Saturday 22nd of February 2020

tell him he's dreaming...

happy

There will be fireworks to introduce the New Year... 2020.

 

Get ready for the first complete synthetic human brain, moon mining, and much more. Maybe robotic moon bases, chips implanted in our brains, self-driving cars and high-speed rail linking London to Beijing. According to a dazzling number of technology predictions that single out the year 2020, it's going to be to be one heck of a year. Here, we take a look at some of the wonders it has in store.

2020, of course, is just a convenient target date for roughly-10-years-off predictions. "It's not any more particularly interesting, in my opinion, than 2019 or 2021," says Mike Liebhold, a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future, and an all-around technology expert with a resume that includes stints with Intel, Apple, and even Netscape.

Liebhold now helps clients take a long view of their businesses so they can make better decisions in the short term. He and his colleagues at the Institute for the Future don't help clients read tea leaves but they do help them read what he calls the signals — those things you can see in the world today that allow you to make reasonable forecasts about what the future holds.

In other words, the year 2020 (and 2019, and 2021) is Liebhold's business. And he forecasts a pretty interesting world a decade from now. So what will the world look like in 2020? With Liebhold riding shotgun, we took a quick spin through 2020 to see what the future might hold.

 

Read more:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43015182/ns/technology_and_science-innovation/...

 

For Canada?:

https://www.quantumrun.com/future-timeline/2020

 

For Australia?:

MORE CRAP...

don't expect any miracles in your favour...

The Australian economy slowed in 2019 to its slowest pace in ten years as private spending growth collapsed.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) sees the economy being at a “gentle turning point” before a reacceleration in 2020. We are sceptical of the RBA’s optimistic forecasts and see Australian GDP growth remaining constrained around 2% over 2020/21 (see the forecasts table below), well below Australia’s potential growth of around 2¾% which means that spare capacity will remain a problem, keeping inflation and wages growth low. We outline our views for Australia in 2020 in this Econosights.

Read more:

https://corporate.amp.com.au/newsroom/2019/december/australia-in-2020

 

Meanwhile the Scumdoodoopolickson government will abandon you:

 

Governments should be judged not just on what they do with their time in office but also on what they don’t do.

There are only so many hours in a day, and so many parliamentary sitting weeks in a year (there were just 10 since the May election). Nevertheless it’s important to know not just what the top priorities are but also what’s been pushed to the backburner.

In 2019 the re-elected Morrison government prioritised income tax cuts, which passed parliament in the first week of July, the repeal of medical evacuation provisions for people in offshore detention, which passed in the last week of parliament, and drought relief.

But what were the reforms that were promised or proposed which have dropped off the political radar, stalled, or the government is accused of doing too little too late?

LGBT students in religious schools

What was promised: Discrimination law amendments so that no student at a private or religious school can be expelled on the basis of their sexuality.

 

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/28/what-happened-the...

 

 

MORE BUSHFIRES? MORE CO2 EMISSIONS? MORE DENIAL FROM THE SCUMSCUMSONS? MORE FOSSIL FUEL BURNT? LESS KOALAS? MORE DROUGHT?...

 

the resistance will have to continue...

Greta Thunberg made history again this month when she was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. The 16-year-old has become the face of youth climate action, going from a lone child sitting outside the Swedish parliament building in mid-2018 to a symbol for climate strikers — young and old — around the world.

Thunberg was far from the first young person to speak up in an effort to hold the powerful accountable for their inaction on climate change, yet the recognition of her efforts come at a time when world leaders will have to decide whether — or with how much effort — they will tackle climate change. Their actions or inactions will determine how much more vocal youth will become in 2020.

Thunberg coined the hashtag #FridaysforFuture in August 2018, inspiring students globally to hold their own climate strikes. Many of them argued that adults were not doing enough to address the climate catastrophe. Today’s youth saw themselves on the generational front lines of climate change, so they walked out of their schools to demand transformative action.

...

Rejecting adult inaction

The climate strikes are an example of youth becoming politicized, rejecting adult inaction and demanding more from governments. In the coming years, we can expect the climate movement to keep growing, become even more politicized and escalate the intensity of tactics.

When governments resist reasonable requests, decades of social movements teach us that activists escalate. We can look at the histories of the HIV/AIDS movement, the Civil Rights movementAfrican liberation struggles and “poor people’s movements,” which show us that when people get pushed out, they turn up the pressure.

 

 

Read more:

https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/12/28/year-resistance-how-youth-protests...

 

Read from top.

 

See also:

Fossil leaves suggest global warming will be harder to fight than scientists thought...

 

fighting the US army and capitalism with spoons and forks?

 

the cold facts about global warming...

 

when the fox and his minions are solely responsible for global warming...

 

for the #FridaysForFuture movement and climate activists everywhere...

 

meanwhile, at the fossil fuel front...

Climate Science

 

The science is clear: climate change is happening. We are the cause. We need to act now.

 

Scientists have studied global warming for more than 100 years. Thousands of experts have tested hypotheses, gathered evidence, constructed models, debated results, and reviewed one another’s work. Thousands of papers are written every year, produced from nearly every leading university and research institution on Earth—from Harvard to NASA and the US Department of Defense.

The consensus couldn’t be clearer. Climate change is happening. It’s caused primarily by the burning of oil, gas, and coal. If we do nothing, the world will become significantly less habitable.

We’ve lost precious time, but if we act now—decisively and dramatically—we still have a chance at avoiding climate change’s most catastrophic impacts.

----

When released into the atmosphere, certain gases act like a blanket, preventing heat from escaping. One of the most important heat-trapping gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is released when we burn fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas.

 

Once released, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for roughly 40 years, though its effects stay much longer; other gases, like methane, are even longer-lived. The cumulative effect is to raise the planet’s temperature. Heat from the sun that would otherwise escape remains on Earth, warming the oceans, land, and air. As temperatures increase, the planet changes. The seas rise. Droughts and wildfires grow worse. Extreme weather becomes more common. Eventually, entire regions become uninhabitable.

The more carbon dioxide we produce, the worse these and other impacts become—and the more difficult it is to change direction.

-----------

Scientists have taken detailed measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels since the late 1950s. They’ve also gathered in-depth records of past CO2 levels from sources like ice core studies.

The results? Carbon dioxide levels are higher today than any point in at least 800,000 years. The cars we drive, the fuel we burn for electricity and warmth, the food we eat or waste, and the forests we clear are the cause.

Temperature trends from around the world reinforce these findings. Every one of the past 40 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. The five warmest were 2014 to 2018. We’ve already warmed the planet by 1 degree C (1.7ºF).

Climate models successfully forecast these temperature increases, as well as other impacts like sea level rise and ocean acidification. The models now suggest that we need immediate, dramatic reductions in our CO2 to avoid catastrophic impacts—and that time is running out.

--------

The consequences of climate change are already here. In the United States, chronic flooding threatens coastal communities from Texas to Maine. Mega-storms like Harvey, Maria, and Katrina are increasingly commonplace. Wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and inland flooding continue breaking records.

Without immediate emissions reductions, these impacts will worsen. Globally, food and water shortages could displace hundreds of millions of people, increasing conflict and war. Entire regions of the world may become uninhabitable. Much of what we take for granted today—from productive agricultural land and reliable growing seasons, to coastlines and coral reefs—will change dramatically. Much will be lost.

--------------

The world’s leading voice on climate science, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), explains that the worst impacts of climate change could be avoided if we successfully limit global warming to under 1.5ºC to 2ºC.

Doing so will not be easy. Under current emission levels, we’ll likely exceed 3ºC this century. For a fighting chance at 1.5ºC, we need to reach “net zero” global emissions by 2050.

“Net zero” means that all the sources of heat-trapping emissions (such as burning fossil fuels) must come in balance with all the processes that remove heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere (such as the growth of forests). Achieving net zero emissions will require massive changes in the energy, transportation, and food sectors, as well as afforestation and new “negative emissions” technologies (such as direct air capture machines that pull CO2 out of the air).

Fortunately, we have clean energy and clean vehicle technologies today. We have scientific consensus. We know what needs doing. We only need to act.

 

Read more:

https://www.ucsusa.org/climate/science

 

Read from top. Picture at top by Gus Leonisky: smoke in Sydney.

 

Read also:

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/33287

 

We also need to look at :

 

Fossil leaves suggest global warming will be harder to fight than scientists thought...

 

 

the year in review from neil clark...


2019 was the year Julian Assange was hauled from the Ecuadorian Embassy into a high-security jail, Jeremy Corbyn suffered a heavy election defeat and Evo Morales was toppled in a right-wing coup in Bolivia. 

But the neocons didn't have it all their own way as in Syria, the 'regime change' operation was unsuccessful and in Venezuela, Maduro stayed in power. Let's take a month-by-month look at how the events unfolded.


January

Paris and other French cities are hit by Gilets Jaunes street protests (which continue throughout the year), but western Establishment media and politicians seem more concerned with events thousands of miles away in Venezuela as it looks for a while as if the anti-imperialist socialist government there is going to be toppled. In fact, the western elites acted as if Maduro had already been toppled, by anointing opposition figure Juan Guaido as President. EU bigwig Guy Verhofstadt tweeted on 24th January ' J Guaido is the only legitimately elected lead representative of the Venezuelan people'.  While the Yellow Vest protestors in France were relentlessly traduced- the protestors in Venezuela could do no wrong- even when they committed appalling acts of violence.  Repeat After Me: 'Angry street protests against the government in France, very bad!, angry street protests against the government in Venezuela, very good!'


February

Seven MPs announced they're leaving Labour to form a new 'Independent Group'  The punditocracy hail the new 'centrist' party as an SDP-mark two, yet none of the Not-So-Magnificent Seven are re-elected in the subsequent general election. However, according to some reports it was the threat of further breakaways that was successful in Labour shifting its line on Brexit, so you could say that if the aim of the exercise was to weaken the party electorally- it definitely worked.  


March

Anti-government protests in Hong Kong begin over an extradition bill and last throughout the year, peaking in June. The March 29th deadline for Britain leaving the EU is missed. Sixteen years on from the start of the Iraq War, the former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral The Lord West, fires a truth torpedo, by confirming that the invasion had been planned long before and that the WMDs charade was used to supply a casus belli. It's also the 20th anniversary of the unlawful NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, and an international conference and special ceremonies of remembrance take place in Belgrade. Al Boum Photo looks a picture as he wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup at odds of 12-1.


April

An old, grey man with a beard who looks like Ben Gunn from Treasure Island is dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His name is Julian Assange. The Wikileaks founder is arrested for skipping bail- for charges that were never bought. The clever-clogs pundits who loftily dismissed Assange's concerns of being extradited to the US, have egg on their faces as the US formally requests the prisoner's extradition and Home Secretary Sajid Javid signs the request.  Assange ends the year in Belmarsh jail, where his father has said he is 'being subjected to every sort of torment'.  

In Sri Lanka, 259 people are killed in Easter suicide attack terrorist bombings carried out by Islamist extremists. In horse-racing Tiger Roll, four-starred in my Sputnik Intelligent Punter's Guide becomes the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since the legendary Red Rum in 1974. 


May

The newly formed Brexit Party wins the European Parliament elections in Britain. The Conservatives receive just 8.8% of the vote, their lowest share of the national vote since the party was formed in 1834.  Yet under a new leader, they will go on to win the general election with 43.6% of the vote just seven months later, as Labour under Blairite and ultra-left pressure disastrously shifts to a pro-2nd referendum policy. Man City claim a historic Premiership /League Cup/FA Cup treble. Their 6-0 drubbing of Watford is the joint-biggest win in an FA Cup final since 1903.


June

The race to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader and Prime Minister begins, with Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove the leading contenders. Donald Trump praises the 'eternal friendship' between the UK and US as he comes for a three-day state visit, which includes the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.  Tensions between Iran and the US rise as the Iranians shoot down a US spy drone. But Trump backs down from a military response.

Chris Williamson's unfair suspension from Labour after condemning antisemitism is lifted, but then he's resuspended two days later after some express their indignation at the decision. Later in the year, Williamson wins a High Court challenge but he's prevented from standing as a Labour candidate at the general election and Labour lose the seat to the Tories.  

Liverpool wins the Champions League, beating Spurs in the final.


July

Boris Johnson wins the Tory leadership contest and becomes Prime Minister. He is the 20th Old Etonian to hold the office yet despite his privileged background he is able to present himself as a  populist political insurgent due to Labour increasingly taking a Brexit-blocking line.  The more Brexit is frustrated in Parliament in the autumn, the more Johnson's poll ratings rise. England win the cricket World Cup, while Novak Djokovic saves two championship points to beat Roger Federer in an epic Wimbledon final.


August

The disgraced financier, paedophile and alleged blackmailer Jeffrey Epstein is found dead in his prison cell just a day after more important court documents were unsealed. There's widespread speculation that he was 'suicided' to stop his case coming to court and protect the reputation of some very powerful people. The initial ruling of the New York medical examiner though is that it was suicide by hanging. However Epstein died, there's no doubting his demise was extremely convenient for some.


September

Robert Mugabe, the former Prime Minister and President of Zimbabwe dies aged 95. His legacy is mixed and highly contentious: he's hailed by many as a liberation hero and fearless defender of African rights, but also reviled by others as an authoritarian leader who presided over economic collapse and who stayed in power for too long.  The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg accuses world leaders of 'betrayal' in an emotional address to the United Nations.


October

The inquest of Dawn Sturgess, who we were told was killed by novichok poisoning in a perfume bottle, following the attack on the Skripals, is postponed for the fourth time, with no date given for it be re-opened.

Sturgess is the only person who lost their life in the events in Salisbury/Amesbury, but if the official narrative was true, why no inquest,  no charges, or no arrest warrant for her death?  Unsurprisingly, there's little or no media coverage of this very important story.


November

Evo Morales is forced to step down as President of Bolivia. 'It was a national and international coup d'etat' he says later and claims his ouster was orchestrated by the US to tap Bolivia's huge supplies of lithium. James Le Mesurier, co-founder of the 'White Helmets' search and rescue group in Syria is found dead in Istanbul following a fall from a balcony. He is said to have been depressed, stressed and was taking sleeping tablets. South Africa beat England in the final of the Rugby World Cup. Lewis Hamilton wins his 6th F1 world title,  there's still no knighthood for him in the New Years Honours list. Perhaps he should change his name to 'IDS'?


December

President Trump is impeached... and his poll ratings go up.

In Britain, the Conservatives are re-elected in the first December general election to be held in the country since 1923. The Tories have a majority of 80 as Labour's 'Red Wall' in its traditional heartlands collapses largely due to its shift on Brexit. After a major setback for the UK left, Jeremy Corbyn announces he'll be stepping down as Labour leader, while former Labour MP and staunch Iraq War opponent George Galloway announces the formation of the Workers Party of Britain.

Further leaks from the OPCW appear to vindicate those who were sceptical about the official US/UK narrative relating to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government in Douma in April 2018, which led to airstrikes from the US, UK and France.   Could it be that this was a replay of Iraqi WMDs, pushed by much the same people?  

Well, folks, that was 2019. What will 2020 bring? See my next column early in the New Year for some predictions.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar

 

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201912291077894358-2019---from-assang...

 

 

Read from top.

the bees are getting thirsty...

Garry Linnell is measuring the 2019 that could have been:


So you thought 2019 was a big year for startling breakthroughs and major news events?

It was bigger than you think. Here’s a quick wrap of some of the stories you may have missed, or forgotten…

January

A world-wide collaboration of scientists lasting more than three decades culminated with the invention of a new potato chip packet that makes no noise in movie theatres.

“This will change the movie-going experience for generations of film fans,” the scientists said in a statement.

“The new chip packet is lined with a new sound-deadening polycarbonate material that muffles all that irritating crinkling noise, allowing movie goers to hear all the dialogue at crucial moments.”

February

The International Society for Measurement announced the adoption of “bee’s dick” and “smidgen” as official distance units.

The society – the world’s recognised body for calculating measurement – said the new phrases would clear up uncertainty in language used by tradies and do-it-yourself handymen.

A “bee’s dick” would now describe anything between 0.32 to 0.5 of a millimeter, while a “smidgen” would apply to anything that remains annoyingly just out of alignment.

March

A new Australian movie was released that did not include Bryan Brown or Sam Neill in the cast.



April

Editors of the Oxford English dictionary called for the word “journey” to be retired from the English language because of chronic over-use.

“Enough!” the editors said in a statement.

“The word journey was once used only for the purpose of undertaking a trip. It is now used by chief executives to describe their new corporate culture initiatives and yoga teachers to describe their eight-week stretch courses. Marketing executives employ it because they think it makes them sound sincere, while obese people now talk about avoiding cake shops as part of their ‘health journey.’ Please refrain from employing this word in future.”

May

The Federation of Brewers and Baristas confirmed that only workers wearing long dark beards, black T-shirts and full-sleeve tattoos on their right arms would be permitted to make coffee at cafes.

Exemptions would be granted to those with ponytails and eyebrow studs who can make pretty leaf patterns in milk froth.


June

State governments around the country agreed to the mandatory installation in all cars of “speed guarantee” devices to prevent slow drivers from driving well below the recommended speed limit.

The device automatically picks up the speed of a car whenever it drops 10km/h under the speed limit. “This invention will improve life on our roads,” the governments said in a joint statement.

“The device will usually be placed at the rear of the car – probably beneath the hat of the white Corolla driver on his way to lawn bowls.”

July

The International Olympic Committee received world-wide acclaim when it dropped yachting as an event at the Tokyo Olympics because the sport “is too boring.”

August

Giant home entertainment retailer JB Hi-Fi was taken to the High Court after refusing to employ staff who were tattoo-free, had no facial piercings and refused to dye their hair green or blue.

The company said it would defend its right to protect its mandatory employee dress code.

September

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce accepted a $1 million bet from an online bookmaker that he could not make it through the rest of the year without making a controversial public comment.


October

Overweight late middle-aged men desperately seeking attention by riding loud motorcycles through quiet suburban streets on Sunday mornings faced hefty fines and possible jail sentences under new legislation introduced around the country.

First offenders would have to undertake mandatory psychological testing to encourage them to find new ways of overcompensating for their small penises.

November

Office workers who started sentences with the phrase “At the end of the day…” would have to deposit $1 in a “cliché jar”, according to the Workplace Ombudsman, who also warned of instant dismissal for employees ending sentences with the word “but” – as in “I had a good time, but.”

December

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce issued a statement on Facebook that he had turned vegan and would devote the rest of his life fighting for action on climate change.

 

 

Read more:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/12/31/breakthroughs-major-...

 

 

Read from top...

 

Meanwhile, the bees are thirsty. I will explain one day...

the year that went arse up...

How good’s Australia? Pretty bloody good, unless it’s burning or parched or you’re in aged care. Or if you’re Indigenous, or a child in offshore detention, or a journalist investigating war crimes. Or if you’re casually employed, wanting to buy your first home, or trying to police child exploitation and being thwarted by a serially negligent bank.

How good’s Australia? Pretty bloody good, unless you’re contemplating our faith in political leadership. “Satisfaction with democracy is at its lowest level since the constitutional crisis of the 1970s,” the Australian National University’s election study declared this month. “Trust in government has reached its lowest level on record, with just 25 per cent believing people in government can be trusted.”

In which case, the prime minister’s complacency might seem errant and smug.

 

A decade ago, Elke Weber, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, said the abstract threats of climate change cannot be comprehended by the primal part of our brain, which alerts us to danger but has evolved to discern only the most immediate and observable concerns. The threats associated with climate change, Weber said, “are psychologically removed in space and time. So cognitively, we know something needs to be done about climate change, but we don’t have that emotional alarm bell going off.”

This year, though, that bell was ringing loudly. When bushfires are more intense, more regular, and the window for safe burn-offs is more narrow, climate change is no longer a threat that’s removed in space and time.

The deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, is smart enough to know that concern about climate change is not limited to inner-city Greens voters, nor does it qualify someone as a “raving lunatic”, as he suggested in November. But this year, McCormack said: “We’ve had fires in Australia since time began.”

No one is saying otherwise. What is being said, and with decades of evidence, is simple: that man-made climate change is increasing the length and severity of our fire season.

McCormack – and many others – were aggrieved this year by the temerity of some to talk about climate change while the fires raged. The aggravation sounded a lot like America’s National Rifle Association’s, specifically its serial objection to anyone who demands gun reform after yet another massacre. “Now is not the time,” they always say. “These reformists are insensitive opportunists.”

MORRISON PROVED MORE CUNNING THAN THE REST. BUT CUNNING ALONE WON’T ELEVATE US, AND FOR A LONG TIME NOW WE’VE SUFFERED FROM PEOPLE MORE GIFTED AT ASSUMING POWER THAN ACQUITTING IT. WITH MORRISON, WE VERY LIKELY HAVE OUR SHALLOWEST LEADER IN MY LIFETIME.

But one might ask: When is the time? And one might answer: It’s gone. Like the United States’ guns – of which there are now more than people, with many firearms circulating in black markets – global warming required a global response decades ago. In lieu of that immensely complicated and unlikely achievement we have had spin and hedges and stopgaps and senate motions – as well as outright denial, and a kryptonite-like effect on leaders.

The civil obstructions of Extinction Rebellion activists have fuelled the culture wars, and given the Coalition a cover for vilifying anyone terrified about climate change. But, really, these wars are a distraction from the fact that few leaders – those who’ve accepted the scientific consensus anyway, and there are plenty who haven’t – actually believe climate change can be meaningfully redressed anymore, and certainly not by us, a middle power dependent on Chinese trade. A profound resignation masquerades as common sense and a victory for the quiet Australian. But the fires will continue, and so too the intergenerational bitterness.

 

It was the year of the miracle election. Yet Scott Morrison was not Jesus Christ but a gifted magician – a man who won a game by making invisible his party’s extraordinary ineptitude, in part by cunningly inflaming the public’s distrust of Bill Shorten. It was the old ad man’s greatest marketing triumph, and it conferred an enormous prize.

Morrison proved more cunning than the rest. Than Turnbull, Dutton and all of the Labor Party. But cunning alone won’t elevate us, and for a long time now we’ve suffered from people more gifted at assuming power than acquitting it. With Morrison, we very likely have our shallowest leader in my lifetime – a period stretching back to Malcolm Fraser – and his recent sustained silence during the New South Wales fires was almost eerie.

In September, Morrison enjoyed a state dinner with United States President Donald Trump, before snubbing the United Nations’ Climate Change Summit. Greta Thunberg, Time’s Person of the Year, was there and said: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Morrison responded: “I like [my children] to make up their own mind but I also like to give them reassurance because the worst thing I would impose on any child is needless anxiety. They’ve got enough things to be anxious about. I always like kids to be kids.”

You don’t have to be a parent to acknowledge the tenderness in the prime minister’s remarks: They’ve got enough things to be anxious about. The cruelties of peer pressure, for example, or becoming orphaned when your ship is smashed upon the rocks of Christmas Island. In 2010, when this happened to a nine-year-old Iranian boy, Scott Morrison, as shadow Immigration minister, sought to alleviate the boy’s anxiety by attacking the Gillard government’s decision to fly him to Sydney for his father’s burial. The bodies of his mother and brother weren’t recovered.

Earlier this month, we had the ultimate expression of Morrison’s concern about children: the repeal of medevac. Consider how sharply the government defined itself this year by the repeal. Now consider its practical importance. Regardless of your position, the issue is – practically, if not ethically – of second-order importance: the medevac law applied to just 600 people. The government was interested in symbolic triumph; now it’s been achieved, the country is fundamentally unchanged – that is, if we ignore the self-harm we’ve committed to our soul by making it harder for a few dozen very sick children to access proper medical care. But such is the moronic gravity of the culture wars.

 

For a long time, concerns about China have been dismissed as the paranoid confections of racists. Or, if you’re Paul Keating, you may dismiss such criticism as “pious belchings” – a peculiar way to describe the condemnation of modern gulags.

The endurance of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters has been remarkable this year, even if it has been allowed in part by Chinese restraint and a reluctance to commit another Tiananmen Square-like massacre before the world’s cameras. “Last weekend, our optimism was shattered as we watched in horror the unyielding forces of repression brutally killing the vision of youth,” then prime minister Bob Hawke said in his famous, tearful speech of 1989. “Unarmed young men and women were sprayed with bullets and crushed by tanks.”

Hawke died on the eve of this year’s federal election, offering Bill Shorten what seemed like an elegiac glow to his assumed victory. On election day, obituaries celebrated Hawke as exemplifying a kind of charming, authentic and effective leadership our political class is now incapable of creating, before the eulogies yielded to coverage of Shorten’s loss.

This month, in an affidavit first reported by The New Daily, Hawke’s younger daughter, Rosslyn Dillon, alleged that her father asked her to remain quiet about her being repeatedly raped by his friend, the late Labor minister Bill Landeryou. “She did tell people at the time,” Dillon’s sister, Sue Pieters-Hawke, said. “I believe there was a supportive response but it didn’t involve using the legal system.”

Elsewhere, Boris Johnson, the unprincipled leader of an unsettled and unpopular British government, won a triumphant majority, which included a swath of northern seats that had been glued to Labour for a century. Reconciling this will now be the work of the Labour Party, while accepting that a profound electoral realignment has occurred. History will not be kind to Jeremy Corbyn’s persistence.

Nor will it treat kindly the US Republican Party, which has unwaveringly supported Donald Trump during this year’s scandalous impeachment hearings, and will now almost certainly block his conviction in the senate. Trump has been more egregiously crooked than Nixon, but he’ll beat dismissal and is odds-on favourite to win another term in November.

 

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” so Dr Christine Blasey Ford famously testified last year before the US senate, as she detailed her allegation that the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her while they were in high school.

This year, a few awful details were also indelible in the hippocampus of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the Australian woman who alleges she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times when she was 17, and was sexually trafficked by the late billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Perhaps you’ve seen clips of Prince Andrew denying the allegations in a recent BBC interview, but they don’t properly reflect the bizarre sum. To watch the full hour is like watching a guilty child – one who has assumed an unctuous baritone to suggest his credibility – wriggle under the patient questioning of an adult.

As far as institutional mystification goes, though, the British royal family is bettered by the Catholic Church. In March this year, George Pell was sentenced to six years’ jail for the sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s. His conviction was upheld in the Supreme Court of Victoria after appeal, but the High Court has now granted leave to hear another challenge. The Vatican has reserved comment – as well as its defrocking of Pell, who remains a cardinal – until his legal opportunities are exhausted.

This month, the former commissioner of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Justice Peter McClellan, spoke publicly for the first time since he submitted his final report to the federal government two years ago. “I cannot comprehend how any person, much less one with qualifications in theology … could consider the rape of a child to be a moral failure but not a crime.”

 

As is now obvious – it’s been so for years – Facebook is history’s largest surveillance operation. The platform is easily manipulated, shares inflammatory falsehoods, broadcasts massacres, undermines media companies, exploits its market dominance, deceitfully harvests personal data – but is so large that it has eluded any meaningful regulation. “Why do Facebook’s laws of the jungle trump Australia’s laws of the land?” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese asked this month, while describing his own subjection to fake news. Rana Foroohar, author of this year’s Don’t Be Evil: The Case Against Big Tech, argues it’s partly because the social network is now too big to fail.

In July, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released what might be the world’s most thorough inquiry into big tech and its regulation – a 623-page report, containing 23 recommendations to government. At the report’s launch, the ACCC head, Rod Sims, was critical of Facebook’s and Google’s evasion of responsibility. This month, Scott Morrison promised to implement many of the recommendations, including a dedicated investigative unit within the ACCC, and a possible strengthening of the Privacy Act. In this, at least, Australia is leading the world.

In Trick Mirror, a much-discussed essay collection published this year, New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino wrote: “On the internet, a highly functional person is one who can promise everything to an indefinitely increasing audience at all times.” To live is to perform, Tolentino reminds us, but the internet accelerates and magnifies our performances, and now “our world – digitally mediated, utterly consumed by capitalism – makes communication about morality very easy but makes actual moral living very hard”.

As such, the internet is now largely a “feverish, electric, unlivable hell”, Tolentino says. It’s curious how often you read jokes online about how awful the online world is. The pose is one of sly knowingness. And it’s necessary because, on Twitter, what’s much worse than surrendering your time, spirit and selfhood to an addictive vortex is being thought to be someone without an ironic awareness of these risks. Perhaps the pose was a correction to the glib optimism of early social-media evangelists? Either way, there are two major reckonings to be had with big tech – one by the state and another by the individual.

 

When I learnt of Clive James’s death last month, I sentimentally resumed his series of memoirs. The first book in the series, Unreliable Memoirs (1980), greatly enhanced James’s fame by effervescently describing his Sydney childhood with near-perfect sentences, and gifting us the literary equivalent of Basil Fawlty thrashing his dud Austin: the tale of the dunny man. It’s a wonderful book.

But the series offers diminishing returns. Forty pages into May Week Was in June, the third volume, there casually appears, among the ceaseless, ingratiating crackle of one-liners, a reference to a spate of student suicides at Cambridge. It’s jarring, but more jarring is that the deaths don’t hold James’s interest as much as, well, anything else – booze, say, or the subjects of his lusty gaze. He’s done with it in a few sentences, before resuming his repartee. James could be “monstrously glib”, wrote the critic Christopher Tayler. And he could.

 

Read more:

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2019/12/21/2019-the-year-that-was/15...

 

 

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For Gus — apart from burning houses and deaths, being parched or in a lousy aged care system, being Indigenous, being a child in offshore detention, a journalist investigating war crimes, a casually employed finding hard to make ends meet, wanting to buy a first home, or trying to prevent child exploitation and being thwarted by a serially negligent bank or being Clive James — the death that will leave us empty is that of "Greedy" Smith. The ABC concert of the decades had a small dedicated segment to "Greedy", before the most spectacular fireworks, which might have been superseded by the Drones of Shanghai.

 

Sure there were too many other deaths from stupid wars and conflicts— many deaths of ordinary people who should be recognised for having existed but won't be because history prefers famous people and fake influencers. In the case of "Greedy", it seems his life became dedicated to bringing pure joy and honest smiles to other people. This was an amazing feat in this age of deceit...