Saturday salon 6/9


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. Paul Kelly’s new tome

Richard Fidler talked to Paul Kelly about his new book Triumph and Demise. All of the main players talked to Kelly on the record, which they haven’t done for anyone else. In all other cases I know at least one or the other of them wouldn’t talk or wouldn’t talk on the record.

I’m hoping to do a full-length post. Kelly mentions at least one incident I didn’t know about. There was a conversation between Rudd and Gillard on the verandah of Kirribilli in January 2010. That was where Gillard told Rudd she thought he should forget about climate change for a time, so it supports the “She made me do it” thesis. Kelly will have none of that. He says Rudd ignored Gillard’s advice often enough and has to take responsibility.

At that meeting Kelly says Gillard formed the opinion that Rudd was in no shape mentally to lead the party to an election.

The book looks like a ‘must read’.

2. The Searchers

The Searchers is the name of a 1956 film which this review suggests is “considered by many to be a true American masterpiece of filmmaking, and the best, most influential, and perhaps most-admired film of director John Ford.”

Certainly it did not do well when it was made, but influenced film makers such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Wenders, and George Lucas. In a recent survey it was rated the seventh best film of all time. Now Glenn Frankel has written an amazing book called The Searchers: the Making of an American Legend. The book tells you everything you’d want to know about the incident it was based on, the Alan Le May novel, Frank Nugent’s script, about John Wayne, John Ford and the making of the film itself as though he was there on the set.

He also unravels the grisly truth about the story of how Cynthia Ann Parker was taken by Comanches in an 1836 raid and retrieved in a ‘battle’ (actually a massacre of old men, women and children) by Texas rangers in 1860. He tells the story of Cynthia’s son Quanah Parker. Most of all he tells us how the legend of ‘how the West was won’ was formed over a century or more, and the racism that underlies it.

I’ve read the book with pleasure, now I’d like to see the film.

3. Barrier Reef dredging plans changes

It looks as though plans to dump waste on the Great Barrier Reef will be changed so that the waste will be dumped on land. What the report doesn’t say is that the change of plans is based on new technology, making land dumping the cheaper option rather than an outbreak of good sense on the part of the minister, Greg Hunt.

4. What Country in the World Best Fits Your Personality?

For me the answer is Iceland.


What a surprise!