Weekly salon 6/8

1. Tears in the rain

I don’t often note the passing of famous people, because there are so many. Recently I was touched by news of the passing of Rutger Hauer, who played the replicant Roy Batty who was meant to be hunted down and killed Harrison Ford’s character Rick Deckard in Bladerunner. See the final part of the scene in “I Saw the Future”: Rutger Hauer (RIP) Remembers His Most Memorable Role in Blade Runner.

The monologue as delivered was:

    I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

The script given to Hauer was:

    I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching stars fight on the shoulder of Orion… I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!

Thankyou Wikipedia.

Apparently Hauer thought the script was not in character, so he improved it. Certainly it was a brilliant piece of acting, and is said to have set up Hauer’s career.

Some have noted that Bladerunner which appeared in 1989 was set in 2019. So Hauer and his filmic character died in the same year.

2. Remembering Woodstock

What did they say? If you were alive in the 1960s and can remember them, you weren’t there. Something like that, I can’t remember.

Woodstock was held on August 15–18, 1969, attracting an audience of more than 400,000.

    Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York,[5] 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. It was also referred to alternatively, on occasion, as the “Bethel Rock Festival” given its location in the Town of Bethel, New York, or the “Aquarian Music Festival”.

Post Woodstock music festivals sprang up everywhere, as did alternative life-style communities. The festivals live on, but most of the alternative life-style communities have gone, although I understand there is a definite residue in Nimbin and surrounds.

In some ways they were quite heady times from the late 1950s on for about 20 years. I can recall knowing of people on the edge of my acquaintance circle who subscribed to the notion of open marriages and ‘free love’. People who wore nothing at home and had sex in front of the kids. After my first marriage ended I went on a date to the movies. Her choice, we ended up seeing a movie that started with a French teenager having it off with a cat. Later he progressed to having sex with his mum. The second movie (yes, you got two for the price) was about a ménage à trois where a man’s mistress was having it off with his wife, in a French film that scarcely needed a wardrobe department.

Any way, lest the Baby Boomers lay claim to all this cultural advancement, be assured, my son Mark and I did a bit of informal research earlier this year. Here’s a sample of birth dates of some of the players.

    Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – cultist, guru or con-artist? – 1918

    William S Burroughs – 1914

    Che Guvera – 1928

    Andy Warhol – 1928

    Jack Kerouac – 1922

    Allen Ginsberg – 1926

    R D Laing, who saw the family as a source of oppression – 1927

    Ivan Illich – 1926

    E F Schumacher 1911

    Danny Cohen-Bendit (Danny the Red) 1945

    Beatles – John Lennon (1942) Paul McCartney (1942) George Harrison (1943)

    Woodstock artists – Janis Joplin (1943) Joan Baez (1941) Joe Cocker (1942) Jimi Hendrix (1942)

The wave of postwar feminists were all ahead of the Baby Boomers. Germaine Greer was 1939.

In philosophy the existentialists were big and in literature; the Theatre of the Absurd (Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet etc) was the go, following, of course, Franz Kafka, and even Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).

Apart from the death of God in the 19th century, the first half of the 20th was a time for chaos and catastrophe, including the temporary death of capitalism with the Great Depression. Out of the pain and suffering there was a search for lost ultimate meaning, which was elusive.

So what did the Baby Boomers do?

Plenty, but that is another story. They grew up under the cloud of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the fearful fifties, and the weird experimentation and rebellion of the sixties and early seventies. But they made the modern world.

3. Has China arrived culturally?

Some are telling us we must choose between the US and China. However, China is our biggest trading partner, and from time immemorial when states and peoples trade there is cultural influence.

China is about to displace the US as the country we most collaborate with in scientific research (pay-walled), as this graph shows:

However, we won’t be affected much because we don’t do much research:

    Author of the report, James Laurenceson, said Australia spends a tiny fraction of what the US and China spend on research and if it wanted to maintain its high-income status it had to be open to cross-border flows of knowledge and technology.


    In 2010 in the Shanghai Rankings for research there were just two Chinese universities in the top 200. By 2018 there were 12. In the same period the number of US universities in the top 200 fell from 89 to 69.

In another article, the AFR’s Robert Bolton writes that Funding for basic research disappears in a wave of populism. Here’s how we have been going in recent years:

You can see where Tony Abbott came in.

In recent times applied research has done better:

Former chief scientist Ian Chubb says:

    “We don’t have a national strategy for science and research. The outcome for Australia is not going to be good. We are right to be concerned.”

What we have a surfeit of is third-rate politicians.

4. The power of protest

Recently there was an intriguing article by an anonymous scientist in The Guardian I’m An Ordinary Person Who Joined An Extinction Rebellion Blockade. Here’s Why You Should Too. The argument is based on research showing that if you get a mere 3.5% of people involved, real political change can be effected.

It’s a very worthy cause, but I suspect they don’t have 3.5% of people, the news media are not picking up on them to any great degree, and the incidental reports I hear suggest that, mainly, they are annoying people who want to get on with their busy lives. Protest can have unexpected and less than benign outcomes.

It has been going on in Brisbane for around two months. Do they really think that will change the minds of ScoMo, Angus Taylor and the Coalsheviks who run the national government?

What of the School strike for climate action?

James Hansen once said we would see the importance of climate change when we could see it from our window. This article The Climate Crisis Movie Isn’t Out Yet, But We Just Saw The Trailer originally published in Forbes, suggests we have reached that point. However, seeing half the Great Barrier Reef die before our eyes, and the constant pleas from our Pacific neighbours, have not done the trick for our pollies in power.

27 thoughts on “Weekly salon 6/8”

  1. Something to protest about?
    It seems Canavans brother John acquired a 7% interest in the Rolleston Bowen basin mine. The deal was made in Feb this year. The story I found is here: https://www.pressreader.com/
    I believe that it has been reported elsewhere. Matt, for his part publicly declared the interest of close family, seeking to inoculate himself against criticism.
    I also saw a report on FB that John Canavan actually works for Peabody. Another report “…his brother John Canavan is the Director of Mergers and Acquisitions for the coal giant Peabody Energy – a company which according to the Stop Adani Aliiance (sic) has been funding climate denial groups.” See: https://climatesafety.info/shamefullyaustralian/

    More evidence that despite coal enjoying so little social capital, our elected politicians go their own way.

  2. Geoff, I’m not sure coal electricity has little social capital whilst so many choose to use it.

    Perhaps if enough boycott FFs and go another way it’ll die. Well, not perhaps, definitely.

    If you’re connected to the coal fired grid then walk to your meter box, there’s a switch there that has ON and OFF on it, what will you do ?

  3. Jumpy electricity has broad approval as a form of energy. Generation of electricity can come from a variety of sources. Fossil fuels is one, and there are others known as renewable sources. The former – gas and coal – are fundamentally bad for the world, but you and millions of people understand that. The necessary goal is to absolutely minimise the use of fossil fuels – and millions understand that too. And that’s where social capital comes into the picture. In this context it refers to the collective opinion of a society that is no longer content with coal as an energy source and is aware that options exist. Many of those millions simply can’t afford alternatives, and those folk have no choice but to pay the utility whatever they ask, irrespective of how the power is generated. They don’t have the option of going to the meter box and switching the power off – even if they hate that coal is used to generate that power. That disdain for coal can be described in terms of social capital, where a number of citizens take a view on something and either approve, disapprove or are neutral. Assessing the worth of say, building a new coal-fired power station in terms of social capital would be to assess accurately just how the citizens felt about it and making decisions based on that research. Well that’s sort of how it should go. But then tossers like Canavan seem oblivious to social capital, and advance ideas that are so odious it is fair to say that there is no social capital (i.e. social approval) to proceed with a coal power station.

  4. Geoff, all I’m saying is that plenty of folk like Brian and JD can afford an electric car for example, but they don’t.
    I don’t know about you.

    Sometimes around here it’s like a Anti-Capitalist Vegan convention that order Big Macs on their Phones.

    You have a choice to live by your own convictions.
    If enough do then we get what we deserve.

  5. IMO it took the so-called Oil Shock in the late 1970s, Jumpy, for a lot of folk, here and in Europe, North America, to think and talk seriously about energy in our daily lives, as I recall.

    In the 1960s, a few scientists warned about Greenhouse warming, and CSIRO was working on rudimentary solar hot water kits for homes…..

    And hydro power was praised to the skies: Snowy, Tassie etc.

    But we had other priorities, for example: nuclear war, radioactive fallout from atmospheric tests of HBombs, industrial air pollution, development of new plastics and minitiarisation, wars in South East Asia, global poverty and population growth, the occasional skirmish in the Middle East, and a thingamijig called the Cold War.

    Oh, and postwar migration and reconstruction following WW2.

    But I can assure you the Oil Shock had several effects: a quest for smaller family cars, better efforts on fuel efficiency, more analysis of home heating and cooling (insulation, passive solar heating through orientation and design etc.) Fuel consumption figures are now quoted on new cars: how long did that take to occur in Australia??

    Take-up can be slow. Small builders, architects, large volume builders and developers, engineers and manufacturers can be slow to change. And the attitudes and preferences of customers are a large factor as you point out.

  6. Jumpy, I drive a second hand ute. I haven’t seen an electric with the body shape I need, and I can’t afford a new ute any way.

    The last time my wife bought a new car was 1975, before our son was born. Have only been able to afford second hand since then.

  7. Geoff, all I’m saying is that plenty of folk like Brian and JD can afford an electric car for example, but they don’t.

    This criticism carries no weight since you don’t have an electric vehicle.

  8. Brian

    Jumpy, I drive a second hand ute. I haven’t seen an electric with the body shape I need, and I can’t afford a new ute any way.

    So no sacrifice monetarily or habit adjustment to save the Planet and future generations?

    Perhaps not doing the inland tour of Australia or European holiday for the sake of Humanity?

    It’s not difficult for me to understand why those ambivalent to global warming see those in the catastrophe !!! group not walking their talk.

  9. It’s not difficult for me to understand why those ambivalent to global warming see those in the catastrophe !!! group not walking their talk.

    Since you too are not walking the talk we must assume you are “ambivalent to global warming”.

  10. Since you too are not walking the talk we must assume you are “ambivalent to global warming”.

    BINGO !!
    What an observatory genius you are zoot, congratulations.

    Have you boycotted all fossil fuels yet or are you comparable to a vegan activist eating a Bacon and Egg McMuffin with extra cheese ?

  11. How’s this for a clownish attempt at attention-seeking?

    New York: A heavily armed man who frightened shoppers and employees at a Walmart in Missouri told the police he was testing his Second Amendment rights when he recorded himself entering the store, according to a prosecutor, who charged him on Friday with making a terrorist threat.

    The man, Dmitriy Andreychenko, 20, of Springfield, Missouri, was carrying a tactical rifle slung across his chest, a handgun and 100 rounds of ammunition Thursday when he caused a panic at the store, the police said.

    Pictures taken by a witness showed that Andreychenko was wearing a bulletproof vest.

    “This is Missouri, I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out,” Andreychenko told a police officer, according to an arrest report.

  12. BINGO !!

    An admission from the Jumpster that he still denies the reality of climate change/global warming.
    Thank you sir.

  13. No zoot, you are lying, again.
    Ambivalence isn’t denial.

    But you know that and so does everyone else.
    Please stop embarrassing yourself.

  14. Mr A
    Missouri is an open carry State.
    No one should be surprised.
    Looks like a media beat up about nothing as usual.

    Firearm fatalities aren’t even in the top 10 of causes of death in Missouri.
    A better reason to freak out would be cholesterol levels…

  15. Ambivalence isn’t denial.

    So you agree with us that global warming/climate change is real? (I chose my words carefully)
    So what is it you are ambivalent about?

  16. How on earth can someone say

    An admission from the Jumpster that he still denies the reality of climate change/global warming.


    So you agree with us that global warming/climate change is real?


    I chose ( sic ) my words carefully

    be taken seriously?

    Never mind. I know the answer.

    You can’t, obviously.

  17. I’m on a Samsung Pad, which I bought so I could cancel the daily Courier Mail. Saves trees as well as pollution of my brain. Computer is updating.

    Jumpy, you obviously don’t know the relative costs of electric vehicles and overseas trips. They are in a different league.

    And you are assuming that I didn’t buy offsets.

  18. Apropos of governance, just heard a few minutes on radio of Barrie Cassidy talking to Jon Faine about broadcasting and interviewing.

    Barrie claimed that new PM Kevin Rudd introduced the practice of “running a mini election campaign” every day, using doorstops and media events. Too fast. Didn’t leave time for policy development and careful planning. He called the practice “insane”.

    Then Barrie said that every PM since, has followed suit.
    But also conceded that PM Morrison has indicated he won’t be doing so in future.

    Certainly the description Mr Cassidy gave is consistent with the account we eventually heard from Mr Rudd’s Health Minister. Kevin was racing around the continent making appearances at hospitals and clinics, while she was struggling to hear from him what his latest thoughts on a national medical policy might be. Nicola Roxon. Bright. Utterly disillusioned by the PM’s modus operandi.

    I wonder if Kevin’s habit developed when he was a morning fixture with Joe Hockey on commercial TV?

  19. Zoot

    It’s very simple, is global warming/climate change real or not?

    Yes, of course it is, unequivocally. No ducking or dodging on my part.

    Now, your turn to not duck or dodge ( if that’s possible for you ),

    Have you boycotted all fossil fuels yet or are you comparable to a vegan activist eating a Bacon and Egg McMuffin with extra cheese ?

  20. Have you boycotted all fossil fuels yet

    Have you?

    Get back to me when you are living the complete libertarian life.
    John Galt wouldn’t hang around Mackay moaning about how the government infringes his liberties.

  21. are you comparable to a vegan activist eating a Bacon and Egg McMuffin with extra cheese ?

    For your pissweak analogy to apply I would have to have advocated boycotting fossil fuels. I haven’t and to the best of my knowledge nobody on this forum (apart from you) has suggested it. You’re welcome to provide counter evidence.
    However we have all (apart from you) acknowledged the necessity of transitioning to a low carbon future if the species is to survive.

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