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 several conversations with John Gorton, and liked him, but I did think and still that Paul Hasluck would have been a better choice.
I did the Monday leader for the Times for several years, and added a signed column each week soon after. In 1971 I stopped the leader and moved the column to the new National Times, because I was going to Sydney to live and work. That continued until about 1983, when a new editor thought it was time to prune the staff and the columnists. I was offered a monthly gig, and decided it was time to do other things. Thereafter I wrote pieces for practically all the major newspapers, was an International Correspondent for Newsweek, and did all sorts of other little writing bits and pieces, finishing with several years writing about higher education for the Australian Financial Review, and then opinion pieces for a new Canberra freebie run by a friend. That too lasted several years. Then I got caught up in the anthropogenic global warming issue, and started writing pieces for Judith Curry (Climate etc) and Anthony Watts (WUWT).
One day I decided to have my own site, and in the nine years that have followed, I’ve written over one thousand essays, and well over a million words. About 35,000 comments have followed, and the readership or audience used to run about 10,000 a month. It has slowly declined over the Covi-19 period, and runs now at about 8,000 a month. It’s not one of the big ones, and is not important in the scheme of things, but I liked writing, and my readers seemed to enjoy it.
Well, it’s going to cease, on or about 16 July 2021. Why? There are several reasons. One is age. I’m nearly 84. I have an incurable and inoperable cancer, which I manage well enough to please my specialist, but it takes a lot of energy from me. I will have to stop writing it one day, and that day is soon.
A second reason that I am conscious of being repetitive. The wonderful English essayist, A. P. Herbert, said somewhere that the approach of Easter always filled him with dread. What could he say about that event that he had not said before? I feel rather the same. I have several favourite topics, and I write about them again and again. I actually don’t want to write anything more about climate change, for example, though I will do one last piece on that dreadful faux issue. In fact, I don’t even to want to think about it any more. Same with elections, prime ministers, politics generally, and so on.
A third reason is that I’d rather write novels. I’ve written twelve and revised one since 2012, the same year as my website began. The need to exercise my imagination keeps me sane, a bit like playing the piano. I no longer sell my books. I have an excellent designer, and she and I work together on each one. People often say, ‘I love the cover of …’ and that pleases her, though I’d like them to say how much they enjoyed the story. When we have the novel and the design as good as we can make them, I have a hundred copies made and give them to family and close friends. Then I’m on to the next. The time I have for writing is limited, and the concept of the website simply doesn’t attract me as much as it did when I started it. I never asked for donations, and received none. It was, as one of my daughters put it, ‘a public service’ in that sense.
Fourth, I am also conscious that my interests have shifted. I am now more interested in larger philosophical questions about existence. Who are we? What is our purpose, if any? What is a good life, and how do we achieve it? How much of socialism is sensible, and how much of capitalism? Many other people write about these questions, but I am learning as much as teaching in this domain.
I am sorry for hundreds of my quiet readers, who never post comments, but sometimes write to me to say how much they enjoy what I give them. They will have to find a new website, or even start one themselves. It’s not cripplingly expensive, but it does take time to manage it, especially if it is successful. And then you’re hooked. There is a weekly darg, your ISP to get to know, problems that arise that have to be fixed, research that has to be done, and so on.
My elder son and I are working on how to save the essays and the comments. After all, they do represent one perspective on what happened, mostly in Australia, and therefore would be a useful source for future historians and social scientists. We have a couple of ideas, but would welcome any others that readers might suggest. This is new territory for both of us.
So this is an advance farewell from me to those who comment and those who read. It’s been a good nine years, and I have learned a great deal. But, as I have said above, it’s time to end this little endeavour. There’ll be half a dozen more essays, probably my last thoughts on what I think are important themes, and then silence.
I’m sure that those who are passionate about their own special themes, like climate change, will find somewhere else to go. I wish them well. For my part, if I really feel the need to say something I haven’t said before,I might go back to making comments on Judy Curry’s Climate etc website.
Join the discussion 41 Comments
I’m one of your (mostly) silent readers and have enjoyed reading your pieces. The pleasures were many but perhaps most important was your showing dispassionate and informed analysis was still possible. Truly a model. So thanks for everything.
Sorry to learn of your health problems Don. I have greatly enjoyed reading your many thought provoking essays. We will miss them but you have surely earned your retirement. It was a privelege & pleasure to meet you at the lunches in Kingston, Canberra.
Thanks for nice reading. I’m a bit like you, enjoying writing for the fun of it. My 400 essays in the past decade can’t match your 1000. I don’t feel any need to call a halt, nor feel I am repeating myself yet
As another silent reader many thanks for sharing your thoughts – they have been stimulating and have given much pleasure over the past few years
It is a bit distressing to see it end, but as all things in this World there is a beginning and an end. and nothing new under the sun.
We appreciate the time and effort that you have devoted to your blog. I fully understand the “drag” that occurs in trying to keep it current.
Thank you for your strength and endurance.
Don, that is a sad but I guess inevitable end to a journey. Thank you for your writing and the opportunity provided to more than a few to comment, even argue. I have not always agreed with your point of view but respect your experience and knowledge greatly. And having read a couple of your books, which were enjoyable, I look forward to your next one. All the best with your health struggle and keep up the good fight. I recall someone referring to you as a living treasure, long may it be so.
Thank you Don. I found your site at a time when I realised that science had become disorientated, but I couldn’t comprehend how or why. Falling out of the climate catastrophe belief was like losing faith, and writing like yours was very important.
Your children sound so impressive; your daughter’s observation that your writing is a public service, and your son searching with you for a way to maintain public access to your website essays and the comments. Their support for what you are doing says much about your wife and you.
Also a “mainly” silent reader. Finding an essayist who still demonstrates an openness to evidence as well as critical thought and reasoned argument is rare these days of “sides”, whatever the issue may be. There are far too few of you Don, your writing will be missed. But “intellectual freedom” also means being able to choose what you do and when you do it… enjoy whatever takes your fancy.
All things must end sometime. Even debating that dreadful faux issue of climate change.
I agree Don and thank you for your perseverance. We can only talk so much. After that it has to be practical experience and what results from that. Particularly when the current smokescreen of socialist politics and poor science has led to the present scenario.
I wish you the very best and hope you win through to even more achievements.
I am a keen reader and sometimes commenter of/on your blogs. I share them with my friends. Being able to choose when to discontinue is something to be proud about. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours, both health-wise and intellectually. Take care.
Dear Don, You have never been repetitive, so don’t worry about reason #2! Your posts have always been well worth reading – incredibly thoughtful. But we all wish you the best, and are hoping your specialist is very special.
Many thanks for your efforts over the years, Don. As others have remarked, it was always a pleasure to read balanced and factual essays in a time when emotional opinion and ideology are so dominant.
I too am giving some thought to the human story in today’s world – I suspect it’s age related – and wish you well with wherever your explorations take you.
Well, this is a voice and an enquiring mind that will be missed. You always had something to say and I enjoyed each essay. I’ve also read a few of the novels (just another casual mastery) that portrayed aspects of life as lived here in Australia as well as realms of the imagination. Just on Sir Paul Hasluck, he was my first Minister here in Canberra and an impressive one. His policy of ‘assimilation’ for Aboriginal Australians was, and continues, as a great success. He had in mind that every person, Aboriginal or not, would get the opportunity to contribute to society to the best of their ability. Great progress has been made in this field. He certainly would have been a more careful and productive PM than Gorton (who had his merits) but he refused to lobby and was passed over. All the best with your continuing endeavors.
Entirely understandable. Has “Reflections on Australian Society” been disrupted by “Reflections on Climate Change”.
Smaller issues of interest get swamped by bigger issues of boredom?
I am sorry to see you go even though my participation has been much lowered in recent years. Mostly I read but sometimes commented. I too have been setting up a website but quite different to yours it is not a blog. Frankly the continual argument about whether climate change is true or not has become very jaded. I would agree totally with Richard Lindzen that the argument for it is absurd. There is much more that is strange in the world now than there appeared to be when I first started reading your blog. Craziness is everywhere. For instance back then I never thought a deficient school dropout would gain worldwide attention. The aspect I know about is whether the data supports the “solutions”. That is what my website is about. As you say it is not that expensive to set up a website but for me the work involved is quite large at the moment.
I wish you well and am sorry that you are ill and also wish you well with your writing.
Thanks Don for all of your essays, they were always something to look forward to each week. I hope you can preserve them for future reference, and that they can be categorised. Wishing you many more years of satisfaction with your novels.
Don all the best to you and your family for the future. And I look forward to the remaining essays before you concentrate on more important issues.
The big questions of where we’ve come from and why are too difficult for anyone to understand, but they must have perplexed the best minds throughout history.
I suppose that’s why we’ve had so many beliefs or religions over many thousands of years and some cultures even sacrificed children and virgins to appease the Gods. Of course the Bible even touches on child sacrifice to test ones obedience to their God.
But it’s difficult to imagine the Earth is the only home for intelligent life throughout all the endless billions of stars plus trillions of planets in an ever expanding Universe. Or are multi-verses the correct description? Who knows?
Don I’ll keep reading Dr Curry’s blog and hope to see you drop by in the future, but in the meantime I look forward to your remaining essays here until July. All the best.
All the best Don. I have enjoyed very much your Posts over the years.
This day had to come. I’ll save my goodbyes, for now, but know that Ron and I are thinking of you. xox
Sorry to hear that the essays are coming to an end, but that is the way of life. It is good for you to be able to choose when to move onto new endeavours, but I shall miss your thought provoking essays. I shall also miss the engagement with other commenters.
Enjoyed all your essays over the years but all good things come to an end. Never let your To Do list become empty.
Thanks Don for your most interesting essays.Always a good read and I have kept most of them for future reference.All the best
Thank you for your many valuable contributions over the years, during which time I have been one of your appreciative silent supporters. I hope your journey through the next stage of your life is satisfying and enjoyable.
Thank you for being insightful, balanced and factual.
I have learned lots from your articles.
I wish you all the best.
Thanks for your essays Don . I’ll miss them. You’ve moved in circles I can only dream about written about it all in clear prose without swagger
Hi Don, thanks for your good-humoured comments, and for your patience with the eccentric, and sometimes vociferous contributors. Thank you also for your contribution to my library, that I read with enjoyment. Too few voices speaking truth to power. As I am of the same generation, it would be interesting if you could consider, as a parting gift, a final essay on death and dying. Go in peace.
Lovely writing as is invariably the case. Thanks for your insights in the political hot house and thanks for the wonderful job you have done in ensuring thousands of people are aware of the true situation on a wide variety of issues. So sad that few political movers could be persuaded but, given politicians’ self-interests, this is perhaps inevitable.
A BIG thank you Don for setting up your blog and writing such thought provoking essays. Your easaysc on climate change are gems, they were so important in my journey from climate alarmism / catastrophism to a now healthy sceptical view. Your essays encouraged me to do my own research and recall my knowledge of physics, astronomy and yes, also history. Needless to say my former climate catastrophism wilted as the doubts grew, and grew. Your essays were just the right nudge at the right time. Once again a big thank you.
As a silent reader, I thank you for your erudite writings and thought provoking work.
Although I don’t know you personally, you have made a positive influence on my life.
I sincerely and deeply wish you and your loved ones all the best at this stage of your life.
Many thanks for your essays and hosting discussion, Don.
I have always thought it appropriate that your masthead features that quotation from Popper. The disagreement should, of course, be polite – and this is where those who seek to suppress polite, rational debate by hurling epithets like ‘denier’ really miss the point, and place themselves outside rational discourse. One of my mentors who showed the way was James R, Flynn, who died at the end of last year and on whom I have an essay in this month’s Quadrant. There, I recommend that his last book, Free Speech and Universities, should be read by every university administrator. I quote from Mill’s On Liberty a passage that makes his point perfectly:
‘He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.’
Your efforts here have been an important part of resting the new Dark Ages that seek the silencing of dissenting views, Congratulations on this, and on your illustrious career. May it continue.
‘resting the new Dark Ages’!!! Try ‘resisting.’ Damned autocorrect!
Don, Thanks for your writing which I will miss. It was such a relief to find a sane, well-versed Australian who also thought ‘climate change’ was, at best, vastly exaggerated and at worst downright wrong. Best wishes with your novels and your quest concerning the larger issues of life.
I’m going to miss you Don. You write sparingly and elegantly, and it has been a pleasure to republish a number of your pieces on On Line Opinion. You’ve also been an alibi for me. When people question why I can be so “incorrect” on so many issues and wonder whether I am completely sane, I point to you to show that as a proof from authority that I’m well within the traffic lines of rationality. We often give a lot of thought to our beginnings, and none to our endings, which are often messy. It’s so typical of you to be so organised, and careful and respectful of your audience to make this ending a tidy one, and give us good notice of when it will occur. At least you will still be writing somewhere, and I’ll be able to read you still.
It seems the L W religious fanatics never take a rest. The UK Labour party has taken a belting over Corbyn’s anti semitism and their new more moderate leader still suffered the hangover in the recent UK by-elections + Council + Scottish elections.
And very lucky Boris has won another seat in a once heartland Labour working class electorate.
Here in OZ we have L W Greens and Labor firmly supporting the Palestinians, even though they’ve just started another fight with Israel. Of course online we also have vile Muslim leaders urging people to attack Jews and cut off their heads.
And even explicitly telling the viewers how this can be carried out. Tony Blair has AGAIN asserted that Labour must ditch the new WOKE + cancel culture and move to the centre.
Then we have the Zali Steggall joker who seems to live in her own delusional world of Naturism and Medieval beliefs.
Mark Latham and the Bolter have a bit of fun with the Steggall nonsense about the poor tree in Canberra that’s suffering because of Climate Change ????
But even the Guardian thinks the season is the problem, with early frosts and minus temps recently. OH and Zali should be told that MAY is the last month of Autumn. Yet people voted her into parliament? And we’re supposed to be living in the 21st century?
Don, thanks. Ever so much.
I have not been a regular reader, but whenever I looked found sanity that the world stands in need of.
I have always been in awe of your penmanship ever since I read your first article many decades ago. I will depart this earth safe in the knowledge that my own writing skills pale into insignificance compared to yours.
The only matter outstanding is to save that well-known fellow geologist, Peter Ridd, from the philistines.
Thanks for the lengthy and pleasant journey.
My thoughts too. Don we value what you have done. Do continue to comment at Judith Curry. We can then still hear your voice.
More on the L W WOKERY and how it hurts the Labour party in the UK.
So how much longer does it take before these L W fanatics even begin to WAKE UP?
You’d think that one silly Jeremy Corbyn per hundred years should be enough? But then again…..
Neville – “It’s time to go” take the hint.
Like many, I am also a silent reader. Your essays on climate change and economy used to enlightened me always. I will definitely miss your blogs. Appreciate if you could write an essay on famous unbiased blogs in the sphere of climate change and economy.