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What are you optimistic about?

Nanotechnology and its enormous potential. It will change the future of mankind for the better. This, in spite of the fact that there is a large lobby telling us to be cautious. I think we are on the verge of very big breakthroughs in the field of medical science, including stem cell research, and in the material sciences. What is interesting is the role of the catalyst played by molecular engineering across disciplines to reach ends that could not have been imagined barely a decade ago.

Richard:  Hi, Sbaillur, welcome to Webdiary.   This appears to have been intended for the thread your title is named for.  Could you please re-register with your usual name? 

to Kerryn Higgs

I believe you provide a very sound view of how economic growth is really constrained by the ecosystem. It is unsustainable. However, I can provide some points that add substance to the arguments you present. These points have been developed in my ‘What went wrong?’ and are summarized in the other posts. They are developed by taking an ecocentric view of what has happened rather than the common anthropogenic view.

I point out in ‘The Immutable Duality’ that the exuberant use of the fossil fuels to energize the industrial revolution has the unintended consequence of causing global warming. I point out in ‘What went wrong?’ that this mistake occurred because it has been common to treat energy as a commodity whereas it is always associated with matter in our operations. Coal combustion in air releases energy we use but it also exhausts waste matter, including the carbon dioxide that is changing the climate. Georgescu-Roegen said ‘matter matters too’ decades ago but few have absorbed that basic lesson.

I point out in ‘The Dependence on Nature Law’ that all the operations of civilization are dependent on irreversibly using natural resources, many of them exhaustible, producing irreconcilable wastes and devastating the environment together with much of its biodiversity. Technology has enabled this use of what is available from nature but cannot recreate what it has destroyed. Technology has often provided substitutes but they have still entailed an irrecoverable eco cost. That is, industrialization is a cancer on the eco system.

I also show in ‘What went wrong?’ that all the structures of civilization are inherently temporary. They have a limited life. This compares with the many natural processes that are cyclic ones driven by insolation, so they are continuing. Consequently we have to continually draw down on natural bounty capital just to operate and maintain these deteriorating structures during their life time  - whilst some bounty remains. This maintenance of the structure of civilization is not, therefore, sustainable.

Denis Frith,Melbourne, Australia


‘What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization.’

‘The Usufruct Delusion’ 

‘The Dependence on Nature Law’ 

‘The Immutable Duality’ 

Margo: Hi Denis, and welcome to Webdiary! 

Kovco update

Hi, clumsy way to do this, but I couldn't find a 'contact'.

Did you see in today's Australian Kovko likely killed 'by his own hand'?

Margo is back - thank goodness

What a blast!, When I read "Not Happy John" many moons again now, it was like we had some hope and someone to stop the dismantling of our precious "Democracy". However, we quickly witnessed the introduction of "sedition laws" and reports of a well known Journalist being raided and computers smashed which scared the thongs off me. So I hung back somewhat and watched the "circus" go by. I also felt that the toll on Margo was showing and Webdiary was lagging under the pressures (perceived or otherwise) which would see it disappear totally.

So I just wanted to say that now I have found you again, may it never  be threatened again because it is what "true" democracy stands for. Without fear of telling the truth and defending those who speak it. I still have the copy I printed from webdiary in 2005. The Nature of Democracy by Robert Menzies in 1942. I consider that speech  an important piece of our history although I was "tricked" into voting for him in (I think) 1959 when serving in the Armed forces,

We were told by our Senior ranks that we have to vote for Menzies because the "opposition" intended dismantling the army. At 18 years of age and no political savvy we believed them. I never liked Robert Menzies and never voted for him after that, however, I have come to love what he considered the true meaning of democracy and the very sad fact is that, at 67 years of age I am ashamed of what John Howard who is my age, has done to this/my nation in our name, Robert Menzies' Democracy does not exist anymore, it is simply a "flashy neon sign" to justify any personal ideology he (John Howard) chooses to foist upon us without understanding what we Australians feel is right and proper for our future and especially for our children's future.

Iraq /International law

Further to my piece proposing we the people claim back the methodology of International Relations as outlined under the UN and similar.

I am not sure if the Kellog Pact or the Geneva conventions are subsumed under UN and International law but these have been breached


Duncan Currie, whose expertise in this area I have no knowledge as early as 22 May 2003 outlined the legal ramifications, at least as he saw them.

The invasion was March was it not?

Presumably all want not revenge but return to international law, a return only possible after testing in a court of law.

I must be seen as a Johnny come lately but I am not a lawyer and frankly was so devastated by the proposal for war as to write to the SMH (unpublished) indicating I thought the whole effort was a con job (confidence trick) Sept. 2002. So it proved and I certainly was not alone many, as exemplified by Currie, many were there well before.

But there were many more those who opposed the war but now from frustration, events moving on as Senator Hill was want to note, interest is lost?

Now with the conviction of Saddam, not for international infringements of war law but for specific humanitarian issues including murder, there is topical time for mounting a popular case for redress of our concerns.

Liability can only be shown if courts have jurisdiction. As with Pinochet this seems to depend on a country mounting a legal complaint and apprehending whoever when within the country.

Mr. Howard has of course said he stands by his decision for which he is responsible.

The electorate could indicate their wishes by roundly dismissing the Government at the next election but it is likely more pressing issues such as the economy, Industrial relations or maybe the Pacific forum will blanket consideration of past issues already well concealed in the public mind by a partisan media.

The electorate could also express its desire for legal testing by letter to politicians and media.

Maybe we are happy with control by the powerful or see little hope of change, such having been the tenor of history or maybe interest is only in immediate affairs relevant to individuals some of whom seek quietetude in new religions or old.

To Douglas B. Jones.

G'day Douglas.

Your article seems to have a strong regard for truth, humility, commonsense and logical reasoning.

Many of us are frustrated by the blatant duplicity of Nations like the "Coalition of the Willing" and their breaches of decensy, morality and especially International Laws.

I find the saddest words in the English language are "If Only". 

In my own words however, I would like to believe that one day the world will unite under the U.N. banner and ensure that these "Coaltion of the Willing" criminals are "Hoist by their own pettard". That is, the "democracy" they market and with which they do not comply.

Since the chances of that happening are indeed remote and the "tentacles" of the Military/Corporate are already in every major "corner" of the world - we can only rely on the courage and convictions of decent/proud Australians to vote out of office, this "Liberal" Government of depraved indifference.

We need the true Labor ideology of the courageous New Zealand Government - not the Corporation's bastardised one in the U.K.

We should never give up trying Douglas - even if it appears to be a "Sisyphus" effort.

I believe that the stretching of the distance between Howard's "haves" and "have nots" is about to drastically affect the Middle Class and the next "let them eat cake" Costello budget will try to con that group yet again.


Cheers Ern. G.

Iraq /International law

I hope I am saying something topical even if hardly new, but I have not been following the threads.

Now that Saddam is to receive his ‘comeuppance’ even if the Attorney General of the Solomon Islands has escaped Downer’s heavy hand, are we to progress further in the blame game?

I refer of course to the culpability of several parties under the UN Charter and International Law.

Whilst mounting any prosecution will be difficult, so far as I am aware cases can only be mounted by Countries and the Belgium Court seems to be well muzzled, maybe popular opinion will exert some influence.

I have satisfied myself that there is a case to answer whether this is sufficient for a court of law I doubt. Such would need to be framed in the language of the courts with specific offences as has been done in the case of Saddam.

Perhaps the Australian spirit of Costello does not run to accepting blame, for we are all to a degree guilty. Perhaps the possibility of success are too slim.

Searching the web I find a number have tried many sites listing possible infringements of the law none have gone beyond talking. I will if people are interested cite them but I am sure readers have their own even some which like Justice Kirby’s Grotius lecture 2005 wonder about the role of International law in national affairs.

It would seem to me that any case in which discussion, naming and shaming by the electorate would need to include not only ourselves for trusting our elected representatives, for accepting the hype the Media peddled without for many of us effort at verification now to a degree possible using the web, and the media for their culpability. Discussion would of course include not just negatives but ways of ensuring that suggestions for correction of the system is made.

We seem to have a situation in which the main parties see having America as our shield (?), of sufficient importance that questions of International Law, our signature to the UN on a number of relevant areas and the obligations thus undertaken were ignored. Ignored in favour of the revival of the old Might Is Right thesis espoused by Howard and for which the UN was designed to circumvent in favour of a more democratic system.

A system based in part on equality of votes as in a democracy but only reaching agreement after the system was skewed allowing the larger parties a larger say.

Parties here are of course ultimately people, us, for it is our lives and infrastructure indeed our opinion of ourselves which is ultimately on the line.

So maybe the minority who do their home work but have democratic effect only slowly, for democracy is by the majority, can discuss and by discussion if not more, do something to correct our current state of ‘sin’.

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