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Caro’s flotsam and jetsam: doom, gloom and stupidity edition

It turns out that those on the Left side of politics are smarter than those on the Right … plenty of people claim to have god on their side … climate change could end us all in 20 years …

The Left and the stupid. It’s a bit of a dark time for those on the Left of politics these days, and given how far the rest of the world has moved to the Right, being even slightly Left of centre has never been easier. Anyway, those of us on the distaff side of things have to take our comfort where we can find it, particularly in the face of an apparent recovery by the federal government in the polls.

To my astonishment, I found my bit of comfort this week in the Daily Mail of all unlikely places, with this rather delightful bit of research concluding that left-wingers are smarter than those on the Right. Whether it’s better than most of the junk research we see in the media nowadays, I have no idea, but hey, it made me feel a little better for a nanosecond or two. As did this tweet from Salon.com editor-in-chief Joan Walsh:

It’s a phenomenon I have noticed myself, and if the Daily Mail story is anything to go by, perhaps it is genetic.

God bothering. Following on from the theme of stupidity, this short excerpt from a documentary by Al Jazeera English called The Abortion War, via Rachel Maddow, is utterly gobsmacking. In it, a Republican lawmaker who is trying to ban abortion admits that he has never considered why a woman might want an abortion. It’s one of those moments that just makes your jaw drop at the lack of thought some people put into their deeply held beliefs. Mind you, why bother to think at all if your god just hands you a list telling you what is right and wrong? Perhaps that’s why it’s such a relief to see some Victorian public school principals have finally had enough of indoctrination masquerading as education.

Having just finished reading Marion Maddox’s excellent book on religion in schools, Taking God to School, I was particularly sympathetic to the Victorian principals’ stubborn defence of secular values in secular schools. Maddox believes the true reason behind the push for “independent” public schools is so that churches and religious groups will be able to have more influence (Kevin Donnelly, come on down). Her point that the education agenda is not the stated one is supported by this piece by Francis Beckett from Inside Story. Mind you, Victoria has had one of the most devolved systems of public schools for 20 years, so perhaps there is hope for common sense yet.

They certainly need a good dose of common sense in Kansas. I am intrigued by the desire of those who wish to limit the rights of others to paint themselves as the victims. I still can’t make up my mind if this inversion of natural justice, in which the state of Kansas gives legal support to homophobia, is just stupid or terrifyingly smart. But thank whatever deity you believe in for the phlegmatic French — who fought a bloody revolution over the separation of church and state and so are not about to give it up in a hurry. They come up trumps in understanding that what is wrong is wrong, no matter what a god says. (Funny how gods of all stripes always save their worst for women, gays and other marginalised groups.)

Lament for the poor, the earth, us all. Speaking of marginalised groups, things aren’t looking too bright for the poor, according to this article by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times about “class warfare” and how the poor are losing. The future is also grim for 80% of the whole human species (not to mention all other life on earth) if this astonishingly gloomy article in The Guardian predicting the end of life as we know it within 20 years is anything to go by. Eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we will die, may well be Andrew Robb’s rationale for selling off the farm — along with everything else — but who would know, thanks to the exceptional secrecy by both sides of politics around the TPP.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but the more secrecy there is around an issue, the more anxious I become. My anxiety is sky-high over our treatment of asylum seekers, not least because of attitudes like this one from Scott Morrison, Minister for Misery.

Tweet of the week. Nevertheless, I am loath to finish on too gloomy a note (despite my general mood of black despair) so here are my finalists for tweet of the week.

I liked this pithy response to our new(ish) federal government’s delight in reviewing absolutely everything. Trouble is, after laughing at it, I suddenly had a sinking feeling that @didiKOz may have unwittingly given our Lords and Masters an idea….

 I also liked the brevity and truth of this witty offering from the eminently followable @watermelon_man:

But the winner for me this week — because he is obviously a parent after my own heart — is this:

Given the grim themes of austerity, despair and hopelessness that rather permeate the wash-up of this week for me, the gallows humour resonated.

Speaking of austerity, I leave you with this article about the absurdity of austerity in the face of natural disaster from The Huffington Post  — perhaps the climate catastrophes that are rushing upon us (just as the scientists warned they would) will bring this miserly, neo-liberal, only-a-few-lucky-bastards-are-ever-allowed-to-be-wealthy-or-even-relax era to an end (along with the world, of course).

Oh, and sign this petition to help get Peter Greste and his fellow Al Jazeera journalists released from an Egyptian jail.

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  • 1
    leon knight
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Great effort Jane - well done.
    I am trying to remember the wording and source of an old comment, along the lines of “I never meant to say that all conservatives are stupid, merely that stupid people are generally conservative…”

  • 2
    Marsha
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Being ensconced within the Right/Left dictum shows a high level of immaturity. Move on Jane and shine.

  • 3
    Alex
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Jane,

    Very sadly, in these days of shameful conservative rule, there is a lot about which to be dark! I do worry about those poor souls in New Guinea detention centres.

    To add to our worries, there’s a recently published book, called “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Reputedly based on sound research, I gather it makes chilling reading. I’m about to buy it.

    Mind you, that tweet you included at the end of your article, made me laugh! But, with so much of her life ahead of her, I’m now worrying about that three-year-old’s future! It never ends…except in might in 20 years’ time!

    Cheers, Alex.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Fear (of not being Right) can be mighty constricting?

  • 5
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    There are those - even at the ABC - that are overly prepared to give Morrison the benefit of the doubt - no matter how many times he leaves the cage he keeps his real feelings in, open.
    How long can they overlook his “admissions”?

  • 6
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Apparently Caro didn’t notice that the Guardian piece she referred to was from 2008. So only 14 years to go.

  • 7
    The Pav
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Caro

    I think the saying is “Not all conservative people are stupid but all stupid people are conservative”

  • 8
    Catherine Scott
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Re right-left intelligence differences the comments on articles, blog posts etc provide ample confirmatory evidence.

  • 9
    sharples peter
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    gee Caro, the right can’t be that stupid, the owner of the Australian just stole $980M from the public purse and no-one seems to care

  • 10
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    My questions about James Lovelock include:

    1. Is he Aspergers hence the high intellect life in a bolt hole?

    2. Rachel Carson is/was undoubtedly important as a founding figure of the modern environment movement and as a voice for ecological sanity, while I still find the media embrace of Lovelock bemusing. Is he nearly as important as Carson, or really just a big media reprise of their childhood fondness for Tintin and the Seven Crystal Balls featuring the genius nitwit Prof Calculus?

    3. Because things should come in threes - Does he prefer the world dies when he does? Is this the ultimate manifestation of egomania?

  • 11
    bjb
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    re “no-one seems to care”. I think those who know care, but are you likely to read about this in a NewsCorp publication, or from the Parrot etc ? Probably not.

  • 12
    Jill Baird
    Posted Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Originally a quote from John Stuart Mill, so even older than 2008.

  • 13
    MJPC
    Posted Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Jane,

    Interesting as usual however the end of the world is nigh just doesn’t gel. Whilst I am no climate change denier, and the facts of recent extreme weather is ample proof of the future, only probably worse how does he explain his belief in nuclear power (maybe getting a few $$$ from the nuclear power lobby?).
    I would like to hear how nuclear power stations are going to work with rising sea levels and that many (if not all) are located close to oceans for cooling water (e.g Fukushima). Maybe future plants will be built on wheels and towed inland as the sea rises.
    Doomsayers are as damaging in the climate change discussions as deniers.
    No recycling? I thought recycling was more about pollution, land-use and re-using resources rather than solving climate change is another fault in his arguments.

  • 14
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Jane - “distaff side”? It means “female” - a distaff being used in women’s biz of weaving.

  • 15
    leon knight
    Posted Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    MJPC - nuclear power should not be dismissed out of hand - there are SMR (Small Modular Reactors) starting to roll out now that are fully self contained (including cooling) transportable to site by road and rail and installed under ground, can be stopped and started on demand, even used to burn up nasty by-products from older reactors, and powerful enough to power cities and take the losses away from the existing grids….definitely worth having a proper look.

  • 16
    Posted Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    starting to roll out now’

    mmm.

  • 17
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Though nuclear power plant lifetimes may be as long as 80 years (www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201312/apsreport.cfm), even the high end sea level rise forecasts for that period are less than 2 metres. This is well within reasonable engineering capabilities on all but the most easily erodable coastlines, which won’t have NPPs on them anyway because they’re poor substrates for building on.

    The issue with recycling is it takes lots of energy.

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