Category

Society

An unexpected hazard of using email

By | History, Language, Media, Society | 19 Comments

I was an early user of desktop computers, and I think I bought my first Apple IIe in 1988. Throughout a series of ISPs and an apparently unending set of Apples I have had a relatively untroubled run with these devices. Indeed, I wonder how I ever managed to write and publish without them. It was certainly a much slower process in the days of typewriters. Well, what follows is instructive. Read on. The English is not great. I have redacted my password and my email address, and done some editing for neatness. Hello! I’m a programmer who cracked your…

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From Tribal to What?

By | Books, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 167 Comments

This essay has been in my mind for some time, though writing it has been prompted by reading a book review in October’s Quadrant. The review was by James C. Bennett, and the book,Shadows of Empires: the Anglosphere in British Politics, was written by Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce. I’ll return to both in due course. Human beings started in families who formed groups, which I here label ‘tribes’, both for protection and for mutual support in other ways. The tribes met other tribes, and in time competed with each other for land and other resources. About twelve thousand years ago…

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Two new reports on climate change

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 73 Comments

Two reports bearing on climate change have been published in the last few days. The first is from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is full of forebodings about the future of the planet. This one is a Special Report on the implications of global warming above 1.5 degrees C. There are more of these special reports to come. The basic point or take-home message seems to be that limiting warming to 1.5 C is better for everyone than allowing warming to grow to 2.0C. No matter that both the 1.5C and 2.0C ‘boundaries’ seem to have been pulled…

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Yet Another Royal Commission

By | ABC, Climate Change, Health, History, Indigenous, Media, Politics, Society | 15 Comments

The Prime Minister’s announcement that there is to be a Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector caught me a little by surprise. After all, as Mr Morrison (who also wears hats as Minister for Health and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care) was careful to point out in his media release, there has already been a review into quality in aged care initiated by his predecessor Ken Wyatt. What follows is from the PM’s media release: We have already taken steps to improve the system [after the public outcry about the Oakden aged facility in South Australia]. In…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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….

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Is Western Civilisation worth studying?

By | Books, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Research, Society | 47 Comments

The back-story to this essay is the bequest of Paul Ramsay, businessman and philanthropist, to ensure that what he saw as the true gifts of what we commonly call Western civilisation were taught and appreciated. He felt that they were being forgotten, ignored — worse, ignorantly rejected, and by those who should above all recognise and respect them. So he put some $3 billion into a Trust some of which was to establish teachers and scholarships in Australian universities to ensure that what he wanted happened. He had in mind, I think, the ‘Great Books’ curriculum famous at Chicago. It…

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