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Category Archives: Jim Belshaw

Random but mostly political

1. A feast for pollie-watchers and pundits

Just look at The Australian today.

Libs facing election rout

David Uren THE Coalition faces an electoral wipeout at next year’s federal election if the rebels led by Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin succeed in blocking the government’s climate change legislation.

The lead story’s interesting, and so is Paul Kelly. I suspect Joe Hockey is privately fuming.

2. Borrowed from Jim Belshaw

Like Jim, I won’t comment!

I simply report this gem from the Australian Citizens Electoral Council without comment.

Isherwood: Who would have thought? British genocidalists are liars too

The British oligarchy’s depopulation charity, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), established in 1961 by Prince Philip and “former” Nazi Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to realise their wet dream of reducing the world’s population to two billion or so people, is a key paymaster of the lying scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The CRU basically cooked up the whole global warming fraud: in another time, before hackers exposed their true nature last week, Britain’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King happily gushed that the CRU “set the agenda for the major research effort” in climate change; its “scientists” are the leading authors of the IPCC reports cited as the bible on global warming.

Well, well.

3. Why Steve Fielding is a much nicer person than Nick Minchin

Senator Fielding (Family First) has copped much flack for his denial of anthropogenic climate change, but at least he is up front about it, even trotting out his charts to try to convince the green demonstrators outside Parliament the other day. Of course, as we all know, Fielding isn’t really a politician. Minchin is.

So now Minchin is a double denialist because 1) he denies that what he is doing goes way beyond the issue of the ETS and 2) he attempts to deny he is a denialist. On both counts he is being economical with the truth. On point 2 he has been on record for years and one wonders why – well, not really – he is figleafing himself today. Of Minchin climate scientist Graeme Pearman famously said in March 2007: "I am worried that a federal minister would believe this crap."

4. And Malcolm Turnbull is much nicer than Nick Minchin…

While not totally frank Malcolm Turnbull was considerably more accurate than Senator Minchin in his half of the back-to-back interviews on the 7.30 Report last night. On just one obvious point, as Paul Kelly says: “The conservative rebellion this week has been a stunning, ruthless and self-righteous exercise. It was about converting a minority into a majority position by sabotage. Don’t fall for the idea that Turnbull didn’t have majority support.”

5. Science marches on whatever the pollies do or say

For example:

The first-ever Australian benchmark of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and options for adaptation is being released in Brisbane today.

27 November 2009

The Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia, and an accompanying website, will provide a biennial guide for scientists, government and the community on observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.

"The objective of compiling this information is to consider options available to environmental and resource managers in their response to changes in ecosystem balance," says project leader, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship scientist Dr Elvira Poloczanska.

"On both sides of the continent there is clear evidence of ocean warming and this is already bringing sub-tropical species south into temperate waters, and in the case of the giant kelp forests in Tasmania, appears to be having a severe impact in just a few years.

"This research is relevant for anyone with a recreational interest or financial investment in our coasts and oceans," Dr Poloczanska says.

climate big 6. If you want to read a book

Try Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change 2 ed.

I like it because I can understand it, but also because it is less polemical than many in the field. He admits problems and complexities.

 

Cheering indeed: from Ramana via Jim Belshaw

I think I will let the graphic speak for itself, but it is relevant to my ongoing thoughts arising from reading Mark Davis.

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See Saturday Morning Musings – Australia ranks first in national pride. Ramana in India gave Jim the heads up.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Jim Belshaw

 

Waltzing Matilda 21st century style – current reading

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Circular Quay 1938

Illustration from A D Fraser This Century of Ours 1938

How the wool industry dominated this part of Sydney back then.

The past is another country,

I am in retrospect/introspect mode at the moment. My gut feeling about my country is very much this:

"For all their embrace of enterprise," writes Davis, "Australians want to live in a fair society — an Australian-style egalitarian society, not a US-style harshly competitive society."

Now that truly resonates. It comes from an Age review of Mark Davis’s The Land of Plenty: Australia in the 2000s (Melbourne, MUP 2008) which I am currently reading. Mark Davis hitherto has been best known for his spray Gangland published ten years back. It didn’t impress me overmuch, I have to say, but his recent book certainly does. I’ll have more to say when I have finished it.

Meanwhile there is an extract on Crikey.

Australians have always been dreamers and thinkers, who, over the past 200 years, have worked to make this one of the world’s innovative democracies. One of the world’s oldest continuous democracies, most Australians lived under democratically elected governments by the mid-1850s, and the nation as a whole has been a democracy since Federation in 1901. In 1856, three Australian colonies in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria introduced the world’s first secret ballot, a system that was known as the “Australian ballot” on its introduction in the United States in 1888.

In 1856, Australian workers were among the first in the world to campaign for an “eight hour day”, a measure that was progressively adopted across various industries and states until it was formally granted to all workers in 1948. In 1899, Queenslanders gave the world its first Labor government, intended to represent ordinary working people rather than powerful vested interests. In 1902, Australian women became the second in the world to get the vote — New Zealand had led the way in 1893.3 American and British women had to wait until 1920 and 1928 respectively. In 1907, the “Harvester Judgment” helped enshrine the principle of a basic wage, a world first that laid the foundation for the wages arbitration system.

Progress continued through the twentieth century. In 1973, in another world first, the Whitlam government appointed an adviser on women’s affairs, a lead that was followed after 1975 by all state governments. In 1982, the Fraser government introduced freedom of information legislation, the first of its kind for a Westminster-style government. In 1993, in another pioneering move, the Keating government legislated to ratify the overturning of the doctrine ofterra nullius, by which Australia had been considered untenured land pre–white settlement. In an innovative twist, white law was able to reach back before white settlement to recognise law that had come before.

Being Australian is an ethical project. It was in these pioneering moments that the specifi c combination of traditions and ideas that makes up Australian values — egalitarianism; the “fair go”; the idea that one person is as good as the next, irrespective of background — was founded. What all these reforms had in common was that they were levellers that sought to protect the small from the powerful. These ethics were to a degree oppositional. Australia, perhaps more than anything, offered the chance of an escape from nineteenth-century Europe and especially Britain, with its industrial squalor and workhouses, intractable class differences and rapidly worsening inequality, brought on by economic laissez faire.

This colonial outpost wasn’t just a sunnier and more bucolic new beginning; it also gave a chance to a basic fairness and equality of opportunity at odds with the prevailing ethos at “home”. Nor did these reforms simply happen by themselves, as if the universal pursuit of fairness is an essential Australian national character trait. Rebelling miners, small farmers, unionists, feminists, judges, politicians, intellectuals and others all played a part in struggles for social justice that have rarely been doctrinaire. Australian people, on the whole, haven’t aspired to ideological purity. They’ve aspired to become middle-class…

See too a WordPress blog.

Part of the mix too are several of Jim Belshaw’s recent posts, some of which are first-rate in terms of thoughtfulness. I am sure Jim would find Mark Davis stimulating if sometimes annoying.

 

Last night on ABC and this morning’s news…

… had a mix of the bizarre and the tragic. You wouldn’t read about it, would you? Hollywood couldn’t invent stuff like this.

Let’s begin with the tragic.

Terror in Mumbai (originally on UK Channel Four) was last night’s offering from Four Corners.

…Their first target was the Leopold Cafe where they killed 11 people. From there they planted bombs inside taxis as the moved across the city. Terror in Mumbai follows the young men every step of the way using telephone calls made between the raid’s masterminds in Pakistan and the gunmen in Mumbai. Those calls combine with the testimony of the captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, to create an extra-ordinary chronology of the attacks.

The calls reveal how the young men are continually reminded they must kill as many people as possible, making sure that whatever happens they must not be taken alive.

Ajmal Kasab, speaking from his hospital bed tells how he and another man attacked the city’s train station slaughtering more than 50 people…

As the film progresses the relationship between the attackers and their controllers at the other end of the phone comes into clearer focus.

At times the young men appear utterly ruthless, at other times they break away from their conditioning and register their wonder at the hotel they have taken over. They talk of computers and expensive furniture as if in a wonderland.

As the film progresses the terrorists are told to kill as many people as they can in the Taj Hotel, and then to start a fire. The purpose? To let the world know a symbol of India and the decadent west is being destroyed.

As the phone calls continue it becomes clear the young men are not always willing to kill on command. In one chilling episode one gunman is told to kill a hostage. He stalls for time. Then an hour later he is ordered to shoot. A gunshot is heard…

It was riveting and incredibly sad. The Svengali on the other end of the phone gives new manifestation to the concept of pure evil. The psychology of the perpetrators, one of whom was “sold” — according to the program and his own testimony – to Lashkar e Toiba by his own father so that his siblings could afford to marry, reminded me so much of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. The father was a poor street yoghurt seller.

… The 10 gunmen had sneaked ashore in Mumbai around 9pm on 26 November, having sailed from Pakistan in a hijacked Indian trawler.

Less than an hour later, during a killing spree across the city which included the main railway station, four gunmen entered the luxury Taj Hotel. Young Pakistanis from villages in the Punjab, who had never set foot in a modern hotel before, let alone the vast suites on the upper floors of the Taj, they could not contain their amazement. The first few hours of intercepts at the Taj show them struggling to keep their minds on the task of burning down the hotel.

‘There are so many lights… and so many buttons. And lots of computers with 22 and 30-inch screens…’ says one.

The other chilling piece of evidence we obtained during the making of this film, was told by one of the gunmen, Kasab, who was taken alive by Indian police and his questioning recorded.

‘What’s your gang called? Your team?’ asks one policeman.

Kasab seems not to understand.

‘Your organization, your gang, your team?’, some of the other officers round the hospital bed chime in.

‘Oh… It’s Lashkar e Toiba.’ …

It is as well – again – to remind ourselves that it is not all of Islam we are looking at here, but a perversion. Jim Belshaw has also taken up that theme: For Tikno – selection, perception, bias and the MUI Fatwa. The comments from Tikno in Indonesia and Ramana in India enhance Jim’s wisdom on this. You may also listen to this: “Young Indonesians have made use of social networking sites to protest against terrorism.” The India-Pakistan situation has complicating strands of history involved – the mess of the Partition and the unsolved dilemma of Kashmir. (I studied Indian History at university and have ever since taken an interest.) Further, in relation to Ramana’s comment, there is no single body that can speak for Islam. To a degree everyone is his or her own mufti, and the result is amazing diversity. This can be good, but also complicates things terribly. The media do focus on the violent extremists, though Tikno’s point about the majority being against violent extremism is almost certainly a truer picture.

Now for the bizarre.

Malcolm Turnbull. Well, he is human, as that Australian Story episode shows, but a bit of a goose too. The show was filmed behind the scenes as the Utegate Imbroglio was occurring, and today all that became more bizarre still: I wrote fake email: Grech.

And then there is that sleazy Radio 2DayFM The Kyle and Jackie O Show. So glad I never listened to them, especially after Media Watch revealed how bottom of the barrel the show has really been.

More 10 to 17 year-olds, by far, listen to 2DayFM than to any other Sydney station.

Yet up to now ACMA has done nothing about Kyle and Jackie’s obsession with boobs and willies, their parade of vaginas and penises, their discussions of anal sex, and oral sex, and faeces-eating during sex, and other such breakfast-time delights.

And then there’s the program’s routine humiliation and emotional manipulation of its ‘guests’.

Tonight, while Austereo reviews its ‘principles and protocols’, we’re going to look at a particularly sickening example. It wasn’t about sex, or juveniles.

It was about heartless exploitation…

About as funny as a pile of dead rats.

 

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Just a note on China

I mentioned China’s ethnic and linguistic diversity in a comment on Multi-ethnic communities – history’s lessons on Jim Belshaw’s blog the other day. I referred to the list Wikipedia gives. There is a map there, which I reproduce below. Click to enlarge.

china_ethnolinguistic_83

We often forget this complexity, not surprising in such a large area. We also forget that Cantonese, spoken, and Mandarin are mutually incomprehensible, as different as Spanish and English. The Chinese writing system allows, however, written communication between the two, pronounced differently in each case. Some of the other language groups are not Chinese at all.

Unity has always been important to Chinese governments, so while there is a degree of recognition of this diversity at an official level there is strong objection to nationalist aspirations or “separatism” by the minorities, some of which are very large. In Europe many of them would have become separate countries long ago. Traditionally, periods when China has divided into smaller entities are regarded as periods of weakness.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2009 in Asian, Chinese and China, Jim Belshaw

 

When you become a teacher…

… by your pupils you’ll be taught. Yes, from The King and I. Several things prompt this post today, one being the comment thread on Not again! where I say:

… We need to embrace people of all faiths (or none) who share the desire to see this dreadful but demoniacally romantic idea of the terrorist martyr lose its hold on impressionable minds — usually, as ever, young minds. (As a teacher, again, I relate to that challenge and did whatever I could with the young Muslims I used to see daily from 9/11 through to 2005.) …

By engaging in conversation that treats people with respect you can learn so much! Now I am the first to admit that my achievement in this area varied greatly, but it was always the intention even if the desire to dogmatise or “play teacher” in a rather negative sense can also be strong. Over the years too I found that engaging with the students also involved engaging with their parents, and with the communities from which the parents came. One manifestation of this can be seen in my June post More on things I’m proud of….

Not just teachers of course. Jim Belshaw refers to something similar in his recent post Saturday Morning Musings – musings on three years of blogging.

I do not even know how to begin to describe the importance of the people. There have been different people at different times as their and my needs change. In all cases, they have forced me to change my views and given me new insights.

The other thing that prompts me is that it is my mother’s birthday today. She died in 1996 but would have been 98 today. Her father was a teacher, a city boy originally, but his many years in what were then remote rural communities shaped his vision of Australia and its people, and those insights, passed on to me, still stand in many ways. He was a master of listening, of talking to everyone, a great role model in that respect.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2009 in education, Jim Belshaw, personal

 

Glebe revisited

As I mention on the photo blog, I went over to an old stamping ground of mine today: Glebe and Forest Lodge. One reason was to drop off copies of The South Sydney Herald at the bookshops whose proprietors I had interviewed (on Skype!) for my article in the July edition.

Bit of a private joke this:

glebe 001

Cornstalk Books was one of my destinations. The room above the shop – empty then – was the place all but the last issues of Neos were launched between 1981 and 1984. Memories!

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In the $5 tray outside I picked up something of a treasure: A D Fraser (ed), This Century of Ours: Being an Account of the Origin and History during One Hundred Years of the House of Dangar, Gedye & Malloch Ltd, of Sydney, 1938. I am sure Jim Belshaw would be interested. (I’ll sell it to you for $100, Jim! ;)) I see it is $25 on that catalogue at the link.

This is the frontispiece by artist Raymond Lindsay.

glebe