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Don’t count on George to get you a job

Investing Daily is an online service which, according to them, gives “Profitable advice for smart people”.

A few weeks ago they published an article titled Coal’s Terrible, No Good, Worst Year Ever.

So what are the facts they are giving out to prospective investors?

“The recently released BP Statistical Review of World Energy registered new all-time highs for the production and consumption of oil and natural gas, and for fossil fuels as a whole. But the story for coal was much different. In fact, 2015 brought the biggest drop in coal demand since 1965, the first year the BP Review began tracking energy statistics.

How bad was 2015 for the coal industry? Since 1965, annual coal demand has only declined by more than 50 million metric tons of oil equivalent (MMtoe) twice. Following the global financial crisis demand fell by just over 50 MMtoe in 2009, and then last year it tumbled by 71.3 MMtoe.”

According to our Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg there’s no need for concern.

“I’m confident that Australia is better placed than most other countries to ride out the current cyclical downturn and be ready for the next market upturn.”

Counting on this being cyclical is foolhardy.

China has long been the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal. In 2015, its 1,920 MMtoe of coal consumption accounted for half the global total. China’s coal consumption grew for 15 straight years until 2014, increasing even during the 2008 financial crisis.

But now Chinese coal demand has declined for two straight years. The 29 MMtoe demand decline in 2015 was the largest on record, and was the result of flat power industry demand, higher production of renewable power, an increase in natural gas consumption, and a huge increase in nuclear power (+29%) production.

The U.S. had been the world’s second-largest consumer of coal, but the decline of its coal demand in 2015 — the largest in the world at 57 MMtoe — dropped the U.S. to third place among the world’s coal consumers. In fact, the primary reason for the huge global demand drop for coal in 2015 was the sharp decline in U.S. coal demand. This also resulted in the U.S. having the largest decline of any country in carbon dioxide emissions in 2015. Over the past decade, U.S. coal demand has dropped nearly 30%.

In April, Peabody Energy became the latest in a long line of coal producers to file for bankruptcy protection in the US, citing a prolonged downturn in coal prices as the major driver behind its bankruptcy filing. The move is significant since Peabody is the world’s largest private-sector coal producer.

Metallurgical coal prices have fallen roughly 75 percent since 2011, according to Bloomberg, and analysts are not expecting a turnaround anytime soon. “The outlook for coal players remains bleak,” Sandra Chow Singapore-based credit analyst told the news agency. “Any recovery remains a long way from here.”

Other coal producers who have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past two years include:

  • Alpha Natural Resources
  • Walter Energy
  • Patriot Coal
  • Arch Coal
  • James River Coal

Peabody stressed that it expects its operations to continue in light of the announcement, and that its Australian platform would not be a part of the filing. But the Australian arm made a nearly $3 billion loss last year.

Peabody Australia Holdco also made a $1.2 billion loss in 2014, and its latest accounts show its total debt has increased to $10.7 billion while its total assets are worth $4.1 billion, leaving the company owing far more than it is worth.

Coal producers, and conservative politicians, have been banking on demand from India’s growing economy to boost the industry but, in April this year, India announced a 15% year-on-year decline in coal imports for the twelve months to March 2016, as the country remains firmly on track to meet its publicly stated goals of ceasing thermal imports by 2017/18.

Even a cursory look at the evolving energy policy in India makes it clear that Adani’s Carmichael mine project in the Galilee Basin has no future.

The Adani proposal is a low energy, high ash thermal coal deposit that would deliver coal into India at double the cost Coal India Ltd is supplying domestic coal and even at current depressed coal prices, it is more expensive alternative than domestic solar.

Indian fossil fuel subsidies have been radically curtailed in 2014/15, and India’s tax on coal doubled to US$4/t effective April 2016.

In this context, with unsubsidised, utility scale solar electricity now available at as low as Rs4.34/kWh (US$64/MWh) fixed flat for twenty five years, imported coal is structurally challenged.

Indian solar generation costs have fallen 25% in just one year. IEEFA forecasts that continued technology and economies of scale gains will continue at 5-10% annually, further eroding imported coal’s competitiveness.

But never fear. George Christensen assures us that “The viability of the Adani Carmichael Coal Project is not in doubt” despite the Adani management saying that no capital expenditure is planned by the company for the project until there is “visibility” of a rebound in the coal price.

From the Axis Capital report…

Even the conservative International Energy Agency said late last year that it did not expect Carmichael and other projects in the Galilee Basin to be built. “It is not likely that the above listed projects will be operational by 2020, if ever,” it said in its latest medium term coal outlook.

The Coalition might tell us that they are the better economic managers but I sure as hell won’t be taking their advice on investment.

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  1. billshaw2013

    The number of coal companies filing for bankruptcy disturbs me. I see it as a legal way out for them to evade rehabilitation of mine sites. They have taken profits for years and made happy share holders. Now they are willing to go bankrupt and walk away leaving ugly pits with ecological issues.
    Governments of all ilk failed to place revenue aside from these companies purely for rehabilitation. Those not profiting from the coal industry will now pick up the tab or we will live with these ugly scars blotting our environmental landscape.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Funny you should mention that bill. Here are a few examples of exactly what you are talking about.

    “Half a dozen ways out of rehab for coal companies

    A report from Environmental Justice Australia has detailed six ways in which coal companies can sidestep their obligations for mine rehabilitation.

    Besides just petitioning the state government for permission to leave a big hole, perhaps planting a few trees around it, these include selling the mine to a small company, putting the mine on “care and maintenance”, keep running the mine at a loss, expand the mine or apply to the government for a rehabilitation discount.

    The cost of rehabilitating one single “void” at Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorleymine in NSW was estimated at $2 billion. It was so high that the government of NSW government deemed, “it would not be reasonable to impose a condition that requires Rio Tinto to completely or even partially backfill the final void”.

    The void was four times the size of Sydney’s Centennial Park. Rio says the void was intended in the original mine design and, in any case, “It will be largely hidden from view due to the surrounding landscape and extensive rehabilitation works planned after mining”.”

  3. king1394

    Proper rehabilitation of mining sites has never been taken seriously. If it was an enormous number of mines could never be regarded as viable. In energy, we understand that the energy made must substantially exceed the amount of energy invested in the process. We need to have the same equation applied to mines and their rehabilitation
    We no longer live in the ‘good old days’ when a big hole used to equal a new landfill facility which would eventually become a sports field or even a site for residential development.

  4. Max Gross

    The coal industry’s careless attitude to its inherent vandalism could be illustrated by me shitting on the dinner table and walking away with the silverware

  5. Divergent Aussie

    A mining tax springs to mind as a way of solving the rehabilitation problem. Oh, didn’t we try that already? Oh yes we did but we had to stop because, apparently, it was more destructive than the whole in the ground left by the mining. But geothermal companies have been forced to rehabilitate their mining activity. Hmm, double standard perhaps.

  6. Kaye Lee

    The government report on the Abbott Point expansion showed that it would only create “between 82 and 164 FTE positions, comprising 39 to 78 direct FTEs and 43 to 86 indirect FTEs, during the less than one year construction phase” (mainly going to construction workers who were already employed and finishing current projects) and that “After the construction phase, operational employment benefits would manifest for approximately five years in the order of one FTE.”

    (FTE=full time equivalent)

    We risk the Reef, and all that income and all those jobs, for what?

  7. Darian Zam

    At first I thought this was referring to Gorge Brandys, and I thought ‘Yeah, he can get you a job. He got Timmy Titsicles, the former ‘human’ ‘rights’ commissioner a job, sitting on his face.” #Truth

  8. 1petermcc

    Recent US figures rate the cost of every dollar of profit for the Coal Miners at $5 for the tax payer. Just based on the environmental impact. It’s almost as costly when health costs are measured against their profits. There is no way the Industry is viable and highly unlikely it can become so even if they were able to deal with emissions.

  9. diannaart

    The coal industry is the first of the fossil fuel behemoths to begin its demise.

    @Max Gross

    Not that I am encouraging you, but that is a most apt analogy.


  10. Miriam English

    It’s not just environmental promises they walk away from; they also leave workers in the lurch, getting out of paying what they owe them. Sometimes I think the coal industry is run by psychopaths.

  11. Miriam English

    This is a really great article Kaye. Thank you for collecting all this together. It truly amazes me what you’re able to find. I wish the journalists in the mainstream media were as capable as you. Perhaps I’m being unkind and it’s simply that they’re not allowed to write on such topics.

  12. Dan Rowden

    Oh, c’mon, they do write about such topics. Where do you think Kaye Lee gets 90% of her material from? And, no, other than op eds they are not allowed to write like this and nor should they be. Kaye Lee’s articles all have a particular socio-political slant. Journalists ought never be able to write like this, unless, as I say, they’re doing an op ed piece and are practitioners in a certain field.

    Be careful what you wish for with regard to journalism and the media. It’s already bad enough as it is. We don’t need the horrors of News Corpse pseudo-journalism spreading further than it has.

  13. Kaye Lee

    It depends what I am writing about Dan as to where I get my information from. Google is a marvelous tool. Often I am quoting online media sources but I also like to look at source documents. This article, for example, was prompted by the discussion on climate change on another thread so I looked up what the investment advisors were saying. I look at reports from various bodies. I look at financial statements. I look at the summaries on scientific papers.

    “Kaye Lee’s articles all have a particular socio-political slant.”

    I write about an enormous variety of things Dan though I agree that social justice and the social contract are important to me as they should be to everyone.

    “We don’t need the horrors of News Corpse pseudo-journalism spreading further than it has”

    I thought that slur was a tad over the top.

  14. Michael Taylor

    I for one am very happy that Kaye writes what she does. It’s a great collation of material that I wouldn’t generally read elsewhere.

    And yes, the slur was unnecessary.

  15. diannaart

    Indeed Dan, perhaps you could revise your understanding of the phrase “the personal is political”. The idea that we can compartmentalise ourselves is often fraught – dovetails with “everything is connected”, which I present from an ecological point of view, not as a believer in religious cant.

  16. Dan Rowden

    I find the shlur that what I said was a shlur to be a tad over the top.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Perhaps I misunderstood. I try to be factual. I would be perturbed to think what I write is being compared to News Corpse’s paid for opinion pieces.

  18. Dan Rowden

    I appreciate that you try to be factual and I’m not at all arguing that you’re not, but your facts are always woven into a socio-political narrative. And that is fine by me. I wasn’t actually speaking to what you do, which is perfectly valid and important, but also isn’t journalism. My point – in response to Miriam – which I apparently didn’t make clear enough, was that the distinction between journalism and commentary in this country has almost been lost, and for me that’s very bad and very dangerous. I don’t believe that journalists ought ever take a leaf out of the book of bloggers because that’s to blur the vital distinction even further. That seemed to be Miriam’s implication. I am perhaps too reactionary in this area but I think it matters.

    My reference to News Corpse was merely to cite an example of where that distinction has effectively been lost. There was no sense in which I was making a comparison to you, but rather what I saw as the implication of what Miriam said.

    Anyway, back to the scheduled program. And yes, this is a nicely compiled piece.

  19. guest

    Dan Rowden, if you were a serious commentator you would have revealed sources which discuss what Kaye Lee discusses – but without “socio-political slant”. I am quite sure a large number of readers at this site – probably most of them – would appreciate being told about sources which confirm what Kaye is writing.

    But of course it is not the content you are complaining about – because you already know about that; it is the way she writes. You insinuate that her work is of the “News Corpse pseudo-journalism” kind. But I cannot find in Kaye’s writing anything like that kind of writing: nothing like “latte, chardonnay sipping, elite, long march, Marxist, ivory tower, academic politico-psycho-babble” the Murdoch press writes about.

    It is the clearly statements of facts which bothers some critics of this site. They are bothered by the stark expose of favoured views which they do not see in the daily press. It embarrasses them.

    I am sure that Kaye’s work could be collated and published in a book unedited and unabridged for a large, grateful readership.

    I await your return information about your sources with eager anticipation, Dan.

  20. Kaye Lee

    While journalism occupies a much smaller space than the talk, entertainment, opinion, assertion, advertising and propaganda that dominate the media universe, it is nevertheless perceived as being more valuable than most of the “stuff out there.”

    That value flows from its purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions, and its practices, the most important of which is a systematic process – a discipline of verification – that journalists use to find not just the facts, but also the “truth about the facts.”…a pursuit of “the truths by which we can operate on a day-to-day basis.”

    This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, subject to further investigation.

    Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, “getting it right” is the foundation upon which everything else is built – context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The larger truth, over time, emerges from this forum.

    As citizens encounter an ever-greater flow of data, they have more need – not less – for suppliers of information dedicated to finding and verifying the news and putting it in context.

    The publisher of journalism – whether a media corporation answering to advertisers and shareholders or a blogger with his own personal beliefs and priorities — must show an ultimate allegiance to citizens. They must strive to put the public interest – and the truth – above their own self-interest or assumptions.

    A commitment to citizens is an implied covenant with the audience and a foundation of the journalistic business model – journalism provided “without fear or favor” is perceived to be more valuable than content from other information sources.

    Being impartial or neutral is not a core principal of journalism. Because the journalist must make decisions, he or she is not and cannot be objective. But journalistic methods are objective.

    Independence is a cornerstone of reliability.

    On one level, it means not becoming seduced by sources, intimidated by power, or compromised by self-interest. On a deeper level it speaks to an independence of spirit and an open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity that helps the journalist see beyond his or her own class or economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, gender or ego.

    Journalistic independence, write Kovach and Rosenstiel, is not neutrality. While editorialists and commentators are not neutral, the source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform – not their devotion to a certain group or outcome.

  21. Pingback: Don’t count on George to get you a job – The AIM Network via #AusPol – #AusElection

  22. diannaart

    Terrific link, Kaye Lee, one for the bookmark.

    Would be interested in what Kovach and Rosenstiel make of Rupert Murdoch and similar media moguls.

  23. Kaye Lee

    I doubt what they do would qualify as journalism diannaart under Kovach and Rosenstiel’s definition.

    I am looking forward to hearing Dan’s response. Does what we do here qualify as journalism? The title is unimportant but, under the above definition, I would hope it does.

  24. diannaart

    I doubt what they do would qualify as journalism diannaart under Kovach and Rosenstiel’s definition.

    That was my point. I believe there are many writers/bloggers who fit K & R’s definition. Am biased enough to posit that more are found on the progressive side of the spectrum – lies are more suited to the power hungry.

    Curious as to Dan’s reply also.

  25. Kaye Lee

    I agree. I didn’t think the original comment was helpful either.

  26. olddavey

    Have a close look at that handshake.
    George looks like he thinks he may catch curry sickness, which is apparently a lot like halal cancer.

    Isn’t he a slimy looking turd?
    Surely the Nats can find better candidates than him.
    Bit then again, maybe not, look at their leader.

  27. Matters Not

    don’t think me speaking

    Dan, what’s with the ‘me’ rather than the ‘my’.

    Ignore that because ‘anything goes’ when it comes to the English language and its evolution, as Miriam reminded me recently, while Dan also took exception to that ‘relativism’ on so many occasions in times gone by. ? ? ? ?

    But perhaps, it matters not.

    Just sayin …

  28. Miriam English

    🙂 Matters Not, to be honest, I wasn’t saying anything goes, I was merely pointing out that English is a living language and constantly changing. Use defines it more than old rules. When a critical mass of people use it a particular way then that becomes the new rule.

    English is always changing, but seems particularly open to change at the moment. Both spelling and grammar are simplifying. Having helped people learn our supremely illogical language it is a change I heartily approve of because it makes our language easier to use and helps people be clearer. It doesn’t mean we should abandon all structure. I’m one of the first to request that people use capitalisation and punctuation. I try to make clarity my guiding principle.

  29. guest

    Miriam English, that English is just a changing language can lead to big problems. I remember sitting in on a trial in London in which the discussion was about the punctuation of a telegram. A large amount of money depended on the judgement.

    Many times in posts writers show they do not know how to address someone in writing. What is the difference between these two sentences?
    Have you finished eating mother?

    Have you finished eating, mother?

    I know we can tell by the context what is meant, but the spelling and punctuation are important for helping the reader. It should not turn into an exercise in translation.

    So we have things such as ‘would of’ and ‘could of”, confusion between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ and between ‘lie’ and ‘lay’, etc.

    It is not just a matter of language changing.It is also a matter of people learning the language incorrectly, even from an early age. It must be difficult for people learning English as a second language later in life.

    Unfortunately people make judgements about people’s use of language. It can be a sensitive matter, but the use of a spelling/grammar checker can help, if American spelling is not a consideration.

  30. Matters Not

    ? ? Miriam, I understand and agree that the English (and other) language(s) is/are forever changing and with some hilarious results, at least in some instances.

    Even on the ABC these days, they ‘decimate’ when it’s ‘devastate’ they mean. It’s is used interchangeably with its. (The Americans corrupted years ago.) And thes’e day’s an apos’trophe appears’ in ‘surpri’sing s’entence’s. If in doubt, and you see an s, make sure you use an apostrophe. Not uncommon to see everyday, common plurals with an apostrophe added just for good measure. Apparently.

    As for wont and won’t. It’s my wont to notice and give meaning to those ‘little things’ because it helps me read and try to understand the message the writer is trying to convey.

    But perhaps it matters not.

  31. helvityni

    My children went to public schools in Australia, and learnt only one language, English.

    In Finland I had Finnish and Swedish all through the high school, the second year German was added, then English, and you also had a choice between French and Latin.

    Studying German and Swedish at Uni, we also had short summer courses in Norwegian and Danish( it comes in handy when watching Danish crime shows on SBS). I learnt Dutch when living in Netherlands for three years, and later on some Spanish and Italian for travels in those countries.

    I try to keep my posts here shortish, so you don’t need to be too annoyed by my imperfect English…

  32. Matters Not

    helvityni, most Australians (including me) have trouble with just the one language.

    Your (correct) use of language suggests that much longer contributions should be the order of the day. ? ? ?

  33. helvityni

    Matters Not, Australia is a multicultural country, so maybe we all could be a bit kinder and more understanding toward each other, so many different backgrounds/languages and different levels of education to consider

    When blogging and using pseudos, some people can get aggressive, some get pedantic, there always seems to be a degree of one man upmanship going on…

  34. Michael Taylor

    You’re doing just fine, helvityni.

  35. Kaye Lee


    That post is full of incorrect grammar, punctuation, usage and spelling. But I still got your drift. 🙂

    (“If you imagine you can argue with me you’ve got another thing coming”….Oh I dunno, I think I made a good start….chuckling to self)

  36. Kaye Lee

    I remember a pupil free day at school where the theme was interfaculty co-operation. We maths teachers were given 4 or 5 examples of kid’s creative writing to critique. The maths teachers tended to mark structure within the rules highly. When we later got together with the English teachers, they disagreed completely. I remember the paper they marked highest. It was full of mistakes and a LOT of swearing….but they were right. It conveyed emotion, it told the story in a far more personal way than any of the other pieces. You felt what the author was feeling.

    Communication is the most important thing for me. Proof-reading is a skill for anal people (of which I am one), but conveying meaning is far more important as far as I am concerned.

  37. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee.
    “That post is full of incorrect grammar, punctuation, usage and spelling”

    Geez, you’d have a pink willy with my posts 😀
    I don’t worry about that stuff,more important things
    At my age it’s a thrill to realise you woke up in the morning 😀

    As a maths teacher, do you mind answering a question, if you know the answer that is.
    When did that bloody line in the number 7 come in, and why?

  38. J Fraser


    I always though the English language was a living language that has moved on since Shakespeare's day.

    But reading Dan Rowden I guess i was wrong ………….. it's just completely screwed up.

  39. Kaye Lee

    It’s a European thing cornie to differentiate between 7 and 1 because they write one with an upstroke….(I think).

  40. The AIM Network

    For many people who comment here English is their second language. We welcome them having a go and a say.

  41. Kaye Lee

    Maths teacher tricks for grandparents to impress their grandkids with….

    To multiply a number by 9, put your two hands palm down in front of you. Count from the left and put down the finger of the number you want to multiply by 9 then look at the fingers to the left and right of the finger you put down. eg 9×7 count from left and put down 7th finger – six fingers to the left, three to the right…..9×7=63

    To multiply a 2 digit number by 11, write the two digit number with a space between the digits and put their sum in the middle (carrying if you have to by adding one to the left hand digit). eg 26×11= 2_6 (2+6=8) 26×11=286 or 49×11=4_9 (4+9=13) 49×11= 539

  42. helvityni

    The Aim Network, maybe their second, their third, fourth or fifth language. It’s a big world out there. 🙂

  43. Kaye Lee

    You are very lucky helvityni. Well, not so much lucky as wise. Language skills are to be admired. Europeans are so much better at that than Australians for obvious reasons. I envy you. BTW your English is perfect from what I have seen and you often inject calming words of wisdom.

  44. The AIM Network

    We agree, Kaye Lee.

  45. Michael Taylor

    Carol and I had a couple of amusing experiences in London once.

    Keen for a coffee near Hyde Park the only place open at that particular hour of the day was McDonalds. There on the menu we were relieved to see “lattes”. Good enough. Same thing. I ordered two lattes.

    The young lass – of Middle Eastern appearance, not that that matters – asked me to repeat the order.

    “Two lattes please”.

    She still looked confused.

    I spoke in a clearer, crisper voice:

    “Two lattes” as I pointed to them on the board.

    “Um, what was that again?”

    “Two coffees”.

    She smiled and started typing in the order.

    When you order something you can see the order on the cash register screen. When I saw “With BBQ sauce” I knew she’d really blown it.

    In London. Of all places.

    That evening we decided to eat tea in our hotel’s restaurant. The previous time we dined there the steak was possibly the worst we’d ever eaten, so we decided on a hamburger.

    I ordered a hamburger with an egg.

    The waiter – Eurpoean looking, not that that matters – looked confused and asked me to repeat the order.

    “Two hamburgers, please. One with an egg”.

    He looked confused. After my experience at McDonalds I made certain I was talking clearly, but he asked:

    “Two hamburgers. One with . . . ?”

    “An egg” I replied.

    “And where do you want it?”

    “In the hamburger”.

    And off he walked.

    A few minutes later a lady walked over and said “Our waiter is Italian and he’s a bit confused about something. He wants to know what a negg is”.

    In London. Of all places.

    But we enjoyed the experiences. It’s all part of multiculturalism which we both support.

  46. J Fraser


    Michael Taylor

    Now that Britain has Brexited you won't have to worry about getting served at all.

    All across Britain Europeans are doing the work that Brits think is below them …… you know …… cleaning rooms, serving and other menial tasks.

    Britain Brexiting is Britain kicking themselves in the balls ……… something they have been doing to the Colonies for 200 years.

    Just look at them in the 1960s when the joined the EU ……… and dumped Australia and N.Z.

  47. Freethinker

    I am intimidated here with my Spanglish, perhaps I have to stop participating with posts and articles.

  48. J Fraser



    Just do what George does ……. pull your jocks ups over your ears and call on the mysterious man in the sky.

  49. Matters Not

    As we are into anecdotes, and helvityni may be interested in this one. I’ve only been to Finland once – on the way to Russia. Entered Helsinki via the overnight ferry from Stockholm. Arrived at a hotel south of the city late afternoon. Bloody cold. Too early for a drink but decided to seriously rug up and go for a walk around the lake. Met a woman emerging from the water. She was cold. There was physical evidence. On two fronts. If you get the point(s).

    I asked whether she swam there ‘year round’. Her answer was along the lines of no, no. In winter, there is too much ice she explained. You could slip over and hurt yourself.

    She said: “When winter comes you can’t swim here, you have to walk out on the ‘jetty’ before entering the water”.

    We decided it wasn’t too early for a drink. And strong ones at that.

  50. Kizhmet

    @ cornlegend … the line in the seven was introduced to distinguish between the number one (1), lower case ‘L’ and number seven (7). An ‘O’ with a line through it is a zero. I was told the additional strokes to the numbers were introduced by computer programmers to ensure line code was correctly written/translated. Don’t know if it’s true or not …

  51. Kizhmet

    Oh, and when? That response was given to me in 1986 after I asked a similar question to you 🙂

  52. The AIM Network

    Freethinker, don’t you dare stop.

  53. Freethinker

    @ The AIM NetworkJuly 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm
    Freethinker, don’t you dare stop.

    I do not think so my friend, there are no many sites on the net like this one.
    Thank you for your support as chief editor.

  54. Michael Taylor

    I’ll add my support too. Freethinker, you’re highly valued and respected here. Don’t let those people upset you. Even I’ve been “attacked” for forgetting an apostrophe or putting one where it shouldn’t be. I’ve been “attacked” for spelling a word wrong. These people who only want to pick on the way something is written, rather than consider the message it contains, need to get off their high horses.

  55. Matters Not

    “attacked” for spelling a word wrong.

    Or even for using an adjective when an adverb would be better (and correct). Just jokin … ? ? ? ?

    Freethinker, as far as I’m concerned all contributors here get a free pass until they get ‘picky’. It won’t happen to you. But it will happen to me, I suspect.

    Once on a tour with a guide from Amsterdam who stopped every so often so people could ‘make a picture’.

    Her construct made much more sense than mine upon reflection.

  56. Kizhmet

    Kaye Lee @7:39

    Oh wow! I knew about the 9 trick. Hadn’t seen the 11 multiples … Neat, thank you 🙂

    The written English language is enormously complex. Bravo to our commenters for whom English is a second language!

  57. cornlegend

    Freethinker, don’t you dare stop.

  58. Miriam English

    Dan, people have been saying for centuries that language and/or arithmetic ability of the newer generations is in decline. It seems to be such a common misconception that it is normal to think this. Nobody ever shows any compelling evidence; they think it is obvious. Another similar commonly accepted statement that I’ve not seen any evidence for is that attention span has decreased.

    I have to qualify my objections. There seems to be some evidence in USA that literacy and numeracy skills may have declined due largely to neglect of public schools and insistence upon simplistic, uniform testing. As for attention span, we forget how impatient we all were when we were younger. Kids learn much more quickly than older people (this has always been so). Their time is filled with more than older people’s.

    Kids today are far more sophisticated in their understanding than we ever were (I’m 63). It’s easy to prove this. Look back at our favorite movies or TV shows of some decades ago, that we thought at the time were very realistic, and note how embarrassing they often are now. We are all growing more sophisticated and more nuanced in our understanding… except perhaps the politicians who are supposed to be running the country. They appear to be stuck in the late 19th Century or early 20th Century. They don’t even seem to have realised it’s the 21st Century yet.

  59. Miriam English

    Freethinker, I enjoy reading your posts. You always have important things to say.

  60. Freethinker

    Thank you guys, I am positive at least in know one and half language.
    I was remember back in the early 1970’s some times “educated” British work mates use to say to me or my wife “speak “English” wog” and then asking how to spell a word.
    I have the ability to have learned tow professions and one trade but to learn another language I am a shocker.!!!!!

  61. Kaye Lee

    I think a lot of the resentment shown towards “wogs” (a term I hate) was because they were such hard workers and showed up the laziness of many Australians, just as many Asian students can teach us a lesson about dedication to their studies. Migrants have enriched Australian society in so many ways. If we welcome them and assist them to settle into a new life then we can only benefit. If we resent them and marginalise them, we only breed discontent.

  62. Freethinker

    Kaye, the people that treated us bad back in the early 70’s were mainly from UK (blue collar workers) that at the same time believed that Australia was belong to them and talked about it with disrespectful.
    Obviously their education level was low.
    We found that many Australian were eager to learn about South America and that helped me to communicate better.
    Was hard back then, we were very young and arrived with twin 3 months old baby boys and only $80 in the pocket.
    No many countries can give the possibilities of get ahead with that start……….

  63. diannaart

    I have really enjoyed catching up on this thread.

    To Freethinker and Helvityni – having to think in a second (or third or fourth) language, means giving far greater consideration to your comments than people such as I, who can thoughtlessly toss off an opinion.

    What you write does not have to be long, nor an example for perfect grammar, it is meaning that is important.

    I always look forward to your comments.



  64. Michael Taylor

    Freethinker, you won’t know how thrilled I am to see you here this morning. You have friends here, and you are among them.

  65. Kaye Lee

    Another maths trick to make your grandkids think you are magic…..

    Get them to write down a four digit number. On a piece of paper unseen by others, you then write down a specific five digit number which puts a 2 in front of the first digit and takes two off the last digit and put the paper in someone’s pocket (or somewhere safe).

    You then ask them to write another 4 digit number and you quickly write the four digit number that would make every column add to 9. Repeat those two steps. Get someone to add up the five numbers then show them that the answer is the same number you wrote on the slip of paper.

    eg they write 3749

    On the slip of paper you write 23747 and hide it

    they then write 2718 and you quickly write 7281 (making columns add to 9 but don’t tell them that)

    they then write 6408 and you quickly write 3591 (ditto)



  66. cornlegend

    My missus reckons i know 2 languages English and bad ,and I’m not too shit hot at either 😀

  67. Michael Taylor

    Another little maths trick can be used when squaring numbers that end in .5. You multiply the first number by the next highest and add .25 to the answer.

    For example, to times 5.5 by itself, you multiply 5 X 6 and add .25. The answer is 30.25.

    I know that you will all be enlightened by this and I am bracing myself for the flood of spontaneous praise.

  68. Michael Taylor

    My second language is . . . wait for it . . . Pitjantjatjara (though I’ve forgotten more than I ever learned). I could get by in a conversation if people talked slowly to me (which is normal with me 🙁 ).

    When in the Anungu Pitjantjatjara Lands it would be obvious to all that my grasp of the language was poor so I’d deliberately get a bit of fun out of it. When talking to a bloke I’d refer to him as a “kungka” (woman) instead of a “wati” (man). They loved it. Many white Australians probably don’t realise that Aborigines have a great sense of humour.

  69. Kaye Lee

    Well done Michael. Maths doesn’t have to be scary 🙂 It can be fun.

    The sum of the digits of a number that is divisible by 9 will be a multiple of 9.

    eg 35,640 3+5+6+4+0=18 which is a multiple of 9 therefore 35,640 is divisible by 9

  70. Michael Taylor

    I do enjoy maths, Kaye, and devised a little trick for squaring 2-digit numbers though it’s too complex to try and explain here.

    What has really set my interest off is Microsoft Excel. I love the “what if” scenarios and all the little formulas one can add to a problem.

  71. Kaye Lee

    Michael, when a French Canadian g/f of mine came to stay we made a deal. We spoke French at home and English when we went out. It was hilarious. We went to the shops one day and she asked for a kilo of washrooms instead of mushrooms. But she got to laugh at me at home. I was constantly saying lentement (slowly).

  72. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, even newborn babies know you should have said “shompinyon”.

  73. Miriam English

    Michael, long before Microsoft made a spreadsheet program people were doing wonderful things with them. I read a while back (I think it was in the wonderful “Mathematical Games” column of Scientific American) how to use a spreadsheet to model the boiling of water and the movement of magnetic domains in a sheet of metal. I’ve even seen John Conway’s “Game of Life” run on a spreadsheet program.

    I think the first spreadsheet program was VisiCalc (I remember playing endlessly with it decades ago). Now there are a number of free spreadsheet programs. Gnumeric is open source, small, and very fast. OpenOffice Calc and its offshoot LibreOffice Calc are opensource and designed to mimic as closely as possible Microsoft’s secretive, closed-source program.

  74. Freethinker

    Here we are going again, a young version of Abetz as a minister.

    The new resources minister, Matthew Canavan, has warned there is still a level of uncertainty about the impact of carbon emissions on global warming and described the Adani Carmichael coalmine as an “incredibly exciting project” for Australia.

    Canavan, who has previously called for funding for climate change sceptic scientists, is also responsible for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which will decide whether to recommend the Queensland government’s application for a federal loan for the Adani railway link.

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