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51 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. Paul Norton

    Frist! Hello from my motel room in Glenorchy.

  2. akn

    Morning Paul. Tassie, a state of mind!

    Following on from recent disagreements here and elsewhere about the nature of the sex industry in Australia … for anyone interested in fact based argument that contradicts the dominant pomo (post moral) feminist position that sex work is a valid career choice for ambitious women could visit Melinda Tankard Reist’s blog: http://melindatankardreist.com/

    I wouldn’t agree with all she says however it is a refreshingly old fashioned ethically informed view.

    Also see this http://melindatankardreist.com/2011/11/where-is-a-young-girl-to-find-justice-when-her-abusers-walk-free/ for a good read.

  3. Terangeree

    “Hello” to Paul Norton’s motel room in Glenorchy :)

  4. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Rick Perry: one very classless anti-Gay ad on YouTube, and he’s almost as unpopular as Justin Bieber.


  5. Fran Barlow

    Australia 4/35 doing worse than NZ … this could be a short match …

    Ponting also fails …

  6. Brian62

    To all students of Murdoch Journalism this is a classic example of News Limited quality reporting, the only thing missing is the voice- mails http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/who-is-the-real-peter-slipper/story-e6frfhqf-122621864892,

  7. Brian62

    Sorry maybe this works :Who is Peter Slipper? New speaker of our Parliament or a weirdo
    Herald Sun

  8. Terry

    If the Eurozone can hold together until year’s end, the new deal is a big diplomatic win for Angela Merkel. She has recast the EU in Germany’s preferred fiscally conservative image, seen off recalcitrants like Berlusconi, and maintained the image that it is a joint policy with France to avoid historical negatives.

    The big diplomatic loser is David Cameron, who has let go of Britain’s capacity to have influence in the only continent where it still can. Much as the Jeremy Clarkson types chortle about standing up to Brussels, the flip side is that Europe can now largely ignore Britain when making joint decisions.

  9. Adrien

    Still dogs.

  10. Wantok

    About time the PM and Opposition Leader got together to resolve this silly stand-off on boat arrivals before there is another tragedy at sea. My own preference is to at least try the Malaysian option as the Nauruan option means that the arrivals are going to an Australian operated detention centre which is little different to Christmas Island and is seen as a stepping-stone.

  11. su

    A hound, no less, with a meerschaum. Nice work Adrien. Expect a knock on the door from PETA : )

  12. patrickg

    akn, you might be interested in this post about legalising sex work and implications for human trafficking. I’m not endorsing the position the author takes, but it’s a very interesting and well thought out one.

  13. Fran Barlow

    Wantok said:

    My own preference is to at least try the Malaysian option …

    You can’t ‘try’ the Malaysian dumping plan. You either do it or you don’t. In either case, boats don’t come into it. It’s purely for Lindsay-PR.

  14. Fran Barlow

    And really, if Australia is going that way they might as well put together a bill to repudiate the 1951 convention — a nice double with NNPT.

    If we’re abrogating treaties then perhaps there should be a full review of the other treaties that don’t suit us while we’re about it. Law of the Sea? Damded nuisance. Universal Declaration? Too touchy feely. I wonder if we could dump that Hong Kong business treaty that big tobacco is using? No … that’s pro-business. Can’t do that.

  15. Katz

    Agreed Terry @ 8.

    By dealing Britain out of the game Cameron has surrendered the power to veto any EC constitutional changes.

    It’s almost as if Cameron is encouraging the EC to follow a course of action sufficiently provocative to Britain’s Eurosceptics to justify Britain’s withdrawal from the EC.

    Trouble is, most of Britain’s manufacturing sector exists only because of unfettered access to the EC. Who else will buy American and Japanese cars assembled in Dagenham? And the British financial sector is already huge and unlikely to get any bigger.

    In general, Europe, both continental and offshore, is in deep trouble.

  16. Fine

    Melinda Tankard-Reist is a conservative whose strongly anti-abortion. She’s not well liked by sex workers who see her position as dangerous and damaging for them.

  17. Wantok

    Fran @13 my reference to trialling the Malaysia option was for the four year period over which the ‘swap’ – 800 boat arrivals for 4000 refugees – operates. Without wishing to return to the ‘business model’ rhetoric it really is all about discouraging vulnerable people from parting with their hard won money to embark on a perilous journey and being exploitated by unscrupulous people smugglers; it may not work but it’s better than doing nothing and laying the groundwork for another wholly avoidable tragedy to occur.

  18. Fran Barlow
  19. Fran Barlow

    Wantok said:

    Without wishing to return to the ‘business model’ rhetoric it really is all about discouraging vulnerable people from parting with their hard won money to embark on a perilous journey and being exploitated by unscrupulous people smugglers

    In practice, that defence is merely for the wet-behind-the-ears or for those wishing a figleaf for their xenophobia. There are far better options to achieve the end you repeat here, but the Lindsay crowd would be scandalised. Actually, perhaps they wouldn’t, but they might be and that’s all that matters, in the end.

    I’m also unclear about whom you’re solidarising with here. Your phrase “vulnerable people parting with their hard-won money” seems to imply that you see the asylum seekers as victims, yet your proposal entails making them suffer something worse than prejudicing their life chances and giving up the hard won money — imprisonment (and giving up ‘their hard won money’ in Malaysia) or continuing indefinite detention in Indonesia.

    Let’s be clear: if people think it’s worth parting with their hard won money and undertaking a perilous journey to get to Australia, one has to allow for the possibility — nay the probability — that their judgement is superior to that of our government and others parroting this line. They are the ones bearing all of the risk and they are in possession of more of the facts on the ground salient to the calculus. It’s not for us to try to prejudice this calculus. Surely it’s their call. I’m sympathetic to the idea that if people are that keen to get here, and willing to take such serious risks, then their circumstances must be dire and their commitment to being good citizens here will be great.

    The fact that we could if we wished, process them quickly and release them into the community with some support at a tiny fraction of the current cost simply make the current ALP/LNP position seem not merely inhumane but one conducted in the service of parochialism, ethnic animus and Stockholm-syndrome style plebeian bigotry.

    I propose the honouring the Refugee Convention solution, the humane solution, or the play nicely with others solution — call it what you will. Of course, I’m not bound to apologise for the ALP right.

  20. Incurious & Unread


    “if people think it’s worth parting with their hard won money and undertaking a perilous journey to get to Australia, one has to allow for the possibility — nay the probability — that their judgement is superior to that of our government and others parroting this line.”

    You’re sounding like a libertarian!

  21. patrickg

    hear hear, fran.

  22. Fran Barlow

    That’s just it I & U — I am, inter alia, a libertarian — albeit of the leftwing variety. That scandalises the Catallaxy crowd, but there you have it.

  23. Lefty E
  24. Tim Macknay

    Last night ABC24 was reporting that the Large Hadron Collider has “glimpsed” the Higgs Boson.

  25. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    It’s not often I say “I’m ashamed to be Canadian”. Actually, I’m not ashamed so much as furious.


  26. Fran Barlow

    Plimer once again makes sa fool of himself, this time over asbestos and chrysotile.


    He and Monckton deserve each other.

  27. akn

    Thanks patrickg. A very interesting read and a sensible author.

  28. Fran Barlow

    It’s the season to be merry and perhaps with this in mind, alternet has produced a list of those whom they regard as America’s 10 most greedy

    It’s all pretty subjective of course, but some of it makes interesting reading. Michael Duke, head of Walmart ($18.7 million, 750 times the notional full-time wages of 75% of his employeees, who moves the performance goalposts to protect his own bonus, but cuts into employee health benefits, cuts penalty rates, cuts staff numbers and so forth) gets a run. The head of Disney, Robert Iger, (781 times the wages of his housekeepers, which is more than 7 times the differential between Walt Disney and his housekeepers in 1966) also gets honourable mention. Also there is Doug Oberhelman. Doug, the head of Caterpillar, gets a comparatively modest $10.4million each year, though this is three times what he got in 2009. Caterpillar employees have just signed a new 6-year contract with a wage freeze and increased health care contributions — effectively a wage cut. His company makes profits of $30.4bn and pays just over 1% in tax. Well done them.

    Of course, these are just the minor players. Those of egalitarian inclination might wish to follow the link above for a full dose of inequality pr0n.

  29. sg

    That’s shocking, Fran.

    In other news, I discovered today that a Japanese morning TV show – asaichi – has had to issue a rather embarrassing on-air apology after they massively cocked up a serious of radiation measurements. Their “dining table round up investigation” (shokutaku marugoto chosa) was supposed to collect a week’s worth of left-over food from families all around the country, and then analyze it for radioactive materials at a lab in the well-respected Ritsumeikan University (Radiation Protection Lab). Unfortunately, the machine was badly calibrated and the analysis poorly conducted, and they scared the bejesus out of 7 families from around Japan (Hiroshima, Osaka, Tokyo, Fukushima) by telling them they’d been eating radioactive food. In fact, nothing was detected: the results are given in original (left) and amended (right) form near the bottom of this page, in order: cesium 134, cesium 137. Potassium will be anounced tomorrow.

    The family from Fukushima (sukagawa town and Koriyama town, probably about 40kms from the plant due West) had results of “not detectable” on all their food samples. There was one detected result in all the samples – the Tokyo (meguro) family got a value of 8.5 Bq/kg for the day of the 28th September. The Australian allowable limit is 1000 Bq/kg (in Japan it’s 200Bq/kg).

    The page I linked to indicates what the families are doing to reduce radiation consumption – for example the family from Edogawa in Tokyo is trying to eat only food from west Japan to reduce their exposure. It’s an interesting example of how the scramble to find out about radiation exposure privately is introducing mistakes, worries, rumours and misleading information into the community.

  30. zorronsky

    Little Johnny’s been hangin’ with a proven liar

  31. akn

    Oh sg, it’s just shocking what these irresponsible greenies will do to amp up the public alarm over radioactivity. Such a carefully selected sample too, of food scraps, let’s see … “a week’s worth of left-over food from families all around the country”…. Seriously scientific research. To only discover that it is radioactive. The whole thing a put up job by, your words…”a Japanese morning TV show”. Like, that’s someone of the scientific stature of Kerry-Anne?

    I’m a shocked an appalled father of at least six who is sickened by this betrayal of common sense values and modern virtues. Look, I think its about time that we started calling these greenies what they are. They’re terrorists spreading fear among little kiddies and innocent Japanese citizens. They do this to further their global conspiracy to stop decent god-fearing nuclear corporate citizens make making a decent quid out of a decent day’s work.

    Please, keep me fully informed with your insider knowledge of Japan and the struggle to prevent the white-anting of decency by the greenies who’ve cunningly seized control of Japanese breakfast tellie.

  32. sg

    What, akn, are you saying that finding radioactive food in Japan is like looking for a needle in a haystack?

    You could, alternatively, try this editorial in Nature, which links to a critique of the government’s response by Hatoyama Yukio (former DJP PM) and has the title Nationalize the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. Sadly, the critique requires (possibly free) subscription. But give it a burl, if you like …

    and while you’re thanking me for keeping you “fully informed,” please note that I gave you the link to the whole body count data a few weeks ago. That, sadly, is information you don’t seem to have been too willing to cling onto, even though it was of a great deal higher scientific stature than Kerry-Anne. I wonder why?

  33. Mercurius

    akn, sg, Fran, maybe we can do a series of dares:

    Prof. Plimer’s dare: Huff a canister containing a few ppm of asbestos dust a day (relax, Ian, it’s not carcinogenic!).

    Nick Minchin’s dare: Puff a pack of Marlboros a day.

    Fukushima dare: Eat a bowl of Honshu-grown soybeans a day.

    I know which one I’d rather do. Pass the 枝豆! Since I like living dangerously, I’ll sprinkle salt on top!

  34. sg

    good idea, Mercurius! But I’m not sure if soybeans are grown in Japan at all! My friend recently volunteered in Fukushima, and was tasked with replacing baby shellfish in some kind of rope arrangement. Maybe the Fukushima dare (which I think should be renamed the “nuclear booster dare,” ’cause let’s face it, akn is entirely consistent with his own beliefs in refusing to take this dare, whereas me and Fran aren’t) could be to eat one of those shellfish a day.

    I refuse to eat them raw, though!

  35. darin

    So, it’s OK if you listen to a murdered girl’s messages but don’t delete them and hacking someone else’s database for a story is in the public interest. No wonder people don’t trust newspapers.

  36. Terangeree

    SG @ 33:

    A yearly subscription to Nature costs US$199 for on-line and print access.

    From the reporting I’ve seen, Hatoyama and Taira’s article argues that TEPCO should be nationalised so the scientific community at large can get the complete picture of events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on and immediately after 11 March, 2011.

    No, I haven’t paid for access to the article, either, but it appears that Hatoyama’s argument is that TEPCO has a particular interest in keeping a veil of secrecy over what actually happened and is happening at the damaged power station. Hatoyama and Taira apparently argue that, if TEPCO were a government instrumentality, then that currently-secret information would be released.

    Unfortunately, the Japanese Government has not got a good track record in such matters — the Nature editorial points out that the Japanese government has been responsible for hiding important information from the public for at least the past 60 years (citing events such as Minamata disease, HIV-contaminated blood and BSE as examples).

    That it has been left to a mid-morning TV panel show (not like Kerrianne’s, AKN — Japanese mid-morning TV panel shows are much more bizarre) to try to answer public questions on food safety in a crisis has not done the Japanese government any great credit. The TV programme got the data wrong, unsurprisingly.

    But government agencies could not be relied upon. As has been shown over the past nine months, the relevant Japanese government agency that has regulatory power over the country’s nuclear power industry has become effectively an acolyte of and cheerleader for that industry.

  37. akn

    Wot Terangeree sez.

  38. Chris

    darin @ 36 – Using a username and password that has been leaked to a reporter is hardly “hacking”. And given that the ALP were storing financial and health information about voters without them knowing, I think the article clearly was in the public interest.

    Also I think the public outrage in the UK with News of the World wasn’t really over what they did, but who they did it to and why they did it. There wasn’t much public complaining when the only victims that we knew about were politicians, criminals and celebrities.

  39. sg

    Well, it appears I can read the Nature article at work, and basically it is a description by two members of Japan’s Diet of what information is missing about the disaster and what they’re unable to determine. The authors are former PM Hatoyama Yukio and Diet member Taira Tomoyuki. I think Hatoyama is not well respected in Japan now (see the first comment on the editorial, for example), but he and Taira san were both part of a so-called “B-Team” of investigators charged with finding out what really happened at the plant.

    The article lays out their reasons for thinking their may have been full meltdown, recriticality and non-hydrogen explosions, and the problems they have had getting accurate information. They recommend nationalizing TEPCO so they can get full access to information, but I can’t see how this is going to work. If the problem is “nuclear industry and government regulator were too close” how is “making the government regulator directly responsible for the nuclear industry” going to solve it?

    I’d have thought regardless of who owns TEPCO, strengthening the nuclear regulator is the key. I guess that’s easier to do if you own both, but the Soviet Union also had the govt running its nuclear power plants and that didn’t work out for the best either. What happened at TEPCO and the subsequent lack of transparency points to fundamental problems in Japan’s system, not just in its nuclear regulatory framework. The editorial hints at this (with reference to previous scandals) but I don’t think appointing a science adivsor is going to solve those problems. Something more hard-hitting and systemic is required, I would say.

  40. Katz

    Further to Terangeree’s point, the Japanese government appears to have difficulty with admitting to tens of thousands of evacuees that they will never be allowed to return to their homes and businesses.


    These issues must be particularly sensitive in crowded, ancestor-venerating Japan.

  41. Fran Barlow

    sg said:

    (whereas me and Fran aren’t) could be to eat one of those shellfish a day.

    As a vegetarian, I wouldn’t be eating shellfish even if they were guaranteed to add to the integrity of my longterm health. On the other hand, providing the (non-flesh) food in question was of acceptable standard in all major respects, I’d happily consume it.

  42. Fran Barlow

    On the broader issue raised above …

    Nothing in my willingness to consider fairly whether nuclear power in some configuration or another might be a useful component of any given power delivery system should be read as recommennding kid gloves for the operation of the system or considerations of its feasibility.

    I favour accountability and transparency for (inter alia) all industrial technology deployments. That accountability is especially important when there are serious downside risks to manage. Nuclear power, though relatively safe compared with its fossil HC counterparts, nevertheless carries with it very siginficant risks in cases of serious system failure. Establishing and maintaining fail-safe status (i.e. the system is safe when or if it fails) is obviously a starting point for consideration. It would, IMO, be a very fine thing if fossil HC plants (and other industrial plants) were compelled to be safe when operating normally. For some reason, even though they are not, the fact that they are operating normally makes the fact that they are systematically degrading the biosphere acceptable to most people. Of course, when these systems fail, some of them can have consequences that utterly dwarf the nuclear power plant failures. For some reason though, nuclear plants get singled out for especial concern.

    That’s not, I hasten to emphasise, an apologia for unsafe nuclear plants. If I had my way, every industrial plant in the world, regardless of its type or purpose, would be fail-safe*. If it was not in practice possible to achieve this standard at acceptable cost, we wouldn’t build them. Human safety comes first, IMO.

    It is however, an appeal for everyone to make rational and consistent choices about the quality and extent of risk that one ought to accept in exchange for living in societies underpinned by industrial scale technology.

    * at least from the point of view of those outside the perimeter of the plant.

  43. sg

    Just out of interest, Fran, what’s the justification for the vegetarian shellfish ban? When I was a vegetarian I observed the same ban, but I don’t think it makes any sense. Prawns are essentially an insect, and millions of insects die in the production of vegetable crops, plus of course we slaughter insects by the quantillion wherever we can. So why not eat crustaceans? And shellfish can’t move, which makes me think they can’t feel pain – that would be the most evolutionarily useless development on the planet, wouldn’t it? So why can’t vegetarians eat shellfish and crustaceans?

    Katz, I love how you manage to spin Edano san’s admission that people may not be able to return to their homes, and the report’s declaration that there will be an announcement on the matter soon, as a sign that the government is “having difficulty admitting.”

    Also, Japan=crowded is a bit of a myth. Rural towns are not by any stretch of the imagination “crowded.” “Crumbling,” yes, “in desperate need of consolidation,” yes. “Crowded,” no.

  44. Mindy

    Bigpond changed my password on the weekend (without my knowledge) and now they can’t change it. 0-o

  45. Fran Barlow

    sg said:

    Just out of interest, Fran, what’s the justification for the vegetarian shellfish ban? When I was a vegetarian I observed the same ban, but I don’t think it makes any sense. Prawns are essentially an insect, and millions of insects die in the production of vegetable crops, plus of course we slaughter insects by the quantillion wherever we can. So why not eat crustaceans? And shellfish can’t move, which makes me think they can’t feel pain – that would be the most evolutionarily useless development on the planet, wouldn’t it? So why can’t vegetarians eat shellfish and crustaceans?

    Consistency. While you may well be right that prawns and similar animals aren’t sentient in the sense that we humans understand the concept, there’s enough doubt in my mind not to want to be involved in taking that risk. It’s not as if eating shellfish or similar is the difference between life on the one hand or death/misery for me/others. Perhaps if it were, I’d take a different view.

    I might add too that I’m not entirely convinced that industrial scale production/harvest of shellfish meets reasonable sustainability tests. I’m not sure for example, what the impacts on biodiversity are on introducing various species of oyster, shellfish and similar into estuaries are. Since in practice, the only way that I could get a prawn or crab or lobster or oyster would be as the end recipient of such a system, I would have to be convinced that this was a nearly innocuous exercise in this respect as well.

    I should say, for the record, that I’m not that keen on dairy products these days, on essentially similar grounds. My household however, isn’t keen on excluding all such from the shopping, and so short of imposing a dictatorship, we’ve negotiated a minimal usage deal where dairy is an occasional exception in cases where nothing else readily available would be acceptable. Milk goes in tea and there’s the occasional special meal which might call for cheese or milk.

  46. sg

    If you’re really really really nice to me, Fran, I’ll tell you my recipe for vegan lasagne, and you will have a household of converts on your hands.

  47. Ambigulous

    vale Christopher Hitchens

  48. Chris

    Mindy @ 45 – this is probably why Bigpond changed your password:


    Not that uncommon – a big ebay seller was found to be accidentally doing the same recently as well – but pretty shocking that a company as big as Telstra had such a big fail.

  49. Katz

    How “soon” is soon in Japan?

    The article I quoted above was published in August. Has the government made any more recent announcement regarding the timing of the return of Fukushima evacuees?

  50. Mindy

    @Chris – no doubt, it just bothered me that they couldn’t fix it at the time I rang. Fortunately it is fixed now.

  51. Chris

    Mindy @ 51 – yea, I never found BigPond customer service to be that competent – which is the major reason why I ended up changing ISPs years ago. I’m willing to pay a bit more for tech support people with a clue :-)