Weekly salon 13/1

1. Saudi teen feared for life while waiting on Australia refugee ruling

Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun had applied to come to Australia.

But she told SBS News the process was taking too long and she feared for her life because her father and brother were in Thailand.

“Yes, toooooo long,” she responded to SBS News, when asked about the length of time.

The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, had hustled to determine her refugee status. Then the UNHCR:

    had raised concerns about Ms Qunun’s security the longer she remained in Bangkok – leading her to be taken to the Canadian embassy on Friday where her visa was processed within several hours.

That’s about how long as it takes the Australian government to approve an oper’s visa for one of their mates.

My understanding is that the refugee application system in Canada is normally handled at arms length from government and one of the criticisms has been that while it is fair it is slow. Seems when a case is urgent it can be speeded up.

Australia on the other hand made it clear that a young woman’s life being in danger was not a consideration at all.

2. Is Brexit about to blow?

Brexit is reaching a crunch point, so there is no shortage of articles in the British media:

Everyone seems to agree that the one outcome to be avoided is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. However, no-one can suggest a strategy to avoid this outcome which the majority of parliamentarians will agree to. Cross-party alliances to form a Government of National Unity are a possibility, but political tribalism will probably ensure nothing like that happens. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit also requires the least effort, so prospects are not good.

The following article sees a possible way forward. It has the added advantage of banishing the Tories to the political wilderness for a couple of decades, remaking Britain into a decent social democracy along the lines of the ‘Nordic’ model by burying free market cruelty forever, bringing institutional democratic change to the UK. And remake the EU from within.

The underlying issue is Dani Rodrik’s “impossibility theorem” for the global economy that is like that. It says that democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full. In terms of the Brexit trilemma this means only two of the following three are possible:

    a) Retain the benefits of economic integration that come via membership of the EU’s single market and customs union;

    b) Reclaim national sovereignty by returning powers to the British parliament that currently lie with the European institutions;

    c) Uphold democratic principles by ensuring that we have a say over all the laws we are subjected to.

The key fact, however, is that the UK is never going to be a large economic power in global terms.

    The reality is that an independent UK will be reduced to a “rule taker” that has to abide by decisions taken by the EU, China and the USA.

Britain’s best bet is to adopt a ‘remain and reform’ strategy. Germany has shown how EU rules and policies can be made to favour its interests, and how it can ignore them without penalty. Britain within the EU would be a major player economically.

Is Jeremy Corbyn smart enough to pull it off? Probably not, he’d certainly need luck.

3. Ocasio-Cortez shakes up politics

Antonio García Martínez in How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Shapes a New Political Reality:

    I’ll just say it: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a social media marketing genius, and very likely a harbinger of a new American political reality.

Last week there was a kerfuffle over a college-age AOC doing a dance routine, in which AOC gave as good as she got.

It was a spectacle all the way down, but in the media swirl AOC dropped a very concrete policy proposal – increase the top marginal income tax rate to 70 percent. Paul Krugman, economics Nobelist and New York Times columnist, was there in an instant supporting her, and a policy door opened.


    In a world awash in irony and preening phoniness, she possesses the unique and valuable currency of authenticity: She is who she ran as, she’ll be that same person in office, and it drives her political opponents crazy.

Ocasio-Cortez is not just remaking the way politics is done, she is extending and enlarging what is politically possible.

Now More than 600 environmental groups just backed Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. A letter sent to Congress laying out the 626 groups’ vision for a Green New Deal:

    emphasizes respecting indigenous rights and a transition away from fossil fuels that centers justice, including a “comprehensive economic plan to drive job growth and invest in a new green economy that is designed, built and governed by communities and workers.” A similar plan has been implemented in Spain to help coal workers, while the pitfalls of not engaging with the people most impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels are clear in France’s yellow vest protests.

An important point is France’s gas tax disaster shows we can’t save the earth by screwing over poor people.

Ocasio-Cortez understands this, but I’m not sure she goes as far as Naomi Klein, who in the challenge of climate change sees a choice between capitalism as we know it and civilisation as we know it.

Historian Rick Perlstein sees Ocasio-Cortez in a real sense as a throw-back to a braver Democratic Party of the past. He sees the Democratic Party as having been traumatised by the shock of Ronald Reagan. Certainly Ocasio-Cortez espouses a brand of politics that threatens the accommodation the Democratic Party has made with the capitalist system of modern America by seeking to disrupt privilege, inequality, marginalisation and exclusion.

4. Family matters

Coming up three months ago Mark fled Sydney and holed up with us here in Brisbane. Two generations separate us – I’m pre-baby boomer and he’s Generation X – but we are good friends and my wife and I have enjoyed conversation and watching TV etc.

This has crowded my screen time into a corner of the day where it has been difficult to sustain blogging.

On January 22 to 29 my daughter and granddaughter are coming to stay, so I’ll be comprehensively distracted.

Immediately after that the changeover begins. Mark has rented a studio apartment in Brisbane City (22sq m – the size of a decent motel room – ready to inhabit, with bed, kitchenette, electricity, water and wi-fi included, corner position, views to city Botanical Gardens, access to full kitchen, swimming pool etc) from 1 February and from the 7th at latest our young son is moving back in with the aim of buying his own digs. Might take a while.

I’m told an opinion has been expressed that there is a distinction to be made between blogging and living, but I assure you blogging is important to me, and I’m not finished. Just constrained, and, yes, families do matter.

77 thoughts on “Weekly salon 13/1”

  1. Thanks Brian

    Over in the Federal electorate of Indi, a meeting of about 200 electors in Benalla has chosen Helen Haines to be the “Voices 4 Indi” candidate if/when the redoubtable Cathy McGowan MHR retires or is defeated at an election.

    “The successor” is a nurse, midwife and rural health researcher from Wangaratta.

    The process took 6 hours of question/answer and discussion.

    Cathy McGowan will give a press conference tomorrow.

  2. I’d like to see AOC debate someone, on anything.
    I don’t think math or logic are her strongest suit.
    But I hope she continues.
    AOC for 2024 !!

  3. Will our government maintain its hard line against economic refugees when the poms suddenly realize what Brexit means to them.
    If the government agrees to relax its economic refugee policy policy for the poms is it going to distinguish which Poms it is going to allow in on the basis of colour and religion?
    Am I the only one who remembers how the Poms dumped the Commonwealth trade agreements so that they could join the EU?

  4. There’s such a thing as an “ economic refugee “ now ?
    Where is that written in International Law ?

  5. Jumpy: The government has been labelling some people economic refugees and rejecting their claim for refugee status on this basis.

    Suspect your ancestors like mine came to Aus because of better economic prospects.

  6. On Brexit, Joseph Harker in I’m a remainer. So why do I feel more and more sympathy for leave voters? does well on the political issues.

    He says only the southeast and London have recovered from the GFC. Economically the rest have been left behind, but don’t realise it’s not actually because of the EU, and Poles taking their job. If Britain leaves the Poles are likely to be replaced by Nigerians.

    So leaving would be a hard lesson, but learnt over a period of years.

    The politics now looks relatively clear. May’s Brexit deal will go down, but even if she gets it through the small Irish party DUP will vote against May in a no confidence motion, which Corbyn would then bring on no matter what. If that leads to an election, which it should, Labour would likely win.

    What Corbyn does then is not clear, but the EU would likely give him an extension to sort it out.

  7. AOC’s use of Twitter etc is not ground-breaking.

    Remember the fuss made about Obama’s ability to attract thousands of small donations through online appeals?

    And I suggest that DJ Trump has been the most successful political manipulator of free media the world has yet seen.

    Yes, he used his TV profile to launch into the Primaries, and probably some of his (allegedly gigantic) wealth, but after that an astounded Press and Twit feed and other electronic media gave him millions of $ of free publicity.

    Unprepared for public office, lacking learning or humility, undisciplined, apparently chaotic..
    But what a master of the media.

    AOC will need to be very clever to outfox him.

    Who knows? He might outFox her.

  8. Zoot, coming up to the Bicentenary a prominent graffiti graced the asphalt of the road to a scenic place in our town reading “Masturbation of a Nation”. A take on the ‘Celebration of a Nation’ slogan at the time, which is still applicable until such nation deals with its divisiveness best expressed by the treatment the First Nation people got and still get. This a graceless attitude, the bullying behaviour, the wilful ignorance and lack of reflection from the top to the bottom is a national disgrace.
    Today one of my Facebook ‘friends’ shared a meme posted by The Australian ANTI-Greens. It depicts a mob in traditional garb and the caption reads “It is not these Aussies leading the fight to change Australia Day.”while underneath is another image of Di Natale with a bunch of supporters waving the The Greens sign and the caption reads “It’s these Guys“.

    I made the following comment on my ‘friends’ post:

    Steve, what gets me is that those who so adamantly want to celebrate THEIR history know very little of what actually went on.
    An Indigenous national conference declared the 26 of January in 1938 as “Day of Mourning” way before the rest of the nation started to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date in 1994.
    The petty squabbling, adding insult to injury, with our Indigenous people is one thing, but the greenie bashing gets a bit tedious when basic facts on the topic are either deliberately or more like conveniently ignored by cultural warriors.
    Have a good day 🙂

    And I offered him the this link

  9. Ootz, more food for thought in your link – many thanks.
    I fear the topics will still be current after I have shuffled off this mortal coil, although I would welcome a solution before then.

  10. I’m guessing there’ll be a more positive view of most Australians, by almost half the population, when Bill wins in a landslide this year.
    The other almost half will be disappointed but will still have a positive view of most Australians but slightly less for a month or two.
    Those that are consistently negatively view most Australians always make up those that can’t fit into the first two groups.

    Just a guess, not pointing fingers.

  11. Apparently the PM
    [fill in name here, check with Google first, but]
    wants Mr Warren Mundine to be the Liberal candidate for Gilmore.

    Mr Mundine was an ALP member for two decades but quit that party in 2012. For a while there, he was its Federal President.

    Mark Latham to stand for the ONP?
    When will the ALP stop supplying its senior exes to make up the numbers for other parties?


    Meanwhile, “The Shovel” says that Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Employment and Women, is resigning because it’s too difficult being a woman and employed at the same time.


  12. John Birmingham has just returned from communist Vietnam.
    It’s not Venezuela, but what he observed there may interest our resident anti-government evangelist.

    It’s a weird place, Vietnam. Still a one-party state of course, but bizarrely libertarian in its economics. Everybody is running wild and free to make a dollar. I didn’t see much evidence of any laws being enforced, alhough armed enforcers of the state are everywhere. In some ways it seemed people had much greater freedom. If you wanted to start a chicken strangling business, you just started strangling chickens on the footpath. Whether your venture lived or died depended entirely on the market demand for chicken murder. (But you better believe that if you did make a few bucks, the whole street would be overrun with competitors and feathery corpses within days).

  13. zoot,

    Have they freed up the internet in Vietnam yet?

    I heard that locals were monitored by the government peacekeepers there, perhaps not as heavily as in China, but still….

    Could Mr J use this blog in the DRV?

    Of course, what we really need to know is: does Vietnam buy Venezuelan oil???

  14. In breaking news on Fairfax online, the family of Mr Geoff Clark of Framlingham, Warranambool etc now faces a total of 1,170 charges relating to fraud, to be heard at the Warrnambool Magistrates Court on 5th April.

    Fairfax says the total amount allegedly taken is about $2 million.

    Mr Clark protests his innocence. He says, “These charges are being used to blacken me and prevent me representing Aboriginal people. “

  15. G’day Brian and all. Sorry. been somewhat busy – family, health, crumbling dwelling stuff.

    Still amused that the aristocrats, commissars and cadres of the EU still consider themselves completely blameless in this whole mess – wasn’t their inflexibility, arrogance and foolishness a major factor in making so many ordinary Brits completely cheesed off with the EU?
    No matter which way things go with Brexit, we in Australia are going to be affected adversely.

    The Day That Must Not Be Named:
    I shall not be getting an “OZ – Love It Or Leave It” tattoo. Nor will I deprive Australoid Australians of their title, Aborigines, in favour of that fashionable , neo-colonialist, land-restealer label, “indigenes”, a term that denies their presence in Australia since the beginning of time.
    As for the day itself, I intend passing it with a little gentle gardening and some quiet reflection;. Unless there are cyclone or bushfire warnings likely around here on That Day then the TV will be left off since I have no need at all to be entertained by the circus of show-offs, hatred-mongers, history-squeezers and blame-shifters.

  16. Reports from Caracas say the head of the elected National Assembly, Juan Guaido, has declared himself “interim President”.

    Let’s hope the tanks don’t roll, either Venezuelan or from neighbouring nations.

  17. The problem with Venezuela is that the Opposition is socialist too.
    That’s mainly why they are where they are now, there’s been a political fight as to who could be more socialist that the other.

    ( NO, I’m not going to “ prove it “, that’s just my personal analysis)

  18. Or rather who could gain more power, wealth and authority with socialism as a political and economic vehicle.

  19. ( NO, I’m not going to “ prove it “, that’s just my personal analysis)

    So you refuse to be be held to the standard you demand of others.
    Which gives me licence to comment that when it comes to Venezuela, you’re deluded old bean, many times (just my personal analysis).

    Thank you for sharing.

  20. Well,

    Several non-socialist governments leapt at the opportunity to recognise the interim President. These included Canada and the USA.

    On the other side, Evo Morales of Bolivia decried the “imperialist” assault on Sr Maduro.

    Three things:
    1. What would I know?
    2. I can’t see the USA rushing to welcome an outfit which is “to the left of” Sr Maduro. (Or has Pres. Trump shown worrying signs of Marxist policies??)
    3. At least Sr Guaido was elected to the National Assembly – legitimately it seems.

  21. Mr A, another twist is Turkeys Erdogan and Maduro are besties, the plot thickens.

    Just on their political choices, we have, via Wiki,

    Two major blocs of political parties are in Venezuela: the incumbent leftist bloc United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), its major allies Fatherland for All (PPT) and the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), and the opposition bloc grouped into the electoral coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática. This includes A New Era (UNT) together with allied parties Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (MAS) and others.

    The dude assuming top dog is this Chap.

    I’m not going to go by the media conglomerates or Wiki on this issue. I’m going mainly by born and raised Venezuelan friends of mine to clarify, obviously I can’t link to what they know.

  22. !Thanks for the Wiki info. Senor Jumpi!

    Do your amigos Venezolanos see Guiado as a step towards a better future?

  23. Introduced to Mega Monopoly tonight.

    Nothing much happened for me, I had no strategy, except being prudential about keeping a bit of cash on hand.

    We had to call time, and I won! But if the game had played out I definitely would have come 4th out of 5 probably. Don’t really care if I win or not.

    It’s really quite different from the old game, more happens, but I think it would normally end a lot sooner.

  24. Hard to picture you playing Monopoly, never mind Mega Monopoly Brian.

    As a kid we played Monopoly for a while, it was very formative. It gave me a good introduction to capitalism and market failures. I distinctly remember my last time I played the game. I was able to convince every player at the table to collaborate to send the bank broke. We had a wonderful time with shed loads of $$ while enjoying to visit each other, spending on services and paying tax as well as bailing each other out of jail. That is social democracy for you 🙂

  25. Good one, Ootz.

    I heard that the original game was called Anti-Monopoly and was designed by a socialist.

    But it seems many of us would rather be rich.

  26. Ambi, many of us dream to be rich. A dream I tell you, when more than one-third of Australian pensioners are living below the poverty line, 2,333,000 Australians (17.2% of the workforce) were either unemployed or under-employed in November, and suicide has increased by 21 per cent in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community over the past decade.

    Zoot, indeed an interesting and valid perspective by JB. Australia has so many fascinating aspects and actors in its history, once you make your way through the blancmange of imperial pomp and glory. He’s depiction of Australians as faithful Janissaries of the US and by extension for the British empire previously is rather apt.

    However, I was rather taken by Paul Daley’s reflections on national identity with Geraldine Doogue in Saturday Extra on RN today. Particularly his suggestion to celebrate country rather than conflicts.

  27. Ootz, I too was taken with Paul Daley’s thoughts. Thank you for the link. I need to meditate more on the deeper meaning of “country” but for me that’s a patriotism which can avoid the trap of jingoism.

  28. Bulmba is my ‘country’s’ name in the local ngirrma Djabugay or native language/voice. Bulmba is more than a country, it is the world we live in, every habitable place within and curiously time as expressed in seasons or events. In its extended meaning it would also include the knowledge embedded in the country, as when to start gather specific food and move camp or go to work. Bulmba is where the Djabugay voice was spoken and the related storywaters are located. These places, timeless sources of meaning and being, give context to yourself and your surrounds as a being.

    My Native tongue as a Bernese Highlander is a mixture of old Celtic and Swiss dialect of German. Heimat (Home?), is a simple word with complex meaning and existential bearings. The German Duden dictionary defines Heimat as an “emotional expression that suggests a strong attachment to a specific place”. If we talk about someone’s “spiritual” home, “second” home, or “new” home, it doesn’t matter if you were born in that place or how long you’ve lived there. It only matters that you feel a sense of belonging, that you have finally arrived. Home is where the heart is, and all that. Where as my Celtic view of the world also gave me meaning of live, the testimony of it was there right in front of me in the magnificent landscapes I grew up in. That is if you knew the old pre roman stories or myths, which were connected to specific landmarks. I believe the Irish have a similar thing, a connection to specific places with embedded stories, which rises in them a certain spirit and love.

  29. Ootz: I describe various parts of Australia where I have lived for some time as “my country.” Places where I went to special places quite often and knew where water and particular native foods could be found.
    This is not to imply that I had the same relationship to the country as Aborigines or that I saw my attachment as competition with them.

  30. You hit the nail on the head John. There is no competition with belonging to country. Thats the beauty, country is beyond us , our respect for it is what unites.

    By coincidence, we have a major monsoon episode and my darling librarian wife brought a stack of DVDs and a pile of books for herself home 🙂 Last night we were watching Babakiueria (Barbeque Area), what a hoot (Get the Canopy bug 😉. It should be obligatory viewing like long slacks and suede shoes on citizenship ceremonies.

    BTW there is a fascinating book, Landscape and Memory“, historian Simon Schama takes a journey through “the garden of the Western landscape imagination” while exploring the topography of cultural identity.

  31. Zoot: Thinking of my country is making me nostalgic for some of the more remote places we have lived. Lived in the Pilbara for 10 yrs, went out in the bush most weekends and never saw anyone. Rocks 2.5 billion yrs old, gorges and wide plains, Finding a rockhole the size of a bath at the end of a kangaroo highway an achievement. A rock carving of a flat faced kangaroo. Seasonable edibles, walking along a gorge under a full moon and the stars in a place with little moisture in the air to reduce the display.

  32. Ootz, not quite the same, but perhaps you have seen the TV series Heimat made in the 1980s. I think this is it.

    One of the best TV series I’ve ever seen.

  33. John D, my daughter worked in the Pilbara (Dampier, Karratha, Paraburdoo) for quite a while and one year when I visited she took me to Karajini National Park. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Years later I met someone who described walking through the gorges as like being in a cathedral. I had to agree.
    On the subject of country, I’m a child of the fifties, when Australia was still very much part of the British Empire. This meant I grew up steeped in Enid Blyton, Richmal Crompton (Just William), Biggles, the Beano etc etc etc and as a result I remember yearning to visit the green hills of my ‘homeland’, England. (I know, it sounds ridiculous now).
    It wasn’t until 1970, when as an adult I drove across the Nullabor, that I realised my homeland is red, not green.
    It was a bit of a shock.

  34. A friend visited a famous gorge near Alice Springs, I think. Walking in with a small group, he said he was overwhelmed by the beauty and special qualities he felt, and at last began to understand what Aboriginals had been saying publicly about their connection to country.

    In everyday conversations he may not seem a spiritual person, but that experience was profound for him. I was touched that he shared his thoughts privately.

    There’s a Russian film we saw in the 1990s, that I’ll try to track down. A story of the film maker that focuses on his growing daughter, and finally he declares that all the mundane political bullsh*t they both hear (and have for decades) is a mere surface distraction: deep down their love for their place, the landscape, is heartfelt and true. And she understands.

    The first places that I was deeply attached to were in rural, farming New Zealand. As a ten year old (short term resident), the schoolroom accounts of Maori lore and the Maori Wars of C19 had a strong effect; and the North Island is saturated with Maori history.

  35. Zoot: Spent quite a bit of time camping at Karajini because it is not all that far from Newman. Also walked/swam a number of times from Witternoon up to red gorge and beyond. The main gorges are spectacular for their depth and the 2.5 billion years old banded iron that they are cut down through. (Not as old as the 3.5 billion years old banded iron at Shay gap.) Also found a lot of interesting bits in the smaller sie gorges. Did you go through Weano gorge at about 11 AM when the sun strikes down through this very narrow gorge into a pool. Glowing orange walls and a bright green pool is very spekky. At the end of the gorge is high up the wall of the main gorge.
    The gorge country country stretches to Newman and beyond. Only a 15 min drive to the start of one of my private gorges.

  36. Didn’t make it into Weano Gorge John, but as we viewed it from above my daughter confided she had had a religious experience there (no details unfortunately). Looking at the spinifex on the far side I wondered if it was the inspiration for dot painting.

  37. My “ country “feels to be the mangrove country in this Country. The muddy, sandfly infested areas that sometimes happen between the bush and the sea.

    The last two sleeps there reinforced that.

    John, you mentioned “ seasonable edibles “ that I’m guessing you refer to native bush tucker. I’m intrigued by them.
    Every camp I carry Wild Food Plants Of Australia by Tim Low and do at least 1 hike with it open.

    If anyone knows of another good book on bush tucker I’d be appreciative for a reference. (Photos mandatory, it’s a dangerous game )

  38. Every camping trip, small or large, offers a good reading opportunity ( although I prefer audio books because my eyes hurt when I read )
    This trip I got Heroes by Stephen Fry about Greek mythology. His writing style really agrees with me.
    Going to have to get his previous book now, Mythos.

    It’s a two thumbs up from Jumpy.

  39. Jumpy; Spent a lot of time in mangrove country over the years, particularly around Newcastle and Groote Eylandt. Some of it up creeks and some of it walking through the mangroves them selves. Good places for fishing, crabbing and generally poking around. The mangroves on Groote Eylandt were a bit more exciting because of things that went yap, yap, splash splash. On e particle creek I spent a lot of time fishing for mangrove jack seemed to always have lots of yap, yap. The splashes sounded small but I assume that there were bigger things in the mix. (Two people have been eaten by crocs since we left Groote.)
    Always been interested in bush tucker. On Groote we learned things from Aboriginal friends and missionaries that had been there for a long time. In the Pilbara it came from observation, some Aboriginal input and careful experimentation.

  40. zoot – Just on John Bermingham’s piece: When people scoff at Australia’s “convict past” they imply that we (all of us, not few or some or many) are the descendants of criminals whilst neglecting to mention the real criminals in the early days of English settlement in Australia. MacArthur, the officers of the NSW “Rum Corps and Logan will do for a start – their spiritual descendants can be readily found in boardrooms, ministerial offices and officers’ messes across this land.

    (b.t.w., on the 2nd part of JB’s piece: many Viet Cong fighters were indeed women, many of them lightly built; the recoil of a Type 53 carbine was quite a kick; we reckoned it was a VC secret weapon, fire one round and the recoil would take the firer back out of harm’s way) ).

    Ootz – Heimat? Leaving aside the lawyers’ shenanigans, wasn’t that the concept at the heart of Eddie Mabo’s struggle?

    Yes, “Babakiueria” was brilliant. It certainly did more to deepen understanding than all the pompous showing-off and hypocrisy. It should be seen by every school student in the whole country.

  41. The prelude to Thatcherism was the 1970s, where the country was falling apart, and where the Unions and Bosses together were tearing things apart. British Leyland, for example, was a byword for utterly pointless, political strikes. You had things like the Miners’ Strike bringing about the 3-day week, and the situation was, quite simply, not sustainable.

    Evil also implies malign intent, and to attribute that to Thatcher is just plain wrong. She may or may not have taken bad decisions, and decisions that caused more harm than good, but Evil implies that she set out to do more harm than good, which is not the case.

    As she said of James Callaghan, she frequently disagreed with him about his proposed courses of action, often very strongly, but she never doubted his motivations.

  42. Scott, as I remember it, Mrs Thatcher did nothing to alleviate the suffering she caused even after it became apparent. Callous is the word I would use, but evil seems appropriate in a pinch.

  43. John.
    This grey mangroves are in full bloom this time of year too.
    The whole area up to the mangroves had fire run though it in mid December but rains over Xmas/New year has the place greener than I’ve ever seen it.
    It’s a strange place with a big fresh water area just behind it. The range of bird and animal life is incredible.

    I wasn’t worried as much about the crocs as I was about snakes, there were little frogs everywhere and the baby snakes from the last breeding season that survived the fires will be getting lethal size.

  44. I spend far too much time on twitter than I should, but it takes time to prune or manicure a good feed. Some gems from this morning.

    The Australian economy will remain healthy for long enough to enable the government to claim it as a strength in the lead-up to the May election, but the first Conversation Economic Survey points to a fairly flat outlook beyond that, with a 25% chance of a recession in the next two years.

    With Morrison campaigning in Queensland with the old Jobson Grothe, I may remind you on Steven Koukoulas’ analysis last year on who is better economic manager.

    On both measures, the level of economic growth and that growth relative to the US, Labor is a better performer than the Coalition.

    One of the weakest economic managers since the early 1970s is the current Abbott/Turnbull administration where GDP growth has averaged a mere 0.60 per cent per quarter which is just 0.04 percentage points above the US performance.

    This makes its campaign on “jobs and growth” vulnerable to criticism from the opposition, which for many years has been hampered in its fight on macroeconomic issues by the public misperception that it is a weaker economic manager.

    Apart from that furphy there is also the deliberate use of outdated ABS analysis and figures for employment. If you want a better picture look at Roy Morgan analysis and the picture is not rosy at all. Lack in wage growth would further substantiate that.

  45. Oh and there is this Guardian opinion piece on Brexit, which puts in words and substantiates my thinking. I am neither for nor against Brexit, but any argument to leave anything should automatically come with a plan of how to execute such a process. There never was a plan!

    It is easy to portray Cummings, Johnson and Farage as grand villains. Indeed, if we crash out with no deal, we will be hard pressed to find so much misery brought to so many by so few. But the Cameron government, every MP who voted for the referendum, the supposedly ferocious interviewers at the BBC and hard-nosed journalists in the press let them get away with it. None insisted that the voters be told what form of Brexit they were voting for.

    From memory I commented here at the time after the referendum my surprise at an analysis of google searches on “Brexit” which peaked massively AFTER the vote.

    Now watch Northern Ireland and Scotland over the coming weeks.

    !Breaking news! in relation to my previous tweet comment, this analysis just came in from Businessinsiders, could it be called “The Morrison Effect”?

    Australian business conditions deteriorated sharply late last year, tumbling by the most since the height of the GFC. They are now the weakest since late 2014.

    The deterioration was broad-based across states and industries.

    New orders declined and business confidence remained below trend, suggesting “conditions are unlikely to rebound”, according to the National Australia Bank.

    The results fit with other business surveys conducted by the Ai Group and Illion that have also weakened noticeably in recent months.

    Financial markets currently see around a 60% chance that the RBA will cut rates by the end of the year. We’ll hear a lot from the bank next week.

    Of course it is all Bill Shortens fault!

  46. Ootz

    It’s quite remarkable, the sheer scale and depth of trouble Mr Shorten has been able to cause, from the Opposition benches.

    Truly he is a Wrecker and it’s high time the Govt woke up to it and started telling us about it.

  47. Westminster MPs have voted to reject any no-deal Brexit in principle, by 318 to 310.

    (a close run thing)

  48. It’s reported that Oliver Yates, former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, will resign from the Liberal Party to stand as an independent against Minister Frydenberg. He hopes to highlight action to reduce C emissions.

  49. Ambi, Yates move was confirmed this morning. Frydenberg’s seat is ostensibly very safe, but you never know. The electorate is volatile.

    Daughter and granddaughter left yesterday and last night I helped Mark watch the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, as we were both tired. Our recommendation is, avoid at all costs. It’s one of the silliest films I’ve ever seen, with an unusually, even for Bond, flimsy plot. Pretty much completely ridiculous stunts from beginning to end.

  50. Yes, Brian.

    The recent State election in Queen Victoria’s Loyal State demonstrated what many term “volatility”, but which I suppose the Party of the Labouring Persons will hope is also tinged with a distinct aversion to the Party of Coal and Liberty.

    But the good professors of public governance assure us that State results will not carry over into national results.

    That is, if we ever become organised enough to begin this strange “Federation” nonsense.


  51. Oh dear

    Over at Melbourne University Press, the ubiquitous Louise Adler has resigned along with several board members.

    The University wants its publisher to concentrate on scholarly works. Some unkindly call its current new titles “airport trash”.

    Examples? Ghosted autobiography of Mr Mick Gatto, a prominent Melbourne philosopher; and a recent denunciation of a Cardinal by a widely published theologian.

    Having disposed of the Principal of MLC several years ago, Ms Adler will now understand so much better the shafting process. As done in Queen Victoria’s dominion.

  52. Ambi, I think MUP has decided to keep its nose clean and stick to academic publishing, not to tarnish the brand as one of the world’s best universities, or something.

    They are entitled to do that, but its a bit gutless.

    John, I’ve loved Bond movies too, which is why I’m recommending people avoid this one. Timothy Dalton did two Bond movies. The first was barely passable. The reason why he didn’t do another after Licence to Kill was not because he was too old.

    It was the pits.

  53. Guardian Australia understands

    that tensions between the university administration and the publishing house escalated over the publication of the ABC journalist Louise Milligan’s book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell.
    Allan Myers QC, Pell’s lawyer, took up the position of the university’s chancellor in 2017.

    From what I understand he is a Knight of Malta, a multi millionaire, a major donor to the Liberal party and cultural warrior.

  54. Ootz: Not a good look if the pushing out of Adler coincides with:

    Allan Myers QC, Pell’s lawyer, took up the position of the university’s chancellor in 2017.

    From what I understand he is a Knight of Malta, a multi millionaire, a major donor to the Liberal party and cultural warrior.

    and part of the alleged problem was the publishing of a controversial book on Pell.

  55. Well,

    A Cardinal is entitled to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. Yes, even a Cardinal.

    As is Mick Gatto, should he face charges.

    Some publishers have several imprints. For instance MUP has Miegunyah which produces handsome hardbacks.

    Penguin had Pelican, Puffin, Ptarmigan etc.

    A suggestion: MUP could have Scholarly, Airport, and Miegunyah.


  56. In my honorary position as Consultant Pedant, I’ve seen two manuscripts offered to MUP by Professor Michael Gatto :

    The Just War: A Memoir

    and his ground-breaking

    Non-attachment – Buddhist Practices on Mediation

    so I’m looking forward to their appearing under the new MUP Scholarly imprint.


  57. There was an interesting interview with Laurie Muller
    outgoing chairman of MUP
    on RN Breakfast and I am confused now because there is a new Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell who appears to have made the actually decision to narrow down the scope of MUP. However, we don’t know what weight previous internal ruction had on that.

    There is an interesting study I came across which weaves in with our discussion on cultural/linguistic idiosyncrasies re Country and Heimat further up thread. Future tense: how the language you speak influences your willingness to take climate action

    looks at the fact that language is deeply intertwined with culture and reflects an entire way of perceiving the world, a so-called Weltanschauung (world view).

    (The research) shows that speakers of present-tensed languages are more likely to engage in green behaviour.

    According to our estimates, a change from a present- to a future-tensed language results in a 20% decrease in an individual’s propensity to help safeguard the environment. What’s more, speakers of future-tensed languages are 24% less willing to pay higher taxes to fund environmental policies. These estimates are based on the World Values Surveys, a collection of nationally representative, individual-level surveys conducted in nearly 100 countries.

    Our results may have practical implications. In the short term, it seems unlikely that countries will eliminate the future tense from their language. But there may be other opportunities.

    For instance, environmental campaigns in future-tensed countries might try to counteract the linguistic effect of future tense and portray the dangers of climate change as particularly urgent and pressing. And when deliberating about investing in otherwise similar countries, international organisations might decide that their investment has a better payoff in present-tensed countries.

  58. Interesting on VC Maskell, Ootz.

    A quick look at Uni presses such as Cambridge, Oxford, Chicago, etc. may indicate what the new VC sets as an aspiration. Scholarly in an authoritative way: erudition on the march.

    Will MUP ever reach such heights?

    Would CUP have published The Latham Diaries?? (More tabloid than airport.)


  59. Last night on ABC 4 Corners was broadcast Escape From Saudi.

    Four Corners reporter Sophie McNeill flew to Bangkok, slipped past security and joined Rahaf Al Qunun as the young woman barricaded herself inside the room.

    The programme also covers other Saudi women who weren’t so lucky at escaping abusive situations, or who are on temporary visas in Australia and living in fear that they may be deported back to Saudi Arabia.

  60. Ootz, the bloke I’m reading (slowly) on the origins of language is fully signed up to culture and Weltanschauung as drivers of language.

    There was an interesting interview between Phillip Adams and Professor Rachel Nordlinger on indigenous languages of Australia. They have two outstanding features. One is that like Latin the word order can be swapped around. There are suffix markers to indicate which word is the subject and which is the object. You can start with the verb if you like.

    Secondly, the elements of kinship are reflected in the language itself as to who is being spoken about and I think who is being spoken to.

  61. On MUP, my son Mark thinks some of MUP’s output was trashy, and he says as an author you need to be mindful of the company you keep within the brand. So he’s in favour of restricting MUP to a tighter range.

  62. Djiri nyuramba (greetings everyone)
    Brian, I have heard that interview and have myself had the privilege to learn rudimentary Djabugay ngirrma (Djabugay language). I fully understand and share the enthusiasm of Prof Nordlinger for Aussie Fist Nation tongues and insights thereof. Similar to music, you don’t have to be able to read music, to enjoy music and evoke deep seated experiences from it. Research has shown that it helps if you have been exposed to a variety of music in youth to extend the depth and diversity of such experiences. Therefor it would suggest that there is a similar link with languages.

    Yes the word order and suffixes are alien to most contemporary European languages. From memory, only Inuit and some other indigenous people have similar linguistic features. Interestingly in Euskera, the Basque tongue and oldest living language in Europe, word order is also irrelevant to meaning. What really striked me when I got the basic gist of Djabugay and word order thingy, how poetic and playful in meanings one can easily express oneself. The suffixes though take some getting used to and hilarious mistakes can easily made, similar with intonations in Cantonese or Madarin.

    We also have to keep in mind how languages change and evolve once they have been rooted in writing. I would suggest that it is no coincidence that ancient languages have this no word order facility and inherited ability for poetry and multiple meanings. Literacy affords the luxury to not rely on memory and ‘simplify’ communication. However, memory of words and meaning are two different things, as in, you can read the words but you don’t necessary will get the full extend of meaning. It strikes me that our indigenous languages can be used like mnemonic codes to embed complex meanings in simple sentences. In english, the closest we get to that is in poetry.

    Songlines, in my understanding, are epic poems which use features in the environment and social structures to embed ancient wisdom for multiple applications depending on context. This is not unique to our indigenous people. We still have a vague attachment to the wealth of the Homeric epics from the antiquity. Many of you older generations can still get the feeling of what it means to be an Argonaut and act it out perhaps. William Dalrymple in his book Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, describes of an ancient tradition of traveling story tellers in Rajasthan, which could go for a week, weaving ancient stories with contemporary meanings to provided not only entertainment but insights and relieve to audiences. Needles to say, in the age of television and internet a dying art. Perhaps Shakespeare’s plays are the closest for comparisons. So I would be interested in what you all think would be the closest match of his plays to the current situation we have wrt climate change and the huge transformations we seem to undergo as a global community.

    Garu (see ya)

  63. Ootz: Yep, Aboriginal languages are fascinating and should be taught more at schools because they teach us how different languages can be and how they are shaped by what is important to the speakers.
    Went to Enindilyagwa classes when I lived on Groote Eylandt run by someone who was in part responding to my wife’s interest in grammar, the relationship of language to need and how different groups. (For example, rag and rake sound the same to a Warndilyagwa person while we cant hear the difference between a voiced and unvoiced D.
    Enindilyagwa is claimed to be a lot more complex that many other Aboriginals and put a lot of effort into playing on words. It is also far more numerate than many other Aboriginal languages. (The simpler ones had 1,2, big mobs while Enindilyagwa had the structure to go over 100 – the linguist managed to get the locals to count up to 40 turtle eggs before they got bored. Unlike us who use base 10 numbers the locals had a base 20 system, which is probably a result of the locals not wearing shoes. contact with the Makkasans may have affected both language and numeracy.)
    Enindilyagwa had over 100 personal pronouns. This was necessary because precision could be a matter of life and death. If you said “we went out into the bush” it was important that it was clear that you were not going out with someone you weren’t supposed to.) The same pronouns were used for dogs and humans with a much simpler system for other animals..

  64. John

    Did they have anything in writing ?
    I know they had paintings that could tell a story in some way but I’m not sure how much precision and detail was expressed like an alphabet.
    Then again a “ Rosetta Stone “ could be out there somewhere.

    Also I’m sure, especially up in the Gulf, there were visits from many different cultures.

  65. Jumpy: The Western gulf was visited seasonally by the Makkasan trepang collectors arrived on the monsoon rains and went home on the dry season winds for a long time. They had some influence on the language (raja was the word for rice) and some cultural effects such as the place Makkasan flags had in funeral ceremonies. I am sure that they weren’t the only visitors over the years. The Djang’kawu Sisters who had a key role in Yirkalla culture sounded like they came from PNG (planted yams)
    Aboriginal paintings often contain a lot of symbolic stuff representing things like billabongs, sand ridges and other land features as well as animals. For a trained Aborigine the picture is a memory prompt for a story.
    Other groups were reported to use “message sticks” which were used as a prompt to memory. Think of the pictures and message sticks as something like a speakers notes.
    Smoke was also used for long distance communication.
    I make no claim for expertise.

  66. I remember someone in a TV documentary explaining the symbols in a cave painting which constituted a very accurate map to those who knew how to read it.

  67. Had some heavy duty family stuff tonight, so logged on late.

    I’ll get back on language later, but on banks, two points.

    Jumpy it is ridiculous to look at share price movements on an intraday basis, unless you are a day trader, of course. On the weekend I’ll show a 3-year graph, which might tell you something.

    The second is that this is not so much about big fat profits. I’ve looked again, and banks are about half as profitable as an average of leading stocks. It’s more about how effort is rewarded within the bank. Employees have been rewarded for quantifiable and measurable KPI’s (key performance indicators). The behaviourists took over the shop years ago. It’s a disaster not confined to banking.

    Those who know about this stuff say that you can’t change the ‘culture’ within the bank by yelling, or even threatening from outside.

    So how do you change the culture? Good question, but not necessarily by asking a lawyer of a journalist who has never organized anything bigger than a booze-up in a brewery.

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