using ordinary in the sense of ‘normal’ ”

    It’s even more difficult for Terje than that; there is no ‘normal’ person.

    The dictionary meaning of a word is not The Truth about that concept. Dictionary meanings are for general use and not useful for assessing the ‘normality’ of a person in a situation where behaviour which does arise from the lessons and values we absorb as children can have very negative consequences.

    It is not sufficient to assume that someone is ‘normal’ and give them a gun when the evidence is so clear that in reality, as opposed to the dictionary, there is no ‘normal’.

    There is no way of determining what is normal without clearly defining the context in which one is making that judgement or assessment.

    Terje cries that nobody understands libertarians and how they think.

    I think that the problems is that Libertarians know no other way to interact with people – non ordinary people – than to compete with them for money or status – same thing. Jungney’s observations seem to be getting at some of the reasons that may be but since none of us is normal, the explanation will be too complex to describe in any way except as a dynamical system.

    The thing that stands out for me about Libertarian thinking is that the number one motivation for a libertarian is to prove they are better than other people; that they have to be the winners and everything is seen through the prism of competition and proving that they are better than the others; the free-riders, the leaners, the lazy and stupid and those who make bad choices.

    I am not ordinary – they say I am not ‘neuro-typical’ – and I’d guess that Terje in any other context would vehemently deny that he was ‘ordinary’; I am sure that he would claim to be above-average or extra-ordinary.

    So tell us Terje how do Libertarians think. Can we start with the biggest question I have always had for Libertarians and none has ever answered. They simply deny that this is a thing that needs clarification.

    What is a child in your theory; property, an individual with all their rights?

    How do I value my children who are of an age to be adult individuals who make all the right choices, but clearly to me, they are not aware of all the issues that impact their choices and still need support from their family and community to be what? ‘normal’?

    I’m just interested in them being happy and good people who have the skills to also raise good children.

  99. Julie Thomas
    February 12th, 2015 at 07:46 | #99

    @paul walter

    It is a belief system and a very rigid one – and the rigidity of thinking is a key variable – but the benefits of engaging with them are for our own self-development and will benefit of our attempts to build a better society.

    Understanding how people can sustain such an irrational and self-serving belief system that bears no relationship to the real world will add to our understanding of the potentials of human nature I think.

  100. TerjeP
    February 12th, 2015 at 07:54 | #100

    I joined the conversation to discuss firearms and firearm policy. The conversation has now been diverted elsewhere. It’s now something to do with the psychoanalysis of libertarians. That’s fine but I’ll pass.

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