Rafe’s Roundup Jan 24

Drop in and see what they are up to!

The Energy Realists of Australia Jo Nova Quadrant on line

IPA         Climate and energy program  CIS          The Sydney Institute

Menzies Research Centre  Mannkal Economics Education Foundation          

Advance Australia  Taxpayers Alliance  Australian Inst for Progress

The Conservative Vagabond The Rathouse and The Site of Kilmeny Niland

How Africa defeated COVID so decisively without vaccines

Read this alongside the story posted earlier this month about the Ivermectin scandal!

Part of the African continent’s success is no doubt due to a fortunate accident of microbiology, infectious diseases, pharmacology and immunology.  It so happens that two of the most effective treatments for COVID, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, are also routine prophylactic weekly medicines throughout equatorial Africa, because they happen to be known for a half-century as the most effective, applicable and safest anti-parasite medications.  So the population, particularly through about 31 countries, the tropical middle rectangle roughly, of Africa already were well-equipped prior to COVID events launching in late 2019 to early 2020.

As fortune would have it, the unpatented and relatively inexpensive half-century old drug ivermectin, whose inventors won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2015, [14] also has been the most effective medicine against COVID, [15] due in part to its specific effect against RNA transcriptase, as well as its blocking effect on all three parts of the trimeric spike protein, and other mechanisms. [16]

Hydroxychloroquine is also used widely throughout at least equatorial regions of Africa as a prophylactic against parasites, but which fortunately has now been studied extensively and used successfully as both prevention and treatment of COVID disease, and as inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 replication and activity.  This is shown in over 380 studies conducted in 55 countries. [17]


A blast from the past

The original Rafe’s Roundup in CIS Policy quarterly. 1989-1991

Catallaxy posts lost in a Great Server Crash in 2005

The Extraordinary Voice

The Prime Minister’s suggested form of words for insertion into the Constitution to create the Voice seems to be the preferred option. For its proponents, it has the distinct political advantage of being extraordinarily vague. Presumably it will be the substantive part of the referendum question. It goes like this:

  • There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

It might pass. After all, how many among the voting public have the least familiarity with the Australian Constitution. Not many, I’d say with some confidence. They will not understand how extraordinary is the proposed insertion. No other body created by the Constitution (e.g., the House of Representatives, the Senate, the High Court) is without a level of detail as to how it’s constituted and its powers. These are not left to legislation. Legislation is fluid, subject to the politics of the day. The only thing we’ll know about this new constitutional creature is its name. To repeat, that is extraordinary. And its proponents hope to get away with it.

Another extraordinary feature of the promised referendum is that the vague, indistinct, undefined creature called the Voice can already be created, courtesy of the 1967 referendum, under Part V, Section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution. This allows the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws for “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.” So, to make it clear, Albanese want a constitutional change to insist that he does what he can already do and is keen to do. But exactly, precisely, what he wants to do he is keeping to himself until after the referendum. Then he’ll tell us what he wants to do.

Mind you, even if he were tell us what he wants to do beforehand, a new government could do something entirely different. The Constitutional amendment is not the least prescriptive. Which, when you think about it, also gives the High Court carte blanche to fill in gaps. And it undoubtedly will because we know that whatever is done to appease the Aboriginal lobby it will never, ever be enough. Cases will be brought before the Court.

If a racist provision is to be inserted into the Constitution at least put the details in. Better still. Here’s a novel idea. Get rid of Section 51 (xxvi). Ensure that race is never a factor in any law made by the Parliament.

Guest post: Speedbox – Taliban Supercar

I will admit I never imagined writing the words Taliban and Supercar in the same sentence. 

But, a few days ago, the Taliban unveiled the prototype of Afghanistan’s first locally developed supercar, manufactured by Kabul-based Entop.   Known as the Mada 9, this car comes to us from a war-torn and dirt-poor country whose ruling militia are best known as fanatical religious thugs.  That and treating women as third class citizens somewhere behind donkeys.  

In any case, the Mada 9 was built by a team of some 30 (male) engineers from Entop and will also apparently be available in an electric variant.  The Kabul-based firm plans to sell the new car in Afghanistan initially before taking it global.  Taliban’s Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani unveiled the supercar at the Entop headquarters saying that the car will help in proving the commitment of Taliban regime to providing “religion & modern sciences for its people”.  Bless his black heart. 

The car’s price has not been revealed nor is the vehicle’s performance data or timeframe for mass production – and there are probably a few reasons or that.  

To start with, the Mada 9 is merely a mock-up like you will see at a global automotive show where legitimate manufacturers display concept vehicles.  These vehicles have engines and can be driven but they are not consumer road registerable and are a long way from being commercially viable.  All the manufacturers do this including Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren, Lamborghini etc. and those guys know a thing or two about building supercars.

The Mada 9 does have an engine and Head Designer, Ghulam Haidar Shahamat said the engine was “powerful enough” to let the driver increase the car’s speed.   Well yes, but only to a limited extent.  Powered by a 1.8 litre Toyota Corolla engine, it’s little wonder that the performance figures haven’t been released.   

As it is, the Mada 9 consists of a fibreglass body sitting on a ultra-basic tubular frame fitted with off-the-shelf suspension, wheels etc.  To turn this into a viable passenger car of any description, never mind a supercar, will take substantial automotive expertise and money I doubt the Taliban can access or be willing to commit. 

However, Entop chief executive Muhammad Raza Ahmadi says the Mada 9 is likely to have a name change before global release.   He said “I think we should name it a Black Swan so that the historical memory of this nation will never forget that there is still hope no matter what they are going through.”   My suggestion would be something we associate more readily with Afghanistan such as Bagram or Kandahar.       

Who knows – perhaps a turban-headed Taliban waving an AK47 out the window yelling “Allen’s Snackbar” will appeal to a certain demographic.

John Kerry, our savior

“When you start to think about it, it’s pretty extraordinary that we – a select group of human beings, because of whatever touched us at some point in our lives – are able to sit in a room and come together and actually talk about saving the planet,” Kerry told a WEF panel on Tuesday.

“It’s so… almost extra-terrestrial to think about, saving the planet. If you say that to most people most people, they think you’re just a crazy tree hugging and lefty liberal, you know, do-gooder, whatever,” he added.

Read all about it!


A pervasive pathology of government policy and planning

In a discussion of the policy blunder of connecting intermittent energy providers to the grid, I was alerted to an IPA study of 20 state and federal policies. The study used ten criteria including establishing need, setting objectives, identifying options, designing implementation pathways and consultation with stakeholders.

The policies including emergency Covid measures in several states, Jobkeeper and Funding . The results, based on boxes ticked, are very mixed and too many demonstrate the phenomenon that Roger James called solutioneering, based on his observation of the Labor government in Britain after WW2. This is in his introduction to the philosophy of Karl Popper Return to Reason , focussed on departures from reason in the conduct of public affairs and the danger of certain wrong ideas and unquestioned assumptions.

This is not a criticism of the very labour-intensive effort in the IPA study but some of the worst examples of the pathology were not included, like Pink Batts, the NBN and the worst of all, connecting subsidised and mandated intermittent energy to the grid.

Solutioneering means::

Jumping to a solution before clearly formulating what the problem is (or indeed if there is one at all) or how success or failure are to be judged. Achievement of the solution then becomes the goal; and, when opposition develops, the problem becomes how to get the solution accepted, while the question of how best to solve the original problem, if there was one, never gets discussed at all.

Think of a project, estimate (or, rather, underestimate) its cost; estimate (or, rather, overestimate) the revenue it will generate and other benefits. Don’t consult the people who will be most impacted, consult “stakeholders” by all means but these will usually be vested interests that stand to gain from the project. Among them will be bureaucrats with expanded empires, regulators with more power and money movers who get a percentage of the expenditure.

Stress the urgency, it will cost more later if action is delayed, and if all else fails describe all the expense as an investment in the future.

Does that sound familiar?

No State Funeral for Cardinal Pell

The first State Funerals in Australia honoured the explorers Robert Burke and William Wills in Melbourne in 1863 after their attempt to cross the continent from south to north ended in failure. Today, State Funerals in Australia more often recognise statesmanship (politicians), and the more human level of endeavour than was the case in the past.   This in no way demeans any recipient of a State Funeral, but recognises the modern world and the reality of the fewer truly heroic exemplars in the historic sense of that term.

In some cases, the passing on of the individual fully resonates with the populace – thousands turned out for Burke and Wills.  In other cases, the societal reaction may have been more subdued. This in no way invalidates the granting of a State Funeral: State Funerals are not popularity contests. Nor are outpourings of loss the yardstick for the granting of a State Funeral, although such emotion may be palpable among the many attendees.  Were it so then most, if not all, politicians would never be granted a State Funeral. A State Funeral is meant formally to acknowledges the service, courage, and endeavour of the individual. Last week, Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, died in Rome. Immediately, both the Victorian and New South Wales Premiers ruled out a State Funeral for the Cardinal.

In Victoria’s case, Daniel Andrews was quick to reference the victims of child sexual abuse to imply the Cardinal’s disqualification from the honour of a State Funeral.  This was a shallow attempt to rehash the now discredited and false criminal accusations made against the Cardinal and over which the High Court had fully dealt.  But also the Premier (and others) want to widen the claims of culpability against Cardinal Pell – having not “got their man” in the courts, Pell’s detractors want to forever hang the crimes of others around his neck by redrawing him as some sort of ignoble cut-out character of popular fiction.  The refusal of a State Funeral being the “reasonable” evidence of his guilt and disqualification.

Through all these turnings, including the Cardinal’s fortitude while being incarcerated for 404 days in solitary confinement before his full exoneration, admirers saw a man who faced his tormenters with grace, humility, and courage. For those who followed his career from the beginning, this was the man they knew and not the contrived depiction drawn by his enemies.

“Be not afraid” – the episcopal motto of Cardinal Pell – stands now as a fitting epitaph for a man of God and becomes a witness to those who would doubt themselves at their own time of trial. Premier Andrews may think he has finished with Cardinal Pell, but the Cardinal’s legacy shines a light on the State of Victoria under this Premier.

WolfmanOz at the Movies #54

A real tough guy

Born Lamont Waltman Marvin Jr. on February 19th, 1924, Lee Marvin, known for his premature white hair and bass voice, grew from playing hard-boiled vicious tough guy characters into one of the leading movie stars of the 1960s, and one of my favourites from this era.

His childhood was tough. His father was abusive and he suffered from dyslexia and ADHD but in 1942 in enlisted in the US marine Corps where he served as a scout sniper in the Pacific Theatre during WWII and participated in 21 Japanese islands landings.

He was badly wounded at the Battle of Saipan in 1944 and after over a year of medical treatment in navy hospitals he was given a medical discharge with decorations including the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon. This was one serious guy who served with outstanding distinction in some of the most brutal battles of WWII.

After the war he sort of accidentally fell into acting in upstate New York and by the early 1950s he was starting to appear in films, invariably as a supporting villain.

He became noticed with 2 roles in 1953: as the vicious hoodlum in The Big Heat who threw boiling coffee into the face of his girlfriend and opposite Marlon Brando in the motorcycle gang film The Wild One.

Throughout the 50s he would alternate between films and TV, often playing the heavy, and by 1957 he debuted as the leading man in the TV series M Squad as a Chicago cop.

For me, his breakout film role was as the title character in 1962s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Here he was cast opposite two of Hollywoods greatest superstars in John Wayne and James Stewart and he more than held his own as the terrifyingly vicious outlaw. It’s my favourite John Ford western.

Another top villainous role was as the efficient professional assassin in 1964s The Killers, but in 1965 he finally became a top star for his totally offbeat and marvellous comic dual role in the spoof western Cat Ballou.

I have always found Cat Ballou rather uneven but whenever Marvin is on screen the film lights up. He cleaned up nearly all the major best actor awards in 1965 including winning the Academy Award.

Now Marvin was in the major league and followed up with Ship Of Fools and another favourite of mine in Richard Brooks western The Professionals with Burt Lancaster.

He had the biggest hit of his career in 1967 with the extremely popular and entertaining The Dirty Dozen where he plays a major assigned to lead a group of army misfits to perform an almost impossible and suicidal mission just before D-Day.

At the end of decade he even appeared in a western musical, Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood. Although overlong and tedious in stretches; and, despite his extremely limited singing ability, he had a number one hit with his rendition of the song Wand’rin’ Star.

In the 1970s Marvin had a more variety of roles but the quality of the films he was appearing were not of the standard of his films of the 1960s.

He did have one last top leading role as the sergeant in Samual Fuller’s excellent 1980 war drama The Big Red One about the experiences of a US infantry unit in North Africa and Europe.

A heavy drinker and smoker throughout his life, Marvin died of a heart attack on August 29th, 1987, aged only 63.

He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery.


SA windpower fails, as usual

It is time for the politicians, planners and commentator to face the fact that wind and solar power have failed in South Australia. This is the wind leader, the trail-blazing pioneer of the new age of “clean” power.

It has become the canary in the coal mine, the red flag, a warning to all who would follow the path to become a “renewable energy superpower.”

The illusion of success is achieved by selective reporting.

Practically every week new heights of wind and solar penetration are achieved and this is greeted with wild applause. The same thing is happening in Britain where they have just announced record penetration of wind power in 2022.

People have to realise that the green transition is not being dragged up to follow higher levels of penetration, it is constrained by the lowest level which is zero on windless nights. The convoy moves at the speed of the slowest vessel, the water breaches the levy at the low point, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the weasels get out of the yard through gaps in the fence even if you build the rest of the fence to the sky.

Forget about solving the problem by installing more wind and solar. And forget about storage, there is effectively none at grid-scale now and none is in sight in the foreseeable future. So-called big batteries are installed to make money out of gaming the system that has been destabilized by injecting intermittent, unreliable, weather-dependent energy. The intermittent energy system is also ruinously expensive and filthy dirty. Fossil power using modern scrubbing technology to eliminate nitrates, sulphides and particulate matter is pristine by comparison.

The conflicting stories describe “a game in two halves” as football commentators say. In the other half of the story in SA almost every day there are periods when they are importing coal power from Victoria or burning gas, and often both. They frequently have recourse to diesel generators, as they did this morning at least up to 10am Sydney time because the wind in SA is only average (CF 30%.)

In Britain and Germany domestic power prices are going through the roof, power-intensive industries are closing down and new coal mines are being opened up.

Has the world gone crazy?

No, just the energy planners, driven by terror of “the breath life”, CO2.

Think about this!  Look at the situation in Britain.

Then ask yourself whether you would invite one of the architects of that power system to come and lead our Energy Market Operator? No?

Meet Daniel Westerman who replaced Audrey Zibelman to become our “energy czar” at the helm of AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Mr Westerman managed the electricity network across England and Wales and has led transformation and change programs across multiple business units and geographies.

His significant commercial and regulatory experience in both the UK and the US mean he is well-positioned to lead a key institution like AEMO through this period of significant change in the energy market.

Famous last words?

More details on the British debacle

London, 17 January 2023 – After the much-lauded battery start-up Britishvolt collapsed into administration, Net Zero Watch has reiterated its warning that the Government’s policy of green interventionism and Net Zero dogmatism is a recipe for economic and political disaster. 

Described as a ‘gigafactory’, the collapsed EV battery factory was meant to be a symbol of levelling-up and would show how a green “planned economy” could herald an industrial renaissance.

UK Government ministers had committed £100 million to the battery project, apparently without a sound business plan, because it aligned with official rhetoric on Net Zero. 

The company blamed Britain’s “ballooning energy costs” for its predicament, and its ultimate collapse.

In recent months, BMW has announced it is moving manufacturing of the electric Mini from the UK to China, where manufacturing is powered by cheap coal. Other carmakers plan to slash the number of electric vehicles they manufacture because rising prices and the spiralling cost of electricity makes them increasingly unaffordable for drivers.

Dr Benny Peiser, Net Zero Watch’s director, said:
“This fiasco was utterly foreseeable and was indeed foreseen by us and other analysts — but not by complacent ministers and incompetent civil servants. BMW’s China exodus and Britishvolt’s collapse won’t be the last casualties of the government’s green command and control economy.”

Throwing money at projects without a sound business plan because they align with official rhetoric on Net Zero is a new pandemic, happening in Australia in the private (Sun Cable) and public sectors (hydrogen hubs) and in the US at a much grander scale under the aegis of the Legislation to Increase Inflation and Debt which has the Orwellian label Inflation Reduction (black is white and white is black.)

Meawhile coal surges in Europe and most other places

And Voices intervene to ensure that there is no more gas coming on stream in New South Wales to avert the collapse of the power supply when coal stations go out of business.