Weekly salon 30/12

1. Man plays piano for elephants

Pianist Paul Barton plays to elephants at the Elephants World sanctuary in Thailand. (Supplied: Khwan Barton)

Google the above phrase and you will find plenty. It is about an English man Paul Barton who plays classical music on the piano to elephants in Northern Thailand. See:

The elephants are very discriminating. For example, some like Beethoven, others prefer Schubert. Barton says that when one kissed him on the back of the neck it felt like a vacuum cleaner.

There is even a recording somewhere of elephants playing music.

2. The (un)Australian’s Person Of The Year 2018

The (un)Australian ended up with four nominees. First, David Warner, who is an unselfish team player, doesn’t like to take all the credit. He was happy to let Cameron Bancroft do the sandpapering, rather than step into the spotlight himself, and is ” happy for his wife to speak on his behalf whenever he’s in trouble or if any of the other boys say something mean about him.”

Second, Peter Dutton, but unfortunately:

    Peter Dutton was ruled ineligible for this award under sub section 44c of the awards statute. In that he could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was not in fact a potato.

Third, there was the Parliament House’s Sign Painter, who was kept busy writing the politician’s names on the office doors.

Finally, a strong case could be made for Barnaby Joyce:

    The year 2018 started out with the entire nation being fed details of Barnaby Joyce’s sex life. Whilst Barnaby went to the backbench the rest of Australia finished up vomiting just in time to hear details of Barnaby’s colleague Andrew Broad’s overseas sexual escapades (pass me the bucket). They say Labor swings to the left and the Liberals swing to the right those National’s well they’re just happy to swing all night.

Barnaby first, daylight second, for mine.

3. Nationals face their biggest threat yet after an annus horribilis

Barnaby Joyce figures strongly in the important article linked above by Gabrielle Chan. Joyce factionalised the National Party, and no-one yet has managed to re-unite it. Attitudes are changing in the bush, and women are speaking up more and networking. The National Party is extremely vulnerable to conservative independents, especially women.

The question as to whether they should stay in coalition if they lose is real. In Queensland there is now only one organisation, the LNP, the brain child of Lawrence Springborg. That may have won them power in 2012, but now looks like a mistake. Inevitably the combined party is dominated by the bush, which has just about killed off the Liberals in the city.

See also Katharine Murphy’s How the Coalition’s panic over polls set the stage for a radical reshaping of Australian politics

Here’s an image of four independent conservative women, framed by figures pulling the right in politics in diverse directions:

A fair dinkum flip-flop: a mashup of Australian politics for 2018

Here’s Bill Shorten at the ALP conference, leader now for almost five years:

The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, and his wife, Chloe, at the party’s national conference. Photograph: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Murphy points out that recent research from the Museum of Australian Democracy shows satisfaction with democracy has more than halved over the past decade.

The philosophical differences between the liberal and conservative wings of the ruling Coalition are profound, and some fear opposition, if that’s the destination, will create febrile conditions to settle scores.

4. Good Riddance to America’s Syria Policy

The article gives five reasons, but the basic one is pretty simple. What has been going on in the Middle east does not threaten the USA. It was a mistake for the US under George Dubya Bush to upset the regional balance between Iraq and Iran. Now the balance is between Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, with significant interference by Russia.

There is no way for the US to ‘win’, but conversely leaving does not mean they ‘lose’. However, Trump has doing it in about the worst possible way.

5. Tennis fever begins

I’m a bit of a sports nut, with tennis one of my faves. It’s all about to begin in Oz leading up to the Australian Open, one of four ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments in the year. Players come refreshed from a short annual lay-off period into the blistering heat of an Australian summer.

Here, I want to point out how privileged we are to have some of the all-time greatest players still running around. People talk about the ‘big four’, but it’s really the big three – Roger Federer (age 37), Rafael Nadal (age 32) and Novak Djokovic (age 31) – plus Andy Murray (age 31) and Stan Wahrwinka (age 33). Andy Murray gets counted because he has so consistently been ranked 4th, played in 11 finals, losing eight, has been No 1, and won two Olympic golds, thrashing Federer in 2012.

But for the other three exceptional players, Murray would have had a long career as the world’s best.

Tennis players tend to peak between the ages of 23 and 26, which is when Federer won 11 out of 12 apart from the French Open which was dominated by Nadal. Historically players over 30 almost never win slams, which require seven best-of-five wins in a row. However, no-one other than the big three has won a slam since Wahwrinka winning the US open in 2016. The old guys are still better than all the rest, which include many fine players.

I’ve updated this article to show that in the last 62 slams since Federer won at Wimbledon in 2003, the ‘big three have won 51 of 62. Here’s the breakdown:

      Federer (20)

      Nadal (17)

      Djokovic (14)

      Murray (3)

      Wawrinka (3)

      Roddick (1)

      Safin (1)

      Del Potro (1)

      Cilic (1)

      Gaudio (1)

So chances are that one of the big three or Andy Murray will win. While one would think that Federer can’t make it in that company at his age, only a fool would write him off. However, watch for Alexander Zverev (age 21 and ranked 4th in the world).

In the case of the women the pattern is that someone different wins every time if it’s not Serena Williams (age 37) who will be there and looking for her 24th title to equal Margaret Court. She’s bound to be on her best behaviour as she can’t really afford another dummy spit like the US Open. Only having to play best-of-three helps Williams to extend her career.

12 thoughts on “Weekly salon 30/12”

  1. Probably best not to unload on the recent Liberal PM, Mr Minister for Home Affairs.

    Even tge words Home and Affairs only serve to remind us of the Broad Church.

  2. Ambi, bottom line of the Katharine Murphy article (see Item 3):

      The philosophical differences between the liberal and conservative wings of the ruling Coalition are profound, and some fear opposition, if that’s the destination, will create febrile conditions to settle scores.

    Seems they haven’t waited, with Dutton unloading on Turnbull.

    On Dutton/potato, seems when someone noticed the resemblance Mammamia objected in the strongest terms to protect the innocence of potatoes.

    Then a campaign was set up to send Dutton potatoes, paying $1 per potato, or a dozen dirty potatoes for $10 with the third option a whole crate of dirty potatoes for $39, with the proceeds going to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

  3. Why send him any gift?
    For Labor, he is a gift that keeps on giving.

    An item in the Guardian claims several Coalition MPs are upset that the HOME AFFAIRS Minister has stirred up memories of recent spills…. They were hoping the public would join them, in “moving on”.

    My guess is that the public wants the Coalition to move on over to the Opposition benches in reduced numbers.

    It was a cliche with Mr Howard, Ms Gillard, Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull towards the ends of their PMships, that “The public have stopped listening.”

    Some of the public by now have fingers stuck in both ears.

    Happy New Year!!

  4. Apart from giving potatoes a bad name he has reminded us just how crazy he was to think that the voters would have preferred him to Malcolm.
    Then there is Barnaby and his factionalization of the Nationals and support for the Abbott faction. At least he is a “family values man” who worked to increase the size of his family.

  5. Barnaby increasing the size of his family? Lose some, win some.

    And he’s never been winsome.

  6. I’m here trying to complete a post on taming capitalism. Distracted last night by Mark, who has subs to Netflix and Stan. So last night we watched the James Bond flick Goldfinger.

    My first introduction to Bond was actually during Roger Moore’s time. When you see Sean Connery in his prime you can understand why most of the reviews of Roger Moore’s time spent a large part of their effort complaining that we wasn’t Sean Connery.

    Today we’ve been preparing for the onset of the Brisbane Bahnisch clan meeting at our place, about to arrive. Pool and beer aplenty in place.

  7. Happy new year to all. Mark played on last night after the others left, and I have to work today. The grass doesn’t stop, although it soon will, because it’s dry here again.

  8. 6 for 487.
    Isn’t young Mr Pujara a gem?
    ATM I’d rather be in India’s position.

    I don’t mean slowly slamming into North Asia, pushing up the Himalayas, Jumpy.

    Continental Drift is very unsettling science.

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