Two speeches — cool and heated — and I love them both…

First cool, and only just noted thanks to YouTube, on a subject where there has been a lot of heat in quite a few senses: COP26. Simon Clark. “Simon finished his PhD in theoretical atmospheric physics at the University of Exeter, researching dynamical stratosphere-troposphere coupling over the Arctic with Professor Mark Baldwin. Prior to this, he studied physics at St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, obtaining his masters degree and specializing in theoretical and atmospheric physics.”

The other speech occurred yesterday in the Australian Senate. As summarised by Australian political site (which I do find a touch overheated at times!) this is what happened:

Queensland MP George Christensen is the latest to abscond to a rebellious cohort opposing the state vaccine mandates, The Australian ($) reports. Plus, the paper claims crossbenchers Craig Kelly and Bob Katter told it they were considering holding their votes hostage too. Coalition seats make up 76 of 151 MPs — that means, without Christensen’s vote, the government needs a crossbencher or Labor MP to side with them to pass anything.

Five senators crossed the floor yesterday voting for One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s anti-vaccine mandate bill, but it was defeated 44-5 anyway (they were Gerard Rennick, Alex Antic, Matt Canavan, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and Sam McMahon, as Guardian Australia lists). So what do they want? The fivesome are demanding the Commonwealth override state laws requiring workers to be vaccinated, and they strike at a critical time as the federal election countdown ticks on, as ABC says.

In a fiery rebuke, outspoken senator Jacqui Lambie went for Hanson’s proverbial jugular over proposed state sanctions, saying the bill was not about discrimination, but rather cash, power, and One Nation seats, SBS reports. “Being held accountable for your own actions isn’t called discrimination — it is called being a bloody adult,” Lambie fired to a smirking Hanson, watching on via video link.

And here is Jacqui Lambie’s speech in full, passionate and some might think a bit “unparliamentary” at times — but that’s Jacqui!

My comment on Facebook yesterday:

There are matters where I quite strongly disagree with her, but I grant she is what she appears to be –and that is a rare quality in a politician perhaps! And she is far from stupid. I can even forgive her for getting into Canberra in the first place thanks to Clive Palmer- – but she has long since become her own person.I saw a bit of her speech today. Excellent work. Shame about our local Senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells.

You may also like to see something about one of the other “rebel” government Senators, Gerard Rennick: Liberal MP Gerard Rennick floods Facebook with vaccine posts he admits may not be ‘100% accurate’.

Jacqui Lambie has had a checkered political career, and life. I find Wikipedia covers the various sides of her quite well. I find her painful on the subject of China, for example. But I like the feature you see on her website — and she uses that advice too!

Finally, relating to both items so far one way or another, is this splendid graphic that also popped up on Facebook today.

Update — a sequel to the Jacqui Lambie story

On SBS News

Senator Jacqui Lambie has accused One Nation of endangering her and her family, after a candidate for the far-right party’s Tasmanian campaign leaked her phone number in a Facebook post. 

It comes just a day after the independent senator excoriated One Nation for their proposed bill against vaccine mandates. 

Lambie said the breach by candidate Steve Mav was particularly egregious given the febrile political environment.

“I have received many nasty, abusive and threatening phone calls and messages,” she told parliament.

“You have the (federal police) briefing politicians about our safety, you have gallows on the steps of Victoria’s parliament and senators in this very chamber should not be facilitating any abuse.

“One Nation have crossed a line here that should never be crossed.”

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts told the chamber that Mav posted the number after being sent it by a voter who got it from a Facebook post from Senator Lambie urging veterans in need of help to contact her.

Appearing via videolink, Senator Roberts accused Senator Lambie of playing the victim and misrepresenting the circumstances – which was met by her shaking her head in the chamber.

God Save The Queen — from our conservative opinion-mongers…

Look, I am a fossil. In my old age I am rather fond of being in a parliamentary monarchy, and feel not even slightly offended by the woman in Windsor as our (shared) Head of State. Heaps of my friends will moan, but a few will cheer…

Our resident reactionaries on Sky have lately been roundly pissed off with Her Maj and family for being BLOODY GREENIES!

Utter bollocks of course. As the Lady herself says, despite a rather unfortunate past propensity for blowing little birds out of the sky, the Royals have been rather keen on environmental issues, not least the late Duke of Edinburgh.

And birds of a feather and all that…

So I say three cheers for the Prince of Wales!

And it runs in the family…

Meanwhile we watch and wait… It will happen.

Not entirely random passing thoughts, serious and silly

This post really is just what passed by me from around 7am this morning — or some of it. Also maybe some of these videos will disappear in due course, a problem when you post with embedded vids. But for now…



Lest we forget

Blithering idiot — not just “another opinion” but a public menace

Just one of a million possible refutations of that idiot — from a scientist who also happens to be an evangelical Christian!

And another…

And the point….

And finally…

Our climate ambitions — the “Australian Way!” — and media literacy matters

I downloaded our famous plan. Was I impressed?

I am not alone, it seems.

And: Net zero by 2050 is just snake oil. We need an actual hold-it-in-your-flippers zero plus Australia’s 2050 net zero emissions plan relies on ‘gross manipulation’ of data, experts say.

The government has not released the modelling underpinning the plan, but the strategy document suggests 63m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year could be sequestered in trees and other vegetation and potentially more than 103m tonnes a year could be stored in soil on cropping and grazing land.

Several experts told Guardian Australia these estimates went beyond the upper bounds of what publicly available peer-reviewed science suggested was possible.

Richard Eckhard, a professor of sustainable agriculture at the University of Melbourne, said some of the per-hectare soil carbon storage numbers were roughly double what was likely to be achievable.

“Soil carbon will not be enough to offset agricultural emissions, let alone the coal industry,” he said. “The idea we can bail out the coal industry with soil carbon is just fanciful.”

You will see of course that being myself utterly unqualified to make any kind of meaningful judgement I am relying on others, on the media both mainstream.traditional and social — as most of us do. And this is not new. If you have not already, do search out a classic pioneering discussion of the subject, Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann (1922). Writing 100 years ago now:

In all these instances we must note particularly one common factor. It is the insertion between man and his environment of a pseudo-environment. To that pseudo-environment his behavior is a response. But because it is behavior, the consequences, if they are acts, operate not in the pseudo-environment where the behavior is stimulated, but in the real environment where action eventuates. If the behavior is not a practical act, but what we call roughly thought and emotion, it may be a long time before there is any noticeable break in the texture of the fictitious world. But when the stimulus of the pseudo-fact results in action on things or other people, contradiction soon develops. Then comes the sensation of butting one’s head against a stone wall, of learning by experience, and witnessing Herbert Spencer’s tragedy of the murder of a Beautiful Theory by a Gang of Brutal Facts, the discomfort in short of a maladjustment. For certainly, at the level of social life, what is called the adjustment of man to his environment takes place through the medium of fictions.

By fictions I do not mean lies. I mean a representation of the environment which is in lesser or greater degree made by man himself. The range of fiction extends all the way from complete hallucination to the scientists’ perfectly self-conscious use of a schematic model, or his decision that for his particular problem accuracy beyond a certain number of decimal places is not important. A work of fiction may have almost any degree of fidelity, and so long as the degree of fidelity can be taken into account, fiction is not misleading. In fact, human culture is very largely the selection, the rearrangement, the tracing of patterns upon, and the stylizing of, what William James called “the random irradiations and resettlements of our ideas.”

In today’s world there can be no doubting that media literacy is an absolute basic need. Here are a couple of institutions or projects addressing that need, as does (I am sure) every conscientious school teacher! I know it was a priority in my own teaching from the late 1960s on!

The Australian Media Literacy Alliance is an unincorporated group of organisations whose objectives in the area of media literacy are closely aligned. The founder members are:

  • ABC Education (ABC)
  • Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)
  • Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD)
  • National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA)
  • National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA)
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • Western Sydney University (WSU)

Together, these seven organisations have insight into content creation, information provision, education and media and information usage. They are able to bring other organisations to the table with specific expertise in these and other related areas.

Of the next all I can say is that it looks promising. eSmart Media Literacy Lab. See what you think.

I also commend Peter Hadfield for the following. You learned a lot about him here yesterday, but another thing, apart from his impeccable scientific qualifications, that distinguishes him from most journalists is that his experience of the media is so hands-on that he understands such matters as editing and what it can seamlessly do to what we see, as this demonstrates.

Today you may add to that deep fake technology! This really blows my mind, but also underscores how vital the study of media literacy now is. There are techniques shown here which Peter Hadfield could hardly have imagined when he made his explainer just ten years ago.

Update on the “report” our government is taking to Glasgow

The boffins added up the numbers and – surprise, surprise – we’re already on track to net zero. Is ScoMo lucky or what? The Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese, they’re all still struggling with it, but we’ve got it figured.

Funny thing is, it has the feel of Amateur Hour. Who wrote the report? The experts in the Energy Department? No, it was written by management consultants – McKinsey, and has all the colourful diagrams and big type and blank pages you expect from management consultants.

From very trustworthy commentator Ross Gittins.

Aptly is our PM dubbed so often “Scotty from Marketing”!

The threads in our lives, eh! And a cracking critique of the FB algorithms…

All this entry in various ways links back to this man. And The Shire.

It all starts with a FB post I did on Saturday.

All those who are so fond of stereotyping The Shire, read this and suck it up! Good on The Shire and this organisation which has been around for years! I am sure our old friend Bob Walshe had quite a bit to do with it back in the day. (In fact he was its founder!) Bob was as leftie as — but deeply loved The Shire and made a point of immersing himself in the place, its environment and its history. He was not alone.

It is not all ScoMo and Craig Kelly! Far from it! And large swathes of it once had Gough Whitlam as its local MP!

Sitherland Shire Environment Centre has posted:

How do you feel about climate change?

We care deeply about our environment and the livelihood of our children, grandchildren and future generations. Without a healthy planet, we can’t have healthy, thriving communities and a healthy future for all.

Yesterday, thousands of students from around the country put their learning on hold, to demand that us grown-ups take more meaningful action to secure a safe and healthy planet for their futures.We 100% support our children in their fight.

CLIMATE. CHANGE. is. not. and. should. not. be. a. political. issue.

But here we are…

On Monday, 18 October MP Zali Steggall will table a revised draft of her Climate Change Bill to federal parliament.The bill will introduce a new, short-term emission reductions target of 60% by 2030 vs 2005 levels. We need our leaders to introduce policies and take actions to mitigate climate change now, this decade, in order to halt the effect that fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment and our lives….

I then noted that there is an annual RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize awarded by the Environment Centre.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre holds an annual, national Writing for the Environment prize in honour of our founder, Bob Walshe, who passed away in March 2018.

Writing was a passion and a skill of Bob’s. He taught and inspired many people to write and write and write!  And he believed writing was an important tool in the work of building a sustainable world.

Bob was an educator, historian, journalist, and environmentalist. He authored many books on history, English, and writing, and he wrote articles on the environment for many years for the newspaper Shire Life, and for a number of other environmental magazines. Bob produced Australia’s first global warming poster for the Commonwealth Government in the late 1980s. The origins of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre are proudly traced back to writing courses Bob ran in the Sutherland Shire.

Through the R D Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre continues to value the role and place of the art of writing in helping to shape a sustainable world – healthy people living on a healthy planet.

Then on Sunday I posted:

I mentioned Bob yesterday in relation to the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre. He was a major influence on the way I approached the teaching of writing and grammar — yes, I always taught some grammar but only as part of a larger scheme of English teaching than the traditional one. In the 70s when I was in The Gong I would quite often call on Bob in his unit overlooking the park in West Sutherland whenever I came to Sydney. In 1979 or 1980 we both participated in a staff development conference at Gilgandra. I was along with Rowan Cahill a member of the English Teachers Writing Group, which Bob organised. A big influence on many of us, was Bob.

I then recalled that it was Bob who introduced us all to the great work on the teaching of writing being done in the 70s and 80s in the USA, particularly in New Hampshire, associated with Donald Graves and Don Murray. Indeed in 1980 (I think) when Donald Graves was in Australia he, Bob and I had a picnic atop The Saddleback overlooking Kiama, a fact not mentioned as far as I know in the book Bob edited in 1981 for the Primary English Teachers Association.

Seek and ye shall find! After several drafts of this post yesterday I took a punt on YouTube and look what I found! Sadly, Part 2 does not appear to have been uploaded.

See also Rowan Cahill’s An Activist for All Seasons — thorough, excellent!

During his lifetime Robert Daniel “Bob” Walshe (1923-2018) was many things, variously factory labourer, soldier, communist, organiser, activist, pamphleteer, teacher, editor, publisher, historian, educationist, environmentalist.  He was the author/co-author/editor of some forty books.

Born in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs in 1923, Walshe once described his family life as “not very harmonious”. His father, a milkman in the Bondi area, was a severely wounded World War 1 veteran, in and out of hospital during the 1920s. To his mother, Walshe credited his lifelong love of books. Outdoors there was joy, and Walshe, his two brothers and sister enjoyed their childhoods in the environs of Bondi and Bronte beaches, and Waverley Park….

Speaking of Rowan Cahill, it is thanks to his post (ironically, really) on Facebook that I read this amazing essay on the Facebook algorithm by John Birmingham, Kill all you see.

You really MUST read it!

…For weeks before the five nomadic travellers arrived for market day, the village and surrounding hamlets had seethed with fearful rumours of ‘outsiders’ kidnapping local children and harvesting their organs, which is to say that Facebook and WhatsApp, the Zuckbot’s global messaging platform, were boiling with hot content.

There were memes. It mattered not to the Zuckbot or his algorithm that the most popular memes featured images of children killed in the Syrian civil war, rather than locally farmed for their sweet meats by some locavore Slender Man. The images were powerful, engagement was high, and organic reach was off the f*cking scale, bro. Facebook’s Vision Statement, which is slightly gushier than its Mission Statement, speaks of people using the platform “to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”…

See John Birmingham’s other blog Cheeseburger Gothic.

More on Bob