Category Archives: Society

The day of shock and horror

By | ABC, Climate Change, History, Media, Politics, Society | 150 Comments

For months now I have been asking various friends and people close to me, who say they can’t stand Donald Trump, whether they had read anything he has written or viewed any of his speeches. I wasn’t a Trump supporter, and I am too distant from the American period in my life and work to be able to judge him properly. But my question was usually waved away. The reason for asking was that all we saw of Trump in Australia was a succession of ten-second clips from speeches, usually showing the Republican contender saying something thought to be outrageous. On numerous occasions,…

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Making sense of the ACT elections

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 69 Comments

I thought I would pass on the American presidential election, having no vote and disliking both candidates about equally. Instead I thought I would write about the recent ACT elections, which are now done and dusted. Unusually, given the complications of the voting system, it was all over by ten o’clock on polling day. The Liberal Leader conceded defeat and the Labor Leader claimed victory. Within a week it was plain Labor had twelve seats, the Greens two and the Liberals eleven. There will be another four years of Labor rule in the ACT, in a quasi Coalition with the Greens, and in…

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Books, biographical stuff and uncertainty

By | Books, Climate Change, History, Media, Politics, Society | 52 Comments

Moving On I mentioned in a recent essay that my new novel, Moving On, was about to be launched. Well, launched it has been, and it is now on sale. You should be able to get it by going to your nearest good bookseller and asking them to order it for you, which they will do from me at Danbee Books, unless you live in Canberra, where most bookshops have my books (or in Sydney, at Gleebooks in Glebe and Dulwich Hill). The price is $29.95, which includes post and packing, for those ordering on line. I use PayPal, which…

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The apparent and real growth of dementia

By | Health, History, Politics, Society | 20 Comments

I mentioned dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in a recent essay, and there followed a debate in the Comments about whether you die from or with Alzheimer’s, and whether, when you’re very old, you just die. It was a good discussion, and I felt I ought to do some more work on the question. That led me to go back to the causes of death, about which I have been interested for a long time. The long-term trend in mortality offers us insights into the journey of our society. I’ll get back to dementia in due course, but first comes a rather long excursion into how…

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The beauty of the inland road trip in Australia

By | Environment, History, Road Safety, Society | 103 Comments

My wife and I do at least one biggish road trip (2-3 weeks) each year, mostly inland, and mostly including a track somewhere. Since Bev comes from South Australia, these trips usually include a visit to Adelaide, and as readers will know, we managed to time our trip this year to incorporate the worst weather in southern Australia for a long time. Driving in some of it was no joke, and some drivers simply pulled off the road to wait for the strong winds and rain to subside. But as always, there were pleasures in abundance, and here were some of ours….

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What caused the great SA power outage?

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 111 Comments

I write about this event with some personal involvement, because my wife and I are in it. We left Robe, on the southern coast of South Australia, to pay a brief visit to a winemaker at Cape Jaffa, who told us that he too was going to Adelaide, to collect his children early (a couple of days before the holidays) because of the big storm that was coming. We knew from the press that some weather event was in prospect for us, but at that moment the sky was blue, the air was crisp, the sun warm, and the notion of a storm that…

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Books that have been important to me #3 The novels of C.P. Snow

By | Books, Economy, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 61 Comments

You don’t hear much about C. P. Snow these days. When I was young he was an important figure, both in the literary world and in the world of policy. Born in 1905, the same year as my father, he came from a poor family, and made his way through excelling at school and university to become a fellow of a Cambridge college, then a senior civil servant, and at last a famous writer. I think I first heard of him in connection with his Rede lecture ‘The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution’, a lament from the 1950s about the…

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A new novel for me: Moving On

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

I am announcing the publication of my fifth novel, Moving On, in the expectation that some of my readers might be able to attend one or other (or both!) of the book launches, in Sydney (October 23rd) and Canberra (October 27th). There is nothing about climate change or politics in this novel. It is about what is suggested by the book’s title: what happens when, some time after a disaster or disappointment of some kind, you gather your own forces,  and decide that you need to move on. Doing so may not be at all straightforward. It is 1999, in Sydney, Australia….

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The present politics of marriage

By | ABC, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 131 Comments

At the time of writing there are two intersecting debates going on about marriage in our country. In the first, those talking about ‘marriage equality’ (code for gay marriage) are opposed by those wanting Australian society to adhere to the ‘Christian’ form of marriage that has been our lot for a few hundred years, one reserved for a man and a woman, whose ostensible purpose is the production and protection of new human beings. If all that sounds somewhat qualified, it is, and I’ll return to it later. In the second, the issue is whether the question is to be resolved by…

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Brian Cox versus Malcolm Roberts on Q&A

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 154 Comments

I did not watch the celebrated Q&A program in which Brian Cox, an astrophysicist and science communicator, had an argument with Malcom Roberts, the recently elected Senator who is apparently responsible for the ‘climate change’ policies of One Nation. I’ve watched a couple of these Q&A programs in the past, but felt that they were so manipulated and stacked that one would rarely get any value from them (apparently, however, there was a good one on Shakespeare last week). I did see extracts from the Cox/Roberts program, but that is all. I think Q&A is a good example of the peculiar…

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