Pleaides Mailbox – 05/Jun/2012

I got a few links from Pleiades in the mailbox, so here they are.

Bob Ellis On ‘Gallipoli’

Here’s Bob Ellis doing a number on Australian Cinema’s cherished classic.

I tried to like Gallipoli, but found it shallow, trite and perverse. Everybody disagrees with me, of course, and it will make millions. Let me explain what I mean by perverse
.
It I were to write a film called The Battle of Britain in which two wacky Geordies rowed a kayak south to enlist in the RAF, you’d say I’d missed the point of the title; or a film called The Battle of Stalingrad, in which two wacky Kossaks drove a rusty tractor west to enlist in the Red Army, you’d say I’d used a trivialising road-film approach to a subject of national catharsis. You’d say I was perverse.

Gallipoli is about two wacky Aussies jumping rattlers and crossing in the Simpson Desert (in ever-diminishing circles) to enlist in the AIF in Perth. It’s well made, beautifully photographed, handsomely mounted, well performed (two actors in it, David Argue and John Morris, are wonderful, and two, Bill Hunter and Bill Kerr, nudge greatness in the roles of a vagabond uncle and a guilt-wrenched officer), badly miscast, lovingly edited, very perverse and fundamentally untrue. Let me say what I mean by untrue.

Something very true about that description. The film does go a long way towards establishing these dislocated figures and the actual battlefield comes as a sort of second act complication rather than the central conflict. My own recollection of coming out of the cinema when I was a kid was “Is that it?” The film is beautiful, but it is true that its beauty is tangential to the very topic suggested by the title.

I have to agree with Ellis that the characters they chose are dislocated rather than connected to the communities they came from, but surely that was a sign of the times for much of cinema. The film goes a long way to establish character so that when one of them dies, the audience feels it and by extension of the number of men falling, we’re supposed to feel for all the young men. All these years I figured the fact that I wasn’t moved at the end was a function of my own history. There were girls baling their eyes out when we came out of the movie theatre. Maybe the film is more divisive than I thought.

Mercury Poisoning

Here’s an article about Tim Flannery getting attacked by journalist who willfully misrepresent what was said at an AMA meeting. Anyway, here’s a bit that doesn’t get discussed a lot so I thought I’d quote it here:

At the end of his presentation to the AMA, professor Flannery took questions from the floor. One question — it may have been the last question of the day — was about mercury, its toxicity and its effect on health. During his talk he had pointed out that burning coal in coal-fired power stations was the main source of mercury pollution. He told us that, within days to weeks, the mercury in the smoke had drifted across and settled to the surface in the oceans, was consumed by plankton, and then by larger and larger fish, finally ending up on our table.

Even the Food and Drug Administration has recommended that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children avoid eating top of food chain fish with a high mercury content (>1 ppm), such as shark, swordfish and fresh and frozen tuna (but not canned tuna).

The evidence is in. Mercury in the environment is harmful.
But here is the tricky part: as part of his explanation on mercury poisoning, professor Flannery used the example of amalgam tooth fillings.

Not many people are talking about the problem of coal fire from the point of view of the actual pollutants it is putting int the environments, apart from the carbon dioxide emissions issue. Coal Fire also puts out radioactive Radon. All this stuff is doing massive damage to marine life.

If It’s Too Expensive, Don’t Do It

The new complaint from the Mining Council of Australia that it’s getting to be too expensive to mine in Australia.

The Minerals Council of Australia released a report by Port Jackson Partners that pointed out that cost pressures are increasing in the mining industry. It showed that since 2007, the cost of producing new capacity in thermal coal and iron ore has almost doubled. It claimed we have also lost our dominance in mining competitiveness to other nations around the world.

Then in predictable fashion, it called on the Government to fix all their problems. Large global mining companies thinking governments have all the answers – whatever happened to market forces?

They called on government to address infrastructure bottle necks, falling productivity, skills shortages, and even went as far as calling for relief from the high exchange rate. They asked for all of this without ever mentioning that all these economic problems are caused by the mining boom itself.

This is because the mining industry is intent on building too many new mining projects at the same time, as well as exporting as much dirt as they possibly can.

You know the answer. They know the answer. It’s really not the government’s job to make it easier for one industry at the expense of other industries, as it is to make it easier for the miners at the expense of budget bottom line. They’re the ones who go on about the government debt and donate to Conservative parties. it’s a pretty bad show for the to be whinging when other industry sectors are doing it tough because of the relative successes of the mining sector.

I mean, come on. They’re the last people that should be getting a hand out and if it’s really worth doing a mine project, they’re in the fortunate position of being able to finance it themselves.

11.5 Billion Years Old

The age of the Milky Way is 11.5 billion years old.

 

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Filed under Cinema, Film, General, Movies

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