After mentioning in my last entry on the late Gough Whitlam that I once interviewed him for my student mag, I dug out the interview to remind myself how it went. Even though it’s about the fleeting events of the day, I thought I’d scan it and share it here.

Read More · 23 October 2014 · People


Gough Whitlam shaped my life more than any other politician. His government’s investment in higher education meant my father got a pay rise and our family could afford the house I grew up in from the age of five. The introduction of equal pay for women meant that Mum’s wages were on a par with Dad’s throughout my teenage years, which was tremendously important for our family finances and for the message it sent to her two sons. I was one of the last to benefit from a free higher education as an undergraduate, during the 15-year window of opportunity his government opened in 1974. Because of Whitlam, I was able to vote in my state election in 1986 and the federal election in 1987, three years earlier than I otherwise could have, and was able to vote for senators when I later lived in the ACT. I grew up singing “Advance Australia Fair” at school, not “God Save the Queen”.

Read More · 21 October 2014 · People

Okay, You Can Keep the Rock

Neill Cameron of The Phoenix on why reading comics matters. Makes me wish for some way back to cheap-paper black-and-white comics with four-colour covers. Also part two, the (new) golden age of children’s comics.

Anil Dash: 15 lessons from 15 years of blogging.

Ebola swamps a city in Sierra Leone.

The Thread.

Lego Tarkus.

How flash photography changed American politics.

E.T. is ready for his closeup.

A solar cell that stores its own power.

Trouble at the Koolaid Point [Wired mirror].

Unseen Moon footage.

11 October 2014 · Weblog

A tragicomic day in the life of a walrus.

We Are All Together

2 October 2014 · Events

We Shall Resume in an Hour

Twelve things the British public are wrong about.

The Star Wars throne room minus John Williams.

Bygone photographic oddities.

Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich.

The Terrible Sea Lion.

“Japanese Maple” by Clive James.

28 September 2014 · Weblog

Coincidence? I Think Not

No sooner do I post that stuff about oil than this turns up in my inbox...

Read More · 28 September 2014 · Whatever

Scraping the Barrel

It isn’t surprising that this news of potential improved oil extraction technologies is being treated as evidence of some sort of BBC plot to withhold The Truth before the referendum, but as far as Google News indicates there was no reporting of it anywhere before a few days ago, when it appeared in the oil industry magazine Offshore. Any beef about its timing is really with the team at Heriot-Watt University. But then all they’re doing is announcing a promising line of research—it isn’t as if they’re ready to press the big green button on a whole new production method.

Read More · 27 September 2014 · Politics

Exponential Crisis

Ebola makes you a risk to yourself: “Throughout my time in Sierra Leone I was plunged into a state of hyper-awareness about my own body and that of every person around me.”

Dr James Appel’s blog about his volunteer work in Liberia is sobering reading (via Mefi).

Estimating the fatality of the current outbreak: more like 80-85% than the reported 50-55%. Just as deadly as previous outbreaks, then. Surviving isn’t like tossing heads rather than tails, it’s rolling a six on the first try.

Fresh graves point to undercount of Ebola toll.

Up to 1.4 million people could be infected by January.

24 September 2014 · Events

An Untied Kingdom

Wall of St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, 17 September 2014

The day after, I don’t feel smug or triumphant or gloating or anything of the kind, I feel sad that so much passion and enthusiasm was channeled in a direction that came to nought. I personally disagreed with it, but that passion was important. Today feels anticlimactic.

Read More · 19 September 2014 · Politics

Broken-Up Britain

With the referendum only two days away, I’m writing comments on Metafilter rather than posts here, so I’m collecting today’s here before they’re instantly out-of-date. Initial quotes from other people’s comments in that thread are shown in italics.

Read More · 16 September 2014 · Politics

Spinning the Wheel

Parts of my post of a few days ago were months-old in draft, but the catalyst to finish it was this MetaFilter thread going into the final weeks of the campaign. I’ve joined the discussion there now, and written some more lengthy comments which I’ll excerpt below. But first, some links that are worth a look.

Read More · 11 September 2014 · x1 · Politics

Heart Surgery

I’ve tried a few times in recent months to write about the referendum, but have stalled each time. Joining the fray as a naturalised UK citizen feels fraught with difficulty, so like a lot of people in Scotland I’ve been keeping my head down. That tendency has been particularly noticeable here in Edinburgh, where so many residents aren’t from Scotland. For most of the year it’s killed small talk at social events.

Read More · 8 September 2014 · x8 · Politics

September 2014