Archive for June, 2013

The name Snowden rang a bell for a literary character and the penny finally dropped, to mix metaphors again: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Probably not the only punter to make the connection, I was thinking what a perfect segueway to the U.S. National Security Agency scandal with Edward of that name on the run in Moscow Airport. All the Catch 22ishness of that top secret agency eavesdropping on America’s enemies around the world, and friends, is such fertile ground for punditry.

Googling to check whether the fictional Snowden had a first name that I couldn’t recall, I stumbled onto the job already done. My half-formed ideas were already out there in a more coherent and intelligible form. That old adage about great minds thinking alike is some comfort, so I’m re-blogging it rather than plagiarising or trying to compete by racking (or wracking?) my soggy brain. And bask in the glow of Philly’s piece.

It doesn’t end well for Heller’s Snowden (no first name), who literally spills his guts over his pal Yossarian in their last bombing raid together. Here’s hoping that Edward has a better future, and finds a warm welcome in South America. Personally I’d prefer Venezuela to Iceland.

Now KC has presumably raised another red flag alert in the ginormous NSA data base by using its name. An excellent article by Richard Cooke on Australia’s role in the ‘Five Eyes’ shared surveillance program with our allies is worth a read too. The NZ government’s illegal spying on Kim Dotcom to help extradite him to the US is a salutary warning to us antipodeans.

Even out Kookynie way we’re getting a little wary about some previously benign structures which are looking more and more like listening antennae. See how they’re all pointed towards the pub, where KC is produced. Hmm.

Penong windmills 1

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Western Queensland sheep farmers are suffering high stock losses from dingo or wild dog attacks. Some of them are changing to cattle, as the bigger animals are more able to defend themselves, but even cattle farmers are complaining about dog packs taking down calves. There is serious talk of extending the famous dingo fence, which borders SA in a dog-leg (hmm!) shaped barrier.

Meantime a group of academics has proposed that improved land management practices in national parks and elsewhere may be possible through lateral application of our scientific knowledge of their natural ecosystems. Guns and poison have not solved problems with pest predators. The experts suggest that in some areas the best weapon is the dingo, with research showing that it strongly controls fox, goat and kangaroo populations.

“Dingoes are an unrelenting and ultimately free service”, they say. How interesting, to think differently about the iconic dingo. And maybe the science and our custodianship of the Wide Brown Land would head in the same direction if we decided to drastically reduce sheep populations, which have done such a great job of decimating Australia’s top-soils over the last 200 years. I’m not sure cattle are the answer though. Environmental challenges are complex and need ecological thinking. Meanwhile don’t denigrate the dingo!



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