(Image: Unsplash/Sebastian Unrau)

WILD KINGDOM

Reforestation could — could — provide a much greater contribution to carbon emissions abatement than previously believed (of course, our challenge in Australia is to even just slow down farmers’ rates of land-clearing).

Did you know Shell invited a climate scientist to talk to them about climate change, then disinvited him when they found out what he wanted to ask?

In California, vested interests, angry house owners and the real estate industry are refusing to accept sea level rise, and demanding the expenditure of vast amounts of public money to protect them from sea level rise.

And do watch this excellent interview by the ABC’s Elysse Morgan of former Australian Coal Association head Ian Dunlop on the need for urgent action to combat the existential threat of runaway climate change. Dunlop’s forensic analysis of the crisis and the lack of response from business and government is frightening.

GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE

Given I tell people the single easiest and most important online safety measure they can take is pay for a VPN, this is of concern: a large number of VPNs are owned by a handful of companies, some of them based in countries with terrible surveillance laws — including China. 

Ransomware attacks are rising — and so is the willingness of business to pay up, which of course incentivises and funds hackers. Plus, the Chinese government puts its relentless surveillance technology on display for eager Western buyers.

And the abandonment of Julian Assange by progressive journalists — and why it’s so dangerous.

SIGHENCE

I can’t quite see Act III of 2001 opening with Dave Bowman spinning around this thing to Khachaturian but it does remind one of Frank Black’s line about a gravity that slumbers. 

Animal-free meat is actually a no-brainer for the meat industry, says a meat company CEO. 

Predicting the consequences of our actions is fundamental to how we perceive them — and the extent to which we rely on prediction is only now becoming clear.

Finally, a crowded solar system or something more architectural? The randomly winking star.

BASTARDWATCH

Murdering scumbag Mohammed bin Salman is the new Saddam Hussein, and should be stopped now rather than later. And he’s so vile he is causing Muslims to boycott Mecca

The strength of America is in its ideas, not in the tanks parading before Trump (and, continuing the Side View tradition, all critical commentary on Trump is sourced from right-wing media).

A brief history of political violence, or, how terrorism went from accurate definition to slogan to meaninglessness. And inequality has driven India into a undemocratic and xenophobic nightmare under Narendra Modi.

GREAT MOMENTS IN DESIGN

Ubiquitous, unnoticed, fundamental — the humble escalator played a crucial role in 20th-century consumerism and capitalism. And by the way, the elevator and escalator markets will soon be worth over $100 billion a year (for escalator fans headed to the northern hemisphere, here are the five allegedly most amazing London escalators).

Intellectual property is a great vehicle for destroying property rights: Microsoft is about to kill off vast numbers of books purchased by customers.

Not so long ago, BMW led the way in European electric cars. But a failure to keep moving quickly enough has seen BMW’s CEO depart after a brief reign

HUMAN RELATIONS

Neve Mahoney talks about what the “human furniture” sees when people don’t think they’re really there. Plus, Alan Attwood has a wonderful piece on the experience of operating a crisis phone line.

We all know that sometimes young, healthy people die unexpectedly of cardiac problems, leaving shattered families. But why?

And new research suggests driving terrorism-related content offline might have perverse consequences and increase the threat of terrorism. And influencing people’s behaviour by “redirecting” their Google searches — for good or ill — is now trivially easy.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The latest data on crime in Australia from the Bureau of Statistics shows continuing significant declines in a number of categories of offences, including homicide and related offences (the related offences being attempted murder and manslaughter).

The decline is mainly due to a fall in attempted murder — both murder and manslaughter have stayed relatively stable. But when it comes to sexual assault, there’s been a sustained rise in the rate — which of course means a large increase in the actual number of incidents — over 26,000 in 2018 compared to less than 19,000 at the start of the decade.

As always with crime statistics and particularly sex-related crimes, whether there’s been an actual rise, or victims have become more willing to report incidents, remains unclear.

FINALLY…

RIP H Ross Perot. Before Trump, there was Perot, who managed 19% of the vote in the 1992 presidential election and may well have robbed George HW Bush of victory over Bill Clinton (but that is highly contested). Like Trump, Perot was a populist businessman (in fact, he was much wealthier and far more successful than Trump), and he also became embedded in 1990s American culture.

Peter Fray

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