99 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. According to a recent study:

    We find that CO2 emissions per capita are lower in nations where women have higher political status, controlling for GDP per capita, urbanization, industrialization, militarization, world-system position, foreign direct investment, the age dependency ratio, and level of democracy. This finding suggests that efforts to improve gender equality around the world may work synergistically with efforts to curtail global climate change and environmental degradation more generally.

    Christina Ergas and Richard York ‘Women’s status and carbon dioxide emissions: A quantitative cross-national analysis’ Social Science Research 41(4)

    I post this for general information, also because of my concerns about sexism on this blog. Recently here I’ve been participating in threads about the new wind farm enquiry and about misguided pro-nuclear advocacy. On three occasions in quick succession I was reproached or made fun of by male name commenters for having said supposedly stupid things (none of which I had actually said). When I protested about this I was accused of behaving like a “petulant child” and distracting discussion from the main points.

    It’s well known that women participating in discussions on the web are likely to be subjected to put downs and hostility. I suggest it’s the responsibility of blog owners to be mindful of this and make sure that it doesn’t happen. Unfortunately on this blog John Quiggin has engaged in similar behaviour towards me, which presumably makes other commenters feel they have even more licence to do so.

    As the above research suggests, this is not only an issue of fairness or human rights. It is also important that women are able to participate fully in order to promote sustainability. If female commenters are subjected to put downs and hostility on discussion threads about environmental (or other) issues, it is damaging not only to the individual women, but to the cause of environmental sustainability. So I one again urge everyone on this blog, including Professor Quiggin, to start taking the issue of sexism on this blog seriously.

  2. From a musical point of view Lorde’s song is a jingle. The lyrics are a little more interesting, though like most pop lyrics they look rather bare on their own.

    The whole pop culture thing is looking threadbare to me. Joni Mitchell called Bob Dylan a “fake” and these days I agree. His tunes are all stolen. His lyrics are all banal doggeral. His style and delivery is mock-profound. But Dylan was a consummate and conscious trickster. He once said he was a high wire artist. It is clear he meant that he was staying up high with very little to hold him up. Such artistry becomes the ability to live (be acclaimed) as an artist without producing any art. It is a genuine talent but it leaves no legacy, no trace, except albums in his case that sound like sets of distorted, burlesque carnival songs.

    I still enjoy some popular songs from various eras but essentially all pop, rock, rap, hip-hop, dub etc. is just spak-filler for empty lives or at least empty moments.

    There once was a compilation album called Trash! Probably from the rock and punk genres. The advertising byline was:

    “This is Trash! You will buy Trash!”

    Sums it up really.

  3. @Val
    I’ve just spent a good couple hours reading a lot of your posts over multiple comment threads here. I’ve read and reread some lines over and over, thought about it a lot and I still cannot understand precisely what your position is. Roughly speaking I read your comments as coming in two varieties that make quite different arguments about the discourse on this blog.

    Maybe a good illustration is an interaction in the Farewell to LP post on Jan 15. In response to a comment by Alfred Venison, who gives a critique of Gillard’s MMRT negotiations and the end of the Rudd Mk I, you say that you think the substantive point valid or at least reasonable to bring up. This is consistent with your repeated statements that you don’t want anybody go give up criticising female politicians in general or Gillard in particular. You then say that the problem with the comment is av’s framing “that’s why i despise julia gillard: she sold her country short to further her career.” with the distinction being that this language has synergy with a long existing sexist narrative. Seems fair enough, but there’s a problem which is that it’s not clear that it’s possible for Alfred to avoid this altogether if, after consideration of the evidence his view is that Gillard’s actions were against the national interest, involved dishonesty, and were motivated partially (or even primarily) by personal ambition. You seem quite cognisant of this though, because you go on to say “I can see that you may object to this analysis, and this is an issue that would take ages to argue through.” This exchange seems reflective of the first variety of your comments: criticism is fine but everyone should always think about their comments within the context of sexist narratives and choose their language as thoughtfully as they can. At the end of the day however, it seems you are leaving open the option that, having thought about all of this, Alfred has a sensible grievance that is to some extent unavoidably reminiscent of other nonsensical criticism of Gillard but that it’s perfectly okay for him to go ahead and express it in this way. This seems like the most reasonable position in the world.

    On the other hand, at some point we have to make an actual decision about Alfred’s criticisms and all the others that appear on this blog and progressive commentary generally. You’ve been having similar discussions in comments here for a while and I read the various responses people have made to you as essentially claiming that they’ve thought about it, made their best efforts to avoid unnecessarily echoing sexist narratives, and that their subsequent criticism are substantive rather than sexist. Given this amount of time, and the second variety of your comments where you assert that there definitively is a sexist bias across the board here, it seems fair to ask you to provide arguments as to why the comments such as Alfred’s are not reasonable (and ideally, if you think the substance of the criticism is valid, provide language which makes the same point without falling into the same trap) , or to withdraw the claim that the Gillard criticisms are sexist and unfair. I should emphasise this doesn’t have to be a blanket statement, in fact the clearest things would be some examples of comments here that you see as fair or not fair.

    I’ve not seen either other of these things, and immediately following this exchange JQ appeared and essentially made the same point. This discussion had gone on for a while and it seemed that neither a specific defence or a withdrawal of these claims was forthcoming so he was closing the thread off. You responded to this by equating it to an accusation that your were an “idiot who is only driven by personal emotional feelings”. I understand that these things depend a bit upon the context of past interactions between the two of you that I may not have read, but at face value I see no way JQ’s comments admit an interpretation remotely like this.

    So I don’t know what to make of it all. Some of the things you’ve written seem the height of reasonableness and well worth bearing in mind. Others seem very unfair. Any light you can shed would be appreciated.

  4. Val @51, the finding reported in the study you quote is intuitively reasonable, although it seems as though the authors went through a fairly complex regression analysis to come up with it. My own immediate response is that both better performance on reducing CO2 emissions and better performance on gender equality would be favoured by the relative strength of social democratic (and general democratic left) sensibilities in a polity.

    In any case, even if working to combat sexism and achieve gender equality wouldn’t make a difference to CO2 emissions, it would still be well worth doing for all sorts of other reasons.

  5. On the question I introduced about the lyrics of “Royals”, the claim of racism was first raised by a feminist blogger who is not African-American. I have done a Google search and there is not a large number of African American writerrs supporting the view that the allegedly offending lines are racist, and there are African American writers such as Aziza Jackson rejecting this view.

    I have raised this issue on my Facebook page and people whose opinions I generally respect have come on on both sides of the issue. I have formed the view that what this debate comes down to is whether Ms Flores has cried “Wolf!” when there isn’t one, or whether she’s cried “Wolf!” after seeing a puppy.

  6. ” You may have had your eyes on the real enemy, but in my recollection that didn’t stop you from putting most of your energy into attacking Gillard. ”

    ” go back and have a look AV and just see for yourself how much time you spent criticising Abbott as opposed to criticising Gillard ”

    dear Val, the real enemy is transnational capital, which admits of no constraints on its business even to the point of having troublesome first world governments removed from office between elections and which will soon be enabled by solemn treaty to take first world governments to court over sovereign policy.

    first, i owe julia gillard and the australian labor party nothing. they sold out. they were from that moment as nothing to me. i am deadly serious and resolutely consistent on this.

    second, you should know by now my gripe with julia gillard is precise & specific. you seem unaware though that with regard to the conduct of julia gillard’s government & its policies i have steadfastly refrained from saying anything. if i recall correctly (iirc), i have made no comment anywhere regarding the julia gillard government’s refugee policy, on education, on foreign affairs, on palestine, on disability, on the intervention, on the price on carbon, on gambling machines, on the nbn, on balancing the budget: tacit. i have had plenty to say about tony abbott. sincerely, alfred venison.

  7. @Nathan
    Thanks for the long and serious analysis Nathan. The short answer to your question about Alfred’s comments is that there are a number of different ways of interpreting what happened eg
    Gillard did not negotiate hard enough (a possibility that I’ve previously mentioned, and noted that there is research suggesting this can be a problem for women – again a really complex issue)
    Gillard was influenced by the right and some unions (I would think this likely)
    Gillard gave away too much because she wanted to shut the issue down for political reasons – it was doing damage
    Mining companies can pay for extremely smart accountants and lawyers as well as buying media coverage and having media mates
    Australia did not previousky have an MRRT – there were pitfalls and problems that weren’t foreseen
    I’m not an expert in all this, but I know a little bit about politics, having gone through about ten years when I was pretty heavily involved as an adviser, candidate, policy coordinator etc (first for Labor, later for Greens). I know that politics can be really difficult. Any of this kind of stuff could have happened, and there’s probably more that I haven’t thought of or wouldn’t know about. You could analyse this kind of thing for years and no doubt there are people who have done or are doing that. However what is not necessary is to say the Mining Tax was too weak because Julia Gillard was a devious person who was prepared to sell Australia out just to realise her ambition to get rid of Kevin Rudd and lead the Labor party. That’s what Alfred was saying, and it’s a hugely long bow to draw with no evidence whatsoever. People like me, who actually know and have worked with Julia Gillard, say that she is a basically decent person and very competent. That’s what most of her colleagues said, and that’s what the Independents said. Why would Alfred know better?

    The point about John Quiggin is that this is what he actually said to me:

    “OK Val, I think we’ve established that your only concern about sexism on this site relates to your view that criticism of Gillard, even on policies which you are unwilling to defend, was automatically sexist.

    It seems to me pretty clear that I am being dismissed as someone who has no rational basis to her argument. My “only” concern is that I misguidedly believe any criticism of Julia Gillard to be “automatically sexist”.

    I’m doing a PhD as my blog says, but I am not young – I’m distinctly mature as I think my photo on the blog, and a lot of my comments make clear. I’ve not only worked in politics, I’ve been in the workforce for a long time and I’ve experienced first hand a lot of the discrimination in the workplace that existed openly when I first started work and still exists covertly now. I actually made a discrimination complaint against the Labor leadership after I lost my job as an adviser, and although I can’t say that I “won”, as the case was settled before hearing, it is a fact that the Victorian Parliament introduced anti-discrimination training for MPs following my case. In addition, I hold an MA by research in Australian history. The subject of my thesis was maternity in twentieth century Australia, which included a lot of research on gender issues, including attitudes to gender in the Australian parliament. I also served as post grad rep in the Monash history department for a year while I was doing my thesis, and worked with the Equal Opportunity Unit at Monash to raise the awareness of the department about gender issues (briefly that women were under-represented at post grad level). I also served as convenor of the women’s network in the Victorian Greens during the time I was a member.

    So overall I have a considerable amount of personal experience and academic knowledge in this area. Yet John Quiggin, who has never met me and probably knows nothing about me, is happy to dismiss all my concerns about sexism as arising from the fact that I apparently just can’t bear to hear any criticism of Julia Gillard. I ask again, why would that be? Presumably because I am both stupid and driven by my emotions. I think it’s an amazingly insulting and patronising thing for him to say.

  8. From https://johnquiggin.com/2014/01/18/a-few-more-observations-on-nuclear-power/comment-page-6/#comment-220591 :

    I already acknowledged that having solar would change the calculations. But I think the broader point – in the context of this thread – is that when you take into account the cost of being on the grid (service charge) for low use householders the cost of renewable + battery is already similar to the cost of being on the grid.

    If you genuinely did acknowledge that having solar would change the calculations then you would acknowledge that having enough battery to go off-grid would make the cost of batteries MUCH more than the optimistic 50c/kWh. So you simply cannot say that the cost of renewable + battery is already similar to the cost of being on the grid for low use householders.

  9. @Nathan
    Hi again Nathan. I’ve been reading through old entries on this blog, and I have to say it makes for pretty depressing reading, especially my belated realization that John Quiggin was trying to get rid of Julia Gillard as PM from early 2011. It changes my perspective but I haven’t entirely digested it yet.

    The Abbott narrative of Julia Gillard as “incompetent and dishonest” seems to have really got going in early 2011 – Abbott was using those terms in March 2011, although Bolt had already called for Gillard to resign in December 2010. It appears that the left wing version, as exemplified on this blog, wasn’t all that far behind.

    I also noted that women who cautioned that the anti-Gillard rhetoric was damaging to Labor, were accused of being unable to tolerate any criticism and/or of seeing any criticism as sexism. Men who raised the same concerns didn’t seem to get that response, although I have to go back and check that more carefully.

    I also came across my first comment on this blog. I’ll put a link to it even though that will probably mean it will be held up in moderation for a while, because the comment itself is rather long.

    An interesting thing is that I made some quite clear and specific criticisms of Gillard on this first comment. There has never been any substance to the accusation that I can’t tolerate any criticism of Gillard, so it’s very interesting – it definitely looks a tactic to discredit women in particular.

    I will write more about this on my own blog soon, I hope.

  10. @Val

    I criticised Gillard for a lot of things – particularly her decision as PM to send refugees to Nauru and Manus again.

    Taking her refugee policy in isolation – would that criticism be sexist (especially if it came from a male)?

  11. i intended to get this reply in much earlier, but, now i think i’ve found the auto-moderation trigger-word, i offer it belatedly for the record, here goes:-

    ” You may have had your eyes on the real enemy, but in my recollection that didn’t stop you from putting most of your energy into attacking Gillard. ”

    ” go back and have a look AV and just see for yourself how much time you spent criticising Abbott as opposed to criticising Gillard ”

    dear Val, the real enemy is transnational capital, which admits of no constraints on its business even to the point of having troublesome first world governments removed from office between elections and which will soon be enabled by solemn treaty to take first world governments to court over sovereign policy.

    first, i owe julia gillard and the australian labor party nothing. they sold out. they were from that moment as nothing to me. i am deadly serious and resolutely consistent on this.

    second, you should know by now my gripe with julia gillard is precise & specific. you seem less aware though that with regard to the conduct of julia gillard’s government & its policies i have steadfastly refrained from saying anything. if i recall correctly (iirc), i have made no comment anywhere regarding the julia gillard government’s refugee policy, on education, on foreign affairs, on a certain vote in the u.n., on disability, on the intervention, on the price on carbon, on gambling machines, on the nbn, on balancing the budget: tacit. i’m not soft on tony abbott. sincerely, alfred venison.

  12. Chris ONeill,

    You are wrong about the cost of batteries, and the cost of being off t2300 @ 25e grid.

    I demonstrated earlier that the current cost of conventional batteries is $200 /who (100 amp hour battery = 1.2 kw hrs which if operated with 80% charge range will give extended service so = 1.0 kwhr).

    So a 6kwhr storage set with gas for cooking,solar water heating and 4kw of rooftop pv makes an energy set that looks nothing like 50 c/kwhr. The batteries would be replaced one per year at $200. The solar components of this set are supplying 9000 kwhrs per year for an offset saving of $2300, or $23,000 over 10 years. Factor in the cost of batteries and cooking gas and a mortise the cost of the whole system, and you will see that you are well in credit.

  13. Line one ignore “t2300 @ 25e”, this is the auto text feature going mad. I’ve now killed it so it won’t be a problem. Without it there is more area on the screen for the preview window.

  14. @Megan
    Megan did you read my original post? I criticised Gillard’s asylum policy myself.

    It seems like you have just completely ignored everything I said and then just gone on with the same old ‘you think any criticism of Gillard is sexist’ nonsense. Strange.

  15. @Paul Norton

    This might come down to the question: “Is any criticism, real or implied, of an individual or sub-group of an oppressed oppressed minority ipso facto racism?” If this is answered in the affirmative, this then means that certain indivuduals or sub-groups groups become immune to criticism, not in the mainstream, which is presumably still oppressive, but in the progressive reformist movement itself. In this case, the progressive reformist movement has created a double-standards moral dilemma for itself.

  16. Ikonoclast, the extreme form of that phenomenon is where sections of the left become cheerleaders for groups and movements that, by the criteria of general progressive and democratic principles, are utterly reactionary and destructive, simply because they have a significant following among some oppressed other. Support for Hamas and Hezbollah at the present time among some sections of the left is the paradigm example. (This is not to deny that in times passed some sections of the left erred for similar reasons in the other direction in relation to events in that part of the world.)

  17. Megan and Nathan
    I’ve thought about this further and I think I understand where you’re coming from – I think your question is how can you distinguish between genuine criticism of a woman and sexism, right?

    I’ll try to answer briefly and put more info on my blog soon. Firstly, sexism in contemporary society often expresses itself as bias rather than outright criticism of women per se. There been a fair bit of research on this, eg showing that if you put a female name on an assignment or CV, it will tend to get less favourable responses than if you put a male name on the same CV or assignment.

    So given that it’s bias rather than outright criticism, the question about what is fair criticism becomes a judgement call, but the things I would advise you to look for are:

    Going beyond the evidence – eg Gillard didn’t just fail to get a good deal on the mining tax, she did so because she was prepared to sell Australia out in order out to realise her ambition to overthrow Rudd (even though there is clear evidence that caucus preferred her to Rudd)

    Conspiracy theories – eg Gillard made Rudd back down on the CPRS because she wanted to make him look bad and overthrow him.

    Rejecting counter evidence – eg when former staffers like myself, or caucus colleagues or Independents say that Gillard is a decent person who is very competent and good to work with, that evidence is dismissed as bias.

    Maximising and personalising failures and minimising or generalising achievements – eg, ‘Gillard’ was opposed to a carbon price but ‘the government’ actually passed reasonably carbon price good legislation (Fran Barlow on several occasions produced evidence that Gillard was not opposed to a carbon price, but it was ignored)

    Applying differential standards – eg Gillard was reprehensible when she shifted to the right on asylum seekers, but when Rudd did the same even more harshly, it was merely “puzzling”.

    I’ll put reference details and examples on my blog later.

  18. @Ikonoclast
    I think my explanation at #16 is also relevant to your question. Again there is research showing that if you put a “non-Anglo” name on a CV it’s less likely to get a response. Not sure if I can find that again but I will try.

    (doesn’t apply to Italian names in restaurant/cafe sector though)

  19. @Paul Norton

    Yes, it is not really possible to find a “right” side or a virtuous side in quite a few disputes. More modern examples will prove too contentious so let us look at the conflict between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The ruling regimes were both totalitarian and engaged in ethnic cleansing, holocausts, pogroms and so on. Who was right? Which side was it morally correct to support? Almost certainly neither.

    Realpolitiks meant Russia and the West became allies. This occurred essentially because Germany was between them and attempted to exapand both ways. As soon as Germany was defeated, Russia became the enemy again. The whole process repeated the centuries olfd ongoing struggle for Imperial or hegemonic control of Europe (and north Asia). France, Russia, the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Empire and then Prussia and finally a united Germany had been carrying on this struggle for several centuries. This struggle continues on till the present day (for those left standing in new alliances like the EU) through proxies and semi-vassal territories. Syria and Ukraine are a cases in point (in somewhat different ways).

    Russia (diminished from Soviet days, semi-tottering, but still a giant) maintains peripheral allies like Syria and Iran as bulkwarks against the West. The Ukraine too is meant, by Russsia, to stay in the zone of Russian economic and military influence. Hence the struggle there.

    The Berlin Wall might have fallen but the struggle for empire and hegemony is not over. The line has moved east and now bisects Ukraine. This pushing back and forward of the line of approximate control in wartime and peacetime merely continues the paradigm of the last several centuries of major power struggle. Nothing has changed.

    However two new strategic elements did enter after WW2. These are nuclear weapons and the combined threat of climate change and limits to growth. But I am rambling too far off topic now.

  20. I see the age-old question of who do you support between the Wahab insurrectionaries and the fearful Assad dynasty surfaces again. Personally, I wonder who created the pit in which the dogs are fighting.

  21. @paul walter

    Clearly the fault line between Western (EU&US) power and Russian power runs through the middle of Syria just as it runs through the middle of the Ukraine. That probably answers the question of who created the pit they are fighting in.

    The Russian Bear is a very difficult beast to understand geostrategically speaking. It is weak demographically and economically. Yet it is still very powerful in its nuclear arsenal and conventional military. The USA’s still more powerful conventional military is rendered meaningless vs. Russia. Any attempt to use it only results in Mutually Assured Destruction. Russia is also very powerful in land and resource possessions, especially in water and energy. More powerful than any other nation in this respect.

    The EU, USA and China appear to have more to lose from Limits to Growth than Russia. That is to say they have hit their national limits while Russia has not. The EU, USA and China are not energy self-sufficient. This will rapidly become a major problem for them as energy exports dwindle around the globe. Nations with energy reserves will apply them to their own use first unless conquered and stripped like Iraq.

  22. @alfred venison

    More than one link is deadly. Even the “at” reference to a previous post is counted as one link.

    Too many words that get abuse weightings or hate speech weightings or “pawn” weightings will likely sink the post too. This makes it difficult when referring to one of these topics and making reasonable use of the words to discuss the concepts.

    You have to get clever and use like sounding words in inverted commas, asterisks and so on.

    But I agree, sometimes you can use even all these tricks to no avail.

  23. @Megan
    Hi Megan I thought again about your comment and I think I understand what you’re getting at now ( and Nathan also) so I’ve tried answer it at #15 (or#16?) above in case you missed it.

  24. @Ikonoclast
    Compare Australia and Russia. The cards are falling their way not ours. On paper both countries are resource rich. Their population is declining ours is growing at twice the world average. Climate change could make our major cities unliveable without expensive energy. Their tundra is turning into farmland, ours to desert and the pesky Arctic ice cover is melting away to provide oil drilling sites, hence the Greenpeace hooliganism. No p***ters allowed but if they use Tchaikovsky tunes in the ice skating it’s just being pragmatic.

    Here we have men in blue ties who know what’s best for us. There they have dictators and oligarchs. I think I’d prefer the latter.

  25. @Val

    I think your question is how can you distinguish between genuine criticism of a woman and sexism, right?

    Yes, that’s more or less correct as far as what I was getting at.

    By picking one topic I was trying to unravel pretty much that distinction but, to use another example I raised a while ago, I still believe that Gillard was “devious” in the case of Wilkie’s pokies proposal.

    In that example I am quite entitled (I believe) to observe conduct and label it as devious – and by obvious extension the person doing it as devious. But I haven’t ignored your comments and I think I have a better idea of where you’re coming from.

  26. @Hermit

    The cards are indeed falling Russia’s way more than the way of the EU, USA, China or Australia. However, these are long term cards not short term or mid-term cards. Climate change and limits to growth help nobody but do harm some faster than others. It’s not all peachy for Russia either. Melting tundra can make vast landscapes impassable and unuseable.

    For example, climate change and limits to growth will harm China’s position much faster and earlier than Russia’s position. China is over-populated, above its sustainable footprint, short of domestic conventional energy and vulnerable to desertification and sea level rise. The EU needs renewable energy to work or it collapses wholesale. The US is way over its sustainable footprint, vulnerable to climate change (look at its recent droughts), not self-sufficient in conventional energy and has some key cities and states vulnerable to climate change, sea level rise, hurricanes, twisters, super storms and the polar vortex or polar cyclones.

  27. Val, I gave up on Gillard after “cash for clunkers” and the Citizens Consultative Council, well before 2011.


    I judged at the time they were both bad policy and bad politics, on the most important issue facing the world, and I was proved right. They would have been just as bad if Gillard had been male.

    But we have all had our say on this, and I don’t propose to discuss the issue any further. By all means raise it on your own blog, but not here.

  28. thanks for your kind remarks, Ikonoclast, but i’ve had my why do i bother moment . there were no links. it was firm and not rude. in reply to something said about me. a day ago. in relation to a topic now closed. i did it three times in all. i am suddenly over seeing my writing up in lights. i have a choice of ways to spend my free time that do not involve perpetually double guessing an automated censor the decisions of which appear to be not reviewed. au revoir. -a.v.

  29. @Val
    Thanks for your replies, the second and third one particularly were exactly the kind of clarification I was looking for. I…would like to say more but I guess this is not the forum so I’ll save my comments for the event that you blog about these issues in the future. Suffice to say I think better grasp your point of view, and I agree with some, though definitely not all of it. In short I think your generalised criteria for spotting illegitimate criticisms is spot on, and the things to bear in mind about JG in particular are fair enough as well. My only difference is that in my opinion, while some commenters here fall afoul of these, quite a lot don’t. In particular, I tend to be bit more negative about Kevin than our host, but I thought his criticisms of Gillard were generally focused upon the evidence.

    All the best.

  30. Val

    You can see the sexism creeping with the use of the word sisterhood

    It was recently used in support of calls for a Royal Commission into unions eg Paul Sheehan in the SMH – Abbott will use sexism as a tool to separate the “goodies” from the “baddies”.

  31. I think that there has been a backlash against women in high (political) places and Abbott has been part of that. There has also been a backlash against policies that restrict or hinder activities that may have social or environmental consequences eg coal mining and dredging in sensitive marine environments. This backlash is seen in Newmans “get outta my way” attitude to resource extraction and human rights ie freedom of association.

    Certainly sexism is alive and well in boardrooms despite a credible body of evidence that gender diversity is good for profits. Our current govt has more parallels with a corporate body than those in the recent past.

  32. Deleted for coarse language and more Rudd-Gillard stuff. Nothing more from anyone on this topic, please – JQ

  33. Now that Abbott has made it clear for (mainland) Australian businesses that they should not expect a handout from the government if they can’t run their businesses in the normal operating environment they find themselves in, what will happen with farming businesses crying out for money because they failed to take into account the natural variability of the Australian climate?

    Abbott is in for an interesting discussion with his colleagues in cabinet…

  34. Without commenting further on forbidden topics, I do want to reiterate that I thought your earlier comment to me (quoted in my response to Nathan above) was sexist, since it was not supported by evidence, and it also referenced sexist stereotypes in the clear implication that I was not capable of being “objective” on the topic in question.

    Put downs like this deter women from taking part in public discussions, including important discussions on sustainability, even when, like myself as someone doing a PhD on this topic, we are well-placed to contribute.

  35. @paul walter
    I take it you are apologising to John Quiggin, not me – I think our sequence of comments has got a bit confused here. My comment was directed to Professor Quiggin.

  36. @BilB

    No BilB, you are wrong about the cost of off-grid solar-batteries for at least three reasons.

    First, you greatly overestimate the longevity of “conventional”, presumably you mean lead-acid, batteries. Your apparent assumed lifetime of 6 years equates to 2191 cycles, which is extremely optimistic for 80% depth of discharge (DOD). You would be lucky to get 800 cycles with that DOD.

    Second, you have ignored the effect of solar output varying greatly between summer and winter. If you get enough solar cells to make it through winter, then you will have a large excess of generation for most of the year which will be wasted and wreck the economics of the solar cells because you are off-grid and can’t even get feed-in for the excess energy.

    Third, like nearly everyone else, you ignore the lost opportunity cost of the capital that needs to be stumped up for the batteries to begin with.

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  38. @Paul Norton Paul Norton..I doubt whether the left are”cheerleaders” for Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Rather, it is recognised , the extreme and adverse conditions under which such groups emerged, a sense that the anger has been relentlessly provoked by oppression over decades.

    Had the West included the”other” in its post ww2 politics instead of reducing neglected mid eastern people to an insufferable and humiliating level of abjection, for no better reason than corporate greed, it is likely that much of the mid east would be a society more peaceful, rational, amenable to the west and on the advance.

  39. @paul walter

    Paul was careful both to qualify his remarks by speaking of “sections of the left” and with that qualification, he is correct. He also noted a tendency to bend the stick the other way, in effect, siding with one’s own privileged classes (which failing, IMO, is the greater in practice, at least in the West).

    Submerging one’s own politics based on the empowerment of working people within the politics of some political formation openly opposed to that end, or to the intensification/affirmation of social exclusion is a dreadful error for those identifying with the liberation of working humanity from scarcity and the struggle for circumstances in which every human being can realise their full human possibility.

  40. Fran, its a recognition of the political forces that create extremist groups, not an endorsement of them on my part. I believe it slips under the radar of most people, the mix and complexity accidental and covert running to overt factors, that develop some of the players in the mid east and elsewhere.

    I actually feel sorry for many involved with such groups, half the time the groups seem astroturfed or infiltrated by enemies who realise that clumsy violence alienates the cause from potential supporters and actually have the footsoldiers embark on violence to actually discredit what is initially a fair cause.

    As for Paul Norton, I like and respect this knowledgeable bloke and agree with him on 95% of what he says, but am not unhappy with my take on that isolated post, rather am surprised at it.

    On the wider issue much of this conversation pertains to, Syria, I think progressives are oddly split, mainly because to take a position entails endorsing participants lacking what we would feel to be fair credentials: Wahab interventionists, Assad and co themselves, Shia groups; also dubious outside influences like Israel, Russia, the US, the Saudis, etc.

  41. @Ikonoclast

    The weakness in your argument is that it forgets what happened at the Winter Palace. A day always comes when the troops refuse to fire on the crowd.

    It does not matter how cleverly you organise the security agencies or how many special armies you include within the armed forces. Iraq had not only a Republican Guard to watch the army, but a Special Republican Guard to watch the Republican Guard. The security arrangements to control the armed forces in the USSR were elaborate and comprehensive. But one day the troops refused to fire.

    Analysis that ignores the Winter Palace is going to find that China, and to a lesser extent, Russia are going gangbusters. Protesters in the streets of Kiev may disagree.

    The US discovered in Vietnam, to its infinite shame and equal cost, that you cannot impose a regime on a foreign country. They promptly forgot that in Iraq. It is to be hoped they won’t forget again for another generation.

    The Russians learnt that in Afghanistan and have apparently forgotten it again in Kiev, Damascus, and a number of capitals in the Near Abroad.

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