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Archive for May, 2010

    Yesterday was a feast of entertainment.  With the grandkids to see Shrek 3 in the morning; and to the Los Angeles opera’s Das Rheingold in the evening.  The similarities between the movie and the opera were greater than the differences.  Both tell tales of human emotion by way of gods, monsters, exaggerated villains, and improbably heros.  Both are vastly extravagant visual delights of impossible color and texture.  (more…)

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   Hence from Perth on a gruelling flight to LAX.  A flight designed to tire you out if you need more than four hours a night sleep, even though you theoretically get four from Perth to Sydney and twelve from Sydney to Los Angeles.  At least you have plenty of time to contemplate the state of the world as long hours pass by in a small seat to the symphony of plane engines and iPad music.  Still you must ask: why does anybody in their right mind willingly go to Australia from North America when they have not yet explored the Rockies or the four-corners of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. (more…)

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   Still in Perth and fascinated by the fights over taxation of the Australian mining industry.  Many pages of the local newspapers continue to be devoted to the fight.  Sadly there is little clarity or consensus building.  The headline in the national newspaper is Rudd to backflip on mining rate.  Rudd is the national prime minister who has been leading this debacle.  (more…)

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  Another day beating the bushes in Perth, mostly reading the newspapers and talking to consultants to the mining industry about the proposed new 40 % tax on mining.  The arguments degenerate into the absurd with government ministers justifying their proposal to impose new taxes on the basis of outdated reports from obscure USA universities, and disputed figures from taxing authorities.  All prompted by accusations of lies, damn lies, and statistics.  (more…)

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A good friend in the Australian mining industry says the proposed new tax on the mining industry will be a good thing.  He says it will slow down the mining industry and that will be good, for things are still so hot and there is still such a skills shortage, that anything that gives the industry a breather is to be welcomed. (more…)

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   Today I arrived in Sydney, Australia.  You know this is a strange place immediately: it takes five minutes to get through immigration and one hour and five minutes to get through customs.  Enter the USA or Canada and the time is spent getting through immigration and they wave you through customs.  Australia seems not to care who comes in; but they are neurotic about what you bring in.  Every other country I have visited cares who comes in; but they are oblivious about what you bring in.  I stood in line for over an hour so that they could confiscate the sealed packet of raisins and nuts I usually carry to ward off sudden hunger.  Obviously things are upside down here. (more…)

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    Every now and then, I get an e-mail from Ripple Effects Ltd in Fort McMurray.  Here is a copy of the latest which is a collection of seemingly unrelated new items.  I am not so sure about the unrelated part.  As I read it, there is sadness and an insight into why there is poverty and why poor people disproportionately find themselves in jail.  I leave you to decide.  But seems to me these issues arise too often in aboriginal communities around the world to be mere coincidence.  And they are problems that occur regardless of the presence or absence of mines.  Must be something in the system?  (more…)

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