All posts by Noel Turnbull

Pestilential postscript

Why do we remember and commemorate wars but not epidemics? The blog asked that in its last post focussing on the differences between commemorating Australia’s WWI dead and those many more who died in the world flu epidemic immediately after the war.

Yet in one of those serendipitous events the blog came across some significant work on just how prevalent epidemics have been in history, how they have been forgotten and some lessons for today. read more

Commemorating Australia’s most deadly disaster?

Australia is gearing up for its last hurrah of World War One commemoration with a fair amount of emphasis on how ‘we’ won the war with the decisive breakthroughs in the lead up to November 11.

The Canadians and the Brits think the same, as the blog has remarked before, but there’s lots of credit to go around and at least News Corp won’t be detracting from our glory by echoing Keith Murdoch’s condemnation of Monash. read more

Political campaigning – it can be different

Given the state of politics in the USA, the UK and Australia it would be easy to think that it had become partisan beyond repair.

Indeed, given also the extent of the influence of various fundamentalist Christians and other fundamentalist ideologues it might even by judged as Manichean with the good and/or evil being determined by who is speaking when and about what. read more

What have they got in common?

While all Australians are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the release of the Ruddock report on freedom of religion, and for information about our Pentecostal PM’s plan to protect freedom of religion, here’s a little quiz for blog readers.

What have the following got in common: Ovid, Erasmus, Copernicus, Montesquieu, Spinoza, David Hume, Sartre, Milton, Lawrence, Zola, Kepler and Gide? read more

No more team building and no more Myers-Briggs

One of the great benefits of being retired is the fact that you need never attend a corporate team-building exercise again. The other – if you are an employee – is not having to be subjected to various personality testing tools such as Myers-Briggs.

The blog’s old firm had regular – well annual anyway – team building exercises which doubled as strategy and training sessions. Like most such efforts they were held off-site and usually employed some form of facilitator – chosen by the management team and not the blog – and dinners and socialising at nights. read more

Crisis management – it’s kids stuff and other odds and sods

Crisis management is not that hard – just ask children in a UK school – as the blog discovered reading an article by Lucy Kellaway a former Financial Times management editor (a post she described as FT bullshit correspondent). Kellaway left full time journalism to become a teacher and founder of an organisation which encouraged business boys and girls to turn to teaching as a second late career life. read more

Imagine the uproar

What about sovereign risk? was a question asked of a guest speaker at a lunch the blog recently attended. What about sovereign risk indeed the blog muttered under its breath.

On the tram on the way home after the lunch the blog, however, got to thinking about what other glib defences PR advisors would use to characterise policies powerful interests opposed; what might get the powerful interests agitated in the future if a change of government occurred; and, what framing the advisors would recommend in such situations. read more

A new Dunbar number

Robin Dunbar, the Oxford Professor of evolutionary psychology famous for the Dunbar number of 150, has come up with some new Dunbar numbers.

In a paper, Functional Benefits of (Modest) Alcohol Consumption, in the journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology and an article in the Financial Times (11/12 August 2018), on the social benefits of alcohol Dunbar looks at some major studies and comes to the conclusion that “we devote about 40% of our available social time (and the same proportion of our emotional capital) to an inner core of about five shoulders–to-cry-on. And we devote another 20% to the next 10 people who are socially important to us. In other words, about two-thirds of our total social effort is devoted to just 15 people”. read more

When was America great?

Yuval Noah Harari, the Israeli historian and author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, recently wrote: “When a thousand people believe some made up story for a month – that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years – that’s a religion”; and, “Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.” read more

Connected – really???

If you counted the number of times the word connected was used in common communication you would almost reach the number of connections us human are supposed to have these days.

Thanks to the FAANGs we are all allegedly linked wherever we go and Dunbar’s number – the suggestion by the British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, that 150 is about the limit of stable relationships an individual can have with other people – has theoretically been rendered null. read more