No more essays for a while

By November 6, 2018Other

Dear Readers,

My ill-health and fatigue have reached the point where I cannot write much any more. I hope to resume writing later this year.


With every good wish to everyone.



Join the discussion 130 Comments

  • spangled drongo says:

    Oh, Don.

    I am so sad to hear this. I have been thinking about you and had a feeling things might not be going too well.

    Would you prefer that we did not comment?

    All the very best wishes to you too and good luck with your problems.

  • Mike says:

    Thanks for all your insights and observations. A pity I wasn’t aware of them earlier. I hope you’re comfortable and looking forward to your recovery

  • Peter Lang says:

    All the best Don. I wish you all the best and hope you be able to enjoy writing some more later in the year.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    A serious blow to you, and to the broader commentariat. Best wishes, B

  • Peter says:

    We are thinking of you.

  • Kerry Fitzgerald says:

    Hi Don, we will be praying for you. Rest up. Kerry and Warwick xx

  • Neville says:

    I’m very sorry to hear that Don. I hope that with rest and time away from the blog you will be back later in the year.
    All the best for the future, Neville.

  • Peter E says:

    Sorry to hear this. I hope that a rest will lead to a resurgence of you capacities. With every good wish.

  • Anders Valland says:

    All the best to you, I hope you get better soon. I really appreciate your writings and insights, they are an inspiration.

  • Marian Simms says:

    Dear Don

    Looking forward to your commentaries resuming when you’re better.


    PS Enjoyed your Critical Mass book. It features (alongside Glyn and Stuart’s recent volumes on universities, the Dawkins reforms and such like) in my forthcoming review essay in the Australian Journal of Political Science. Will post on LinkedIn once published. M

  • Jenny Clayton and Bob Hopkins says:

    Hi Don and Bev thinking of you both with lots of love xxx

  • NH says:

    Get well soon! I sometimes disagree, but you are always a gentleman.

  • Ian O says:

    Rest up Don, get well. Your essays are among the best, I’ve downloaded the ones on climate change, to me they are a repeated reference.

  • Roger Macrury says:

    I wish you all the best and hope we can all read your writing again quite soon.

  • BB says:

    I am sorry for your decline and hope there is an improvement. Thank you for your essays here they are much appreciated.

  • John BENNETT says:

    Don, this is not good to hear. You are forever the gentleman in your writing, and your essays are very insightful. They have inspired me to think a little deeper on many subjects. Do hope things get better, and remember 1 Timothy 5:23 “Take thee a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities”.

  • Boambee John says:


    Best wishes for a good recovery. I enjoy the debates in the comments threads.

  • Tezza says:

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Don. You’re a prized voice of sanity in a crazy world!


  • beththeserf says:


    Like so many others here, I will miss your thoughtful and educated commentary and hope that you
    are soon feel well enough to continue. Best wishes, bts.

  • MD says:

    Thank you for all the good things you have shared with us, and with very best wishes in the hope that we may hear from you again

  • Take care Don. Your insights are and have been appreciated.

  • My dear friend Don: I wrap my arms around both you and Bev, in the hope of giving you comfort, and of selfishly giving myself, solace. You and Bev are truly the most special people. I love you both, and send you both loving thoughts blown borne halfway ’round the world by warm winds and gentle breezes. Rest, my friend. Be at peace. Know how deeply you are cherished and respected by your friends, by your family, and especially by your loving and beloved Beverley – Nicole and Ron

  • spangled drongo says:

    This could be your solution, Don.

    If you can do it with sex and climate, why not with anything else?

    “Self-styled positivity guru Emile Ratelband thinks age is just a number. And his is a number the Dutchman wants changed. The 69-year-old TV personality has asked a court in the Netherlands to approve his request for a new birthday that officially would make him 49.”

  • Peter Kemmis says:

    Don, our friend,

    As I reflect on the quality of your argument, and the tone of its delivery, I offer a paraphrase from Shakespeare, in thanks, with hope, and with good wishes. You offer a fine example.

    “The quality of reason is not strained. it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. it is twice blest: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    Met a magical fairy yesterday who said she would grant me one wish.

    “I wish to live forever,” I said.

    “Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant that particular wish.”

    “Fine,” I said, “then I want to die the day after Parliament is filled with honest, hard-working, bipartisan men and women who act only in the people’s best interests!”

    “You crafty bastard,” replied the fairy.

  • The White Mouse says:

    How will the world of science cope without your oversight?

  • The White House says:

    How will the world of science cope without your oversight?

  • beththeserf says:

    Those two latest comments, so nice.

  • beththeserf says:

    A serf’s thoughts on the human condition…

    We envy the gods their longevity,
    not recognizing that they envy us.
    Envy the heightened drama of existence
    that comes with knowledge of life’s brevity,
    – over before you know it,
    – got to have something to show for it,
    serious ambition, love and dynasty,
    creativity … can’t just swan around
    like gods on Olympus clouds, dreaming up
    low tricks to play on us below.

    Those gods! Can’t keep their jealous eyes off us,
    entertain themselves by fooling us,
    mortals existing just for their sport.
    Stuff of Greek tragedy, they have to fill
    all those tomorrows and tomorrows
    of eternity with something, theatre of
    the absurd. Sometimes they even come down
    to earth, like goddamn, randy Zeus, making
    more mischief, more mayhem via god children,
    like Heracles, son of Zeus, whom Hera makes mad,
    so that he kills his wife and children in
    a frenzy. And then their’s Helen, daughter of Zeus,
    time to bring on the Trojan Wars. bts.

  • beththeserf says:

    Apology for typo, ‘there’s ‘ not ‘their’s.’

  • Ian Wilcock says:

    I trust you recover well Don. Worth saying that I have greatly valued your amiable wisdom and insights for a very long time, including lectures to us trainees of the Department of Foreign Affairs some (ahem!) 46 years ago.

  • beththeserf says:


    Do hope we’ll hear from you soon, yr lucid comments based on wealth of experience, so appreciated….For now some music and best wishes at Christmas-tide from beth the serf.

  • Boambee John says:

    Best wishes for Christmas, I hope to see many essays from you next year.

  • Ray B says:

    Don, your clear analytical thinking and common sense are missed. Hope you will resume writing shortly.

    Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

  • Neville says:

    Best wishes Don, I hope you are having a well earned break and all the best for the New Year.

  • Ron says:

    Hope 2019 is going to be better for you, Don. I think your readers would be most appreciative to see a comment from you, particularly something about your current health. We miss your essays very much.

  • whyisitso says:

    My best wishes for the 2019, Don. Hope to see you posting again soon.

  • Fay Thomson says:

    You are always the only boy in Mr Sweeney’s Latin Class for me. Hope good things ahead. Fay

  • spangled drongo says:

    Prof Ole Humlum’s observations:

    1– Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 11–12 months behind changes in global sea surface temperature.
    2– Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 9.5–10 months behind changes in global air surface temperature.
    3– Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging about 9 months behind changes in global lower troposphere temperature.

    Increased atmospheric CO2, from whatever cause will at most drive minor, net-beneficial global warming, and significantly increased plant and crop yields.

    The total impact of increasing atmospheric CO2 is hugely beneficial to humanity and the environment.

    So yes, it will be a Happy New Year.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    I do not think we will see Don again. His was a charming and engaging voice of reason, that although not universally endorsed, will be missed by many.

  • whyisitso says:

    My worry too, Bryan Roberts. Nicole Parton Fisher appears to know him and his family. Can you let us know his current situation, Nicole?

  • Chris Warren says:

    And future years will be worse…

  • Chris Warren says:

    Why Don’t We Acknowledge Climate Change?

    One reason for the refusal to accept the reality of climate change is what is called “motivated interference,” which occurs when we hold a specific bias to ignore evidence…

    In addition to motivated interference, there is also a powerful psychological component to this blindness to scientific reality: denial. A lot has been written about climate change denial and there are clearly many explanations for it. For one thing, an enormous amount of money is being spent encouraging us to ignore climate change. Corporations, especially the fossil fuel industry, have spent huge sums attempting to obfuscate the reality of climate change. We are constantly told by them that “more data are needed” because “climate scientists don’t agree.” While no scientist would ever disagree with a call for more research—that line is, after all, found near the end of almost every scientific paper ever written—it just is not true that scientists don’t agree that climate change is real. To some extent, then, we are the victims of a well-funded and sophisticated misinformation campaign that attempts to keep us in the dark about climate change.

    More at:

    • Boambee John says:


      I am not aware of anyone who denies that the climate changes. It has been changing for millenia, and is most likely to continue to do so. I also accept that human activities affect the climate, if only by the summed effects of the urban heat islands that have been constructed around the world.

      Claiming that people “refuse to accept the reality of climate change” or that they “deny climate change” looks very like a rhetorical device to avoid debating the two key issues. Is the human effect significant? Will the changes be catastrophic?

      So far the evidence is that the changes have been beneficial, with increased crop yields and greening of the earth’s surface, while the relative scale of human influence seems to be more asserted than proven. Unless the human effect can clearly be demonstrated to be significant, then it is intellectual arrogance to suggest that human actions can affect the changing climate.

  • spangled drongo says:

    “Why Don’t We Acknowledge Climate Change?”

    LOL! What absolute blither from the real denialists.

    My last two links show climate change far in excess of anything happening today.

    Climate never stops changing but alarmists think it has only just begun and they have discovered something unique.

    They are desperate to defend their new-found religion as being all their own work.

    Please produce some science, blith, or put your mum on.

  • spangled drongo says:

    I’m sure Don is pleased to see that there is at least one university [Wollongong] that has the good sense to take up the Ramsay offer on the Western Civilisation course.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Talking about the true denialists again, hey, blith?

    Those who deny science and the real world.

    Who delete all those inconvenient historical records listed above and lots more.

    As well as being in denial of the real world, they are working every aspect of fakery at the bakery that they possibly can:

  • Chris Warren says:

    This is just the start…

    “The temperature in Noona in NSW only dropped to 35.9 degrees last night, an all-time minimum temperature record for Australia. Broad areas will exceed 42 degrees today, continuing a trend that started on Monday. Canberra is forecast to reach 40 degrees today for the fourth day in a row, something that hasn’t been observed since 1939 when records began.”

    • Boambee John says:

      “Canberra is forecast to reach 40 degrees today for the fourth day in a row, something that hasn’t been observed since 1939 when records began.”

      Even though the federal parliament had met in Canberra since 1927, and there was an RAAF Base and civil airport at what is now called Fairbairn, there were no weather records until 1939?

      There was a statement a couple of days ago about Albury-Wodonga claiming that the temperature recorded was the highest since records began 30 years ago, ie in 1988 or 89. Really? Only 30 years ago that records started there? Yeah, right!

      • Chris Warren says:

        Presumably recordings before 1939 were not collected in as controlled manner as from 1939.

        Other stations also start from 1939.

        Similarly with Albury-Wodonga.

        • Boambee John says:

          There was a system of regular readings by official and non-official post offices that went back a long time, but strangely seems to have disappeared. Also, I would be fascinated to see evidence that no met data were collected at and reported from airports before 1939, or the late 1980s in the case of Albury-Wodonga.

          PS, the Albury-Wodonga time line allegedly started from the late 1980s, not the late 1930s. Really? Evidence that there was no reporting from there before the late 1980s?

          This smells of homogenisation and ignoring data that do not suit the CAGW “narrative”

          PPS, you have not responded to my comments about accepting the reality of climate change and some human influence, but that the change so far has been generally beneficial, and questioning the significance of the human contribution. I look forward to that.

  • Chris Warren says:

    What happens when what the BOM describes today as “extreme” and “abnormal”, becomes “average” and “normal” for future generations?

    Note also the BOM comment on the absence of El Nino.

    • Boambee John says:

      Forty or fifty years ago, what the BoM describes today as “extreme” and “abnormal”, was “average” and “normal”. What we have today is the result of a generation or so whose life experience was:

      Born in an air conditioned hospital.

      Went home in an air conditioned car.

      Lived in an air conditioned house.

      Went to an air conditioned schools and universities.

      Shopped in air conditioned malls.

      Worked in air conditioned offices.


      Watched sport in their air conditioned homes, avoiding the un-air conditioned outside.

      They really think that a couple of days in a row at 30C is extreme.

  • spangled drongo says:

    “The temperature in Noona in NSW only dropped to 35.9 degrees last night, an all-time minimum temperature record for Australia.”

    Blith and the BoM make a great pair when it comes to “climate science”.

    Guess how far back the Noona data go?

    Yes, all the way to 2017.

    WOW, what a record!

    True denialists at work.

    • Boambee John says:

      “an all-time minimum temperature record for Australia.”

      As Chris has pointed out, the BoM no longer refers tomearlier data than the late 1930s, sometimes even more recent.

      Apparently “data controlled by standards such tht it can be compared to modern data is the data I use.” Makes it easy to toss out phrases about “highest on record” if you ignore most of the records.

  • Boambee John says:

    Chris cites ACORN-SAT.

    Homogesised and adjusted. LOL.

  • Boambee John says:


    So far you have not commented on this comment I posted yesterday.

    “So far the evidence is that the changes have been beneficial, with increased crop yields and greening of the earth’s surface, while the relative scale of human influence seems to be more asserted than proven. Unless the human effect can clearly be demonstrated to be significant, then it is intellectual arrogance to suggest that human actions can affect the changing climate.”

    I wait with bated breath!

  • whyisitso says:

    I wish you two would give it a rest. I’m very worried about Don. How about an update (with Don’s OK), Nicole? It’s two and a half months now.

  • Boambee John says:


    Like you, I thought that this thread gave us an opportunity to follow Don’s condition and send him good wishes, only to find that Chris had taken the opportunity to pursue his obsession about CAGW. I do not like to see unverifiable statements stand unchallenged.


    Another computer model, yawn!

  • spangled drongo says:

    whyisitso, I’m sure Don would approve of sceptics refuting a climate alarmist.

    However, like you, I would also appreciate a report from Nicole if she can.

    Now, a single honest picture says a lot more than a thousand words.

    But then we always knew that the real denialists were cherry pickers.

    Try the real world, blith:

  • beththeserf says:

    Best wishes for the New Year, Don and look forward to your next comment on post.
    Here from Warwick Hughes, the recent heatwave in context.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Warwick Hughes’ comparison with 1968 looks reasonable as this was a non-El Nino period – as is 2019 (so far).

      However the comparison with 1939 is unreasonable as this was an El Nino period – unlike 2019 (so far).

  • BB says:

    I know Don personally but not closely. He attended a regular lunch here in Canberra Australia until the middle of last year. As many of you have realised he has a serious health problem. I decided last night to send him a direct email asking after him and this morning I was pleased to receive an answer from him as follows:

    Dear Mike and all,

    I am weak, thin (lost 20kg) and very tired, and don’t have much energy for anything. I am improving slowly, but it will be months before I am fit again. Cancer is a bugger of a thing.



    I do know the cancer that he has and yes it is serious and I hope he continues to improve. As for me I will be ending notifications of comments here and I suggest the rest of you do the same.

    • Boambee John says:

      Thanks for the news, sad as it may be.

      I agree that this thread should be reserved for news of Don and messages for him. There are other fora for those who have other things to discuss.

      To Don
      Best wishes, fight the good fight, do not go gentle into that good night.

    • NICOLE PARTON says:

      I emailed a family member yesterday, as well as leaving Don a message. The family member’s preference was to let Don speak for himself when he’s up to it. Keep fighting, mate!

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks for providing that news for us, BB.

    Having lost a twin awa a younger brother to cancer last year, I know the odds are not in Don’s favour.

    But all the very best, Don. We are all thinking of you. Let’s hope that you can beat the odds and recover.

  • Neville says:

    Don I hope you can fully recover and can maintain a reasonable level of fitness in the near future. All the best for the months ahead.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Don, I’m sure you will be relieved to know that the local sea level taken at today’s Highest Astronomical Tide following the super-blood-wolf moon of last night was actually 150 mm lower than it was between 1946 and 1953.

    This means that sea levels have been falling by over 2mm/y, not rising by 3mm/y as claimed by cli-sci.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Interesting to compare BoM’s “record” night temperature at Noona.

    The Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, 23rd Jan 1896:

    “The condition of Brewarrina is hardly better than that of Bourke. Yesterday’s record was 117. On Wednesday night many of the residents walked the streets for hours, the thermometer at midnight registered 109, and the minimum reading was 103.”

  • Chris Warren says:

    The temperature at the North Pole has soared to the melting point of ice,


  • spangled drongo says:

    As Paul Driessen says:

    “Those accusing someone of a crime must prove his guilt; the accused need not prove his innocence. But not only are alarmists bringing what amount to criminal charges against fossil fuels; wiping out the fuels that provide over 80% of our energy would bring widespread chaos, poverty, misery, disease and death.

    Those who claim fossil fuels and greenhouse gases are causing dangerous global warming and climate change have the burden of proving their case. Not with allegations, computer models, headlines, mob rule and demands for instant sentencing. With solid, irrefutable evidence.

    Those who intend to use climate change accusations to disrupt and destroy modern energy systems and industrialized economies likewise have the burden of proving that wind, solar and biofuel energy can actually replace fossil fuels. That they are actually clean, green, affordable, renewable and sustainable.

    Thus far, they have offered no real-world evidence whatsoever. And there is no way they can do so.”

  • Chris Warren says:

    As global warming intensifies, more water is absorbed in the atmosphere. It has to come down somewhere, and Queensland is probably a good site as this is where most of the denialists and Ardani coal psychopaths are?

    • Boambee John says:

      But, but, but, … Didn’t Perfesser Tim Flummery tell us that Goebbels Warming would mean that the rain would not fall, and even if it did, it would not fill the dams.

      Now he has some empirical data to go with his prediction, perhaps he might apologise? No! Thought not. I guess he won’t return the research grant money either.

  • spangled drongo says:

    One end of Qld in flood, the other in drought.

    Take it up with Dorothea, blith.

    And give your enuresis a rest.

  • whyisitso says:

    Boambee John is right. Please leave this site for news of Don. The childish trolling is disrespectful.

  • spangled drongo says:

    From blith’s BoM link:

    “In the 24 hours to 9 am on the 26th temperatures at Wanaaring (Borrona Downs AWS)(NSW) did not drop below 36.6 °C, making it the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in Australia.”

    But look what happened in 1896 that our BoM has conveniently wiped from their records, along with enormous amounts of record hot data from the 19th century:

    “The condition of Brewarrina is hardly better than that of Bourke. Yesterday’s record was 117. On Wednesday night many of the residents walked the streets for hours, the thermometer at midnight registered 109, and the minimum reading was 103.”

    That 103f is around 3c hotter than our BoM’s “highest minimum temperature ever recorded in Australia.”

    So you must excuse us, blith, if we remain rationally sceptical.

    BTW, have you checked the local sea levels lately?

  • Boambee John says:

    Chris Warren

    Enough of your trolling this thread with your CAGW obsession. The purpose of this thread is to get news about Don, and send him messages of support.

    There is a perfectly good thread on global warming on this site, dated 17 October last year, about work by Richard Lindzen. Go over there and obsess to your heart’s content.

  • Chris Warren says:

    January – record heat
    Townsville – record rain
    Denialists – record wingeing.

    • Boambee John says:

      You really can’t control yourself can you?

      If you are unwilling to move this debate to a site where you will face active debate (I have suggested Catallaxy), perhaps you could move to a CAGW believers site, where you could engage in mutual back scratching.

      Either way, stop trolling this thread.

    • Boambee John says:

      If you want a more science based debate, you could always go to Jo Nova.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Then again, blith, you can choose some science:

  • spangled drongo says:

    And when you see how poorly the IPCC models performed against known data is it any wonder they are so off the planet with predictions:

    • Boambee John says:

      From Jo Nova

      “Warwick Hughes (h/t Dave Brewer) points out that on Dec 20th the Australian Bureau of Meteorology predicted that the Townsville region had only a 1 in 3 chance of exceeding the average rainfall in January.”

      But don’t anyone worry, the models are totally reliable over longer time frames. Just ask Chris, he’ll tell you.

  • Chris Warren says:

    BOM data is corroborated by satellite data.

    A pretty good match.

    • spangled drongo says:

      What a shame the BoM won’t publish its 19th century data.

      It’d be a pretty good match, too, blith.

      • NICOLE PARTON says:

        I hope and trust all will raise the level of debate – if not for fellow debaters’ sensitivities, then for Don Aitkin’s.

        • Boambee John says:


          There is no real debate here. We have Chris giving us a fundamentalist prophecy of “Repent, the end the world is nigh”, with occasional responses by drongo and me attempting to relieve the gloom.

          Personally, I wish Chris would take his obsession elsewhere.

  • whyisitso says:

    Children, please stop that fighting.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Well, look here, a new paper confirms that those Vikings weren’t faking it:

    “Overall, the climate was about 1.5-degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding cooling centuries. This warmer period was similar to southern Greenland’s temperatures today, which hover around 10-degrees Celsius (50-degrees Fahrenheit) in summer.”

    When the ice cores show that the Roman WP was warmer still and previous WPs warmer again, just how do we know that current warming is human caused?

  • Chris Warren says:

    While this may take some time to load – this is worth digesting: Global land warming over 1C per century.

  • spangled drongo says:

    What is it about NOAA collecting their old data from less than 10% of the earth’s surface yet when it got warm in the ’30s they ignored most of that same data, you don’t get, blith?

    Plus all the homogenising since.

    It’s nice to see you quoting Steve Goddard so just read up on him a bit more and you will improve out of sight.

  • spangled drongo says:

    What is it about the earth being over 4 billion years old and our temperature measuring devices only being somewhat accurate for only the last 30 years that you also don’t get, blith?

    Cli-Sci is wunnerful provided you are aware of its limits.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Refutation of the Belgian climate manifesto by the Climate Intelligence Foundation.

    This corruption needed calling out:

    “In Belgium, the climate movement has now also started using children for their ideological cause. A rather peculiar strategy. What children need to learn is to take a critical look at the facts. So what is happening now goes against everything that education should stand for. We are increasingly seeing children being abused to achieve goals.”

  • Chris Warren says:

    Nicole Parton

    If you comment as a reply to Drongo, your comment will not be visible on my computer as I have screened all comments from it. I only get see the spew when I access the Internet in a library where I cannot load my macros.

    It is best to start a new comment.

    There are also comments from Boambee John which also are not visible if they are a reply to the Drongo.

    • NICOLE PARTON says:

      I fully understand and agree. Thanks for the note.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Is this what you “fully understand and agree” with our blith on, Nicole?

        “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony … climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

        “We have got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

        Because if you do, please be aware it’s not science, just socialist political and economic blither, and in spite of our enuresistic doomsayers, Don has been trying to highlight those simple, real world facts.

    • Boambee John says:

      “If you comment as a reply to Drongo, your comment will not be visible on my computer as I have screened all comments from it.”

      I guess this is one way to avoid having your pre-conceptions challenged?

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