NOAH’S RAINBOW SERPENT – observations by Ian MacDougall

THE BELLS OF HELL, DOOGUE, MARR, AND PELL

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on March 10, 2019

 

And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.

-Matthew 16; 18-19  KJV

That header from Matthew is pretty powerful stuff. All popes, even the likes of the Borgias, have claimed on the strength of it the right to make the rules not just on Earth, but also in Heaven. It is an open cheque, Heaven-sent, or perhaps more likely, clerically devised. Hence also the symbolism of the keys, so arguably overworked in Catholic everyday art.

On the strength of the above (pretty broad) licence, Pope Pius XII in 1954 crowned Mary Queen of Heaven.

Well OK. Pope Pius XII  crowned a statue of her. But as good as the real thing. And Pope Francis has just done it again. Crowned a different statue, perhaps; but as far as I am aware, no Earthly queen was ever crowned more than once. So Queen Mary beats them all.

Geraldine Doogue, by her own account a lifelong and committed Catholic, has written an interesting piece on her church’s present Pell Crisis. Find it at: https://www.quarterlyessay.com.au/correspondence/correspondence-geraldine-doogue ($$$ for the full text.)

She begins with appropriate Catholic modesty:

“Unaccustomed as I am to find myself in easy agreement with Cardinal George Pell, I did approve of his response to David Marr’s essay….”

Said Marr’s essay has been summed up as follows:

Marr reveals a cleric at ease with power and aggressive in asserting the prerogatives of the Vatican. His account of Pell’s career focuses on his response as a man, a priest, an archbishop and prince of the church to the scandal that has engulfed the Catholic world in the last thirty years. This is the story of a cleric slow to see what was happening around him; torn by the contest between his church and its victims; and slow to realise that the Catholic Church cannot, in the end, escape secular scrutiny. 

‘The Prince’ is an arresting portrait of faith, loyalty and ambition, set against a backdrop of terrible suffering and an ancient institution in turmoil. 

https://www.quarterlyessay.com.au/essay/2013/09/the-prince

So here is Doogue in full flight on the matter:

Unaccustomed as I am to find myself in easy agreement with Cardinal George Pell, I did approve of his response to David Marr’s essay. It was published in the same week that I was to conduct a Gleebooks conversation with David in Sydney, and I was intrigued as to how the essay’s subject  [Pell]  would respond.  Would he ignore David altogether? Would he forensically rebut all the accusations and the terrible timeline of clerical malfeasance and church neglect in Victoria? Would he try loftily to contextualise his decisions? As it turned out, he chose none of those options but did comment and land some blows, in my view. “Marr has no idea what motivates a believing Christian.” [My emphasis – IM.] That last statement especially rang true for me. My final sense was that for all David’s writing’s usual elegance and flair, it came with plenty of baggage, only some of it declared. And it didn’t wrestle sufficiently with its own conclusion: that, above all, Pell simply could not contemplate a world without an operating Catholic Church. So yes, his best efforts would always, always be expended on its behalf, without apology, because he believed he was acting, by proxy, in the long-term interests of the wider society. I think this is a correct core judgment on the perplexing Pell, the man David ultimately found somewhat empty and hollow. 

 Yes, Pell: somewhat empty and hollow, and with all the empathy of a cabbage. (Sorry for that slur, cabbages.) But Doogue here and in her own way is trying to rouse up a bit of support for Pell, particularly from disillusioned and disgusted Catholics.

The Sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, was off-limits to all choirboys. Two of them nonetheless had slipped away from the choir procession at the end of Mass, and were caught gargling a swig or two of altar wine, as choirboys have been inclined to do since time immemorial. (St Peter probably had much the same trouble with them at underground services down in the Roman catacombs.)  According to the main police witness, the Sacristy was where the offences Pell is presently jugged and banged up for occurred.

But the Pell case divides Catholics into those inclined to believe Pell on the one hand, and those inclined to believe the surviving victim, whose account the jury believed, on the other. Catholics are circling the wagons, battening down the hatches, manning the parapets, and generally getting ready for a long siege. At the other extreme and with a profound sense of betrayal, they are having serious thoughts about quitting the church and religion they were born into. A number of course are taking up positions somewhere in between. But clerical prestige is definitely in at the panel-beaters’ for a major workover.

The former choirboy reportedly gave testimony that the hefty Pell had planted himself in the doorway, blocking the exit, and said something like “what are you doing here?” or “you’re in trouble”. (Contrast this with Christ’s reported injunction in arguably similar circumstances: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for such is the Kingdom of God.”)

There was this moment where we all just froze and then he undid his trousers or his belt, like he started moving underneath his robes,” the victim said.

Pell then pulled one of the boys aside and pushed his head down to his exposed penis.

Pell then forced the other choirboy to perform oral sex on him before fondling him as he masturbated.

That former choirboy told the court that, two months later, Pell molested him in a brief incident in a corridor at the back of the cathedral after mass.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-26/george-pell-guilty-child-abuse-how-it-happened/10847786

Not exactly trivial stuff.

Now I think I can speak with some authority on this, as I am a Christian by marriage. That is to say my darling wife is one, and she lives her religion (save for the odd irrational and totally undeserved outburst at me) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At this point I would like also to quote from my own Facebook page:

“Worth a read:

“Clare Linane, whose husband Peter Blenkiron is a survivor of clerical child abuse, writes in response to Andrew Bolt’s  defence of  George Pell (yes, Bolt’s in there, full steam ahead):

“If you want to support Pell, go and visit him in jail. Help fund his appeal. Take Miranda Devine with you.
“In the meantime, here in Ballarat we are going to continue to try to deal with the fact that our suicide rate among males is twice that of Melbourne and 65% greater than the Victorian average.
“We are going to keep helping women, children, mothers, fathers, and siblings pick up the pieces as their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers prematurely end their lives.
“We are going to keep lobbying for the redress scheme that the royal commission recommended, so that our survivors get the practical and emotional assistance they need.
“We are going to keep trying to figure out how to reverse what has now become a cultural problem whereby males in our community resort to suicide instead of seeking help.
“Honestly, the fact that our most senior Catholic has been jailed is the least of our worries right now.”

 Certainly puts Bolt in his place. Which as the Germans might say, ist in der schiesenhaus. (Modesty forbids me from providing a translation.)

What modesty does not do, however, is prevent me from revealing a bit of my own family’s history: particularly regarding the attitude to religion displayed by my own father, and to suppose a reason for it, particularly in the light of the above.

His mother (Pakie Macdougall, my grandmother) was in her day a pre-WW1 suffragette, and a freethinking bohemian. Her husband Duncan Macdougall (my grandfather) was at the same time trying to make a career for himself in the theatre, as a (reportedly consummate) actor, director and also producer. Thanks to his theatrical contacts, Duncan managed to secure for Robin (his son, my father) the leading role in the first full-length feature film produced by the New York studio Famous-Players Lasky. That was Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blue Bird. The film was shot in a warehouse in New York, under the supervision of Adolph Zukor. (Following the film’s release, Zukor rebadged the Famous-Players Lasky enterprise as Paramount and moved the whole show to the sunnier clime of Hollywood, California.)

My grandparents’ activities and interests, both theatrical and political, took them at times far from their rented apartment in New York. For one of these trips, they found accommodation for the quite young Dad in a small farming community in West Virginia, that by his own account was straight out of L’il Abner. (School was at that time optional in the US. Dad was never formally enrolled in one until he got to Australia in 1919, aged 12.)

But there was no topic of conversation that could get him more steamed up or ready to launch into intemperate language, from ridicule to full-on invective, than the subject of religion. He did not mind Judaism, (some of his best friends were Jews) or those quaint Asian religions that involve lots of gong-banging, chanting, ritual river-bathing and incense-burning, but he could not abide Christianity, and particularly not its God-bothering Protestant variant. He would ridicule and pour on scorn by the bucketful on it at every opportunity. And when he attended those unavoidable occasions like church weddings of family members (I myself had two such during his long lifetime) nearby members of the congregation would find him sniggering and snorting his way through the whole business. In short, religion brought forth his rational side to such an extent that it turned itself into its own opposite. (However, my cousin married a Greek in an Orthodox ceremony. He did not find that too difficult; rather strange and interesting in fact.)

Methought he did protest too much; far too much. On the strength of all that, I think he might well have been sexually molested by some fundamentalist preacher over there in God’s country at some stage during his childhood. If that was the case, it certainly explains a lot about his behaviour and attitudes. Particularly so for his slump into depression after I joined the local Sydney-suburban Anglican church, (mainly for the youth arm known as The Fellowship) and  VERY PARTICULARLY after I returned home from a week-long fellowship house party in the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney, and announced with all the maturity that a 14-year-old can muster, that I wanted to become a missionary in South America. (The Fellowship had been addressed by one such, who was keen to recruit a few more. But please remember, this was the year 1954: Billy Graham was then in his globally-reaching prime.)

Looking back on it, I doubt there could be any project more forlorn on the face of God’s Earth than trying to convince genuine South American mestizos,  bandidos,  peons, comancheros, and the rest of them in all of their poncho-wearing, caballo-riding, flamenco-playing and tango-dancing variants, breeds and ethnicities (as found within any of their marvellous social formations that have never been defeudalised) that they are living in a darkness beyond imagining, and that their only way out is by becoming Anglicans. …!!! The mind boggles; not once, but again and again and again, in a positive feedback loop.

My father at this point truly descended into Hell. But on the third day, he rose again, and ascended into Heaven, or into the closest state to it: Nirvana, Paradise or whatever possible for him, because that was about all the time it took for the jumping euphoria of that Anglican houseparty to wear off and fade from my mind, and for me to resume something like normal transmission.

But for all his generosity and conviviality, my father remained forever trapped like, and as, an overgrown child, and in so many ways. An inability to express himself verbally or emotionally was one. His inner tension and apparent frustration, and a business (started in 1929 by his mother) kept him away from home for long periods, leading him to find solace in the arms of a mistress, and planning a new life with her after getting himself a mooted divorce from my mother.

When my mother, in his view unreasonably, objected to this, he started his measured and reasoned response one sunny day by throwing a chair or two across the dining room, busting one completely and driving a chair-leg right through the kitchen door, and also by knocking her down: one punch. Then he took off in Mum’s little 1927 model Morris Minor, but not before I could jump in beside him into the passenger seat, fearful that in his rage he would do something stupid like drive it off a cliff.

But after a while, he grew remorseful, and explained to me that Mum had been making his life really difficult. I replied along the lines of “… but you shouldn’t  have hit her.” To which he replied, almost in tears, “I know, I know.”

So we drove back home, with him subdued and reflective; which was all right, until it all happened again. And again; and again.  By which time he had moved out of the house and had decided that he wanted a divorce. So Mum would go visit him to discuss issues relating to that, property settlement and such, and return as often as not with facial bruises and one day with a black eye.

I lost all respect for my father after that, and stopped addressing him as ‘Dad’. In fact, I did not address him as anything, until just short of his dying day, when I tried to make up for all the lost time and foregone father-son companionship as best I could. And I hold it to be self-evident and highly likely that all of that sorry history was because some Bible-thumping, Jesus-jumping Ozark mountain pervert had taken him as a pretty defenceless young boy to Hell and back.

The sad thing is just this: the Pells of this world never have to face the real consequences of their own choices and actions, can remain oblivious to them, and can shed them as water gets shed off the proverbial duck’s back.

But let us return to that profundity of Pell’s, as quoted by the profundity-struck Geraldine Doogue: “Marr has no idea what motivates a believing Christian.” Doogue goes on:  “This Catholic Church is a vital provider of services to the current fabric of Australian life. Seven hundred thousand schoolchildren … 82,000 staff; sixty-six hospitals… St Vincent de Paul … largest welfare provider outside government…vast network of engagement. Spelling some of this out … may have highlighted the very confusion that plagues many of us, trying to imagine how this committed church restores itself beyond the shame.”

Well Geraldine, I suggest that every believing Christian should read a bit of the writings of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). A good start can be made at https://www.iep.utm.edu/durkheim/ .

Durkheim’s major contribution to human understanding of what we humans really are about (as distinct from what we say we are about)  can be summed up quite simply, and as follows: in any religious ritual, from Catholic High mass to an Australian Aboriginal camp-fire corroboree, what is really happening is that the congregation is worshipping itself.

Catholicism has at least four gods: Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Mary, and a multitude of others if we count in all the gallery of saints. But whatever gods, deities, sacred objects and acts of veneration are involved for any given grouping large or small, they symbolise that worshipping group. They effectively are the people in the worshipper’s life who, like him or her, have been born into the religion and have an ancestral past steeped in it. So the Mass or church service literally serves us by uniting us in a continuity with not only each other, but with our ancestors.

Such continuity can be as found as much if not far more so in the small bush church so beloved of the immortal Father PJ Hartigan (‘John O’Brien’, author of Around the Boree Log) as in St Peter’s in Rome, St Paul’s in London, or in any of the neo-Gothic architectural marvels in Australia in which we find say, mass celebrated by say, Cardinal George Pell; or one of his present clerical supporters or apologists.

The Catholic, Protestant or whatever congregation is worshipping itself. Believing is the means to belonging. That is why it is so important that we all pray together, and out loud, so everyone can hear. (God does not need it, because he reportedly knows our every unuttered thought.) For our group cohesion, we all must believe the same doctrine, propositions or ‘stuff’, and why a group recitation of the essentials of its shared faith, as in say The Apostles’ Creed is so powerful, and so important in group life, as well as other group vocalisations, sung hymns, recited prayers and so on. Count how many times the collective is mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer, by use of the words ‘our’ (3), ‘us’ (5) and ‘we’ (1).  That prayer, as the congregation recites it, contains nine collective nouns or pronouns in all, and the whole prayer totals just 70 words in the Anglican version I am used to.

Our Father, which art in heaven,/ Hallowed be thy Name; /Thy kingdom come;/ Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven:/ Give us this day our daily bread;/ And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;/ And lead us not into temptation,/ But deliver us from evil: /For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, /For ever and ever. /Amen.

An extra dimension in all of this is the difference in responsibility and ceremonial privilege between the priesthood and the laity. The ceremonial dress of the clergy emphasises this apartness: robes (symbolising perhaps the simpler, far less clean, less than white and far from gilded garment  worn by Christ himself) stained-glass windows not only depicting sacred scenes, but filling the church interior with all the glorious and heavenly colours of the visible spectrum; Gothic arches soaring Heavenwards, and the mitres of the highest clerics likewise doing their own bits of mimicry, pointing upwards to the Heavenly source of clerical authority.  And the Sanctuary, off-limits and out of bounds to lowly congregationists, at least while worship is proceeding in the building.

All of this is true whether we are speaking of a simple lowly weatherboard Protestant church somewhere in the bush or of one of those huge neo-Gothic stone cathedrals in a state capital like Sydney and Melbourne. And most importantly, no ceremony in any church building can proceed in the absence of officiating clergy. The one exception to this rule I know of is the case of the Quakers, most admirable people generally, but for at least one of whose devout American members was the untried and unpunished war criminal Richard Nixon, whose military operations in Vietnam so closely resembled those of Hitler’s Wehrmacht in Poland.

Contrast all that with the scene of the first Eucharist, as depicted by Leonardo da Vinci and generally known as The Last Supper. It is painted as a mural, on the wall at the far end of the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. One’s eyes are drawn to it immediately one enters through the front door of the building. (One day in 1977, I was in there when there was nobody else around, and was able to contemplate it for some time in total silence.)

The image of Christ himself is literally central to the painting, with the disciples in two groups of six on each side of him, but none the less with Christ not physically above his disciples, as if on a higher spiritual level. Christ is sitting on the same level, and presumably on the very same (undepicted) bench. He is not as a modern parson or priest, physically raised to the level of the Sanctuary and above the level of the pews the mere laity sit on; that is, when not on their knees before God (and also, as it always happens, the officiating priest, God’s spokesperson here on Earth.)

Spokesperson.  Let us pause to consider in conclusion here Catholicism post-Pell. Ordination of women is likely only a matter of time, despite Pope Francis’ final, complete, total and infallible ban on it forever and ever amen. I think that is now inevitable, and an indirect and unintended consequence of His Eminence Cardinal George Pell, third-highest-ranking Catholic in the world, residing now in Melbourne Assessment Prison, a grim maximum security facility which can hold about 250 prisoners..

Whatever arguments are advanced by conservatives against, the easiest and most telling retort will be “but the exclusive black (some would say satanic) brotherhood gave us Pell, protected Pell, covered up for Pell, and was dragged kicking and screaming  all the way to admitting and facing the truth about Pell.”

“How can anything we might do be worse?”

 

 

 

LINKS

  1. https://www.quarterlyessay.com.au/correspondence/correspondence-geraldine-doogue
  2. https://beginningandend.com/apostasy-alert-pope-francis-crowns-statue-of-mary-as-queen-of-heaven/
  3. https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-confirms-finality-ban-ordaining-women
  4. https://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/coronation-and-queenship-of-mary-meditation2.html

 

 

 

PILGER, NEW MATILDA, AND JULIAN ASSANGE

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on June 18, 2018

 

“No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account. It is as if a one-way moral screen has been pushed back to expose the imperialism of liberal democracies: the commitment to endless warfare and the division and degradation of “unworthy” lives: from Grenfell Tower to Gaza.”

Thus spake John Pilger, at the generally worthwhile website known as New Matilda. I have given up posting there, due to its management’s policy of censoring posts by taking them down if they do not abide by the House’s ideological standards.

The above quote from the work of the generally excellent Pilger shows pretty well a fundamental problem of the man’s praxis. The authoritarian governments from Eisenhower on got America into the moral and political quagmire of the Vietnam War, an antidemocratic neocolonialist cause that stank to High Heaven. For the ten-year  (1965-75) course of that war, Pilger along with the rest of the western Left opposed America, and rightly so. But in the process, the syllogism  was forged: America bad; America’s Vietnamese National Liberation Front enemy good; therefore ANY ENEMY OF AMERICA good; Islamists oppose America and its liberal-democratic foundations; therefore Islamists a bit extreme but on the right side of History; but America and liberal democracy definitely both hollow shams. Therefore opponents of liberal democracy in the Islamic world, such as the father-and-son Assad dictatorship team in Syria, ARE TO BE SUPPORTED, and their aspiring liberal-democratic opponents opposed.

I do not think I do Pilger any injustice in portraying his position that way. He after all, never has a good word to say for America, or for liberal democracy, as he pours all the bile within him onto the enemies of Islam.

On this basis, he can maintain good relations with the antidemocratic heads of the authoritarian and dictatorial regimes of the Islamic world so vital to his work as a journalist, AND be a political gadfly to all the Western governments who physically or just morally supported the rotten US cause in Vietnam. So it has to be win-win as far as he is concerned.

Except that I put it to my readers on this site (both of you) that Assange in his present predicament needs the support of Pilger like he needs a proverbial hole in the head.

 

 

 

 

Another Open Letter to Stan Grant

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on March 1, 2018

See:
https://www.xyz.net.au/open-letter-stan-grant/
https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2016/02/25/stan-grants-speech-national-press-club-australia

And also my critique of Keith Windschuttle’s line on Aboriginal history post 1777 at: https://noahsarc.wordpress.com/kangaroos-thylacines-and-aborigines-1/

Stan: At the National Press Club (link above) you reportedly said:

For so many of my people, Aboriginal people this is true. There is a deep, deep wound that comes from the time of dispossession, scarred by the generations of injustice and suffering that have followed. And this wound sits at heart of the malaise that grips indigenous Australia. It is there in our life expectancy ten years shorter than other Australians, it is there in statistics that tell us we are not three percent of the population yet a quarter of those in prisons. These are the things that kill, the things that send us mad or steal our sight.

How often we are told to get over it, leave it in the past, but these wounds are fresh. My family like so many Indigenous families is still shackled to its past. We are told to let it go, but our history is a living thing. It is physical. It is noses and mouths and faces. It is written on our bodies.

-Stan Grant [https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2016/02/25/stan-grants-speech-national-press-club-australia]

The above as I read it is an attack directed at the whole present non-Aboriginal population of Australia. I and my family are amongst them. But there are quite deep historical issues here.

Firstly, your people, whom you identify as “Aboriginal people” in the quote above, were not one ethnic group, nor as one people given a hard time by one lot of invaders of this continent. The 19thC anthropologists identified three distinct ethnic groups amongst the people we now refer to as ‘The Aborigines’:

(1) The Tasmanians – apparently the first to arrive. They were short-statured people rather similar to African pygmies: short stature being a trait selected in by the demands of a life lived in rainforest, of which there was no shortage in the regions they came from and the Australia they moved into. They, being the first to arrive, had the continent to themselves, but were pushed south by the next distinct invading population, who pushed the Tasmanians to the southern extremity of the continent before the Bass Strait rose as the Pleistocene Ice melted: that southern extemity is now called Tasmania.

(2) the Murrayans, who were on average a taller, heavier-bodied people than the Tasmanians, and who occupied the southern mainland, and who pushed the Tasmanians before them. Then came

(3) the Carpentarians, taller, and like the modern native Nilotic peoples of Africa, adapted for life in the hot, dry climate found today in northern Australia, and who kept ethnically distinct from the Murrayans on the mainland; showing that there was not much interbreeding there either.

Nor was pre-European Australia exactly a garden of tranquility. Very telling is a study of Aboriginal weapons, the most interesting being in my opinion Aboriginal shields. These, to be used successfully by warriors who were also nomads, had to be both lightweight and easily carried, but at the same time effective against the most devastating attack weapons in the contemporary Aboriginal arsenal. These were spears and the clubs called ‘nulla-nullas’, normally used to despatch game, but also as effective weapons in what is generally termed ‘tribal warfare’: which in one form or another, still goes on in town and country today. ( See particularly the warrior photograph at http://www.aboriginal-bark-painting.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Screen-Shot-2017-07-28-at-3.48.00-pm.png )

But also:

https://www.mbantua.com.au/aboriginal-weapons/
http://www.aboriginal-bark-painting.com/wp/index.php/2017/07/28/aboriginal-weapons/

It takes a high degree of skill to survive when one is the target of several incoming spears, thrown either together or at slightly different time intervals, launched at you with murderous intent. One’s parents, grandparents and other ancestors over whatever timespan you care to name likewise needed such skill.

The First Arrivals

The late ANU scientist Gurdip Singh concluded from a study of pollens from the bed of Lake George, NSW, that there had been a fairly abrupt botanical change from ecosystems dominated by pyrophobic (‘fire averse’) plants like Causuarinas to pyrophytic (fire-tolerant) ones in SE Australia at around 110,000 BP. This apparent increase of fire in the Australian bush led him to conclude that Aborigines with their ‘firestick farming’ practices may have been responsible. That is, a full 70,000 years before the appearance of Mungo Man and his skeleton, the earliest direct evidential remains.

At the Australian Academy of Science website, https://www.science.org.au/learning/general-audience/science-booklets-0/science-climate-change/2-how-has-climate-changed
we can see graphs that show how the country’s climate has changed over those 110 millennia. There was a marked general cooling, down to around 10,000 BP, followed by a rapid rise in average temperature and heat content of the ocean. The first Aborigines to arrive (ie the ancestors of the Tasmanians) would have had to cross far less oceanic distance than exists today, thanks to so much of the Earth’s water being locked up as polar icecaps. But over those millennia, all our ancestors, of whatever colour, were living somewhere. And there was no book up there in the sky in which it was written by the Gods that the Australian continent belonged to the ancestral Tasmanians, though they possibly or even likely believed it did. The Murrayans would have relieved them of any such illusion, and the Carpentarians likewise both those preceding populations.

The lesson they all learned then taught: by the Tasmanians to the kangaroos, wombats and megafauna, the Murrayans to all those four groups, and the Carpentarians to the lot of them, was a simple one: if you can’t defend it, you don’t own it.

I am 100% of Scots-Irish ancestry according to analysis of my own DNA. My own ancestors were cleared off land they could not defend in the ‘clearances’ carried out by aristocrats supported by Royal armies, or by the first British colonising acts beginning in Ireland under Henry VIII that led on to the building of the vast British Empire, which eventually stretched as far as Australia. Dispossessed Scots and Irish emigrated to Australia, to either dispossess Aborigines, or purchase former Aboriginal land from earlier colonisers who had grabbed it: from the people whose ownership ceased because they could not defend it.

To give them their due, all the Tasmanians, Murrayans and Carpentarians over time took their cultures and technologies as far as they could be taken within the limitations they experienced. Modern scholarship indicates that agriculture actually began, not in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys of ancient Mesopotamia at around 10,000 BP as previously believed, but in New Guinea, at around 20,000 BP. But while neighbouring Australia had plant food and game sufficient to support a pre-1777 population estimated now at around 1 million, it had no domesticable or potentially cultivable plants save the Macadamia nut, (now marketed worldwide under a variety of names.) And the hunter-gatherer nomads, while they had an astounding variety of plant and animal foods both marine and terrestrial, had no grasses from which to develop grain crops, and thus they had collectors’, not croppers’, granaries.

Whereas the Asian peoples had rice and millet, the Ameriindians maize (as well as potatoes) and the peoples of the ‘fertile crescent’ centred on Mesopotamia had what are still the western staples: wheat, barley and oats. They also had cattle, horses and other domesticable animals, spread right across the Eurasian Landmass to China and Japan, and down into Africa in one vast mass of intercommunicating populations.

In Australia, there was what the historian Geoffrey Blainey calls in his excellent book of the same name The Triumph of the Nomads, but only because the nomadic way was the only one that could triumph. And to their credit, the Aborigines took it as far as anyone could, without grain crops, large granaries, ceramics and pottery for storage of liquids like oils and wines, and without the metallurgy that these duly brought forth and the Iron Age weapons that in turn emerged.

So when Captain Cook dropped anchor in Botany Bay and made first European contact with the local Aborigines, it was also the most advanced civilisation in the world greeting people who were about, through no fault of their own of course, the least technically advanced. While clash and interaction across Eurasia had laid the foundations of modern urban civilisation, science and technology, Aboriginal Australia remained contentedly ignorant of all of it: until disaster struck.

But as for me: I was born right here in Australia, as was my wife, as were my children and grandchildren. We all have as much right to be here as anyone else, and I don’t have much time for arguments to the contrary, from you or anyone else: either implied or bluntly stated. But if your gripe is anything to go by, all the apologising for the past will not end with Kevin Rudd. It will still be routinely demanded and expected centuries from now.

And as for the Adam Goodes incident. Well that’s nothing special, is it? Aborigines can’t walk down the street in any city, town or hamlet without getting jeered, booed, heckled and called all sorts of nasty racist names, can they? Well, isn’t that the case?

Bovine excrement, of the non-female variety.

Football games and football fans are subject to crowd psychology. Fans routinely cheer their own teams and jeer their teams’ opponents, and however they can. At times they chuck beer cans: sometimes when full of beer; sometimes full of worse. Adam Goodes got mixed up in just such an incident, and some of the airheads in the crowd picked on his Aboriginality and let fly. Big deal: or only so if anyone wants to make an issue of it.

So on top of all that, we now we have agitation for a ‘treaty’, to be signed presumably by representatives of both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations of Australia as presently set up, and followed presumably, by significant compensation payments. And now we come down to it.

Let’s open the negotiations at say $1 million to each modern Aborigine: enough to buy a house in the upper half of the Sydney or Melbourne real estate markets. And as there are roughly 670,000 such people claiming Aboriginality ( a 2011m estimate: see https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/aboriginal-population-in-australia)  that adds up to a tidy $670 billion. That would be quite a low price to pay for a whole continent, but it would swallow most of the Federal Government’s revenue for two successive years. (The Federal taxation revenue in 2015-16, the latest figures available, was only around $465 billion; so the government would need time to pay.)

It would also require the vendors to quit the property completely: normal real-estate practice in both town and country.

But there is also a problem of retrospectivity here. If any money at all is due to be paid by modern non-Aboriginal Australians to Aboriginal ones, then it is payment long overdue. It should have been paid at the time of the original dispossession, and by the people who did that dispossessing. The non-Aboriginal part of your own ancestry, Stan, should have paid the Aboriginal part. Today, you can do it for them. You can take money, however much you like, from your wallet with your right hand on behalf of your ancestor the Irish rebel John Grant, later by your own account to become a wealthy squatter, and as well on behalf of all the other non-Aboriginal people in your ancestry, and then receive it into your left on behalf of all the Aborigines in your ancestry. Then put it back into your wallet.

But please note: without the contribution made by all, repeat ALL to you own genome and of whatever skin colour, you would not exist today, and would never have existed.

END OF STORY

A CRIT OF THE AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATIVES’ MANIFESTO

Posted in Political Economy, Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on December 6, 2017

 

See https://www.conservatives.org.au/our_policies

Below are extracts from the policy in plain type, as copied from the above AC website. My comments are in bold.

Ian MacDougall

 The AC policy statement includes the following items:

The ‘Canberra Bubble’ isolates politicians and the bureaucracy. Australian Conservatives believe there is a better way, where principles are put before politics, and policies are more important than personalities. We must bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to government.

[Hidden agenda: revive the old squabble between the burghers of the state capitals: mainly Sydney and Melbourne, which gave rise to Canberra in the first place.]

 Donations to political parties, candidates and associated political entities should only be made by individuals and capped at an annual amount. All contributions in excess of the disclosure threshold should be disclosed in ’real time’.

[Real agenda: defund the ALP. Why only ‘individuals’? This can be an excuse for the start of a witch-hunt against the trade unions. (Remember, the ALP historically was set up as a union party, by the unions after the failure of the 1891 shearing-maritime strike.) One obvious way round this provision is for companies and unions alike to pass their party donation through some chosen plausible wealthy individuals. And it will be far easier to find a plausible wealthy donor on the ‘conservative’ side of politics than on the Labor side.

Australian Conservatives support introducing a publicly available, easily searchable database of spending across the whole of government as a means of improving transparency and accountability of public spending.

[ QUESTION:  Does that include military and covert intelligence expenditure?]

 We will respect the division of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the States in order to improve the efficiency, decision-making and accountability of government and reduce waste.

[Real agenda: stop any repeat of something like Gillard’s mining tax. The Gini C (Gini coefficient, not to be confused with Gina R.) must be held high!]

 We support the introduction of term limits for all politicians and restoring the principal role of the Senate as the States’ house. Australian Conservatives support Senate reform including: having Senators sit in State instead of party blocks, having no Senators form part of executive government and constitutional reform to resolve deadlocks without recourse to a double dissolution election.

[ON THE NOSE: Term limits for pollies simply generates more of them, and the overall cost of them in post-parliamentary entitlements; and such limits restrict the right of voters to elect whoever wins the favour of the electoral majority.]

 Tax bases should be broadened and the tax law streamlined to enable lower tax rates, less complexity and reduced accounting and legal costs.

[ Real agenda: pass more of the tax burden by ‘broadening’ to the poorer levels of the population, while relieving the richer side, with the usual justifications, of course: so they can invest, create jobs, etc, etc. (Competitive conspicuous consumption we need not mention.)]

Individuals are far better placed to decide how best to spend their own money than governments. Our economy will be far stronger and more responsive to changes in preferences and circumstances when taxation and regulation are as low and as efficient as possible.

[Real agenda again: widen income differentials and skew wealth distribution in favour of the rich; enhance the nation’s Gini coefficient.]

 We will streamline the taxation system and reduce the number of personal tax brackets. To support this, we will rationalise the number of tax offsets, rebates and deductions, as well as standardise them and limit their accessibility.

 [So those who qualify must jump ever higher hurdles. Real agenda again: enhance the nation’s Gini coefficient, as above. Nothing is said about the ‘reforms’ introduced in the Howard years by Peter Costello, which cost the individual taxpayer time and money to set up, thus keeping the average mug out of it, but once up and running such a scheme pretty well makes paying tax an optional activity for the deserving rich and upper echelons generally.]

 We will remove the tax-disparity between single income and dual income households with the same income levels.

[Real agenda: we will work this as a cover for increasing the tax paid by single-income people (eg single mothers) as against that paid by couples. Social agenda supported: reduce the number of single mothers by forcing them back into relationships they would prefer to be out of. ]

We will streamline regulation by adopting a one-in, two-out approach to remove the red and green [!] tape strangling business, investment and job creation. We support having an annual Regulation Repeal Day.

[There is a ‘regulation’ that one must only drive on the left hand side of the road. Will that be one of those to go?

Real agenda: where there is conflict between the needs of developers and the natural environment, it will be the latter that has to yield. Or to put that another way: in any dispute over development, there has to be give-and-take. The environment rightly gives, and the developers just as rightly take.

Regulations are nasty, nasty! They should all be repealed!]

We support the removal of taxes and tariffs applying to new car imports, saving Australian motor vehicle purchasers over $1 billion a year.

[Real agenda: so that revenue shortfall can be passed on to those not in the imported new car market.]

By reducing the number of special tax categories, concessions and deductions, the tax law can be simplified and dead-weight accounting and legal costs can fall.

The extra revenue raised from such streamlining can be used to lower tax rates for all. By reducing distortions from taxes imposed, and freeing up resources for more productive uses, we can strengthen our economy.

[Real agenda: this again favours the rich, and enhancement of Gini (easily confused with Gina.) DEFINITELY ON THE NOSE.  Vide again COSTELLO REFORMS.]

We support the removal of all political indoctrination from the [education] curriculum.

(Depends on how one defines it. Real agenda: remove social critique of any kind from education. Teach kids to think critically and for themselves completely free of any examples of it. NB: this is exactly what they do in the Islamic world, with every Islamic country an economic basket case, without exception; and including those with oil money coming out their ears.]

Australian Conservatives support the return to tried and tested methods of teaching.

ON THE NOSE

[We live in an electronic age. Learners of all ages have to be able to search the Internet without landing on porn sites. Real agenda: education must not move with the times.]

 Educational institutions are now used as a way to channel political propaganda on our children (such as the discredited ‘Safe Schools’ and ‘Respectful Relationships’ programs). We believe such indoctrination is wholly inappropriate for a school environment and are committed to their removal.

[Real agenda: remove Left influence and indoctrination, including all social critique: but not the indoctrination of the Right, and of the Religious Right.]

We do not support any renewable energy targets.

We will remove all taxpayer and cross subsidies to electricity generation.

We will require all electricity supplied to the grid to be useable – that is, predictable and consistent in output (kWhrs) and synchronous (at the required 50 Hz range).

We will allow market forces to provide the most efficient power generation available.

We will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord

[This speaks for itself, without need for alteration.

We do not support any renewable energy targets, favouring coal.

We will remove all taxpayer and cross subsidies to electricity generation, favouring coal.

We will require all electricity supplied to the grid to be useable – that is, predictable and consistent in output (kWh) and synchronous (at the required 50 Hz range), favouring coal. 

 We will allow ‘market forces’ to provide the most efficient power generation available. [If renewables’ costs fall further, we will revise this.]

We will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  [Where it suits us to be, we are anti-science].

 Real agenda: we support already heavily-subsidised coal-fired power, and the commercial interests involved in it, but not renewables.

 NB: This planet has a one-off, never-to-be-repeated or renewed store of fossil carbon. About the most short-sighted and bone-headed use of this is for furnace fuel in electricity generation: unless we expect that our descendants will all be flying helicopters or hovercraft over their unsealed roads.

Australia should have the cheapest and most reliable electricity in the world. We have world-scale and world-class coal, gas and uranium reserves. Yet our electricity sector no longer reflects that.

Australian Conservatives are open to any form of electricity generation, and will provide legislative certainty for the ongoing use of fossil fuels.  We will remove the barriers to building more dams for hydro-power and clear the way for nuclear power as well as a nuclear fuel cycle industry.

Real agenda: pass all the costs of it, as far as we can, to the mugs. Nuclear power is not ‘cheap’ when all the true costs, including long-term waste storage and clean-up after the inevitable Three-mile Islands, Chernobyls and Fukushimas is taken into account: which is why investment in nuclear power has all but ground to a halt.

 Australia should also have the cheapest and most reliable gas supply in the world.

We will support landholders’ rights to allow gas production on their properties, and to a reasonable return for that access and extraction, to help ensure there are sufficient quantities available for our domestic and export markets.

Real agenda: incredible.

The GAB [Great Artesian Basin] underlies a large portion of the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) in northern NSW and southern Queensland…  It consists of layers of aquifers and aquitards [water-confining layers] ranging from 65 to 250 million years old, deposited in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods…

The GAB also overlies older geological basins, such as the Bowen Basin. These basins are deeper than the GAB and, in the case of the Bowen Basin, have a boundary that extends beyond the boundary of the GAB. The Bowen Basin contains older, deeper coal seams and the Fairview and Scotia gas fields.

https://gisera.csiro.au/more-information/frequently-asked-questions/the-great-artesian-basin-and-coal-seam-gas/

In other words, to get to the coal-seam gas, the drillers have to drill down through the aquifer and its aquitards, creating a serious possibility that sooner or later, the fracking chemicals and the groundwater will mix. The common assurance made is that the wells will be permanently sealed with reinforced concrete, preventing such contamination. However, Portland cement was only invented around 1820, so no concrete structure involving it can be older than about 200 years. [How many concrete structures can you think of that are say, a mere 100 years old?] But the gas wells will have to stay sealed as long as there is demand for artesian water: effectively, till the end of time.

By the time ‘concrete cancer’, natural acids in the groundwater, minor earth tremors and also major ones have weakened the concrete and made it porous, the coal-seam gas drillers will be long gone, and their descendants will likely be off overseas living the high life.

 So who will pick up the tab? Why, the descendants of those who were warned, but chose to do nothing about it, of course and as usual.

 Though there are a lot of hot contenders in this particularly tight field, this one has to take the gong as arguably the most short-sighted and brainless of all the AC policies.

Australia produces less than 1.5% of global CO2 emissions. Even if our emissions were reduced to zero, it would make no perceptible difference to the climate.

 [THIS ONE IS REALLY ON THE NOSE.]

Ideological obsessions with uneconomic renewable technologies to meet unrealistic emissions targets to prevent ‘climate change’ have made our energy unreliable and expensive.

 [Note the ‘scare quotes’. [And we may ask of course: Is that so? ]

 Targets and subsidies for renewable energy distort the market and disadvantage consumers. Australian Conservatives are open to renewable energy as an option for electricity generation but we oppose taxpayer and cross-subsidies to support it.

China produces 26% of global emissions, and it is the biggest GHG producer of all. So no country produces the ‘majority’ of GHG emissions. Australia’s 1.5% does not make “no perceptible difference to the climate”, even though it is refreshing to see AC’s and Bernardi’s admission there that there is climate change, and that CO2 and other GHG emissions are involved in it.

 The last time I checked, 1.5% did not equal 0%. Arguably, Australia thus produces 1.5% of the total world emissions, which is nothing trivial. Every emitting country, including China, at the top of the ladder with 26% of global emissions, can claim this sort of pseudo-trivial ‘minority’ status.

Australian Conservatives will scrap all taxpayer and cross-subsidies for electricity generation and allow market forces to determine the best outcomes for Australian consumers and business.

 [ON THE NOSE.]

[The above should read: Australian Conservatives will scrap all taxpayer and cross-subsidies for electricity generation (but not for fossil-fuel extraction) and allow market forces (and taxpayer-subsidy of outfits like Adani) to determine the best outcomes for Australian consumers and business, and to convert the fossil fuel reserves into harmless, non-global warming, plant-feeding CO2 as rapidly as possible.

 And what will our descendants use for road tar? Let them use cake, and eat it too.]

Migrants must be committed to making a positive contribution to Australia. Welfare payments will be limited in scope and duration to better encourage migrants to participate in our workforce, become a regular taxpayer and be self-sufficient. Those settled in Australia should contribute to our economy, not be welfare-dependent.

[Really? So the money not spent on their welfare payments can be spent on boosting the police forces in order to fight the inevitable increase in crime resulting from this half-thought and half-brained policy.]

 Australian Conservatives recognise the importance of the National Broadcaster to many Australians, particularly those located in rural and remote communities.

[ ! ]

We also recognise that a diversified and financially sustainable media industry is important for all Australians.

Australian Conservatives will merge the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

We will require the new, merged broadcaster to strictly adhere to enhanced charter obligations of balance and a diversity of views.

We will ensure that it puts a greater emphasis on rural and regional broadcasting and alleviating other important gaps in commercial media coverage.

[ON THE NOSE]  Real agenda:  ruralise and de-urbanise the ABC. So no more programs like Four Corners or Chris Masters’ demolition of the Bjelke-Petersen gerrymandered crony regime in Queensland: thus being truly ‘conservative’ of existing arrangements, no matter how shonky, antidemocratic and dodgy.

 The media sector in Australia and around the world is undergoing significant disruption and national, taxpayer-funded broadcasting cannot be insulated from these changes.

Australian Conservatives will merge the ABC and SBS into a single, consolidated broadcaster saving taxpayers over $1 billion per year with the savings dedicated to debt reduction.

 [Read debt and program reduction.

Real agenda: gradually defund the ABC and SBS, prior to selling what is left of them both off to the highest bidder, probably based overseas. A certain name springs to mind.]

 Australian Conservatives will give the consolidated broadcaster a greater rural and regional focus – to ensure that the few remaining gaps in the Australian media landscape, including providing critical information during natural disasters and emergencies, are well-covered.

[More of the same: See above.]

 We will reform the board arrangements and Charter of the current ABC and ensure that the consolidated broadcaster is truly impartial, unbiased and presents a diversity of views representative of the Australian nation.

 [TRANSLATION:  we will censor it, by tying it up in the same red tape we make a big noise about cutting. Real agenda: So goodbye to Four Corners, and anything anyone to the left of Genghis Khan might object to. ]

 Australian Conservatives will limit the consolidated broadcaster to two TV stations – covering news, current affairs, drama and entertainment.

[Real agenda:  that’s for starters: we will prune them on from there.]

 We will limit the consolidated broadcaster to two radio stations available nationally with local and national content.

Further, Australian Conservatives will limit the provision of online services by the consolidated broadcaster to on-demand viewing of the local news, entertainment and current affairs programs produced by the broadcaster.

[ON THE NOSE. Real agenda: deny the Australian people the right to read and publicly comment on current affairs on the widely read ABC online site. Confine such to the ‘proper channels’ such as Federal Parliament, through us politicians. And constituents’ letters thereto, which we are masters at brushing aside and filing in the Parliamentary Rubbish Bin.]

These changes will save taxpayers over $1 billion per annum which will be used to repay national debt. They will further strengthen the diversity of the media market by limiting the size, scope and reach of government funded broadcasting. 

 [ And generally dumbing it down.]

[ON THE NOSE: Incredibly, Senator Cory Bernardi or whoever wrote this for him, cannot see the self-contradiction in the above: we will increase the diversity of the media market by pulling one of the main players out of it.]

 The West is under a significant threat from ideologies that seek to undermine our way of life.  The gradual dismantling of Western culture in other areas of the world has left a vacuum into which alternate cultures have expanded and taken root. We will stand up for Australian values in the face of these threats, and will ensure that our heritage and way of life are strengthened and retained.

[Add: despite the similarities of our policies to those of the most benighted regimes in the Islamic world.]

 We will abolish the Australian Human Rights Commission. Rather than defending or upholding key Western liberties, rights and freedoms of the individual, this institution has become an expensive agent for their undermining, suppression and destruction, often in the pursuit of identity politics and political correctness.

[But on the bright side, it has provided highly-paid careers for ex-politicians and IPA urgers.]

 https://gisera.csiro.au/more-information/frequently-asked-questions/the-great-artesian-basin-and-coal-seam-gas/

END OF STORY

 

 

A BIT OF TROUBLE AT QUADRANT ONLINE

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on July 29, 2016

 

I have recently been involved in something of an online exchange at  Quadrant Online  (where I am a paid-up subscriber) with a participant who goes by the nom-de-blog of ‘en passant’. (http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2016/07/trump-vs-accepted-wisdom/#comment-17068).   Quadrant Online  is a ‘conservative’ site devoting itself to ‘conservative’ causes like opposition to mainstream climatology; opposition to Islam and increase of the Islamic population of this country; opposition to the Turnbull ascendancy in the Liberal Party and for an Abbott revival there. It also seems to favour trickle-down economics. In short, QO supports an assortment of causes; one or two of which I also support. (nb: NOT Tony Abbott.)

I am also a subscriber at New Matilda , a more leftward site which likewise supports a variety of causes, some of which I likewise support. (https://newmatilda.com/2016/07/28/mums-grandmums-and-kids-have-just-invaded-tanya-pliberseks-office-over-alp-refugee-policies/)

However, in the last 24 hours, there has been something of a cybersnafu in the works at  Quadrant Online . A crucial response of mine to ‘en passant’ disappeared into cyberspace. Repeat postings got the usual ‘looks like you’ve already said that’ site response. An email exchange with QO management followed, and I was told that other site commenters had had similar experience.

So I have decided to post the missing response here.

The discussion was on Trump vs Clinton for the US presidency. The immediately preceding comment from ‘en passant’ concludes as follows:

I thought you just had thought-bubble, but now I realize you live in one as you failed to answer the only question that really mattered. Trump or Clinton for President? As you failed to work that out when broadly asked I will make it easy for you: they are the only choices. Roll of drums …. and the answer is: ….?

In the absence of any (successfully) posted response from me, the site got:

 en passant

 July 29, 2016 at 11:14 am

Oh well, Ian, I think you have made your line of thought clear.

What I had been unsuccessfully trying to post in response was:

Trump or Clinton?

Gee that’s a tricky one. Let’s see…. (While I’m thinking, you might amuse yourself scratching some more through that dirt file of yours. But for that, you might have to find some sort of light down there under that rock you hide under.)

Trump if he becomes US President will have to make a lot of important decisions. But the only decisions of his that I have so far been able to find record of, all directly involve his own financial interest. I think that also may be the reason Trump has failed to gain any  enthusiastic  traction so far here Quadrant Online editorial level. Opinion here seems to be that he is the best of a bad pair.

But Hillary is married to former President Bill. And Bill took a magnificent decision in 1999 to withdraw the US support that the murderous Suharto regime had previously enjoyed re East Timor. That threw the balance in favour of East Timorese independence, particularly after the US Chief of the General Staff got on the phone to the Indonesian armed forces chief thug Wiranto and read him the  Riot Act.

I can’t see Trump ever doing anything half as principled as that. His first question would most likely be “what’s in it for me?” Nor can I see Bill dropping out of influence anytime soon. Can you, ‘en passant’ or whatever your real name is?

So…… Suspense…………. Drum roll…………Bagpipes in chorus…………. Heavenly Choir…………

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clinton!

AS I SAID, THIS WAS NOT ACCEPTED AT QUADRANT ONLINE http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2016/07/trump-vs-accepted-wisdom/#comment-17060

All pages should be listed at the right of your screen

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on March 21, 2010

 

If they are not, scroll right down to the bottom of this page, and you should find them there.

MacDougall’s Music

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on March 4, 2010

I am currently recording a new CD: Songs From the Shed. Those interested in my existing CDs can read more at my other WordPress site >>>

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The Serpent’s Alphabetical Directory

Posted in Uncategorized by Ian MacDougall on November 26, 2009
Carbon Abatement Submission (Senate Inquiry) CondensedThough air temperatures whether local or worldwide, daily or annual average, may for various reasons not reflect it, the world is none the less clearly warming. It is now possible to fulfill Lord Franklin’s dream and sail the Northwest Passage over the top of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific, at least for one month or so in the Northern summer. Possibly within the next ten years ships will be able drop anchor in an essentially ice-free Arctic Ocean, right at the North Pole. That together with the satellite altimetry data on sea levels  testifies to the rapidity of global warming, and of the onset of the positive feedback loops that can only further accelerate it. The safest assumption we can make, in short, is that we face a planetary climate emergency, requiring urgent economic reforms on a comparable scale to those which took place in Australia after the declaration of war in 1939…

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Kangaroos, Thylacines and Aborigines 1As in other areas of human history, inference is needed for the Aboriginal past not only because there are controversial and politically sensitive areas, but because the documentary record alone is insufficient for sound judgement one way or another. While some might find certain inferences to be politically (and mythologically) attractive, on close inspection they turn out to be too improbable for acceptance. Such, I argue, is the case with Keith Windschuttle’s thesis on the demise of the Tasmanians, which he applies also to explain the declines of the mainland populations, namely that the bulk of it was the unintended consequence of introduced diseases, rather than the intended consequence of deliberate frontier violence…

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Kangaroos, Thylacines and Aborigines 2 Beside European settlement, agriculture, rainfall and temperature, there is another, related distribution. It is that of the present day distribution of speakers of indigenous languages, mainly found today beyond the Europale. It shows that wherever Europeans settled, the native languages died out. The unavoidable conclusion is that conditions inside the Europale increasingly militated against aboriginal children learning their ancestral language in the process of growing up…

 The language decline correlates with the dilution of the aboriginal indigenous gene pool, as increasing numbers of people who describe themselves as Aborigines find themselves acknowledging, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, one or more Europeans in their ancestry…

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Kangaroos, Thylacines and Aborigines 3The British perception was that the macropods were wild in the country and belonged to nobody. The ecological reality of Tasmania and elsewhere was that the biomass of available grass and herbage in any one period of time could feed a related biomass of herbivores only up to a limit, which in turn could support a limited biomass of omnivorous humans, their dogs and a net population of wild carnivores. The latter included dingoes on the mainland, where they had displaced thylacines; thylacines in Tasmania, and also the Tasmanian Aborigines’ dogs (gone feral) as the aboriginal populations crashed. Settlers everywhere in Australia honoured these principles every time they set about clearing the bush to make way for grass; ‘clearing off’ kangaroos and emus to make way for sheep, cattle or crops, and clearing off Aborigines to make way for themselves…

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Kangaroos, Thylacines and Aborigines 4…Windschuttle’s Australia is one where the Aborigines went quietly to their fate as fringe dwellers of the country towns, and in marked contrast to their aboriginal counterparts in the Americas and New Zealand.

If there was no ‘warfare’ of whatever category involved in this transition, then the attendant and marked depopulation of the countryside and Aboriginal population decline can only be due to starvation and/or disease. Windschuttle won’t have starvation, but at the same time there are problems with the disease hypothesis that beg for a remedy, an explanation, or at the very least, a Band-Aid: which leaves warfare of some kind hanging around in the background.

And so we come to the elephant in the parlour of Aboriginal history…

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Night Vision and BipedalismThis raises the intriguing possibility that before the discovery of fire and the invention of the thorn-fenced kraal, our distant African ancestors attained their relatively longer legs by wading, swimming and climbing for shelter at night up or down rocky cliffs, bluffs and outcrops, where long non-grasping legs provide no great disadvantage. For the climbing of trees, they do. Getting to where the predators cannot reach you makes poor night vision less of a disadvantage…

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Plimer’s Climatology 101Plimer says that nothing humans do can affect the climate of the whole Earth, and that if it is warming, it is a good thing anyway.  Others disagree, and contend that climate change is occurring because of CO2 emissions. These latter were not put into the air for the purpose of warming the planet. Like the radioactive waste from the nuclear industry, they are a by product of another project entirely, to be justified after the fact…

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Plimer’s Climatology 102 At a point in the long distant past someone extracted what was found to be useful fuel from a coal outcrop, and the coal industry was born. Only since the work of Arrhenius in the late 19thC have questions arisen about the basing of the steel, power generation and other industries upon it. Established industry has understandably reacted to the IPCC reports and scientific concern about greenhouse gases with counter-argument and delaying tactics regarding the transition to alternatives. Ian Plimer’s book and his talk to the Sydney Mining Club talk are best seen in this context… 

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Plimer’s Climatology 103The total yearly biomass production of the organisms on Earth is on one estimate at around 170 billion tonnes (164 billion tons)  of which a third is oceanic and two thirds terrestrial: say 60 billion tonnes oceanic. Assuming this roughly to be 10% of the total oceanic biomass brings the total mass of all marine organisms to 600 billion tonnes, or 600 Gt. The potential total CO2 addition to the hydrosphere of 4210 Gt (assuming it all finishes up in the oceans) is thus about 7 times the total biomass in the oceans. That is indeed significant…

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Plimer’s Climatology 104…a two degree rise due to CO2 will produce a further two degree rise due to water vapour, making four degrees in all. The next domino to fall in this situation is the methane, locked up in arctic permafrost in Siberia and Northern Canada, and below the deep ocean floors as methane hydrates. In all those locations, it has built up from slow bacterial decomposition of organic matter. Methane is 45 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as CO2, to which it oxidizes in about a year after release to the air. The warming produced by this gas may in turn release the final nightmare gas, hydrogen sulfide. Plimer does not mention these potentially disastrous knock-on effects of methane and hydrogen sulfide…

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Plimer’s Climatology 105: Lord Franklin’s Dream Turned NightmarePope aside, there’s no need to ask which embodiments of human stupidity Plimer might have had in mind. He has spent the preceding 483 pages denouncing them: ‘activists’, ‘environmentalists’, Greenpeace… but above all, Sir Nicholas Stern, Michael Mann, James Hansen, Al Gore, Ross Garnaut; other practitioners of the alleged quackery and pseudoscience of climatology, the IPCC, the Royal Society, the signers of the Kyoto Accord… If the book’s index was any good I could look them all up.

But that is only half of the last sentence. I have an uneasy feeling that behind the rest of it lies the profound theological thought that there will be no runaway greenhouse or climate catastrophe, because God will not allow it.

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Plimer’s Climatology 106: His Lordship’s ListAt the end of his book, Ian Plimer hands over the keyboard to his lordship to deal with the question ‘What if I am wrong?’ In Plimer’s view Monckton (previously an economic adviser to Margaret Thatcher) had already dealt with it splendidly in a speech to the Local Government Association at Bournemouth, on 3 July 2008. So Plimer reproduces the speech in its entirety (with his lordship’s permission) on pages 489-493 of Heaven+Earth. We can take as noted the usual ‘ITS?’ (is that so?) in the margin against each one of the following points as they occur, and as well a ‘WIIFY?’ –  an abbreviated form of ‘what’s in it for you?’

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