Case against Pell reminds me of the search for extra-terrestrials

Many years ago there was a TV program looking at the evidence that UFOs really exist. A man had a trove of films of various objects in the sky, each of them evidence of the reality of UFOs. However, he was confronted when one of the films was proven to be fake.

“Oh, yes. That one. That one was fake… but the others, they are real.”

Of course, someone will always believe.

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Making decisions under pressure!

The cricket players made bad decisions.

We feared that the authorities would not react with enough decisiveness. What a mistake! The decision to impoverish these players, who now can’t even play domestic cricket, who will have no livelihoods, and unlikely to ever regain their skills after twelve months out of the game, ranks as one of the most cowardly and disproportionate decisions you can imagine.

We didn’t want a slap over the wrist, but come on!

Consider some other cases of bad behaviour. Nick Kirygios abuses a referee and forfeits a point. Sebastian Vettel shunts another driver off the track and gets a five second penalty. A soccer player takes a dive that gets his team a free kick – he’s a hero. A golf player is seen picking up his ball in the rough – two stroke penalty. A Rugby player performs a dangerous tackle – two matches. A boxer headbutts his opponent in a clinch – one point deduction for the round. A runner jumps the start – eliminated from the heat. American footballer Brady tampers with the football to deflate it – four matches.

Conspire to unsuccessfully scratch a cricket ball – penalty: several millions of dollars and effectively the end of your career!

What sanctimonious pricks think that cricket is so special, so pure and precious, that this sort of sanction is in any way proportional?

Kill the Koala

Welcome to the new TV game show that’s sweeping Australia… Kill the Koala.

In this game, contestants answer questions to win a prize. They can claim their prize or select to progress to higher value prizes. To claim a prize all they need do is kill this cute little guy we have here in a cage.

First stage prize is a dinner for two at Jack’s Steakhouse. Now remember that all the beef at Jack’s Steakhouse was raised on land that previously supported large populations of Koalas. There are two questions.

Is the koala vulnerable or endangered?

Vulnerable.

That’s right! The second question, to win your prize. What do we do when an animal is ‘vulnerable’?

Nothing. We wait for it to become endangered before we even think of doing something. Then it’s too late in many cases.

You’re right, again. The prize is yours if you choose to ‘Kill the Koala!’

I want to go on.

Great choice. The second prize is a fantastic trip for two to the Gold Coast. and South-East Queensland. Remember that South-East Queensland was home to the largest population of koalas in Australia, but now the Gold Coast region is more famous for its property developers and super rich.

Again, you need to answer both questions to win your holiday. The first question is: which is the main cause of koala population decline? Is it, loss of habitat, disease caused by stress, dogs or road-kill?

Loss of habitat?

That’s correct. You wouldn’t last long either if we destroyed your home, would you? Especially if you were still in it. Ha ha!

Question 2. Koalas can live anywhere that there are gum trees, true or false?

I think that’s false.

You’re right again! Koalas need a range with certain species of eucalypts at different times of year.

Well, you’ve won the holiday. All you need to do is kill the koala!

No, I want to go on.

That’s your choice. The questions start getting harder for the next prize – a brand new fully-imported four-wheel drive SUV courtesy of Holden, the Australian car company. You can use this vehicle to explore remote pristine bushland areas, but do it quickly because this bushland, much of which might be previously undisturbed koala habitat, isn’t going to stay undisturbed for long.

And the question is, by what percentage has the koala population declined, since white settlement? Is it 25%, 50%, 90% or over 95%?

I think it’s over 95%.

You’re right again. Until 1937, millions of koalas were killed for fur. After they were “protected”, habitat loss by clearing for farming, forestry and land development have seen numbers continue to decline, year on year.

The next question, to win the 4WD is, what percentage of the federal budget is allocated to protecting koalas? Is it 0.03%, 0.01% or 0.003%?

Um, 0.003%?

Correct! $13.6 million dollars for projects aimed at rehabilitation, restoration and linking of koala habitat for koala populations. You win the 4WD! You can play on, or claim your prize by killing the koala.

I’d like to play on.

Good idea. In this round, we are playing for the cash. $200,000! Of course that is a tiny amount compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars of income generated by forestry, mining, land development and farming on former koala forests. Looks like the koalas got the rough end of the stick. Ouch!

Your round four question is this. How much Australian tourism income is estimated to be generated by the lovable koala? $3 million, $600 million or $3 billion?

Um, $3 billion?

That sounded like a guess, but you’re right! The Australian Koala Foundation has estimated that koalas attract tourists to Australia equivalent to $3 billion and 30,000 jobs.

Now the big decision. You can claim your prize or go for the home. To claim your prize of $200,000 you just need to kill the koala! If you decide to play on you’ll be playing for a country retreat, on five acres of newly cleared land, a 300 square-metre architect-designed home, with swimming pool and surrounded by manicured lawn. This could be the home in the forest you always dreamed of. On your property you may see koalas in your own backyard, searching for their favourite trees. Oops!

I want to go on. 

A great decision. You are playing for the home, valued at $2.8 million. I wish you luck. The question is this. We know koalas are precious, we know why their numbers are falling and we know they are valuable to the economy, so why is no government willing to stop the tree-felling, stop the land-clearing, stop unsuitable development, protect their existing range and expand that range to ensure them a future?

I don’t know.

You don’t know the answer? I’m sorry, your dream home is going to remain a dream. It looks like this little fella here – isn’t he cute? – will survive for another week, until we return again next week, to play “Kill the Koala!”

Good night!

 

 

 

[Image was copied from https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/confused-koala-discovers-his-home-has-been-cut-down.html]

 

 

 

Barnaby Joyce sets an example we should all follow

We all have self doubts at times. We put limits on ourselves. We know we have certain talents but also certain shortcomings. We know that we don’t always measure up to the moral standards or the integrity we expect from our leaders. As a result we fail to achieve high office and we don’t make the lasting impression we would like to make on this world.

Barnaby Joyce should inspire us. With very little talent, no charisma and apparently no morals or respectability, he has (almost) risen to the very top. Brings a tear to the eye.

Questions of ethics and sustainability

I’m always interested in the truth, but we do tend to construct our own truths to fit our preferred view of the world. It’s almost impossible to isolate from what we want to believe what is reasonable, ethical or sustainable. It does lead to some extreme contradictions in the strange way that society behaves and what society says is correct. Here are two observed lately:

The world is quite rightly appalled at men behaving badly (from Harvey Weinstein to Barnaby Joyce) but the hottest movie of this weekend is Fifty Shades of Something. From what I can glean, without enduring actually seeing it or reading the books, the series is about a classic narcissistic psychopath and his victim. In real life, he’s the type who throws his girlfriend off the balcony when she defies him. Still, I guess its entertainment. Maybe a Weinstein production?

The second one is more subtle. A young man recently has gained $1.75 million from the estate of the father he never met. The deceased father had denied his responsibility for him as a child after an affair. The judge obviously saw the biological connection as important.  Yet, just two months ago we all cheered when a law was passed that has such a situation as its basic tenet. We have created a new institution that demands that children not be raised by at least one of their natural parents. To me that is not reasonable, ethical or sustainable.

Trump did do it

squeeze

Mr Trump was taking credit for the high stock market and he can claim credit for the crash that’s just started.

It’s not his fault, really. The problem comes down to people’s generally poor understanding of economics. Imagine all the gears and pulleys and levers that make up the economic machine. There are prices, wages, unemployment, profits, asset prices, interest rates, imports, exports, immigration, overall demand and supply, taxes, terms of trade, overseas conditions, productivity and property prices. All these things are working against or for each other, interminably searching for equilibrium. One lever goes up and that forces another down, dragging yet another with it but forcing a third back up.

Say wages go up, profits might go down, but then demand goes up so profits might go up. Then debt might rise and interest rates might go up so the share market might come down.  Every effect has a flow on effect. Nothing stays constant.

Most people just look at the primary effect. In the time since Trump was elected the share market had risen and risen, waiting for his tax cuts which would return more profits to shareholders. They were fixated on the primary effect. Now that his tax cuts have come to pass, people have come to realise that they were just dreaming. Firstly, with less revenue, the government will be active in raising money through borrowing, pushing interest rates up. Secondly, wages have risen as workers put up their hands for a share of the extra company post-tax profits. Nobody saw that coming, but unemployment has been dropping for five years without pay rises and eventually there was going to be an effect on wages. The tax cut was the catalyst.

In the past,  a lot of the gas in the economy was just leaking out, mainly in the direction of China, but now a lot of companies are pledging to bring manufacturing back to America. Labour shortages in the past were relieved by immigration, but Trump wants less immigration. Not everything can be achieved at the same time.

Why was this allowed to play out the way it has? With years of debt hanging over America, it’s surprising that anyone ever thought that last years’ stock boom was at all sustainable, and why was the Federal Reserve so tentative about even hinting at an interest rate rise? They could have saved everyone a lot of pain if they’d forced investors to be more realistic twelve months ago. So maybe it’s not all Trump’s fault. He’s just a victim of circumstances.