Really, really glad
... that I'm not in Australia at the moment, as little Johnnie Howard has just passed Hawke as the second longest-serving Prime Minister and the media is apparently falling over itself to "celebrate".
As this article indicates, the fact that he even got elected in the first place was astonishing. But once there, he grasped the Daily Mail "scare 'em silly with invented or grossly exaggerated dangers" tactic, and used that well. Still, Lady Luck, don't you think this is enough?
As for the tsunami, well, what is there to say? It is a reminder that for all that the human race has accomplished in increasing its power over the environment, it is still puny in the face of the great natural forces. Greenhouse effect anyone?
On that subject, it is a pity that the US was unaffected - the demonstration might have done it good, at least if this London Review of Books article about the state of play on global warming in biology and politics is correct:
"A more sinister explanation for Washington’s resistance has to do with the centrality of military strategy in contemporary policy-making. Donald Rumsfeld and others like him have apparently calculated that climate change will enhance rather than detract from the country’s long-term security.
The US, with its flexible economy, temperate location, low population density and access to Canadian water, oil, natural gas and agriculture, would suffer less than other major countries as a result of climate change.
‘With diverse growing climates, wealth, technology and abundant resources,’ a report prepared last year for the Pentagon concluded, ‘the United States could likely survive shortened growing cycles and harsh weather conditions without catastrophic losses . . . even in this continuous state of emergency the US will be positioned well compared to others.’ (The report is available at www.s-e-i.org/pentagon_climate_ change.pdf.)
In comparison, China and India would struggle to cope with severe storms, decreasing agricultural production, energy shortfalls and mass population displacements, while the EU is ill prepared for the Siberian climate that would follow the collapse of the Gulf Stream, not to mention the waves of environmental refugees from North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East that would hit European shores.
If the weakness of one’s opponents is as important as one’s own strength, the emissions generated in the US by SUVs and climate-controlled houses could be conceived as an insidious weapon in a ruthless struggle for power.
Finally, a little bit of sanity, in an article on Understanding Terror Networks someone has actually done some solid-looking quantitative research on the nature of al-Qaeda networks.
Happy New Year!