Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Morning Musings -tropes, happiness with a dash of coal

As a kid, having my own flying car was quite high on my list of  things I would like to have. It was and indeed still is a common visual trope in movies etc.

First announced back in 2013, Terrafugia's TF-X flying car has got to its next milestone - approval from the - the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) run in-air tests with an autonomous drone version of the car.

Staying with tropes, last night I watched the latest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was quite fun, although they went a bit overboard on reprise. But then everybody  is joining in. Count the Star Wars puns in this British weather forecast.  .

Changing directions, our blogging friend Rod Holland has been made a member of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Regional Advisory Committee for the Northern Rivers. He has also done his first ever interview on ABC North Coast Radio on the strange behaviour of the Clarence River. You can listen to the interview here - ABC Radio Interview - The river that flows the wrong way!

Over at his place, Winton Bates muses on Why wish everyone a Merry Christmas? Down in Victoria, the treatment of Christmas in state schools is again a matter of controversy with Christmas carols with a religious theme apparently banned (here, here). The change appears to have been triggered by new Victorian Government guidelines on special religious instruction in schools.

Fairness in Religions in School spokeswoman Lara Wood said the new policy would make schools more inclusiveI haven't read the new guidelines, but on the reports I am struggling to see how.the policy makes schools more inclusive. If anything, it's likely to confirm already existing prejudices among substantial groups of parents, many of whom have already voted with their feet, so to speak, by sending kids elsewhere. It all gets very difficult.

Staying with Winton for the moment, his two most recent posts connected with happiness (Was J S Mill correct in his observation that happiness cannot be obtained by seeking it?How can we avoid the happiness trap?) deal with linked themes, can happiness be obtained through pursuit?

Despite the wording in the US Declaration of Independence (We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness), my own view is that happiness is a transitory state, a by-product of other things and consequently cannot be pursued  Here, I think, my views are somewhat similar to Winton's.

AC is another in a reflective mood, looking back at the year in My 2015. I was unpacking boxes at the time I read the post. Sitting there surrounded by wrapping paper looking at an extremely nice cut glass decanter with accompanying glasses, I thought that in one area at least, 2016 would definitely be a year of elegance compared to 2015!

During the week there was continued discussion on this blog on economic consequences of climate change and the future of coal. Yesterday, 18 December, Bloomberg's Thomas Biesheuvel recorded the closure that day of the UK's last underground coal pit. It's not quite the end of coal production in the UK, there are some open cut mines producing around 8 million tons per annum, but it is the end of an era. The Belshaws were a coal mining family, so it seems appropriate to record the event. My thanks to our Canadian blogging colleague Randy McDonald for the tip.

The graph shows the decline in UK underground coal production from its peak production of 292 million tons in 1913. Just to put that number in perspective, Australia presently both mines and exports more coal than the UK did at its peak year in 1913.
Some of the material that I have been reading on the end of coal is starting to seriously annoy me because it seems so unbalanced. I have started trying to establish the parameter facts for my own satisfaction.


Youngest's video review of the latest Star Wars film



Anonymous said...

Good stuff by Rod, and an excellent first-person by daughter. You do know some interesting people!


Jim Belshaw said...

I do indeed, kvd, including you!

Winton Bates said...

Merry Christmas, Jim!

And thanks for the links to my blog.

2 tanners said...

And it turns out the ban on Christmas carols was untrue, just party political propapanda from the Victorian Young Liberal president. So Merry Xmas all, and Silent Night on the blog for the 25th!

Jim Belshaw said...

Merry Christmas to you too, 2t.

Jim Belshaw said...

And on carols, have they now allowed carols with religious content? It was always a question of just what was meant by carols.

2 tanners said...

They were never banned. It was a propaganda statement put out the the head of the Australian (not Victorian, my apologies) Young Liberal President and immediately pounced upon and fulminated against by back benchers in Parliament. What was banned was active proselytisation in schools by any religion.

Quite rightly too, in my opinion. There are many documented cases of active atheists who have converted to religion but who made up their own minds as grown people. If you have to market your faith to children in order to gain believing adults, then your faith needs a good hard look at itself.

Jim Belshaw said...

Happy new year, 2t. I agree with secular education, however your last sentence (If you have to market your faith to children in order to gain believing adults, then your faith needs a good hard look at itself) is somewhat problematic. You will see what I mean if you substitute values for faith.