Friday, July 29, 2011

Christopher Pearson, Tony Abbott, and how to freefall through featherless flight ...

(Above: the pond, home to cutting edge scientific questions).

"This is a draconian new police force chasing an invisible odourless, weightless, tasteless substance," Mr Abbott told the Nine Network today. (Abbott slams 'draconian' carbon cops).

Here we go again.

Tony Abbott describing carbon dioxide as odourless, tasteless and weightless, that is, and doing it all over the news cycle yesterday.

Two out of three is good enough?

Can someone please send him off with Dr. Google? That way might come across this page, here:

CO2 gas is 1.5 times as heavy as air, thus if released to the air it will concentrate at low elevations. Carbon dioxide will form "dry ice" at -78.5ºC (-109.3º F). One kg of dry ice has the cooling capacity of 2 kg of ordinary ice. Gaseous or liquid carbon dioxide, stored under pressure, will form dry ice through an auto-refrigeration process if rapidly depressured.

Heavy? Concentrate at low elevations? Kgs? Que?

Does Abbott have the remotest clue how it jangles the nerves to hear him mangle schoolkid science on such a regular basis?

As for tasteless?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a slightly toxic, odorless, colorless gas with a slightly pungent, acid taste.

As for invisible, we could get picky, because solid carbon dioxide is all too visible, and since Abbott used the word 'substance', we'll gong him for that too.

Colourless is a little more accurate. In pure gas form carbon dioxide is invisible, with the white mist arising from solid carbon dioxide likely to be water vapour, and the visible discharge from a fire extinguisher white because of the mix of condensed water vapor and solid CO2 "snow". (or so I was told here at the fire extinguisher news).

Does Abbott realise how silly he sounds, especially when the 'weightless' routine is picked up on a 24/7 news cycle? There's sound bites, and then there are really silly sounding sound bites. Abbott knows how to sing from the song sheet, over and over again, by mindless rote, but who's writing the lyrics?

I suppose as a small mercy he didn't say harmless:

Air with a carbon dioxide content of more than 10% will extinguish an open flame, and, if breathed, can be life-threatening. Such concentrations may build up in silos, digestion chambers, wells, sewers and the like. Caution must be exercised when entering these types of confined spaces.

This kind of idle chatter has nothing to do with climate science, in much the same way that drinking a can of coke only proves the stupidity of the politician involved. (Try holding your head in a bowl of coke for five minutes to see how harmless it is. Try water. Just try ...)

Why would anyone trust a politician who doesn't have the most elementary secondary school understanding of that which he babbles on about, simply so he can sound off about carbon cops? (Yes, yes, he's stealing the title of an ABC television show. So much for conservatives and intellectual property rights).

Well we know someone who trusts Abbott, who hangs on his every science-offending word, who worships his fit, lithe athletic body, who admires his willingness to go for the throat and never mind if it's a halal killing, just do the killing, and who celebrates science as an arcane way to practice their Latin, mutatis mutandis.

Yep, it's Christopher "Simon Crean for PM" Pearson, so what's he up to this fine Saturday?

Mangling science with the help of his overlord, or mangling the Labor party?

Well the hook for his piece Don't mention the carbon tax, starts thus:

Call him crazy? Done deal.

Can we move along now? No, no, let's note the many fine ways he goes on to praise the fearless energiser bunny ways of Tony Abbott, and to demonstrate how wretched Julia Gillard is, and to explain how naughty former Chairman Rudd is.

And how is the Ruddster naughty? Why, if you're a Pearson paranoid and your business is blather, and you look through the entrails and the runes on a regular basis, it's to do with the timing of his heart operation:

The kind of surgery he's having is fairly run-of-the-mill nowadays and there's no shortage of surgeons able to perform it. He must have known for years that he would need it sooner or later and it could have been scheduled at any time that was convenient. It's also the case that it's not by any stretch emergency surgery; he wasn't sick enough to have to cancel last week's trip to Africa.

Why, then, when the parliament has a five-week recess and the normal recovery period for this operation is up to seven weeks, did he not arrange to have the procedure as soon as the house rose, or even seek a pair for the last sitting week, which he would certainly and quite rightly have been granted? As things stand, he'll be able to absent himself for four full weeks of parliament.

What game is he playing ?

Uh huh. Caught a whiff of the flavour? A man goes for an operation, and since nothing is but what is not, it can't actually be a man going for an operation. It must have an underlying hidden agenda which only Pearson can detect by checking out the liver, the kidneys and the entrails, and above all, the spleen:

I think he's reminding the public, the parliament and especially his colleagues how indispensable he is and how precarious the government's hold on power is. What's more, he's removing himself with impunity from the equation when an unpopular carbon tax is being debated, Gillard is drowning in the polls and there's a sense that something's got to give.

Did someone say we should call Pearson crazy? Feel free ... because there's a sense that something's got to give.

But wait, it gets better:

Perhaps he's messing with the minds of those in caucus, casting himself as Lazarus -- if not, like his predecessor, with a triple-bypass then at least with a new aorta.

Or perhaps he's messing with Pearson's mind, knowing how the paranoid mind behaves, and knowing that he'd love to make cheap jokes about John Howard.

Perhaps he's hoping that absence will lift his ratings in the opinion polls and his stocks in the parliamentary party.

Perhaps he doesn't know that Simon Crean is the Pearson-anointed new leader in waiting, and that his scheming - by having an operation on his heart, in a pathetic attempt to improve his ratings in the opinion polls and his stocks with his colleagues - is futile up against this powerful nomination.

His main motives may just be wanting time out to consider his options or to engage in some leisurely plotting.

Or his main motive might be to have a necessary operation.

Oh sorry, there we go again, looking at the superficial surface again. Call me crazy ..

And then comes a piece of vindictiveness which admirably shows the cast of Pearson's Catholic Christianity:

The party whips agreed that Rudd would be given carte blanche in the form of a pair for the period of his absence and unfortunately Abbott didn't over-rule the decision. While it's easy to understand the Coalition's reluctance to play hardball over a member who says he needs surgery and who could be cast in the role of an innocent victim, there's no doubt that the political problem of the government being down a vote was all Rudd's own doing. I don't think persuading the public -- or even the Canberra press gallery -- that he's tricky and manipulative would have been all that hard a task.

Deny Rudd a pair for a heart operation because former the former chairman is tricky and manipulative?

Truly, Pearson is as self-described. As mad as a march hare. Sensibly Tony Abbott didn't have a bar of this kind vindictive ineptness, which would have put him in a lose-lose situation of the worst kind ...

No, much better to call carbon dioxide weightless, because only pedants care about such weighty matters.

If carbon dioxide was weightless, it would help sort out the climate science, though it might create a few problems for the carbon cycle, and the atmosphere.

The gas could float into space, perhaps through the hole in the ozone layer.

Sometimes I wish Tony Abbott and Christopher Pearson were weightless.

But I'd settle for someone giving them a short, sharp whack over the head with some weightless dry ice ...

It reminds me of that zen koan:

Christopher Pearson, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Tony Abbott of Canberra.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is weightlessness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received, and no scales to provide meaning."

Abbott, who was riding a bicycle, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked young Pearson with a quite heavy block of dry ice. This made the youth quite angry.

"If everything is weightless," inquired Abbott, "where did this lump on the head come from?"

Oh okay, here's the original, Nothing Exists, which you can find here:

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"


  1. Pearson's line on Rudd reminds me of Tallyrand's comment on the death of the Russian Ambassador: "I wonder what his motive could have been?".

    Got that line from "mad" Mark Latham.

    I love the pond.

  2. Well that gave me my laugh for the day, and I thank you and MML for it.

  3. Dorothy, I think all News bulletins should commence "and now for the bad News'. Or maybe 'bad' and 'news' in the same breath is totally tautologous?
    You obviously have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England, to be able to keep reading all this stuff.

  4. A queen persiflage, a queen, we'll have no Chuck-like aspirational kings around here, though the sooner he becomes the king, the better for republicans and architects.

    As for the rest, think of it as a love of vaudeville, or the follies, though perhaps the thought of the Monckton follies tour of the antipodes shouldn't evoke the Folies Bergere, a much more discreet show.

    It's a kind of perverse musical comedy, and as with any therapy, if you let it all out, why then nothing is left to fester inside, and the rest of the day passes in light hearted joy ...

    And as for the News, can I just link you to:

    and if you can get past the Crikey paywall

    There'll be more news on the News. Bad news is never totally tautologous if it's good bad News ...


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