Grifonaut - James McDonald


Author: James (page 2 of 2)

Sydney chokes under the gloom of bushfire smoke from massive fires on its outskirts

An angry response to Regime failure

A comment on ” ‘Mega blaze’: Several fires join to cover an area bigger than greater Sydney”, The New Daily 6 December 2019

I’m not suggesting that anything could have been done to prevent these fires unprecedented since European settlement. But Australian people have voted the Governments that deny climate change and act against the national interest and the welfare of the nation.

The likes of the Scum that is ruining the nation with vicious intent have been supported by Australians who endorse the facile, moral incompetence, and idiotic reasoning of MPs unsuitable for government, and who oppose every democratic principle.

Thoughtless voters have supported the absolute corruption offered by the various LNP governments – their inaction on climate crisis, their denial of what is fucking obvious to a microbe in a sewerage farm – their corrupt collusion with the coal mafia and other polluters, and their sabotage of any effort to ameliorate the effects of climate change. Let alone the failure of voters to put an end to the LNP’s espionage against the national wealth as it launders public funds into corporate treasuries. usually foreign, non-tax-paying obscenities, and the estates of the obscenely rich.

The malevolent fuckery of their NSW counterparts in cutting fire services funding in the face of a never-ending trend of record average temperatures is gob-smackingly irresponsible and morally culpable. It should be also a matter of criminality.

These corrupt flunkeys wantonly have ensured the nation is not fitted to deal with what confronts Australia and the globe from 300 years of unconscionable capitalism, such as these massive fires. Instead these mindless fuckers promote the religiously puerile, backwoods ignorance that denies science while the corrupt assholes pocket contributions from the coal mafia.

They produce no strategies to feed the nation in the face of the crisis that is overrunning the country and protect the environment but collude in sabotaging the Murray-Darling plan, for example. These amoral fuckers would be marched to the guillotine in former ages

If the people to not rise up and recapture their democracy they will live a life of suppression by the neo-fascists – absolutely evil representatives who fiddle and offer the empty inaction of thoughts and prayers in a squalid imitation of piety while they turn the nation into a new, corporate feudal system in a devastated environment. #NoInnocentBystanders

James McDonald
[original post on Facebook, 6 December 2019,
slightly edited]

Public interest journalism

I wrote this a couple of years ago in response to a Conversation article, Something is missing from the public interest journalism debate”, December 20, 2017. There has been some minor editing.

Hear! hear! “Clean information is as important to democracy as clean water is to health. But clean information is not just facts. Facts are apt to mislead and clean information requires journalists who are committed to providing a full picture.”

Not enough has been made of the fundamental presumption of democracy that citizens are engaged and that such engagement is a product of the possession of researched information about the elected representatives, their performance in dealing with all the principles of democracy, and that citizens are informed at all stages of the election cycle, not merely when political parties decide it is in their interest to produce policies once an election approaches.

This is why, in my view, the lies that politicians tell, the deceit, the misinformation, and the withholding of information necessary for a citizen to make an informed judgement on any issue sabotage democratic principles.

The emergence of propaganda as the primary medium of political language – the spin doctor metaphor – ought to be combatted by media committed to democratic principles. Instead political reportage too frequently dumbs down the issues, takes spin at face value, cherry-picks coverage – usually slanted towards sensationalism – allows corruption to fester under the noses of reporters supposedly in the know, is uncritical or even partisan in the presentation of “news”, carelessly expresses what is happening, and too often breaches journalistic ethics.

I might be an idealist, but in my view the social-democratic contract between media, their consumers and the State requires a commitment to the full picture if they are not to be accused of selling out their profession to commercial expediency, laziness, or outright propagandist partisanship.

The growth of alternative media outlets on the internet suggests that the failures of commitment that many believe characterises mainstream media is undermining the very profitability that newspaper, radio and TV proprietors seek and that they have lost in some cases. It suggests they are losing credibility as agencies for information and news. It is no accident that online versions of “The Guardian” in Australia and some US news outlets are thriving compared to News Ltd and even Fairfax papers in Australia and major hard copy news outlets in other countries.

The ABC and the BBC are finding increasing resistance to their alleged fall in standards as funds have been cut by the so-called conservative Regimes and government-owned media management re-engineers the their news role, suffering from some of the private media characteristics despoiling our democracy instead of upholding it.

The test for all media is to be one about upholding every one of the principles of equity, civil liberty itself, social justice, human rights, legal principles, sustainability, information, education and the socio-economic improvement of the nation for all citizens.

These are the fundamental challenges of democracy today and they have all been undermined by governments that have not had the scrutiny of “clean information” and informed analysis. Instead the declining journalist workforce and declining commitment to these principles has seen the growth of exploitation and encouragement of ignorance, prejudice over analysis, misinformation, and titillation.

James McDonald
28 December 2017

Living in the 70s life, the universe, and the human condition

Living in the 70’s is the name of a song and an album released in 1974 under the Mushroom label by the Australian band Skyhooks. My writing will not be about the 1970s but reflect on the nature of the human condition. Thus the words of the song resonate with the insecurities and challenges of having entered my septuagenarian years:

I’m livin’ in the 70s
I feel like I lost my keys
Got the right day but I got the wrong week….

Life has its grey areas and in my late 50s, life was a constant transition brought about by health, career-ending events, taking on new challenges, and – dare I admit it – my age

Now I am in my seventies I find myself coming to terms with the rapid transitions in what it is to be a septuagenarian. But, in 2017 I spent the half of every weekday in Italian classes in an Italian University with foreigners who are mostly in their 20s and 30s and that has once again set me on an accelerated pattern of identity formation.

In one of my careers I was an academic, which is a constant challenge with the universal critical question, “Why is it thus and not otherwise?” But one of the habits of academia was constantly reading myself – was my lecture good? Am I keeping up with my peers? Am I doing the right thing by my students? And my identity was strongly tied up with the nature of the work, its importance, the cachet of being a researcher, a teacher, and an academic and where I fitted in within the community of scholars generally and in my discipline. It is a habit of self-evaluation, which I have not lost.

My writing is therefore much more than the grumblings of a man refusing to grow old. It is to reflect on the important life questions which are critical for my readers of all ages. And for me.

James McDonald

Il mio cuore verde – reflections on living in Italy

Moving to Italy may be one of the craziest things I have done – or one of the greatest. The oldest house I lived in, in Australia, was a 1885 terrace house in Melbourne. I now live in a building that is really old, built initially in the 14th-century, 650 years ago più o meno. So my Australian sense of history – which otherwise only allowed intellectually for understanding anything over 200 years old, especially the tens of millennia in which the indigenous people of Australia shaped and husbanded the land – is challenged by Italy.

My sense of European and Italian history is evident in the stories written into the walls of the buildings through my windows on the other side of my narrow street and in the echoes of the oldest part of the palazzo in which my modern apartment can be found. The ancient civilisation that is Italian, Roman, Etruscan, and foreign occupations shape the diversity that is Italy and Umbria, the region where I live, the land-locked central region of the peninsula nation. Il cuore verde, the Green Heart of Italy, underwrites my daily experience of Perugia, its capital.

So too does my status as a straniero , a foreigner from the New World, the Antipodes, Australia and latterly also a British citizen appalled at the prospect of Brexit. And the more I learn about Italian life and culture the less I know. That sense of scratching only the surface of Italian life goes to very deep questions of identity, culture, perspectives, my admiration for Italians and the frustrations that embarrass even the most patriotic of Italians.

So much to reflect on!

Il mio cuore verde – riflessioni sul vivere in Italia

Trasferirsi in Italia potrebbe essere una delle cose più folli che abbia mai fatto – o una delle più grandi. La casa più antica in cui vivevo in Australia era una casa a terrazze del 1885 a Melbourne. Ora vivo in un edificio molto vecchio, costruito inizialmente nel XIV secolo, 650 anni fa più o meno. Quindi il mio senso della storia australiano – che altrimenti consentiva solo intellettualmente di comprendere qualcosa di più di 200 anni, specialmente le decine di millenni in cui gli indigeni dell’Australia modellavano e gestivano la terra – è sfidato dall’Italia.

Il mio senso della storia europea e italiana è evidente nelle storie scritte nelle pareti degli edifici attraverso le mie finestre sull’altro lato della mia stradina e negli echi della parte più antica del palazzo in cui si trova il mio appartamento moderno. L’antica civiltà che è italiana, romana, etrusca e occupazioni straniere modellano la diversità che è l’Italia e l’Umbria, la regione in cui vivo, la regione centrale bloccata dalla terra della nazione penisola. Il cuore verde, il cuore verde d’Italia, sottoscrive la mia esperienza quotidiana di Perugia, la sua capitale.

Lo stesso vale per il mio status di straniero, straniero del Nuovo Mondo, Antipodi, Australia e, successivamente, anche cittadino britannico accolto alla prospettiva della Brexit. E più imparo della vita e della cultura italiana, meno ne so. Quel senso di graffiare solamente la superficie della vita italiana va a domande molto profonde di identità, cultura, prospettive, la mia ammirazione per gli italiani e le frustrazioni che mettono in imbarazzo anche il più patriottico degli italiani.

Tanto su cui riflettere!

James McDonald

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