All Posts By

Don Aitkin

Rimsky-Korsakov

By | ABC, Books, History, Music, Society | 13 Comments

A week ago I found it hard to deal with pain, and went to hospital, which fixed things up pretty well after three days. Those three days included the implosion of the Turnbull Government, and all that followed, about most of which I was quite unaware, and when I did know, cared less. Recovery from the pain episode is continuing, and I decided I would write again about something that has been part of my life since I was about eighteen, Western classical music, and in this instance, the life and music of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. Why him? Well, not so…

Read More

Electric vehicles again

By | Other | 60 Comments

In the week since I last wrote the NEG has been replaced by the leadership issue as the principal topic of political discussion in our country. The search for agreement that I wrote about has failed. There is none. What we have is a reversal of aspects of the Prime Minister’s proclaimed policy, and a challenge to Mr Turnbull’s leadership by Minister Peter Dutton, which failed by a few votes. Every day there is a new story. I said that sooner or later someone would have to face the reality of the energy problem. No one has said anything about…

Read More

Perhaps the worst policy botch ever

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 169 Comments

There is one over-arching imperative about the National Energy Guarantee: there must be agreement. The Prime Minister says so. The Leader of the Opposition says so. The media say so. The reason is quite clear. Once there is agreement the energy issue can be put aside for a while, and people can get on with other business. Unfortunately the issue itself won’t go away. It has nothing to do with Tony Abbott. The NEG has an utterly fundamental flaw, in that its two elements are incompatible. You cannot both produce lower, cheaper and more reliable electricity and gas, while at…

Read More

Waste Not, Water Not

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Society | 13 Comments

First, a note about my capacity to deal with comments. The treatment I am on causes fatigue, and means also that everything else I do that might once have taken ten minutes now takes twenty. So I’m progressing slowly with responses to comments, and also writing a new piece every few days, not to mention completing a new book. I seem to slip behind everywhere. Where I think I ought to comment I’ll do so in time. Waste  The ABC seems to be hammering me, and all other viewers and listeners, about its ‘war on waste’. The last episode was…

Read More

Climate science in perspective

By | Other | 80 Comments

Judith Curry has provided us with her take on an eight-year old paper by Carl Wunsch, a highly regarded oceanographer. I am sure I have read it before, but I certainly have not referred to it. I think her summary is excellent reading. I have made a few editorial changes. Introduction From one point of view, scientific communities without adequate data have a distinct advantage: one can construct interesting and exciting stories and rationalizations with little or no risk of observational refutation. Colorful, sometimes charismatic, characters come to dominate the field, constructing their interpretations of a few intriguing, but indefinite…

Read More

The August Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 53 Comments

A little on Pain. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong — avoid it, fix it up, and the pain will go away. We learn about it through toothaches, cuts, breaks and things like that. I have a spinal fracture, and fractures take six to eight weeks to fix up. I am in week seven, and it may take eight or nine or ten weeks to fix mine up because I am old. Old bodies don’t heal so well. Even then I may still have painful episodes. So I have chronic pain, and pain is…

Read More

The changing Australian culture

By | Books, Economy, Education, Food & Wine, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society, Sport, Theatre | 22 Comments

To write a new website essay is now a challenge, but I feel up to it. And I’ve wanted to write about this subject at a little length, rather than as a series of asides. It is built around a most interesting book by the always interesting John Carroll, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University. Land of the Golden Cities is published by Connor Court, and my copy took me a month to acquire. And then I got ill. But reading it brought back a platoon of memories. Here are three. Late 1950s. Two of us, senior undergraduates,…

Read More

Why write a thriller?

By | Books, Language, Society | 23 Comments

First, the bad news. I’ve written briefly about this before, but the fuller news is worse. Over the past six weeks I have had increasing pain in my back, not low down (L5) which has been my companion for 35 years, but quite a lot higher. At about the same time, but perhaps a month earlier, I noticed another pain in my left thigh, a pain which worsened and eventually stopped my playing tennis. My chiropractor (35 years in attendance) could not find anything to stop the pains, and proposed an X-Ray. The observed result was a fracture at T8….

Read More

The July Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 188 Comments

As attentive readers will know, I am not well — specifically, a compression fracture of the spine at T8. These ailments will generally cure themselves  in time (six to eight weeks), but they are extraordinarily painful, and there are powerful painkiller to reduce the pain. Unfortunately, they have powerful side-effects, too, and one of them is a general dopeyness that is frightening. Moreover, they affect fine motor control too, and I can’t stand for long (I stand to use the computer). For all these reasons, I am finding it difficult to keep the website running. We’ll see how well I…

Read More

Understanding Donald Trump

By | Other | 15 Comments

I have written about President Donald J. Trump before (here and here, for example). This essay was prompted by the Singapore meeting between him and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. I may be wrong, but the media treatment of the whole meeting process seemed to begin with Trump’s refusal to meet’s being seen as provocative, risking a historic possibility. Then when the meeting occurred, he was being damned with the faintest of praise — previous North Korean leaders had given similar promises, where were the inspection guarantees, the statement was long on rhetoric and short on detail, and so…

Read More