Weekly salon 5/1

1. Sawatdi bpi mai kap!

That is a Thai new year’s greeting I got from Mark that I posted two years ago. It means:

    May you find compassion, loving kindness and equanimity along your paths over the next year!

From a Jacquie Lawson ecard sent by my brother-in-law, we need:

    More co-operation, mutual care and love, a safer and happier world!

And more civilised politics.

2. Just one word

The Courier Mail made a big splash with We are one and free: Historic change to our anthem, no doubt paywalled. Here is our dear leader, who knows best:

After all he had been thinking about it all year, his friend Gladys B advocated for it, Annastacia said it wasn’t a bad idea, so he ran it past Cabinet, then off to the GG. Just change “young” to “one”, and all will be good.

    The Prime Minister said that removing the word “young” was important for indigenous people – and that he felt most Australians accepted that.

    “This is an organic, natural change that I think is in synch with the national mood,” he said.

    “‘One and free’ is and must be the story of every Australian and it’s the way we truly Advance Australia Fair,” he said.

The ABC rounded up some opinion Some First Nations people said OK. Some said, not so fast.

We all know that ‘Opposition Leader’ is now a functionally redundant position, since Morrison has found his stride, but for the record:

    federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, said more needed to be done.

    “Changing a single word in the national anthem while First Nations people aren’t even recognised in our national constitution is simply not good enough,” Mr Albanese said.

Composer Deborah Cheetham, a Yorta Yorta woman said:

    the new wording was long overdue but changing the anthem “one word at a time is probably not the right way to go”.

She said:

    “What this change brings is an opportunity for conversation. And I hope it’s a conversation that will be respectful.”

Personally she preferred the version written by Judith Durham, Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Camilla Chance and Bill Hauritz. You will find a performance of the alternative anthem by Kutcha Edwards, along with the lyrics, which begin like this:

    Australia, celebrate as one, with peace and harmony.
    Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me.
    Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share,
    And honouring the Dreaming, advance Australia fair.
    With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.
    Australia, let us stand as one, upon this sacred land.
    A new day dawns, we’re moving on to trust and understand.
    Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere,
    To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair.

As poetry it’s a bit clunky, but way better than the current abomination.

Teela Reid in the SMH says Scott Morrison’s one-word gesture won’t unify Australia, but a bigger conversation might.

Joe Williams, a proud Wiradjuri man, says in The Guardian when he heard about it:

    My reply was an “eye roll” emoji with the words: “But we aren’t all one, we certainly aren’t treated as one; and many, sure as hell, aren’t free”.

He says emphatically we are NOT one big happy family. He too likes the Durham et al anthem and finishes with:

    It’s time for a fresh start and to get a new song. And if we are genuine about this word “reconciliation”, we need to start a relationship before we try to heal one that never existed.

I think we should dump the present anthem, which reeks of colonialism, run a competition for a new anthem, and if nothing better comes up adopt the Durham et al version. With lots of inclusionary conversation, of course, but that’s the direction I’d head if I held Morrison’s current position of elected benevolent dictator.

3. When was Australia first occupied?

The Williams article links to an article suggesting human habitation in Australia could have been 120.000 years ago or more.

This article has more detail, and does not just rely on the Victorian site, where:

    “Thermal luminescence analyses of blackened stones provide ages in the … range … 100-130 ka [thousand years], consistent with independent stratigraphic evidence and contemporaneous with the age of the surface in which they lie. The distribution of fire-darkened stones is inconsistent with wildfire effects. Two hearth-like features closely associated with the disconformity provide further indication of potential human agency. The data are consistent with the suggestion of human presence at Warrnambool during the last Interglacial.”

In scientific terms what we have there is a “place of fire” rather than a “fireplace”. No tools or human remains have been found. Some scientists are willing to infer human habitation, many are not. One would think the presence of a shell midden, together with charcoal together and burnt stones would tip the balance in favour of habitation.

Stone tools uncovered at the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Arnhem Land (northern Australia) produced dates of 65–80 thousand years.

However no continuity of occupation can be established beyond about 65,000 years.

Intriguingly, a Cambridge team has found:

    a “genetic signature” in present-day Papuans that suggested over 2 percent of their genome comes from an earlier, otherwise extinct, population living in the Oceanian region close to 120,000 years ago.

4. Albo comes out swinging

Anthony Albanese has one reason to crow. He won an election in July:

That was from an article by Andrew Tillett in the AFR Can Anthony Albanese win the next election? The simple truth is that Labor is expecting Morrison to go to the people in the spring, before the sheen of defeating the virus wears off and the ALP is busy with renewing its platform until March. This means there is no time for leadership shenanigans, which now include an extended member voting process.

The polls show that 2020 began with Albanese competitive, even ahead on the preferred PM question. During the year his rating had stayed much the same, while Morrison’s became turbo charged from about April.

However, by mid-December, any interest in what Albo had to say was typified by this incident:

    Anthony Albanese made his way to bus maker Volgren’s factory in Melbourne’s south-east on December 14 to hold a press conference with local member and frontbencher Mark Dreyfus.

    The Opposition Leader toured the factory, talking to workers. Sporting the obligatory hi-vis yellow vest over his pressed white business shirt, he fronted the lone TV camera and was all ready to start. But something was missing. There were no journalists. (Emphasis added)

Last year it was unseemly to act politically against a government busy saving Australia. Now, with a vaccine just over the horizon, and the stimulus measures wearing off Albanese has decided that political strategy must change. So we get Labor gets ‘more licence for combat’ as Albanese promises Morrison square-up.

Anyone who thinks the Coalition had an ideological conversion should look for example at Cassandra Goldie ‘I am so scared for my future’: jobseeker cuts are devastating for millions of Australians).

Incidentally, Laura Tingle reports that Australia’s stimulus measures were half New Zealand’s as a percentage of GDP. Other countries have also done more, and boasted less.

Albanese has decided that he must take Morrison down, as well as offer a vision for a better Australia.

By himself, I don’t think he can do it, but with others like Jim Chalmers, Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek, maybe.

Politics will be different.

5. Assange will not be extradited

In late breaking news, Julian Assange’s extradition to the US rejected by UK court over mental health fears.

It seems the English judge considered he had committed crimes worthy of extradition, but given that he is diagnosed with high-function Aspergers, and given how he has reacted to confinement in the UK, suicide would be the prospect, not just a possibility.

We should all be worried about the reach of the US security apparatus. To me he did no more than what happened in the Pentagon Papers.

The Americans will appeal. His best hope is that new POTUS Biden will intervene. Apparently Obama took no action against Assange on freedom of speech grounds.

26 thoughts on “Weekly salon 5/1”

  1. Peter Greste in the SMH – Assange judge failed to realise what the case means for every journalist who ever received a secret document:

      According to Baraitser’s ruling, Assange could not be extradited because he was depressed and at risk of suicide. Assange’s lawyers are planning to apply for bail, while lawyers for the US government say they are going to appeal.

      Although he is by no means a free man, this crucial round goes to the Australian WikiLeaks founder.

      But on every other point of law, the judge found in favour of the US. She rejected claims that Assange’s case was politically motivated, that he would not get a fair trial and that it was an assault on press freedom.

      So, is this a victory for Assange and his supporters, or a blow to those who believe this case to be about protecting press freedom? A close reading of the verdict and its implications suggest it is both.

  2. From the AFP ‘news wire’:

    The World Health Organisation has issued a rare rebuke of China after members of an international expert team were refused access to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The team of 10 renowned international scientists were scheduled to check into Chinese hotel rooms for two weeks of quarantine this week before they began a mission to investigate the coronavirus, a year after the first reports emerged of a mystery disease sweeping the central city of Wuhan.

    Beijing has delayed the arrival of the team for months with a barrage of logistical demands and rules.

    “Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrivals in China,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

    “I am very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute,” he said, in a rare rebuke of Beijing from the UN body.

    He stressed that he had been in contact with senior Chinese officials to make clear “that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”

    “I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedure for the earliest possible deployment.”

    My tuppenceworth: I mean, you can’t blame the PRC…. having something like this sprung on them….. It’s not as if they’ve had months of notice that this was coming up!

    PS: amazed that Gladys Liu still sits in a Parliament. At least Sam Dastyari had the sense to exit when leaned upon after becoming exposed to ridicule.

  3. Ambi, I think the attitude of Trump and Morrison majorly got the Chinese offside.

    I’m not excusing the lack of cooperation now. However, I’m doing a bit of a virus update, and Raina McIntyre says the current WHO panel, the “renowned international scientists”, don’t have the skills to do the job of really finding out. Not even close.

    What that involves is detailed research of a kind where they were using words I’d never heard of. Such research in co-operation with Chinese researchers has now been rendered difficult in not impossible by others focussed on playing their own domestic politics.

    She says we know that it came from bats, bats in China, but not in Wuhan. She says the virus was in Washington State in December 2019, and in Europe.

    She says you have to attend to the outliers rather than the main story if you want to know about pandemics. Going to Wuhan will tell you pretty much zip about that.

    She and others on the panel with Norman Swan also knew about a story whereby the US authorities, when they found out about the presence of the virus in Washington State, not only did nothing for six weeks, they actively suppressed information. In effect, the virus was allowed to run wild.

    By contrast when Beijing found out what was going on in Wuhan, they acted. By April the had the whole thing sorted. That included scientifically describing a new virus, finding a way to test for it, undertaking epidemiological studies about the virus infection dynamics which they shared with the world and were widely quoted in other countries trying to work out what to do to suppress the virus.

    And they had suppressed the virus to the point of virtual elimination.

    Chinese approaches to individual freedoms are different from the rest of the world, but you have to admit they are at the head of the pack in suppressing virus outbreaks. Recently there was an outbreak in a coastal city of 9 million. They threw a ring around it, made sure everyone was fed, and then tested everyone within a week.

    Their economy grew in 2020, and Chinese people have freedoms in their everyday activities which are quite rare at present.

    Taiwan have come close to China’s performance, but with a democratic system. However, people trust government and share personal information with government in a way we would not tolerate. One of the first things they did in January last was to merge a health and a financial database. Just did it in a few days. Here we would have had a major media controversy, and in the end it would not have happened. Not a snowflake’s chance in Hades.

    And if we had tried such a merge, we would have taken months and then probably stuffed it up technologically.

    End of sermon, but who knows how things would have played out if we had had a co-operative POTUS and an Australian PM and foreign minister who where the motivated to international co-operation rather than playing to internal politics.

  4. What does “fair” mean it “Advance Australia Fair”? Suspect the original writers meant fair as in fair skinned.
    Found this gem in the Sydney Morning Herald in my search for the source of the song:
    “It’s easy to dismiss the anthem incident of 2018 in a Brisbane primary school as a storm in a tea cup. A schoolkid finds it offensive to stand for an anthem that she says does not ring true. “When it says ‘we are young’ it completely disregards the Indigenous Australians who were here before us for over 50,000 years,” she said. “When it was originally written, Advance Australia Fair meant advance the white people of Australia.”
    So for stating the bleeding obvious, she gets detention. The usual suspects descend on her. Pauline Hanson says she needs a kick up the backside: “This kid is headed down the wrong path.” Alan Jones, in a majestic piece of gimcrackery, tries to give her the correct version of history: “Colonisation brought the kind of tremendous wealth that all Australians now enjoy.” https://www.smh.com.au/national/advance-australia-fair-is-an-anthem-that-is-racist-at-so-many-levels-20180916-p5043s.html
    BTW “Advance Australia Fair was written by Scottish-born composer, Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878, and included 4 verses.” Some cynics claim that it should have been called “Advance White Australia.” Certainly a time when fair and dark could be used as alternatives to good and evil.
    We need an anthem that invokes the wonder of this strange and wonderful land and the various streams of immigrants that have contributed to one of the world’s most successful multi-cultural societies.

  5. John, the CM piece was actually quite good for their standards, and said this about the origin of the anthem:

      Advance Australia Fair was created by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in 1878.

      It replaced God Save the Queen as the national anthem in 1984, when several lyrics were changed.

      The changes included “Australia’s son’s, let us rejoice” to “Australians all”, “to make our youthful Commonwealth” to “to make this Commonwealth of ours”, as well as “for loyal sons beyond the seas” to “for those who’ve come across the seas”.

    So some of the more egregious bits were left out.

    You would remember having to stand up for “God Save the Queen”

    Craig Emerson in the AFR today put in a plug for I am Australian which was written as a possible national anthem by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers. Here’s a Seekers version.

    Not bad. Here are the first few stanzas:

      I came from the dream-time
      From the dusty red-soil plains
      I am the ancient heart
      The keeper of the flame
      I stood upon the rocky shores
      I watched the tall ships come
      For forty thousand years I’ve been
      The first Australian

      I came upon the prison ship
      Bowed down by iron chains
      I bought the land, endured the lash
      And waited for the rains
      I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife
      On a dry and barren run
      A convict, then a free man
      I became Australian

      I’m the daughter of a digger
      Who sought the mother lode
      The girl became a woman
      On the long and dusty road
      I’m a child of the Depression
      I saw the good times come
      I’m a bushie, I’m a battler
      I am Australian

      We are one, but we are many
      And from all the lands on earth we come
      We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice
      “I am, you are, we are Australian”

    I still think we should have a new competition, and see what comes up.

  6. Lithuania
    United Kingdom
    South Africa

  7. Tell yas what, the cricket is riveting right now.

    I understand everybody can’t be interested in everything but I’m glad I’m interested in Australian Test cricket.

  8. Jeepers it’s been quiet around here since that Jumpy bloke bid us all farewell.

    And the signal to noise ratio has improved by an order of magnitude.

    • …quiet around here…

    A lot of it is me. One of my close rellies has been assaulted either by lymphoma or by sarcoidosis, will part with spleen and has just had a bronchoscopy. Just waiting to put the pieces together.

    Another has what seems like late onset aggressive glaucoma, or the relevant medical professional has missed something important.

    With a bit of rain the grass and shrubs have been leaping out of the ground in a manner that would astonish people south of the Murray, if not the Tweed. At the same time I have run into heavy weather personally with a couple of my main clients. With one I mentioned Laura Tingle in a relevant conversation (she has written and excellent Quarterly essay on why people have a different view of the world in the land of the long white cloud) and her name seemed to cause a cranial implosion.

    Another seemed to think I was neglecting her because I was only doing twice as much at her place as usual.

    At the same time my lower back is killing me, but only figuratively, and I’m having trouble sorting out my eyes. I can see OK, but not for fine print reading like in the AFR and the New Scientist. My optometrist is having trouble getting a stable reading in one eye, not helped by rivers of sweat with crap in them flooding down my forehead every day. The humidity here is like something else, but would be worse in jumpy land.

    I’m also thinking I have to get back to writing shorter posts.

    Must go ….

  9. Brian

    The humidity here is like something else, but would be worse in jumpy land.

    On the contrary, I’ve been wearing a jumper for the last 5 days due to constant rain and inactivity here in Mackay.
    Last week we were in Townsville ( Mum, hospital) for the arrival of the ex-cyclone rain, and what rain it was, good old fashion torrential bucketing down. Fortunately it was vertical.

    I’m quite fine with high humidity and I’m sure we’ll get it good and hot when the sun eventually makes an appearance.

    One week Xmas break extension 🙂

  10. Sorry to hear of your family and client difficulties Brian.

    Good to hear of cool weather and steady rain up north. It’s that d*mn horizontal rain that always upsets the apple cart.

    When Bob Hawke broke the drought that had lasted (approx) two to three years circa 1980 – early 1983, by being elected; we were living in the bush and copped 3″ in about an hour (75mm in the new money). Suddenly the gravel track up to the neighbour’s house became a stream and we were on the yard brooms trying to keep the water out of the main house. The basement rumpus room was dealt with later; no carpet there, luckily.

    I know this sounds small beer to Brisbane River persons or tropical cyclone persons; but over here in Victoria we like our storms moderate thank you very much. {The last thing we want is to get into a ‘rainfall p*ssing contest’ with you of the near-amphibian northern human species.}

    Over here, you just can’t get the staff to rush over and sweep out rainwater like one’s forebears would have done. (In fact, the staff would’ve been on the premises in that lovely little hut down on the dark side of the hill.)


  11. Living on Groote Eylandt meant you started sweating in August and about May. And grow a good crop of gunge (skin fungus.) Dunno what all youse from the deep south are going on about eh?

  12. Fungus grows in lots of places including skin. The male crotch seems to be an ideal place for the dreaded “gunge” which is not a comfortable place for it to happen. (Think extreme itch.) Not wearing underpants and various “cures” helps.) I found a year in Vic followed by moving to the ultra dry Pilbara also helps.

  13. Well bloody done India !

    A riveting Test Cricket match, one of the best I’ve seen.

    Lesson for Test Cricket, politics and life in general, a draw can be a miserable disappointment and a glorious achievement both at the same time and still be respected.

    Not that there weren’t mistakes and blemishes alone the way.

  14. Yes well done India.
    To bat on with a bad hammy.
    First sign of hammy trouble and an AFL player flees the ground.


  15. Ambi, 3 inches in an hour used to be considered normal here. It used to come in a broad front 150km long or more.

    Now we get these broken pattern things, where you can get smashed with hail as big a cricket balls (it used to be golf balls for exceptional hail) from a supercell, or you get sweet bugger all.

    Our best at this place was over 18 inches in 27 hours.

    On sweating, I prefer sweating to cold and to dry heat. It’s just not good for my eyes.

    The year I picked tobacco in Ayr (when they last grew it there) we were wet from dew amongst the tobacco bushes at 5am, and sweating from 8 am.

    I know about fungi also having picked up tinea in the common showers at O’Reilly’s Guest House in 1981. Left foot is OK, but it is still there lurking between my right toes. Another chore I have to attend to twice a day.

    I think jumpy in a jumper is true tropical behaviour. I know they get out the jumpers in Darwin when it drops to 26C.

    End of pissing contest.

  16. Brian: “I think jumpy in a jumper is true tropical behaviour. I know they get out the jumpers in Darwin when it drops to 26C.I think jumpy in a jumper is true tropical behaviour. ”
    The figure I remember was 80 deg F.
    I considered it “hot” in the Pilbara when the temp reaches a point where it feels cooler out of the wind compared with in the wind. I found the switch point was about 43 deg C.

  17. Things are quiet here, a shame when there is so much blogworthy going on, and yes, I’m frustrated. There’ll be a new post tonight, late, but meanwhile I have to head out where mad dogs and Englishmen are said to go.

  18. One day in Singapore years ago, Brian, walking in a sunny, humid street, I finally noticed that 99% of the locals were inside (A/C) or down in the MRT (underground railway, cool as a cucumber).

    I greeted a couple of Englishmen and avoided every dog.
    Lesson learnt.
    Song affirmed.

  19. On the Test cricket, Jumpy…..
    Do you think a potty-mouthed wicket keeper who drops lots of chances should be Captain?

    Genuine question.
    Always look on the bright side.

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