Weekly salon 6/9

1. Getting there

Happy Fathers Day as appropriate.

I have been reflecting a little on my intermittent output on this blog. Generally speaking in my life at present my priorities are:

      1. health and family
      2. work
      3. blogging
      4. the ALP and LEAN

Then there are other matters to be fitted in, like time for friends, jobs around the house, decluttering (having lived in the same house for nearly 40 years) etc etc.

My big problem in recent times has been my eyes. The recently completed cataract surgery must be counted a huge success, seeing colours and detail like I can’t remember seeing ever. However, it’s not perfect, especially in the recovery period which takes some months. I have very good long vision, but reading is ordinary and computer screens only passable, currently working with magnifying glasses you buy at a pharmacy. I’ve now been passed back from my opthalmologist to my optometrist, and on Friday got sorted for new glasses which should improve reading when I get them. That will probably happen the week after next.

The main effect of COVID is that surgery was delayed about two months, and the time devoted to family has increased. Family time has also increased for reasons unrelated to COVID.

Family time is not all heavy duty, although we have had some of that. We have an additional house member from a different generation, which has led to some companionate TV watching of series which my wife and I would never have watched.

Of importance here is that time spent on item 4 above has reduced to the point where I can barely keep up with what is going on. Input and influence are about zero.

Screen time has also reduced, hence blogging has also been affected.

A couple of years ago I could churn out 18-20 posts a month, but then the graph goes into a trend decline from January 2018. I think my average post was shorter back then, but still output in words has declined. I used to be strict about limiting these ‘salon’ items to 150 words. If that wasn’t enough to do the topic justice I’d do a separate post. However, starting posts is easier than finishing them. The number of unfinished drafts in the works has now risen to 180.

At the same time, the flood of ‘bloggable’ issues and information has increased by multiples in the last few years.

My main message here is that while I have some frustration, and I really don’t know how things will work out in the (unforeseeable) future, I haven’t given up.

I’m grateful for the support from regular commenters, especially the loyalty and input from John D, whose posts are also more than welcome.

Any comments or suggestions people care to make will be duly reflected upon. I value honesty and am not especially thin-skinned.

2. Times are changing

A lot of commentators have been on this theme, for example George Friedman in The storm before the calm – the coming crisis of the 2020s

Friedman has a cyclical view of history. With a focus on the US, but with implications for the rest, he sees the US experiencing for the sixth time an age of turbulent transition and confusion. Typically they fight each other during these times, he says, and hate whoever is president while once again they try to work out who they are and what comes next. COVID in his terms has merely been an accelerant.

His message is one of hope. Biden will just settle things down, the one that follows him will be the one to watch. His message is that America is not a failed state, they will be back, just give them a decade or so.

Not sure how climate change fits his interpretation. I suspect it doesn’t.

Inside Story has been doing a series of posts around this theme with articles such as Adam Triggs Modern Monetary Theory: a solution in search of a problem and John Quiggin The end of the goods economy.

Neither of these is entirely new.

Quiggin’s bottom line:

    Without any need for private sector investment, interest rates will remain low unless public investment picks up the slack. With the physical goods economy fading into the past, though, we don’t need more of the transport infrastructure projects governments automatically turn to at times like these. Rather, we need to invest in human services like health (mental and physical), education and childcare, and in information platforms that break the monopoly power of the tech giants.

    These are the investments that will allow Australia to flourish in an economy dominated by information and services rather than industrial production.

No mention of public housing, and I hope ‘education’ includes R&D.

3. The power of play

Childcare caught my eye along with an article in the same issue by Fiona David, Trish Bergin and Kim Rubenstein Sharing the caring:

    It’s time to recognise the multiplier effect of investing in early childhood education

They have discovered:

    Research shows that the early years of a child’s life, up to five years of age, are critical to their future academic, health, social and professional trajectories. Play-based early learning develops the executive functions critical to our nation’s economic future. Competencies and emotional frameworks that lead to high-value jobs (which should include childcare) in the fastest-growing sectors are developed in those early years. We are investing in our future if we invest in children’s education at this age. (Emphasis added)

Look, the importance and life-changing nature of child-initiated, adult-guided play was identified and promulgated through the Highscope foundation in the 1960s and 1970s. It was implemented from 1971 in Queensland, I think at least in Victoria also. In the course of time it was overrun and evicted by the direct teaching of skills by the ‘back to basics’ ideologues who took over curriculum policy.

That is what you see in the photo in the piece. Children practicing fine motor skills through tracing. Have a look at Thrive by Five site, promoted by foreign minister Julie Bishop, epidemiologist professor Fiona Stanley, former SA premier Jay Weatherill and philanthropist Nicola Forrest.

Good on them, but I can’t see any play there, at all. I can’t see any development of executive functions of the brain happening in those images.

4. Investing in the care economy

    A report by the UK Women’s Budget Group for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) shows that investing public funds in childcare and elder care services is more effective in reducing public deficits and debt than austerity policies: it would boost employment, earnings, economic growth and fosters gender equality.

Investing in the care economy creates about twice as many jobs as investment in construction industries.

    Simulation results from seven OECD countries showed that investing 2% of GDP in public services of care would create almost as many jobs for men as investing in construction industries in the UK, US, Germany and Australia but would create up to four times as many jobs for women.

That research was picked up in the AFR by Emma Dawson in The case for a pink stimulus shot.

Because investing in housing addresses “the growing problem of homelessness and housing insecurity, which is particularly acute for older women and single-parent families” we need to do both. Dawson says:

    the early childhood education and care sector is teetering on the brink of collapse. These industries not only employ huge numbers of low-paid female workers, they provide an essential service that enables other women to go out to work.

    Australia’s economy, and our way of life, won’t recover until we can get women back to work. For that to happen, the government must create good, secure jobs and lift the quality of service in the care economy. It is clear that the private sector cannot, and will not, meet these needs. Only government investment in this essential social infrastructure can do the job.

You might recall that back in early June the Morrison government booted childcare off JobKeeper, with minister Dan Tehan saying that the temporary free childcare scheme had done its job.

If women are hard done by, be assured they are not alone. Greg Jericho says The Morrison government is trying to lock in a less equitable economy for years to come

5. Abbott finds something to do

Some of the Brits have been calling Tony Abbott a homophobe and a misogynist as well as a climate denier. To many Australians that is unsurprising, however, his sister says he’s OK. OK too for his new job as chair the UK’s new Board of Trade, she says. Many here wonder what he knows about trade, because trade agreements are negotiated in secret, and not by prime ministers.

Maybe he’s a good chair, sorry, good at chairing. I doubt that, but Boris Johnson says he’ll do just fine:

    ‘This is a guy who was elected by the people of the great liberal democratic nation of Australia.’ When asked what his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, thought of Abbott, Johnson replied: ‘Pass’

Now questions are being asked about his loyalties to us. Answer – probably the same as they always were.

6. Our democracy at work

Laura Tingle in her weekly column talks of the government jamming through legislation without debate. Zali Steggall and others wanted to amend the new environment bill, which many say will allow the environment to be destroyed. Steggall thinks many Liberal members did not want it on the record that they had voted against pro-environment amendments.

Tony Burke, leader of Labor in the house, reckons that the government voted to silence 11 Labor members on Thursday morning, but the strangest one was on Wednesday. Liberal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher insisted that a debate on cuts to Australia Post be started by Anthony Albanese. Then when Albo stood up he moved that Albo “be no longer heard”.

Just to show who is in control and who will decide who gets to talk in the parliament of our great democracy.

7. How safe is Australia?

That’s the question asked in Quora.

The answer is not very, if the photos be any guide.

For example, Cassowaries need to be treated with great respect:

As do crocodiles:

Fire has become more intrusive than most places in the world:

The article says this is how everything looks most of the time, and people overseas are apt think it actually does.

30 thoughts on “Weekly salon 6/9”

  1. So here I go with seven items rather than four, at an average of 244 words a piece.

    One of my issues is that when I make a link I try to bring over enough from the link to make sense, on the assumption that many don’t follow links.

  2. On cassowaries, one if our grandsons announced “There are still some dinosaurs alive now.”

    “Birds! ” he chortled.
    Every year there are news stories of feathered fossils.

    Australia, along with other non-European nations, needs a new trade relationship with Britain. Whether Tony will be a help or a hindrance, I’m prepared to wait and see.

    Meanwhile in South Australia, Upper House Liberal MP Ms Jingly was unexpectedly opposed by another Liberal for the Presidency of said Upper House. Vote tied 11 all. They voted again. This time it was 11-11. So they drew something out of a hat. Ms Jingly lost. Her successful opponent has been threatened with expulsion. Ms Jingly was supported by the SA Liberal Premier.

    Oh, her name is Jing Lee, is it?
    Coins not involved? ?

  3. What might Qld voters make of the departure of three Ministers in a week from the Govt? Retiring at the election.

    I mean, over here in Victoria Province, we had three Ministers depart recently, in less than a week. But they had – it seems – been involved in some topsy-turvy silliness about stacking branches (presumably to light an enormoys bonfire, otherwise twigs would have sufficed).

    Is the Qld Govt a sinking ship??

    There but for the grace of Grace go we……

    = Grace squared

  4. On the other hand, to have several senior Ministers announçe that they won’t be sitting in Cabinet but they’ll still be Ministers, and they’ll guarantee Supply but they won’t be supporting other Govt legislation….

    “Alice in Wonderland”?

    No, this is the Phantasy World currently ruled over by John Barilaro in NSW.

    Yes, the political saboteur who made his name nationally just before the Eden-Monaro by-election.

    Premier Gladys is unimpressed and is thinking about swearing in a new Ministry. There’s a whisper that old Barnaby might be Minister Barilaro’s grey eminence. Or is that scarlet eminence?

    Well-adjusted genii.

  5. Ambi, Coralee O’Rourke, member for Mundingburra in Townsville, apparently has cancer, and was expected to retire.

    Kate Jones and Dr Anthony Lynham were a surprise.

    Jones became a Labor legend when she knocked off Campbell Newman. She has achieved a fair bit, apparently has a supportive husband, but has kids who will grow up without her if she stays.

    Lynham is a facial reconstruction surgeon and was passionate about health. He said today that he could not keep up his doctor’s registration and serve as a minister.

    Someone a bit closer said today that he really wanted the health portfolio, but the powers that be did not want the place turned inside out. His record is that he:

      has driven the broadest suite of reforms to mine health and safety in 20 years, delivered lower energy prices for Queensland families and fostered a renewable energy revolution that has us on target for 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

    He was not a ring-in, he joined Labor in 1980. Time to decide what to do for the rest of his life.

    That said, I don’t think anyone in the Palaszczuk government thinks they will be blessed with a third term. Virus border wars have not helped.

  6. Brian you are an inspiration with your work load and resilience, a classic Weekly Salon Post you produced here.

    Djirri nyurramba, we here in bundarra and ganyarra country think politician is most dangerous creature.

    You see, bundarra he is the gardener/guardian of the rainforest and has a long razor sharp blade as a toe nail. Have another look at the image, bundarra does not kick, but slicing and stabbing, see? Very important creature this bird for the rainforest, respect and stay clear of the nest and the very jumpy male doing the breeding. If you get caught or he gets cheeky there is plenty of trees in the rainforest for protection or in open country lay flat on the ground. Oh bundarra djanang, ohh bundarra djanang … bundarra djanang … dju:

    Where as ganyarra he is very old ancestor in dreamtime we call bulurru. Because of him we the Bama/people, from Djabugay, Yidinji, Gungkanji, Yirikandji mob, ended up here around Gimuy/Cairns many moons ago. Ganyarra grabbed the leg of my oldest ancestor Damari near Double Island and killed him. That’s why his brother Guyala, who joined Damari on his travel down the cost from Cape York, stayed here. We respect ganyarra who lives in the estuarine waters and keeps them clean, but sometimes goes way out to the reef. If you not sure if he is present and hungry, send the dog in the water first … or the wife .. haha only gamin! Garu.

  7. Top post, Ootz.
    You really do live in the places you inhabit.

    High Dray greetings and a salute!!

    PS: In a couple of days’ short visit, driving near and in the “Daintree” we didn’t see him, big, big bird but it was enough to see the warning signposts for drivers to be aware that he might be round the next corner….. reassuring that his numbers were sufficient tio warrant warnings.

  8. A note on language.

    Yesterday, Premier Andrews told some journos
    ‘curfew’ is a loaded word.

    Yes, Premier.

    But it’s also the standard word in English, for an order from authorities to stay indoors between specified times, usually including night hours.

    That’s a “curfew” Mr Premier.

    Of course living Victorians have mainly heard of these happening overseas, after civil disturbances, natural disasters etc.

    So the ‘loading’ is there all right, but it’s a standard word.
    Listen, Mr Premier, you’ve enough on ypour plate without quibbling over dictionary meanings.

    Haven’t you?

    Other loaded words:

    ‘riot’ vs ‘peaceful demonstration’

    ‘protest’ vs ‘gathering’

    ‘activist’ vs ‘trouble maker’

    ‘hate speech’ vs ‘free speech’


  9. Both my wife and I have been stalked/confronted by a cassowary. (Same one, different times.) Seemed to be curious rather than enraged. Stay calm, get out of the way, get off the track and let the bird get bored would be my advice.

  10. It’s in the name, John.

    Be wary of cassowary.

    The crocodile is a crock.
    The poodle is unhygeinic.
    The monkey possesses the key to the meaning of existence.
    The gorilla better watch out for soldiers.
    The tortoise taught us.
    The cat is cool.
    The dog had breakfast (also the dog had a life).
    The lyrebird can be very economical with the truth if it’s mimicking.
    A serpent can have emotions bottled up.
    The ass? It’s all bottoms with you people.
    The termite nay or may not.
    The sheep is female.
    The ram is forceful.
    The human was hewed out of a man.
    The viper vipes your vindows.
    The tiger snake is completely bewildered.
    The kookaburra is a chef.
    The kangaroo may regret.

  11. This is from a bloke called Yoni Bashan in “The Australian”.

    NSW Police Minister David Elliott has called on Deputy Premier John Barilaro to resign following his threats to take Nationals MP to the crossbench over koala protection policies.

    Mr Elliott described the saga between Mr Barilaro and Premier Gladys Berejiklian, which played out in a series of tense morning negotiations, as “the greatest act of political bastardry in quite some time”.

    “I think the disloyalty we’ve seen out of the deputy premier makes his position untenable, and I also believe that what we’ve seen out of Gladys Berejiklian today is don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”

    Mr Elliott made the comments to journalists while on a tour of regional NSW. He said Mr Barilaro’s threats were “unnecessary” and “brought on by ego”.

    “You need to know when you’re dealing with Gladys Berejiklian and her team, she will allow you to articulate in a debate, she will certainly allow you to take part in a debate, but don’t make threats that you can’t follow through – and that’s what we saw today.”

    What a circus!

    Clowny ClownFace

  12. The NSW government is probably the best performing state government in the Federation.

    A very low bar, obviously, but it should rate recognition.

  13. So, if it’s eell-performing, why do some of its senior Ministers appear fractious?

    Here’s a contrast you might consider.
    The Rudd Govt gave an outward appearance of unity and purpose: then exploded overnight.

    Does the NSW Govt do better than most because most of its internal frictions are played out in public??

  14. Jumpy: “The NSW government is probably the best performing state government in the Federation.” All that despite the idiot leading the National Party.

  15. Well young BilB

    Doubtless you’ve ‘eard of the Eels we ‘ave in yon Gippsland streams. Some of my best friends are Eelers. In the colder weather rhe tough ones wade in regardless: emerging from streams as Blue Eelers.

    Then the Toffs.

    Nowt like your raw ‘errings in Nederlands.

  16. Interesting Zoot, I have been keeping an eye on QAnon since “Pizzagate” and they/it became known outside of 4chan. Really to understand Qanon you have to consider that it is a social media creature of the very fast evolving internet culture. Check out


    I don’t think it helps to frame QAnon as Nazi nor do I think of any value to compare the two. What is important is that we become more aware of that ‘creature’ to avoid falling for its traps ubiquitous on the internet. As with climate denial, rigorous critical thinking is required with almost any ‘hot’ topic nowadays, like anything on COVID for example. It pays to have a few handy retorts for occasions such as, when your neighbour suddenly turns antivaxxer and captures you with your grandchild or a client keeps going on about a children disappearing conspiracy.


  17. I don’t think it helps to frame QAnon as Nazi

    True (and that’s down to my poor expression), but I think it is essential to point out the parallels with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, particularly when someone on this forum persists in seeing conspiracies enabled by George Soros.

  18. Fair enough zoot. Come to think of it, it may have been very likely that the very same someone on this forum also brought up “Pizzagate” and thus my attention to QAnon.

    Btw I had a look back to four years ago and still stand by this prediction, in particular

    “” … as Individuals and as communities we have to become more resilient and agile to absorb and shift with these monumental changes. “”


  19. On that lengthy comment of mine on above link I note that the concept of left and right in political terms is not very useful. From my observations QAnon is a phenomenon which definitely attracts people from both so called political sides.

    When I point that out to proponents all I get is a shrug. For example, places like Byron Bay, Nimbin and FNQ version thereof Kuranda have the highest density of antivaxxers and most have been sucked in by QAnon, that is evident by the memes they share amongst each other and evangelise with on public sites. When you point out to them that they deploy the same anti science method as climate science deniers or their views are aligning with those of Trump, you just get harangued about being blind or head stuck in sand. Ditto the anti lockdown virus deniers. This article in Crikey is illuminating in the Australian context and confirms my observations.


  20. Ootz, I admire someone who can hold their beliefs so well-formed and well-reasoned over such a long period of time. My memory isn’t that good, so I remember some important concepts and keep working it out again. So I was surprised to find I still agree with the comment I made following yours in 2016.

    I do still think ‘left’ and ‘right’ have meaning, but I see it as it was once explained to me – like a horseshoe with the gap nearly closed at the top*. Extreme left and right sit either side of that gap and are characterised by fundamentalism, authoritarianism and hence intolerance.

    In between positions grade as to how you see human nature, society, authority and property mainly (categories taken straight from a political ideologies text book).

    I hope that image works, there would be others one could use.

    In the past such extremists formed social groups of like-minded people who supported each other with certain certainties.

    In the second last paragraph of the Crikey link it says that QAnon adherents let their offline relationships wither and die.

    In other words they use the internet to form groups which are cult-like. Hence the link to ‘We Are Your Family Now’: What It’s Like to Lose a Loved One to QAnon an extremist conspiracy cult.

    At base I’d suggest is the inability to form an integrated personality within a community, part of the extreme individualism and social fracturing that goes back centuries.

    Anyway, that’s what I think tonight.

    *I think the image was a circle with a gap at the top. It was a long time ago.

  21. There goes my work for the night. I’m nearly finished a new salon, but want to get China into it. Probably done by midday.

  22. My expectation, zoot, is that if Trump dies (strokes out) his Cult will pivot around to Qanon and become the next Republican “philosophy”.

  23. Bilb: Most political parties have a number of often quite different streams of thinking. For example the US Republicans have a conservative stream that wants to conserve what they think is good about America and its support of rich privilege.
    Then there is the Tea Party stream that has latched onto the dissatisfaction of poor whites. And……
    The US primary vote system and the lack of preference voting is helping to drive the Republicans towards Trump style Tea Party thinking.
    I think we are seeing the switch of hard core working class to right wing parties in Aus.


    This is from “The Onion: America’s Finest News Source” but I believe it was written in jest.

    NEW YORK—Deciding that it wouldn’t be right to try to capture video of another human being in his final moments, NYPD police officer Tom Sloane reportedly shut off his body camera early Monday morning out of respect for his dying victim.

    “This man is bleeding and gasping for breath, and so it just feels kind of morbid and disrespectful to put that on film when I’m sure it’s not how he’d want to be remembered,” said the officer, explaining why he considerately turned off his body camera after noticing that the man he had just shot five times in the back at point-blank range appeared to be on the verge of death.

    “These things always end up online, and I think the last thing anyone wants is to see their last moments on earth go viral.

    Plus, it honestly feels like by filming him, I’d be inserting myself into his narrative, and if it’s my body camera, it really seems like I’m trying to make his death all about me. Not committing this violent tragedy to film is just the respectful thing to do.”

    The NYPD added that it seemed exploitative to publicize the man’s death because that would be what people remembered about him, so the department was refraining from releasing any details about the incident to respect his privacy.

  25. More baseless speculatory guesswork:

    What are the odds of Nancy Pelosi being sworn in as president on the steps of the Capitol on January 20? Not as remote as you may think.

    Last week voting for the next president started in seven US states — two weeks before the first presidential debate that will be watched by almost 100 million Americans.

    It is the beginning of the most complicated national election in the world, one almost certain to have no final result on election day, November 3.


    ‘I was gone’: Lambie’s darkest moment
    The already confusing voting system across the US is slower and more open to manipulation than ever. On top of the political bias involved in its logistics, foreign interference is inevitable particularly in the days after November 3 when social media will be inundated with accusations, innuendo and outright deceit designed to undermine the integrity of the result.

    It will be hard to avoid controversy no matter who wins. You can bet your house that the losers in this race will not take defeat graciously.

    Already, both major parties are allocating more money to lawyers for the pre and post-election legal battles than they are spending on the campaign in a number of states.

    – that’s in The Australian”, written by some bloke called Joe Hockey.

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