A slave to technology

I bought a FitBit a few months ago to help me stay fit. I set a target of 6000 steps a day, a modest total if you’re in the prime of life, less so when you’re my age. I manage to achieve this most days, but I can’t deny its effect on my daily activities. The FitBit counts steps by the swinging of the arm bearing the watch, so I avoid riding … Read more

A new left future?

If you believe the mainstream media you could be forgiven for thinking that Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez’s victory in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional district against the 10-term incumbent Representative Joseph Crowley was merely reactionary, a need for change. In fact, it was more reflective of her constituency and its rejection of the status quo. Ms Ocasia-Cortez is a young socialist activist. She’s a third-generation New Yorker whose family has roots in Puerto … Read more

The peril of ignoring history’s lessons

One more thing about the creeping erosion of liberty in the name of security: underlying public acceptance of these measures is the assumption that we will continue to live under a benign government. History gives the lie to that. Look at Turkey, for example. Or Italy and Germany in the thirties, where the expectation that embracing authoritarianism would make everyone much safer. Except it didn’t.

More erosion of liberty (2)

Yesterday I was concerned about a federal bill to limit the right to protest freely. Today I discover that the New South Wales Parliament has just issued a regulation that provides public officials with broad power to “direct a person” to stop “taking part in any gathering, meeting or assembly” that takes place on public land, e,g. roads, squares, parks. The only exception is “in the case of a cemetery, for the … Read more

More erosion of liberty

The Foreign Espionage Bill (or, to give it its full name, National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill) going through parliament at the moment is a threat to not-for-profit (NFP) organisations in that it could make peaceful protests punishable by up to 20 years in jail. Hundreds of thousands of people around Australia took to the streets to protest against Australian involvement in the Iraq war. Potentially, they could all be … Read more

Not everyone seeks to aspire

Years ago I received a phone call from someone saying I’d been referred to him by my local servo owner. The caller said he had a great investment that would interest me. It was one of those too good to be true opportunities and I told him I wasn’t interested. “But,” he said, “you’ll  make a small fortune.” “Still not interested,” I said. “Don’t you want to be rich?” he persisted. “No. … Read more

Antarctic ice melting faster than ever

“Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a record-breaking rate and the subsequent sea rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities around the world, according to two new studies. A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time. A separate study warns … Read more