1. Can Richmond save Australia
Unless you were living under a rock, or in hospital in an induced coma, you would know that:
Richmond has swept to victory in the AFL grand final, extinguishing GWS hopes of glory with a dominant 89-point win at the MCG for the club’s 12th flag.
GWS was hoping to complete a fairytale finals turnaround to win the flag from sixth but after the Giants kicked the first goal of the day, they then conceded the next 11.
Out-tackled, out-performed, out-scored — it was a dirty day for the Giants, as a terrific Tigers outfit made it two flags in three years with a 17.12 (114) to 3.7 (25) victory.
I watched a bit of it and GWS seemed to be running the wrong way:
Afterwards celebrations became a bit boisterous at times:
When I started out on my constitutional walk in the park with radio plugged in, two Melbourne sports commentators were explaining Richmond’s success. It wasn’t just the usual – good players, well-coached etc. This club was based on love and empathy. They explained that this typically grew out of a long tradition of success on the field spilling over to bonding off the field. Richmond had done it the other way around.
Of course, George Megalogenis had already explained all this to Richard Fidler last year, following the 2017 season, when Richmond won after a 37-year drought. We were told:
- George has been looking into how the club’s leadership changed its culture, to make it more inclusive and better at long term planning.
The club hired a mindfulness coach and began a new regime focusing on the process of the game, rather than the outcome.
The result was a happier and more harmonious team, which found a new way to win.
George thinks there’s a message for Australia’s political leaders in Richmond’s success.
Richmond’s approach every year after failing on the field was to sack the coach and a swag of players, and start again. In 2017, after finishing 13th in 2016, they kept the coach, looked to do what they could to support him, and adopted a philosophy of helping everyone to become their best self within the group while supporting each other with love and compassion.
George M thinks our pollies, and all of us, can learn from Richmond.
Still, the other teams have to end up losing, and they need to learn how to do that also.
2. Can Indigenous thinking save the world?
That is the question addressed by Phillip Adams talking to Tyson Yunkaporta, poet, artist and senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University, who has written a book Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World.
Tyson says that around 10,000 years ago ego narcissism took over our world, a kind of original sin. Phillip Adams expressed it as the notion that simplicity and order must be imposed on the complexity of creation.
Tyson identifies the narcissism with the phrase “I am greater than…” He says that in traditional society while there was always a need to seek a balance between being an amazing individual and being part of a group, the default position was to share rather than to accumulate. Owning land, for example is saying “I am greater than this piece of land”.
A really interesting part comes at 28:40 where Adams asks him whether the wisdom of the traditional tribes was innate or part of culture. Tyson says we are all born indigenous, living and loving within a group and profoundly connected to place. The cultural values of individualism that underlie modern society are seen as a form of pathology (my words, but I think that is what he’s saying).
When I was at university I remember reading an article by the anthropologist Ruth Benedict where she characterised societies economically as either working like a funnel or a siphon. In the ‘funnel’ societies ownership and output were funneled in a way that concentrates wealth. In siphon societies there is automatic sharing rather than accumulation.
We are still trying to find a form of society that does both. that is the social democratic project. In short, it requires the domestication and civilising of capitalism and in particular constraining the corporation.
There is little taste for this at present in the US and China, as the future of the large firms is entwined with national destiny. Whether trade policy was ever based on anything else for the majors is a question for another day.
3. The psychobiotic revolution
Warning. You might need a strong stomach for this one!
That’s a big word to go with this New Scientist article which may be pay-walled How what you eat directly influences your mental health.
Everyone knows the phrase “kick in the guts” or “I’ve had a gut full”. Now it seems that there is indeed a connection between our inhabitants of our intestines and our brains which can affect stress, mood and anxiety.
Consult your own physician, but the short story is this. We all trillions of cells in our bodies which are actually bugs (see Human microbiome). These bugs can have a positive or negative affect on our health. Research now shows that their activity breaches the “blood-brain” barrier, although it is not known how. So it matters how you feed the little beasts. Experiments with mice have shown startling changes in mood and activity depending on the type of bacteria inhabiting their bodies.
It’s more than just a matter of eating yoghurt. See also Healthy gut, happy mind: What to eat to boost how you feel:
- There are studies in people that suggest that bacteria can affect hormones and neurotransmitters like GABA, which has a calming effect on some areas of the brain, but the exact mechanism is something we don’t quite understand. However, if we give just the right bacteria for six weeks, we can see an increase in activation in parts of the brain associated with mood and emotions, compared with a placebo group. Gut bacteria can influence symptoms of depression, too.
As I say, consult your own physician. My doctor told me there is psychobiotics is definitely a thing. She was aware of an experiment that showed the Mediterranean diet as being positive. Probiotics (consult your pharmacist) may be in order after a course of antibiotics. See also Smart probiotics: Wiring friendly bacteria to take out disease:
- We’re engineering bugs that will patrol our guts and take out pathogens.
Then there are prebiotics and faecal transplants.
Also, I have heard that when we are born it is important that we get a lick of pooh on the way out! Babies born by caesarean section miss out on all that goodness.
[Update: I’ve just found this article from 2015 – Health Check: seven nutrients important for mental health – and where to find them]
4. Will Trump enjoy the impeachment process?
The odds of Trump being impeached have gone from 24% to 60%, but there is only an 18% chance of him being removed from office.
There are plenty of explainers, eg:
Nancy Pelosi now has six committees on the job. But Trump only did what his supporters and opponents would expect him to do – twist some arms to dig up dirt on his opponent, albeit foreign arms. But that too is no surprise. And then obstruct Congress knowing about it.
All in a day’s work for Trump.
To remove him from office would require 20 Republicans in the Senate to vote for his removal. Approximately no-one expects that to happen.
So it will distract everyone, but will it affect Trump’s re-election chances? I don’t know, but perhaps that is most at stake.
Meanwhile here in Oz lying is what politics of the right is about these days.
John Lord thought Abbott was the champ, but will be outdone by Morrison if he stays around.