Monday Message Board

Its time once again for Monday Message Board, assuming the server stays up long enough :-(. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

I probably won’t have time for a full scale response to the end of Peter Costello’s political career, so I’ll just offer two words. “No Loss”. Feel free to give your own more detailed, and perhaps more charitable views.

All purpose questions (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

While Michèle Lamont is visiting CT, and talking about cross-disciplinary comparisons and interactions, I thought I would raise a question about questions.

As background, my first “real” job was in a government research agency. Seminars were part of the process, and the norm was that senior staff would open the questions. In this context, it was almost invariably safe to ask “What are the policy implications”. That’s still true for some of the seminars I attend, but in others (economic theory, for example), such a question would be at best a faux pas, and the all-purpose question might be something like “Does this work in a monetary economy?”.

So, what are the all-purpose questions in different fields (or are there fields without such questions), and what, if anything does this reveal about those fields?

When a Man Loves a Woman trailer

Server problems

My hosting service is having some problems with the server at present. I’m hoping they will be fixed soon, and I will then try to deal with the problems affecting the theme, previews and so on. Posting may continue light for a while longer, partly because addressing this takes up time and partly because I’ve been busy generally.

BTW, Brisbane readers might catch me on the history segment of Sunday’s Seven News, talking about Budgets and similar.

The Clean Industrial Revolution

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the Brisbane launch of Ben McNeil’s The Clean Industrial Revolution

, held at the Red Sea Gallery in Fortitude Valley. It’s rare to find a book I agree with so thoroughly. Ben gets the economic balance just right: stabilising the global climate means a lot more than turning off light bulbs and having shorter showers, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have steadily increasing prosperity in poor countries as well as those that are already rich. But, ignoring the way the world is going, and trying to hang on to a coal-based economy will mean missing out on those opportunities, unless we can find a way to turn the rhetoric of clean coal (that is, carbon capture and sequestration into a reality). Like me, Ben is agnostic on the prospects for CCS, and concerned that it seems to used more as a basis for wishful thinking about avoiding change than about a serious commitment to develop and implement a workable solution if one can be found. Finally, the book gets it right on the role of markets: without markets and a proper price for carbon nothing will be achieved, but we need to do a lot more than set a price and leave the market to work. If you only buy one book on climate change, this should be it.

Eastern Promises download

Suicidally strong IP ?

The strong showing in the EU elections by Sweden’s Pirate Party

is the outcome of yet another Pyhrric victory for the strong IP movement, which succeeded, a couple of months ago in securing prison sentences for the Swedish operators of filesharing site Pirate Bay. This galvanised about 7 per cent of Swedish voters into supporting the Pirate Party, which reflects the typical feelings of Internet users: hostile to intrusive and aggressive IP, concerned about privacy for individuals and households, in favour of transparency for corporations and governments. These feelings are, of course, diametrically opposed to those of the elite groups that have historically driven policy on these issues. In the light of this public reaction, and the absence of any corresponding electoral support for the IP lobby, governments everywhere will think twice before endorsing criminal prosecution of IP violators.

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Monday Message Board

Its time once again for Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Given that it’s the Queen’s Birthday holiday (actually that of some previous monarch, I think), feel free to offer your thoughts on an Australian republic.