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Open mike 31/12/2019

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, December 31st, 2019 - 90 comments
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90 comments on “Open mike 31/12/2019 ”

  1. gsays 1

    In the spirit of the New Years honours list:

    Thanks to LPrent, weka, Ad, Incognito, Mickey, Bill and all the others that make this site possible. I value this community and it has been a great help in understanding news, politics and the challenges involved in trying to be progressive.

    Surprisingly I feel compelled to acknowledge Countdown supermarket chain and First Union for their leadership. To have workers on $21.15 an hour after a years service is fantastic. This has to be directly linked to Labour coalition raising the minimum wage to the living wage.

    Also Countdowns decision to only sell New Zealand pork. I know this is last years news but it bears repeating.

    And.. 12 months ago we had three world cups to look forward to. If you were told we would only win one, how many would have picked the Silver Ferns? Congratulations Noeline Taurua for helping turn around the team.

  2. Jenny How to get there 2

    Many educated and better off people around the globe are surreptitiously eyeing New Zealand as that last great safe bolt hole for them and their families to escape to when rising local temperatures and extreme weather events get too much to bear.

    But if it could happen in Tasmania it could happen here.

    December 31, 2019

    For Australians looking to escape the scorching summer heat, Tasmania, the country's closest point to the South Pole, is usually a safe bet. But that wasn't the case on Monday (December 30) when temperatures in the icy cool island's capital Hobart soared to a devilish 40.8 degrees Celsius, or 105.4 Fahrenheit. That's the city's hottest day on record – double the average summer temperature and even higher than in some parts of the country's tropical north. Simon McCulloch is a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology in Tasmania.

    https://play.stuff.co.nz/details/_6118792185001

    Hardly as dramatic as bush fires, or super typhoons, but apparently potentially even more deadly

    Heatwaves: the next silent killer?

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2018/aug/17/heatwaves-the-next-silent-epidemic-podcast-weather

  3. Macro 4

    For those who think there is no difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties in the US:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ENCtPlrX0AA_cL0.jpg:large

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 4.1

      Wow!! Those plots are striking, but not a surprise I guess.

      • Macro 4.1.1

        Yes – I was surprised at just how representative the Democrat representation in Congress is of the US demographic. It is also saddening to see that the Republican Party takes 90% of its representation from just 30% of the Demographic.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.1

          lol probably closer to 1% if you count their pre-congress incomes

          • Macro 4.1.1.1.1

            Well yes But all white males – and indications are that the GOP ethnic representation after 2020 will be even worse. It is estimated that after 2020 97% of GOP representatives will be white.

            This actually spell the death nell for the GOP as Black, Hispanic and other ethnicities are now now waking up to the need to vote against them.

            eg

            A majority of black Americans are more interested in voting in the 2020 presidential election than they were in 2016, according to a national survey of 1200 black voters and non-voters conducted by Third Way and the Joint Center.

            Why it matters: Black voter turnout declined significantly in 2016 nationally and in key swing states, ultimately contributing to Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump. New details from focus groups and polling suggests that the motivation to remove Trump from office is firing up black Americans to head to the polls next November.

            https://www.axios.com/black-voters-motivated-2020-election-trump-dae9583e-44d2-4d0c-8fdd-f0d9b3966064.html

            • joe90 4.1.1.1.1.1

              The GOP can't lose.

              The centralization of America’s election system.

              Just two vendors — Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S) and Dominion Voting — account for eighty percent of US election equipment. Thus, corrupt insiders or foreign hackers could wreak havoc on elections throughout the United States by infiltrating either of these vendors.

              Corrupt insiders?

              ES&S and Dominion are both owned by private equity, which means we don’t know who funds and controls them. And what little we do know is concerning

              https://medium.com/@jennycohn1/americas-electronic-voting-system-is-corrupted-to-the-core-1f55f34f346e

            • Anne 4.1.1.1.1.2

              This actually spell the death nell for the GOP as Black, Hispanic and other ethnicities are now now waking up to the need to vote against them.

              I doubt it. They'll just gerrymander the electoral system so that their votes are deemed invalid for some preposterous reason, or they can't even get to vote at all.

              • Macro

                Oh! they have tried. And if tRump gets his way they will do it some more – but their recent efforts have been stymied by the courts, and they have had to go back to drawing up fairer boundaries. The blue wave of 2018 wasn't just in the federal system it was overall and repugnants – apart from in the Senate don't have quite the sway they had in the past. tRumps huge influx of right wing judges however could have some influence in the future but at present the courts are holding back some of the bat shit extremes.

              • Macro

                Further to my comment above – I was aware that this court action was in progress but it has just been finalised. Just one example of how the courts are holding back the disenfranchisement of some Americans at this stage.

                https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/01/north-carolina-voter-id-law-blocked-discriminatory

  4. A 5

    So despite the total fire ban the RFS has decided the Sydney NY fireworks display can go ahead. This seems so very, very wrong especially after losing 80% of the Koala population along with everything else.

    Very High to Extreme fire danger is forecast across parts NSW tomorrow , 11 areas have been declared under Total Fire Ban.
    Operators wishing to undertake fireworks displays in an area where a Total Fire Ban has been declared MUST apply for an exemption (https://t.co/Ws3U9yvKld) pic.twitter.com/7meX0zAaiV
    — NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 30, 2019

    • Jenny How to get there 5.1

      A. From your link

      The world-renowned Sydney Harbour New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been approved despite the NSW Rural Fire Service declaring a total fire ban today for the city…..

      Sometimes I wonder if people know what the word 'emergency' means

    • tc 5.2

      Sums up the political leadership in Oz nicely. I expect many expat kiwis eyeing off a return now the stark reality of living in a tinderbox sinks in.

      • Jenny How to get there 5.2.1

        The struggle for leadership between the supporters of business as usual and the realists.

        The display may have the green light from officials but a growing online campaign is fighting to cancel all fireworks demonstrations across Australia.

        A change.org petition calling to “Say NO to FIREWORKS NYE 2019 – give the money to farmers and firefighters” has gathered more than 272,600 signatures from supporters, who don’t want to celebrate the start of 2020 with a fireworks display.

        John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of NSW, yesterday expressed his support for shutting down the fireworks display, calling it a “very easy decision”.

        The NSW leader of the Nationals said cancelling the display was about a show of unity, as Australia worked through the ongoing bushfire and drought crisis.

        “Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks should just be cancelled, very easy decision,” Barilaro wrote on Twitter.

        “The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted RFS volunteers. If regional areas have had fireworks banned, then let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together.”

        Many disagreed with the deputy’s comments, saying people were looking forward to the annual fireworks display. Others praised his comments.

        https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/news/sydney-nye-organisers-dismiss-grassroots-campaign-to-say-no-to-fireworks/news-story/a321421657f93ec6ab1e86224549e2b7

    • Jenny How to get there 5.3

      The struggle for leadership between the supporters of business as usual and the realists.

      The display may have the green light from officials but a growing online campaign is fighting to cancel all fireworks demonstrations across Australia.

      A change.org petition calling to “Say NO to FIREWORKS NYE 2019 – give the money to farmers and firefighters” has gathered more than 272,600 signatures from supporters, who don’t want to celebrate the start of 2020 with a fireworks display.

      John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of NSW, yesterday expressed his support for shutting down the fireworks display, calling it a “very easy decision”.

      The NSW leader of the Nationals said cancelling the display was about a show of unity, as Australia worked through the ongoing bushfire and drought crisis.

      “Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks should just be cancelled, very easy decision,” Barilaro wrote on Twitter.

      “The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted RFS volunteers. If regional areas have had fireworks banned, then let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together.”

      Many disagreed with the deputy’s comments, saying people were looking forward to the annual fireworks display. Others praised his comments.

      https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/news/sydney-nye-organisers-dismiss-grassroots-campaign-to-say-no-to-fireworks/news-story/a321421657f93ec6ab1e86224549e2b7

      • Jenny How to get there 5.3.1

        Should Sydneysiders enjoy their fire works display while the rest of Australia suffers?

        Should Australia profit from coal while Pacific Islands are being destroyed?

        Much like those who argue that the risk of an oil leak from deep sea oil drilling off our coasts is remote.

        There will be commentators, (possibly even on this forum), who will argue that the chance of fire caused by the Sydney Harbour fireworks display is negligble. The display is on barges away from the shore line in the middle of the harbour, they will argue, the chance of things going wrong is very remote.

        And they are right.

        That is not the point.

        The point is this:

        The NSW leader of the Nationals said cancelling the display was about a show of unity, as Australia worked through the ongoing bushfire and drought crisis.

        “The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted RFS volunteers. If regional areas have had fireworks banned, then let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together.”

        John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of NSW

        John Barilaro's statement makes a very telling argument.

        At a deeper level John Barilaro's statement speaks to the wider global divide over climate change. Those most badly affected by climate change are often the poorest and the least responsible for the crisis, the Pacific Islanders, whose lands are being devastated by rising seas and tropical climate change fueled super storms, and who pleaded that Australia ‘not open your coal mines’.

        John Barilaro demands, "…let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together.”

        John Barilaro's demand not to have two classes of citizens excorciates the likes of business as usual politician Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack who in reply to the Pacific Leaders Forum plea to ‘not open your coal mines’, said that Pacific Islanders can survive climate change by picking our fruit.

        https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2019/08/pacific-islanders-can-survive-climate-change-by-picking-aussie-fruit-deputy-pm-michael-mccormack-says.html

        Let's not have two classes of global citizens. We're all in this crisis together.

    • Pingao 5.4

      The Sydney display is off the bridge and barges and in an urban area (not much fuel) so I expect that the exemption was granted by the fire service because it falls below the threshold for risk.

      Also, the calls for the cost of the display to be donated to the fire service are surely unrealistic as there will be a contract and the display takes many months to set up. People also need to be able to celebrate in their traditional way if possible and have some time out – this is especially important when you have been living in a state of emergency for a while. I hope it all goes off spectacularly well and people have a good time.

      • Jenny How to get there 5.4.1

        How about that?

        Just as I predicted.

        There will be commentators, (possibly even on this forum), who will argue that the chance of fire caused by the Sydney Harbour fireworks display is negligble. The display is on barges away from the shore line in the middle of the harbour, they will argue, the chance of things going wrong is very remote.

        But as I also wrote "That is not the point".

        Hi Pingao because you seem to have missed the whole point of my comment.

        I will hammer it out so that you can't miss it.

        The point is –

        Are we all in this together, or are we not?

        The point is –

        Should we party up, while volunteer fire fighters are risking everything to save others?

        The point is –

        Should we celebrate the fact that climate change will soon provide us with a lot of desperate Pacific Islanders to pick our fruit?

        The point is –

        Should we have two classes of citizens, or should we not?

        The point is –

        Should we be ignoring the suffering of the firefighters?

        The point is –

        Should we be like the Australian Prime Minister who only belatedly after protests cancelled his fun holiday in Hawaii to come back and pass emergency legislation to address the dire financial needs of the fire fighters whose bills had been piling up?

        The point is –

        Should we be allowing new coal mines? (because it makes us money)

        The point is –

        Should we be allowing people to walk on live volcanoes? (because it makes us money)

        The point is –

        Should we just carry on with business as usual?

        The point is –

        Are we in a crisis, or are we not?

        Should we acknowledge to the world that we are in a crisis by halting the Sydney fireworks display?

        Or should we try to pretend that everything is normal?

        • Incognito 5.4.1.1

          Succinct like a Spring hailstorm damaging delicate sprouting crops and blossoms thereby destroying any hope for a rich Autumn harvest. A few more of those will result in fatal famine and utter despair.

        • Pingao 5.4.1.2

          Hi Jenny, my reply was to A. I'm not sure if your comment at 5.3.1 was up when I posted my comment.

          While I probably agree with most of your points and don't give a stuff personally about fireworks displays in Sydney, I nevertheless think it would be a fairly weak gesture to cancel the Sydney fireworks – probably divisive as well.

          My point is that people need these kind of events, particularly in times of crisis. The city of Sydney is not isolated from the fires and has been full of smoke for weeks. Also the money is spent already.

          This link explains the NYE fireworks in Sydney.

          https://www.smh.com.au/national/how-do-the-new-year-s-eve-fireworks-work-20191209-p53ibb.html

          • Jenny How to get there 5.4.1.2.1

            My apologies Pingao for the crossed lines of communication.

            However I still disagree with your opinion that it would be a fairly weak gesture to cancel the Sydney fireworks display.

            This display is broadcast and watched by millions around the world. To cancel it would be a major gesture, signalling to the world that Australia is in a major climate related crisis.

            Personally I think you may have inadvertently admitted this when you wrote, "…it would be a fairly weak gesture to cancel the Sydney fireworks – probably divisive as well."
            Not probably, it would be 'divisive'.
            There are already divisions over this blatant flouting of the fire ban imposed on the rest of the city.
            Canceling the Hamilton Rugby game over apartheid sport was divisive. Canceling nuclear ship visits was divisive.
            Canceling the government subdivision of Bastion Point was divisive.

            It is divisive precisely because it is not a weak gesture.

            You may have read the for and anti cancellation argument, especially the powerful for argument by John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of NSW.

            Canceling the fireworks display will cause immense and (and as you say "possibly divisive"), debate, possibly leading to a deep realisation by many that we are in a global crisis that is not being adequately addressed.

            Instead we get a Potemkin village display of business as usual.

            Potemkin village – Wikipedia

            Potemkin village

            In politics and economics, a Potemkin village is any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is.

            • Pingao 5.4.1.2.1.1

              Thanks for your reply Jenny. You may be right that a more radical response may be more effective although it is impossible to tell if more people will come round to accepting the AGW and its effects more quickly if loads of people get aggravated by the cancellation of this event … anyway it obviously somewhat moot at this point.

              I do think (feel?) that the tide is turning in public acceptance of AGW which gives me a little hope (so long as I don't read comments in the media : / )

      • A 5.4.2

        Low risk is not no risk.

    • infused 5.5

      Lots of people go to Sydney for this. Many people would be pissed.

      These fireworks impact the current fires in Australia 0%

      There is no reason to cancel these except a bit of virtue signaling.

      • Jenny How to get there 5.5.1

        It can also be reasonably argued Infused that continuing with this fire works display despite a total city wide fire ban and in the midst of a bush fire emergency is a bit off vice signalling.

        Virtue signalling – Wikipedia

        Virtue signalling is a pejorative neologism for the conspicuous expression of moral values.[1][2] ….

        ….The phrase has been criticized by a number of journalists internationally as being hypocritical.[4][5]

        ….political theorist and economist Sam Bowman argued that the term is hypocritical in that calling out another individual's actions as virtue signaling is simply another form of virtue signaling, executed to heighten the perceived status of the accuser.[4]

        …..Guardian writer David Shariatmadari says that while the term serves a purpose, its overuse as an ad hominem attack during political debate has rendered it a meaningless political buzzword.[22] Consequently, the antonym "vice signalling" has emerged to refer to blatant amorality.[23][24][25]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_signalling

        Hi Infused,

        In my opinion we need more virtue signaling and less vice signalling.

        Maybe then and possibly only then, enough people will wake up to the realisation that we are in a crisis to demand that immediate action be taken in numbers to big to be ignored by the policy makers.

  5. millsy 6

    Woah, that decade was quick.

    • Jenny How to get there 6.1

      Believe me. The next one will be even quicker

    • Jenny How to get there 6.2

      Albert Einstein once wittily remarked, "Time is natures way of stopping everything happening at once"

      Get ready and brace yourself for everything happening at once.

    • mikesh 6.3

      Not really. The decade still has 366 days to run, otherwise there would have to have existed, somewhere in the CE (AD) period, a decade with only nine years in it; which, of course, is absurd.

  6. pat 7

    "I’ll come right out and say it: as an economist I think endless growth is technically possible. The key word there is technical, because my reasoning is nerdy and economic. However, the more important point is that I believe this is a pointless topic of conversation."

    https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/103140/top-leader-geoff-simmons-argues-eco-socialist-claim-we-cant-we-cant-keep-growing

    Hope the second article has something of substance or TOP may have just consigned itself to the history book of NZ politics (a one line entry)

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Do you have anything to address Geoff's argument? Because it's the same argument I've made here many times. If you assume infinite simplistic growth, then yes logically it cannot be accomodated in a finite system.

      But that is not what we actually do. For instance human population has increased by around 7 times since 1800, yet 200 years ago we struggled to feed even 1b people reliably. Now the top health problems we face are caused by an excess of food for many billions. Clearly the nature of our economic activity has changed dramatically in that time. This is the first part of Geoff's argument, and it's an obvious irrefutable observation.

      The other flaw in 'eco-socialist' argument is thinking that we are inevitably on an exponential, unconstrained growth path. All the evidence suggests that we are not; most projections have us peaking at around 9 – 11b people and then declining. Indeed most developed nation populations are already declining. The sooner we develop the whole world, the quicker our total population will stabilise.

      And the third flaw is assuming that the planet is 'finite', and that we are forever limited to it's currently understood resources only. Yet the reality is that we can discover new resource domains, unsuspected and untapped. Each one of these conceptual leaps opens up entirely new opportunities. The old aphorism 'the Stone Age didn't end because of a shortage of stones' applies illustrates this.

      At the same time I've read my Jared Diamond. We do know that societies collapse, at least locally. The unprecedented challenge we now face is that for the first time in all of human history it's conceivable that we could collapse on a global scale; a truly dystopian prospect. I've alluded to this before, that all the really big problems we now face are global in nature, and therefore demand solutions at a global scale.

      What is preventing this is a cultural inflexibility, our reluctance to let go the nation state as the apogee of politics, and evolve an authentic and effective global governance. Because while Diamond rightly points to examples of collapse, he makes the equally important point … that some societies avoid it if they can understand what is happening, and make the necessary cultural adaptions in time.

      • pat 7.1.1

        "Do you have anything to address Geoff's argument?"

        when he makes one I'll respond…theres nothing in that first article to support his contention hence the comment about his proclaimed second

        • RedLogix 7.1.1.1

          Declaring that someone 'has nothing' by producing nothing of substance yourself is always less than convincing. But maybe you have a killer argument up your sleeve … I'll await it with interest. enlightened

          • pat 7.1.1.1.1

            lol…you challenge me to contest an argument as yet unmade…how many impossible tasks do you perform before breakfast?

            • RedLogix 7.1.1.1.1.1

              You think responding to an argument 'yet unmade' is impossible, yet somehow you find it very easy to declare it a 'nothing burger' sight unseen. Very odd.

              Besides there are at least two obvious arguments in Geoff's article that you could address; much the same as the one's I made above.

              My breakfast was homemade buckwheat pancakes with blueberrries and coconut cream yoghurt … my partner declared them “impossibly good”. Does this count?

              • pat

                GS names two paths of unlimited growth…productivity (efficiency) and inflation (financial)….in neither case does he support the assertions with explanation of its working, he does however state he will explain in a second article.

                That will be interesting to see because neither address 'growth' , the former merely (potentially) slows it and the latter only changes the way we measure it without addressing the resources at its base. Both impact the allocation but not the need nor the finite nature.

                • RedLogix

                  Well here is Norman Smith outlining how NZ can achieve carbon zero by just 2050. (Only 30 years … you and I may well live to see this.)

                  Improved efficiency is the first and most accessible step. Implementing known renewable technologies is the mid game, and anticipating entirely new technologies to get us over the line.

                  https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/118485011/the-three-stages-to-zero-carbon-success

                  A short article will necessarily be light on details to flesh out the model, but in my view none of them are unreasonable stages. And while these address themselves primarily to just one of the growth constraints we face, atmospheric carbon balance, the same basic idea is applicable everywhere.

                  • pat

                    thats wonderful and I may have a look later…but net carbon neutral by 2050 in NZ bears no relationship to unlimited growth

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Growth and carbon – can we really have one without the other?

                    I do hope, but don't believe that annual anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will peak soon (enough) – admire (and genuinely wish that I could share) your optimism.

                    https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

                    "Globally we emit over 36 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – this continues to increase."

                    "The world is not on-track to meet its agreed target of limiting warming to 2℃. Under current policies, expected warming will be in the range 3.1-3.7℃."

      • Dennis Frank 7.1.2

        "Diamond himself has "repeatedly been sued, threatened with lawsuits, and verbally abused by scholars". His lecture hosts have been forced to hire bodyguards to shield him from critics, while one scholar concluded a published review of one of his earlier books with the injunction: "Shut up". These dispiriting phenomena, of course, are not completely absent in the UK either." https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/112796232/book-review-upheaval-by-jared-diamond

        Excellent news, eh?! Reduces the prospect of being bored to death in acadaemia considerably. 😎

        I've got the book out from the local library, but only read the initial thesis & concluding chapters. Worthy, but dull. I own & have read Collapse & Guns, Germs and consider the guy worth reading. Too bad his latest comparative analysis seems a basically a waste of time. Case studies are really only worthwhile if you can deduce general principles and explain how they will shape the future…

        • RedLogix 7.1.2.1

          Thanks for this; I hadn't spotted his latest book. I found How Societies Collapse better than Guns, Germs and Steel … although both are required reading.

          The most interesting point he made in the former is that societies that avoided collapse all had two critical factors in common … they had insight at what was coming down the road at them, and they had sufficient social cohesion to make the necessary sacrifices and adaptations necessary.

          We certainly have the former condition … but we clearly struggle with the latter. (The attacks on Diamond being a small yet signal symptom of this. How sad.)

          • Incognito 7.1.2.1.1

            Critical thinking, robust debate, and heated arguments are no obstacle to or for social cohesion. In fact, they are a critically necessary requirement and a hallmark of a well-functioning healthy and cohesive society IMHO. Obsequiousness, compliance, conformity and group think are not.

            • RedLogix 7.1.2.1.1.1

              We've been through at least a decade of intense social and political polarisation that probably has yet to run it's course. Yet there are encouraging signs that I am absolutely not alone in wishing to shift this trend.

              Social cohesion absolutely does not imply conformity. The salient question in any relationship is not the fact that you will disagree (sometimes passionately) … but on how you conduct that disagreement. The whole purpose of a discussion is to determine a course of action. If the debate is corrosive however, regardless of whichever party was 'right or wrong' … it undermines our ability to act. This is the salient lesson from the climate change debate, the fossil fuel corporates knew the science perfectly, so they intentionally set out to poison the debate so that we were rendered unable to act on it.

              This principle applies everywhere. It is much less important to be 'right' than to be 'sufficiently aligned in order that we can collectively act in unity'.

          • Ad 7.1.2.1.2

            In the same vein I'd recommend:

            Why Nations Fail.

            • feijoa 7.1.2.1.2.1

              yes Ad, I read that book a few years ago. One thing I recall from it was the importance of what they called 'institutions". Such as having a robust and well operating justice system, education system, police force etc. I hadn't given it much thought til then, but certainly failed states are characterised by corruption, the law of the jungle and failure of public services.

          • Dennis Frank 7.1.2.1.3

            Re collapse theorising, there's excellent analysis/commentary here: https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-collapse-of-complex-societies_1.html

            Yes, I also liked Jared's Collapse more than the one that made him famous. Related to the collapse genre is the catastrophe genre – much older. I got addicted to it when I discovered scifi in early 1963: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jul/05/jane-rogers-top-10-cosy-catastrophes

            David Bowie later wrote a song about the Midwich cuckoos (Oh you pretty things). "All the women in the village of Midwich are impregnated in a single night by aliens. Nine months later, the women give birth to a race of children with golden eyes – strangely precocious children who are emotionally blank, band together against the villagers, and are soon perceived to possess formidable and horribly threatening powers." Adolescent me was very impressed!

            "In Keys's startling thesis, a global climatic catastrophe in A.D. 535-536–a massive volcanic eruption sundering Java from Sumatra–was the decisive factor that transformed the ancient world into the medieval, or as Keys prefers to call it, the ""proto-modern"" era. Ancient chroniclers record a disaster in that year that blotted out the sun for months, causing famine, droughts, floods, storms and bubonic plague. Keys, archeology correspondent for the London Independent, uses tree-ring samples, analysis of lake deposits and ice cores, as well as contemporaneous documents to bolster his highly speculative thesis. In his scenario, the ensuing disasters precipitated the disintegration of the Roman Empire, beset by Slav, Mongol and Persian invaders propelled from their disrupted homelands." https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-345-40876-1

            But that's merely one of several such! I've got plenty of books on the others too. Speculative means circumstantial evidence, not proof. It applies to all history really – historians speculate when they interpret or theorise. So-called historical facts are usually disputed by someone…

            • RedLogix 7.1.2.1.3.1

              Very nice links Dennis. Yet the fact of collapse is not in debate; it's something we've done many times as a species. But we have one critical advantage the ancients lacked … we have far more insight into what is happening to us than they did.

              It's our ability to go from informed debate to effective action at the required scale, that we struggle with.

          • Jenny How to get there 7.1.2.1.4

            …..they had insight at what was coming down the road at them, and they had sufficient social cohesion to make the necessary sacrifices and adaptations necessary.

            We certainly have the former condition … but we clearly struggle with the latter. (The attacks on Diamond being a small yet signal symptom of this. How sad.)
            Dennis Frank

            The following headline is another small yet signal symptom that we struggle with having sufficient social cohesion to make the necessary sacrifices and adaptations necessary.

            Decision made on Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks display as Parramatta axes shows

            The RFS has made a final decision on Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks after a total fire ban led to displays being cancelled across the city.

            https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/news/sydney-nye-organisers-dismiss-grassroots-campaign-to-say-no-to-fireworks/news-story/a321421657f93ec6ab1e86224549e2b7

            A clear victory has been handed to the deniers.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsZJKpbEoNE

            • RedLogix 7.1.2.1.4.1

              Fair enough … and to take your metaphor to it's next step … if someone has their fingers firmly plugged into their ears, do you think yelling at them louder will persuade them to listen?

            • mauī 7.1.2.1.4.2

              Human adaptability works just fine thanks.

          • Stuart Munro 7.1.2.1.5

            The animosity is particularly fierce among anthropologists who produced less cogent work, according to a couple of my students.

            PUBLISH, n. In literary affairs, to become the fundamental element in a cone of critics ~ Bierce

    • soddenleaf 7.2

      Capitalism is sold as a way of managing needs. Yet if we consider the rather simple analogy, that of a child on a park swing, their parent pushing harder and harder, their child screaming has altered tone from joy to fear, as the child comes closer to the tipping point. Daddy why are you adding more co2 every year? If capitalism is to smooth out risk, why isn't it? All economies have technical vaporware fixes, well until they dont because they kept waiting for them.

      When we elect dutiful children who don't scream like Trump, Bossinaro, smomo… their duty first to god, then to big businesses, and lastly to whatever or spin they need to play to keep up their pretense of living up to their oath of office. We conceed our democracy to theology and the giant ponsi scheme capialism has been made into.

  7. RedLogix 8

    A New Year present for Lynn; this may well stroke your sense of humour devil

    • Anne 8.1

      Reminds me of some Standard 'discussions'. sad

      • Anne 8.1.1

        @ 8.1

        Oops… not a dig at any specific male commentators. Just a side salad of friendly humour.

        And while I'm here;

        Congratulations and thank-you to Sue Kedgley for 50 years of service to women and the environment:

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/406444/new-year-honours-sue-kedgley-made-officer-of-the-new-zealand-order-of-merit

        She’s so right about the 70s. As a public servant I didn’t dare become involved in the womens’ movement. It was bad enough being a member of the Labour Party. You would have thought I had committed a treasonable act by the way I was treated.

        • OnceWasTim 8.1.1.1

          🙂

          …… and re SK – about fucking time, and Marilyn Waring for that matter.

          That said – it really shows what a croc of shit the whole thing is (and I say that with a bro who holds one, invested by a Guv who damn near lost his false teeth during the ceremony – well deserved btw – more to do with those that miss out, and those that get one). Sometimes you have to wonder what Madge (Her Indoors, HRH Liz) would think if she only knew their backstories – but then she's got her own shit to deal with that could very well knock her off her pedestal this year

          Best not get all bitter about the PS though @ Anne – their time will come (SOME in the SENIOR ranks – the parachuted-in, the free-loaders, the Peter-Principled, the thoroughly egotistical bullies et al), and there are signs its already happened/ing.

          Their excesses don't go unnoticed forever. If we do get a repeat of the COL in 2020, AND they have a plan before going into the election that features actual transitional change and kindness with published policies that attract ya average bloke with a few unpublished in store of how they're going to get there – we might ekshully see all that hopey changey stuff happening.

          Que sera sera. And if things have to get worse before they get better, it's not necessarily a bad thing ( in terms of gaining 'learnings' going forward, and with the wisdom of hindsight, 20/20 vision, and all that sort of kaka)

          Happy New Year

          • Anne 8.1.1.1.1

            And Happy New Year to you too OWT.

            Yes, I did think of Marilyn Waring but the linked item was about SK.

            Two women who did so much and one of them at such personal cost. Now don't anyone get me started on Muldoon. Grrrr.

    • McFlock 8.2

      Feynman had a similar story about how he got an idea for calculating electron rotation from watching a spinning plate fly through the air at a college food fight.

      Similar, yet very different…

  8. Incognito 9

    Last updated: Tuesday, 10 December 2019

    This one obviously did not get hacked 😉

    https://dpmc.govt.nz/publications/new-year-honours-list-2020

  9. Dennis Frank 10

    Apocalypse 2020 has Wayne Hope's predictions… https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2019/12/23/apocalypse-2020/ Highlights worth recycling:

    1. After being publicly outed as a helium balloon rather than a sentient human being, Boris Johnson ascends into the stratosphere.

    2. Labour announces that if they win the next election, two Brexit/remain referenda will be held consecutively. If the two results, averaged out, deliver less than a 5% margin for either side, there will be another referendum. [my prediction: Labour splitters will demand that this simplistic prescription be complexified, pronto, toot sweet]

    3. ScoMo carries a large lump of kerosene-doused coal into the Australian senate. Setting it alight, he declares maniacally that there is nothing to be afraid of. Elected representatives are engulfed in flames as ScoMo escapes back to Hawaii.

    4. Australian climate change refugees demand entry as early summer temperatures average 45°c and whole suburbs burn. Jacinda Adern’s re-elected coalition government announces that preference will be given to New Zealand expatriates

    5. England defeat the All Blacks at Twickenham by a huge margin. Ian Foster and the coaching team upon return to New Zealand receive 24/7 police protection. A commission of enquiry is established to apportion blame and intensify national self-loathing.

  10. Incognito 11

    The size of the problem is huge but this is a small step in the right direction.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/118523315/new-state-houses-for-richmond-as-waiting-lists-reach-record-highs

    Don’t expect miracles overnight.

    • Sacha 11.1

      The local Nat MP is bound to declare "But we have been waiting a decade already! Time this do-nothing govt got on with it!"

      Their caucus must have been passing around one of those memory zappers from Men In Black. Shame the rest of us are still sentient.

      • Incognito 11.1.1

        In politics, does negative cancel out (neutralise) positive? I think the answer is “no”. They accentuate each other and create an energy field (polarisation). In some ways, we need this, to make things happen, i.e. use the ‘political’ energy wisely. Our democracy needs a properly functioning Opposition to hold the Government to account. We don’t want (or need) them to neutralise everything the Government does because that leads to stasis and apathy (AKA socio-political death).

        • Sacha 11.1.1.1

          I welcome them coming up with bolder plans to tackle the problem – or go back to denying there is one. #antithesis

  11. Dennis Frank 12

    White man, him speak with forked tongue, as the old saying goes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forked_tongue

    Harari, in Sapiens, tells the story of the Apollo 11 astronauts training in the desert, encountering an old Native American, who asked what they were doing there, so they told him they were training for an expedition to the moon.

    "When the old man heard that, he fell silent for a few moments, then asked the astronauts if they could do him a favour." They asked him what he wanted. "Well, the people of my tribe believe that holy spirits live on the moon. I was wondering if you could pass an important message to them from my people."

    The old guy said something in his tribal language, then got them to memorise it, saying he couldn't explain the meaning to them. Back at base, they eventually found someone who knew the language, who burst out laughing when told the message: "Don't believe a single word these people are telling you. They've come to steal your lands."

    Points to trust as being foundational to intercultural relations and peaceful coexistence. Therefore in the fraught times to come, politics must be driven by a trust-building agenda. Expertise in getting suitable results will be essential. If you know anyone leaving school looking for direction, tell them!

  12. joe90 13

    Not so much winning.

    A murdered journalist. Shady offshore deals. A tiny nation in the grip of large-scale criminal interests.

    These are the leading factors behind the selection of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as the OCCRP 2019 Person of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption.

    Under Muscat’s leadership, criminality and corruption have flourished — and in many cases gone unpunished — in the small Mediterranean archipelago of Malta, creating an environment that led to the 2017 murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, investigators and government critics say.

    […]

    Other finalists for 2019 included:

    • US President Donald J. Trump, who is accused of breaking the law by pressuring Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate a political rival in the upcoming US presidential election. He faces a Senate impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
    • Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s self-proclaimed personal attorney, who is under federal investigation into whether he illegally put pressure on Ukraine to pursue a conspiracy theory involving the president’s political rival.
    • Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, the son of the longtime president of the Republic of Congo, who is accused in a corruption scheme that saw US$50 million siphoned off from the Congolese treasury. He was also implicated in a 2018 OCCRP investigation and accused — along with other family members — of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to unlock Congo’s oil fields.

    https://www.occrp.org/en/poy/2019/

  13. joe90 14

    Dude had a heart attack, lied about it and hid it from the public for several days, then promised to release his full medical records by the end of the year.

    And now he pulls this tRumpian 50% higher than other men his age with a similar diagnosis stunt.

    WTF is he hiding?

  14. Incognito 15

    The advice might be meant well but some of the explanations come straight from the snake-oil department. For example:

    According to the New Zealand Health Promotion Agency, it's best to choose alcohol with fewer congeners, those free radicals that disrupt your body's alkaline balance and sends it into fight mode.

    Light alcohols are better than dark alcohols as they contain a lower concentration of congeners, so brandy, whisky and red wine may leave you with a bigger hangover than white wine, gin and vodka.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/118528840/how-to-start-2020-without-a-new-years-eve-hangover

    In this context, a good journalists would have changed the wording from “light” to light-coloured, clear, or pale even.

    The “free radicals” sounds great but it is absolute nonsense.

    Waiter! There is a free radical in my red wine!

    Same thing about sending the body “into fight mode”.

    None of these statements are backed (up) by the Health Promotion Agency's alcohol.org.nz as far as I can tell.

    Turns out this is a cut & paste job from a similar article that appeared on Stuff four years ago: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/christmas/75064270/how-to-pre-emptively-handle-an-epic-hangover

    As far as I can tell, the ‘original’ source of this ignorant mis-information might be this article on 10 Dec 2012: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/nutrition-articles/how-to-get-rid-of-a-hangover-as-fast-as-possible-with-the-best-natural-hangover-cures/

    Rant over; need drink.

  15. joe90 16

    very good

  16. joe90 17

    Now this is pretty damn cool.

    The fluid is actually a molecule in liquid form that scientists from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden have been working on improving for over a year.

    This molecule is composed of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, and when it is hit by sunlight, it does something unusual: the bonds between its atoms are rearranged and it turns into an energised new version of itself, called an isomer.

    Like prey caught in a trap, energy from the sun is thus captured between the isomer's strong chemical bonds, and it stays there even when the molecule cools down to room temperature.

    When the energy is needed – say at nighttime, or during winter – the fluid is simply drawn through a catalyst that returns the molecule to its original form, releasing energy in the form of heat.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-develop-liquid-that-sucks-up-sun-s-energy

    • Dennis Frank 17.1

      yes Way to go!! I wonder if a but will emerge. If not, the thing to watch will be copyright licensing. Do the scientists have a contract with the university, and/or does the university own their creations, and if so, how soon will they license production? Those are the key questions, methinks.

      So you put a tank of the stuff up on your roof, and run a wire to your in-house Tesla battery to keep it topped up. Bye bye grid.

      Okay, so there will need to be a heat distribution network, I was over-simplifying. Perhaps local tech can do that easily.

  17. Sacha 19

    The future is not amused.

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