Monday Message Board

Back again with 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. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

40 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. A fix for Facebook

    Facebook like to make us think that its problem is one of free speech. Thus makes it a difficult furrowed-brow matter of striking a balance between competing interests, on which they are bound to make mistakes. This is clever misdirection. A great part of the problem is FB’s recommendation algorithms for sites and groups. The algorithms seek to maximise engagement – time in FB, posts, clicks – which translates directly into advertising revue and corporate profits. How do you you secure engagement? Cuteness and anger. The kitten videos are harmless, but not the recommendations for more extreme material than what you are watching. Facebook has become Iago on a global scale, and a menace to democracy – indeed any sort of sustainable politics.

    Here is my quick fix. If you have a better one, go to it.

    One: Facebook should quickly construct an algorithm that gives all posts and sites a civility score. The idea is that the media site of Buckingham Palace should score 0 – they never say anything that could possibly cause offence to anybody – and an outright neo-Nazi site 100. The indicators would be a cocktail: bad language, links to material flagged as misinformation by trusted monitors, references to violence, and so on.

    Two: Facebook’s recommendation algorithm should exclude links to material with a lower civility (or higher incivility) score than the post you are looking at. Nothing stops users from going to uncivil sites, and making uncivil contributions to them, but FB would stop pushing users towards the worse.

    This is frankly a kludge and open to all sorts of objections. Some can be easily deal with. A few sites like that of the Anti-Defamation League link to or reproduce vile content in order to denounce it. The number of such sites is small and they can be exempted manually. Second, it might be argued that the scheme would bowdlerise the virtual world into saccharine PC conformity. This would not happen. As I said before, the scheme does not remove uncivil content, and users remain free to seek it out. Censorship of hate speech would stay exceptional and subject to a different and more rigorous mechanism.

    A more serious objection is that the scheme casts too wide a net and would disfavour a great deal of harmless material. The response to this double. First, the disfavour is very mild. Some posted material would no longer be recommended to given users; the status quo ante Facebook’s introduction of recommendations. Second, it is admittedly a temporary kludge, a quick fix to an urgent problem while something better is worked out.

    What I do not see is a serious objection on grounds of corporate free speech. It cannot be maintained that corporations have the right to say anything that enhances their profits. They are already hemmed in by laws and regulations banning false advertising and misleading of investors and tax authorities. Pharmaceutical companies re prohibited in Europe from marketing prescription drugs directly to patients on public health grounds. This may or may not be good public policy, but it does not violate any fundamental rights. More generally, eminent jurists like Jack Balkin are developing a broad theory of “information fiduciaries” to clarify the civic responsibilities of powerful and monopolistic information intermediaries like Facebook. They are not publishers like TV networks, but nor are they simple common carriers like ISPs.

  2. The sins of FB seem to me exaggerated. It’s a great way of keeping in touch with people – particularly those that you encounter only occasionally. Its pretty much free speech so you get some strange views being expressed. Easy solution: Unfriend and block. I keep what are to me some really weird views as I like to know wat the other half are thinking.

  3. Freedumb protestors in Melbourne have been rallying in defiance of pandemic public gathering orders almost daily for weeks and now have the blessing of our Prime Minister. Restrictions on gatherings lifted and the first anti fascist rally was organised to oppose them on Saturday .As a result Saturdays freedumb fascist rally was much bigger than the one of those opposed to them .The police kept the two groups well apart. Recently when the loony right rallied the issue was Muslims and anti fascists turned out every time and outnumbered them .This made them embarrassed and they retreated back into their internet holes. Groups of people who have gone down any rabbit hole are very tightly bonded together as it costs so much to do so .They isolate themselves from what their life was ,its like a suicide pact thats almost impossible to turn back from .Morrison is playing with fire but this process is decades old and needed to be stamped on long ago .On the radio this morning Simon Birmingham couldnt denounce far right violence without qualification ,even making a false comparison with violence from the left. People like him are much more skillful politicians, but its pureTrumpism.

  4. A month ago, John speculated that the culture wars may be essentially over in Australia. They sure aren’t over in the U.S., as the governor’s race in Virginia just showed. Are battles over what is taught in school really going to be confined to the U.S.? Or are they the next front in the not-dead-yet culture wars in Australia and elsewhere?

  5. Anti-vaxxer ranks will be decimated at some point by COVID-19 deaths and Long Covid. One wishes they would get vaccinated to protect themselves and others but it seems they will not. Nature will take its course. It seems it is impossible to save these people from themselves.

    sunshine has pointed out how denialists (of all science and logic) are de-tribing and then re-tribing as the new tribe of the ignorant. One suspects the new tribe of the ignorant will implode and collapse at some point. They are not intelligent enough among themselves to run a movement and/or they are so divorced from reality that running a coherent movement will prove beyond their capabilities. But they can be manipulated and run by demagogues, from Morrison’s government to Clive Palmer types. That appears to be the danger.

  6. Harry, at the risk of sounding like a snob, if every user was like you, there might not be a problem with Facebook. But they’re not, so there is.

  7. As anoying as it is to make all this effort again as a vaccinated person, since the effort would be far less without the no vax fools, it´s still worth it to delay the timepoint of infection, for both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated that might otherwise get it. Death rates among the vaccinated are no joke either. Some unvaccinated will still come arround, one way or another. Medication is also getting better, and the vaccinated get their third shots. Maybe even a better vaccine for delta next year. All in all, still a pretty good lives safed/life years added/ serious medical problems avoided vs effort deal this winter.

    We had to wait till arround 800 death a day during the second wave until politicans stoped being stupid in Germany. Now expected death rates from current infections are already arround 500. We´ll see if they get smarter slightly faster this time. Right after they denounced any responsability and claimed no one could have predicted what every subject expert was saying since month….

  8. Harry Clarke: extract from an *internal Facebook presentation* from 2015:
    ““Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” one slide from the presentation read. The group found that if this core element of its recommendation engine were left unchecked, it would continue to serve Facebook users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.” ”
    IIRC they did nothing and carried on. WSJ reporting, via The Verge magazine

    Iko: I too would be glad to see Facebook broken up and the insufferable twit* Mark Zuckerberg stripped of his billions. But how would this solve the radicalisation problem? The daughter Facebooklets would still be big companies, with access to the same technology, large user populations, and the same incentives to exploit their
    vulnerabilities. Calling heavy-handed fusspot regulators.
    *: this website and/or this commenter docked 1 incivility point

  9. Dutton is complaining about China building massive numbers of naval ships. So why are we sending them iron ore?

  10. In 2010 Time magazine described Facebooks mission as being to ” tame the howling mob and turn the lonely ,anti social world of random chance into a friendly world “.

    Zuckerburg is a capitalist fairy tale ,young and energetic ,an idea ,has a go ,and is rewarded with billions of dollars. If the movie about it is accurate (he didnt try to block it) then facebook was made of 4 or 5 basic elements , none of which were new. Zuckerberg was responsible for one of them and he stole or purchased the others . Zuckerbergs part was originally designed by him as a way of sexually harassing female college students. Also (according to at least one who was in the room) the ‘like’ button ,which turned out to be the elusive key to profitability ,was not thought of by Zuckerberg and was initially rejected and resisted by him.

    These arrogant ,misogynistic ,entitled, privileged ,and autistic tech bro’s are out of touch with the real world and shouldnt be allowed so much input. Elon Musk is just as bad. Their motto is ‘move fast and break things ‘ ,they are selfish wreckers.

  11. The CCP:-
    Commonwealth Crypto Panopti-Coin. 
    Motto: “Go for broke. We see all. Forever”.

    And our Financial Services Minister Jane Hume is quoting the tails of the dogs to lead her… “Citing platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, Senator Hume said “… and I can tag sunshine above “These arrogant ,misogynistic ,entitled, privileged ,and autistic tech bro’s are out of touch with the real world and shouldnt be allowed so much input.” But unfortunately our Minister is doing exactly that sunshine.

    If you think non financially regulated buy now pay later is bad, just think what Jane Hume’s crypto crypto policy will allow. Trickle up and NO safety. Smart will bezzle, young will get burnt, some will abitrage, some will holld and peg crypto will eat away fiat. A brave new world.

    I have scheduled a ‘crypto play date’ with a ‘red pill’ friend, to see if flash trading and 10% limits can be used as a strategy for crypto. It will, for me, be an eye opener.

    JQ, any thoughts. Before the next election called please.

    “Crypto no fad, Hume tells RBA

    “Financial Services Minister Jane Hume has hit back at the Reserve Bank of Australia, saying cryptocurrencies are not a fad and that Australia risks losing out on major economic opportunities if governments and regulators are too fearful of embracing new technology.

    “As an industry, and as a government, we need to acknowledge this is not a fad,” Senator Hume will tell The Australian Financial Review Super & Wealth Summit on Monday. “We should tread cautiously, but not fearfully.”

    “Her comments come after the RBA last week warned investors about the potential for a crash in “faddish” cryptocurrencies.

    “The bank’s head of payments, Tony Richards, said the value of cryptocurrencies, which have surged to $US2.6 trillion ($3.6 trillion), could collapse when central banks decide to assert control over their monetary systems.

    “The bipartisan proposals would see Treasury gain powers to control cryptocurrency exchanges under a new category of financial markets licence, creating protections for investors including local custody rules.
    “Senator Hume’s Financial Review Summit speech is not the first time she has advocated a hands-off, laissez-faire approach to digital investing; nor is it the first time she has pushed back against an independent regulator wanting to step into the booming decentralised financial market.

    “In May, she said Australians were sensible enough to judge for themselves whether to put their hard-earned money into higher-risk assets.

    “Citing platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, Senator Hume said …”

    “Government won’t step in to counter Dogecoin or FinTok influencers

    “Cryptocurrencies are not a passing fad and will grow in importance as an asset class, Finance Services Minister Jane Hume says, while a boom in social media financial influencers is mostly a good thing.

    “I would like to make something clear: cryptocurrency is not a fad. It is an asset class that will grow in importance,” Senator Hume said.

    “If you want to invest in Dogecoin, I won’t stand in your way. Personal opportunity and personal responsibility are two sides of the same coin.”

    “Likening the government’s approach to unsophisticated retail investors as letting everyone have a crack at climbing the mountain, Senator Hume rebuffed the idea of increased regulation which would restrict new market entrants, labelling any such move as a “nanny state” alternative.

    “The fact that some people make poor decisions does not justify restricting the ability for ordinary Australians to participate in investment,” she said.”…

  12. In China, 114 male children are born for 100 female ones. It used to be worse, 118 at the peak. The natural rate is 105 (+ timeline and a bunch of other countries)
    Heard that a thousand times, but never took it serious regarding the extend. Always sounded like one of those stories that are wildely exagerated because of the sensationalist factor. How very wrong, that extend can´t be healthy for a society at all. Good luck in China me too. Seems unlikely employers will stop adverticing their high number of attractive female employes to young potential recruits with desired skillsets anytime soon under those conditions.

    On the flipside, my odds should be best with Ukrainians or Russians (no not really in terms of cultural prefered personatliy), because there the males tend to die early in unnatural high numbers. This actually shows up in behaviour: Usually males are far more likely to study abroad or emigrate. Not so in those nations, where the ratios are completly reversed.

  13. sunshine says NOVEMBER 24, 2021 AT 9:21 AM – “Elon Musk is just as bad. Their motto is ‘move fast and break things ‘ ,they are selfish wreckers.”

    Zuckerberg maybe an exemplar of your “capitalist fairy tale”, but Musk, and Al Gore, John Doerr, Nick Pritzker, Steve Westley, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Co, and minions are reliant on working seats at the government table together and highly dependent on the huge taxpayer handouts that such insider positioning and grifting secures. Their dirty game of mates may be old school crony capitalism but it’s no fairy tale. They are selfish rorters.
    An Inconvenient Truth: How Tesla Became A Trillion-Dollar Company – November 5, 2021

  14. COVID-19 is again spinning out of control around the world. We see the “open up prematurely party” proven wrong once again. The only correct initial response to COVID-19 was eradication. The only correct response, now that the neoliberal free-dumb ideologues have allowed it to become globally pandemic, is country by country elimination and then finally a global eradication program. Allowing this virus to become pandemic globally was a dreadful mistake; the most egregious of all mistakes made by neoliberalism in its 40 year reign, except for its endless growth policies and recurring failures to address climate change. Neoliberalism programmatically encourages and facilitates climate change and disease spread: the spreading of mega-death to nature and humans. (See 6th mass extinction.)

    But first, let us look at some recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is once again close to spinning out of control in several important and wealthy nations in the EU. Some other EU and EU periphery nations are in a truly disastrous situation. Overall Europe is in a dangerous position as it approaches the northern winter:

    “Europe is suffering through a record number of COVID-19 cases. The World Health Organization warned the continent could see another 2 million deaths by March 1.”

    As another example, Sth. Korea, an advanced nation, very advanced medically and with good pandemic control credentials until this latest outbreak, is now struggling to cope with the delta variant and faces its own potentially serious crisis.

    These latest examples illustrate the purblind foolishness of underestimating the SARS-CoV2 virus, its variants, and its consequent pandemic. Yet neoliberal capitalism has as its central rule the requirement that finance and money flows are paramount and must always run (up to the rich) while all other requirements, including those of preserving nature and ordinary human lives, are not just secondary but indeed not considered at all.

    I noticed a few weeks ago that the announcers on the ABC TV 24 morning show were jubilant and cock-a-hoop about Australia’s opening up schedule. They were practically high-fiving and had clearly joined the “open up and live with Covid” boosters, no doubt partly under the subtle influence of the current pro-neoliberal business, pro media shallowness , ABC chairperson. This morning, reporting the COVID-19 news from Europe and Nth. Korea the presenters looked subdued, perhaps even sombre. Perhaps a bit of reality is sinking back into their minds. They have good minds with reality checking apparatus after all.

    People don’t “live with” COVID-19. They die from it, get long term serious sequelae (long COVID) from it and/or suffer grief and care costs as they deal with COVID-19 deaths and long COVID among family, relatives, friends, work colleagues and in many work situations too. COVID-19 is a terrible scourge. You don’t let terrible scourges run loose and mutate unless you are, to put it simply, extremely foolish or your system is extremely foolishly constructed

    Australia needs to the learn the lessons of the continuing disasters in the EU, USA and Sth. Korea. So called high vaccination rates of over 60% to over 80% of over 16s or over 12s, as the cases may be, have so far completely FAILED to stem the pandemic. There are plenty of signs that even 80% double vax will not be nearly enough. It now seems highly likely that 95% of all over 5 years persons will need double vax plus boosters every 6 months minimum PLUS other control measures including masks, distancing, tracing, isolation, targeted lock-downs and so on will be necessary to halt and eradicate this scourge.

    If Australia continues with its opening up plans we could have our own disastrous wave(s) next southern winter. This is not certain but it is more likely than not. Why take this dangerous risk just to fill the coffers of rich people more? We can easily create greater equality and full employment with all the jobs clearly necessary to stem this pandemic and to stem climate change, to look after the environment and people properly. There are tons of jobs in that and we have all the real resources necessary, especially labor and raw materials, to set up those jobs and train people for them.

    But if we open up prematurely on neoliberal principles with inadequate vaccinations and controls in place we will have our own winter COVID-19 disaster, most likely, and certainly place our fragile environment and vulnerable people under pressures which will buckle, destroy and kill fauna, flora and people completely unnecessarily. The plan to open up Australia prematurely will be a disaster at all levels if followed through.

  15. Ikon in news today re your comment, increasing covid and aerosols & Ventilation will be BIG news.

    “The group of 13 was fully vaccinated, and they wore masks when they left the table where they spent about four hours together.

    “They had followed the rules, but a few days after their joyous reunion, 11 of them came down with COVID, making their dinner what one epidemiologist described as a “superspreader” event.”

  16. A NSW Health news release earlier today headlined School formals open to all HSC students included:

    All Year 12 students will be able to attend their end-of-year school celebration following a year of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Health Minister Brad Hazzard today granted an exemption to enable all HSC students to attend their school’s Year 12 formal, dinner, or graduation, regardless of their vaccination status.

    What could possibly go wrong? 🙄

  17. KT2,

    The article you link to is very concerning. Let us look at the salient points;

    (a) 13 fully vaccinated young adults met;
    (b) admittedly they had masks off talking;
    (c) admittedly they were indoors at a clearly unsafe venue and
    the venue was not checking status and some staff had no masks.

    Even so, 11 out of 13 caught COVID-19 while fully vaccinated and all young adults as above. One out of the 13 had to go to hospital, quite ill, for precautionary reasons. For a young, fully vaccinated group these are very sobering and concerning statistics.

    This illustrates that if we go back to old normal we will have a disaster next winter. Every person in the country will catch the disease in short order unless they keep isolated. Many will die, even vaccinated people. Even this Xmas in Australia could turn into a disaster season unless people stick to outdoor events and keep well apart. Or else go out nowhere at all, which would be safer.

    Australia has seen all the warnings of overseas developments and yet we still willfully ignore the dangers. The Victorian government has “also revealed that state-managed contact tracing would stop”. What kind of madness is this? There is something strange happening in the West. It is a kind of mass madness, mass self-delusion and mass abrogation of social care and responsibility.

  18. I can’t as yet bring myself to read the dissenting report. Good for removing furballs tho.

    Privatised by stealth.
    Our Australian Public Service.

    Any chance JQ you might provide some response please.

    > 20 000 APS positions are filled on a labour hire basis.

    > contracts from about $289 million in 2013 to $2.1 billion in the 2020 calendar year

     > “Roughly, it’s been a 612 per cent increase in spending on labour hire
    (I couldn’t find fn355)

    [Source: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Our Public Service, Our Future: Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, 13 December 2019, p. 186. See footnote 355 in that document for further information.]

    “Additionally, the Thodey Review noted that the increases in contractor and consultant spend had occurred against the backdrop of a significant increase in the size of programs administered by the APS, but almost no increase in departmental budgets. It concluded:
    “The review has heard, and data suggest, that contractors and consultants are being used to meet the increased burden of program delivery — work traditionally done by APS employees — as well as policy design and implementation.45

    “The CPSU estimated that at least 20 000 APS positions are filled on a labour hire basis. It advised that it had arrived at this figure through collating various publically available sources, including data from Senate estimates, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, and AusTender.46

    “In regard to labour hire expenditure, the CPSU advised that based on AusTender data it had identified an increase in spending on temporary personnel service contracts from about $289 million in 2013 to $2.1 billion in the 2020 calendar year.47

    “Mr Chiu of the CPSU explained:
         “Roughly, it’s been a 612 per cent increase in spending on labour hire since this [Coalition] government came into power.”…

    Chapter 3 exerpt above…

  19. News from the Australian coal exit

    From PVMagazine :

    “The AEMC’s 2021 annual residential electricity price trends report, which examines the direction household electricity prices will take over the next three years, forecasts an average national drop in annual bills of 6%, or $77, by 2024 as cheaper renewable energy flows to consumers.[….] The predicted declines come in spite of the impending exit of several fossil-fuel generators from the National Electricity Market (NEM), including the staged exit of AGL’s Liddell Power Station in 2022 and 2023, one of the biggest coal-fired generators in the NEM.”

    The federal government will follow the Trump playbook on the accelerating decline and fall of domestic coal. viz. ostentatious hand-wringing, culture-war blame-shifting and crocodile tears.

  20. A new covid variant already seems to be spread arround the word. And it looks like a pretty bad one.

  21. The new covid-19 variant of concern has been named Omicron by the WHO. Those who read my posts may remember I predicted the arising of an Omicron variant as a dangerous “variant from hell.” I settled on Omicron as it sounded suitably ominous. Of course, I can’t predict the future. Nobody can. But it is possible to predict likely events from trends. It was almost certain that variants of concern would keep arising and that the WHO would get to Omicron in the Greek alphabet. There was also some likelihood it would turn out to be a bad variant and there are signs it may do so.

    The point is that if we let a dangerous new rapidly mutating disease spread pandemically around the world, as we have done, then it becomes a near certainty that dangerous new variants will continue to arise. I’ve made this point before that the emergence of COVID-19 as a novel zoonosis (a dangerous new disease infecting humans for the first time) is punctuated equilibrium evolutionary event. I haven’t seen any one else make this point in blogs or scientific papers but I simply may not read widely enough to find other references.

    I think this is an absolutely key point. To fail to recognize COVID-19 as punctuated equilibrium evolutionary event (where the novel zoonosis and humans co-evolve together for the first time in evolutionary history) is to fail to recognize how profoundly novel and dangerous the whole situation is. I’ve been arguing this for at least a year at least, IIRC.

    The key point is that at the appearance of the pathogen we have a number of unique evolutionary events. These revolve around the appearance of a dangerous pathogen, highly capable of mutating rapidly, which has not as yet explored its evolutionary possibility space. The species it targets so efficiently is a medium sized mammal (homo sapiens) present in numbers (nearly 8 billion) completely unprecedented in evolutionary history for a medium sized mammal and that mammal is existing is an already profoundly disrupted global ecosystem.

    The mammal in question is already in overshoot and highly vulnerable to climate and ecosystem collapse. Homo sapiens is challenged in addition by a novel and highly contagious pathogen which as I say is only just beginning to explore the vast mutation possibility space available to it in the vast population of incubators we have so kindly made available to it by letting the disease spread almost completely freely over most of the globe. It would actually have been difficult to work out a more foolish course than the one we have taken.

    This global crisis continues and continues to worsen. One of the few countries which still has a chance to avoid disaster by avoiding opening up is Australia. We should reverse course on opening up and lock down our international borders near totally. The one exception would and should be returning citizens and residents. Of course, we would need full testing and quaantining to implement this.

    But what am I saying? Of course, the neoliberal, populist and redneck idiots will not listen to any wise advice. They will open up and quite likely join Australia at the hip with the endless pandemic disaster of the rest of the world. When (not if) COVID-19 and/or climate change kills me and mine, I will have the (short) satisfaction of knowing I was right about these things all along, before I snuff out.

    The combination of climate change, resource challenges, disease and novel zoonotic disease will wipe out global civilization and very possibly homo sapiens itself. Why? Because humans are not actually intelligent enough or moral enough to create a just and sustainable civilization? Perhaps the reasons are more profoundly emergent than that judgemental construction. A species which is highly aggressive and only moderately intelligent is probably the worst combination possible. We were, in a sense, dealt a dodgy hand by evolutionary fate. Homo sapiens are too imperfect and too aggressive as an intelligent species. Human intelligence is in the opposite of a Goldilocks zone: just smart enough to wreck complex natural systems but not smart enough to fully understand and preserve them. In the end, it’s simply a blind evolutionary outcome.

  22. I am not as catastrophic about the future as you are Ikon. I lean toward JQ’s minor optimism. I am a bit concerned abiut your absolute statements. As Einstien said ““The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein

    Below they are talking about several different Apocalypse scenarios than you. I’d say they’d appreciate an email from you. “You are collaborating with the Institute of Cosmic Sciences in Barcelona about the end of the Universe itself. Can you tell us what the collaboration is about? ”

    And you may reply with your prediction “The combination of climate change, resource challenges, disease and novel zoonotic disease will wipe out global civilization and very possibly homo sapiens itself. Why?”

    You may as well embrace it with…

    “The Ends of Everythings. Mental strategies to deal with the Apocalypse

    “Far from being the sole appanage of religious narratives, the concept of the Apocalypse has been adopted by mainstream culture. In 1995 already, philosopher and semioticianUmberto Eco said: «Everyone plays with the ghost of the Apocalypse and at the same time exorcises it. The thought of the end of time is today more common in the secular world than in the Christian one.” The Apocalypse has thus become a concept through which we conceptualise our anxieties about existential threats and about the future in general.

    “What is the impact of working for so long on the topic of the apocalypse? Does this research assuage your fears, amplify your anxieties or act as a catharsis? 

    “I had this same excellent question when I did a talk about this work for the University of Santa Barbara. So yes… I do find myself bogged down from time to time and I do think that on occasion it has affected my mental state. That’s due as much to the reading I’ve been doing as the nature of the subjects themselves. I’ve learned that I need to intersperse my reading and research and practice with something lighter from time to time. However, there is also something weirdly liberating and empowering about facing up to the realities of what is happening in the world and what could happen.”…

    “UB research institutes

    “Institutes with “Maria Maetzu Excellence Accreditation”, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO):

    “Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB)

    (Math inst. & more recognised scientific disciplines linked here. )

  23. About time!

    “This paper explores both the costs and benefits of having a stronger replication policy in the context of my failed 2010 initiative to develop a unified policy across all top finance journals.”

    “Replication in Financial Economics

    Campbell R. Harvey

    Duke University – Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

    Date Written: July 29, 2019

    “The existing replication policies at top finance journals are far weaker than the policies at top economics journals. This paper explores both the costs and benefits of having a stronger replication policy in the context of my failed 2010 initiative to develop a unified policy across all top finance journals. For example, the most obvious cost of a replication policy is the additional burden it imposes on authors in answering questions about both the code and data. Indeed, this cost is disproportionately placed on our most productive researchers – potentially leading to less innovation. On the other hand, having a strong policy would likely reduce research misconduct – in particular, soft misconduct such as p-hacking. I present a framework to mitigate the costs associated with replication and maximize the benefits.

    Keywords: Replication, Research Culture, Hard misconduct, Soft misconduct, Proprietary data, Robustness, P-hacking, Reverse p-hacking, Falsification, Fabrication, Plagiarism

    JEL Classification: G00, G01, G10, G11, G12, G13, G14, G15, G17, G18, G19, G21, G22, G23, G24, G28, G29, G31, G32, G33

  24. National top stories ABC;

    “Borders slam shut, markets slide as scientists scramble to fight new mutated COVID strain.
    Omicron: Scientists scramble to unpick secrets of new COVID variant as WHO calls for calm.”

    The plain fact of the matter is that the world is going to have to close all national borders as firmly as possible and pursue a global COVID-19 eradication program, country by country. This is a global emergency just as climate change is a global emergency.

    Here in Australia we have to declare a national (and global) emergency and close our borders to ALL people movements except those of nationals and permanent residents returning home. And these movements too must be subject to strict quarantines and controls but happen as fast as can be organised.

    My next predictions after or with OmIcron are the emergences of;

    (1) A super-contagious, super-virulent strain with a fatality rate in the vicinity of 1 in 3 non-vaccinated persons and possibly 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 vaccinated persons;

    (2) COVID-18 infecting more wild and domesticated species other than, already in bats and minks as two notable examples to date, AND many more transmissions from these species to humans.

    (3) An enteric strain arising, probably in Africa but other origin regions are also possible and this strain (being enteric) will be spread in and by fecal contamination, contaminated water and even carried on dried faces dust particles.

    These apocalyptic scenarios are now very, very possible. I would put the chances of at least one of the above outcomes occurring as above 50%. We now have to plan as if this sort of thing WILL happen for SURE if our response is inadeqaute. Nothing less than a full national emergency response will save us now.

    I really wonder when the penny will drop for most people. I imagine a variant with death rates mentioned in (1) above would focus minds and authorities and bring in the absolutely necessary draconian policies. Without such (unfortunately now absolutely necessary) draconian policies we are in for a disaster fully capable of collapsing our nation. When will people realize it?

    If only people had listened to early forecasters like Professor John Quiggin who advocated right from the outset for the early eradication strategy which would have stopped all this late pain (human and economic) and made the punctuated equilibrium runaway mutation we now see, a non-starter in the first place. People don’t listen to obscure Jeremiahs like me of course but they ought to have listened to persons like J.Q. (with the clear economic credentials) and to persons like certain key virologists and epidemiologists who were also extremely alarmed right from the outset and advocated early international lock-downs. Instead our system is geared to listen to science denialists, neoliberals, oligarchs, plutocrats and billionaires, the latter of whom who are expert in wealth shifting but complete idiots at managing real systems, human and natural. That entire list of idiots has condemned us all to premature deaths.

  25. Per The Guardian UK:

    The UK government has added six countries to the travel red list after the emergence of a new coronavirus variant. As of midday on Friday, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia are subject to restrictions and a temporary flight ban. Non-UK and Irish residents who have been in any of those countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. And the move will have an impact on anyone who has a trip planned.

    And the US is also putting travel restrictions in place. But apparently, Australia’s borders are still open.

    What will it take for the Australian Government to act?

    The Beitbridge border crossing over the River Limpopo between Zimbabwe and South Africa has been recently experiencing heavy traffic congestion.

  26. “Travel bans, new quarantine rules as Australia reacts to spread of Omicron variant in South Africa and neighboring countries.” – ABC.

    Our government has finally reacted, a little. You know something is very serious when even the dullards in the LNP realize there is a problem. They’ve probably already had UN and US briefings and know considerably more than does the public at this stage. This basic briefing at least means the pollies don’t have to know science and project trends which would require levels of education, intelligence and imagination which they simply don’t have. Omicron is a deadly serious warning of an approaching catastrophe.

    Check the twitter of Eric Feigl-Ding, the “alarmist”, actually the realist, who has been warning as all along. When people see trends rapidly worsening (climate change, covid-19) at rates far greater than the most serious predictions why can’t they see it’s real? Why do they remain so deluded?

  27. ” When will people realize it? ” – maybe after a few more years ,or alternatively ,when children started dying .

    Markets wont put up with this forever but they alone cant fix things. At this rate governments will eventually have to eradicate it or introduce national vaccine mandates in combination with permanent mitigation measures .Either way its a systemic disruption which will test runaway capitalisms ability to avoid collapse .Another virus might find a home in homo sapiens before this one has finished with us – if it ever is .There are thousands and thousands of different ones (180,000 – by one estimate) that could jump over to us.

  28. A Goehring & Rozencwajg blog post on Nov 19 headlined Running Out of Spare Capacity, looking at the global oil market outlook over the next year, concludes with:

    The only countries with material remaining spare capacity are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iran, and Russia. Iraq has spare capacity, but given the security considerations, it is extremely unlikely production will grow in the near or medium term. We have discussed our skepticism regarding Saudi spare capacity in the past and intend to revisit the important topic next quarter. Ultimately, we believe Saudi Arabia can produce between 10 and 10.5 mm b/d – well below the stated 12.2 m b/d capacity. Saudi has only produced above 10 mm b/d on two occasions and both times it was for only a brief period and the fields had to subsequently be rested. Assuming Saudi has pumping capacity for 10.5 m b/d (a big if), we believe total OPEC+ crude capacity to be 46.9 m b/d – not enough to meet global demand by 4Q22.

    Twelve months ago, few people listened when we predicted an energy crisis was imminent. Now, our models suggest that we could be entering a new period in the history of oil – a period without any excess global pumping capability. The ramifications could be huge. Investors today have hardly any exposure to oil producing companies at all. After having averaged 10-15% of the S&P 500 for decades (and reaching a maximum of 30%), energy stocks today stand at less than 3% of index.

    Just as few investors saw the energy crisis, fewer believe an oil crisis is looming. Position yourselves accordingly.

  29. So, stop telling kids (teenagers at least) the truth eh? Stop telling them climate change is real and if unstopped it kills all humans.

    “Many young people feel like their future is in peril.” That is because it IS in peril and they (the teenagers and young adults) can see this truth far more clearly than their right-wing parents and leaders.

    “To make progress on climate change, we must move past doomsday scenarios.” This frames the problem totally incorrectly. It is the climate change deniers and green-washers who stop us making progress, not those who think climate change is real and an immediate existential threat. If we really believed en mass that we faced doomsday, we would make massive efforts to change every aspect of our societies and economies. With that massive emergency effort we might just save ourselves. But continuing to delude ourselves that this is not an imminent, catastrophic and existential threat just permits matters to drift rapidly beyond the point of no return.

  30. Cost reducton

    Researchers at MIT looked at the causes of the dramatic 97% fall in the cost of lithium-ion batteries since 1991 :
    “Overall, the group estimates that 54% of cost reductions in lithium-ion can be attributed to research and development efforts, and economies of scale in production making up another 30%. They note that ‘learning by doing’ improvements in manufacturing and battery system design could account for only 2%…”

    Striking. The finding does not automatically generalise to other fields of green technology like solar PV and wind, which have been going longer. Silicon is still refined to the purity needed for PV cells by the unspellable Czochralski process, invented in 1915. Wind turbines have got more efficient partly by just getting bigger – the higher you go, the steadier the wind.

  31. “COVID-19 must be eradicated to stop dangerous new variants” – WSWS Editorial Board

    Regarding your people as disposable simply does not work. The costs of losing people and all their skills, connections and caring abilities is incalculable. Look at China. They have 1.4 billion citizens and they are STILL protecting them (the full citizens) from COVID-19 with absolute application and dedication. They get it. China are doing other things that are very wrong re Uighurs and in other matters. We all know that and that is grist for another post. But in terms of protecting one of the main centers of strategic mass of any nation, the populace, the Chinese are without parallel. This strategy improves production, community and loyalty to the nation. These are immense assets.

    The capitalist elites don’t give a damn about their people, I mean the poor and even much of the lower middle to middle classes. This strategy reduces production, community, cohesion and loyalty. It is a losing strategic move. In chess it would be called sacrificing pawns without compensation. China sacrifices pawns too. We cannot be blind about that. But the pawns it sacrifices (mistreated workers at FoxConn, coal mines etc.) ARE sacrificed for compensation (overall development), not for nothing. I don’t think that’s a fully wise or moral policy either but again that is grist for another post.

    All the people we (the West) are sacrificing to COVID-19 are being sacrificed for nothing and at great ongoing costs. They could have all been protected for much less human and economic cost. This is a huge net loss to our society. This IS the historical juncture where neoliberal (unfettered or market fundanmentalist) capitalism fails and collapses or slides sideways compared to China. This is a huge geostrategic shift in an extraordinarily short time. The slide is not unarrestable yet but we are leaving the necessary changes frightfully late.

    COVID-19 eradication matters and is absolutely necessary. Climate change issues and sustainability issues matter and must absolutely be tackled. National cohesion, national economy, national strategy and geostrategy absolutely matter and must be tackled. A plan is needed to tackle all of these things in the West. Tackling COVID-19 eradication and climate change will preserve and improve the demographic base, national cohesion, national economy and geostrategic prospects. The project must start with stopping what is killing and will continue to kill your people. This is so basic. One should not need to even say it.

  32. KT2,
    The article you link to, Stop Telling Kids They’ll Die From Climate Change, by Hannah Ritchie, dated Nov 1, concludes with:

    We need a new message for climate change. One that drives action through optimism that things can be better. Or, based on the signs that things are getting better, we might rebrand this optimism as realism. This would be much more effective at driving real change, and would save a lot of mental strife in the process. It’s time to stop telling our children that they’re going to die from climate change. It’s not only cruel, it might actually make it more likely to come true.

    Things are clearly not getting better. Per the Nov 4 Nature article headlined Carbon emissions rapidly rebounded following COVID pandemic dip, it begins with:

    The abrupt decline in global carbon dioxide emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by government-mandated lockdowns, will be all but erased by the end of this year, a consortium of scientists reports this week. It predicts that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels will rise to 36.4 billion tonnes — an increase of 4.9% — in 2021 compared with last year (see ‘Pandemic rebound’). That’s a faster recovery than many scientists expected. The rapid rebound, driven in part by the increasing demand for coal in China and India, suggests that emissions will begin to rise anew next year without substantial government efforts to bend the curve, the researchers warn.

    In a presentation hosted by the City of Darebin at the Darebin Climate Emergency Conference (11-12 September 2018), that can be viewed in the YouTube video titled Beyond urgent: the science of climate warming as existential risk, published 19 Nov 2019, duration 0:32:28, David Spratt says from time interval 0:21:30:

    So, in conclusion, it’s now too late for gradual, incremental steps to protect what we care about.

    Climate warming now is… is now a planetary emergency, which requires courageous leadership, which the previous speakers have, have all said.

    It requires coordinated actions, implemented with thought, and all possible speed and care.

    And, my one line summary… when you are about to go off a cliff, you don’t need to slow the car, you actually need to turn it around.

    The evidence I see indicates we/humanity are not turning the analogous ‘car’ around. We aren’t even slowing it down.

    On avoiding going down the path of hopelessness and despair, David Spratt said later in the following Q&A (from time interval 0:31:17):

    The debate about, um, fear and hope, I think, is a bit of a silly one, um, because well-round fear is why we as human beings are here today. If we weren’t scared of mammoths, we would have died out a long time ago. So recent fear is, is of course a hope. I think a better idea is to talk about courage, rather than fear and hope, because that’s where I think we are.

  33. JQ tweeted yesterday:

    Technical question I’m too lazy to answer for myself. If election is in March, would Parliament sit again?

    It depends on when parliament is dissolved.

    When parliament is dissolved:
    * Issue of writs must be within 10 days of dissolution;
    * Close of electoral rolls close 7 days after issue of writs (at 8pm);
    * Nominations close (at noon) not less than 10 days nor more than 27 days after date of writ;
    * The date of polling (Saturday) is not less than 23 days nor more than 31 days from date of nomination.

    A general election (or by-election) must therefore take place not less than 33 nor more than 58 days after the issue of writ(s).

    From parliament dissolution to election day ranges from 34 to 68 days.

    Federal parliaments usually don’t sit in a new year until at least February.

    Available election dates in March 2022 include 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th.

    It seems to me it’s still possible for federal parliament to sit in early February 2022 and have an election in late March 2022.

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