Friday, December 26, 2003

Deakin University – the logical site for Melbourne’s next flood-cum-mega-dam

The holes in the agument put in this letter to the editor by Robin Shaw, a professor of marketing at Deakin University are just too manifold.

I won’t even address the science or economics of building ever-more dams. The closest analogy Shaw that gives – of ever-more power stations effectively making electricity an unlimited resource – is obviously just wrong, indeed farcically so, in the post-Enron and California (= the world’s most affluent 20m+ enclave) power-crisis era.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but Shaw is, and could only be, a baby boomer (and probably a 4WDing one at that) to be making such ludicrous arguments, all without a trace of humour or taking-the-piss, as far as I can tell.

Consistent with his use-it-all-up-now and fuck-the-planet ethics, the prof’s own research profile is a paragon of intra-boomer sustainability and thrift. All his last-year’s output is co-authored, with the prof’s name last. If you’re not familiar with academic conventions here, a senior last-named author means that this person usually did nothing in the research or writing-up of the article. In other words, Shaw waited until Boxing Day to pen his first and last public words for the year (none of his students or junior staff would be stupid enough to have “co-authored” such a shite and embarrassing letter).

“Are we too infantile to not sweep lazy, fuckwit boomers like Shaw from their senior academic sinecures?” Apparently, yes.

Update 29 December 2003

As John Quiggin’s comment points out, Robin Shaw’s stellar co-authorship performance may have a relatively innocent explanation, with his academic discipline’s convention ordering co-authors by the alphabet alone.

While such a convention may indeed apply to some disciplines (John cites economics as an example), it doesn’t seem to apply to Shaw’s. His research profile has him last irrespective of alphabetical order, apart from one case of being the penultimate author in a foursome, and – wait for it – one instance of being the lead author. However, with this sole lead-author credit being the collected “Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference 2002” – individual conference papers are counted as separate publications – the apparent exception amounts to nil, in terms of Shaw actually putting his own pen to paper.

Thinking more about the substance of Shaw’s argument, it strikes me that “unlimited” tap water is an interesting resource, in that a private individual can largely “DIY” what Shaw wants – through tanks or bores – so bypassing the public utilities that Shaw finds so meddlesome.

As to why Shaw (presumably) won’t put his money where his mouth here is another interesting question. Based on his research output record, it would seem that Shaw’s ideal would be for his neighbours to stump up the coast of tanks or bores, and (only) then would Shaw come to some kind of “sharing” arrangement, of the boomer prerogative variety (as mandated and seen in just about every Australian workplace).

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