Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

134 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. On another topic, I note the new Indooroopilly Tunnel, Brisbane (is it called Legacy Way?) will have point-to-point speeding ticket systems installed. Now I get that tunnels need to kept especially safe and that speeding is unsafe. On the other hand, one can see it as paying a fee for the privilege of having a higher chance of getting a speeding ticket. Who is going to buy that deal?

  2. (no longer jungney)

    Neither of my kids is paralysed by this scenario. Nor am I. Both my kids have been agential in defending the last great stand of whitebox woodland in NSW from the expansion of the Whitehaven Maules Creek mine. They have both been through arrests, court appearances and so on. Its called seasoning. One is doing postgrad, the other undergrad, both earn a living as musos. They both belong to and engage with the Australian Student Environment Network which organises many events including an annual, campus based camp for education and strategic training. Most of these camps feature meditations and teachings on ‘how to keep your head up’.

    I’m pleased with your comment above because it allows discussion of the affective elements of our political situation. I don’t subscribe to the exhausted “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” nostrum. Nor am I a fatalist or a grin and bear it man. How we feel counts. It is far more likely that fatalism is a much greater curb on an active political response than a realistically pessimistic appraisal of the facts and the science.

    After that it is more effective to train one’s self in practices like ‘active hope’ as taught by American systems theorist and Buddhist Joanna Macy than it is to proceed with hopeless personal practices like despair, fatalism or unschooled hope. The first page of her site is headed ‘how to face the mess we are without going crazy’. I like the header because, it appears to me, that the global oligopoly has indeed already gone crazy along with a good proportion of its hangers on and functionaries. So, craziness is a very predictable response to this crisis. Mass craziness, whereby entire nations turn their backs on the most wretched of the earth, those in peril on the sea, is already entrenched.

    When it comes to what are the material conditions that constitute the bottom line for a life worth living, I’m no relativist. So, whatever their future may hold, absent first nature on at least the scale, complexity and beauty that I have enjoyed, it is clear that their future prospects are diminished compared to mine at the same age. This is no small thing, including as it does, the most stunning rry of human cultures the most vulenerable of which are soon to disappear.

    I recently saw a photo essay of a surfer in a barrel containing lots of floating debris. Indonesia, I think. Nasty. The surfing community might have been much more productive as an environmental agent if it hadn’t also pandered to self indulgence, hedonism and individualism. If it had been, it wouldn’t be surfing in sewage, plastic and garbage.

  3. Tim Macknay wrote on May 19th, 2015 at 11:29 | #19 :

    … anecdotal observation isn’t a very reliable way of measuring crime or public health, or other broad social conditions. …

    As for “producing the evidence”, I’m not under any obligation to do so. But it’s readily available, and I’ve given some suggested sources above. …

    The following posts concur with my own anecdotal evidence:

    Ikonoclast on May 18th, 2015 at 09:37; May 18th, 2015 at 19:34; May 19th, 2015 at 13:34 and May 19th, 2015 at 18:48

    Donald Oats on May 18th, 2015 at 14:18; May 18th, 2015 at 19:34 and May 19th, 2015 at 16:14

    jungney on May 18th, 2015 at 15:54

    Florence nee Fed up on May 18th, 2015 at 18:42

    sunshine on May 19th, 2015 at 11:23

    jungney on May 18th, 2015 at 15:54 and May 19th, 2015 at 16:55

    Even you have conceded that much of what the rest of us have claimed is true.

    So I don’t see why I should feel obliged to wade through abs -dot- gov -dot- au to find data, going back for more than three decades, that you claim will refute the claims made by myself and the others listed above. If you won’t produce the evidence, then I think that the rest of us are entitled to assume that it does not exist.

  4. @anthony nolan
    Thank you. Sounds like your kids are alright then. I agree that the loss of natural diversity does lead to a genuine diminishment, and that is also a major concern of mine. It’s true that the hedonistic impulse in surfing has too often won out over its environmentalist and spiritual impulses, although I think surfers can only take a portion of the blame for ocean pollution. I’m not familiar with the ‘active hope’ concept, but it sounds good and I will look up the Joanne Macy work you’ve mentioned.

  5. I think anyone over the age 15 with an IQ above 100 and a moderate interest in public affairs would know comments like this are nonsense:

    The effect [of the Keating reforms] is that our society which is becoming ever more dysfunctional with higher unemployment, less career structure and more crime, domestic violence, drug abuse, health problems, environmental destruction, etc.

    It is boring to have to point these things out, but here is a federal govt life expectancy chart for Australia from 1888 to 2013. As is common knowledge, life expectancy has increased and did stop stop or slow down Post-Keating. Hopefully we can agree that life expectancy is a reasonable proxy for health.

  6. On crime, the National Homicide Monitoring Program noted that homicide has reached an historic low.

    Again I would suggest homicide as a reasonable proxy for violent crime, the year on year figures for which are difficult to compare because of different reporting rates etc …

  7. Anthony Nolan:

    Both my kids have been agential in defending the last great stand of whitebox (sic) woodland in NSW from the expansion of the Whitehaven Maules Creek mine.

    That’s the spirit. Assuming you actually meant “white box”, Eucalyptus albens, I have planted plenty of these myself along with its close cousin, yellow box, Eucalyptus melliodora, which prefers a slightly more fertile soil. Both turn into very handsome trees, although they are slow growing.

    I think I must have planted or direct seeded 10,000 trees by myself throughout my life in a voluntary capacity. I wish more whingers and moaners would get off their @rses and doing something positive rather than simply bag people (I’m looking at you Ikono) who have a more positive and pro-active philosopy of life.

    Every generation has merchants of gloom- “the black plague will kill us all!!”, “reds under the beds!”, “Mutually Assured Destruction!” etc etc etc.. Sure these things are real and they must be spoken about but sitting on one’s soft flabby fat @rse and whinging only demoralises people. It is also a narcissistic self-indulgence.

  8. jt at 19th, 2015 at 21:29

    Your apparent past achievements in the regeneration of lost Australian native bushland are still quite small in comparison to the past and ongoing destruction of native Australian native bushland.

    Australian native bushland is being destroyed in the following ways: the so-called annual ‘hazard reduction burning’ of 5% of Victoria’s native vegetation each year supposedly to reduce the risk of bushfires, the unsustainable woodchipping of so much of our native bushlands and the clearing of bushland for ongoing urban sprawl driven by imposed population growth.

    If circumstances for most Australians had improved as much as was implied in 1983, instead of going so far backwards as attested to by the overwhelming majority of posts here, I would have expected that a good many more people would be able to similarly give their free time to native bush regeneration and other worthwhile projects.

    jungney, I mistakenly partially duplicated the listing of your contributions above on May 19th, 2015 at 20:06. My apologies.

  9. It’s no crime to note problems around us even as we try, each in our own way, to do something about it. It’s a bit of a stretch to think that complaining about something means a person is just sitting on their arse, doing nothing about it.

    I’ve done plenty. I’m trying to do more. Doesn’t mean I’m happy watching big companies steam-rolling their way through, creating even more problems to tackle, unnecessarily creating even more problems, I should say. That’s what peeves me. Companies like Shell are chock full of (extremely wealthy) senior people who know perfectly well what damage they are doing, and yet they go on doing it anyway. That’s worth a grizzle.

  10. The Overton window has moved so far to the right and taken so many people with it, that many have essentially become right-wing libertarians without even knowing what they are.

  11. @jt
    Planting trees can be very therapeutic but it is only one strategy on the long front.

    I’ve been told that land clearing in Australia escalated rapidly at the end of WWII when cheap, ex-military tracked vehicles became available. The same informant claimed that, in this period, the trip from Qld to Vic, roughly Goondiwindi to Yarrawonga via Dubbo, had forest on both sides of the road almost all of the way. Not any more.

    There is no single, correct position, attitude or type of engagement when the project is to sustain an habitable planet. Protest has a role, as does Ikonoklast’s type of political economy along with bush remediation and regeneration. The best agents are those who operate on the basis of respect and radical inclusivity. They build movements.

    Speaking of whom, movement builders, for mine one of the most effective current radical voices is Jamie Oliver notwithstanding that he is in cahoots with a supermarket chain. He has succeeded in convincing many people that cooking and eating are better options for living than sucking up industrial slop from the mass chains. Who would have thought that a cook could have such an impact?

  12. @Donald Oats

    It is no crime to note problems and I explicitly said they should be talked about. I expect global warming and ocean acidification will indirectly result in poverty and death for millions of people mostly in the developing world before they are tackled with the zeal that is needed.

    It is a crime (ethically and strategically) to lie through your teeth, which is what you did above in your comment about “recent leaked Shell corporation documents.” I followed your link and it says nothing at all about leaked documents. The document it talks about is the New Lens Scenarios which are publicly available on the Shell website and linked to in the article you cite and which rely on IEA projections. I’m have trouble finding the sinister evil thingie you talk about although of course it would be nice if Shell would get out of the fossil fuel game altogether and put its huge capital into renewables.

    I don’t care if someone is a social democrat, a socialist, a libertarian or a conservative or something else. I just don’t like lies.

  13. @Ikonoclast

    The Overton window has moved so far to the right and taken so many people with it, that many have essentially become right-wing libertarians without even knowing what they are.

    That’s no explanation, it’s hand waving. So it was just a throwaway insult, then? Disappointing. I thought your level of discourse was better than that.

  14. @anthony nolan

    I’ve been told that land clearing in Australia escalated rapidly at the end of WWII when cheap, ex-military tracked vehicles became available.

    That is true, and I think it is relevant when comparing what the younger generation faces with that faced with previous ones. The experience of loss of the diversity and richness of ‘first nature’ certainly won’t be unique to the young generation, although it might be more extreme and traumatic, depending on what transpires.

    My own late grandfather, who was a farmer and conservationist (contradictory as those things may appear from a certain perspective), and who died in 2001, experienced the transformation of his landscape in the Western Australian southwest from one which, in his boyhood, was abundant in native marsupials such as quendas (bandicoots), boodies (kangaroo-rats) and chuditches (quolls), as well as large reptiles like womas (pythons), and in which the watercourses were fresh and populated with native mussels, clams and perch, to one which was, in his maturity, entirely bereft of these creatures, with saline waterways and rising dryland salinity, due to the impact of the postwar land clearing program and introduced pest species such as foxes, cats and rabbits. I have no doubt that he experienced a sense of personal loss form this experience, which in part drove his conservation efforts. In his later years, he became interested in the new ecosystems that had sprung up as a result of the increased salinity in parts of the landscape. That perhaps reflected his own resilience, as well as the resilience of living systems.

  15. The Overton Window hasn’t moved so far that an anti-modernity, quasi-religious milleniarian doomsday system of belief could be reasonably considered progressive and left wing.

  16. @Tim Macknay
    That’s interesting, what you say about your grandfather. It accords with Don Watson’s account, ‘The Bush’. He says that ‘we’ve buggered it up’ and in a recent interview commented that you can’t carry out all that destruction without creating an ongoing, lingering sense of remorse. From a review:

    Nonetheless, in his concluding chapter Watson is assertive. Old-growth forest logging, or cattle-grazing in the High Country of Victoria, ‘‘strike me as degenerate acts. This is not a moral judgment but a response akin to what we feel at seeing the Buddhas of Bamiyan blown up by the Taliban.’’ Returned to live in the bush himself, he says he suffers a guilty sense that he owes his fortunate life ‘‘to a host of destructive acts, the scale of past atrocities dismays me’’.

    If I could find just one cattle man around where I live who had any sense of remorse I’d be grateful.

  17. As noted above on May 19th, 2015 at 02:13, Tim Macknay, who, contrary to the anecdotal evidence of myself and at least five others here (see May 19th, 2015 at 20:06), maintains that Australia has improved, and not gotten worse, since 1983, conceded that :

    Depression diagnosis is up, …

    … unemployment is increasing, …

    Environmental deterioration is real and serious … and many costs of living have risen in comparison with a decade ago.

    I also note the increase in the epidemic of Ice (aka metamphetamine) addiction Australia was being discussed just before now on ABC Radio National’s “The World Today”

    jt says the “[problems] should be talked about, but those who seem to me to be trying to talk about the problems on this forum are labelled by jt as “whingers”, “moaners” and “merchants of gloom”.

    What jt is apparently trying to do is bury our recent past history. That history shows up what a crock the official dogma of “small government” economic neoliberalism really is.

    Regarding jt’s admonishment to “get off [our] @rses and doing something positive” I note that 1000s in Ecuador [are pitching] in to plant nearly 650,000 trees in one day. This is an example of how state resources can facilitate useful volunteer work. I don’t see how “small government” could achieve this on such a scale, particularly in Australia in the state that it now is.

    Ecuador, by the way, has given asylum to fellow Victorian Julian Assange in its London embassy. Julian Assange is there to avoid being extradited to Sweden, ostensibly to face trumped up charges of sexual assault. The real reason for the attempted extradition is so that he can be extradited to the United States to be imprisoned for 35 years like fellow whistleblower Chelsea Manning for revealing to the world, amongst other United States’ war crimes, “Collateral Murder” in Iraq.

  18. @James

    So I don’t see why I should feel obliged to wade through abs -dot- gov -dot- au to find data, going back for more than three decades, that you claim will refute the claims made by myself and the others listed above. If you won’t produce the evidence, then I think that the rest of us are entitled to assume that it does not exist.

    You don’t have to feel obligated to do anything James, although I don’t think you’re ‘entitled’ to assumed anything either. 😉

    As you’re no doubt aware, ‘producing the evidence’ isn’t easy to do in the context of a blog thread. That’s why I simply suggested the most obvious sources of the relevant evidence. If I post a bunch of links, my comment will end up in automod purgatory (I’ve already tried it). So the most I can do is be a buit more specific about providing the sources. So here goes:

    Unemployment: On the RBA web site, there’s a 2012 speech by the Deputy Governor entitled ‘The Labour Market, Structural Change and Recent Economic Developments”. It has an easy-to-eyeball graph showing unemployment from 1972-2012. You can see from the graph that the unemployment rate now is below what is was during the latter half of the 1970s, although you could quite reasonably conclude that the big spikes in unemployment during the 1983 Fraser/Howard and 1990 Hawke/Keating recession show that the neoliberal reforms didn’t exactly help the unemployment situation (!), nonetheless, in the latter part of the 1990s unemployment fell significantly, down to levels not seen since before the stagflation of the 1970s, and is only now going up again.

    Crime: On the Australian Institute of Criminology web site, go to the Australian Crime: Facts & Figures section. You’ll find a bunch of crime statistics there. Unfortunately the crime figures don’t go all the way back to 1983 – just to 1996. They show ups and downs – homicide on a significant downward trends. Assaults and sexual assaults experienced an increase during the mid-2000s but are now down below their 1996 levels, in population terms. Robbery and property crimes show a significant decreasing trend.

    Health: for heart disease, go to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare web site, and look up ‘cardiovascular health trends’. For cancer, on the same web site, look up ‘australian cancer incidence and mortality’. On sugar consumption (this is a bit trickier), go to the Commonwealth Department of Health web site and look up the 1995 National Nutrition Survey. There a publication called ‘comparable data on food and nutrient intake and physical measurements from the 1983, 1985 and 1995 national nutrition surveys’. That has sugar consumption data. Then go to the ABS web site and look up the Australian Health Survey 2011-13. There’s a section called ‘usual nutrient intakes’ that gives some indicative sugar consumption data. It looks like sugar consumption increased between 1983 and 1995, but has declined since then. I think I was wrong on obesity, at least wrt Australia. It seems to have stabilised in several countries, but is still increasing here.

    I’m not putting any more info in this comment as it is already an essay. So there you go, I’ve done as much as I can to provide you with some of the evidence without taking up my whole day. I hope you appreciate it. 😉

  19. @James
    Ah. I see you’ve posted another comment while I was typing up my last one. There’s certainly a media panic about methamphetamine use (as about a lot of things), but the statistics don’t show that it’s increasing.

    Try the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s web site and look up the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 report, which found no trend of increase in the use of methamphetamine since the previous survey in 2010. There’s also the Illicit Drug Reporting Scheme run by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, which also found no significant increasing trend in methamphetamine use (a slight increase in the use of ice was offset by a slight decrease in the use of base).

    In general, the data shows an increase in some kinds of drug use (cannabis, cocaine, heroin) during the 1990s, followed by a significant decrease in the early 00’s, and a levelling off to current rates. Alcohol consumption shows a significant secular decline from a peak in the early 1970s (after a large postwar rise), until a levelling off around the beginning of the 21st century, and it’s remained around the same level since then (notwithstanding media panics about alcohol-fuelled violence, which has also declined).

  20. @James

    Tim Macknay … maintains that Australia has improved, and not gotten worse, since 1983

    Also, I never said that. I said that your comments about unemployment, crime and health problems (i.e. you said they had all gotten worse since 1983) were mostly inaccurate hyperbole. Which they are. I acknowledged from the beginning that a great many things are worse (although I wasn’t ‘conceding’ anything by doing so) and I’ve never maintained otherwise.

    If you want to argue, at least argue about something that someone has actually disagreed with you about, fah Chrissake.

  21. @jt
    If you’re unaware of Guy McPherson’s blog, ‘Nature Bats Last’, then you ain’t heard nuthin’ yet when it comes to gloomy prognostications. The website is the only one I’ve ever come across, unrelated to mental health, that has front page advice for those thinking of ending it all. They probably need to put it on every page because he argues that a realistic appraisal is of ‘Near Term Human Extinction’. His personal info will make you want to poke out your own eyes:

    Guy is professor emeritus of natural resources and the environment at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for twenty award-winning years. His scholarly work, which has for many years focused on conservation of biological diversity, has produced a dozen book and hundreds of articles. He lives in an off-grid, straw-bale house where he puts into practice his lifelong interest in sustainable living via organic gardening, raising small animals for eggs and milk, and working with members of his rural community.

    He attracts very vulnerable people and is, in my view, a sick puppy. I’ve met one of his followers in Australia and after a half hour conversation felt like in been buried under wet concrete.

    As to the left being ‘anti-modernity’, well, who with knowledge of the Holocaust could remain an ardent modernist? If there was any point at all to the post modern move it was the demand for an accounting of the historical reality of modernity rather than the Disney version where we are all white, well of and happy with our lot.

  22. James,

    Tim and I have provided ample evidence from authoritative sources that refute most of your claims as well as the reasons why across time comparisons for others are not necessarily valid. I note you have also dishonestly misrepresented what we’ve said and engaged in selective quotation. For the record, I know many things about the status quo are truely rotten but that is not a licence to make stuff up.


    I’m not sure if you are aware of James Sinnamon’s track record for other wordly strangeness. On his blog he tells us that the US bombed the WTC on 9/11; the US Government killed JFK and MLK; Martin Bryant was framed for the Port Arthur massacre by John Howard among a plethora of conspiracy theories. Sinnamon’s co-blogger Sheila Newman links approvingly to a range of right and left wing conspiracy sites about UFOs, how Senator Joe MacCarthy was right about all those commies, the moon landings and so on ad nauseum. I have never seen an odder collection of outright weirdness I rashly bought a copy of the Yeti-slash-UFO obsessed Nexus Magazine (which Sinnamon admits to being a fan of btw).

    You can’t have an adult conversation with these types of people …

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