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Society

What sort of Australia do I want?

By | History, Politics, Society | 16 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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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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The Lord of the Rings

By | Books, Environment, History, Language, Society, Theatre | 13 Comments

For the last few days I have been revisiting the mammoth film version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I first encountered the story via a three-volume Christmas present from my wife in 1961 (I think), and was immediately enthralled. The depth and the breadth of the story were beyond anything I had ever read before. It took some days to read it, to go into the appendixes, and to marvel at the thoroughness of the detail. Then I read it again, and kept going back to it for some years. A few years later I…

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How feasible are these 2050 targets?

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Politics, Society | 286 Comments

The year 2050 is the target moment for those who want an end to greenhouse gas emissions, and a lot of countries have signed up to it. Ours hasn’t yet, thank goodness. The target year is a long way away, and nearly all of those who have signed up to it won’t be alive then, I should think. I shan’t be there — I’d be 113 if I were, and that is rather unlikely, to say the least. How is the process of transition going to work? I haven’t seen any detailed plans for implementation. I doubt there are any,…

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The Day of the Social Justice Warrior

By | Humour, Politics, Society | 119 Comments

One of my sons has begun to refer to ‘social justice warriors’, and the other day I came across the short form: ‘SJW’. The term applies to anyone who thinks he or she, or someone they like, has been hardly done by, and something should be done about it. Exactly what should be done is not always clear, but who should do it is always obvious: ‘they’, usually meaning the government, council, corporation or whatever. Sometimes it is an opportunity for the ceremonial wringing of the hands, as in ‘we ought to be able to do better than this’ and…

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What to do with Christian Porter

By | Health, Politics, Society | 23 Comments

The case of Christian Porter is a difficult one. He is the Commonwealth’s Attorney-General, and it is said that thirty or so years ago, when he was seventeen, he raped a sixteen–year old girl who was also part of a debating team. The girl killed herself many years later. She did report all this much later to the NSW police, who took no action, partly because the alleged rape happened a long time ago, partly because she made no sworn statement, and partly because of her assumed mental condition at the time of the police interviews. It was not long…

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