Tuesday, April 03, 2012

And so to a lack of imagination of extraterrestrial Gerard Henderson proportions ..

(Above: relax chooks. You could have run into Gerard Henderson).

I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding. (here).

Here at the pond we call it the law of the Henderson, and it may be formulated as follows: give Gerard Henderson a chance encounter with any ideas outside his narrow ideological and political constraints, and he will discover that all that he encounters needs a good, hard pounding.

So it is in Media's soft treatment of Brown opens door to the little Greens men, wherein Henderson gets agitated and pounds away in the most extraordinary way about quite ordinary speculative notions.

Take the opening par for starters:

Imagine the media reaction if the atheist Julia Gillard or the Christian Tony Abbott raised the possibility, in a major address, of extraterrestrial life on one or more planets beyond Earth. At the very least, they would have been ridiculed. There may even have been calls for a retirement on medical grounds.

Why? Is it a singular requirement of Australian politicians that they be as narrow-minded, as bigoted and as prejudiced as Henderson?

Speculation about extraterrestrial life and the form it might take is one of the more interesting branches of science (and science fiction). The United States has spent billions arranging surveys of Mars, with one of the prime aims to discover if there might be some form of life lurking beneath the surface.

Whether there's intelligent life, or forms of life beyond our current comprehension remains speculative, but it's an interesting speculation - you can wiki away at extraterrestrial life - because the discovery of life of any kind elsewhere would have profound implications in terms of our understanding of the formation of the universe and the formation of ourselves (not to mention an impact on our philosophies and religions and science).

We've really only got into the game in a meaningful way in recent years, but the "what if" of science fiction is just as valid for science, and the statistics - say 50 to 100 billion galaxies, containing say a 100 billion stars with tens of billions of associated planets gives more than a little room to move to expect we might encounter a worm or two or at least bacteria out there.

Confronted by Henderson's outburst, which suggests these things are beyond discussion, what to say?

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Bill Watterson, found here).

Or perhaps more pointedly, the aliens have refused to contact Gerard Henderson.

It is, of course, Bob Brown who's got Henderson's juices running at the thought of bug-eyed monsters, when all Brown indulged in was a little cosmic musing, with a greens twist (what if other life forms had failed to manage their environments and produced a catastrophe up there with Avatar?)

Next Henderson gets terribly agitated when Brown dares to dream about a world government which might tackle world issues. Henderson sees this as catering to right wing lunatics, and indeed theories of the United Nations being the home for black helicopters are rife amongst assorted ratbags. But the UN is, however feeble, a stab at a form of world governance designed to sort out international problems and issues.

Even when Brown makes the blandest of statements, it seems to send Henderson into a frenzy:

According to the Greens leader, "to accommodate 10 billion people at American, European or Australasian rates of consumption we will need two more planets to exploit within a few decades".

This seems a fairly unalarmist prediction, especially if you've just ploughed your way through the wiki dedicated to overpopulation, and the size of a sustainable population on earth. To get Asians up to the level of obesity on display in the United States and Australia will take considerable ingenuity and resourcefulness, especially given all the peaks that are floating about - you name it, there's peak oil, peak water, peak phosphorus, peak grain, peak fish, and at some point a few of them will peek out.

Henderson doesn't bother with any of this. He thinks quoting Brown is sufficient to expose the absurdity, but really when it comes to being a futurist, Henderson's best impression is of an ostrich neck deep in sand (oh okay, that's an urban myth that likely began with Pliny the elder, but you catch the drift).

In his usual way, Henderson is outraged that Newt Gingrich should have been dissed for talking about a moon base, while Brown gets away scott free:

Earlier this year, in the US, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was ridiculed by the left when he proposed the creation of a permanent base on the moon by 2020. However, in Australia there was almost a mute reaction to Brown's speech.

But here's the problem with Newt's moon base routine. It would be extremely expensive, and it wouldn't be that scientifically interesting, with a lot of the more interesting experiments taking place in zero gravity on the space station. A more interesting imperial move would be to maintain the urge to explore Mars, which lurks frustratingly but tantalisingly just out of reach.

Gingrich's idea of a moon colony was just a bit of glorified post-colonial expansion, an idea off the cuff, which just isn't workable given the United States' current economic situation, and it says more about his exceptionalist expansionist rhetoric than it does about doing interesting science. Sadly just keeping the space station and the Hubble going is where the United States is at, and exploring Mars properly has slipped back to the 2030s (NASA budget boosts manned space, cuts Mars exploration).

That's why Gingrich was mocked. It seems he didn't have a clue where NASA was at, or the US budget, nor what it might take to turn NASA towards establishing a moon base. But is the idea of the exploration of space to be mocked, as some kind of weird alien hunt? I guess, at least if you have the imaginative capacity of a gnat, like Henderson ...

And it seems that Henderson wants everybody else to have the imagination of a gnat:

If the Prime Minister called for the establishment of a world government in which a nation of Australia's population willingly subjected itself to the views of the citizens of communist China, she would be dismissed as having lost it. Likewise the Opposition Leader if he called for the settlement of, say, the moon or Mars.

Uh huh. Except of course that we routinely trot off to the United Nations, where we're subjected to the views of communist China, in all sorts of matters, including but not limited to North Korea, Taiwan and Syria.

But what would we say about a Prime Minister who called for us to disengage from the United Nations because it was a wicked form of world government (talk to Lord Monckton and Janet Albrechtsen, they'll tell you all about), and would it be wrong for an Australian to say that NASA is off with the pixies when they talk about humans exploring Mars in the 2030s?

Well having established that Brown is deluded - in a way that makes Henderson sound delusional - naturally Henderson has to find someone to blame.

Yes, you guessed it. It's the ABC, being too gentle with Brown, and Chris Uhlmann, and not just the ABC, but Channel 10, and the entire media, everyone it seems except Henderson (oh and The Australian, the HUN, the Daily Terror, Tim Blair, Andrew the Bolter, Janet Albrechtsen, and dozens of others in and outside the Murdoch commentariat who deem it their job to whip up greenie hysteria about little green men coming to take them away. Where would they all be without greenies as boogeymen? Where would Miranda the Devine be if she couldn't call for the hanging of greenies? Hanging's too soft for them? Sure thing ...)

Naturally public servants also had to be dragged in:

Finally, there is the Australian coal industry, which contributes huge amounts of money to revenue by way of company tax and royalties. As such, coal exports make possible much of the funding which sustains the lifestyles of Greens supporters who are on the public payroll. Yet Brown told Insiders in June last year that "the coal industry has to be replaced".

Of course if you're a covert climate denialist like Henderson - he's never had the guts to flaunt his denialism outright, in the manner of a Monckton - you can't see anything wrong with coal, or Clive Palmer, that national treasure. Tear it up, ship it out, and don't worry about boxing clever, just box the ears of dissident public servants and greenies.

You begin to wonder what else coal exports might fund. What, for example, sustains the lifestyles of Sydney Institute supporters?

Never mind, here's the final hammer blow on the final nail:

When you look at the gentle treatment of the Greens in the media, it's no surprise that Brown thought he could get away with his extraterrestrial ravings at the Hobart Town Hall.

Uh huh. That'd be the sort of extraterrestrial ravings you might find Stephen Hawking indulging in - Stephen Hawking: alien life is out there, scientist warns. Or how about this outburst, this rant, this raving from Hawking - Stephen Hawking: mankind must colonise space or die out.

Professor Hawking also warned that population rise and finite resources on Earth meant life was becoming increasingly dangerous and the only way to build upon the progress made over the last century was to look out to the rest of the galaxy.

Silly ranting and raving Hawking. Why damn it, he doesn't sound like a speculative scientist, he sounds like a Bob Brown greenie.

The question of course, is whether politicians should engage with ideas that are out there in the ether, and give them due - preferably un-Gingrich - consideration, or whether they should, in Henderson's preferred style, burrow like wombats into a deep hole, and stay there.

Did we mention just how unimaginative Henderson is, and how astonishing it is to see consideration of life in the universe dismissed as extraterrestrial raving? The ignorance, the conformity to ET stereotypes, is both astonishing and breathtaking.

And the funniest thing? Henderson thinks he's giving Brown a hard time ...

Well if that's the best Henderson can do, we'd better knuckle down to UN world government, and set the Starship Enterprise on course to discover life on Mars ...

(Below: by golly after reading that nail-laden rant, the pond feels like a sip of ammonia).


  1. I'm pretty sure Bob Brown realises he's never going to be Prime Minister. However where's the outrage from Mr Henderson that the most likely next PM also believes in extra terrestrial beings? For what is the Dear Absent Lord if not a little green man dressed up in a white frock with a big white beard? Who can also do magic tricks. But not lately and not in any measurable or repeatable way.

    Are Browns imaginary friends more harmful than Abbott's? With the exception of Scientologists war on civility, how may wars have been started over little imaginary green men and what land used to belong to them eons ago?

    It's like the repulsion conservatives have for the symbolism of Earth Hour (TM). Yet they'll more than happily indulge in a 4 day weekend, significantly impacting the nations productivity and economy (if it wasn't for McDonalds and 7-Elevens on Friday - the nations till would be all but silent....) to celebrate not only the death of a guy alleged to be the son of a green man in a clever disguise, but his miraculous resurrection a couple of days later in order to provide us with delicious eggs and fruit buns (with obligatory cross adornment).

    I can even prove little green men exist as I've had a vision from one. If any of this rings true - it will provide ample proof that they are more than a delusion of Bob Browns. My vision told me that within the next month, Gerhard Henderson will grind out a column criticising:
    - The Greens
    - The ABC
    - The Public sector

    Time will tell....

  2. this reply by me to snidely henderson's rubbish in smh was rejected by moderator,

    "luckily we have a nit picking, humourless and stuck in the 60s nerd to inform us of bob brown's latest terrible action.
    we would be lost without you gerard, keep up the mediocre work".

  3. By golly Trippi Takka, remind me not to take a bet with you. Seems like you only like the shortest of odds. What odds will you give on prattling Polonius ever turning out a column containing praise of (a) the Greens (b) the ABC (c) the public sector? I reckon I'd take a plunge at a million to one.

    And that's strange sully, I would have taken giving Henderson the title of Nerd most gracious and kind. If only he had the wit to be found in Revenge of the Nerds.

  4. Dorothy... Some might say that the fellow who ascended into heaven after being nailed to the cross may have been extraterrestrial. The idea of a little green man has got to be somewhat more palatable that human sacrifice.


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