Monthly Archives: June 2013

Meet the New Boss

Kevin Rudd has ousted Prime Minister Julia Gillard as leader of Australia’s Labor Party. He won by 57 votes to 45, in a leadership ballot of Labor lawmakers. The change comes ahead of a general election due in September, which polls suggest Labor is set to lose. This is the latest twist in a long […]

Of copper, tin and iron

The Silk Age of Eurasian trade  may have begun around 220 BC, with the unification of China under imperial rule and the shift to cavalry driving up demand for horses, but trade over long distances began millennia before that. Copper arrives While there is evidence of long-distance trade even among foraging societies–ochre, for example, travelled thousands […]

The trouble with public transport …

Is, of course, the public. As a recent cause celebre incident on a Melbourne train has demonstrated. It is the sort of incident which sparks conversations about bad experiences people, or their friends, have had on public transport, creating a reinforcing ripple effect. Public transport obviously also has issues of frequency and route convenience. With […]

In other writing news…

This announcement comes via the UK magazine The Skeptic: Special announcement: we have a new legal column, which will be contributed by Geoff Whelan of GMSS and QEDcon, and Helen Dale of skepticlawyer.com.au. Geoff kicks off this issue with thoughts on the legal practicalities of prosecuting psychics. The Skeptic is a magazine of the traditional […]

‘Tis a fine thing to live in an urban village

I am spending some weeks back in Seddon-Kingsville area of Melbourne housesitting for friends.  (Well, cat-serving really, but house-sitting sounds more dignified; though it is possible it may have included some famous literary cats.) It is very nice to be back in an area where everything is in walking distance. The contrast with having moved […]

The Lays

The headmaster of a £28,000-a-year private school has indicated he is considering inviting a porn star to teach sex education to his pupils. Mark Slater, head of The Leys in Cambridge, said students at the historic school need to be aware of the unrealistic nature of the online material. It is vital that children are […]

Howard Sattler: a comment

Like the Australian PM – but unlike most of the people holding forth on misogyny in Australia generally and this interview in particular – I have been interviewed by Howard Sattler. When he interviewed me, he was courteous, pleasant, and asked intelligent questions, despite the fact that some other media outlets had turned me into […]

Super-Villains!

I love Superhero-from-comics movies. Not every one of them, but the genre. With such examples as Christopher Nolan‘s amazing Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises trilogy, they include films which are at the peak of the film-maker’s art. I have never been much of a comic/graphic novel reader.* I believe I read most of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Otherwise, […]

Thoughts on Liberty

… An announcement. Starting this Friday (give or take time-zone issues thanks to the blog in question being located in the US, me being in the UK, and skepticlawyer being located in Australia), I’ll be writing once a week for Thoughts on Liberty. You’ll be pleased to know I won’t be leaving here, and that […]

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold … A post somewhat about China

Historically, taxing land (rents) and trade have been the dominant income sources of rulerships not reliant on labour service (not to be confused with taxes on labour income, which have a different dynamic).* Trade was a particularly attractive source of income because it often involved taxing outsiders. But trade was also mobile–too much tax for […]