Stewart Fist, journalist, columnist and film-maker.
A web-site on lobbying for investigative journos.
Technology-related from The Australian newspaper.[Now mainly of historical interest]
This is a self-indulgent web-site. I mainly wanted to republish some newspaper columns and articles I have written over the years which still have some relevance. It also includes a hotch-potch of other subjects that interest me.
Journalists spend their lives commenting on the ideas of others; so in my retirement, I'd like to throw into the ring some of my own.
The web site was originally established also for the Plateau Group, a loose, non-structured, non-commercial discussion group (mainly) of journalists, which has a focus on a number of Australia's social and political problems.
The convenor of the Plateau Group:
70 Middle Harbour Rd.
LINDFIELD, NSW, 2070
|This site is only slowly being rebuilt after another previous site was hacked. Sorry!
- CLIMATE & ENERGY
Climate change is central to the future well-being of Australia. This depends to a very large degree on abandoning fossil fuels and developing alternate sources of useful energy - including wave and tidal power.
Unfortunately a group of Australian executives in New York and Brussels, were the leading drivers of the Climate Skeptics movement, mainly for purely mercenary reasons. This was a consequence of an global populist anti-science movement, organised as a right-wing way to attack the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The attack began as an international alliance of industry councils (specifically Chemical and Tobacco) and was then deliberately extended to Energy, Fossil Fuels, and Pharmacology (Big Pharma) utilising the well-funded services of the Libertarian think-tanks.
- CLIMATE MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS This is commentary on some of the exaggerated climate concepts that are currently guiding international politics and economics. It is not a case of climate denial, but rather an attempt to analyse some of the more exaggerated myths that have arisen -- and also look at the way in which Climate Denial grew out of corporate lobbying and the deliberate attacks on scientific integrity and techniques. This disinformation activity was mainly carried out by the Atlas Group of Libertarian think-tanks, promoting the "Sound-science/Junk Science" movement. This ultimately fed into the phenomenon of the Media's so-called "Junk Facts" and Trumpism.
Many Australian politicians have the mistaken belief that Australia needs a much larger population to become an important global power. In fact, in an over-populated world, a reasonably small population (commensurate with natural resources) is the best legacy this generation can leave to the future. Journalists under the influence of lobbyists are often fooled by ridiculous Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures into believing that these relate to individual wealth and well-being.
When you analyse the range of most destructive global problems, you will quickly realise that climate change is very much a second-order consequence of population problems, and a far easier one to solve.
- LOBBYING & THINK-TANKS
Members of the Plateau Group have worked for many years at exposing scientific and general lobbyists who often secretly work for various industry and corporate special interests. The Libertarian think-tanks around the globe are financed and organised through the Atlas Network to provide these services.
- ECONOMIC MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS
This is commentary on some of the economic concepts that are used to guide Australian and other nations' politics. Why does the supposedly 'scientific' study of economics have more cults and factions than religion; and why does it so consistently get its certainties wrong.
- NEW PLANS FOR HOMES FOR THE HOMELESS
This is the latest refinement of the H4H project.
It is in the form of a group of four pdf files.
I have left the older versions up on-line also. However the newer plans are superior.
- HOMES FOR THE HOMELESS
This is a design for a very small (but cosy) low-cost ($5,000 to $6,000) demountable home. We originally promote the idea as "H4H - Homes for the Homeless, built by the homeless".
It offers both a low-cost design and way of mass-constructing these demountables. They are basic cabins, but they constitute a fully-featured (toilet, hot-shower, washing and cooking) minimal home, and they can be mass-produced using unskilled volunteers and any covered space as a 'factory'.
There is now substantial design and construction details here for any voluntary group willing to use the material on a non-commercial basis.
- PLATEAU HOMES FOR THE DISADVANTAGED
The average family home in an Australian suburb occupies a large blocks of land and has 3 or 4 bedrooms. Many of the smaller old family homes gained a second-floor, because the capital-value increase was an effective tax dodge.
Small houses with small gardens are almost non-existent. Yet, to the elderly and disabled, the availability of a rentable small house with garden is the key factor they need to consider to maintain their independence and keep the beloved family pet. High-rise, serviced apartments and retirement villages are not the ideal solution.
Aged people need to remain in their own community and their own suburb; among friends, family, neighbours, familiar shops and service providers - and keep their pets and have a small garden. Plateau engineering is a valid way of recovering small-home sites from the transport authorities and endless bitumised council car-parks.
- THE EARLIER EXPLANATION. This is the earlier document spelling out various aspects of the plateau low-rise approach to CBD development.
- PLATEAU SUBMISSION This is the main Plateau proposal developed for Lindfield in New South Wales. Our emphasis was on end-of-life planning for the elderly during the transition phase to the nursing home; specifically the need to find a smaller house, and to sell or lease the old family home. This is a way for the elderly to arrange their affairs for the inevitable decline, and also ensure an easy transition to assisted-care, the nursing home, and palliative care. There are many associated common problems here which are also experienced by the disabled and disadvantaged single parents.
The Plateau is an engineering approach which generates social and financial solution to many of the problems experienced by ageing residents (singles or carer-couples) via a new form of plateau (low-rise) social housing in a pedestrian precinct close to transport facilities and the shopping centre:
- It depends on perpetual cooperative ownership and on self-funding through a mutual building society.)
- It's a way of providing small homes in the CBD of suburbs at a reasonable cost.
- It promotes cooperative low-rise rather than speculative high rise developments in order to maintain the character of Australian suburbs.
- It is designed to prohibit speculation in these public assets so as to provide a permanent solution to a perpetual problem.
- It seeks to avoid the ghettos of retirement villages, by creating a mixed community with children.
- THE "MinEV" ROAD VEHICLE
Australia has lost its car manufacturing business to China and other Asian countries. However there is a very viable market niche for small electric-cars mainly for the elderly, if the State governments would jointly adjust their license conditions. This niche lies between electric wheelchairs, gophers, and small conventional vehicles.
- UNDERGROUND DEVELOPMENTS
The Plateau Group's discussions of suburban social housing also led to the realisation that there were other cheaper techniques of construction many public facilities so as not to consume valuable ground space. Since land area is the main component of building cost in a city and suburb, and the availability of central free land the main limitation of many public projects, this is an important concept worth developing further.
- NORTH-WESTERN AUSTRALIA DEVELOPMENT
These are a couple of papers on the development of the Kimberley's area in the northern half of Western Australia. We suggest that the Western Australian state, the largest single political entity in the world, is far too big for efficient government from Perth. We believe there is also an important role here for the development of renewable energy projects, and of construction facilities relating to Australia's foreign relations with its northern neighbours.
- AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL ZONE These ideas came out of John Howard and Tony Abbott's clumsy handling of the South-East Asian refugee problem. On any map, the North-West corner of the country looks like an unsettled invitation waiting for mass migration.
Australia needs to rethink the role that it is willing to play in our region; we should aspire to be the friendly neighbour and potentially the Switzerland of the Southern Hemisphere.
- OCEAN SENTINEL PODSAn idea for constructing anchored ocean platforms on the edge of the continental shelf adjacent to the North West coast to dissuade risk-taking refugees sailing from South-East Asia. It must be integrated with a humanitarian approach in handling genuine refugees.
Health & Environment
- VIRUS RELATED
This is a time-line of the main decisions made politically during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is also some other useful material on previous viral pandemics and epidemics.
- CELLPHONES & RADIATION DANGERS
A number of years ago I wrote extensively about the possible harmful health effects of the pulsed-power GSM/TDMA cellular phones -- a type of early digital mobile that was becoming the world standard at this time. It relied on a single base-station servicing a dozen or so (two different standards) of mobiles at the same time by allocating each a short (microsecond) time slot on a strict rotational basis. This meant that each handset, while low in power, was much like a radio-strobe device held closely against the brain. Yet we know that the strobe lights in a disco can trigger epileptic fits; so clearly the pulsed power surges have a potential to effect brain tissue.
In 1993-95 I was columnist on Communications and Technology with The Australian newspaper, and through having access to a wider audience, I led a global campaign against the acceptance of the Time Division (both D-TDMA in the USA, and GSM in Europe/Australia) digital cellular mobile phone technology. The report Fist Fights from the Outback was published in October 1994 by Dr Stuart Sharrock in Telecommunications magazine in Britain. Along with a lot of later health-consequence articles I produced, this report by the leading technical commentator in Europe contributed substantially to the abandonment of the TDMA approach a couple of years later.
The potential dangers of TDMA were established by two independent research groups (Uni of Washington, USA & University of Adelaide.
They found that the outputs from these pulsed-power handsets (pressed closely against the side of the head ... not the distant towers) could conceivably damage DNA in brain cells. They didn't prove that DNA was being damaged, just that the technology-based culture promoting these techniques had not done their basic homework and safety checks.
The GSM/TDMA mobiles were very quietly made to disappear (no news media release), and replaced by what purported to be the new "G3" standard, which used the better and safer CDMA radio system.
That doesn't necessarily mean that modern CDMA phones (which don't pulse their output power) or the newer 5G mobiles are either proven safe ... nor that they are a danger.
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS ECONOMICS
I have never accepted the Hayekian Libertarian ideology that the competitive free-market was the only way to organise the productive functions of a society. They maintain that government ownership of productive enterprises and infrastructure is inefficient and always results in inferior quality and higher prices. My position is that some forms of important national infrastructure -- especially those networks used for the 'common good' and therefore linking ideally to everyone equally -- are best operated by government organisations.
Libertarians were promoting competition as the ideal approach for basic communications networks. They desired full privatisation, but, as an interim measure, they promoted national telecommunications networks (like Australia's Telstra, and New Zealand's Clear) directed to act as competitive government business enterprises and generate revenues.
This is a Listener (NZ) report "For Whom the Phone Tolls" about these arguments at a Telecom Users Association of New Zealand conference in August 1993.