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Don Aitkin

What sort of Australia do I want?

By | History, Politics, Society | 17 Comments

Actually, the Australia I live in is pretty good, if I compare it to other countries in which I’ve lived and/or worked. I decided against both England and the US when I could have had good jobs in each. Why not England? The class system, I guess, was the clincher, even though I would have been up there rather than down there. America? Too much gun violence, even in a lovely mid-west college town. Canada? Too cold, apart from Vancouver. New Zealand? Not foreign enough, but the country, scenery and people were and are wonderful. That’s only one sort of…

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The music I can’t live without

By | ABC, History, Music, Society | 15 Comments

This essay is late because I’ve been in hospital again, for a third kidney stone removal and the second with complications afterwards. I’ve been in and out of hospitals for a week and that meant I listened to a lot of good music. It also meant that I was badgered almost every music break ‘to vote now’. Voting meant saying what was the one piece of music I couldn’t live without, and it is a reprise of Classic FM’s first countdown twenty years ago. I’ve only taken part in one of the twenty Countdowns, and stuffed my entry up because…

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The choice facing Labor

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Society | 117 Comments

The Australian Labor Party is in something of a mess, a state exemplified by its defeat in the NSW Upper Hunter by-election. Upper Hunter has been Labor and Country party and National. It all depends on where the boundaries are drawn. Some of it is pastoral, and some of it is mining. Labor picked a miner as its candidate, but its vote plummeted, from 28 per cent to 22 per cent. Let’s think about this. Labor at 22 per cent, and a fall from 28 per cent? Who got the rest? The National candidate won a bit over 31 per…

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A looming referendum

By | History, Indigenous, Politics, Society | 42 Comments

I think is my ninth-last essay here, and I would like to thank all those who have sent courteous messages to me, both here and by email, about the end of the donaitkin.com blog. Today’s essay is about the proposed amendment to our Constitution to acknowledge the fact that indigenous Australians were here first. There have been a number of such proposals in the last hundred years. Most of them were said to be bi-partisan, have been shaped through consultation with Aboriginal people, and have been supported by some of the good and the great. None of them has yet…

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It’s time to go

By | Other | 41 Comments

I posted my first essay on this website on 16 July 2012. Why did I start it? Because I liked writing analysis and commentaries, and after the GFC in 2009 newspapers and magazines shed staff as though they all had some dread disease. Paying for outsiders like me was out of the question. My first essay, way back, was at the beginning of 1968, and was a request to the Liberals to choose Paul Hasluck as leader. That was an editorial in The Canberra Times, unsigned of course. Alas the Liberals took no notice, and selected John Gorton. I had…

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The perfect essay on climate change

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Politics, Religion, Research | 444 Comments

Every now and then I come across someone else’s work that is so good I want everyone to read it. This essay, by Richard Lindzen and William Happer, is one such. They are supremely eminent scientists, and their current status is given at the end. Yes, they don’t give references, but then neither do most alarmist speakers, like Steffen, Karoly, Mann and so on. They are speaking from a position of intellectual eminence. Like a few others who are outspoken in their sceptical cause, they are retired. No deans are complaining to the university president about these two. So read…

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Voting and talking

By | Climate Change, Environment, Humour, Media, Politics, Research | 141 Comments

The Canadian humourist Rick Mercer has had a series called ‘Talking to Americans’, and in one interview he asks a group of women what they think about the Russian proposal to bomb Chechnya and Saskatchewan. ‘Should they bomb both, or only one?’ There is a pause and then one of the women says, ‘They should bomb both.’ The others then agreed. Now his program is designed to make Canadians laugh, in this case at the sheer ignorance of those below the border. There’s a moral in it as well. People will feel that they ought to have an answer, especially…

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Climate catastrophes are still twenty years away

By | Climate Change, History, Media, Politics | 99 Comments

Prince Philip was, among other things, a sceptic about the horrors of climate change, which made him a useful foil to his son, who is a renowned alarmist. The media do not seem to have mentioned the Duke’s attitudes to this supposed modern apocalypse, but Prince Charles is quite often quoted in his warnings to us about how little time we have left. And that contrast between father and son coincided with my coming across a list of 79 predictions, most of which have not come to pass, and I thought it might be useful to look at them, their qualities…

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The best job I ever had…

By | Books, Economy, History, Politics, Research, Society | 14 Comments

We were sitting around the dining table, dinner over, really, but still chatting. I threw into the discussion a theme I had been talking about with my driving son on a recent Saturday. My companions are used to me doing this sort of thing. ‘What’s the best job you ever had?’ They looked at each other. One is a retired graphic artist, another is a retired gas fitter, a third is a former Treasury guy, and the fifth is a former Army officer, and he spoke first. He’d only really had one job, in the army, and he’d enjoyed it, rising…

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Angels and Demons

By | Economy, Environment, Politics, Society | 8 Comments

This is not a critique of Dan Brown’s best-seller, or of the film of the book. Rather it is an exploration of the twin forces that drive us, and drive any collectivity to which we belong. It is connected to the paired notions of ‘tough-minded’ and ‘tender-minded’. It comes from a lengthy discussion I have been having with my elder son on our Saturday drives in the bush. And it provides a useful lens through which to view our politics and the society we are part of. I’ll start with tough-minded and tender-minded, categories that the 19thcentury American psychologist and…

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