On turning 80

By August 5, 2017Health, History, Society

My 80th birthday yesterday came rather more quickly than I had expected. As we get older our sense of time speeds up if only because we have experienced so much ‘time’ already. A double Latin class on Friday afternoon in the early 1950s seemed to last forever, while last Christmas seems only a few weeks ago. Mind you, my life expectancy at birth was only 63, so there’s been some luck along the way. At 80 you certainly do wonder how long you have. According to the life tables, I can expect (on average!) another eight years. If that is realised, I will live about as long as my parents, both of whom got to 87 (my mother missed 88 by a week).

As far as I can remember, I am a good deal fitter than my father was at 80. I walk a lot, play tennis, do exercises for my back and for general fitness. And I write, read and converse widely. I am a carer for my wife, and that is my main occupation. At the same time, I am not at all as fit as I was fifteen years ago. I used to be able to spend a whole day in the garden, digging and making rock walls. My five-kilometre daily walk has dropped to a three-kilometre one. After two hours of tennis I am done. I sleep an hour or so more than I used to.

And though bits haven’t fallen off my cart yet, I am most aware that my chronic conditions are not going to get any better. My sinuses have never been really clear, and they’re worse now. I have trouble remembering names of composers, friends of long ago, authors, singers, books, and so on. They will return in due course, but the failure to remember at once is vexing. Injuries take longer to heal. Little conditions I endure are slowly getting worse. But I manage, cope and look ahead. I wonder — I guess we all do at this age — what will carry me off? Will I refuse food and water, as my father did when he recognised that his dementia was endless and awful. Will I have a sudden major heart attack, like my mother? There is no answer, at least at the moment.

Our needs, medications and visits to the health system aside,  are much reduced. There will be no future overseas journeys to see friends. My wife’s condition rules that out. We will continue to do some short trips in Australia, and we might go to New Zealand early next year, in part to see what is happening with a village for those with dementia near Rotorua. It is being designed on a radically different basis, more much empathetic to the needs and histories of those who live there. We don’t buy new things much, and replace only what we must. So money is not a real problem, though my pension slowly falls in real value. There is enough for us to live in some comfort (important, given my wife’s condition), and we need no more. We have been supportive of charities for a long time, and now stick to the half dozen that we feel akin to. I recognise that we are in the last stage of our journeys, but we don’t know how long the last stage is. There are lots of possibilities, and we are doing what seems sensible in planning.

For fifty years I have been responsible for activities and organisations, and that phase has passed. But of course I still care about a lot of them. And for even longer I have been interested in the politics and government of my country. That interest hasn’t passed, though I no longer have connections to power. I have never met either Mr Abbott or Mr Turnbull, who are a generation younger. I happen to know my MP, because she and I were on the same board for about ten years. I know both our Senators, and the Chief Minister, and many of the ACT MLAs. But politics and politicians no longer have the same sense of importance to me.

I am confident that the next generation will make many mistakes and do many good things. During more than a decade as a vice-chancellor I was impressed with the quality and drive of my students, and felt that the country was in safe hands. I like Australia’s multi-ethnicity, and feel that we have done that well. I do not wish to see Australia accept too many refugees. There is a needed balance between doing what we can, and making sure that our country, our society, is still able to absorb the new arrivals well.

The world is a more complex place than it was in 1950, but I have less fear than I had then of a nuclear conflagration consuming the civilisation that humankind has created, astonishingly, in only ten thousand years. I see no end to wars, and sabre-rattling, and crises of all kinds. I feel that we will muddle and struggle through them, as has been the case for the last couple of hundred years, when ‘nations’ came into real being. I still feel that it is far too early to see the world as a single entity. The nation-state is much the best domain in which to look after millions of people. And globalisation has brought with it a lot of costs, and potential costs (like a deadly virus brought around the world in a couple of days via passenger aircraft).

Nonetheless, I am generally optimistic. Yes, there are occasional steps backwards, but more steps forward. In a future essay I will set out what I think ‘progress’ should mean, and summarise it here to say that the conditions of life for most people in the world are far better now than they were half a century ago, and I see no reason to expect that trend to end.

I cannot get exercised about most of the current political fads and fashions. Gay marriage can’t be of consuming interest to more than a couple of per cent of people, since that seems to be the proportion of self-describing homosexuals. Some kind of recognition of our indigenous people in the Constitution is likewise a side issue for the great majority, since only about three per cent of the population self-describes as indigenous, and most of them live normal lives in our urban areas. These are fashionable concerns for some non-homosexual and non-indigenous people, but seem to be examples of virtue-signalling for them rather than anything else. That our politicians seem to wrestle with these ‘issues’ seems a great waste of their time.

I would like to see the Australian Parliament deal with what I think are real problems: how to live, collectively, within our means, how to develop a foreign policy which could serve us well in both this present turbulent world and any variant of it, how to develop a sense of what it means to be Australian and how to help Australians make it an even better society, and how to encourage us all to be both self-reliant and altruistic, and not see ‘the government’ as a kind of money-tree or milch-cow.

I feel that my own generation, whose working life spanned the second half of the 20th century, did a pretty good job in improving the quality of life of both those of us born here and those who came as immigrants. Despite Mr Howard’s belief (he is of our generation) that this advance should make us comfortable, my feeling is that this project never stops. Making Australia better is a national task, and I keep waiting for a politician, or even better several of them, who can articulate that task without descending to attacking either those who are comfortably off (for their imagined greed and sins) or those who have not at all done well (for their imagined greed and sins).

I was never a hater, and dislike the tone of much or our politics today, which is full of aggression and, yes, hatred. I can get angry, often with myself, but the anger quickly passes. It is such a privilege to be alive, and to live in this decently civilised, prosperous, creative society. Life should be enjoyed, not become a platform for darker passions. To work creatively and productively seems to be the best of all possible existences, and I have had my fair share of it, for which I am most thankful.

More on my 90th, should I get to it.

 

 

Join the discussion 129 Comments

  • Neville says:

    Happy birthday Don and I hope you have many more of them. Let’s hope you get to 90 and then who knows? All the best to both you and your wife.

  • Mary Anderson says:

    Wishing you well, and thanking you for your voice of logic and reason, and for sharing your thoughts with us all.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Congratulations, Don, on your fine achievements. I can relate to that double Latin class that was interminable but I remember my Latin teacher telling us that his generation had stuffed things up in the first half of the 20th C and it was up to us to improve the second half.

    Although the “balance of nuclear terror” helped prevent any more world wars and the enemy regimes of the era pretty much petered out of their own accord, and we still have much to do to “stabilise” civilisation to get our ever-escalating population to a reasonable SOL, I suspect my parent’s and grandparent’s gen did every bit as much towards improving the first half as we did for the second. It’s just that when certain things happen you can’t always do much about it other than hang on and hope.

    I get the feeling though, that because of the newfound wisdom of youth, our older generations had a better grasp of history than current ones so that we are now more on auto pilot than previously and that is a worry.

  • Brad Wrightson says:

    Happy Birthday Don! Although I’m a latecomer to your blog I’ve come to enjoy your even-handed dealing with issues. I look forward to receiving more of your thoughts. So I wish you many more healthful years ahead!!

  • beththeserf says:

    A Happy Birthday, Don. A poem appertaining from Thomas Hardy that
    speaks to me and I’ll follow up with one of my own. 🙂

    I leant upon a coppice gate
    When Frost was spectre-grey,
    And Winter’s dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
    The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
    And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.

    The land’s sharp features seemed to be
    The Century’s corpse outleant,
    His crypt the cloudy canopy,
    The wind his death-lament.
    The ancient pulse of germ and birth
    Was shrunken hard and dry,
    And every spirit upon earth
    Seemed fervourless as I.

    At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
    In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;
    An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
    In blast-beruffled plume,
    Had chosen thus to fling his soul
    Upon the growing gloom.

    So little cause for carolings
    Of such ecstatic sound
    Was written on terrestrial things
    Afar or nigh around,
    That I could think there trembled through
    His happy good-night air
    Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.

  • beththeserf says:

    Whom the gods …

    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 sit 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 goddam randy Zeus, making
    more mischief, more mayhem via god children,
    like Herakles, son of Zeus, whom Hera makes mad
    so that he kills his wife and children in
    a frenzy. And then there’s Helen, daughter of Zeus.
    Time to bring on the Trojan Wars.

    … 27th edition Serf Under -ground Journal.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Any birthday with a zero in it is usually worth commemorating, though I can’t imagine why. A one would appear more optimistic.

    “I was never a hater, and dislike the tone of much or our politics today, which is full of aggression and, yes, hatred”. Much as I loved Gough, in the day, I think he began the politics of ideology, which is contrary to the reality of pragmatism, on which sensible administration depends.

  • margaret says:

    Happy birthday!
    “Here’s to another year and let’s hope it’s above ground.”
    Carol Shields
    The Stone Diaries

  • PeterE says:

    Go, Don, go. (I don’t mean leave the planet, I mean keep on keeping on.)
    All the best.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Don

    There is more to supporting the interests of 2% groups or 3% groups than so-called “virtue-signalling…political fads”.

    Presumably only 2% of women want abortion – so can their campaigns be pushed aside so glibly? The fact is that changes that benefit small percentages still need the consent of the majority.

    So there is no point slandering various activists or casting artificial dispersions against them when they undertake the necessary work to gain such majority consent.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      No slander on my part. And I have no idea what an ‘artificial dispersion’ is.

    • margaret says:

      I agree Chris. The fact that you can’t get ‘exercised’ about minority groups rights Don is that you have walked comfortably through the world for eighty years. You regard that as lucky and it is. It’s not to detract from your efforts and achievements, however your profile ticked all the boxes for your times. The times are always changing yes, and it’s not about survival of the fittest but about the ability to adapt to changes.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        With great respect, I think Margaret and Chris are missing the point. I am complaining about our elected representatives paying far too much attention to what these tiny groups want, and not enough to what seem to me to be the great issues of the day.

        More, I am suggesting that some of those who do not belong to these minority groups, but are making a great fuss about the minority group ‘rights’ (by which we have to mean, what they want, not what they are presently entitled to) are showing what nice people they hope we think they are. Those who are related to minority group members are in a different category — but then I am one such, and the gay couple I know well do not want to get married, and think it’s mostly a fuss about nothing.

        Nor have I walked comfortably through the world for eighty years. Those years had a great deal of struggle in them, as those close to me know.

        And I believe I adapt well to change. Indeed, I have been a change-monger, against great opposition, for some of my working life.

        Finally, as with ‘offence’, those who feel ‘attacked’ by being labelled as ‘virtue-signallers’ have a number of options. One is to ignore what I wrote entirely. One is to engage in a discussion, and show that I am wrong. A third is increase their efforts. There are others. Chris, at least to my eyes, gets his knickers in a twist much too often about insults and supposed language offences.

        • margaret says:

          “Walking comfortably through the world” is a catch phrase for the comparative ease with which men broach the career ladder or even the pub. It’s not the same as the struggle of every individual in his or her life.
          “Most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles and we are preoccupied with our own problems. We sympathize with ourselves because we see our own difficulties so clearly. But Ian MacLaren noted wisely, “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”
          But of course, politics will never embrace that credo.

          • margaret says:

            For ‘virtue-signalling’ read support for equal rights under the law for gay and lesbian couples to unite as a same sex couple if they wish. For ‘virtue-signalling’ read support for women to have control of their bodies. For ‘virtue-signalling’ read support for First Nations to be recognised in the Australian Constitution.
            I guess I’m a virtue-signaller.
            What are the fears for non-adaptation to these rights we have enjoyed (apart from the second in two states of Australia) ?

          • spangled drongo says:

            And seeing as you are then advantaging Aboriginals over the rest of Australians, who, exactly, is an Aboriginal, marg?

          • spangled drongo says:

            “First Nations to be recognised in the Australian Constitution.”

            There were no “First Nations”, marg, only first tribes, and that’s why there could never be any treaty at the time because there were was no “Nation” to cut a deal with that meant anything.

            This is all emotional clap trap. Just like the “stolen generations” and the apology.

          • margaret says:

            First people then. They were/are people. I love your terminology also – “cut a deal with” (have some beads for this land).
            Any way a couple of centuries have passed. Indigenous people were massacred. There were wars, there was bloodshed on both sides. It’s old it’s done and dusted. Those indigenous who are part of the Australian mainstream want either R or R or T and those who live in Utopia are fucked. Yes I get ‘exercised’ about it at times – I expect it’s because I watch TV 🙂
            – and read books such as Convincing Ground.
            I suspect virtue signaling is the substitute word for the empathy you lack.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Yes, marg, after having lived with, worked with and “stolen” them when they used to be progressive battlers who I had a lot of empathy for, because they were really pulling themselves into the modern world, there are many in the “aboriginal industry” today [think Cindy Prior & QUT] that it is hard to have that same empathy for.

            They already get so many taxpayer funded services above other Australians, I hate to think what the result would be.

            Did you know that the Aboriginal Health Service take mobile health clinics to country towns and just park there, with a doctor and a nurse, all day, no appointments made, in case an “aboriginal” feels the need?

            I use this service because I hate to see it going to waste but the cost is crippling.

            And even though “Cindy Prior” will probably sue me when she finds out.

          • Chris Warren says:

            margaret

            “First Nations” is the correct term and the respectful one.

            So far academics have only scratched the surface accounting for the massacres, but the truth is slowly being emerging but has yet to be properly written into history.

            Other terms have been invented, usually by rancid whites.

            More information is at: http://nationalunitygovernment.org/content/difference-between-first-australians-and-first-nations

          • spangled drongo says:

            “First Nations” is baloney, blith.

            And bum kissing, like “welcome to country” ceremonies.

            Most tribes were not even aware of tribes on the opposite side of the continent. If you asked a Birdsville native about the pygmies of the Atherton Tableland you would have got a blank stare.

            I know because I used to write letters on behalf of the tribal king and elders to all the other tribes they were aware of, for particular ceremonies. They told me it was much more specific than smoke signals.

            “Aboriginals” walked here over thousands of years in many groups and the second lot most likely didn’t get permission from the first, and so on down the line.

            So the rest [and that could be all of them if the first didn’t survive] are just as illegal as the whiteys by that silly argument.

            It is only now, due to whiteys siddown money, that there is any Aboriginal “body” where this is at all possible and this “body” is generally made up of people who are more white than aboriginal.

            As usual you haven’t a clue and believe what you selectively read.

          • margaret says:

            Yes all these neocons who hate the ABC owe it to themselves and their closed minds to watch this week’s QandA. Some very smart and impressive First Nations people on the panel and in the audience.

          • margaret says:

            Turn on the tv Drongo.

          • Chris Warren says:

            margaret

            Enemies of Australian aborigines should be ignored.

            The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at Article 6 makes it all very clear what the correct term is.

            Only fascists deny different races their rights.

          • margaret says:

            Chris as you well know, Spangled Drongo makes comment that is difficult to ignore. He is also a master of broken record technique. I temporarily lost confidence in retracting First Nations for ‘people’ but I think also there’s a common tendency for them not to be regarded as people. I don’t have any common meeting ground for his attitudes and opinions – except perhaps if he thinks Wichita Lineman is Glen Campbell’s best song (written by a master, Jimmy Webb).

          • spangled drongo says:

            Could you pair of neo-Marxists just list one of those “aboriginals” on that show that isn’t collecting a fantastic, taxpayer-funded wage?

            As in someone who is earning a living by dealing with real-world problems?

            And while you’re at it you could tell us if you have even known ANY such a person, let alone an aboriginal who does?

            And blith bleats, “Enemies of Australian aborigines should be ignored.”

            You unhinged pair are the real enemies of aboriginals and you are too engrossed in your own ideology to grasp that fact.

            …And bleats “Only fascists deny different races their rights.”

            They currently have more rights than you and I, blith.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Here’s Stan Grant, the ABC “aboriginal” in marg’s Q&A:

            http://www.anu.edu.au/files/styles/anu_full_920_518/public/event/Grant%20Stan%20AUTHOR%20PHOTO%202%20Credit%20Kathy%20Luu%202015_1.jpg?itok=AnniejGR

            Most of our ever increasing numbers of “aboriginals” tend to look like this these days.

            I wonder why?

  • Anne Carter says:

    Congratulations Don and it is so beautifully written I have shared it on my timeline. Our brilliant chamber Music Festival has just concluded and we are bidding a sad farewell to Piers.

  • Tamara Cutcliffe says:

    These are August times!

    Happy Birthday Don!

    Glad that you are still on this earth and continuing to raise some interesting lines of conversation.

    I know you are also passionate about climate change and the environment, and living sustainably covers that to a large degree. I consider more needs to be done here so our children’s children inherit an earth that continues to supply them and the increasing body of their forebears in the manner to which we are accustomed, yet not to the detriment of the planet. Perhaps you could reflect and give considered views in another year ending in ‘0’. Or not!

    Onwards and upwards!

    More music and wine too please!

    Only 20 to 100!

    Best

    Tamara

  • Don Aitkin says:

    My thanks to all the birthday wishers. It is a strange time, because I don’t feel old, really. I’m still the same man as I have been since my early twenties. Can’t do some of the things I used to do, or perhaps can’t do them as quickly. But inside I feel the same.

    • Aert Driessen says:

      I feel the same Don, and I’ll be 80 next year. My main concern for the future of this country is the intellectual quality of our politicians, many (most?) of whom are university graduates. It seems to me that those that believe that CO2 is a driver of climate change, that the 3% of human-caused CO2 somehow has more effect then the 97% of naturally-sourced CO2, and that warming is dangerous, simply have not bothered to listen to counter arguments and are ignoring evidence. I can only put that down to arrogance and that is a worry. But not to worry; all that is quickly soothed by a dry sherry aperitif and a suited wine with dinner. Congratulations and best wishes …

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Here is an apposite reflection, believed to be from Einstein: ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.’ I agree with it, and do my best.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Stephen Hawking summed up the human dilemma quite succinctly when he said “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.” 

        • Chris Warren says:

          Neville

          Your source is – wait for it – … Roy Spencer!

          You really should do better.

          • Neville says:

            Chris, Dr Spencer believes in God, but so do many other scientists and even Hitchens/ Dawkins etc admit these people are very intelligent.
            Both Christy and Spencer pioneered NASA development of satellite temp data collection and were awarded NASA medals for their work.
            BTW did you read what Hawking actually claimed? Why would you defend his silly claims. We’ve actually increased co2 by about 1 part per 10,000 ( 100 ppm) parts of the air we breathe since 1800. Yes that’s about one third increase over that period but it is still tiny compared to Hawking’s claims.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Spencer cited Hawking as saying “Venus-like” not “same as Venus”. He was using Venus as an example of process, not as an example of actual levels.

            I have already stated that the maximum for Earth will be whatever temperature radiates heat from the Earth equal to incoming radiation (1.366 KW/m).

            As the Earth rotates, it is not clear what this is. Venus only turns slowly.

            A surface radiating 1.366 KWm in infrared may well be around 250C. Just think of the temperatures of domestic heaters.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Roy Spencer is a first-class scientist, and the pioneer of satellite measurements of temperature, with NASA medals to his credit. From what position of advantage to you feel you can belittle him, Chris?

          • spangled drongo says:

            When you’re the blitherer-in-chief you can belittle anyone. Especially when you are rationality-free as well.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Don

            This is very easy….

            Spencer crudely belittled Hawking without looking at the relevant science.

            Spencer did not say that the original atmosphere of Earth was very similar to the original atmosphere of Venus [see http://www.archive.is/kCRD9 sourced from: http://www.archive.is/DHuUZ ]. There are plenty of sulphurous compounds flowing from Earth’s volcanoes. Hawking’s prediction is scientifically arguable and was not an argument restricted to CO2. Spencer converting Hawking’s argument into a CO2 argument was a crude falsification.

            By seriously misrepresenting Hawking, Spencer just exposes the quality of his various interventions. Hawking made no reference to CO2 at all.

            Hawking said he thinks we may be approaching a tipping point. You need science to dispute him, not noise from Spencer et al.

            Do you think big Hawking should be provoked and belittled by little Spencer?

            This was Spencer’s sign-off comment:

            “This is partly why the public makes fun of scientists. Sad. ”

            So Spencer simply gets paid back in his own coin.

            “Its partly good to make fun of Spencer – Fun”

            I also object to nutters such as Spencer taking short media grabs from the media and using them in corrupted forms to represent scientists.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Give us al a break, blith.

            It’s bad enough you supporting someone who invokes the excessive Venus argument, which is the equivalent of Godwin’s Law and is simply hysterical ranting WRT our current small amount of warming but then to revile a scientist like Spencer whose UAH results are not only world leading and supported by NASA’s RSS and thousands of radiosondes but you even use those same UAH results to make your own foolish claims.

            Maybe you can elaborate on how considerably less warming than nat var for the last 3 centuries is approaching a “tipping point” and why it needs anything other than common sense to refute it?

            But somehow I get the feeling that it’s ideology that you and SH support, rather than common sense.

            Would that be a reasonable sum-up, blith?

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Now that I’ve watched the video, I think that Roy Spencer was right on target. Hawking was way over the top in his scary statements.

  • John says:

    Best wishes for a happy birthday. I enjoy reading your blog and thank you for maintaining it. Cheers

  • David says:

    “I would like to see the Australian Parliament deal with what I think are real problems: how to live, collectively, within our means,…

    Exactly. So developing a sustainable system of energy production, with an emphasis on solar energy might be a good place to start, instead of continued reliance on fossil fuels that cause global warming.

    “… how to develop a foreign policy which could serve us well in both this present turbulent world and any variant of it, how to develop a sense of what it means to be Australian and how to help Australians make it an even better society, and how to encourage us all to be both self-reliant and altruistic, …”

    Altruism? You mean like supporting minorities like indigenous and gay Australians to achieve certain cultural recognition, which are important to them, even though this would have no direct personal benefit to me?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      David, you never give up, do you! There’s nothing particularly sustainable about wind and solar, which need extensive back-up anyway. And when you can show me that reliance on fossil fuels (1) causes global warming, (2) which is bad for life, and (3) our abandonment of fossil fuels would have a really discernible effect on ‘average global temperature’, I will listen further on that tortured subject.

      By altruism, I mean helping others who need help when you personally can offer it. Making a fuss so that governments feel they ought to do something seems a weak form of altruism to me. But if that’s your baby, nurse it by all means.

      • David says:

        Just becuase you turned 80 does that entitle you to dream up your own definition of ultruism?

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Altruism comes from the Latin for ‘other’ (alter). It has come to mean helping others. I provided a context, not a definition.

  • margaret says:

    Don
    “The world is a more complex place than it was in 1950, but I have less fear than I had then of a nuclear conflagration consuming the civilisation that humankind has created, astonishingly, in only ten thousand years. I see no end to wars, and sabre-rattling, and crises of all kinds. I feel that we will muddle and struggle through them, as has been the case for the last couple of hundred years, when ‘nations’ came into real being.”

    North Korea? Trump’s brinkmanship?! Aren’t you the least little bit exercised on the anniversary of the dropping of Fat Man on Nagasaki?

    http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/nagasaki-the-last-bomb

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      margaret, North Korea could not possibly damage the US to the point at which it could not retaliate. If such an attack occurred, it could, and probably would, wipe North Korea off the face of the planet. I suspect the North Koreans are well aware of this.

      • margaret says:

        And the innocent civilians? I’ve had enough of you lot. Sorry Bryan nothing personal but I can’t handle the tone of this blog anymore – too much self aggrandizement. Too little thoughtfulness.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          margaret, so its perfectly fine for North Korea to launch an unprovoked (nuclear) attack, killing hundreds of thousands of US citizens, but for the US to do so in retaliation would be very, very, naughty because somebody might get hurt. “Too little thoughtfulness”, indeed!.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Quick, Bryan, where’s the La-La-Land door, for marg?

        Oh, reality !!!

        How could you?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Margaret,

      To all those questions, no. I have seen dozens of sabre-rattling episodes in the last seventy years. North Korea is unlikely to do anything serious, given it has been spoken to by China. Fat Boy’s anniversary passed me by. Would you rather have had a land and sea invasion of Japan, to end that war? At what cost? Why?

      • margaret says:

        Those questions are ridiculous. And it’s Fat Man. Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Margaret, these questions are not ridiculous at all. The Allies were faced with a sea-borne invasion of Japan which was estimated to be difficult, expensive in lives lost, and arguably not successful. The US had the bomb. There were suggestions that it be exploded on an uninhabited island, but the objection was that the Japanese high command would not be impressed. So the choice came down to drop the bomb on a region, a city, or leave the bomb and mount an invasion. The war might have gone on for a couple more years in that case. Yes, the bombs caused great fatalities. And the use of the bomb made its use respectable (there is lot written about this).

          But these were real questions, asked by real people, with real costs ahead of them. You cannot vacate the argument by saying that the issues were ridiculous. So I ask you again. What would you have advised, at the time, and why would you have done so? People have to make these choices. Just keep remembering the likely costs in military and civilian deaths had there been an invasion.

          My apologies for mixing up the names of the bombs.

          • margaret says:

            Pffft. I cannot be bothered… but you insist that to be credible I must supply “FACT”, just as you and everyone here especially Splodged Dingbat always do. So without delving into my encyclopaedic brain, Russia had just entered the war, Emperor Hirohito was regarded as a god by the people but he was a puppet of the military. Truman also took military advice that he later regretted. Japan was about to surrender etc etc.
            What would I have advised? Why would I have done so?
            Not to drop a nuclear bomb on innocent civilians and then repeat that act three days later – why? – because it’s a crime against humanity.
            I see Tony Abbott now wears a leather jacket like Malcolm and Malcolm’s son in law, head of the RSL and former military commander approves of Australia re-enacting the ANZUS treaty. There are two letters in there that don’t seem to matter … NZ.
            I think I’ll move there far from the madding crowd. Pfft.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Get over your self righteousness, marg.

            Bombing Japan not only ended world war 2, it stopped world war 3.

            It has arguably saved millions of lives but you’re too silly to see it.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            No, Margaret, I don’t ask you to use FACT, whatever you think that is. I’m asking you to UNDERSTAND that there were choices at the time. One involved not using the bomb and invading Japan. That would have cost a lot of other lives, Allied, Japanese military and Japanese civilians, prolonged the war and completely devastated much of Japan. Another involved the use of the bomb.

            You choose: ‘Not to drop a nuclear bomb on innocent civilians and then repeat that act three days later – why? – because it’s a crime against humanity.’

            Is that some kind of special crime? ‘Crime against humanity’ is not a phrase that was used at the time, and the Japanese themselves were accused of dreadful crimes both during and after the war crimes trial.

            I accept that you hate the dropping of the bomb. But it was not a black vs white choice. You are preferring some deaths over others.

            I am not trying to persuade you that you are wrong. But I do think you really have little idea of what was involved at the time, and that you are making a judgment from the wrong vantage point..

          • margaret says:

            “I am not trying to persuade you that you are wrong. But I do think you really have little idea of what was involved at the time, and that you are making a judgment from the wrong vantage point.”
            Wow, and you do?? … so arrogant

          • Chris Warren says:

            Surely dropping a nuclear bomb on a city was an attack on innocent civilians?

            So what is the logic – is it ok to deliberately plan to kill over 100,000 innocent civilians because of the actions of their governments?

            Or is it more a case of “might makes right”?

            Can you kill 100 civilians to save the lives of 10 soldiers?

          • spangled drongo says:

            Ah, behold the virtue-signalling the blitherers can perform with the moral hindsight of 72 years.

            Don is absolutely right. After 6 years of ever-increasing explosions all around the world for a million shades of grey reasons, the horrendous mess needed to come to a rapid conclusion.

            As a result of these two bombs it did, and has generally remained that way since.

            But if it hadn’t happened then maybe we could have achieved the same result by having our enemies do the same to us in any of the many side shows that have occurred since.

            Stop trying to rewrite history through a veil of blither and count your blessings.

          • margaret says:

            Of course Don is always right in your eyes Spangled Drongo but his preferred stance, meritocracy has been shown to be just another ‘ocracy’.

          • spangled drongo says:

            At least he was around at the time, margyluv.

            Were you?

            And he had a personal experience of those truly unprecedented times. When you have wonderful friends and relatives not much older than you who are being killed in big numbers by bastards that started something that urgently needed to be finished for the future of your country, you have certain awareness of the reality of it all that shouldn’t be lectured to with arrogant morality a lifetime later.

          • margaret says:

            https://insidestory.org.au/is-this-the-end-of-meritocracy/

            I post some interesting links that I expect don’t get read by those who have different vantage points.

          • spangled drongo says:

            So marg, when you were teaching, you didn’t mark exam papers based on merit?

            On correct, intelligent answers?

            What system did you use?

  • spangled drongo says:

    Poor ol’ Glen just fell off his perch:

  • spangled drongo says:

    PC, it seems, makes the Neo-Marxists feel so warm and comfy and that’s all that matters.

    Google has just fired the tech engineer employee who wrote an internal memo suggesting men are better suited for tech jobs than women, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    Google employs more men than women for that very reason but to mention the truth is just not PC.

    Truth and the real world is a sacking offence these days.

    When us oldies die out you-all gonna be in deep doo-doo.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Sadly, more clever, old people retiring:

    “The adage that ‘those who can’t do, teach’ might have been uttered with our universities’ media faculties in mind. There is at least one exception, however, a Wollongong lecturer who gets students to check facts, especially about climate-change claims. Sadly, he is retiring.”

    http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2017/08/amazing-worthwhile-journalism-academic/

  • Chris Warren says:

    Don

    “Now that I’ve watched the video, I think that Roy Spencer was right on target. Hawking was way over the top in his scary statements.”

    This seems more an emotional statement than a scientific one.

    If present trends continue, why wouldn’t temperatures increase to the point life tropical regions are too hot to sustain life?

    The key scientific point is that the suns radiation is 1.366 kw per sq metre and the Earth must heat up if less of this returns to space through either diminished reflection or diminished radiation. Even with rotation, if the Earth was a black body, this is enough energy to lift the temperature over 200C.

    Have you reviewed the evidence of what 1.366 kw per sq metre can do?

    If enough greenhouse gas is injected into the atmosphere, the Earth’s tropics could heat up to the temperatures similar to what you get in cars standing in the summer sun with their windows closed for at least part of the day until night falls.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Stop with the blithering, blith. Even your mate, alarmist DA finally gives up and admits that Hawking, like you, is blithering:

      David Appell says:

      July 3, 2017 at 3:46 PM

      “I agree that Hawking is off his rocker here. It’s a example of a scientist who excels in one field who, in his/her elder years, thinks their early work gives the right to pronounce on everything and anything.”

      If Hawking is “off his rocker”, blith, what does that make you?

      Yet you desperately blither:

      “Hawking said he thinks we may be approaching a tipping point. You need science to dispute him, not noise from Spencer et al.”

      Look out Monty Python, blith’s after you.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Why would present trends continue, Chris? There have been many occasion in the palaeo record when temperatures were higher than the present. And sea level temps can’t rise much beyond the present (evaporation). Warming is more evident in the temperate and frozen zones than in the tropics.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Don

        That is the key point.

        It is possible that present trends may not continue and it is possible to see a levelling-off in the satellite records currently demonstrating dramatic cooling (30 KM and higher). But this could just be natural variation.

        However the question remains – what happens IF present trends continue?

        There is no guarantee that present trends will not continue and, in fact, may get worse.

        This is a gamble that the present generation has no right to risk.

        • spangled drongo says:

          “It is possible that present trends may not continue and it is possible to see a levelling-off in the satellite records currently demonstrating dramatic cooling (30 KM and higher). But this could just be natural variation.”

          What do you think caused that “dramatic cooling (30 KM and higher)” if it’s not the nat var of solar cycles, blith?

          https://phys.org/news/2017-06-solar-minimum.html

          “This is a gamble that the present generation has no right to risk.”

          Enuresis is not a scientific solution, blith.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          What happens if an asteroid hits the earth? What are we doing about it? What is your subjective probability that present trends will continue? On what is that probability based?

          It seems to me that you have a dogged belief in a very scary future, notwithstanding all the uncertainties involved.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Don

            These are very easy issues. We know as a scientific fact that if an asteroid of the right size hits Earth, that many plant and animal species are wiped out. However we now have available means to monitor this threat and take action should it arise. Catastrophic asteroids have impacted the Earth in 1908 and 1946.

            Such events occur around once every century; More information is at:

            https://player

            We can estimate the probability that present trends will continue by time frame. It is almost certain that current trends of increasing GHGs will continue for the next few years although growth rates may fluctuate. The only good news is that CO2 emissions growth from energy, from economies where data is available, have slowed to almost zero but so far, no new trend can be seen in Mauna Loa data.

            Further out, it is possible that GHG emissions will continue even for the next 50 years and more. The temperature readings from the high stratosphere are unlikely to reverse.

            There are no uncertainties over the mechanism leading to global warming. It can be validated by experiments in a laboratory or observed in data from different satellite systems. The only sensible uncertainty seems to be about the rate of global warming. Such uncertainty is less than the trends themselves.

            The original atmosphere of Earth was almost all CO2. It was removed by natural processes and all this can be reversed by unleashing adverse natural forces.

          • spangled drongo says:

            No need for all that enuresis science, blith.

            Your prayers have been answered:

            http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/8/853/htm

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Chris, the link you provided says flatly that our current strategy for dealing with asteroids is ‘blind luck’. However, the link tells us that there is something coming which may or will (or may not) monitor the approach of asteroids. Great. What is our strategy for dealing with a really big one? We don’t have one.

            It is simply a truism, and not ‘a scientific fact’, to say that if an asteroid of the right size hits the Earth (and in the right place) that many plant and animal species will be wiped out. If it was of the wrong size that would presumably not happen.

            I feel that the rest of your comment is just pseudo-scientific bafflegab. The last sentence in particular really escapes me.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Don

            Presumably different sizes of asteroids will have different effects. This is not a truism. We don’t know what the effects will be exactly correlated to size of asteroid. So all we can say is what I posted.

            It is not difficult to propose processes that reintroduce CO2 back into the atmosphere ie from whence it came. This is not “pseudo-scientific bafflegab” but is based on the science of outgassing from oceans, chemical reactions of carbonates and disruption of the balance between life forms that absorb CO2 (flora) and life forms that absorb oxygen (fauna). Any particular balance depends on temperature and there is a nasty feedback mechanism as temperature rises.

            But there is certainly enough CO2 in the Earth’s ecosystem, although bound in different materials, to radically and dramatically increase the concentration in the atmosphere.

            The original atmosphere was almost all CO2, so there is the possibility that CO2 can re-emerge in the right conditions. I consider this to be “adverse”.

            It all seems pretty clear to me.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “…so there is the possibility that CO2 can re-emerge in the right conditions. I consider this to be “adverse”.’

            No you don’t, blith, luv.

            You couldn’t live without it.

            Your enuresis nervosa science wouldn’t function.

            “It all seems pretty clear to me.”

            But forgot to add: “in my warm, damp dreams”.

            Blith, wake up, wash your bleary eyes, walk outside and pay attention. Your imagined problem is way back in the queue.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Don, to return to the point, exactly why do you think (or believe) time passes faster at your age. I am not far short of you, and for me, time passes at (approximately) the same rate it did when I was twenty. Next Christmas is still a long way away, and I can barely remember last Christmas. Why do people at our age propagate this fiction?

    • spangled drongo says:

      As they say, Brian, time flies when you’re havin’ fun.

    • spangled drongo says:

      But you’re probably very young for your age.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Bryan,

      My explanation would go like this. Our experience of time is in part a function how much time we have experienced. When we are ten, and our memory goes back little forth than age five, a year is about twenty per cent of our lived experience. When we are eighty a year is approaching one per cent of our lived experience. I would add that at eighty there is much less structure to our lives than when we were in paid work, so there is less scaffolding, if that’s the right metaphor, to our lives.

      Aitkin’s Theory of the Assymetry of Time was a jest, though with some lived experience behind it, or within it. You seem not to have the same sense of it all. And that means we have an even more diverse society than I thought!

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Hi Don, Thanks for the reply. As I still work part-time, and continue to volunteer, the structure of my life has actually changed very little in the ten years since I ‘officially’ retired. So your theory may have some merit, although if you recall Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time available for its completion), and the example of the elderly lady who took a full day to write and send a postcard, it would seem to me that subjective time should expand rather than contract. Indeed, the common complaint among elderly ladies of my acquaintance is that they never have enough time. Perhaps men are less concerned with family matters, and to them, time does seem to pass more quickly.

        I had made a small bet with myself that no post of yours would pass without some reference to climate science, though I doubt that winning this would justify the purchase of a lottery ticket.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          I could add that since I care for someone who has no idea what day it is, or what we are doing in it, there is a kind of long-term vagueness about our lives. But I had thought of the asymmetry of time many years ago.

          And I do write essays that have no reference to climate change at all, like the next one, and one coming on Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            You misunderstood. I just remarked that no matter what your subject, someone will introduce climate change.

            I will be interested in Parsifal, but would be more interested in The Ring. Of course, with Loge, there would be no problem introducing climate change.

  • David says:

    Don you report that your life expectancy is now 87 years, which is almost 20 years more than the average aboriginal male. You might want to take a momement to refect on that when desciding who is deserving of some altruism.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      David,

      As so often, your comments seem to float past, irrelevant to whatever point it was you wanted to make.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Yesterday, marg and blith were virtue signalling as hard as they could go supporting the Q&A program on how aboriginals must be listed in the constitution as first nations etc.

    I posted a picture of an erstwhile “white” Stan Grant who chaired the program and commented on his colour change.

    Apparently others noticed it long before me and wow, does he have form:

    http://www.pickeringpost.com/story/50-shades-of-grant/5750

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      I only saw excerpts of the renowned stoush between Magied and Lambie (I won’t watch Q&A), but any competent moderator would have shut it down at T+10 seconds. Jones is an overpaid (and incompetent) idiot.

    • margaret says:

      “It has become increasingly difficult for me on an aged pension to keep this site going and it would be a shame, with the valuable contacts I have retained and built on, to allow it to die.”

      Cry me a river Pickering you racist misogynist arsehole.

      • margaret says:

        I expected my comment to come below Splodged Dingbat’s link to Larry Pickering, the quote is excerpted from Pickering’s ABOUT page.
        Larry Pickering is a reprobate.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Dear marg, would you care to comment on the message rather than the messenger?

          Nobody’s perfect, marg. Why, I’ll bet even you have the odd blemish and I think I might, too.

          But Pickering’s spot on, here.

  • JimboR says:

    DonA: “I feel that the rest of your comment is just pseudo-scientific bafflegab.”

    This from the guy that recently gave us: “The physics says it takes an immense amount of hear to melt a lot of ice. Perhaps you could explain why, given the heat, we will experience cooling, or sufficient cooling to counter-balance the heat. It doesn’t seem plausible to me. ”

    Pot, kettle!

    DonA: “The last sentence in particular really escapes me.” in reference to:
    ChrisW: “[The original atmosphere of Earth was almost all CO2.] It was removed by natural processes and all this can be reversed by unleashing adverse natural forces.”

    The planet evolved the ultimate carbon capture and storage program in the form of buried fossil fuels. All you need to do to reverse that very slow process is to dig them up and set fire to them. What took millions of years to capture and bury can be released back into the atmosphere in an instant. That’s why people studying the carbon cycles refer to carbon, not CO2, much to the chagrin of nutters like Malcolm “I choose to believe that I was never British” Roberts.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Jimb, still into “the side” rather than “the facts”, I see.

      How do you account for the Late Ordovician period when atmo CO2 was more than ten times the present levels during an ice age?

      And when you claim emissions are “carbon” you really are in the cellar [pardon the pun].

      Maybe you are getting confused with that Tommy Steele song, “What a Mouth, What a Mouth”?

      Very appropriate too:

      What a mouth, what a mouth,
      What a north and south,
      Oh what a mouth he’s got.
      Now the poor old man was a short sighted feller,
      When he saw Jimb’s mouth he took it to the cellar
      And he shoved…the lot…into his mouth, no joke,
      Now Jimb, poor soul, has a belly full of coal
      And he coughs up lumps of coke.

  • Chris Warren says:

    So it is now clear why some persist in denying anthropogenic global warming. Instead of using science which they dismiss as “pseudo-scientific bafflegab” they use emotion and slander.

    One emotional tactic is to plead ignorance (“we don’t know”) or pretend that everything is “uncertain”. However it is the role of science to undertake research and experiments so that we do know what is happening and remove uncertainty as to various causes and processes.

    The science is clear – the globe is heating up in excess of natural variation, the cause is greenhouse gases and the source is the environmental disruption from population growth and industrial development.

    There is no science that says we can emit as much GHGs into the atmosphere as we like and there will be no impact on global temperatures.

    There is no science that explains the dramatic fall in stratospheric temperatures other than a process of trapping heat in the troposphere.

    The only reason we have life on Earth is that the original concentration of CO2 fell as; plants became fossil fuels, carbonates became rocks and oceans absorbed gases. Industrial development can reverse each of these through burning fossil fuels, increasing acidity of rain, rivers and oceans, and by warming water.

    Initially this reversal may be barely perceptible while changes are still buried in natural variations. However in a closed system, global warming naturally accelerates as increased temperature itself drags more CO2 and water vapour out of water and more CO2 and water vapour increases temperature.

    While the lower troposphere still consists of a “water-ice-gas” system, early changes are buffered. But this is a temporary state of affairs that truly will be disrupted if ice is converted to water and water is converted to gas.

    There is no uncertainty about this – it can be proven in a laboratory. There is no doubt about it – the amount of CO2 stored in oceans and land water depends on temperature.

    So let them cry “pseudo-scientific bafflegab”. Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on.

    • JimboR says:

      “One emotional tactic is to plead ignorance (“we don’t know”)”

      More often than not when they write that, it turns out to actually mean “I don’t know (because I haven’t bothered to inquire)”.

      I had a good chuckle with Don’s recent quote: ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.’. I think Don stopped questioning once he stumbled across some dubious blogsites that support his preconceptions. Much of the stuff he drags in here doesn’t survive just 5 minutes of questioning and curiosity.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Dear, dopey blith, instead of using your “pseudo-scientific bafflegab” please give us a riveting example of your evidence that:

    “the globe is heating up in excess of natural variation”

    We’ve been waiting for that evidence since you-all started bleating and blithering.

    If you would only supply that evidence maybe we would hold you in higher regard.

    But when you can’t and you just keep blithering away with your enuresis nervosa, you can’t blame anyone but yourselves.

    And you have been doing it for so long now that you’ve pretty much blown your chances.

  • bb says:

    Hi Don a belated happy birthday. I was reading this blog but frankly got tired of it it seems it goes round and round and round. It seems many have just not woken up to the fact that the temperature of the earth given that it is affected by CO2, that is only a portion of the story. There are many other factors that keeps the earth at the temperature it is and that we should be damn grateful for it. None of us would be here except for it. It constantly amazes me the bombast of many who claim to not only to fully understand how climate works but also claim that they can change it. The whole fuss is about the last nanosecond of geological history if you read Lamb it is evident that climate was much worse only a short time ago. But enough of that:

    May you have a much longer life Don and be as I am very grateful for the advances in medical science. As no doubt you have noticed in another place I will be having another I operation to correct distortion of my retina. Before 1995 this was not possible. A few years back I had quite a bit of problem with kidney stones. They were removed without surgery by using an optic fibre through into the kidney and breaking them up with a laser. This all extends our lives, in 1950 they probably would have killed me. Relatives of mine have lived into their 90s with severe type II diabetes. I know a lady here in Canberra who is 101 but more amazing, when she was nearly 100 I bought a birthday card for her in Bowral there was a choice of two! So in my estimation you could easily have another 20 years.

    To all the Chrisses, Davids, Margaret’s and so on be aware CO2 will continue to rise as it has done since 1960 and all human efforts to control it in that period have gone to nought and will continue to do so. Ben Santer and others have admitted since there has been an 18 year pause in which the GCMs got it wrong that is falsified, the prediction industry needs to start again. So I say to all chicken littles the sky is not falling and resistance is futile. The question is where do we go from the pause up or down? Personally I would like two degrees up but I don’t know whether I could stand the whingeing.

  • Chris Warren says:

    BB

    Of course there are other ways of denial and one is deliberate vagueness.

    The most recent time when climate was as warm as we are now heading into was around 100,000 thousand years ago, the so-called Eemian.

    I do not think you even know what a nanosecond of geologic time is.

    The cause of this warmth was not greenhouse gases but the Ice Age cycle driven by orbital changes (natural variability).

    We are now getting equal warmth (an possibly more) without the natural cause.

    In fact the sky is falling at least as far as CO2 is denser than air. One day your chickens will come home to roost but you, uniquely, will not even notice.

    Why do so many people think they know better that all the world’s most august scientific institutions?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “We are now getting equal warmth (an possibly more) without the natural cause.”

      Blith has to lie as well as blither about the Eemian.

      He knows full well from good evidence that Eemian temps were considerably warmer and sea levels were 5 to 8 metres higher than currently.

      Even his alarmist mates like Whinnying Jimmy awa his “most august scientific institutions” have never claimed what he just blatantly lies about above.

      We are still well within the bounds of nat var in all respects.

      But that’s what you expect from desperate blitherers when you mix enuresis nervosa with a goodly dose of BS.

  • margaret says:

    “For one thing, evidence suggests that — even though he remains the only President in history to have actually presided over the military use of an atomic bomb — Truman was in fact uncomfortable with the use of nuclear weapons.
    His journal entries later showed that Truman thought the bomb would be used in a very specific way, as a strike against the military, not civilians. “I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children,” he wrote on July 25, 1945. “Even if the [Japanese] are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new. [Stimson] and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one.” As historian Alex Wellerstein has argued, documents such as these show that Truman perhaps did not understand the extent of the damage that would be done by the bomb.”

    http://time.com/4893220/trump-fire-fury-truman-rain-ruin/

    Please go away Drongo – this is not for your banal comment.

  • spangled drongo says:

    This is marg’s big chance to join the ADF for the next big one:

    Australian Army bans male recruits to get female numbers up

    In response the ADF put out a statement saying: “All roles in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are open for men and women to apply.”

    But an ADF recruiter told The Telegraph: “Yes they can apply – but only women will get the job.”

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/australian-army-bans-male-recruits-to-get-female-numbers-up/news-story/69ee9dc1d4f8836e9cca7ca2e3e5680a

  • margaret says:

    “When Truman famously threatened to visit a “rain of ruin” on Japanese cities if Japan did not surrender, few people in the United States realized that there was very little left to destroy. By Aug. 7, when Truman’s threat was made, only 10 cities larger than 100,000 people remained that had not already been bombed. Once Nagasaki was attacked on Aug. 9, only nine cities were left. Four of those were on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, which was difficult to bomb because of the distance from Tinian Island where American planes were based. Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, had been removed from the target list by Secretary of War Henry Stimson because of its religious and symbolic importance. So despite the fearsome sound of Truman’s threat, after Nagasaki was bombed only four major cities remained which could readily have been hit with atomic weapons.”

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/

    • spangled drongo says:

      It was no coincidence:

      “At Yalta, the USA was desperate for the Russians to join the war in the Pacific, and promised Stalin spheres of influence in Manchuria and North Korea to do so.

      News of the successful test allowed Truman to renege on this agreement. On 7 August, the day after Hiroshima, Stalin brought forward his plans and ordered the Soviet forces to attack Japan immediately – he knew he had been upstaged.”

  • David says:

    Don it is pathetic that you cant write a reflective piece on “turning 80” without giving into some life long temptation to slip the boot into gays and aborigines. And it is not the first time you done this. What is that all about?

    I will spell it out to you. We like gays and we like aborigines. We can see that each group has had a tough time of it. “Deserving” of our altruism, etc. So were ever possible we are going to stick up for them against people like you.

  • David says:

    Your position on same sex marriage is absurd. Here you are telling someone like Michael Kirby who has had same partner for 40+ years that his right to get married is not as important as any of your three marriage decisions.

  • […] have been thinking about this topic for some time, and foreshadowed this essay last week. ‘Progress’ is one of those protean words, changing its meaning according to the needs of the […]

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