Della Bosca and Iemma’s ministry:

Tim Bennett writes: Re. “Della Bosca and Neal’s feudal power” (Friday, item 3). With John Della Bosca joining the ranks of disgraced former NSW ministers, how many State Labor MPs remain who haven’t served in the ministry? Surely there can’t be too many fresh faces remaining.

Hybrid cars:

Matthew Brennan writes: Re. “Hybrid cars are Stone-Age thinking” (11 June, item 7). Perhaps it’s getting a little late to comment on Bernard Keane’s quotation of William Nordhaus but as the respondents so far to Keane’s article seemed more interested in being anal about the merits or otherwise of hybrid cars, I feel I must add my $0.02 worth. The third paragraph of the Nordhaus quotation was “To a first approximation raising the price of carbon is a necessary and sufficient step for tackling global warming.” The three main sources of fossil fuel based CO2 emissions are crude oil, coal and natural gas. Since January 1998 world crude oil prices have risen from US$14 per barrel to US$135 per barrel as of June 2008 (using the spot price of Brent crude Oil as an indicator). From 2000 to date world coal prices have increased from $30 per ton to $130 per ton. (If you believe Wikipedia). Information on world natural gas prices is sketchier but in 1998 the US Natural Gas Prices for electricity was $94 per kilocalorie but by 2006 the price had risen to $281. What else can I say other than to note that early last week The Oz reported that GM may sell off the Hummer?

Japanese whaling:

Christopher Ridings writes: Re. “Japanese whaling: Legitimate test tube whale baby research?” (Friday, item 4). I have finally discovered the name of that science the Japanese Government is researching in their incessant whaling. It’s called Gastronomy.

The legal system and justice:

Gerard McEwen writes: Re. “Civil litigation goes a fee too far” (12 June, item 13). Greg Barns and Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls seem to be addressing the elephant in the legal reform room. I have long argued that the greatest cause of injustice is the cost of the law. This has been addressed in the criminal jurisdiction to a certain degree in the Dietrich decision, but the vulnerability of the ordinary punter in the civil jurisdiction is a scandal. It could be argued that civil litigation, as it is currently practised, constitutes an abuse of process. There is a certain similarity between the pre-Medicare situation regarding Doctors’ fees and current charging practices within the legal profession (although the latter seems more egregious than the former). We are long past the notion of the law as the plaything of the wealthy to be used as a weapon against the financially vulnerable. Whilst reforms to hearing procedures (mediation etc…) are desirable, the nettle that must be grasped is that of the current fee for service structure within the profession. It should be accepted that there is an obligation to ensure that, as with healthcare and education, all persons have an equal access to the law. As such surely we should look at setting up something like “Legicare” which will ensure that access. As public funds would be involved, it would also be necessary to reform the Byzantine charging practices currently in use and bring them under closer scrutiny. Maybe then the legal system would cease being an impediment to justice.

Religion, atheism et al:

Justin Templer writes: I am struck by the unassuming Christian arrogance of two of your correspondents, Willem Schultink and the aptly-named Christian Street (Friday, comments). Together they suggest that organised religion causes no harm, that we all have a god whether we like it or not and that World Youth Day is akin to the Commonwealth Games. I suggest to Willem that religion is not naturally the “core of human existence”. As an atheist if there is a core to my existence or a god, it is myself – I decide my own morality and accept responsibility for my own actions. If I transgress my personal moral code I seek my own forgiveness, not the forgiveness of some remote deity — the same deity who (in the case of some beliefs) has difficulty tolerating gays, condoms or females. For me, forgiveness of some of my own actions has never come – a few chants do not cut the mustard. As regards Christian’s view that WYD is equivalent to the Commonwealth Games I can only point out that the Games are intended to be a unifying force, bringing disparate peoples together. Somehow I don’t think spending $200 million bringing the head of the Catholic Church (with his intolerant encyclicals and tablets of stone) to Sydney is quite the same thing.

Geoff Perston writes: In his response to Michael Gordon-Smith’s assertion (“Bad religion: A harm reduction approach to God” 12 June, item 14) that “religion is limited to some people, and can therefore be seen as a sort of addiction”, Willem Schultink is simply playing with semantics in support of his counter-claim. According to, religion is defined as both a “belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe” and/or “a personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship”. Willem says that everyone has a religion of some sort, which (in Willem’s opinion) is simply defined by possessing a motivating set of beliefs or something their life focuses on. Well I’m sorry Willem, but I fit your definition of having a “religion” and yet I’m a life-long atheist! One of my motivating beliefs is that God doesn’t exist, and one of my life focuses is to educate people that belief in the supernatural is absurd at worst or naive at best. The main difference between a person of religion and an atheist is that the former believes in an imaginary friend, and the latter doesn’t. One salient point Willem does nail correctly is that followers of one religion are constantly judging the followers of another religion – often to the extent of warfare. I bet Willem can’t name one single war started by opposing atheists!

Bob Corcoran writes: There’s no doubt that the current controversy over religion in Crikey won’t be the last, and few would deny that various religions have effectively promoted good moral principles − as well as some questionable teachings. A potent source for argument. People of various faiths have stayed with the religions of their youth or adoption, but not without doubts. And have tended to concentrate on the valuable elements, while giving little attention to others. In other words they exercised their experienced judgment. And this seems to be a proper use of human abilities − whether God-given or otherwise. Perhaps surprisingly, a Cambridge economist (Joan Robinson) put this into apt words. She wrote: “There are certain basic ethical feelings we all share. We prefer kindness to cruelty and harmony to strife; we admire courage and respect justice.” She was one of those who believe that we should have confidence in human nature.

Frank Birchall writes: Willem Schultink writes, “But everybody has a religion of some sort.” And develops an argument based on that premise. This is simply a piece of convenient sophistry aimed at supporting his conclusion that critics of religion are bigots. The word “religion” means faith in a supernatural being (or beings) and worship of that being in accordance with sacred texts. In this context, “faith” means “irrational belief”. Many people are not religious but do believe, rationally, in the good sense of moral values as expressed in our laws and culture. For these people, religion does not come into it.

Wayne Robinson writes: I don’t have a religion, not even “science” or “evolution”, as many believers claim. If I am ever proved wrong with regard to any of my accepted views, I’ll drop or modify them without distress.

A second Sydney airport:

Rod Metcalfe writes: Re. “Second Sydney airport must be in, er, Sydney” (11 June, item 11). When are all these 2nd airport proponents going to get off the ‘fast train’ connection argument? You can’t run a very fast train on existing Sydney tracks — north, south or west. It quickly becomes a slow train once it hits the outer suburbs. The environmental and local issues with building a new corridor would be horrendous (want to bulldoze a few thousand houses perhaps?). And a tunnel is just out of the question when it comes to cost. It sounds good but it just ain’t gunna work.

Television credits:

John Kirkham writes: Re. “Ten giving viewers enough credit?” (Friday, item 19). It’s amusing that Crikey mentioned from via Lifehacker, that Channel Ten were cutting the credits out completely. I was at one of those paid group discussion tests, held at a market research company’s premises in suburban Adelaide about seven years ago. This comprised watching a few videos (Today Tonight) and filling out questionnaires etc. I’ve attended many of these for different subjects, an easy way to make a tax free buck but, sometimes they get real “tedious”. Being so bored, (I can’t stand TT, but they paid) I got a little bit direct with the people running the whole shebang. One gem, “Are the people at TT so out of touch with their audience, they have to see our “average man on the street” reaction.” Er, it’s not Channel Seven” came the stern/officious reply. Sure it wasn’t. I had asked the trainee marketeer afterward who only confirmed it. In the end, I decided to ramp it up. A “whole of group” question was asked but the night had gone on for too long. “I actually video tape my shows and watch them afterwards, so I can zip through the commercials” (here is where I wanted to sneakily add a suggestion, throw it out there, see what time length you’d be looking at it being eventually implemented) “Why at the end of say a game show or soap, can’t they split the screen in half, still show the ads and also the credits as well”… It took about two years or so. We were being video taped, where maybe later we’d be examined by a body language expert whilst sitting next to the studio bigwigs. I had mentioned why they bother showing credits at all also however much later, I heard that there’s some sort of requirement that the copyright has to be shown. Can I take credit for this “split screen” stuff now?

The Hindenburg:

Dave Horsfall writes: Ken Lambert (12 June, comments) wrote: “The Germans … loved the Hindenburg – a hydrogen technology a little ahead of its time but sharing similar features…” It’s sad to see Crikey perpetuating the myth that hydrogen was the cause of the Hindenburg’s demise. As anyone who has done high-school chemistry knows, hydrogen burns with a smokeless pale blue flame, yet many witnesses described orange flames and black smoke as would be expected from the petrochemical-soaked skin of the airship. Oh, and when mixed with oxygen, hydrogen explodes, which the Hindenburg did not do.

Eddie McGuire:

Will Tibben writes: Re. “It’s who wants to be a current affair, with Eddie somewhere” (10 June, item 18). Was Tracy Grimshaw sick on Wednesday night or did Eddie shove her aside so that he could put an AFL spin on the outro to the “Girls in AFL” story which exposes the crappy managers that junior AFL has in NSW-ACT.

Tiger Airways:

Chris Blackie writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 6). Regarding the tip about Tiger Airways. Geez Crikey, it just is not news that people get angry when something like this happens. Of course they’ve got a right to be pissed about this but Tiger have done nothing wrong – they are doing everything they are obliged to do, and perhaps these people could have taken out really cheap travel insurance for such a critical event. Publishing stuff like this seems to be predicated on some idea that a business can and must take into a count the individual circumstances of every one of its customers in detail before making any kind of business decision. Plus the last line is pretty starkly racist.

Lift your game Crikey:

David Christie writes: Marilyn Shepherd (Friday, comments), your remarks reflect exactly what I was starting to think about Crikey. I draw to your attention the editorial remark at the 10 June editorial on Rudd’s Hiroshima speech which I found particularly offensive.

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