28 June 2015

Renewables: ~ 59% of net additions to 2014 global power capacity

The link between global economic growth and rising carbon dioxide emissions due to energy consumption is weakening, REN21’s latest report tells us. This, it says, is largely due to China’s energy policies. REN21, The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century is a think tank linked to the UN Environment Programme. Carbon emissions were unchanged even as the global economy grew by 3 per cent compared with 2013, REN21 reports.

Renewable energy continued to grow in 2014 against the backdrop of increasing global energy consumption, particularly in developing countries, and a dramatic decline in oil prices during the second half of the year. Despite rising energy use, for the first time in four decades, global carbon emissions associated with energy consumption remained stable in 2014 while the global economy grew; this stabilisation has been attributed to increased penetration of renewable energy and to improvements in energy efficiency.”

http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/GSR2015_KeyFindings_lowres.pdf p 18

In short, world-wide, more renewables generation capacity was added than coal and gas combined.
“Renewables represented approximately 59% of net additions to global power capacity in 2014, with significant growth in all regions. Wind, solar PV, and hydro power dominated the market.”

In 2014, globally
·         the world economy grew
·         energy consumption increased
·         oil prices decreased
·         carbon emissions relating to energy production were stable
·         renewable energy generation increased by 59%.

http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/GSR2015_KeyFindings_lowres.pdf p 18

·         Australia is trashing its RET.
·         Abbott is trashing wind turbines.
·         the Government is trashing renewables’ jobs.
·         the powerful fossil fuel lobbies’ money is driving this Government’s policies.

When we are looking for energy, coal is dead; dead, buried and fossilised.

If we want horsepower it’s worth remembering that horses are renewable.

26 June 2015

We got some bad news today - First Dog on the Moon

This is really all you need to know, really:

And because I couldn't resist I posted a comment. Then one (gender-free) bloke commented on my comment.

Such was my emotional distress that I failed to notice that I'd committed a grievous editorial error, something that was covered in Editing I Lecture 1. Once it's posted ... :-(

Since you've made the effort to get to his page, you might as well read (look at?) First Dog's back cartoons. But be quick. Our beloved Prime Minister will be sending the ASIO quolls around  on Monday at morning tea time. Before you can say "terrorist" Mr Dutton Sprout will have him in the slammer for (no need for a time-wasting trial) sedition.

24 June 2015

Zaky Mallah on Q&A

Excuse me. I’m going to have a little rant.
Everyone has the right to speak but that doesn’t mean everyone has the right to be heard so don’t feel at all obliged to read further – even for clinical psychiatric reasons.

The Prime Minister’s response to Mallah’s appearance on Q&A on Monday was a brain storm dreamed up by his press office – pure confected outrage designed to provoke illogical hysteria. And it did so very successfully.

Abbott suggested that views contrary to his (god help us) opinion  are outrageous and should not be aired by the ABC. The god-fearing Murdoch ‘news’ papers fell into line copying and pasting the PMO’s press releases - such is the quality of their 'journalism'.

He implied that Australians cannot process the arguments involved in his so-called war on terror (when the poor goose meant terrorism) without help.

He implied that we, poor dumb fools, will blindly accept a comment on TV, that it could put us in mortal danger.

I resent the implication that I, and millions of other Australians cannot think. I think and I think Abbott’s statement was humbug. It was pure cant - hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, (ie typically of a moral, religious, or political nature). I think too that the man is an A-grade, viscious bully but that’s another matter.

What’s more his tirade against Our Aunty was delivered in front of ten flags – a record for patriotism – jingoism more like it. It’s particularly apt here that, as Samuel Johnson said, ‘patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’, even visual patriotism.

On Q&A Mallah responded to that intellectual luminary – so luminous he should be on the front bench - Liberal MP Steve Ciobo who told Mallah he would like to see him expelled from Australia because he’d been charged with terrorism offences and charged with threatening to kill a Commonwealth officer. The fact that he’d been acquitted by a jury was irevvelant to Ciobo. The fact that he’d threatened to kill an ASIO officer whose heirs and successors now buy him cappuccinos to chat over had escaped Ciobo. He was out to beat his hairy chest like any other self-respecting gorilla*. That – the comment, not the hairy chest – prompted Mallah to say that the Libs had justified many Australian Muslims to go to Syria to fight for ISIL. Malla’s reply was as silly as Ciobo’s and he should have left Ciobo hoist there on his own petard.

Amid the storm of faeces came this small comment in that dreadful leftist rag, New Matilda:

But I’m interested in this, where does that charge of threatening to kill a Commonwealth officer brought against Mallah leave Allan Jones promoting the death of the Prime Minister on 2GB a few years back? No frothing at the mouth from Abbott then. In fact he stood in front of a sign calling Ms Gillard Bob Brown’s bitch – text over the fires of hell? – along with those exemplars of sweetness and light, Mss Bishop and Mirabella.

There he is, now our Prime Minister, god help us (whomever she may be)

 Who will rid us of this troublesome (former trainee) priest and all who sail in him?

So, you expected a rant to be organised and well-written?
Gimme a break!

*Melbourne Zoo's silverback of the 1980s. Rigo, was an expert in two skills: beating his chest and  throwing gorilla shit. Hmmmm ...

16 June 2015

Professor Gillian Triggs

The Australian Human Rights Commission released a damning report into children in detention after the Abbott government came to power.

There followed a sustained campaign (orchestrated, I guess by the Prime Minister’s Office) the latest salvo which happened on Q & A (ABC TV) last night.

"Gillian, … that report of yours was seen by many … as one that … should have been done under the previous Government … but you chose to do it afterwards and that made it very political," Ms Bishop said.
"It has made you a very political figure. Therefore, you are subject to criticism," she said.

"My position is not a political one," Professor Triggs said. "We work according to the law at the Australian Human Rights Commission and we try to ensure that our evidence is accurate and well-founded. Unfortunately … many of our findings and recommendations are interpreted in political ways.


Part II—Australian Human Rights Commission
Division 1—Establishment and Constitution of Commission

11 Functions of Commission
(1) The functions of the Commission are:
(f) to inquire into any act or practice that may be inconsistent with or contrary to any human right, and:
(i) …
(ii) where the Commission is of the opinion that the act or practice is inconsistent with or contrary to any human right, and the Commission has not considered it appropriate to endeavour to effect a settlement of the matters that gave rise to the inquiry or has endeavoured without success to effect such a settlement—to report to the Minister in relation to the inquiry; and
(g) to promote an understanding and acceptance, and the public discussion, of human rights in Australia; …

To put it simply

a statutory officer does the job she’s paid to do. The Government sees that person's work as an attack on its indefensible policies. Without argument (slogans are not argument) Government ministers and the Prime Minister mount an angry, vicious campaign against the officer (whom they can’t easily sack) aided by compliant News Corp journalists and aimed at Herald Sun (et al) readers. A case of the unthinking right wing writing for the unthinking right wing using leaks and notes apparently provided by the PMO. The Prime Minister has resorted to the base tactics typical of those with no argument: bullying and ridicule.

Bishop trotted out the speaking notes others have used, so inevitably I was led to,
“I always voted at my party’s call; I never thought of thinking for myself at all”
Source: HMS Pinafore, WS Gilbert

Professor Triggs has a distinguished history in law and human rights. Which of her assailants come even close to that record? She is, for example, a Board Member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) and thereby Justice Connect. 

What is your problem Mr Abbot?

“Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, 
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!”
Source: To a Mouse, Robert Burns

Why the violence? 
Why your customary aggression?
Don't you know any other possible response?
Why don't we hear from you discussion (as opposed to trite three-word slogans) such as this?
Professor Gillian Triggs made an impassioned call for the rule of law at the 2015 human rights dinners.
Source: http://www.justiceconnect.org.au/gillian-triggs-human-rights-dinner-speech

15 June 2015

Wind Turbines: Ugly and noisy with other impacts

The quote:

"Now, up close, they are ugly, they are noisy and they may have all sorts of other impacts." 
Tony Abbott to Alan Jones 11 June 2015
 Source: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2015/jun/11/tony-abbott-alan-jones-2gb-wind-farms-renewable-energy-audio


The Bridge (Malmo - Copenhagen)

The scientific evidence:

"After careful consideration and deliberation, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans. Given the limitations of the existing evidence and continuing concerns expressed by some members of the community, NHMRC considers that further high quality research on the possible health effects of wind farms is required."


Scott Morrison

Christopher Pyne

all sorts of other impacts?
such as winding back the RET!

Greg Hunt
Tony Abbott

environmentally very friendly!

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra: Hennessy’s Beethoven

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Deakin Edge
Saturday 13 June 2015

Some people are given music for their birthdays. My mum was given a shiny new piano trio written by Benjamin Martin for her 90th. She can’t read it and I get lost at about page 1.5 even when Seraphim Trio are playing it. But she likes it because the first two pages of the manuscript hang in her room.

William Hennessy was given an auto-performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto for his 60th (he’s really quite young). It was a sort of self-gift because he’s artistic director of MCO.

In September last year the conversation went something like,
‘Next year we’re gunna do the Beethoven.’
Which number?
‘Nine. Just joking, just joking.’
Right. Who’s on the piano?’
You mean, Who’s on the fiddle?’
Right. Who’s on the fiddle?’
‘Me. It’s for my 60th.’
Ah! Right. And since you have a Melba complex, we’re gunna play it all round the State.

So we, the Saturday audience, saw and heard Hennessy’s wonderful birthday gift. The thing we didn’t see until the end was a second present, a Haydn’s concerto – or at least its second movement.

Young Mr Dahlenberg got a gift too: the conducting gig.

Everyone, including me, was happy, and that’s important. I’ve paid good pensioner-money for my seat so I hafta enjoy it.

Mr Hennessy didn’t need a white bow tie (and YMD knew he’d just look silly behind one) to tell us he was a master. We knew it from his quiet, absolutely controlled entry (I could see, mentally, he’d been away somewhere for a couple of minutes while the orchestra set the landscape for him) and we knew it in part, until we got to the second movement, from the cadenzas.

Beethoven had started slow because of the four notes of the tympanist (try arguing with the tympani) and I was worried until I realised YMD had it under control. He had the wonderful valveless trumpets – they had been a bit dominant in Haydn’s witty (the violins tune up in the fifth movement) 60th Symphony before the long break – under control too. He built the tempo gradually to that which is slower than many contemporary recordings (I can play this faster than you and bugger the definition) but I had no problem with that. It worked. It was a stately but exciting performance. Powerful.

Beethoven Violin Concerto Op. 61 1st mvt

The second and third movements (no break) built to pure magic. Everyone knew what they were doing. The baroque trumpets, less harsh than a modern trumpet, welded themselves to the bassoon and the horns as if they’d been bred together. The strings, of course, were flawless but we knew that would be the case before they came on stage. Hennessy was totally master here. It was as if legato was his middle name and that, with his controlled phrasing, made the second emotionally intense.

Beethoven Violin Concerto Op. 61 2nd mvt

If that wasn’t enough, the encore piece, the second, adagio movement of Haydn’s C major concerto followed.

Encores can destroy the atmosphere that a musician has spent half an hour crafting. This encore piece established and built the classical, emotional atmosphere of Beethoven and reinforced it. The Haydn concerto is firmly baroque but in Hennessy’s hands it was firmly baroque-tending-to-romantic. The performance was spell-binding. The seven second silence that the conductor asked for – and was given – demonstrated that.

William Hennessy has a long and distinguished history of strings education and performance in this State.

In this these performances one could see why.

Repeated Sunday 14 June at Elizabeth Murdoch Hall

then up (and down) country Victoria.

14 June 2015

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: Britten, War Requiem, Op 66

Melbourne Symphony  Orchestra et al
Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Thursday, Friday 11 June and 12 June 2015

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is layered upon layer with meaning. Everything is deliberate: text, score, performance.
Sir Colin Davis and the MSO found all three on Thursday night.

I admit I’ve been an MSO refusenik for years. Too many dull performances from players described by one wit as “Check the watch at the end of the second movement after interval. Will I get the 10.15 train?” I saw Graham Abbott conduct a Keys to Music on Hayden’s Farewell with the MSO violins out of tune. A Brahms Symphony on the car radio; god, that’s awful, who’s playing it? MSO. Right! An Elgar (I think it was) Symphony in Hamer Hall a year or so ago that was listless.

I decided to risk the MSO with Britten because I’m a bit of a Britten tragic and I’d had to cancel seats for the War Requiem in London last year. I hadn’t researched the Wilfred Owen poetry (as my wife had) so I decided to treat the performance as pure music – a symphony if you like. All I knew was that Britten had written the Requiem for the dedication of the new Coventry Cathedral. The Luftwaffe had fire bombed the C14 building on 14 November 1940.

Churchill Cathedral H 14250" by Horton (Capt) - War Office official photographer - This is photograph H 14250 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Churchill_CCathedral_H_14250.jpg#/media/File:Churchill_CCathedral_H_14250.jpg

I was stunned. It was a gut-grabber; absolutely visceral and for the entire performance. I could make out about four words – one was “requiem” – among the huge forces: a full and a chamber orchestra, a full and a children’s choir, a chamber organ and three soloists (soprano, tenor, baritone). I once heard Gotterdammerung out of sight of the subtitles and I fell in love (with the music and Lisa Gasteen). It was not just a case of huge forces. The MSO players found that which Sir Andrew demanded of them: emotional intensity and control in equal measure.

I went away and did some homework work before the repeat, direct broadcast. The ABCFM engineers, Nicholas Mierisch and Alexander Stinson, had microphones over the middle of the full (actually augmented) orchestra so that’s where I “was” on Friday night, roughly beside the bloke who belted the tubular bells (= church bells) whose specialty was the diabolus in musica augmented fourth interval between C and F♯ (as in Night on Bald Mountain). That devil’s interval appears throughout the Requiem even mockingly in the Requiem aeternam. The boys’ choir/chamber organ were the angelic chorus, the full choir sang the requiem text with the Russian soprano, Tatiana Pavlovskaya standing in place of Galina Vishnevskaya who was refused permission to sing the first performance of 30 May 1960. The English tenor Ian Bostridge stood in for Peter Pears and Dietrich Henschel the German tenor stood in for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Britten (r) and  Pears 1954 in Venedig

Britten had built allusions to the futility and the horror of war throughout the entire work and they were very evident, standing in the middle of Hamer Hall’s platform. The emotionally charged opening male chorus ppp against the double bases and cellos, Britten’s homage to Verdi’s Requiem in his own, the Owen poetry (for example, “What passing bells for these who die as cattle?’ and “But the old man would not and slew his son, - and half the seed of Europe one by one.”), the conversation between the two already dead, opposing soldiers finally singing together “Let us sleep now …” and the soprano’s razor edge in and against the chorus.

This is where the expert writer closes with something pithy. In the absence of anything clever, I’ll simply refer to the nights’ opening piece, Elegy for String Orchestra in memoriam of Rupert Brooke of 1915 by the Australian Frederick Septimus Kelly. Kelly participated in Brooke’s burial on Skyros on 23 April 1916. He, Kelly, 35, was shot in the head during the Battle of the Somme in November 2015. He is buried in Martinstart. 

The programming of the piece was inspired; its performance was superb.

see also:
Kildea Paul, Benjamin Britten A Life in the Twentieth Century, Allen Lane, London, 2013
2013 High Resolution Remaster of the 1963 orginal:
Single CD / Rehearsal CD / Blu-ray Audio
Decca Cat No.0289 478 5433 3
Galina Vishnevskaya Peter Pears Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Bach Choir, Melos Ensemble, London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Conductor: Benjamin Britten

12 June 2015

An extraordinary proposal to give a minister the power to strip an Australian of their sole citizenship.

Hon A. J. Abbott MP
Member for Warringah,
Hon P. C. Dutton MP
Member for Dickson

Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton,

The news report:
Senator Brandis, in opposing the plan, told the cabinet meeting: "I am the Attorney-General. It is my job to stand for the rule of law."
Mr Joyce put to the meeting: "Isn't that what we have courts for?"

The comment:

source: www.theguardian.comcommentisfree2015jun05the-leaks-the-lies-the-whole-nation-is-doing-its-nut

And my considered response:
The proposal of Abbott and Dutton to abrogate the established legal process for base political gain are contemptible.
In doing so they have brought the office of Prime Minister and the office of Minister for Immigration and Border Protection – and themselves – into contempt.


Stewart Jackel

Albert’s Wars
Raising Rosie
The Boobiebum Doodle Machine
RMIT PWE Judy Duffy Award
Consuetudo, jus et norma loquendi. (Horace)

cc:        Hon K. J. Thomson MP

01 June 2015

Alice's Adventures in Operaland

Victorian Opera Master of Music (Opera Performance) students
Playhouse, Arts Centre
Saturday, Sunday 23, 24 May 2015

Alice is a new opera by Libby Hill and dead people, and Richard Mills and other dead people. It's a pastiche –  in a nice way  of hit arias from seven operas that you and I know really well. Libby wrote it as an education tool about opera for kids (only for kids?) but one of its hidden agendas is that it's an education tool for the young, but very expert singers of the MoM program. Richard wanted two Rossini clips included because lots of Rossini is fast. If you can sing  his stuff (I've seen one tenor sing a Barber of Seville aria standing on his head, but he was Asian at the time) you can do diction.

There were weekday performances for school kids and weekend performances for grannies and kids. There was also – and this was where it got really interesting – a performance advertised as "accessible". It was a "Relaxed Performance specifically designed to welcome young people with a learning disability, Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Condition or sensory and communication disabilities, as well as other children who would benefit from this performance environment."

I parked myself up the back where I could see the stage and the audience. I had a great time.

There were no concessions to the audience except space to move around and that idea worked really well. The orchestra, conducted by Victorian Opera’s Head of Music Phoebe Briggs, was superb. The MoM singers were simply terrific as always. Wonderful arias, wonderful singing, lovely, simple staging.  But the best bit was that, at the accessible performance, people (like me) who do the cat's-arse-mouth thing at a lolly unwrapper had to cope with a very different environment. Noise!

Here's a link to a piece I wrote about it with Scott Whinfield, a Vic Opera staffer.

A rabbit in need of a haircut? -and a matchmaker?
Source: https://www.facebook.com/victorianopera/photos/a.10153078983249219.1073741841.127956549218/10153078983639219/?type=3&permPage=1
Disclaimer. My wife and I support the Victorian Opera Master of Music (Opera Performance) program so I'm biased - very! And there are vacancies.