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Don Aitkin

Morrison and Trump, a comparison

By | Other | 33 Comments

Commenter Stu has asked that I do a ‘compare and contrast’ between Scott Morrison and Donald Trump. I was intending to write about the performance of the Prime Minister since his election, and am happy to broaden the subject to include such a comparison. I don’t have a lot of space, so my comments will be brief, and set out under a set of headings that make sense to me. Current standing Scott Morrison is doing very well in the polls, though he was doing rather badly earlier in the year. Earlier this month some 64 per cent of those…

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Planet of the Humans

By | Other | 348 Comments

I am not much of a TV watcher, and even less for watching documentaries, unless they are about cooking, for I make a lot of my own breakfasts, and dinners if I don’t much like what the facility provides (it is usually good). There seemed to be a deal of fuss about ‘Planet of the Humans’, and I thought I should spend hour and forty minutes watching it. The title is a take on ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968), which I did see long time ago, and have almost completely forgotten. This documentary stars Jeff Gibbs, who is also a…

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Facts and Opinions

By | Other | 210 Comments

SBS, which I watch quite a bit, has a piece on Coronavirus, in lots of languages, too. And one of its claims is that what you will find there are ‘facts, not opinions’. I pondered a bit about that distinction, and went to see if I could distinguish them.  What can legitimately be called a ‘fact’ about the virus? Its classification, I suppose, as a ‘positive-sense, single-stranded RNA genome. The genome size for coronaviruses ranges from 26.4 to 31.7 kilobases.[7] The genome size is one of the largest among RNA viruses. The genome has a 5? methylated cap and a 3? polyadenylated tail.’ (This is from Wikipedia. There is more of the…

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The High Court and Cardinal Pell

By | Other | 186 Comments

I wrote about Cardinal Pell’s trial and his incarceration more than a year ago,and was then deeply troubled by the whole business. I did not think he had received a fair trial, and probably could not have received one, given the almost visceral fury with which he had been pursued in the media. How could twelve jurors have shut their eyes and ears to what they had seen and heard in the preceding months? Victoria did not have the possibility of a judge-alone trial, which might have produced a fairer outcome. Cardinal Pell appealed, and it took more than 400…

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Working from home

By | Other | 112 Comments

One thing about the pandemic and its consequences I am pretty confident about is that when the virus is properly under control more and more of us will continue to work from home. For knowledge-workers it just makes greater sense. Perhaps even for Wilson, as below: I have had the great good fortune to have been able to work from home throughout my working life. At the time it was just the way it was. As a married postgraduate student with children I was able to live in a student apartment that had a sort of study built into it. Along…

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Choices, choices …

By | Other | 35 Comments

I carry in my memory a Ginger Meggs cartoon in which Ginger wants to go to the movies, but needs his mother’s approval (and probably money). He finally persuades her by saying that the plot involves a husband who has to choose to save either his wife or his best friend. Father Meggs comes home to find a cold dinner and a note: ‘Heat it yourself, you brute! I’ve gone to mother’s.’ Choices like that are the devil, and as the Covid-19 plague increases we are beginning to see two sorts of choices being pointed to. One is whether we…

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The view from inside

By | Other | 163 Comments

An article in one of our local newspapers refers to ‘vulnerable oldies’. That’s us. The article in question was built around the views of my wife’s geriatrician, and they are exactly what the official advice is: keep isolated, wash our hands, stay out of trouble. Of course, we need some food (I make a lot of my breakfasts) and either I go out to a supermarket or my daughter does, or (as at the moment I’m using an online supermarket). There are about a hundred of us in this aged-care facility, and like Macbeth some of us are showing some…

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NSW leads the way!

By | Other | 18 Comments

The title was the gist of a press article I saw. The only two I have seen seem to have been written by ardent supporters. Okay, to the substance. At the end of last week the NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment released its Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030. You can read about it here. I read it, not because it was ostensibly about how to deal with climate change, but because what I read from the press suggested it was really about energy, and to a degree it is. I’ll say no more about the climate-change aspect of…

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Corona virus: How scared should we be?

By | Other | 69 Comments

The current economic topsy-turvy caused by the Corona virus is a worry, but for what it’s worth my view is there will be substantial corrections, even if Westpac says we are moving into recession and our Government is assembling a “stimulus package”. The behaviour of the stock market is evidence of simple panic and great ignorance, quite like the behaviour of the people who have stored great quantities of toilet paper in their garages. It is important to remember that external shocks like this one cause immediate reactions within the community. There will be dozens of medical teams searching for…

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National and International

By | Other | 5 Comments

In my last essay I used some ideas drawn from a book, now ten years old, by Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind. I thoroughly recommend it. It is quite long, but well written. I’ve finished it now, and need to return it to my daughter, who hasn’t finished it. In this essay, I’ll explore another idea of his, the press for globalisation. I’ll start with a longish extract, which follows his claim of of ‘an inexorable trend towards unity’. When we adopt the proverbial bird’s-eye view of history, which examines developments in terms of decades or centuries, it’s hard…

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