25 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The PM thinks we can reduce household power bills by making price rises harder for retailers and via smart meters. Presumably we should use less hot water in the shower but not give up showers altogether. No doubt they can program the smart meters to turn off the showers for us if we resist.

    Some smart meters offers a realtime watt meter display inside the building. I suggest we have a large watt meter inside the House of Representatives. Perhaps MPs could wear parkas over their suits on nippy Canberra mornings and forgo jackets on hot days. I note the Japanese Diet passed on this while big business was obliged to set thermostats to 28C.

    I also note the PM is getting a new long range VIP jet to assist in bringing wisdom to the world’s benighted masses. From the window the PM will be able to see all our coal ships helping with the global carbon effort. I suggest that plane uses the bio-jet fuel that was passed over by Qantas. Otherwise we might feel slightly annoyed if by chance power bills and petrol prices keep climbing.

  2. The solar PV subsidy which I took advantage of (disclosure note) was too generous and unfair to poor people and non-home owners who could not benefit. However, there are many wiser ways the government could reduce power use and promote renewables.

    For a start, domestic solar hot water installation should be pushed to 100% as fast as economically possible. In many cases, commercial centers could also produce 100% of hot water needs from solar hot water heaters. I won’t go into the mechanics of a subsidy suggestion. Overall, it is quite clear that annually up to 80% of domestic and hot water heatign could come from solar power in Australia. The other 20% would be back-up supplementary water heating from other energy sources.

    It is also clear that the Federal Govt should immediately committ to a plan like that of Zero Carbon Emissions Australia – Stationary Energy Plan. Their plan is 100% renewable sationary energy by 2020.

    We have now reached Climate Code Red. It is time declare all other wars over and declare War Against Climate Change.

  3. Ikonoclast :
    It is also clear that the Federal Govt should immediately committ to a plan like that of Zero Carbon Emissions Australia – Stationary Energy Plan. Their plan is 100% renewable stationary energy by 2020.

    No they probably shouldn’t and most likely will not. All these 100% renewables plans are very immature and no government is going to commit to them over the shorter time frame. Promises (which may or may not be kept) for the 2050+ time frame are far easier to come by.

    The CSIRO has done a literature review of such plans and identified many deficiencies:


    see page 29.

    This is a part of the study that the government instructed AEMO to conduct on the feasibility of 100% renewables scenarios by 2030 and 2050.

    CSIRO also now has a on-line modelling tool for Australia’s electricity future:


    Allow nuclear and see what happens – faster emissions reductions from the late 2020s and lower final emissions by 2050 with some (though perhaps not overly significant) reduction in average wholesale and retail cost.

    We have now reached Climate Code Red. It is time declare all other wars over and declare War Against Climate Change.

    And employ every tool in the box.

  4. Yea gods – how many times have we seen nuke-pundits, again and again insert their pro-uranium agendas into the climate change debate.

    Its like building cigarette factories to solve unemployment, with addicts jumping-in calling for more when they are not wanted.

    Luckily there are better ways to deal with climate change.

  5. I’m after a decent book on neoliberalism that covers the issue based on experiences in all countries and is not limited in scope to just the US or UK. It needs to go into how neoliberalism was formed over the years, how the ideology was funded, how it was implemented, controversies at the time, the degree of support that the measures enjoyed (eg enthusiastically accepted vs implemented by trickery and backstabbing), things like that. Everyone knows the generalities but I want to go deeper.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

  6. @MG42

    It seems to me that neoliberalism is a misnomer. It actually represents the intensified freedom for capital to range free from constraints.

    Neo, in reality, just means “changed”.

  7. @MG42

    Unaware of a single book that does the job you want, sorry!

    However, if you haven’t already, read these:

    Chomsky: “Manufacturing Consent”

    Chomsky: “Hegemony or Survival”

    Naomi Klein: “Shock Doctrine: Disaster Capitalism”

    Jeff Sharlet: “The Family”

    and you’ll have most of the info you seem to be after.

  8. I heard an interview with William Shawcross on PM tonight. Apparently he’s a torture fan.

    Yesterday or the day before on the ABC I heard a puff/promo piece about a new movie glorifying the assassination of Bin Laden which prominently featured a plot line about torture being used “successfully”.

    Seems the Pro-Torture brigade is ramping it up again. (I’ll never forget hearing the ALP’s Arch Bevis spruiking pro-torture talking points at a public forum in Brisbane a few years ago – nor will I quickly forget that the piece I wrote about it for a small local Brisbane website was yanked without a trace, allegedly after some furious calls from the office of one K. Rudd).

    Tonight, Shawcross was repeating the “torture has been used to save lives” line. Colvin pulled him up but he was able to wiggle out with a vague reference to someone “from MI-5 who has publicly said so..”

    I have never been able to find any evidence whatsoever of a real life example of this meme.

    Anyone want to offer one?

    PS: I believe torture would still be unacceptable, anyway, but am not looking for a philosophical debate – it’s been over 10 years, I want EVIDENCE please.

  9. Hi Megan, are you looking for evidence of any kind of actionable intelligence attained by torture, or are you looking for examples of torture “saving lives”?

    Because, if you think about it, actionable intelligence that “saves lives” is not qualitatively different from any other form of actionable intelligence.

  10. In 1586, Francis Walsingham had Anthony Babington and John Ballard tortured. Eventually they told the same story of Spanish plans for an assassination of Queen Elizabeth and a Catholic uprising to coincide with an invasion carried by the Spanish Armada.

    The important forensic point here is that the two stories had to agree before Walsingham accepted them as the truth.

    Walsingham also had several other sources that provided bits and pieces of this story, but the torture stories crystallised the story.

  11. Torture may work on some occasions but this isn’t as good an argument in favor of torture as its supporters may think. I assume mustard gas was also highly effective in some WW1 battles but, as with torture, we are likely to see a greater overall human welfare gains if both the torture and mustard gas genies aren’t let out of the bottle.

    Using torture also oxygenates and hands a propaganda victory to malignant regimes and groups and legitimates their own use of torture. In order to win the hearts and minds of those at risk of tipping over into anti-western and anti-liberal militancy, it would be best if we practiced the civility we preach.

  12. Is that the best one you’ve got? Seriously?

    Taking your post at face value: Walsingham had other sources, presumably prior to deciding upon torture of these two chaps, that warned him of the – what’s the 16th century equivalent of a ticking time bomb? – fizzling wick?

    And no lives could have been saved had he not tortured these people?

    Were any lives saved?

  13. While I’m waiting for concrete evidence of real life examples…

    Here’s my basic problem with all the hypothetical ‘ticking time bomb’ scenarios (apart from the very obvious fact that they, themselves, are a marketing construct rather than a factual argument):

    1. Ticking time bomb!? Really? How do you know?


  14. Settle Petal.

    I’m on your side. The likelihood of getting this kind of actionable intelligence is vanishingly small.

    The ticking bomb scenario is nonsense. Presumably the person being tortured knows when the bomb is to explode. Therefore, the person being tortured knows how long s/he needs to hold out.

    Whenever, s/he provides a location, the torture must stop until that location is disconfirmed. There is no limit to the number of false locations that s/he may provide.

    The torturers are on a fool’s errand.

  15. @MG42
    you might also like to try a book by chomsky called “year 501: the conquest continues”. written in the year of the columbus 4 x centenary, it is a kind of alternate history of “the west” since the discovery of the americas & iirc (i can’t find my copy atm) addresses – among other things – the development of what comes to e called neo-liberalism in the context of the continuing exploitation of native societies by europeans & later americans.

    there is also a small format inexpensive paper back called “what uncle sam really wants”, which, while dating from 1992, nevertheless has helpful (evergreen) discussions about the true motivations of usa policies foreign & domestic. any good anarchist book store will have these & more of course.

    there is also something called “the people’s history of the united states” by howard zinn. it is a counter cultural history history & might shed some light on the subject you’re interested in. -a.v.

  16. Thanks for the book suggestions all. Even though they are not quite what I am after I will check them out (I see a lot of Chomsky!).

    Time to punch in for the day – millions of conservative retirees and farmers need their welfare checks, hurr hurr.

  17. Abbott’s cynical but inept bait and switch re Brough’s abuse of judicial process:

    “I think the Labor Party should stop hyperventilating. If the Labor Party thinks there’s been some terrible injustice done to Mr Slipper, they should put him back into the Speaker’s chair.”

    Surely Abbott hasn’t forgotten that the government removed Slipper from the Speakership not because of the corrupt allegations of sexual harassment, but because of the unseemly nature of his texts.

    Just because Slipper is a sleazy lowlife not fit to hold any public office does not mean that he was unethically outsleazed by those who pretended to be his friends in the political interests of Malcolm Brough. After all, Slipper’s character has not changed much since the last of six times that the Libs endorsed him as parliamentarian. All that has change is that his character has been publicly revealed.

    Even a sleaze deserves protection from a perversion of justice.

    Moreover, surely Ashby and Doane are aware that they exposed themselves to the charge of theft when they purloined Slipper’s diary and supplied it to a Murdoch journalist. That Murdoch journalist himself ought to know that it is a crime to receive stolen goods.

  18. Hermit wrote at #27 (#comment-187299) on the “India also cold on coal” discussion:

    I do feel mildly guilty about drinking from then discarding an aluminium soft drink can. An SA type deposit scheme should go national to help recycle more aluminium.

    We should thank the Coca Cola corporation for this as well as for its contribution to the global epidemic of poor health. In the 1960’s all soft drink was sold in bottles that could be returned for a deposit from which children could earn pocket money, as was milk. The suddenly, out of the blue, we were told in a television advertising blitz, “You can now buy Coke in cans”.

    This started the chain of events that led to the unsustainable circumstances we face today.

    Soft drink producers along with producers of all beverages should be required by law to sell beverage in standardised recyclable glass containers manufacturers. To match inflation since the 1960s, deposits payable should be at least 60 cents (or perhaps a round figure of $1 would make the system simpler and more workable). Whilst the South Australian Government should be commended for having taken this initiative, its scheme is still too modest compared to what is needed. (Incidentally can anyone tell me what is paid for a recycled can in SA? I thought it was 10 cents but I can’t find this figure on the Internet.)

    Also we should find ways to discourage manufacturers from selling other products in expensive throw-away packaging.

  19. Another US school shooting. A whole kindergarten class unaccounted for. 27, of which 18 are children, reportedly dead. Cue We must allow the bereaved to grieve. Now is not the time to talk about gun control.

    As noted elsewhere:

    Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.

    That doesn’t include Friday’s shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The AP put the early reported death toll at 27, which would make it the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.

  20. Fran, Tragedies demand solutions. Gun control is like foreign aid. People cheer for it irrespective of its usefulness.

    See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/world/americas/in-mexico-a-restrictive-approach-to-gun-laws.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 showing that there is but one legal gun shop in all of Mexico but that has not done enough to reduce gun crime there.

    • Was the school a gun free zone? Mass killers seem to be attracted to them.
    • John Lott argues that all U.S. public shootings where more than three were killed occurred in places where civilians could not legally bring guns. Nearly all school mass shootings are in Europe.
    • An attempted mass killing in 2007 at a U.S. church was stopped when the guard at the church shot the gunman with her personally owned concealed weapon. Was that good? Two had already died. (The church concerned asked Jeanne Assam to leave when she came out as a lesbian).

    (Aside: who gains from a sign outside your house saying burglar alarm free zone? Who gains from an up-to-date sign listing when you are out or away on holiday?).

    How many murders were prevented by an armed victim? How many more crimes were prevented by uncertainty about whether the victim might be armed?

    In risk regulation, guns are ambiguous goods. They reduce some risks but increase others.

    Some high gun ownership countries have low crime rates. There are other countries have low gun ownership and low crime or high crime rates.

    Guns are much more important to women than men in their ability to defend themselves. Far fewer women are mass killers. Perhaps gun control should be men only?

  21. @Jim Rose

    There’s much wrong with what you’ve posted but this stands out:

    John Lott argues that all U.S. public shootings where more than three were killed occurred in places where civilians could not legally bring guns. Nearly all school mass shootings are in Europe.

    Most school shootings are in the US. Another swathe is in Canada. So are most spree killings.

  22. The relationship between widespread gun ownership by country and frequent mass murders, individual homicide rates and shootings in general including accidents is close to 1:1. That’s a ratio Jim if you are not sure what that notation means.

    Gun supporters are another example of the right wing evidence-deniers who don’t understand simple things like more guns = more murders and C + O2 = CO2 etc. They don’t really understand these simple formulae properly even if some of them ostensibly claim to. If they understood, they would understand the further implications and not have their absurd views. You can’t argue with them either. They are impervious to all logic. We need that generation of reality-challenged dinosaurs to die out by old age (I can say that as I am of the dinosaur generation too albeit I can still actually think and learn.) All we can do is educate the next generation better.

    The right-wing loonies and fundamentalists are faith-based reasoners. They have a fundamentalist mindset based on dogmas which they believe implicitly. They have not the least real notion of the difference between knowledge and belief. They have not the least bit of ability to assess empirical data in an unbiased way nor to deduce what it means. They reason like the poorest of the medieval schoolmen. In fact, the scientific, humanist and philosophical empiricist revolution in thinking from Bacon through to Hume and so on has completely passed them by.

    They are hopelessly loony. No point reasoning in with them. Just convince the more sensible and reasonable people to democratically and get in and keep in the gun laws.

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