Friday 27 August 2021

Why Work Sucks? Could it be Better?

Monday morning. [A]

“These really clever people used their brains only to work out how to squeeze as much blood from the workers as possible within the boundaries of the law,” says the mother of 27-year-old Jang Deokjoon, a Coupang worker who died of a heart attack, caused by overwork – Dead on Arrival.

Capitalist societies require a division of labour, in which

[E]ach man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood.
And if you work for a living, you know deep inside not only that that is almost trivially true but that such state of affairs is often deeply frustrating. 

I am not talking only about people like South Korean delivery driver Lee Seong-Wook slaving away in poorly-paid, dead-end, killer jobs, although for them that frustration has literally tragic connotations. I am also talking about people in better-paid but pointless, unfulfilling, soul-crushing Graeberian bullshit jobs: people who wish they could slip into an unconscious, automatic pilot, zombie-like mode early on Monday morning, to wake up back into consciousness late in the afternoon on Friday, just in time for the weekend.

Saturday 21 August 2021

Workers’ Mail: Australian Workers’ Wages are Going Backwards.


ACTU media release:

Workers’ wages in Australia are more than remaining dismally stagnant – they are in fact going backwards in real terms.
The latest Wage Price Index data released today shows that real wages have fallen by 2.1% over the last 12 months. In this quarter, wages growth has been only 0.4%, while inflation in Australia has increased to 3.8%.
In addition to those shocking figures, the public sector recorded wages growth of only 1.3% this year - its lowest annual rate of wages growth since the ABS started tracking this in 1997.

Prof. Bill Mitchell gives a panoramic view of the Australian labour market: wages, employment.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Judgement Day?

The news may have left American readers – at least those less absorbed by the fall of Afghanistan or the “pandemic of the unvaxxed” – reeling:


Yep, that’s right. For the first time since its creation in 1930 (that’s 91 years, people!), the US Bureau of Reclamation declared a Tier 1 water shortage in the US’s largest fresh water reservoir. Come January the great states of Arizona and Nevada, plus their southern – and perhaps less great – neighbours of “old” Mexico will have their Colorado River water allocations reduced (Arizona, currently worst affected, will lose about one fifth of it). Further cuts affecting other equally great states are scheduled.

But wait, there’s more. When the water level is high, the Hoover Dam (which created Lake Mead) generates up to 2,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power. Currently it’s only 327.66 m above sea level or 1,075 ft (which triggered the Tier 1 restriction declaration). If it were to fall to 289.56 m (950 ft) the Dam would not be able to generate any electric power.

Sunday 15 August 2021

“This is not Saigon” – US Secretary of State Blinken. (Updated)



No comments.


22-08-2021. Over the years, the US supplied Afghanistan with lots of military hardware, including “Blackhawk helicopters, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones, light attack aircraft, and military transport planes”. Now that the Taliban is in charge the fear -- understandably -- is that the Taliban might turn those weapons against their makers.

That concern may be overblown, explains Tracey Shelton, because “the fact that our equipment breaks down so often is a life-saver here”.

The best sales pitch ever.


The Australian Government could not be any more inept if they tried:


That’s the letter a group of Afghan asylum seekers, former security staff at the Australian Embassy in Kabul, received from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The author suggests the letter was sent on behalf of the Minister, Marise Payne, and with her knowledge.

After informing the recipients that they are not eligible for certification under visa policy, the letter explains that the Australian Government has allocated 3,000 places for Afghan nationals, among them those who “have links to Australia”.

It politely suggests the recipient to investigate their options fully or contact a migration agent.

More sensitive readers may not appreciate its darkness, but as a cruel joke, it’s genius. No wonder the Taliban won.

Thursday 12 August 2021

Q&A: the 2021 IPCC Report.

The Orroral Valley Fire (Australian Capital Territory)
on January 29th, 2020 (20:51:04). [A]

By now most everybody has heard or read the news about the 6th IPCC Assessment Report released this week.

From my perspective, a relatively good news is that, although permafrost is indeed thawing, so far this thawing has not reached catastrophic proportions and is expected to remain that way for a while.

As regular readers might be aware, I am particularly concerned with permafrost (and the methane hydrates of the Arctic Ocean, both of which are considered potential tipping points). I have been researching that subject and in the near future I’ll write more on this.

Saturday 7 August 2021

The Sea of Fire.

We’ve all seen the news about wildfires in the western US and Canada. In Australia SBS and ABC have also reported the fires in Greece and Turkey and occasionally those in the Russian Federation.


Unfortunately, reporting those stories separately is slightly misleading. Deutsche Welle provides a more comprehensive picture. This map – courtesy of DW – shows the locations of wildfires in the eastern Mediterranean (plus the Black Sea), current as of 05/08/2021:


Tuesday 3 August 2021

The Victoria Street Green Ban and Juanita Nielsen.


Fifty years ago, Australian unions pioneered the modern conservation and environmental movement in Australia. The first half of the 1970s was the time of the green bans.