Thoughts on the US

A friend, after reading the most recent blog about US politics, sent me some quotes which he thought were apposite for the current Trump situation. 

The first was a quote from a great US journalist and the other a moment from a Leoncavallo opera. 

HL Menken: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” (Written 1956; proven 2016, reinforced 2024.)   Ho hum. read more

Visceral responses to the US

There are moments when events in the US generate a deep visceral response and prompt conspiratorial thoughts and deep questions.

The attempted Trump assassination is one. For instance, did you briefly think it was a pity the assassin had missed? Did you wonder if the whole thing was set up to make him a martyr? read more

Vulture capitalism at work?

One oft-proven way to make money is to pick up a few gems among a pile of discarded mining rubble.

In the case of the UK, an investment fund is offering a similar opportunity – this time to pick up some profits from investing in a few companies in the disaster that is the English water industry.

Since its privatisation the industry has avoided investing in infrastructure; pumped pollution on to beaches and into rivers and streams; sucked out huge dividends; and, saddled water companies with huge debts. read more

The Sun has won

It’s not known if Peter Dutton reads The Economist but if he does, he must probably think from time to time that it is sometimes dangerously left wing.

In the 22 June issue it had a special essay on solar power – headlined ‘The Sun Machine’. The sub-head was “An energy source which gets cheaper the more you use it marks a turning-point in industrial history’. read more

If only

This is something that is almost certainly not going to happen – but  wouldn’t it be great if it did? Although a lot of people in the US are talking about it.

Instead of Biden battling on why not persuade him step down for ‘health reasons’ and be replaced by the Vice President. read more

Some winter reading suggestions

Over the past year or so the blog the blog has been putting aside books it fully intended to review. Now the tower is threatening to topple over so – instead of proper reviews some comments and recommendations.

Catherin Nixey describes herself as journalist although she did have an Oxbridge classics education. Her first book – The Darkening Age – has some striking first paragraphs. They describe an enraged black clad horde riding across the desert towards a great city. However, enlightened you are, you almost involuntarily assume these are some Islamic mob heading off to commit an atrocity. Well, the atrocity part is right it’s just that the mob is Christian, and they are on the way to murder Hypatia the great Alexandrian scientist. read more

It’s not fair our media magnates bleat

It is hard to know whether the bleatings of the major media outlets about losing the Meta $70 million payments under the media bargaining code are pathetic or laughable. Indeed, perhaps both.

Now whatever you think of the mainstream media in Australia, and the deleterious impact of Meta and other social media outlets on our politics and society, the reality is that the Australian media problems are much deeper than Meta publishing links to their stories and not being rewarded for it. read more

Should we be paranoid?

Donald Trump’s bizarre puffing and boasting about being a dictator – if only for a day (a likely story) – has prompted memories of the much-told story of Kurt Gödel’s interview for US citizenship in 1947.

Gödel, being a serious type and one of the world’s great logicians, studied up and made a detailed study of the US Constitution before he applied. read more

How HALEU nuclear power could lead to nuclear weapons

A recent Science paper (7/6) highlights one of the potentially disastrous risks the Dutton nuclear plan raises.

The most recent blog raised a question which media ought to ask Peter Dutton about his nuclear policy. It was “Are you aware that SMRs and proposed micro sized reactors are so inefficient that they would need HALEU (high-assay low enriched uranium) fuel to power the new stations? As this would require that, unlike traditional nuclear power stations which require only 3% to 5% enrichment, are you aware these new stations would require enrichment of 19.75% which would probably mean that a single reactor might contain enough HALUE to make a nuclear weapon?” read more