Rafe’s Roundup May 29

A reminder that Australia can be seen as a land of plenty and opportunity by people who have not been bitten by the bug of entitlements.

Interesting memories of the Depression recorded by Hal Porter in his second volume of autobiography The Paper Chase (after the classic Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony). From his teaching days in Williamstown on the outer fringe of Melbourne.

It is from this cell that I look out at the Depression…I see some of the effects, some few only, of poverty on the minute section of time and space confronting me. Poverty, however relative, is, I see, a brake. It slows movement. It deadens and mutes. Trios of ascetic-looking louts too languid to spit loll at street corners. Women shoppers trudge by. The Williamstown beach is strewn on Depression summer weekdays with the expensive looking, sun-ripening bodies of sussoes – young Adonises on unemployment relief. Prone and moveless, they have laid themselves out like pumas or corpses across the castor-sugar sand, by the lisping silky sea. Impossible for me, the poor employed scurrying in shabby clothes towards work in sunless rooms, to read their rich unemployed minds.

What does on behind their blissfully closed eyelids and calm Hindu-brown foreheads and sun-bleached forelocks? Has the sun, day after day, dried up the fluid of emotion? Are their minds breathing or holding breath? They themselves breathe, no more than that. For the rest, they do not agitate one single artist’s-model muscle.

Other sussos, who have worn mud and lice and terror for God, King and Country, for England, Home and Beauty, do move. They trail the streets with blighted suitcases, and plead with bright desperation and grinning fatigue at the suburb’s front doors, offering for sale strange tin-openers and apple-corers, strange insurance policies, strange hair-crimping devices, home-made toffees, gaudy soaps reeking of jasmine and otto of roses, paintings of camels sneering on dunes, toys of Cro-Magnon crudity soldered from kerosine tins and jam-tins for carpentered from the wood of packing cases…Notices, discreet as pain but adamant, and childishly lettered on boot-box lids or the backs of writing-pads appear between the lace curtains and the front window panes – BOARD AND LODGING; SINGLE ROOM TO LET; ACCOMMODATION FOR RESPECTABLE LADY (Protestant), DRESSMAKING; KNITTING FOR INFANTS; LAUNDRY TAKEN IN. Do anything, say the newspaper advertisements: Do anything, go anywhere.

Interesting to contemplate how the different generations responded to the crisis. The sussos on the beach were the generation that produced the baby boomers, who flocked to Gough Whitlam, and the rest is history.

Interesting retraction and revision of articles on student fees on The Conversation.

Yesterday we removed two articles from our website: “Modelling shows more students face lifetime debt under deregulated fees” and “Students could be in debt for the rest of their lives”.

Both were removed due to a significant error in the modelling on which they were based. It was claimed in both pieces that university fee changes could saddle students with debts that could not be repaid in their lifetime.

This was based on an incorrect calculation that a student with a A$50,000 HECS-HELP debt would have to earn an average of A$80,000 a year to pay off the debt before retirement, and it would take 43 years. Subsequent calculations using the same rate of income and interest show it would actually take 11 years to pay off a A$50,000 debt.

The authors have now updated their piece with the correct figures and an explanation of the miscalculation.

How we live. Food faddists peddle junk science and hysteria.

The recent controversy over “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB), or “pink slime” as the media and activists love to call it, is reminiscent of the old TV commercial, “Where’s the beef?” There just isn’t much there there. But the flap is a symptom of something much larger: a kind of puritanical and purist view of food that is based not on science or facts but on intuition — and ignorance.
It’s true that the way the beef product is produced sounds unappetizing. It’s made from parts of the cow that previously were either discarded or used for lower-value products such as animal food. Treated to remove much of the fat and to make it inhospitable to bacteria, it’s both healthful and safe. It offers other advantages as well. According to Jim Dickson, professor of animal science at Iowa State University, “It is estimated that using this process with the fat trim recovers 10–12 pounds of additional lean meat from each carcass. This means that we are using our beef resources more efficiently, which also means that we can meet consumer demands with lower prices and fewer cattle.”
Although LFTB has been used for decades by schools, leading fast-food outlets and major supermarket chains, suddenly it has become the object of ridicule and vilification, and users have abandoned it in droves.

Back off or the pig gets it! A Classical Washington Monument move as Judith pointed out.

Thieves target copper from wind turbines. Some interesting and amusing comments.

A sophisticated network of metal thieves has targeted some 20 French wind turbines in a new looting trend, scaling the near 40-metre-high structures and stealing up to one tonne of metal from a single engine.

Books. Books in Paris. First editions from the 1940s.

Around the town. IPA HEY. The Sydney Institute. Australian Taxpayers Alliance, Liberty on the Rocks, the notice board for the ATA: Quadrant on line, Mannkal Foundation, Centre for Independent Studies.

Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog
Don Aitkin.
Jim Rose, feral and utopian!

For nerds. Melvyn Bragg’s radio program. Changing people’s minds with less assertion and more questions. Where is Karl Popper when we need him? Lennart Bengtsson meditates on the furore that greeted his move to support climate realism.

What is perhaps most worrying is the increased tendency of pseudo-science in climate research. This is revealed through the bias in publication records towards only reporting results that support one climate hypothesis, while refraining from publishing results that deviate. Even extremely cold weather, as this year’s winter in north Eastern USA and Canada, is regarded as a consequence of the greenhouse effect.

Were Karl Popper alive today we would certainly have met with fierce critique of this behavior.

May edition of Econ Journal Watch.

This entry was posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Rafe’s Roundup May 29

  1. politichix

    A sophisticated network of metal thieves has targeted some 20 French wind turbines in a new looting trend, scaling the near 40-metre-high structures and stealing up to one tonne of metal from a single engine.

    Hahahaha. I love capitalism!

  2. cuckoo

    As you can gather even from that extract, Hal Porter was the biggest misery-guts in the history of Australian literature, even if we agree with the point he is making here. He makes Patrick White sound like Richard Simmons. Watcher on the cast iron balcony is near-parodic in its determination to see the worst side of everything.

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    Since Rafe has food faddists, Peppa Pig and wind turbines I have to complete the set:

    Bacon causes global warming

  4. cuckoo

    Was watching Planet of the Apes last night for the first time in decades. I had forgotten that much of the story is about a conflict between religion/ideology and the scientific method. Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter are young scientists who believe that humans were once an advanced species, but this is pooh-poohed by crusty old Dr. Zeus, who is boss of the official scientific establishment. Roddy McDowall is trying to make a career, so he doesn’t want to rock the boat, even though his empirical evidence proves the orthodoxy is wrong. And haven’t you ever wanted to shout at the warmists “You maniacs!..you blew it up!!…damn you to hell!!!

  5. dragnet

    Re the Hal Porter extract, I think you are drawing a bit of a long-bow there, Rafe, extrapolation extraordinaire!!

  6. Baldrick

    Interesting retraction and revision of articles on student fees on The Conversation.

    Both were removed due to a significant error in the modelling on which they were based.
    A modelling error which predicted nearly 4 times the repayment period (43 years instead of 11) is quite a bit more than ‘significant’, it’s more like propaganda.

  7. Mr Rusty

    I do wonder what Popper would have made of CAGW. No doubt he would have been branded a denier if he were still around and shouted down at every available opportunity. 17 years of cooling pretty much falsifies the theory and it is now the largest funded pseudo science in the history of man. It would be funny if it weren’t being paid for out of our pockets.

  8. Hahahaha. I love capitalism!

    Please don’t conflate theft with capitalism. It’s a hard enough sell as it is.

  9. Bill

    In Europe you have to steal to pay your power bills.

  10. cohenite

    May Hal Porter and Patrick White rot in their graves for the misery they caused me at uni.

    My Australian literary hero is Alan Marshall. I had the good fortune to see him when he gave a talk at my school when I was 13. This little character practically sprinted into the hall on crutches [and I went to school with a number of kids on crutches from polio] who then proceeded to tell us how lucky we were to be living in Australia today where it was likely such diseases would be eradicated and we had so much opportunity and so much to look forward to. He had such energy and optimism!

    The poor old buggar; if he could only see the Luddites ruling the place now with their AGW witch-doctorey, the anti-vaccination shit-heads and the anti-GM bastards and in fact the whole of the green filth permeating the social discourse.

  11. calli

    I’m going to be an appalling pedant regarding Mr. Porter’s piece.

    It’s caster sugar, because it’s fine enough to sprinkle from a sugar caster. Castor was Pollux’s twin brother (and an evil Nicholas Cage character).

    Family all ex CSR, so I blame the sugar. Normal transmission may now resume.

  12. Mr Rusty

    A sophisticated network of metal thieves has targeted some 20 French wind turbines in a new looting trend, scaling the near 40-metre-high structures and stealing up to one tonne of metal from a single engine.

    I recently heard that the miles of copper cabling removed from the now demolished exhibition and convention centre at Darling Harbour recently mysteriously vanished from the site. The Unionised workforce were turning up to work with hangovers and new bling not long after the cabling disappeared.

  13. Poor Old Rafe

    Thanks calli, I must have made the mistake because Hal was a connoisseur of words, one of the treats in his memoires was his record of new words that came into common use at various times. I think his literary works were rather dark but I found all three vols of his memoire to be captivating on account of the details that he managed to record about daily life that men tend to overlook. Besides he always worked at non-writing jobs for a living and that gave him a wealth of experience that is denied to most writers who take the road of grants or conventional uni courses and immersion in the inner city culture.

    I don’t see an excessive stretch in my extrapolation from the sussoes on the beach to the entitlement generation. Their fathers were desperate to make their way independently, given that, what would you expect from the generation that came after them? The fit is not perfect, you could say that the entitlement generation is two generations removed from the 1930s, but still, there is a serious drift from the mentality of the WWI veterans who really wanted to work their way and go anywhere, do anything.

  14. H B Bear

    The Dumb.

    It publishes Mungo Man and then only apologises for some modelling error by its in-house poet economists. I hope Ann Summers gives it hard to Young Chip after that.

  15. calli

    Rafe…it’s a common enough mistake, and I suspect it wasn’t you at all.

    CSR used to get lots of huffy letters from people pointing out their ‘spelling mistake’ on the sugar packets. An old pal of mine in the marketing department had great pleasure in replying (and sending lots of little samples of the vast array of sugars).

    Only the very refeeened know what a sugar caster is, anyways. Sorry [runs] :D

  16. Aristogeiton

    cohenite
    #1325432, posted on May 30, 2014 at 10:41 am
    May Hal Porter and Patrick White rot in their graves for the misery they caused me at uni.

    My Australian literary hero is Alan Marshall. I had the good fortune to see him when he gave a talk at my school when I was 13. This little character practically sprinted into the hall on crutches [and I went to school with a number of kids on crutches from polio] who then proceeded to tell us how lucky we were to be living in Australia today where it was likely such diseases would be eradicated and we had so much opportunity and so much to look forward to. He had such energy and optimism!

    The poor old buggar; if he could only see the Luddites ruling the place now with their AGW witch-doctorey, the anti-vaccination shit-heads and the anti-GM bastards and in fact the whole of the green filth permeating the social discourse.

    Time was a man would go to war, bayonet a man through the throat or bash a man to death with a trench raiding club, then come home, work hard, raise a family and shut the fuck up about it all his life. Now all it takes is a “micro-aggression” and you’ve got full blown PTSD and you’re on the DSP for the rest of your life.

  17. Aristogeiton

    Also, our PM drinks Shandies made from light beer. I want Bob Hawke back; he’s less a socialist than this prick and can pound a brew.

  18. Roger

    May Hal Porter and Patrick White rot in their graves for the misery they caused me at uni. Interestingly, cohenite, the prolix Porter also had a high regard for the completely unpretentious Marshall.

  19. Roger

    Thanks calli, I must have made the mistake because Hal was a connoisseur of words
    Relax, Rafe; according to the OED both forms are acceptable.

  20. cohenite

    I don’t want to appear disgruntled about the likes of Porter and White, however they do raise an interesting point which is the separation of the personal from the art. White’s sexuality was crucial to his literature; was Porter’s? I mean does it matter that Keats probably died a virgin?

  21. Roger

    White’s sexuality was crucial to his literature; was Porter’s?
    Yes. But probably best not to go there; a real can of worms, cohenite.

  22. Piett

    Hmm, I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from generational stereotyping.

    The “young Adonises on unemployment relief” in the 1930s were the soldiers, sailors and airmen of WW2, or the factory workers who kept the war effort going. What the Americans call “the Greatest Generation”.

    And when the Depression was at its height, and work was almost impossible to get no matter how hard you tried, then going to the beach would seem the logical course of action for the unemployed. When life has handed you lemons, as the saying goes, make lemonade.

  23. dragnet

    I don’t know Rafe, I still think it’s too much of a (two-generational) leap. Besides, a lot of those sussoes on the beach types probably ended up dying in Changi or Kokoda or the Western Desert thus atoning for their sins.

  24. calli

    work was almost impossible to get no matter how hard you tried, then going to the beach would seem the logical course of action for the unemployed

    My poor old grandad should have considered that alternative. Instead, he went bush and did fencing, shearing, whatever he could, sending money back to gran and the four children. But then, he was no toned Adonis, just a little, bandy Pom.

  25. Piett

    PS, I hope the Catallaxy Catholic Corps notice the ad for “ACCOMMODATION FOR RESPECTABLE LADY (Protestant)”. Ah, the good old days, when hating Catholics was an enjoyable national pastime.

    But it could well be argued that “(Protestant)” was redundant in that ad, by virtue of the word “RESPECTABLE”. ;)

  26. MemoryVault

    When life has handed you lemons, as the saying goes, make lemonade.

    Piett
    Thanks for that little drop of sanity in the sea of welfare-bashing that has dominated both Australian politics, and the Cat recently. With Youth Unemployment (15 to 24) currently at around 15% of the workforce, and 35% of the total unemployed, and likely to grow in the future, the fact that a small handful of them have learned to pool their resources and live ten to a flat at the beach (or anywhere else), should be applauded, not condemned.

    Bottom line is, with the exception of the Supporting Parent’s Benefit, most people on welfare want a job, and the biggest impediments to them getting one are stupid, economically destructive, and ever-changing grubbermint rules and regulations.

    The problems with our so-called “welfare safety net” lie not with the recipients, who are merely hostages of the system, but with the system itself, and its administration. Clean up the system, including our education departments which now produce 18 year old illiterates after 12 years of schooling, simplify the administration, and get grubbermint out of the way of free enterprise.

    Most of our so-called “welfare problems”, including our so-called “aging population” problem, would disappear within five years, without any of the draconian – and unworkable – “solutions” currently being bandied about by ill-informed politicians and others (including here) at the moment.

  27. Roger

    The existence of a Catallaxy Catholic Corps intrigues me. They must surely be centre-right, not Libertarian, since the latter is difficult to reconcile with the Papacy’s social and economic teachings over the last century and a bit (?).

  28. Piett

    Instead, he went bush and did fencing, shearing, whatever he could, sending money back to gran and the four children.

    OK, I takes me hat off to him. But in the event, if all the young blokes had done the same, there would have been even less opportunity for your grandfather, and the WW1 vets. They, and their families, would have suffered even more deprivation.

    When labour demand is very low, it makes sense for those without dependants to stay out of the labour force, for the sake of those with dependants, who need the money a lot more.

  29. Roger

    I’m inclined to agree with you, Memory Vault. I’m all for reforming the welfare system in order to provide incentives for people to get off it, but let’s not demonise welfare recipients as a class of people. Many of them are victims of the de-humanising system just as much as they are beneficiaries of it, condemned to dreary, unproductive lives without hope. It’s all very well to urge people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but when the education system has failed to equip you for the modern jobs market and the menial, factory jobs have all but disappeared, there aren’t many options left for the average young person but work for the dole, the usual round of courses, etc..

  30. calli

    I wasn’t having a go, Piet, just remembering grandpa. During the Depression, he tried to grow veggies to sell at the local market. After working tirelessly in the patch, he produced some magnificent sheaths of silverbeet and other greens, only to be offered a pittance. He brought the lot back and fed it to the chooks.

    Many years later, my grandmother called him for lunch. Getting no answer, she went out to the beloved veggie patch, only to find him slumped on a chair. He was a survivor of the Somme and the Great Depression, working from dawn to dark…and had finally entered his rest.

  31. Aristogeiton

    Roger
    #1325570, posted on May 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm
    I’m inclined to agree with you, Memory Vault. I’m all for reforming the welfare system in order to provide incentives for people to get off it, but let’s not demonise welfare recipients as a class of people. Many of them are victims of the de-humanising system just as much as they are beneficiaries of it, condemned to dreary, unproductive lives without hope.

    Boo hoo for the victims. Let’s just bribe them to stop spending my money. You know, according to the EMH, we will have to pay them more than they would receive at present to do so? It’s a steal! Literally.

  32. calli

    Good heavens…I meant sheaves…not frocks (or other non-related but manly items). :)

  33. Piett

    MemoryVault, Roger

    I’m a fan of the Danish ‘flexicurity’ system …

    * Abolish labour market regulation as far as possible. No ‘unfair dismissal’. Absolutely minimise disincentives for employers to hire.
    * Reasonably generous benefits for the unemployed, to tide them over till they find the next job, but time limited.
    * If they haven’t found work within a certain time frame, then lower benefits and active vocational training, targeted on where jobs really are to be found.

    But, sigh, it has about as much chance of being implemented here as I do of becoming the next Pope.

  34. MemoryVault

    Piett

    Totally O/T, but I just noticed your avatar.
    Try printing out the source and overlaying it on an equal-sized map of Canberra, with the “eye” centered on Parliament House. You’ll find even the scroll at the bottom is a reasonable fit for the northern edge of Lake Burley-Griffin.

    Fascinating coincidence.

  35. vlad

    Having to earn 80K a year to pay off your HECS debt lickety-split in a mere 11 years hardly sounds like much of an improvement to me. It’s like the old joke about the lady who was appalled when the lecturer said the sun would go out in five billion years. Told that five billion years wasn’t so bad, she said, Oh, sorry I thought you said “million”.

Comments are closed.