99 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. @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.

  2. @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.

  3. @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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. @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.

  7. 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”.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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…

  11. 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.

  12. @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.

  13. @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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  15. @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.

  16. @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.

  17. 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.

  18. @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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