Weekly salon 25/4

1. Anzac Day

I guess I’ve never been big on Anzac Day. I grew up in a settlement of farmers of German ancestry. My Dad taught in German in primary school in the Barossa Valley until they changed the rules. He was too young to enlist when WW1 broke out, but could have joined a bit later. Being a third generation Australian, I’m sure he would have fought for his country. The tradition in Europe was that you fought for whoever ruled you at the time. Frederick the Great invaded Saxony so that the Saxons would be fighting for him rather than against him when he picked a fight with Maria Theresa’s Austria. However, Napoleon found that 30,000 Bavarians swapped sides when they saw what they were up against in the Battle of Leipzig.

As it happened, my mob were fingered as German during WW1 and not to be trusted.

My wife has no German heritage. Her mother lost two brothers in WW1, but never spoke of them.

However, Australia’s loss was very high. A quick check reveals:

    According to the First World War page on the Australian War Memorial website from a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. The latest figure for those killed is given as 62,000.

Scaling up to today’s population, that would mean about 300,000 killed. Understandably, there are memorials all over the country.

The question has been asked, why Anzac? As a pointless campaign in a pointless war, it is probably appropriate to remember the futility of war through Anzac.

This morning I woke to go to the loo exactly when the sun was rising. The bagpipes playing, and it was very moving. Otherwise we have done nothing special today in this household.

2. Kerfuffle in Quinceland

Here in Qld there was a minor controversy when our Chief Medical Officer was accused of being power hungry, because she put the kybosh on a four-plane flyover on Anzac morning – ‘Power hungry’: LNP slams Queensland top doctor’s coronavirus advice.

Premier Palaszczuk has made it clear that as a mere politician she has given the power of decision-making to the CMO on what is permitted under the vris lockdown. It is clear that the LNP would have done no such thing. I’m not sure that the current authority structure is the best possible. Angela Merkel is taking advice from an ethics Council which has a minority of virologists and includes philosophers inter alia. However, Paluszczuk has been quite consistent and is clearly trying to take the politics out of the issue.

I don’t expect to agree with every decision Dr Young makes. On this occasion I have no opinion either way. It’s OK to disagree but let’s have a bit of civility and respect.

BTW it’s wrong to say “the government allowed 80 people to congregate for a funeral”. I understand Dr Young specified up to 80 people could attend, but in the event about 30 did.

At least the Brisbane Times gave Dr Young the right of reply, unlike the ABC who routinely give the LNP the last say.

3. Making art out of necessity

Hoarding toilet rolls was not universal, but far from unique to Australia. While experts pondered why, Turkish Hamburg-based artist Sakir Gökcebag made art out of toilet rolls, masses of art:

Many other artists have had a go. To me the function of art is to reconcile inner and outer worlds, yielding insights, but art also points to reality and meaning beyond what ‘truth’ statements can express.

This article collects some of the street graffiti art inspired by Covid 19. I’ve chosen this one:

Berlin artist EME Freethinker looks as though he/she (I’m betting he) has used the remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall where artists paint over previous work. When we were there in 2015 it was all amazing quality, but I guess renews itself to represent current themes and ethos. To me there is a clear reference to the creature Golum from J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

4. The day Hitler died

Adolf Hitler died presumably by taking a cyanide tablet on 30 April 1945, so the 75th anniversary is coming up.

Three years ago I collected material to write a post with the working title The Day Hitler Died. I don’t have the time or head-space to finish it now, so it will remain in the unfinished draft file of the blog, which now numbers 158 (mostly, but not all mine).

Hitler retreated to his Führerbunker on 16 January, 1945. Towards the end of April the Americans were closing in from the west, but the Russians were already in Potsdamer Platz, which is a stone’s throw away. In September 2015, when we were in Berlin, towards the end of a walking tour of the city we were shown where Hitler’s bunker is:

It’s deep under that tree, with no visible sign to mark the place.

Nearby is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, comprising 2711 slabs of concrete or ‘stelae’ each 2.38 metres (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 metres (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7 metres (7.9 in to 15 ft 5.0 in). Here’s my photo:

Architect Peter Eisenmann is quite unhelpful about what it all means. The best I can come up with is:

    Architect Eisenman explained that he wanted visitors to feel the loss and disorientation that Jews felt during the Holocaust.

Understandably, controversy has raged in Germany. The tour guide gave us an explanation equally enigmatic, which I’ve forgotten, but it roughly meant ‘make of it what you will, but you will feel differently when you are there’.

We did.

Update: See also ‘Stumbling stones’: a different vision of Holocaust remembrance:

    Known as “Stolpersteine”, or “stumbling stones”, there are now more than 70,000 such memorial blocks laid in more than 1,200 cities and towns across Europe and Russia. Each commemorates a victim outside their last-known freely chosen residence.

    The stones represent a new vision of urban remembrance. If Eisenman’s large monument, set in the governmental heart of Berlin, emphasises the scale and political culpability of the Holocaust, the Stolpersteine focus on its individual tragedies.

    The inscription on each stone begins “Here lived”, followed by the victim’s name, date of birth, and fate: internment, suicide, exile or, in the vast majority of cases, deportation and murder.

    Together, the Stolpersteine now constitute the largest decentralised monument in the world.

4. Extreme stupidity of POTUS Trump

POTUS Trump has gone to new lengths of distraction as Trump suggests injecting disinfectant to fight coronavirus.

I listened to the full tape, which Indira Naidoo played to Andrew Romano in their weekly ABC cross last night. Trump was not telling people what to do; strictly he was telling his virus experts what they should investigate, but with enthusiasm for expected miracles.

It was always ridiculous and dangerous, to the degree that the makers of the product issued a warning against people using the stuff in any other way than it was designed for.

35 thoughts on “Weekly salon 25/4”

  1. Not that anyone needs to compete, but the Stolpersteine
    Stumbling blocks
    Stumbling stones
    project that began in Germany and is now in several European countries, is “the largest decentralised memorial in the world”.

    Tiny, unobtrusive and very moving. Our guide in northern Germany showed us some, set in footpaths in a small town.

    Lest we forget.

  2. Ambi, I’ve now added an update:

    See also ‘Stumbling stones’: a different vision of Holocaust remembrance:

      Known as “Stolpersteine”, or “stumbling stones”, there are now more than 70,000 such memorial blocks laid in more than 1,200 cities and towns across Europe and Russia. Each commemorates a victim outside their last-known freely chosen residence.

      The stones represent a new vision of urban remembrance. If Eisenman’s large monument, set in the governmental heart of Berlin, emphasises the scale and political culpability of the Holocaust, the Stolpersteine focus on its individual tragedies.

      The inscription on each stone begins “Here lived”, followed by the victim’s name, date of birth, and fate: internment, suicide, exile or, in the vast majority of cases, deportation and murder.

      Together, the Stolpersteine now constitute the largest decentralised monument in the world.

  3. That link also links to a 2004 article about the Eisenman monument.

    Apparently Eisenman is a US architect, and says his monument could never have been done in the US. It also says his:

      giant menhir-shaped slabs are laid out across an area the size of four football fields and are designed to simulate the vertiginous sense of bewilderment felt by Europe’s Jews during the Nazi era.

  4. BTW Trump has now said he was being sarcastic and addressing the journalists. The BBC reporter said he was there, and that is not what happened. The TV footage clearly shows him addressing his own expert staff in the form of a question.

  5. Bit of a barbecue-stopper, talking about the Holocaust.

    Ditto the President and the inadvisability of using disinfectant inside the human body by ingestion or injection.

    I think it’s “The Shovel” that has a headline saying that millions of people who voted for Donald Trump say they did so sarcastically.

  6. Anzac for us was a quiet respectful gathering along the beach. Someone’s car was “delivering the service” and really you could feel the spirit .
    Further up the coast, a lifesaver, standing in his observation loft, played the Last Post” on his trumpet. I many places, people lit candles in their driveways and paid their respects that way. My son-in-law tells me that his whole street turned.

    We are used to the Virus dominating the news. It took a dreadful accident in Victoria to interrupt that topic. A speeding Porsche set the scene for the tragedy. That driver was duly arrested for a number of offences and remains in custody.
    Here is an astounding bio on the guy:
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8248633/Criminal-history-Melbourne-crash-Porsche-driver-Richard-Pusey.html

  7. That was a shocker, Geoff.

    I haven’t heard yet why the truck crossed the road and mowed them down. Presumably the driver suffered a medical incident. Do you know?

    Ambi:

      Bit of a barbecue-stopper, talking about the Holocaust.

    I was more interested in Hitler than the holocaust as such. With my two brothers and one sister-in-law we spent a few days in Southern Poland looking at ancestral villages. We had a spare day and the vote was to go to Auschwitz, down the road a bit. That was gut-wrenching.

    A few days ago there was an interesting interview with a researcher who had added to the 128,000 books about Hitler. It was on ABC RN, but I can’t find it.

    His thesis was that Hitler was mostly obsessed by America, and the fact that some of Germany’s best were finding it attractive to go there. He saw wide open lands and Lebensraum, so envied their scope to express the spirit of the Volk.

    Sounded plausible.

  8. Brian I have no reliable insight into why the truck swerved. Like you I read that there was a medical incident. I also heard – unsubstantiated – that the driver had drugs, but I don;t trust the source.
    Some interesting legal argument is sure to follow the Porsche drivers fate. Can he be held accountable for the deaths? I think there is a legal principle called “remoteness” that might protect him from manslaughter. But given his record he may attract maximum sentences served consecutively.

  9. Geoff, my recall is that the Porsche driver was liable for up to 10 years for not rendering assistance under those circumstances under Victorian law.

    There are some people who should not let out to mingle with the rest of humanity.

  10. * WARNING: anecdote, possibly irrelevant *

    We were driving eastwards in the early afternoon, at 100 km/hr on a four lane freeway in Melbourne, about 5 weeks ago, when a sporty looking car overtook us at very high speed. My navigator was reading her phone and missed it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    So fast, there was no chance to read the number plate.
    Didn’t notice the colour of the vehicle; its speed was the salient and shocking feature.

    Now, of course, I wonder if it was him.

    ***
    A rumour says the truck driver had an ‘ice pipe’ in his cabin.

    The court was told there is police camera video of the Porsche driver behaving abominably as the policewoman, pinned by the truck, was dying. Mr Porsche has been charged with ‘failing to render assistance’ (at the scene of an accident). Apparently he didn’t hang around, but hitched a lift home to nearby Fitzroy.

    He was obliged to stay with his Porsche because he had had a drug test administered by the officers who later died.

    Later, at home he joked with a friend about getting off scot-free.

    People are leaving bunches of flowers outside police stations all around Victoria. A ‘decentralised memorial’.

  11. My lawyer friend believes that there is no likelihood that the Porsche driver will be charged for the deaths. He will certainly serve custodial time but how that is assessed is in the hands of the police and the judge/magistrate.
    If it goes to a jury, he would not want me to be on the panel, I just can’t see how I could set my bias aside.

  12. Ambi, I’d hate to think there was more than one such lunatic on your roads.

    I heard on the radio last night that the truck driver’s case will come before the court system today. He will be charged on four counts. I couldn’t get any sense of what the charges really meant.

  13. “Culpable driving”, Brian.

    I think the legal principle is that a driver should not cause death, if by their actions they can avoid doing so.

  14. I’ve just heard “culpable driving causing death”.

    And the driver says he suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. Even if it’s only that, not a good a good qualification for driving a huge truck in traffic.

  15. Jumps is the person you mention no longer German, a friend or both?
    Now, to Russian coal going to China. In a decline world market for coal, maybe the Russians want to flog as much coal as they can before the markets fail.

  16. Russia is a rogue state, completely corrupt and unable to be accepted by the World Trade Organisation. No sign that they give a stuff about global warming.

    China has a sophisticated internal market economy with a lot of private ownership and scope for individual entrepreneurship. I heard the other day China had over 700 billionaires, Wikipedia says 476. Also said to have about two-thirds of the urban population as middle-class, whatever that means.

    Unfortunately I don’t perceive China as apprehending the real threat of global warming, or they would be acting and talking differently.

    So I have no idea whether that article is fake news. It could well be true. If we had Geoff M still hereabouts, his view would be interesting.

  17. Commo Soviet Union broke with commo PRC in the great Commo Split in the 1960s, Mr J.

    For quite a while the nations in question were military rivals.

    This played out during the Cold War.
    While the US and Soviet Union competed globally, China and the Soviets competed for influence in the ‘Third World” (Mao’s term): in better developed nations, in colonies with independence movements, etc.

    Example: Nkomo supported by USSR, Mugabe supported by China, in the independence fight for Zimbabwe.

    Example: North Vietnam allied more closely to USSR than to China. Results? Many, but including:
    i) a Soviet base at Cam Ranh Bay after North Vietnam’s victory in 1975.
    ii) a brief invasion by China across the North Vietnam border in 1979
    iii) war between Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge’s “Kampuchea”, with Vietnam eventually expelling the Khmer Rouge

    Other sites of the USSR/China competition included India, Pakistan, other regions in Africa (e.g. the ANC had Soviet support), etc.

    Just saying.
    “the communist mates” is an oversimplification.

    As is my brief comment, above.

    Mr A
    Simplicissimus

  18. Mao’s China used to make a fuss of its extensive reafforestation programme, in the 1970s.

    Perhaps it was BS?

    {I heard that the “surgical operations under acupuncture” were fabricated BS shows…}

    And in any case the massive industrialisation drive that began under Deng after 1977, may have put paid to lush forests…. Certainly Beijing has a reputation as one of the worst major cities for air pollution (c.f. New Delhi, Bangkok, etc.)

  19. Plain scary and depressing Zoot. There is a piece about a Japanese Nobel Prize winner who is adamant that the virus was man-made in a laboratory he once work in.
    I’ll need to track it down but then I’ll post it.

    It is becoming clearer that the US as a democracy and a society is deeply flawed. I am thinking that as a friend in time of threat or war they might not be relied upon. China has made it clear that they are going to expand their influence over the whole world. As America’s star is sinking, it seems that China’s star is rising – for them anyway.

  20. “Walk down the street with a smile.on your face”.

    It’s more likely, we find, in a provincial town. But the larger cities may one day catch up with the small backwaters.

    Thinking of John Bracks’ famous painting of Collins Street, faces in the crowd.

    Thanks, zoot.

  21. In the UK:
    Neil Ferguson, Olivia Staats.

    you just cannot keep a good man down!

    Isolation?
    Bah, humbug!!

  22. Meanwhile, in Eden-Monaro….

    Nats Barilaro (State Minister) withdraws claiming ho got no support from his Federal Leader.
    Libs Constance (State Minister) announces he will stand, then withdraws the next day.

    What’s going on in the NSW Coalition?

    It’s beginning to look like those far-off days of “Joh for Canberra”. (Apologies to any Quincelanders who’d prefer not to be reminded.)

    Start/stop/propose/suggest/enter/withdraw/annoy/disrupt.
    “Schemozzle Is Us”.

  23. Brian: Don’t know how you can keep supporting Qld Labor. They will use any excuse to kill the planet for short term political gain:
    Resources industry to receive coronavirus boost with land release for coal and gas exploration in Queensland.
    “Almost 7,000 square kilometres of land will be released for coal and gas exploration as part of a raft of measures to ensure the survival of the resources sector through the coronavirus pandemic, the Queensland Government has announced.

    Key points:
    Some of the land to be released in central and north Queensland is currently used for agriculture
    The Government is also freezing fees and charges for explorers until July 2021
    The Lock the Gate Alliance says the State Government should be investing in regional communities differently
    Companies will be able to bid for tenders to explore two new areas of land near Moranbah in north Queensland from today.
    Another 6,700 square kilometres, made up of parcels of land near Blackwater, Rolleston, Banana, Moonie, Injune and Surat, would open for tender later this month.” Then there are the price concessions. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-07/queensland-coal-and-gas-exploration-coronavirus/12220636

    • Don’t know how you can keep supporting Qld Labor. They will use any excuse to kill the planet for short term political gain.

    John D, the answer is simple. In practical terms there are two alternative candidates for forming government in Qld. If you vote LNP you’ll get new coal-fired power stations to go with new coal mines and much, much more.

    Does anyone remember the slaughter of good government programs that came with Campbell Newman?

    So I vote to form a government, it is as simple as that.

    Of course the notion of new coal is completely cringe-worthy. As are some other things Labor has supported. Unfortunately there are some complete f*wits on the Labor Right.

    Unfortunately the effect of the Greens is to weaken the Labor Left.

    On a personal level I’m in survival mode, and haven’t even been able to sort the technology to attend virtual meetings. Even then, on this side of town the Labor people I meet are greener than green and are not factionally aligned. Ditto for LEAN.

    So my chances of changing the beast are near non-existent.

    Meanwhile the CM only prints bad shit about a Labor government and the ABC aren’t much better.

    I keep myself informed by scanning the media releases. In fact it’s quite an active government, but no-one would know.

  24. If Trump and Co can simply declare the pandemic under control, why can’t they do the same for the economy, ie declare it’s never been healthier?

  25. Zoot: “If Trump and Co can simply declare the pandemic under control, why can’t they do the same for the economy, ie declare it’s never been healthier?” That comes later during the campaign.

    • Do you reckon the Greens will add to their numbers at the next state election?

    John, I’ve said a bit about this in the next Salon not yet published. They could end up with three maybe.

    Labor sometimes does stuff to please people who are never going to vote for them.

    Same when they do deals with the Greens. It doesn’t end up helping Labor, maybe the other way around.

    At the last meeting of LEAN I attended (February) we had about a half hour briefing from Leeanne Enoch, Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science, and Minister for the Arts, on what they had done for the environment. She reeled off about 25 items speaking without notes.

    When asked about the bad stuff that happens, she said she in one voice in Cabinet.

    So the bottom line is that for every reason not to vote Labor on the environment there are about 10 reasons why you would. It’s a way better ratio than you’d get from the LNP.

    On coal, as I’ve said many times, if other countries stop burning it we won’t mine it. However, I think any new mine has to be a stranded asset before it’s finished. So I suspect it’s irresponsible to allow mining companies to think they are going to get their money back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *