Wednesday 27 February 2019

Unnoticed Death.


This was a deadly summer for Australian fauna.

In this blog I’ve reported a number of animal mass death tolls ranging from a few tens of large mammals (wild horses and donkeys) and hundreds of birds, to hundreds of thousands of cattle and maybe millions of fish, with intermediate numbers ranging in their thousands or tens of thousands for wild camels and flying foxes and farm chickens.

Monday 25 February 2019

ScoMo Speaks his Mind.

(source, sort of)

If the people behind Macquarie Dictionary ever decide to produce an illustrated dictionary, they can’t go wrong if they use Scott Morrison’s photo to illustrate the definition of “bullshitter”. It also works for the phrase “full of shit”.

Sunday 24 February 2019

Parallel Lives.

(Right-click to open in a separate tab)

I think it fair to say that as recently as last year, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) was largely a preserve of a few respected but otherwise obscure academics outside of the mainstream. Active on social media, the founders (for lack of a better word) over time gathered a growing band of online enthusiasts, a few of them extremely qualified and talented[*], a great majority merely vocal, and another minority equally loud and barely distinguishable from the majority, except in one respect: their interest in self-promotion.[$]

Nothing of that involves a judgement on the theoretical merits (or lack thereof) of MMT. Frankly, that’s well above my pay grade. Rather, that’s a statement of fact, however simplified, general, or blunt: fairly or not, MMT was at the fringe, generally ignored by mainstream pundits, to say nothing of economists. Worse, whenever that unspoken rule was broken and MMT was at all mentioned, it was with a sort of condescending dismissal.

Friday 22 February 2019

Bits and Pieces: “Perfect Storm” Edition.


It may be silly, but I am relieved this hellish Australian summer is all but over.

And there are good news. On the plus side, a few local events, apparently of global relevance, give some reason to rejoice.

The first one happened on February 8.

Friday 15 February 2019

Why I Have no Faith in Leftish/Liberal Intellectuals.

So far, New South Wales had been spared the bushfires that in the last three months devastated all the other east coast states of Australia: Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. No longer:

Crews rush to contain northern NSW bushfires before hot spell arrives
  • Firefighters working through the weekend as blaze destroys 22 homes and damages 15
By Australian Associated Press, Sat 16 Feb 2019 09.14 AEDT

After a PR exercise meant to highlight their conservationist bona fide and save some 100 Murray cods, after leaving hundreds of thousands if not millions to die, WaterNSW decreed the death of the Lower Darling, to free more water for large irrigators in northern NSW and southern QLD:

All the Lower Darling's fish 'could be dead by the end of summer', 
with flows from lakes now cut
By ABC 7.30 and national rural and regional correspondent Dominique Schwartz and the Specialist Reporting Team's Penny Timms. Updated Thursday at 2:50pm

And here I have to deal with American liberal/leftish intellectuals. Madness may be infectious.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Sydney Research: Insect Population’s Catastrophic Collapse.

The recently published article “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers”, by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences (University of Sydney), and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys (University of Queensland and the Institute of Plant Protection, China Academy of Agricultural Sciences) has received abundant popular news media coverage and it has created justified anxiety among the public.

I think it is always a good idea to refer readers to the source. So, these are the highlights of the paper and its abstract, verbatim:

  • Over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction.
  • Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) are the taxa most affected.
  • Four aquatic taxa are imperiled and have already lost a large proportion of species.
  • Habitat loss by conversion to intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines.
  • Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are additional causes.

Friday 8 February 2019

Malcolm Harris: “Kids These Days”.

This is a different post. It may sound too pessimistic, even by my own already pessimistic standards, but that’s not what makes it different. What makes it different it that this is also a rather personal post. That may make it less than interesting to the general reader. More sensitive readers may find it depressing.

At any rate, I understand if they leave at this point.

Menindee Lakes: Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

While we were distracted by the Banking Royal Commission fizzer -- which not for predictable was less attention-grabbing -- Michael McCormack and Niall Blair demonstrated why they are successful politicians and why it will take radical changes to our society if we want to save the Australian environment and our civilisation and ourselves.

Yesterday the news started with a PR exercise:


Wednesday 6 February 2019

Jon Mott: “Tough Talk, Soft Recommendations”.

Or “The roaring mountain just gave birth to a mouse!”

By now, readers of this blog have heard heaps about the SA Murray-Darling Royal Commission. Now it’s time to hear about its bigger sister, the federal and formidably named Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, whose final report was tabled with great fanfare last Monday, days after its humbler South Australian counterpart.

That’s all the rage among the cognoscenti.

For about a year inhabitants of this Great Southern Land have nightly witnessed dramatic exchanges between counsels assisting the Royal Commission and financial big wigs; we’ve all learned of heart-breaking victims of financial wrongdoing. The drama only reached a climax in the act of delivery of the report, when Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne refused to shake the very visible hand of Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (who just a few days earlier had praised the invisible hand of capitalism).

So, as I like to ask in circumstances like this, what happened? What was done?

Monday 4 February 2019

Water: War of the Words.

SA Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick believes growing cotton for export in a dry country like Australia doesn’t make much sense and proposes to have cotton export legally banned.

From a broader, collective perspective, he certainly has a point: cotton consumes too much water. There are, however, other considerations. For one, cotton isn’t the only large water consumer. There’s also rice (yes, rice, which grows in flooded paddies, believe it or not) in the valleys of the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers, in NSW and Victoria .

Sunday 3 February 2019

Reality versus Prediction: Too Much, Too Little?

Too much rain in north-east Queensland:


Too little in Tasmania and Victoria (and South Australia and New South Wales). The cake, however, went to Tassie and VIC: the dry and hot conditions led those states straight into protracted and geographically extended bushfires.

Friday 1 February 2019

The Menindee Fish Kill Whodunit: Solved!

Ever since the Menindee catastrophe happened our beloved leaders have offered their explanations for the mystery: dats Shtraya, mite, sometimes it dont rain (Michael McCormack); Phillip Glyde would probably say something about “evaporation”. Perhaps we should pray to Gawd, would be Scott Morrison’s wisdom.

Well, mystery solved.

Cotton farms at Bullamon Plains, Queensland. This
farm is a Cubbie style operation. Image Credits: Rex Patrick.

The Moonie river passing Bullamon Plains
farm and the offtake channel. Image Credits: Rex Patrick.

Vast expanses of cotton fields and associated
water storages in Queensland. Image Credits: Rex Patrick.

You be the Judge.

Asked by [ABC TV Question and Answer show presenter Tony] Jones if he believed the drought was linked to human-induced climate change, [high-school graduate, National Party MP and Federal Agriculture Minister David] Littleproud said: “Look, that’s a big call.”
“I don’t give a rats if it’s man-made or not,” he added, saying that people were already under financial pressure and could not afford higher power bills. (source)