Saturday salon 2/1

1. Arise Sir Lynton!

At first I thought it was a joke, but apparently it really happened! Lynton Crosby was knighted for services to the realm!

As far as anyone can see he was knighted for doing a party political job for which he had already been paid handsomely – £500,000 ($A1,015,500).

Well it is a joke, of course, and brings the whole British awards system into disrepute.

2. Richard Flanagan’s Man Booker winning novel

I’ve just finished reading Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Fiction at its finest, say some. Poetry without a shred of pity, says Geordie Williamson in The Australian.

Michael Hofmann at the LRB tears it to shreds, suggesting Flanagan kept the wrong version after using the many other drafts to light the barbie.

Romy Ash at The Guardian has a more sympathetic review, as does Susan Lever at the Sydney Review of Books.

I’d say that if you want an understanding of what the men on the Burma-Thailand railway experienced, his research seems detailed and he recreates the experience well. So too for understanding how the survivors did or didn’t cope. He also makes a fair fist of giving insights into the cruelty of the Japanese officers and the Korean guards.

I found the parts of the novel dealing with the railway hard to read, with extremely unpleasant images. In some degree the novel is an exploration of human nature.

A limitation, though, is the character of the main protagonist, which is unsympathetic and ultimately limits the author’s vision. And I’m afraid that at times the novel is over-written, banal and trite. Hofmann is not entirely wrong.

3. Star Wars: the Force is Back

I’ve also seen the new Star Wars film, a couple of hours of well-made and well-acted escapism, about which there is nothing much to say. New characters are introduced, so that there can be sequels without Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

The most interesting side-play was Carrie Fisher’s response to ageist haters. Fisher struck back at a critic who told her to be judged on her looks or quit. New York Post writer Kyle Smith sparked a Twitter storm by accusing Fisher of making ‘millions off being pretty’, and suggesting that her other achievements in writing a novel and a screen play would not have taken off without Star Wars.

4. Munich stations evacuated over ‘IS attack threat’

There’s more at the ABC.

Key points:

  • Militants from Iraq and Syria were reportedly planning attacks in Munich
  • French intelligence says Islamic State was behind the planned attacks
  • But authorities unsure if the suspects exist or are in the country
  • Warning comes amid concerns about terrorist threats across Europe

For those interested in following the link, John Menadue does a handy summary of an article by article by Olivier Roy on what is driving Jihadist terrorism.

Olivier Roy is Professor and Head of the Mediterranean Programme in the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


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.

One thought on “Saturday salon 2/1”

  1. Arise Sir Humbug. Arise Dame Whatsyernameagain. Arise Sir Donator – or was that Sir Dominator? Arise Sir Major-Shareholder. Arise Dame Bluerinse.

    Well. I scored one out of three for the reign. It was “II” so the ordinal number was correct. But it should have been “Queen”, not “King” – and it was “Elizabeth”, not “George”.

    On a much happier note: Right around the world, people are taking action against two 21st Century problems: space junk and the lack of darkness in the night sky.

    Here is one Dark Sky site:

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