Shared stories

I have posted these on Facebook already but they definitely can make a post here.

The August Monthly is very good – better than July, which I found a tad light on.

Comment: The Australian Solution by Waleed Aly is available online at the moment.

… The current debate presumes there is no less brutal way to stop people smuggling, and thus prevent the loss of life at sea. But this is not true. We could, for instance, significantly increase our refugee intake from Indonesia. Many people who get on boats have already joined a queue, been processed by the UNHCR and been assessed as refugees. What they haven’t been is resettled. Indonesia harbours a large backlog of people going nowhere – around 10,000 of them.

So far this year we’ve resettled around 60 refugees from Indonesia directly. If the annual figure were, say, 6000 (which would doubtless help Australia achieve more meaningful co-operation with Indonesia on surveillance, processing and policing), the number of boats would decrease rapidly and no one would need to be mentally destroyed in the process. More asylum seekers might pour into Indonesia, but their prospects within the queue would no longer be hopeless; they would surely be less likely to risk their lives on leaky boats.

After all, we could absorb several times that annual number with barely a blip. We could make the humanitarian intake 100,000 if necessary, and we’d cope just fine. This would do more than break what the government likes to call “the people smugglers’ business model”. It would take away their clients altogether.

This will not happen. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because it wouldn’t work in the way we want…

Robert Manne’s A Dark Victory: How vested interests defeated climate science – isn’t that a rather ambiguous headline? – is also available online. Having followed the issue for some years now as a quick search here shows, I rather admire this article.

… For reasonable citizens there ought to be no question easier to answer than whether or not human-caused global warming is real and is threatening the future of the Earth. Thousands of climate scientists in a variety of discrete disciplines have been exploring the issue for decades. They have reached a consensual conclusion whose existence is easily demonstrated. Every authoritative national scientific body in the world supports the idea of human-caused global warming. So does one of the most remarkable collaborative achievements in the history of science – the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in which the research findings of the world’s leading climate scientists, as outlined in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, are periodically presented to and then accepted by the governments of the world.

If a citizen was not convinced by this alone, three studies have been conducted that reveal an overwhelming core consensus. In 2004, Naomi Oreskes published in Science the result of her examination of the abstracts of every article in the world’s leading scientific journals published between 1993 and 2003 that was concerned with global climate change. There were 928 articles. Not one challenged the core consensus. In 2009, two scientists from the University of Chicago published in Eos the result of a survey they conducted among a group they called “Earth scientists”. They discovered that among those who called themselves climate scientists and who had published recently in the field, 97.4% agreed with the proposition that “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures”. And, in 2010, the eminent climate scientist Stephen Schneider revealed in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that 195 (97.5%) of the 200 most published climate scientists were convinced by the evidence of anthropogenic climate change.

Consensus does not imply unanimity. Nor does it suggest that climate scientists are in agreement about the most difficult questions concerning either the past or the future – their calculations of temperature over the past centuries and millennia or their precise predictions about the pace and the nature of the changes that will be visited upon the Earth and its inhabitants as a consequence of the ever-accelerating injection of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It should go without saying that the existence of a consensus on the core issue of human-caused global warming does not provide any answers to the diabolically difficult public policy questions that arise for nations and the international community. What is clear, however, is that a rational citizen has little alternative but to accept the consensual core position of climate scientists. Discussion of this point should long ago have ended. That it has not is the most persuasive possible example of the feebleness of reason, the futility of argument and the failure of politics…

Today the people at The Monthly have added Why America Should Share Power with China — the complete text of Paul Keating’s speech to the Lowy Institute at the launch of The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power by Hugh White, reviewed by Malcolm Turnbull in this month’s issue.

Very different is this:


There is an article in the current Guardian Weekly on this – where I saw it – and also, it turns out, in The Age last month.

The crackle of a dial-up modem. The metallic clack of a 3.5-inch floppy slotting into a Macintosh disk drive. The squeal of the newborn Tamagotchi. They are vintage sounds that no oldies station is ever going to touch.

During the ’80s and ’90s the world bleeped and buzzed with the noise of consumer electronics – stuff like digital watch alarms and dot matrix printers – all so banal that you barely registered their existence.

And then they fell silent, victims of technology’s unceasing march toward a smaller, sleeker and less annoying ideal. Dial-up modems were supplanted by WiFi. Floppy disks begat CD-ROMs, which begat USB flash drives. Tamagotchi, the digital pet, wore out his welcome and was stashed in the back of a dresser drawer, never to hatch again.

Now these random bleeps and bloops have found a long-term home at the Museum of Endangered Sounds, a website dedicated to archiving and preserving the noises emitted by yesterday’s gadgetry…

The site’s founder, Brendan Chilcutt, promises that there’s more to come. In a photograph, he is seen wearing oversize glasses and glancing over his shoulder while typing code into a desktop computer. The museum’s mission statement, which he penned, is rife with purple prose pertaining to VCRs, cathode ray tube televisions and the Windows 95 startup chime. "Where will we turn for the sound of fingers striking QWERTY keypads? Tell me that," he writes. "And tell me: Who will play my Game Boy when I’m gone?"

As it turns out, he was never even here. Brendan Chilcutt is a fabrication, a nerd mascot dreamed up by the site’s flesh-and-blood creators, Marybeth Ledesma, Phil Hadad and Greg Elwood, all advertising students in their mid-20s who met while they were attending Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter (they have all since graduated)…

Finally, a local Wollongong story from The Illawarra Mercury.

A fired-up group of Illawarra residents are mounting a campaign to save their beloved postie, who they fear may be moved on because he takes the time to have a chat while delivering the mail.

Simon McGovern delivers mail on the picturesque Austinmer and Coledale route, and is well known for his human touch.

He has been known to hand-deliver condolence cards when he knows there has been a death in a family, rather than just leaving them in the letterbox.

Other times he makes an effort to save older residents the trip to the letterbox.

Mr McGovern’s fans liken the locally born-and-bred postie to a character from the TV series Get Smart – an agent called Simon the Likeable – and they say he epitomises good, old customer service.

One of the residents standing up for the postie is Julia Bianco (pictured with Mr McGovern), who lost her daughter Yasmina in a train accident at Coledale in 2011.

She said the postie had played a vital role in her daily life in the weeks that followed the tragedy, with his friendly face giving her something to smile about as she sat on her balcony.

‘‘I haven’t forgotten,’’ she said…

Mr McGovern, who is undergoing an internal disciplinary process, could not comment for this story.

An Australia Post spokeswoman said out of respect for privacy ‘‘it isn’t appropriate for us to comment on individual staff members’’.

‘‘We understand the important role our posties play in the community and we would like to assure the Coledale and Austinmer residents that we are committed to delivering their mail in a timely and efficient manner.’’

The postie is being supported by his union – the CEPU – and its NSW postal and telecommunications branch president Peter Chaloner.

Mr Chaloner said the disciplinary matters which Mr McGovern faced were minor and ‘‘petty’’, and seemed to stem from the fact Mr McGovern was taking longer to complete his round – because he took the time to talk to people along the way.


Simon McGovern

Seems to me they should be giving him a medal…

One thought on “Shared stories

  1. I could not agree more. Such characters are rare in today’s hectic life style world and they should be honoured and felicitated instead of being punished with “internal enquiries”.

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