Monday 26th of September 2022

oil on water...

The ForstersThe Forsters

Benjamin Franklin was a polymath, a revolutionary and a lightning conductor. 

Wikipedia tells us:

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and a university.

And lots more. He was also credited as the discoverer of the "oil on water" effect.

And politics have a lot of oil on their waters. Actually politics have a lot of ugly sludge and dirty rubbish in them. But was Benjamin the true discoverer? We know that Aristotle and Pliny mentioned the "oil on water" effect and from my fuzzy memory, I can recall reading that most rough and ready sailors, even before the Renaissance, knew the trick to appease the seas, way before Benjamin was born. In regard to the time of Aristotle one can assume that it was all about selling olive oil (see our friend E T Gundlach).

An old American Journal of Sciences tells us that:

Oil spread on the surface of the sea, smooths the water, in some measure, as was noticed by Dr Franklin; and among the ancients by Aristotle, Pliny, and Plutarch, who mentions that the divers took oil in their mouths, and let it out under the water, to smooth the surface above them. In the Bermudas, oil is now used to render the water clear for fishing.

Dr Forster at sea in 1797 saw that the grease thrown overboard by the Cook affected the water to a great distance: and throwing overboard a quantity of oil, he found that it calmed all that portion of the waters. He adds, a teaspoonful spread over several yards : and explains...

Wikipedia continues on Franklin:


While traveling on a ship, Franklin had observed that the wake of a ship was diminished when the cooks scuttled their greasy water. He studied the effects at Clapham Common, London on a large pond there. "I fetched out a cruet of oil and dropt a little of it on the water...though not more than a teaspoon full, produced an instant calm over a space of several yards square." He later used the trick to "calm the waters" by carrying "a little oil in the hollow joint of my cane".

It looks that cooks on board ships have been responsible for the "oil on water" syndrome being rediscovered by modern scientists. The food on these vessels would have been quite bad anyway. Forster came later than Benjamin Franklin but was mentioned first by the American Journal of Sciences because he was the one having explained the phenomenon, though in a quite rudimentary manner with low scientific value.

Who was Forster? Forster was a polymath like Franklin. 

Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798) and his son Georg(e) Forster (1754–1794), polymaths, travelled as naturalists on James Cook’s second great voyage of exploration, on the Resolution between 1772 and 1775. Johann Forster was not a natural seaman, and his journal paints a sensitive picture of the hardships of the expedition as well as the peoples, animals and plants encountered on its course. The Admiralty barred Johann from publishing anything on the trip (secrecy of discovery), but Georg nonetheless wrote an outstanding scientific account of it that became a bestseller. Henceforth the Forsters were renowned as the European experts on the Pacific. Georg’s essay ‘Neuholland und die brittische Kolonie in Botany-Bay’ (1786) was an upbeat description of the geography, Indigenous inhabitants and resources of the nascent colony, for which he predicted a bright future — though it was not "colonised" (invaded) until 1788. His long essay Cook, der Entdecker (Cook, the Discoverer), published in 1787 as the introduction to his German translation of the account of Cook’s third, fatal voyage (1776-1779), was the first major contemporary assessment of James Cook, and it remains the only substantial account of the great man by someone who knew him well.

Though only recently published in English, Cook, the Discoverer is now recognised as the starting point for the vast academic and popular enterprise that Cook scholarship has since become. In the early 1790s, before he predeceased his father, Georg Forster reviewed accounts of the new land by Watkin Tench, Arthur Phillip and John White for German readers. In this way he contributed greatly, as did Johann Forster, to German interest in the Antipodes.


James Cook second voyage has been somewhat obscured by his first trip to the Antipodeans and his last voyage when he was killed by natives in Hawaii. But already, one can sense a certain political flavour in the Admiralty forbidding Johann Forster to report on the trip, mostly due, I believe, to the American revolution and the germination of an idea. Land grab.

See, on the first voyage, the Cook expedition continued northward along the Australian coastline, narrowly avoiding shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef. In October 1770, the badly damaged Endeavour came into the port of Batavia in the Dutch East Indies, her crew sworn to secrecy about the lands they had discovered. They resumed their journey on 26 December, rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 13 March 1771, and reached the English port of Deal on 12 July. The voyage lasted almost three years.


Secrecy was the key. Still is. The Establishment does not want the plebs to know. Documents are still being heavily redacted. Then there was no FOI and who leaked or blabbed would soon be hanged above the poop deck, after having been denounced as a liar. Nothing new.



Meanwhile, the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence and the Revolutionary War in the United States, was the armed conflict between Great Britain and thirteen of its North American colonies, which had declared themselves the independent United States of America. Early fighting took place primarily on the North American continent. France, eager for revenge after its defeat in the Seven Years' War, signed an alliance with the new nation in 1778 that proved decisive in the ultimate victory. The conflict gradually expanded into a world war with Britain combating France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Fighting also broke out in India between the British East India Company and the French allied Kingdom of Mysore.



The more one digs the more one finds the rattling skeletons of history... some of which have been buried in a hurry with barely a footnote... Some were buried alive.


Johann Reinhold Forster's son, Georg (George was his "English name") was an influential figure in Europe, despite having died young, aged 39. The family was of Scottish parentage but had settled in Poland.


Johann Georg Adam Forster was a naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist, and revolutionary. At an early age, he accompanied his father, Johann Reinhold Forster, on several scientific expeditions, including James Cook's second voyage to the Pacific. His report of that journey, A Voyage Round the World, contributed significantly to the ethnology of the people of Polynesia and remains a respected work. As a result of the report, Georg(e) Forster was admitted to the Royal Society at the early age of twenty-two (despite being a Scott from Poland) and came to be considered one of the founders of modern scientific travel literature.

After returning to continental Europe, Forster turned toward academia. He traveled to Paris to seek out a discussion with the American revolutionary Benjamin Franklin in 1777. Here we are... A roundabout: Benjamin and Georg

Georg taught natural history at the Collegium Carolinum in the Ottoneum, Kassel (1778–84), and later at the Academy of Vilna (Vilnius University) (1784–87). In 1788, he became head librarian at the University of Mainz. Most of his scientific work during this time consisted of essays on botany and ethnology, but he also prefaced and translated many books about travel and exploration, including a German translation of Cook's diaries.

Forster was a central figure of the Enlightenment in Germany, and corresponded with most of its adherents, including his close friend Georg Christoph Lichtenberg



Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1 July 1742 – 24 February 1799) was a German scientist, satirist, and Anglophile. As a scientist, he was the first to hold a professorship explicitly dedicated to experimental physics in Germany. Today, he is remembered for his posthumously published notebooks, which he himself called Sudelbücher, a description modelled on the English bookkeeping term "scrapbooks", and for his discovery of the strange tree-like electrical discharge patterns now called Lichtenberg figures.



Johann Georg Adam Forster's ideas and personality influenced Alexander von Humboldt, one of the great scientists of the 19th century. When the French took control of Mainz in 1792, Forster became one of the founders of the city's Jacobin Club and went on to play a leading role in the Mainz Republic, the earliest republican state in Germany. During July 1793 and while he was in Paris as a delegate of the young Mainz Republic, Prussian and Austrian coalition forces regained control of the city and Forster was declared an outlaw. Unable to return to Germany and separated from his friends and family, he died in Paris of illness in early 1794.



The relationships between the Europeans, the Americans and the English were tense. The Establishment was searching for new markets and new influences. The French revolution lasted about ten years from 1789 till 1799. While the American revolution, helped by Franklin and helped by the French went from 1775 till 1783. At the time the French king though it was a good idea to get one up to the Poms' Establishment. Then the let-them-have-cake plebs decided it was a good idea to get one up the French King as well. Meanwhile in "Germany", the new Mainz Republic was under siege.


The concept of a "republican ideal" — a government for the people by the people was a main threat to the old establishment of king, queens and monopoly of commerce. But fear not: War was the way to help mercantile activity with repeat business as well as fill coffers should you be the winner. People were barely pawns on the board. When the pawns revolt, things get a bit awry. The establishment has to find ways to regain the upper hand and of course lie some more and get people underfoot. 


Nowadays, the traditional grand families and new anointed ones of the establishment worked their way into people's pants — and after a long story, this is where we're at: sport on TV. The plutocrats rule once again, in America, In the UK and in Europe. 


The English never lost the plutocracy. But for countries like Australia, one must say, that before the Federation, strong republican sentiments boiled in the corridors of the press and of power in need of a new establishment to create a new "freedom". The situation was soon compromised with a constitutional monarchy, in which "some people" have the power to rule for the people. You are allowed to laugh. We all know that it's about the rich people ruling the poor mongrels.


The plutocracy of the right-wing in Australia is still controlling the gig, NO MATTER WHO IS IN GOVERNMENT. These days, the press is ruled by Baron Rupert of Mediocrity, in which critical analysis is mostly focused on destroying any ideals by the people. In Mediocrity, the traditional families "values" rule. It's Royal butter or nothing. Upstairs-downstairs, with a few entertaining tricks to keep you downstairs.


People like the Forsters were only titbit players who did not shake the establishment but could have. Imagine that despite Einstein's tremendous theory of relativity, we still have morons pushing Noah's ark as a reference point for our reality. Goodness. Let me cry.


But before getting here, that somewhere now called "Australia", the Brits had for quite a few years come to realise that their empire in the Americas was threatened and likely to be lost. Ideas of developing new colonies developed in the minds of some lords and royalty. "What about this land in Botany Bay? We need to claim it before the French do it, or before we loose our America. And Mr Forster has published Cook's secrets in German! Treason! And we have this huge problem with the Irish... who of course had sided with the Americans and the French in the revolution. Nearly 700 Irishmen fought at the battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.


In Australia, a few years later, we had the battle of Vinegar Hill in 1804, barely 16 years after the invasion, It was a rebellion of convicts, mostly Irish, which was won by the Brits since they had guns and the convicts had none. The battle was named after the Battle of Vinegar Hill in Ireland in 1798. The Australian Vinegar Hill battle was led by Philip Cunningham, a veteran of the Irish Vinegar Hill who has been deported to the Colony of New South Wales. Punishment and hangings kept the victorious Brits busy for a week.  


Meanwhile the natives of the land, were trying to fight the invaders back. But they did not understand the awful game being played, nor did they have the guns. Both the Irish and the English were basically savages, some with guns and some with a certain amount of literacy and numeracy. They were ruthless and committed atrocities against each other. When the natives got in the way, the colonials committed more atrocities. This is civilisation-straightening for you. Still is, these days by using psychological warfare. It's more discreet.


At the same time we had scientists of impeccable knowledge fostering ideals of people's rule for the people, but the establishment would have none of this.


This is why I think Johann Forster's work on Cook's second voyage was suppressed by the Admiralty. The English had in mind the appropriation of the great southern land — and they did not want anyone to know about its existence and value as a feasible colonisation hub. But Georg Forster published anyway, in German. The English people thus were deprived of great knowledge which, who knows, could have led to a revolution in London, so the Establishment hurried a bit. Ho hum.


One must know that it took a long time for communications in the late 1700s. Anticipation of mischief had to be the key on sending troops (red coats) anywhere around the globe.


Now, nothing can ever be perfect except in the minds of martyrs. 


Do we need to calm the waters? Not really. We need a revolution, but we're all too soft in the head and not scientific enough to resist the lure of a buck attached to a fishing line.


The legacy of Benjamin Franklin lives on nonetheless on opposite sides. 


The Franklin institute:


The Franklin Institute is a science museum and center of science education and research in Philadelphia. It is named in honor of the noted American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin, and houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Founded in 1824, the Franklin Institute is one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States.


We can cope with this worthwhile dedication. But we should not accept the following grab: The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity is an online nonprofit news organization in the United States that publishes news and commentary from a free market, limited government perspective on state and local politics. The Franklin Center publishes, a network of state-based websites.

According to the organization’s mission statement, the Franklin Center was founded "to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of a nationwide network of nonprofit reporters." Nicole Neily serves as the organization's president. 




The Franklin Center was created to make sure the establishment had a louder voice than the people's. The Franklin Institute is more true to the man. A scientific voice for all. Should Benjamin be alive today, he would be horrified that his legacy has been highjacked by CONservatives. The aim of this CONservative Center is to let free-enterprise rule the waves. And free enterprise means letting kids in Indonesia start smoking age two. It means fighting tooth and nail against the science of global warming, all without taking an official position. It is one of the voices of the etablishment.


The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity is a 501(c)(3) conservative media organization located in Bismarck, North Dakota that trains journalists and publishes political news and commentary.  Established in January 2009, The Franklin Center “supports and trains investigative journalists to advance transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in local government, and to spotlight free-market, pro-liberty solutions to difficult public policy challenges,” according to its website. The Franklin Center obtained non-profit status in June, 2009.




While the Franklin Center does not have an official statement on climate change, its affiliated news outlets regularly publishes articles questioning man-made climate change. Some examples below:


December 10, 2015

According to Roy Cordato, who writes in Franklin-Center-affiliated Carolina Journal, “Warming has actually occurred at a pace far below what any climate models have predicted,” (Citing Anthony Watts citing Roy Spencer.)

OF COURSE THIS IS BULLSHIT. We all should know this is bullshit. The actual models are very conservative in their calculations and the rate of warming has increased faster than predicted.
 Cordato claims there has been a “[…] 'pause' in warming, that is the flat trend in global temperatures over the last 18 — now going on 19 — years […]” (Citing himself, citing Anthony Watts, who reposted an article written by Christopher Monckton that finally cites Ross McKitrick).
 Cordato continues, writing that “global warming is not about data points,” but that this is a “a trick pulled by global warming alarmists over the last decade” (citing himself, citing Fred Singer)

OF COURSE THIS IS BULLSHIT. We all should know this is bullshit. Lord Monckton is a fraud. Fred Singer does not know anything and Ross McKitrick is a CREATIONIST for chrissake!




“There is a way for Nevada to fight back. Every business owner and electricity consumer in Nevada should encourage both Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt to join 27 other states and fight the Clean Power Plan in federal court.” — Michael Schaus, Nevada Policy Research Institute.


FIGHTING CLEAN POWER? WHY? Just because the PRESENT cost is calculated without accounting for the FUTURE COST? Is this BAD planning?






“I continue to contend that 'climate change' is a meaningless phrase because the climate obviously changes. But how? To what effect? It’s like saying 'baby change' about an infant. How? Is he well and growing? Is he ill?

Of course climate changes. THIS IS NOT THE POINT OF THE PRESENT PROBLEM THAT WE ARE FACING. The climate change is presently going counter-current to its natural ebb and flow. We all should know this is a meaningless argument. and a baby is not climate. Idiots... 
“'Climate change' is useful for political activism because, unlike 'global warming,' it can’t be tested.” — John Seiler,

OF COURSE THIS IS BULLSHIT. We all should know this is another meaningless argument.

Oil on water... We live in "information" bullshit times... "The Age of Deceit" and useless distractions, including advertising.


Entertaining boganism is our sauce...


Most people have no idea how they got there and they don't care a long as they're not in pain. They don't mind if their soldiers, under the cover of "just wars" go and inflict pain in others' lands. Our heroes are carefully chosen by the historians and their exploits are polished by the press and massaged by the politicians. We live in the fog of managed spacious ignorance.


Our heroes are cooks, not on ships but on the box battling out for a spot in the finals. It's comfortable. it's all we need. The Establishment knows best. We're rooted.


The traditions of the Judeo-christian momentum are being maintained by the establishment to make sure no-one rocks the boat. This is another big topic, all linked to the hydra of the powerful people. Malcolm Turnbull and Mike Baird are both "catholics" and anti-democracy. One is destroying local councils, the other is pushing anti-climate change propaganda without saying so. Malcolm is destroying sciences while talking of "innovations". They are both powerful idiots working for the Establishment.


Religious beliefs are used like oil on water... But should this religious values be loosing traction, other values have been developed as back-stop positions, like back-teeth on a shark. Some have even taken over the space between our ears: money, news, capitalism and debt — and the management thereof. Our right-wing expert sells it to us with gravitas. The rulers in the plutocracy have decided to give us the pill. The bitter pill with sugar coating.


The establishment has a foot in both camps and the Greens are private landowners. The revolution will never come. We are sheep to be fleeced. Revolutions are painful. Boganities rule... All's well.


Meanwhile should Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg  and even Forster or Svante Arrhenius be alive today, they would press the panic button


Global warming is real, dangerous and is anthropogenic. Pouring more oil on water is not going to solve this problem. The Franklin Center is a disgrace but unfortunately it is not alone. Our PM Malcolm Turnbull is trying hard to destroy sciences while claiming the opposite. Lying hypocritically is the privilege of the ruling bums. They have never stopped, we cannot expect them to stop now. Democracy is dead under the stomping of Baird and Turnbull in this country.


Where are our scientific leaders for our next revolution? The Benjamin Franklin of our times? They are being shot by the establishment and we barely survive trying to find an abode to rent without being stripped naked. 


And speaking of olive oil, mentioned by Aristotle and divers, our idiotic PM, Malcolm Turnbull, said at the market today (21/6/16) on the campaign trail: "Oh look at all these olives"... God, please kill yourself... 


Meanwhile, god, I mean Malcolm, has killed all our hope of having a great NBN in this country... Idiot. 


Gus Leonisky


Your local wholesome historian


vinegar hill...

vinegar hill



The article at top is a stub for a chapter in "The Age of deceit" by Gus. it needs development but I though it okay to publish anyway in its short format.

a republican despair...


I dinkum don't get Malcolm Turnbull's electoral strategy.

I say again, he rose to the position of the prime ministership on a broad coalition of progressive voters – let's call them the True Believers – who saw him as the best chance possible for the government to move forward on progressive issues like action on climate change, the republic, same-sex marriage and Indigenous recognition.

As also previously stated, I retain faith that, if he wins, he will get moving on all four.

But I reckon I am now in an ever-diminishing minority. So many of those people who would have voted for his party because of him, have turned away, shaking their heads, wondering how progressive Malcolm could now be going on about "Border Protection", seemingly as the main cut-through issue of his campaign, while progressive policy has not been seen for dust.


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It's not a con. Malcolm is a bumkun illiterate in scientific and social matters ... That's Malcolm for you. In 1999 his idea of a republic was one led by the Establishment and his mates of the elite. People had no say in what he was proposing, possibly under the tuition of John Howard who saw a nifty way of defeating the Australian republican notion by "instructing" Malcolm to toy with it... like throwing oil on water...

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the corruption of elites is not novel...



Of course, the corruption of elites is not novel in the history of great powers. The French monarchy at Versailles captured the essence of the deracinated elite, cut off from their social bonds, responsibilities, and cultural heritage. But Ancient Rome may be a better comparison for Washington. Winwood Reade, writing of dissolute Rome in The Martyrdom of Man, observed that its elites consumed the wealth of the provinces from atop a command economy, that the “carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.” America’s recent populist revolt suggests that the peasants in the provinces have at long last recognized the scent of the return cargo of their ruling class, even if relatively few are aware of the extent to which the Gulf States influence their nation’s institutions.

Houellebecq’s portrayal of French elites, particularly through the inner monologue of Francois, who conceals none of his own pusillanimity, is at once hilarious and demoralizing. In other words, Houellebecq’s work achieves its satirical purpose. Even when the reader arrives at the men of the French establishment submitting to the new order and its accoutrements (palatial homes, prestigious posts, multiple teenage wives), he must remind himself that this is satire and one is being asked to suspend his disbelief. Contemporary American politics requires another suspension of disbelief: One must believe that those guarding America’s sacred institutions are incapable of egregious betrayal. It seems America’s governed, with all the hideous wrath of the French peasant, are increasingly unwilling to suspend their disbelief.

Sir John Harrington, remembered principally for an invention that the Romans might have found more useful than carts, observed four centuries ago: “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” Houellebecq’s version of submission, the abject groveling of a subject at court, is a subtler kind of treason, in which the elites of Europe betray their own heritage—France, Europe, medieval Christendom, Western civilization—in order to survive as elites. It’s possible, as Gopnik suggests, that we will never quite arrive at the world created by the satire. Or perhaps we are already there.

Andrew Doran writes about U.S. foreign policy and human rights in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington, DC area.

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Painting at top: Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798) and his son George Forster (1754–1794) by Jean Rigaud.

The French/ Italian artist Jean Rigaud (1742–1810) trained in Italy, where he became a member of the Bologna Academy in 1766. Relocating to England in 1772, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and was made an Academician in 1784. Though painted in London, the Forsters’ portrait is set in New Zealand. Johann is depicted with a sprig of Forstera sedifolia tucked in his hatband and a bellbird (Anthornis melanura) in his hand; specimens of a wattlebird, a saddleback and a honeyeater lie lifeless on the ground.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, CanberraPurchased with funds provided by the Liangis family, the Ian Potter Foundation and John Schaeffer AO 2009Accession number: 2009.55


flipshit from the french filosofer...

I read Michel Houellebecq’s strange case for Trump. He made a few interesting observations, but this line is bizarre and wrong:


Trump is pursuing and amplifying the policy of disengagement initiated by Obama; this is very good news for the rest of the world.


No doubt there are many hawkish interventionists and a few Trump supporters that would like us to believe this, but I don’t see any evidence that it is an accurate description of Trump’s foreign policy (or Obama’s, for that matter). I agree that it would be very good news for the rest of the world if the U.S. were not meddling and interfering as much as we have in the past, but there is not yet any sign that Trump intends to meddle significantly less than his meddlesome predecessors. That is what some of his voters hoped he would do, but they have been thoroughly disappointed by the substance of administration foreign policy.

Houellebecq urges us to consider things “from the point of view of the rest of the world,” but I don’t think he does that. Maybe it isn’t possible for anyone from a particular place to do that, but I submit that this piece doesn’t make a serious effort. It is easy to answer Houellebecq’s assertion that the “Americans are getting off our backs” when we remember that the Trump administration has been threatening European companies and governments with punishment if they don’t adhere to the illegitimately reimposed Iran sanctions. Even leaving aside the arbitrary use of national security justifications for slapping tariffs on many of our allies, Trump’s Iran policy has amounted to attacking most of the world’s major economies over their legitimate trade with Iran. That isn’t happening because of anything Iran or its trading partners have done, but because the president made an arbitrary, irrational decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). That doesn’t sound like getting off the backs of non-Americans to me. Houellebecq also says that the “Americans are letting us exist,” but the millions of of Yemenis being starved as part of a U.S.-backed war that Trump has defended to the hilt would surely disagree. So would the tens of millions of Iranians subjected to collective punishment under sanctions that were supposed to remain suspended as long as Iran honored the terms of the JCPOA. You will not be surprised to find that the words Iran and Yemen never appear anywhere in the essay.


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