Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

our ship looks a bit tattered...


In our our little brain, lurks the particle of uncertainty that soon turns into the god of deception to be sure. This is only a metaphor to illustrate the way we get conned by others — and also by our self — because we are geared to believe in simple fragments since we’ve been little kiddies, in order to limit self-doubt to a range of socially accepted variations. Eccentrics are to stay on the sideline.

We assemble our beliefs like plastic cubes ("in my days" they were made of wood), until the stack collapses — or not, as we cheat and glue the bits together, under instruction from the Church. We’re smart. We’re fanatically connected, yet others might have glued their bits in a different order. They’re dumb. In this aspect, we’re all loonies.

Despite high technological connectivity in our modern age, we still suffer from fragmented isolation… We are isolated in “our” interpretation of the world, though some of the bits we believe in are bigger than others, and like plants in our garden, we cultivate them, though they sometimes (often) die to be replaced by others. Programs such as Facebook and others try to connect the bits, but more often than not we get connected to the fragments that have little introspection value, such as silly cat videos, and sometimes other bits become more imbued with voyeurism and dangerous low blow. philosophical enlightenment they're not.

This can become unsettling for young unformed impressionable minds. This can lead to bullying and suicide. At least when “we” (old foggies) were young we did not commit suicide. We just went on the battlefields to get killed for glory. We’re only back here to tell the tale, because “our” designated bullet, the one that was coming to kill us had been badly aimed and shot our proximal mate instead.

We follow some ideas, but often our commitment is a half-hearted conglomeration of broken bits. Arts led the way when in the nineteenth century, it had to reinvent itself in the face of “cheap” reproduction such as printing and photography — with photographs that could be better fudged than paintings. Philosophy was the first to suffer from fragmentation back then, more than 2500 years ago. Religious hubris and the successive seats of power soon allied to stop this philosophical questioning and to control humans under the fear of god. You had to believe in god and in the small value of your life, in order to die on these glorious battlefields, led from behind by ruthless psychopaths who called themselves kings and emperors. Popes were sociopaths. Still are. Religious leaders in scholarly Islam are sociopaths with a different array of psychological weapons and temporal punishment at their disposals to maintain the hubris. Religions stink.

And scientists also suffer from this fragmentation of interpretation. Yet while the religious men (most religious leaders are men, let’s face it) and the artists can fudge ideas and “interpretations" that do not make any sense, but look good for their arcane imagination, scientists have to “interpret” reality with a precise imagination that works the real path of matter, energy, space and time. Things become complicated: the composition of a lump of rock is simple enough but DNA is another level of complexity. This complexity is at the core of our inbuilt uncertainty. 

The relationships between scientists and other humans become fragmented by this complexity. It becomes much harder to create a complete image rather than say “god said” and leave it at that. Illusions are surface ripples. 

We thus get a fanatic Prime Minister Morrison who tells us that because he worked in advertising he knows best how to destroy the integrity of an operatic purpose in favour of a horse race with a huge prize money for the winner. 

I also worked in advertising — crassier advertising than his, perhaps — but despite my “mass market” expertise, empirically based on E T Gundlach’s effective rubbish, I know the boundaries of good taste and bad taste. Morrison does not. Yes, more and more philistines have entered the world of “make-it rich” since our democratic illusions took over the kingdoms, but the same fragmentation of the proper democratic base tends to make some of us, with a bit of respectful public education without being "precious" elitists, spew. 

So the leaders of the “free” world secretly dream of turning the masses into Cybermen (women, like batteries, included), to go and fight the Russian Daleks. Here, religions that used to work so well to entice the peasants to fight for the emperors has frayed a bit. New illusionary simple concepts needed to be invented in order to make you fight the enemy. "Skripals” and the interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections come to mind.

In short, the new simplicity comes down to "Russia bad — us, good” at the top of other confused simplistic interpretations, in which complex sciences cannot get a break. Even some scientists will work against other scientists, because “once they know” there is no re-evaluation of this knowledge. They become religiously supportive of a corrupting unscientific system, because of cash.

So far my rant is a bit obscure and confused. It’s necessary when considering the laws of averages. And, by being fully committed to an idea, does this make me a fanatic? 

Take global warming for example. I harp on about it like a cheap two bob watch as if I knew everything there is to know. I don’t, but the sum total of knowledge is more than that of the bits, in which feed-back mechanisms can derail our interpretations of the future. Doubt is unavoidable. Revisiting the numbers is necessary.

So daily, as Sydney's weather is crap — as decided by a playful punting god in order to make this "horse race of horse races" a fizzer or not (who cares?) — the breeders of the magnificent gleaming animals, the punters with top hats and pretty gowns, and the state that is betting on ordinary folks believing there is cash at the end of the rainbow, all this preventing the needed urgency of understanding the complexity of global warming as it becomes buried in a mass hysteria led by the media nags and shock-jocks who get paid by the number of crass words glorifying cash-for-horses — not in reading the ominous clouds.

Global warming is an ominous cloud on the horizon of our horsey party. We’re having a good time. We breed horses, we burn fossil fuels and life has never been so great. So what’s your problem? That the Opera House is turned into a crassy billboard? So what?…

Are we, the ordinary democratic punters, going to give up our daily fossil fuel that we use to commute, warm up, cool down, work, holiday in Pommyland and power our horse floats? Nupe. Unless we are told by our leaders we have to. And our leaders tell us they listen to us and they know we don't want to loose our comforts, but in reality they only listen to the guys with money and the multinational's burn fossil fuel hubris... The scientists are scared by this ignorance of trends. The main obvious trend is that our ship is getting a bit tattered. Our Great Barrier Reef is vanishing... No? Yes? Global warming and pollution are not small potatoes.

We're a bit at the stage before Mount St Helen blew up. We're making various assumptions. The Mount St Helen scientific consensus was that it would blow up but it was wrong: the mountain side blew up instead of the "predicted" top. BUT IT BLEW UP! It was massive. Yes global warming could be a bit like this but on a much larger global scale and we know it's coming but we don't know the extend of the full disaster. We're swimming in unpredictability.

That Easter Island gets polluted by milk-crates and micro-beads? so what? Get an army of Cybermen to go and collect the bits, or shoot anyone who disagree with the horse racing industry. Alan Jones is a chief Cyberman amongst them. He is a fanatic of the dictum and the chaff bags. His interpretational fragments are solid because he says so. It’s the power of goodass crass to the power of the loud splutter in the microphone that permanently reinforce his universal beliefs for which rich people give him cash. The more cash he gets, the rightiest he is. It’s a simple formula in which being right is self-generated. One cannot be wrong. It works.

Jones does not “believe” in global warming. There is no cash in “believing” in global warming. Global warming only means grief… and we’re really not sure about it. Are we? To make sure he is righteous on this subject, he will consult the oracles: Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, Ian Plimer and a kebab of other “scientists”. I placed quote marks around the word “scientists” here as these guys KNOW, while the purpose of science is to ask questions to which the answers are probable. For these knowing “scientists” (note: Lord Monckton of Breachley isn’t a scientist but a gross raconteur of fudged alchemies), knowing is like a religious belief in which cash is a lovely resultant as it flows from the fossil fuel industries into your “foundation". Since this cash enters this uncertainty equation, one must be right, is one not? 

At this level, our untreasured treasurer then, Morrison is an idiot. He told us so when he came to parliament with a lump of coal in his mittens claiming something like "what’s the danger in this?”. Actually what he said was "This is coal. Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared.” ... Fuck! My dad died from coal dust!

The full synergy of this proposition would have been that should the lump of coal, been “red hot coal” (as in burning coal) his mittens would have been suffering irreparable damage and the air around him would have soon be filled with CO2 and possibly CO, the latter one would have killed him very quickly, while the first one needed to escape into the sunny atmosphere to induce more global warming. 

But this is beside the point. 

The last showman is not about to retire we hope, despite all the efforts of the establishment to push him out and due to his own health scares. His only problem is his necessary self-doubt… Was the show worth the trauma, the privations and the kicks?

His audience — 1,594,565.4 podcast-followers and 71,863.7 Saturday midday-listeners, plus 30,000.6 for the repeats — is loyal. He tries to minimise the social hubris while promoting the importance of sciences, somewhat fighting against a dumb — getting dumber — political class. He had his own disappointment with the Ian Plimers of this planet who seemed to give up proper scientific questioning for the certainty of cash. 

At one point our showman was hospitalised for five weeks but continued to make The Science Show from his hospital bed. I am writing of course about Robyn Williams, without whom the human planet would have been so much poorer. 

Williams was born in Buckinghamshire, England, and educated in Vienna and London. He graduated from the University of London with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree. He was active in university acting and, like many other notable students, made guest appearances in the BBC series The Goodies, Monty Python's Flying Circus and Doctor Who. The list of accolades is long and yet the establishment is still gunning for him...

President of the Australian Museum Trust (1986 - 1994);
Deputy Chairman of the Commission For The Future;
President of the Australian & New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) Congress held in Brisbane;
Co-Chairman of the Biology Department at the University of Texas, El Paso.
He is a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales.
Member of the council of Voiceless, the animal protection institute
Williams is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the first journalist so honoured;
Williams has Honorary Doctorates of Science from Deakin University, University of Sydney, and Macquarie University and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the Australian National University
Honorary Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1988 (he has never taken out Australian citizenship)
Australian Rostrum Speaker of the Year (1993)
Australian Humanist of the Year (1993); awarded by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies
Reuter Fellow, University of Oxford (1994)
One of Australia's Living National Treasures;
Radio Prize from the Human Rights Commission
United Nations Media Peace Prize
Michael Daley Award for Science Journalism
Centre for Australian Cultural Studies National Award 1996 (Individual).
Centenary Medal (2001— awarded by John Howard)

And yet this guy still has self-doubt about his success or his failure. He recycles water, his clothes are still from the 1980s and he does not have a mobile phone, apart from a block of wood. Yet he could be far less eccentric than the rest of us, because he is conscientiously aware about what he did, does and will do — and is fully aware about global warming. 

May Robyn Williams self doubt stain the firm beliefs of an Ian Plimer into revising his stance on global warming. The planet does not have any feelings about this, but the calculable reactivity of the atmosphere and of the living surface will bite us in the bum. By then advertising on the sail of the Sydney Opera House will be forgotten. And it could be sooner than we imagine.

Our ship is getting tattered. See image at top by Gus Leonisky. 

Gus Leonisky
Your local eccentric