Blogging the 2010s — 54 — June 2011

Reflecting on blogging.

I am not a party, an institution, a guru or an oracle: just one old guy in Wollongong–that’s all

Let’s get real about this blog and this whole blogging business. My opinions may not be worth a rat’s arse, or they may be just what you were thinking too. It doesn’t really matter, you know. Nice to see lately that Kevin from Louisiana thinks this way too. But here is who you are reading:

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Yes, Souths did well in Perth! Smile

And here is my office and all my team of researchers and support staff:

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And yes I do have a few ideas that guide me. Some of them just annoy other people. For example I firmly believe that God has never ever written a book for anyone in any language whatever amen. I do believe humans have employed a number of literary forms to write about God. South Sydney Uniting Church could cope with this view rather well, I found.  For example I firmly believe the best science affirms the reality of anthropogenic climate change and I think we are seeing a dismal failure of politics and politicians and short-sightedness from alleged conservatives on this issue. I believe this not because I want to but because the best evidence from the most dispassionate sources leads to this conclusion. At least I think so, along with our recently appointed Chief Scientist. And so it goes. Quite a few of these things I just won’t argue about any more on this blog. Why should I? I may point you from time to time to the arguments of others that I find persuasive. Then you can make up your own minds.

I’d much rather just share things like this:

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You can go to my photo blog if you rather agree with that and are sick and tired of arguments, pretentious or otherwise.

Last week I spat the dummy on a thread. I don’t regret it. But it did lead to a nasty thread developing here on a later post, a thread I have since censored. That is something I rarely do – as even Kevin from Louisiana will testify despite my memorably asking him to piss off not all that long ago.

Anyway all I want to remind you of is this: you’re just reading the passing thoughts of one old man in a room in Wollongong. He uses a variety of genres and does not always have a serious academic approach. Take it or leave it. See also ABOUT.

 

More on Lord Monckton. Is Alan Jones still a groupie?

Yawn!

Oh my God. I watched Q&A last night. All this seems to do these days is confirm my disrespect for our supposed leaders who again manifestly argued ferociously for positions they equally manifestly didn’t believe in. Adam Bandt may be an exception – but the Greens couldn’t run a chook raffle, let alone a country – that is when they are not making like some earnest nanny figure with a large bottle of castor oil. And then there was the small government and growth fetishist in pearls. A hopeless lot, though nice enough too in their way like cuddly Joe – who was needled into letting the cat out of the bag about where the “tax cuts” will come from: mass sackings. He said it. You heard it. Especially if you live in Canberra. Of course the cartoonist got the best line: “I really couldn’t make up shit like this and if I had the editor would send it back…”

51YDR3V0E7L._SL500_AA300_And I really couldn’t invent a Lord Monckton if I tried either. He does have his special skills (left)  as this friendly bio shows. It’s just that climate science isn’t one of them. “Christopher, known to his numerous nephews and nieces as “Mr.Knowledge”, spent four years solving real-life problems for Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street during her years as Prime Minister and now acts as trouble-shooter and corporate thinker to leading businesses. He is a well-known public speaker and has written speeches for many of Britain’s leading politicians (and a song performed by a Cabinet minister). Though not a lawyer, he wrote the legal brief that persuaded the Scottish judges to save the West Highland Sleeper train from the axe: it is now the only train in the world required by law to run “till a’ the seas gang dry”…”

Baroness Thatcher in her autobiography fails to mention the sterling service of Christopher and has the gall to attribute advice on climate policy to someone else altogether. Of course we do know that Thatcher was the first world leader to take anthropogenic climate change seriously – but then, whatever her sins may have been, she was one of the few world leaders who was actually a scientist.

There is an alternative universe out there where Monckton is taken seriously on climate change. I don’t know why, as by now he has been totalled by so many people who really do know what they are talking about. His errors and misrepresentations have been catalogued again and again, and still the suckers roll up to his slide shows.

OK, if you want the truth about this Walter Mitty of climate science start with the Monckton Bunkum series – now totalling around 1.5 hours and revealing 21 major problems (not quibbles) with Monckton’s spiel. The author is trained in science and journalism and worked in various media, but especially for New Scientist. “I’ve been a journalist for 20 years, 14 years as a science correspondent. My degree is in geology, but while working for a science magazine and several science programs I had to tackle a number of different fields, from quantum physics to microbiology.”

Then very conveniently see the following:

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See also The perpetual debunking of Christopher Monckton.

So my problem with Gerard Henderson today is that Gerard seems to think Monckton might actually be worth hearing. He isn’t. And in that light it’s neither here nor there that Monckton recently resorted to the childish Nazi smear in reference to Garnaut. It’s true that others have done such things in the past. The point is that it is a non-argument whoever uses it.

However, I can’t disagree with this:

Of course Garnaut says what he believes. However, so do most of his critics. Of course Monckton was irresponsible to link Garnaut with Hitler. But so were those who linked Howard with the Third Reich. Any cooling of the political debate will require contributions from all parties.

But the bottom line is Monckton is a highly unreliable commentator on climate science and we would be very foolish indeed to pay him any attention whatsoever, His puzzle books may be good though.

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UpdateLord Monckton: Bring out your Dead!

So much going on!

Donald Trump-Bannon seems to be taking a lesson in Civics 101: separation of powers. Meanwhile he has tweeted arrant nonsense to express how peeved he is not to be a king after all:

“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

People like that Iranian baby girl, I suppose. Meanwhile, a real live lone wolf terrorist attack, it appears, did happen at the Louvre in Paris, but the perp would have got into the USA even if Trump’s executive order was in force, being a 29-year-old Egyptian national living in the United Arab Emirates, who entered France legally on a flight from Dubai on January 26.

In court, Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell said the focus of the state’s legal challenge was the way the president’s order targeted Islam.

Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country, and the travel ban was an effort to make good on that campaign promise, Purcell told the judge.

“Do you see a distinction between campaign statements and the executive order,” Robart asked. “I think it’s a bit of a reach to say the president is anti-Muslim based on what he said in New Hampshire in June.”

Purcell said there was an “overwhelming amount of evidence” to show that the order was directed at the Muslim religion, which is unconstitutional.

When the judge questioned the federal government’s lawyer, Michelle Bennett, he repeatedly questioned the rationale behind the order.

Robart, who was appointed the federal bench by President George W. Bush, asked if there had been any terrorist attacks by people from the seven counties listed in Trump’s order since 9/11. Bennett said she didn’t know.

“The answer is none,” Robart said. “You’re here arguing we have to protect from these individuals from these countries, and there’s no support for that.”

Looks like the first Four Corners for 2017 will be a must see: A Helluva Ride — the Trump Revolution begins at 8:30pm tonight on ABC TV.

America’s first black president came to office promising hope and change. “Change has come to America,” he said.

There was an air of optimism and renewal after eight years of George W Bush — after the wars and the economic crisis.

Mr Obama’s change was careful, methodical and almost entirely predictable. Not everyone agreed with it but the city, and the country as a whole, largely seemed to know what was coming.

To say DC feels different now would be an understatement. This change — ‘Trumpism’ — is revolutionary.

No-one knows where it’s going or what is coming, and among the most worried of all are the establishment Republicans.

People like Michael Green, a former national security adviser to Mr Bush.

“In our recent history, and perhaps throughout our entire history, we’ve never had a president come into office with such an unpredictable style of communication and with such alarm among our closest friends and allies,” he says in an interview with Four Corners…

Here in Oz Jim Belshaw uttered a prophecy early today:

The Australian Parliament resumes this week. Having been trumped and thus lost the opportunity to set a new direction, the Australian PM faces a new set of distractions.

One is the gay marriage issue. Here the PM is caught between a rock and a hard place, between a plebiscite approach that can’t easily get up and a conservative wing in his own Party that won’t support a change without a plebiscite and maybe not even then. He has an Abbott doing a Rudd, with Cory Bernadi threatening to set up a new conservative party.

Actually, from my viewpoint, the sooner Senator Bernadi goes the better. An Adelaide city boy, I have seen no evidence that he understands the rest of the country well enough to build a decent political base. To my mind, he confuses deeply held views among a relatively narrow slice of a national electorate with chances of political success. In total, Bernadi’s supporters are significant, but I doubt they are strong enough at particular electoral level to give him any real chance of gaining lower house seats.

And now we have “Cory Bernardi to split with Coalition to form own party!” And I hope Jim is right about his support.

Much nicer item now:

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Sixty-five years ago, Princess Elizabeth ascended to the throne of England, but for at least a day, the 25-year-old didn’t even know she was Queen.

On January 31, 1952, King George VI farewelled his daughter and the Duke of Edinburgh, who were leaving the UK to embark on an ambitious tour of the Commonwealth that would include visits to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

The couple were standing in for the king, who had been battling illness for some time. Although it was not widely known, George VI, a heavy smoker, had lung cancer and was still recovering from surgery the previous year.

It would be the last time Elizabeth would see her beloved father.

Later

And here is something just personal: me earlier today at Diggers captured by Junior HP’s built-in camera.

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Revisiting August 2016 – plus Debbie Reynolds

Cyrille de Lasteyrie via Eric Tenin on Facebook posted this remarkable photograph:

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Carrie Fisher watching her mother on stage from the wings

M returns, while I waste more time on Senator Belfry…

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Neil

M is (i believe) just back from Europe after a long and most wonderful two months and more. He went towards the end of May. Among a heap of photos he posted on Facebook a couple of days ago is this, taken while trekking to Mont Blanc.

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An appropriate kind of image given the rest of the post.

Yesterday I devoted time to Senator Belfry’s amazing appearance on QandA on Monday. The transcript is now up. A small sample:

[BELFRY] Sure, the longest temperature record for temperatures on this planet is the Central England Temperature Record, which goes back to the mid-1600s. And the first of the – sorry, the latest in the 17th century, the latest warming cycle in the 17th century going into the 18th century was faster and greater than the latest warming which finished in 1995. And Justin Bieber wasn’t flying his private jet around in the 1600s. That’s the first thing. The second thing was we’ve had a pause in this so-called warming for now 21 years. It depends how you measure it. 21 years. And I’m absolutely stunned that someone who is inspired by Richard Feynman, a fantastic scientist who believes in empirical evidence is quoting a consensus.
BRIAN COX: Can I just say – I brought the graph, right.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TONY JONES: Okay.
BRIAN COX: Let me tell you where the pause is. The pause that’s often quoted, if you take this point here, which is about 1997, I think, and you ignore 2015-2016, you can choose that point and you can draw a slightly straighter trend line on there. But that’s a misunderstanding. The question is does that rise and, also, secondly – I’ve brought another graph – is it correlated with that, which is the graph that shows the CO2 emissions – the CO2 in parts per million in the atmosphere – and you see that peak there, where it goes flying up. So the question essentially is first of all are those two things correlated and, secondly, do we understand the physical mechanisms and we’ve understood those since the 19th century. I mean, I can teach you. I’ll give you a lesson if you want.

Belfry’s technique is to drown you in a blizzard of horseshit. Let’s be honest here. You can go to yesterday’s post and find a link to his own site where the horseshit is stored in vast quantities. On the other hand you could go here.

Date:  Feb. 27, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.K. Royal Society Release Joint Publication on Climate Change

WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the national science academy of the U.K., released a joint publication today in Washington, D.C., that explains the clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change, and that addresses a variety of other key questions commonly asked about climate change science…

The horseshit vendors, Belfry among them, are armed against that of course. In response to what they will fling at you go to  Has the Royal Society embraced climate skepticism? and The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction.

Rather than being distracted by Belfry’s twaddle, take notice instead of David Attenborough, himself at one time a doubter of anthropogenic climate change.

When asked by the Independent if the world should be more concerned by our deteriorating environment than we are about the threat of terror attacks, his answer was simple: “Yes”.

“The nature of human beings is that they’d far rather face the disaster that is happening tonight than the one that is happening tomorrow,” he said.

“Climate change will affect the whole of humanity, while terrorist attacks will only affect a small section of humanity. Of course, you wouldn’t say that if you were related to someone who had been beheaded or blown up or murdered. But humanity is facing a very big, slow, long, drawn-out threat, and that is to do with the way the weather is changing and the size of the population.”

Sir David reiterated his warning during an interview with the Associated Press to mark his 90th birthday on Sunday, when he explained the most critical problems facing the natural world today. Top of his list was rising temperatures caused by climate change – “a very, very serious worry indeed”.

Finally, an excellent piece in today’s Fairfax press – if you could have found it on their abominable new websites, that is. I resorted to Google in order to locate it.

Richard Muller, a former prominent sceptic US scientist, re-examined 14 million temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world going back to 1753. The results prompted a “total turnaround” in his views, as my colleague Ben Cubby wrote in 2012.

“Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by 2½ degrees fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1½ degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases,” Professor Muller wrote.

Roberts [Belfry], a former coal engineer, and then manager of the Galileo Movement, was unimpressed.

“We’ve based our views on empirical science, and there’s nothing in the Muller study to undercut that,” Roberts told Cubby at the time. Climate change science had been captured by “some of the major banking families in the world” who form a “tight-knit cabal”, he insisted….

‘It does sound outlandish’

For Roberts to be right, at least 80 science academies around the world have to be wrong, as would almost 100 per cent of the scientists publishing work in the field….

Afterthoughts:

So frustrating having to revisit some of the most asinine arguments ever! I watched  my copies of The Climate Wars (2008) by Dr Iain Stewart and Meet the Sceptics (2011) and sighed deeply that all this was bubbling up again. See also my posts Look who’s at the rally along with A Jones and A Anderson… With friends like these… (2011) and Documentaries to make you think, cringe, cry, or wonder.. 2 (2011).

This one I have just downloaded!  Watts Up With That hates it; Lord Monckton tried to have it suppressed.

The truth is that it is brilliant and very fair to a whole lot of people who are not used to the concept of fair representation themselves. Even Lord Monckton is humanised rather than demonised; the presenter even goes so far as to say he rather likes him as a person. That is not just a ploy.

What’s up with Monckton is now pretty well known. It’s easy really: he’s just plain wrong.

Scarier even than that is the US Republican Party and so many “freedom-loving Americans” and weird right-wing TV channels from Fox on through even more biased and crazy excuses for news and commentary. Watch the doco to see what I mean.

And more on the egregious Belfry:

J.K. Rowling Joins Physicist Brian Cox and Monty Python’s Eric Idle in Calling Out Climate Science Denial

And more! Do visit Peter Sinclair’s Denier Destroyed on Aussie TV. Crowd Goes Wild (19 August), especially for the last two videos addressing the climate denial myths that Belfry promotes.

First, the “no warming in…(pick a number) years” canard, (which has really gotten pretty ragged with 2 record warm years in a row and a third underway) is a favorite of Far right US Senator Ted Cruz. I asked 4 scientists to weigh in on the deception…

Finally, the idea that “NASA has fudged the data” is put to rest by scientists who actually understand temperature data and how it is used…

Memento mori – another from the Class of 1959

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Neil

Look at my 2013 post Found–something from my last year at high school.

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Look at the Latin prize in Fourth Year, our second-last year at SBHS. David Chadwick, here some years later, but still very recognisable.

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And that is from his obituary, published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald

With the Japanese bikers in the halal restaurant…

Posted on August 21, 2016 by Neil

Samaras Restaurant was very busy yesterday when Chris T and I went there for lunch. I felt more than usually patriotic – proud of living in a land where diversity is accepted and respected — as we hoed into the amazing “meat lovers” platter, all halal of course. This is what we had:

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The menu says that is “for one” – well, you’d have to be very hungry to manage it. Chris and I shared and, with a side dish of cauliflower, had more than enough. And I tell you, it is even better than it looks! Even in Surry Hills’s “Little Lebanon” in the past I have not had better.

And yes, there was a table of around 15 young Japanese bikers and friends in the restaurant as well, all tucking into the excellent food, and appreciating the friendly vibe and good service. As did the anglo-celtic Aussies who took over those tables when the Japanese left.

Ah Wollongong! Here it is not too unusual to see sights like:

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Note the Buddha in the background, by the way. These photos are from my photoblog under the tag “multicultural”. Despite what some say, we Australians have been rather good at creating a positive experience of cultural diversity. May we continue thus to grow,

Which brings me to the latest by the Revenant of Oz, now a Senator. I prefer to name her thus 1) because she is a revenant and 2) I avoid adding to the sum of her name being mentioned on the Internet. Her latest has caused a degree of mirth:

Australian Multicultural Foundation and SBS chairman Hass Dellal said One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s preoccupation with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) implementing some squat toilets in its Melbourne office reeked of “insecurity”.

ATO’s acting chief finance officer Justin Untersteiner told the Herald Sun this week that the office deployed the toilets because it was committed to “maintaining an inclusive workplace”.

Pauline Hanson asks in a Facebook video posted on Sunday: “If they don’t know how to use our toilets…then what the hell is going on?”

She then responded to a comment on that post: “It’s not just a matter of dollars Wade. It starts with toilets and ends with costing us our Australian way of life.”

Waleed Aly commented in the Fairfax Press: a good opinion piece, I thought. He goes on to make an interesting point, having mentioned Revenant sidekick Senator Belfry’s amazing outing on last Monday’s #QandA.

…And  [Belfry]  sounds nothing like Hanson. Sure, he’s not a fan of the Racial Discrimination Act, but he doesn’t seem especially fixated on Muslims – or toilets for that matter. That’s even truer of Rod Culleton, who will be One Nation’s senator in Western Australia. He hates banks, probably because one of them took his farm.

But when asked recently about One Nation’s dogma that multiculturalism has failed, he replied: “I wouldn’t say it’s failed. I respect multiculturalism. You know, I’ve married a very beautiful Greek woman and her family love me like a son.” That woman, by the way, was also a One Nation candidate in Western Australia. Ask her about Hanson’s proposed royal commission into Islam and she says, “that’s one of the ones that, again, I will not be in agreeance with”.

Well, that’s quite a disagreement. It’s remarkable that Hanson would have candidates so at odds with what, until now, has seemed her party’s political reason for being…

We’ll only figure out what that all means over the next three (or six) years. But the starting point is that Hanson presides over nothing particularly organic. Drill to the bottom of One Nation and you find varieties of disillusionment, but not always xenophobia. It’s just not that coherent… But they might have more in common than they seemed to a month ago. That includes the same proclivity for bizarre video stunts. And you know that old saying: it starts with toilets and ends up costing your political authority.

I have wondered what collective I might use for the Revenant’s group: Ein Volk has connotations that may be unfair. I thought of the Had a Gutful Party, which is accurate but abbreviates to HAG, possibly sexist. Maybe POP? Pissed Off Party?

BTW, I do suspect that when you saw, as we all did…

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… your first thought was not “that’s a Muslim.” You probably felt something about the cruelty of war. You probably saw a frightened child. You probably reached out in humanity and wished this world could be better. Let’s keep those reactions alive, eh!

Addendum

And this bus-load makes me proud to be an Australian!

…Many of us are still pretty far from being comfortable travellers in an increasingly diverse world. We may be curious, but we can lack confidence, erring on the side of silence rather than diving in and risk saying the wrong thing.

Perhaps we worry that no one will stand with us if we do speak out. That our fellow Australians indeed are the racists we’re stereotyped to be. That it’s easier to stay quiet than risk a debate with a Hanson supporter. Perhaps it all just makes us feel too nervous and we pretend not to hear over our headphones.

Whatever it was on Thursday, this was a pretty neat example of 50-odd people keeping their cool, making it calmly clear that none of us was tolerating racism, and having the confidence to sort it out. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, so they say.

Thirty years is a long time and forty even longer

Posted on August 24, 2016 by Neil

I missed this, unfortunately, as I rarely attend night-time things these days, especially in Sydney. I had been invited:

Its a long time ago, but you taught me for a few years at Sydney High – 1985 and 1986 – for 2 unit English. Memorable times, including the infamous “shit poem” you asked a friend to come in and read for us, and our universal dislike of Dickens’ Great Expectations!

My colleagues and I are having a 30 year reunion on Saturday August 13, 2016 – we’d like to invite you if you’d like to come.

The inviter is on the right, a former teaching colleague on the left:

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Apparently a debate on the topic “It is better to live fast and wild in middle age than in high school” was part of the night’s proceedings. They were very good at debating, that class of 1986. Some have gone on to considerable eminence in related fields. I’m told  “over fifty-five ex-students and a small number of teachers calling ‘present, sir’ at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst on Saturday 13 August.”  I am sorry I could not be with them, but am having fun guessing, occasionally successfully, who is who in the photos.

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Some of these people may recall this:

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See More “Neil’s Decades” – 10: 1986 again

Watching “Billy Elliot” again

Posted on August 28, 2016 by Neil

Back in August 2006 I posted:

Then another coachee, doing Standard English, has as one of his texts (yes, I know) Billy Elliot. Again the laptop and the local video library worked wonders for us. Great movie. and a rich enough text too at many levels. A shame I have this embarrassing tendency to cry in the last few scenes, a phenomenon I described to my coachee rather than enact in front of him.

So ten years on I blubbed (privately) in the last few scenes all over again.

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Interesting viewpoint about that scene:

The worst part of the film, Billy Elliot, is the ending. I know that the ending has people sobbing in their seats (including Elton John), but it is so sweet and corny that it destroys the real-life aspect of the film. In the film, everybody is happy. Billy is a super-star. Michael is open and proud of his new boyfriend. Tony is thrilled to see his little brother perform. And Dad is overcome with joy and pride. Only Fairytales for children under seven should end with “And they all lived happily ever after.”

The story of Billy Elliot and the miners is depressing, and the audience needs a lift at the end. The film uses the silly happy ending to send the audience home happy. But it ruins the gritty reality of the story. The musical finishes the show with only hope for Billy’s future, and no real hope for anyone else. It is much more realistic for older children and adults. Then the musical cheers up the emotionally drained audience with the “Company Celebration” (Finale). Hall and Daldry corrected a major flaw with this change…

What I posted one year ago

Posted on August 25, 2016 by Neil

You’ll have to go to the original to see what this was about:

Random Friday memory 26: naked in The Shire

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Neil

Oh yes. Well, once at least when I was maybe ten years old…

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It was all down to my classmate CT who was a bit of a junior nudist…

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

The Herald/Age have done good this morning! There were around six bombshells let off in today’s papers. Here for future reference are three.

1. Ross Gittins on Christian Porter and the Mal Content government.

These penny-pinching cost cuts aimed mainly at the socially disadvantaged and politically defenceless – if roughing up asylum seekers and their kids goes down so well with voters, why not extend the attack to bottom-of-the-pile Aussies? – are far from sufficient to make much impact on the budget deficit.

They show the government is near the bottom of the barrel in the quality of budget savings it’s prepared to make.

It wants us to believe the federal budget is close to bankruptcy but, in truth, it’s this government that’s nearer to being morally, politically and economically bankrupt.

2, Kevin Rudd on Mr Mal Content, Mr Potato Head and asylum seekers.

Malcolm Turnbull, in his 12 months in office, has now repudiated virtually everything he once stood for. He has done this because he has concluded that in order to hang onto his job, after his near-death experience in the July election, he must now appease the mad right of his party in every domain…

  • They have sought to negotiate a failed agreement with Cambodia at a cost of $55 million, and with zero effect, to deal with their failure to resettle refugees from Manus and Nauru.
  • The government cruelly refused the offer from New Zealand to resettle 150 refugees annually from Manus and Nauru, when the 2013 agreement explicitly provides for resettlement to third countries.
  • Where I recommended increasing our annual refugee intake above 20,000 if the regional resettlement agreement proved successful, after taking office they almost halved the existing 20,000.

Turnbull’s latest legislative folly should be opposed. I have kept silent on Australian domestic policy debates for the past three years. But this one sinks to new lows. It is pure politics designed to appease the xenophobes. It is without any policy merit in dealing with the real policy challenges all countries face today in what is now a global refugees crisis. And it does nothing to help those refugees left to rot for more than three years, who should be resettled now.

I really should do a post on this matter, but I can’t bear to yet. I am too deeply ashamed of where we now stand.

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Mal Content aka Mr Disappointment

Then we had bombshells on the probable invalidity of the election of Family First’s Bob Day (resigned) and the latest machinations of a resurgent Onion Muncher. But the biggie is concerning Donald J Putin:

3. Trump server link to Moscow bank revealed as FBI probes Kremlin’s five-year plan

Washington: The word “explosive” has been rendered meaningless in this US presidential election – so I’ll just state this baldly. The FBI is investigating a deliberate, years-long Russian effort by which Moscow co-opted Donald Trump, and the Republican Party candidate had, until very recently, a super-secret internet server, which carried heavy, two-way traffic between his Manhattan tower and a Russian bank with close ties to the Kremlin…

Now that really could be bigger than Watergate!

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Update – an hour later!

On that last Trumpshell see HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH THE STORY CONNECTING RUSSIA TO DONALD TRUMP’S EMAIL SERVER and Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.

F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank. Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 “look-up” messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring. But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.

Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc…

I see Tony Abbott has gone into bat for The Donald. That figures…

Mr Abbott defended Mr Trump’s policies, which include building a wall between Mexico and the United States to repel migrants, as reasonable.

“Many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough,” he said.

Mind you, I don’t entirely disagree with what Tony Abbott says there about T’s supporters. It is worth reading David A Hill Jr, I Listened to a Trump Supporter.

She was a family friend, a good person. In rural Ohio, everything was tight. Money, jobs. If you really needed quick cash, she’d put you to work doing landscaping. She’d pay fairly and reliably for the area.

She’s voting for Donald Trump. I disagree with her choice, but I understand why she rejects Clinton so fiercely, and why she’s been swept up in Donald Trump’s particular brand of right-wing populism. I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated. I think that’s a loss for everyone involved, and that sometimes listening can help you to at least understand why a person is making the choices they make, so you can work on the root causes.

Hat tip to Alex Au in Singapore for that article.

Meanwhile The Donald himself lately does seem to be verging on the barking mad:

Florida: Donald Trump has denied a slew of new allegations of sexually predatory behaviour in an angry diatribe of speech in Florida, accusing the women who made them of fabrication and the media outlets that published them as being party to a conspiracy against him…

Mr Trump claimed a variety of forces including the Clintons and the media were seeking to rig the US election.

“Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds,” he said.

“This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8. Remember that.”

Sorry. Did I really say “verging on” then?

OK, back to that second debate. I found myself riveted all through – yes I watched the whole show – by the body language, especially The Donald’s. What a study in proxemics!

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Pure monstering. The stills barely capture the effect that the pacing and scowling communicated. Not a nice man.

All that had me thinking again of what I learned from the 1990s on in my ESL studies and practice about cross-cultural communication, and the topic in fact came up earlier this week in conversation at Diggers with someone who spent considerable time in PNG and S-E Asia. A summary directed at business people is Different Cultural Communication Styles.

Factoring in personal space expectations between cultures enhances communication in any social or business setting. While Northern Europeans and European Americans feel most comfortable at an arm’s length away in a social interaction, Hispanics would consider that distance unfriendly. Knowing what is expected is helpful. Eye contact and touch etiquette also vary dramatically in different cultures. Asian cultures do not believe in touching in public settings, and they don’t favor direct eye contact. Like the Asian culture, Hispanics also view direct eye contact as a lack of respect. One significant difference between these two cultures is the way touching in public is perceived. Hispanics are a “high touch” society. Before meeting with a different culture, it is best to learn about these etiquette considerations.

That’s just one aspect. Oriented to schools is Communicating Across Cultures from the Victorian Education Department.

Interpretations of verbal communication can be culturally based. Misunderstandings can easily arise. For example in some cultures:

  • It is impolite to speak without being specifically asked by a superior, thus some students will not say hello, will not volunteer answers and will not answer generally directed questions.
  • It is not appropriate to refuse a request, thus saying ‘yes’ may mean ‘I am listening’, or ‘maybe’, or ‘no’. Avoidance behaviour rather than contradiction is used i.e. not doing what is requested is the polite response, as opposed to saying directly ‘no’.
  • Direct confrontation is to be avoided. It is more important to maintain the relationship, then to find an answer to an immediate disputed issue or problem. This contrasts with the anglo-Australian approach of trying to resolve issues by frank and open discussion of the disputed issue, clearly stating personal needs and preferences and direct bargaining tactics focusing on an immediate solution.
  • Asking questions when you already know the answer, which is a common teaching technique in Australia, can indicate a lack of intelligence in some cultures.

Then at the levels prom personal to international relations see the course Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts, particularly Michelle Le Baron, Cross-Cultural Communication.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists. We make — whether it is clear to us or not — quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others. In this module, cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors involving four variables:

  • Time and Space
  • Fate and Personal Responsibility
  • Face and Face-Saving
  • Nonverbal Communication

As our familiarity with these different starting points increases, we are cultivating cultural fluency — awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

In a multicultural society in an even more multicultural world these are areas we all need familiarity with. Back to proxemics:

The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. If someone is accustomed to standing or sitting very close when they are talking with another, they may see the other’s attempt to create more space as evidence of coldness, condescension, or a lack of interest. Those who are accustomed to more personal space may view attempts to get closer as pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Neither is correct — they are simply different.

Mind you, Trump was being “pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive”!

Related: My 1998 UTS Grad Cert TESOL assignment A Japanese Backpacker’s year in Australia may even amuse you.