Selective media

6

Petri dishes are often used to make agar plates, made up of nutrient materials, for microbiology studies. Agar plates may be formulated as either permissive (or undefined), with the intent of allowing the growth of whatever organisms are present; or restrictive or selective (or defined), with the intent of only allowing growth a particular subset of those organisms. Defined media can be precisely tailored to select organisms with specific properties.

Recently been having some work done in garden. A Bobcat with a wicked looking “Ripper” attachment (“Rip through tough, hard-packed, and frozen material with the powerful force of the ripper attachment. The single-point tooth design delivers optimum penetration through tough soil, frozen ground, and root systems with rugged force.”) has been turning over the ground, while soon a shitload of manure will arrive and be spread over and into the now loosened soil. Then the landscape will be ready for, receptive to, the planting of new trees which would have had no chance of surviving in the original growth medium of the garden. And the new medium will be permissive, ready for a diversity of trees and shrubs and flowers.
image
Looks like Tony Abbott has issued his merry men (and Julie) “Ripper” attachments for their political bobcats. Rippers designed to rip through tough social fabric, the roots of political networks, and frozen progressive beliefs with rugged force, their single-minded obsession providing optimum penetration. Rip – science destroyed; rip – chaplains in public schools; rip – Medicare co-payments; rip – bring back British honours; rip – high university fees; rip – 6 months with no support for unemployed youth; rip – increase GST; rip – create a right wing curriculum; rip – no minimum wage; rip – decimate tax office; rip – ban all protest; rip – smash public service; rip – remove oversight and regulation of white collar crime; rip – promote monarchy; rip – destroy all parliamentary conventions; rip – remove laws against discrimination and racism; rip – destroy public broadcasting. And so on – feel free to add others.

They have been working away (with the help of the media) since 7 September, turning over Australian society, creating a medium in which to plant their ideology. Adding a shitload of horse manure from the American Tea Party. Producing a selective medium precisely tailored for one ideology – defined as the Randian Hayekian Friedmanite neoconservative laissez-faire unregulated nineteenth century dog-eat-dog world of 21st century America. Ideology which could not have flourished in the old unripped Australia. No other ideology, philosophy, ideas, views, will be able to grow in this restrictive medium. No power source except corporate power will be permitted to flourish.

Welcome to Australia’s neoliberal garden.

RIP Australia.

Old currency

5

What else can possibly be said about the worst Australian Budget in history that wasn’t said by Abbott’s smirk as Hockey screwed the students; his comment that they were going to undo everything the Australian Labor Party had ever done in government; and Hockey’s comment that they were going to get government out of people’s lives (given that the government is, or should be, the people, this translates as “getting people out of their own lives”)? Well, possibly this:
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Some of the people

5

The Tea Partyish “Liberal” Party of Australia politicians and spin doctors have realised that the voters are now irrelevant in a western democracy. You only have to satisfy some of the people all of time:
1. Media owners, especially R Murdoch.
2. Mining magnates, especially Gina, Twiggy and Clive
3. Right wing think tanks IPA and CIS.
4. American multinational corporation CEOs
5. Media shock jocks
6. Heads of IMF and World Bank

Perhaps a sum total of 50 people, 100 tops?

The other 23 million people in Australia are now irrelevant all of the time.

The Labor Party seems to have reached the same conclusion.

As have political parties in America, UK, France, Germany…
Discuss.

Substitute

9

All those photos of psychopathic morons proudly showing the bleeding bodies of lions, giraffes, bears, wolves, elephants they have blasted with high-powered penis substitutes? Guess they think we will be envious of their prowess.

Makes good people not envious but sick to their stomachs seeing these vicious fools posed with their killing machines with foot triumphantly on top of the body of their victims. Makes them determined perhaps to try to stop this evil.
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On the way to the Forum

1

The Romans knew that invading and conquering people was no good unless you could almost immediately get them to love you, at which point you had created a prison in which the inmates could be given the key, would keep themselves locked up with hardly any need for guards.

Basically they had discovered, 2000 years early, the proposition that no two countries with McDonalds (or in this case fish sauce) ever go to war with each other. That is, you bring Roman culture to the barbarians, and next thing they are too busy sitting in bath houses, and worshipping Roman gods, to go to war. And too interested in profits from trade with the motherland, and the status and luxuries that went with being more Roman than the Romans.
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Pixels made flesh

39

“What do we want?”
“A slogan.”
“When do we want it?”
“Now.”

Went to the Canberra “March in March” protest today, so need to write about it. Everyone else has written about their own experiences among the 100,000 plus people who marched in cities and towns all over Australia in last three days, so I should too. 100,000 people, by the way, virtually ignored by the media (except to complain about one or two signs, out of thousands, with a rude word or two, in order to discredit the event), but whose actions, just 6 months into the term of a new government, are unprecedented.

The Canberra event was much like the other events everywhere. It all had a pleasantly amateurish feel – no professional protesters or rent-a-crowd here. Ordinary people with no second names (“I’m Jim” “I’m Lisa” and so on) standing in front of an “open mic”, most clearly for the first time, saying in a few stumbling, and in one case tearful, words, why they had made the effort to come. Young and old, radical-looking and very conservative, men and women (about equal numbers), straight and gay, Aboriginal and “indigenous” (as one Aboriginal speaker put it), local Canberra and “from Goulburn” “from Newcastle” “from overseas”, healthy and not-so-healthy.
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The contrary assumption

1

Saw a quote yesterday, and, as is so often the case in my near-dotage, didn’t write it down in case I decided to use it later, which of course I did just 24 hours later. So forgive me a little inexactitude in the interests of a Meloncholic Muse. It was from a right wing politician in Australia (or America, Argentina, Angola, Azerbaijan…) bemoaning the fact that the Left in Australia (Albania, Austria…) liked to sign international treaties.

It was related, I think, to the Tasmanian election, and the determination of the Liberals to turn thousands of hectares of World Heritage forest into wood chips and scorched ground. Or perhaps it was related to the UN Refugee Convention. Or Human Rights. Whatever, it was related to the nerve of any agreement having the temerity to presume to limit the activities of an incoming Liberal government hell-bent on destroying whatever stood in the way of its neoconservative religion as surely as the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas that stood in the way of their religion.
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The buck stops here

5

“The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head.” (Aristide Briand (1862-1932)) Well, Aristide, Prime Minister of France 11 times, was certainly a Socialist when young, but perhaps felt himself as an international statesmen becoming more right-wing as he became older.

It is an aphorism that is endlessly quoted, with knowing smirks, by the Right, most famously by Churchill, trying to counteract the opposite observation – “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” – by John Stuart Mill. And trying to counteract modern studies showing that politically conservative people have on average a lower IQ than politically progressive people.

Not the point I want to discuss though, though related.
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Worth defending

7

This:

“In 1969 Robert Wilson, director of the National Accelerator Laboratory, was testifying before the US Congress. He sought funding for a particle accelerator (forerunner of the Large Hadron Collider at Cern where the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012). Asked by Senator John Pastore how his project would help defeat the Russians, he responded: “It only has to do with the respect with which we regard one another . . . are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets . . . new knowledge has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending.”

was sent to me by my old friend Rob Banks, who knew that I would enjoy it.

It made me think of this, from H.H. Kirst’s “Gunner Asch goes to war” (What, you don’t know Kirst and his great creation Herbert Asch? Shame on you. Rectify at once, if you can find it, and the later works):

‘Sergeant Asch said “I’m not going to die for this sort of Germany”
“But who’s asking you to?” said Kowalski
“There must be another Germany, which is worth dying for”
“Man!” said Kowalski “Perhaps one day there’ll even be a Germany which is worth living for!”‘

Something to bear in mind as we are in the year marking 100 years since the war to end all wars began. And in Australia we are just a year away from the commemoration of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops (as well as British troops) landing at the start of the failed attempt to invade Turkey. An event now commemorated by Anzac Day on 25 April, and said to mark the true beginning of Australia’s nationhood. An event so important to the Right in Australia that the Education Minister (a title impossible to use seriously) appears to want the whole education curriculum built around it.
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Phantom menaces

6

I’ve been watching, at long last, the three Star Wars prequel movies (yes, yes, I know how truly awful the first two are NOW, but you didn’t warn me, did you?). Something struck me as I watched the endless computer graphics supplying background to the endless special effect fight scenes.

It has long been a commonplace that the representation of “alien races” in science fiction always gets it wrong. In brief, for this is totally irrelevant to the essay, natural selection will work exactly the same way wherever life appears in the universe. And we know that physics and chemistry is uniform. So alien body forms can’t be just random collections of unconnected exotic features, and bodies are limited by physical and chemical laws. So Wookies, possible, Jar Jar Binks, not so much.

Where was I? Oh yes. Aliens are wrong, but so, generally, are the planets they are portrayed as living on. Many Star Wars planets are portrayed as having surfaces totally covered by cities composed of huge skyscrapers and clearly intended to indicate populations of billions of beings. It is an old concept in science fiction. I guess based on the ideas of inevitable massive population growth, endless technological innovation, and cities as the ultimate expression of human evolution and civilisation.
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