The Flogging of Punchinello


“What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier, returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator’s projection: its unplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including millions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and islands, its persistent formation of homothetic islands, peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents, gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, Artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the well by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe), numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90 percent of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.”


Peter Walsh on farming in the 1930’s

In March 1930, my father, who had grown up and worked on wheat farms in Victoria and South Australia, leased a farm two miles east of Doodlakine, 135 miles east of Perth in the Central Wheatbelt. My elder brother and I grew up on this farm until 1949 when we moved to a larger farm eight miles north of Doodlakine. I can recall my father working with horses in the 1930s and ’40s. When my father retired, my brother and I continued to work the farm and, apart from my time in the Senate, I have been a wheat farmer all my life.

The farm had 750 acres (300 hectares) of arable land of which about 300 acres (120 hectares) was cropped each year. It was leased, with farming plant and horses in- cluded, for 300 pounds a year. Almost all farms had sheep, my father had about 300.

Soon after my father took on this lease the Great Depression arrived and the price of wheat crashed. The benign landlord, a World War I Veteran named James Fingland, halved the rent for the 1931 and subsequent crop year. Without that concession my father would probably have become insolvent and been forced to abandon farming.

During the 1920s, many farmers replaced horses with tractors which were inadequate for the job. Their design was primitive and prone to serious mechanical failure. Steel wheels, ubiquitous in the twenties, combined with parallel roller bearings—instead of tapered and adjustable roller bearings now in use—often literally fell to pieces. Such mechanical breakdowns delayed planting the crop and were unacceptably costly. Chaff for horses was grown on the farm, whereas kerosene for tractors required cash. A typical farm would require 40 per cent of the farm output to feed the horses.

In many cases the banks, to which most farmers were heavily indebted, put pressure on farmers to go back to muscle-powered horse farming. This boosted the demand for horses and therefore their market price. To my knowledge there is no comprehensive evidence of the size of the price increase, but farmers who lived through this period say a young and fit draught horse would cost 25 to 30 pounds or more. I recall my own father telling me he paid 50 pounds for such a horse around 1934. Fifty pounds was a lot of money in the thirties, half a year’s income for workers on the basic wage, but the horses were in time replaced by much improved rubber-tyred tractors. In the 1950s only one farm in the Doodlakine district was dependent on horses.

Every Century; The Stammering Century

“It may seem strange to say it, but experts are rarely interested in getting at the truth, whatever it may be.  What they want to do is prove that certain things are true.  Which things?  Well, whatever they happen to believe is true, for whatever reasons, or whatever will benefit their careers or status or funding the most.  Hawkers of diet plans need their gimmicks to help people lose weight…–if there’s evidence that their advice doesn’tin fact pay off, don’t expect to learn it from them.”

Wrong:  Why experts* keep failing us, by David H. Freedman (2010)

Already Know

“[this] is why change is so hard: we all love our private agony, because it’s familiar, and the horrors of the valley between our local maxima and [a] better place is often too much to endure.”

― Ben Thompson


“Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand.” 
― James Joyce, Ulysses

Keating on Native Title


Judgement Day

“A man is lying under machine-gun fire on a street in an embattled city. He looks at the pavement and sees a very amusing sight: the cobblestones are standing upright like the quills of a porcupine. The bullets hitting against their edges displace and tilt them. Such moments in the consciousness of a man judge all poets and philosophers. Let us suppose, too, that a certain poet was the hero of the literary cafes, and wherever he went was regarded with curiosity and awe. Yet his poems, recalled in such a moment, suddenly seem diseased and highbrow. The vision of the cobblestones is unquestionably real, and poetry based on an equally naked experience could survive triumphantly that judgment day of man’s illusions.”
― Czesław Miłosz, The Captive Mind



Hewson challenged Keating to a debate. Keating said he’d be there with ‘bells on’, and flashed a smile. ‘It’s a great tactic to smile’, I said. ‘You may as well be relaxed,’ he said and flexed his shoulders loose. ‘They don’t know what you’re thinking when you smile, ‘ I said. ‘That’s right,’ he said, ‘they wonder – what’s the cunt thinking?’ ‘that’s right,’ I said. ‘Bad things,’ he said; ‘that’s what I’m thinking. Bad things.’ – Don Watson, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart



“Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory.”
― James Joyce, The Dead

Miracle Grow

“Largeness is a lifelong matter. You grow because you are not content not to. You are like a beaver that chews constantly because if it doesn’t, it’s teeth grow long and lock. You grow because you are a grower; you’re large because you can’t stand to be small.” 
― Wallace Stegner

Address by Mr Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, to the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) City Lecture, London, 30 June 2015

In the end, of course, central bank policies can’t restore the situation ex ante. Whatever adjustments economies needed to make, and may still need to make, in respect of financial and/or economic structure from their pre-crisis situation, cannot be avoided.
Those adjustments are ongoing. I am optimistic enough to think that, in due course, they will have advanced sufficiently such that stronger growth, accompanied by less extreme central bank policy settings, could be anticipated. Needless to say, the more other policies, outside of the central bank’s ambit, can contribute to that, the better. That was the point of the pro- growth commitments the G20 Leaders made in Brisbane in November 2014.
It may be quite some time, though, before the central banking modus operandi that we had prior to the crisis is seen again.