Climate Change is here to stay

With Dr Flannery being announced Australian of the Year and PM Howard’s water policy announcement, the politics of environment, climate change, and water in Australia is firmly front and centre stage of this society. I think climate change is here to stay. Worlwide population growth is also here to stay. The solution: our technology has to get better at delivering plenty of water and a more efficient high quality of living; and we have to become more disciplined about our waste. Rather than waste a lot of energy on toys, how about we work on becoming a happy society. Here is a great site about water and climate change with the Australian perspective ABC Message Board – Water – Topic List

Federer and Gonzales are playing the finals of the Australian open. I must go an watch them. Maybe, one day we will see gladiatorial sports as just a waste of energy. Maybe sooner than later.

Human Character from ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’

It must be a week of reminders of favourites from great authors. I actually kept the following posted on my wall at work – part of a coping strategy for working with a resistant bureaucracy. Personally I have gravitated toward the fool. Even tried it myself. But in the end I just found myself slobbering, so the writing was on the wall. I left the public sector and I’m much better now 🙂

Definitions of Human Character from Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

The Cretin: “Cretins don’t talk; they slobber and stumble. Cretins are of no interest”.

The Fool: “He wants to talk about what is in his glass, but somehow he misses. Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone. In their positive form they become diplomats. They offend all the rules of conversation, and when they really offend, they’re magnificent.

The Moron: Morons never do the wrong thing. They get their reasoning wrong. Morons occasionally say something that’s right, but they say it for the wrong reason. Morons are tricky. Plenty of morons’books are published, because they’re convincing at first glance. God chose to be unthinkable to prove that philosophers are morons.

The Lunatic: Is easily recognised. He is a moron who doesn’t know the ropes. The lunatic doesn’t concern himself at all with logic. Everything proves everything else.

Hard Times – Charles Dickens

Something reminded me today of a question that I read from Charles Dickens when I was in highschool (many years ago). Of course he didn’t make it a question but in his fabulous description drew out the salient irony that raises the question. The piece, from “Hard times” I quote below. The question that I see in it we do see every day. Perhaps I could ask it like this: Because we can decribe something, do we know it? and vice versa, If we know something, does it mean we should be able to describe it? So, what is knowing?

The selection:

“Describe your father as a horsebreaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say?’

‘Oh yes, sir.’

‘Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and horsebreaker. Give me your definition of a horse.’

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.)

‘Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!’ said Mr Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. ‘Girl number twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy’s definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.’

The square finger, moving here and there, lighted suddenly on Bitzer, perhaps because he chanced to sit in the same ray of sunlight which, darting in at one of the bare windows of the intensely white-washed room, irradiated Sissy. For, the boys and girls sat on the face of the inclined plane in two compact bodies, divided up the centre by a narrow interval; and Sissy, being at the corner of a row on the sunny side, came in for the beginning of a sunbeam, of which Bitzer, being at the corner of a row on the other side, a few rows in advance, caught the end. But, whereas the girl was so dark-eyed and dark-haired, that she seemed to receive a deeper and more lustrous colour from the sun, when it shone upon her, the boy was so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed. His cold eyes would hardly have been eyes, but for the short ends of lashes which, by bringing them into immediate contrast with something paler than themselves, expressed their form. His short-cropped hair might have been a mere continuation of the sandy freckles on his forehead and face. His skin was so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as though, if he were cut, he would bleed white.

‘Bitzer,’ said Thomas Gradgrind. ‘Your definition of a horse.’

‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.’ Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

‘Now girl number twenty,’ said Mr Gradgrind. ‘You know what a horse is.’

World Religion Day

Went to a World Religion Day function on Sunday 21st Jan 2007. Present were Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims, in just a small group of about 30 people. It was held at a Vovi Meditation Centre which is run by a vietnamese refugee from the 1970’s – a wonderful person. There were readings from many religions, even those not present, some recorded choir and a prayer sung in Motu (dialect of PNG). Everyone socialised happily around a vegetarian tea. Not only is there hope for inter-religious fellowship, it is evident that it can be achieved with all, maybe with the exception of very disturbed people.