Monthly Archives: April 2005

An Economist's View on VSU

In Adelaide for to present a seminar yesterday, I stumbled across a demonstration against the federal government’s plans to scrap voluntary student unionism. On the steps of the South Australian parliament were gathered about 100 activists, 20 police, and a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 4 Comments

Who Needs a Lexus if the World is Flat?

Via Catallaxy, "Flathead" is a brutally funny review of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s latest book, The World is Flat. It’s reminisent of "The Datsun and the Shoe Tree", a classic send-up of The Lexus and the Olive Tree … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues

Sometimes, those who write newspaper headlines have a little too much fun.

Posted in Uncategorized

You must be joking

If you’re checking in at Canberra Airport, you’d better act serious. Security there has just arrested three people in the last week for making jokes about having dangerous items in their luggage. In the latest incident, a Brisbane man was … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 7 Comments


If I know you, and you’d like an invitation to gmail, drop me an email.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Why the Yoof Like ANZAC

Macgregor Duncan, David Madden, Peter Tynan and myself have a piece in today’s Australian on why ANZAC still resonates for young Australians today. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Australian issues | 3 Comments

Talkin Bout My Generation

On May 5-7, the Asia-Pacific Davos group holds its annual Future Summit at Melbourne’s Crown Casino (venue for all good proletarian gatherings). ANU economist Glenn Withers and myself have written a paper on leadership and political structures, focusing on issues … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

And Scumbag?

From Meredith Burgmann, president of the Legislative Council of NSW: The PRESIDENT: On 6 April 2005 I was asked to rule whether the term "boofhead" should be ruled out of order. I am generally in favour of the tradition of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Berlusconi si e dimesso

Yippee – Berlusconi has resigned! To celebrate, here’s a little piece I wrote for my Italian class last year on why I think the country can be so much better without him. Update, April 23: Doh! He’s formed a new … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Monthly

The Monthly, a new magazine of ideas, is being started up by Morry Schwartz, the man who brought us the Quarterly Essay. Better yet, you can sign up for a free issue by going to their website before April 27.

Posted in Uncategorized

Lifting Teacher Performance

In a report released today by the Washington DC-based Progressive Policy Institute, Sara Mead and I discuss the research showing that US teacher quality has fallen since the 1960s, and outline some strategies to tackle the problem. Top of our … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


The selection of Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope doesn’t thrill me, for reasons already canvassed on this blog. As Wikipedia puts it: Benedict is seen as a traditionalist – he is nicknamed "God’s Rottweiler" because of his fierce defence … Continue reading

Posted in Religion | 1 Comment

Where has all the good graffiti gone?

(Cross-posted at Vibewire’s Media & Democracy discussion) Here in Canberra, there often isn’t a lot going on in local politics. So we’ve been fortunate this week to have the Aidan Bruford affair, in which the environment adviser to the Chief … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Big Picture

(Cross-posted at Vibewire’s Media & Democracy discussion) While I’m a fan of student activism in any form, I often wonder about the balance of self-interested and altrusistic campaigns. To my mind, the finest hour for student activists aren’t the campaigns … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Given the Man a Walkley

Ben Hills’ article in Saturday’s SMH on the "unique water" scam is pure gold.

Posted in Uncategorized

Save your tears

Natasha Cica has a piece in today’s SMH about the plight of those with postgraduate degrees, living in poverty. I normally like Natasha’s stuff, and we’re on friendly terms, but this seemed to go a bit far. After all, we … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 5 Comments

Imagining Australia Hits Amazon

For US readers of this blog, Imagining Australia is now listed on Three hundred and twenty-four pages of fun-filled ideas for our future, just for parting with a little green note bearing the face of Andrew Jackson.

Posted in Uncategorized

Geldof Goesoff

Andrew Denton  had Bob Geldof on Enough Rope on Monday (transcript here). I found him painful to watch — a man of limited talents who clearly hasn’t had anyone around who was willing to break it to him, and who … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 1 Comment

RBA and the Toothless Tiger

One of the odd things to me about the whole interest rates advertising affair is the general assumption that the Reserve Bank was taking an active step when it referred Liberal Party ads to the Australian Electoral Commission. But as … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

One World

I just finished reading Peter Singer’s One World: The Ethics of Globalisation. It’s a ripper. Singer makes a very compelling case in favour of weighting the welfare of those in other countries the same as the welfare of those in … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 4 Comments


In a delightful piece in the Boston Globe, Aussie expat Rebecca Hamilton argues that student activism isn’t dead. Her case study is a campaign she helped organise, to persuade Harvard to divest its investments in an especially dodgy company operating … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Laughable if it weren't so outlandish

Today’s SMH reprints a piece from the Guardian by uber-leftie John Laughland, who is very cross that Ukraine now has a democratically elected government. Is there such a dearth of good opinion writers in Australia that our quality press needs … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 1 Comment

Choosing the pope

The betting markets have Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Italian candidate, as favourite to be the next Pope (this Slate article has a nice discussion of the various candidates).  I’m open to correction, but I suspect this will be the first test … Continue reading

Posted in Religion

Coming up Short

Looks like "skills shortages" could become the new dog-ate-my-homework excuse for governments everywhere, if this report is anything to go by.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pope John Paul II's AIDS Legacy

Encomiums are pouring forth in the wake of the Pope’s passing. And there is much to be proud of: his direct approach to the Holocaust, his role in the transition from Communism in Eastern Europe, and his passionate focus on … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 13 Comments


Apologies for a dearth of blogging lately – Gweneth and I have been showing her parents around Sydney, Blue Mountains, Hunter and Central Coast. It’s their first visit to Australia (they’re American), and they keep saying "We’re upside down!", as … Continue reading

Posted in Books | 2 Comments