Friday, 26 December 2014

Proof Australia must pay – and remedy in the most rigid manner

Whilst I have known for some time how southwestern Australia and Central Chile have experienced severe declines in rainfall over the past forty-five years, an unseen revelation from scientists in California is much more conclusive proof of the impact of Australia’s dreadful (and deadly) pro-freeway transport policies. Although there does actually exist some doubt about the nature of changes in Califonia, there is no questioning in southwestern Australia and little in Chile that these changes are one hundred percent man-made.
What as been revealed according to Time Magazine (from a study in Geophysical Research Letters) is that the present drought in California, which has seen Los Angeles receive only 12.01 inches (305 millimetres) of rain between July 2012 and June 2014, is the worst as far back as paleoclimatic records go. The journal says that this does not only reflect the low rainfall but hot temperatures due to Australian-produced (indirectly as well as directly) greenhouse gas emissions. This is admitted even in a more recent study that suggests LA rainfall will remain the same in the future – in contrast to Santiago whose eight-year average rainfall of 224 millimetres (64 percent of the virgin mean) is the lowest on record, and more so Perth where only two wet seasons in the virgin period had less rainfall than the average since 2006.

The basic issue is that not only does Australia have the highest per capita emissions and some of the worst policies – when it has the resources and the need to have the very lowest emissions and cleanest policies were its mining lobby controllable – but that its incomparably abundant land and fossil fuels relative to population means that, as other nations improve their regulations of greenhouse pollution, there is every incentive for polluters to set up operations in Australia.

In contrast, if it was Australia that was forced to cut its greenhouse pollution back, the very source of emissions in China, India, Europe, Japan, Korea and the Americas would be literally destroyed. Without the large deposits of structural metals from the Australian Craton – or having to have these moved emissions-free as ores to nations with reliable hydropower – the industrial sector of Eurasia and the Americas would have to completely change policies. Most especially, as I have noted before, it would involve much longer-lasting products to use less cheap mineral resources from Australia. Of course this would hardly be acceptable to the fashionable sectors of Enriched World society, where as Barry Schwartz in The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less and Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter in Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, the majority simply want to be different in a manner impossible if Australian raw material production was severely restricted. However, this severe restriction will do much more to save the Earth from catastrophe than all the regulations in Europe, East Asia, North America and the Southern Cone combined: by requiring frugality where nature demands it.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ – with two totally unexpected omissions

Over the time I have read them – and it is my belief that even vehemently anti-Catholic people should read the “BACVR” Right simply to understand and know them – I have become aware that American conservatives have come to believe that “activist” judges in the Supreme Court have used their power to expand government beyond what the American Constitution intended.

Powerful feelings about the sinfulness of artificial birth control and homosexuality (regarding which there does not exist a single landmark Court case pre-Obama) tends to make 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey regarded by “casual” conservatives as the worst court cases, and those two are certainly the most discussed in “politically incorrect” books on the Supreme Court. The view of these court cases – even with judges like Antonin Scalia – is not based upon Catholic moral viewpoints forbidding abortion, but on the belief that the issue belongs exclusively to the states. In fact, the Supreme Court has never so far as I know been petitioned by the Catholic (or other traditional churches) to rule laws permitting abortion illegal, although such a paper could certainly exist inside sealed Court archives.

Robert A. Levy’s and William Mellor’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ cases comprise instead (in chronological order):
  • Home Building and Loan Association v. Blaisdell (1934)
  • Helvering v. Davis (1937)
  • United States v. Carolene Products (1938)
  • United States v. Miller (1939)
  • Wickard v. Filburn (1942)
  • Korematsu v. United States (1944)
  • Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York (1978)
  • Bennis v. Michigan (1996)
  • Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
  • McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)
  • Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
  • District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)
What this list seems to confirm is that the “Millennial” generation, like the early “Interbellum” generation, is one that places great emphasis upon economic security at all costs, and that this tendency extends much further up the social ladder than just the working class.

Before the 1930s, the US – like Australia – had a distinctly religious and conservative proletariat of Irish Catholics forced out by the potato famine, but in that decade support for socialism (the dominant ideology of all working classes in Latin America and Eurasia) grew substantially as I note here, probably as a result of improvements to farming technology reducing the number of farmers in the Enriched World in favour of the more efficient Tropical and Unenriched lands. There is a possible element of “critical mass” in these legislations from both the 1930s and the 1990s/2000s (a residue from working classes radicalised by musicians like AC/DC, Metallica, Pantera and N.W.A. and perhaps the “New Atheism”).

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

An absurd look at a talented organist

Today, my brother returned for Christmas after a visit to China. On the way to the airport, Mummy reluctantly allowed me to play a recently-acquired copy of Roger Muraro’s rendition of Messiaen’s masterpiece Catalogue d‘Oiseaux. I had heard his rendition of Vingt Regards sur l‘Enfant Jésus before getting Muraro’s Catalogue d‘Oiseaux (which was actually recorded in concert despite not saying so) and, like other Messiaen pieces, its addictive and oddly accessible character shined through in the manner which listening for its intricacies and the natural images Messiaen aimed to convey completely distracted me from reading Edith Sitwell’s Selected Letters, which I also brought but only looked at two pages.

Being outnumbered one-to-two with my brother in the car, I was not able to listen to the second disc of Muraro’s Catalogue d‘Oiseaux on the journey home, but I did discuss it with my mother and brother, who have numerous severe criticisms of it – that it lacks rhythm and structure, that it is cacophonous, and that it lacks dynamics. It is true that Messiaen’s music – though it is strangely accessible – does lack conventional senses of rhythm and structure and has an extensive use of chromatic notes as can be seen in the bewildering texts which I simply could not play! However, the sense of dynamics make most older classical music sound unemotional, monotone and even soppy at times – the wonder of Catalogue d‘Oiseaux is the amazing range of textures, which symbolise the various bird voices of France’s landscapes. The quiet sounds of birds chirping – best seen with Carl-Axel Dominique’s rendition – contrast in the most wonderful manner with the louder sounds representing the alpine chough in the first piece. What my brother wrongly called blank parts are in fact slow and quiet passages, symbolising birds recapturing their breath after a song.

Perhaps being naïve and more importantly inarticulate (which my mother admits), I overstated some slight resemblances between real Messiaen and random noise on the piano, but tonight when my brother began to talk after returning home, the story became quite absurd. My brother said that Jennifer Bate – the premier interpreter of Messiaen’s organ works, who has won an OBE for her services to music –
  • drank milk from a bowl and ate Whiskas!
  • was owned by a woman who carried her around the world!
  • was quarantined on her entry to Australia!
  • had to have her playing of the organ edited to eliminate purring!
  • took drugs to keep her playing for long enough!
These are so ridiculous no words can be said – except that with organ music real Messiaen is actually more distant from a cat playing than with the piano. I don’t remember all the story but what I do remember is ridiculous enough I had to add it!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Not a “play” at all

Yesterday, after thinking so for a long time after it was suggested by a relative of mine, I actually emailed Benjamin Wiker to ask his if his 2008 Ten Books that Screwed Up the World was a play on John Reed’s 1919 Ten Days that Shook the World. The assumption that Wiker’s publishers took the title directly form Reid’s book I never questioned even though there are just too many lists of ‘Ten...’ to be sure.

Although Wiker – despite not being the “vice squad” type person one critic of his work said – is not perfectly responsive to emails and I admit without a grudge he almost certainly considers too trivial or too repetitive the majority of what I have sent to him, he did respond to this email form yesterday smoothly and said quite simply
“no, nothing at all”
So, what I’ve found is that I had a myth on my hands from my half-sister for six full years! It’s notable that one discussion of Human Events’ ‘Ten Most Harmful Books of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries’ did mention Reed’s book (these are just the relevant texts altered as little as I can):

Books unworthy enough but not listed by Human Events include:

  • Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (Mark Twain called it “the latest and best of all Bibles”)
  • Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (“Fiction calls the facts by their name and their reign collapses,” “the prevailing mode of freedom is servitude,” “the process by which logic became the logic of domination,” blah, blah, blah)
  • Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (critique)
  • Leo Strauss’s Persecution and the Art of Writing (“one may wonder whether some of the greatest writers of the past have not adapted their literary technique to the requirements of persecution, by presenting their views on all the then crucial questions exclusively between the lines”)
  • John Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World (“the author sleeps forever under the Kremlin Wall”)
  • Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (PETA awards an abridged version to new members)
  • Henry George’s Progress and Poverty (save for the Bible, said to be the most widely read book in the English language in the 19th century)
  • Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker
  • Michael Harrington’s The Other America
  • Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dillema
  • Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism (“although it is rightfully a critique of Nazism he argued that it stemmed from sexual repression. The book was a huge hit with the 60s generation and New Left and we now have social decay as a result”)
  • The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley (“death and brain damage, the human wreckage from the book can be found in many nursing homes today.”)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Egalitarianism versus global warming inaction

I have been of recent weeks investigating whether Australia’s dreadful record on greenhouse gas emissions may be related to absence of egalitarianism inherent in its unpredictable and low-productivity environments. I do not believe Australia’s dreadful per-capita emissions should ever be explained away in terms of distances. After all Australia’s extremely flat terrain is perfectly suited to high-speed rail transport that could eliminate most direct and indirect emissions from cars and airline, yet Australia lags fifty to seventy years behind most of the Enriched World in developing fast rail!

The notion that Australia’s extremely low secondary productivity and variable runoff – or superabundant flat land in a hot climate – compared to the young Enriched World inherently produces different cultures from the same initial settling population is one I have come to accept as potentially very true. This month, the CSIRO’s Jennifer Price and Zoe Leviston have provided a study that does show:
  1. the conflict between egalitarianism and global warming inaction
  2. how the extreme isolation of outer suburbs from a global culture contributes to greenhouse scepticism being entirely mainstream there
Titled ‘My country or my planet? Exploring the influence of multiple place attachments and ideological beliefs upon climate change attitudes and opinions’, Price’s and Lewiston’s article shows how a strong “nationalist” perspective and acceptance of hierarchies as mandated by traditional Christianity – especially Catholicism and Orthodoxy – among residents of “remote” suburbs contributes to denial of global warming.

The study pitifully failed to separate inhabitants of fringe suburbs, who because they are less dependent upon natural bounty for their livelihood are probably even more likely to be greenhouse-sceptic than rural people, from residents of inner cities. This would be particularly useful in the table asking “What do you think would be the economic impact on Australia of making significant reductioons in greenhouse gas emissions, as part of global action involving all major countries?” (though as Jan-Erik Lane shows, this action really should be confined to energy-producing Indian Rim nations), where it would certainly reveal whether climate-dependent rural communities really do understand man-made global warming or confirm to John Snarey’s prediction that highly variable hydrology is the prime producer of strong religious faith and potential belief that God will always provide rain regardless of how much greenhouse gases we emit.

The results do confirm stereotyped viewpoints that atheist and globally-oriented people are most concerned about global warming. This, of course, reflects the extremely developed sectors they participate in, which my previous posts emphasise as unable to build a stable civilisation, because economic change is too rapid to raise children and political demands too extreme.

Australia’s uniqueness compared to nations of the Enriched World – who share essentially the same soils, flora and fauna – undoubtedly should encourage nationalism, even if not warlike as in the fascism. Radical internationalism is unlikely to cover the core population of a nation specialising in primary production and which possesses large and mostly undiscovered quantities of resources glaciated or “collided” (plate tectonic activity) out of existence elsewhere.

The problems noted in Two Nations when Pauline Hanson emerged almost two decades ago have not diminished, and cannot whilst the suburbs and rural areas remain culturally and economically isolated from the rest of the world without being in any way self-sufficient (after all, low-input agriculture in Australia has been a known impossibility since the Austronesians saw our north coast). They will always seek to work with people of similar interests, and Price and Leviston have only confirmed what we know.