Men of Harlech
The Battle of Rorke’s Drift between a small British army contingent and a huge army of Zulus in January 1879 was memorably presented in the splendid 1964 film Zulu which depicts how 150 British soldiers successfully held off an army of 4,000 Zulu warriors.
The battle followed on after the Battle of Isandlwana fought a few days earlier where a British army of 1,800 men was utterly defeated and routed by the Zulus.
Rorke’s Drift also saw the awarding of 11 Victorian Crosses the greatest number ever awarded for one single engagement. Also the basic premises of the film is largely true and accurate, but it is not a historical re-enactment of the actual events.
The heavily outnumbered British successfully defended Rorke’s Drift more or less as portrayed in the film. Director and co-writer, Cy Endfield, even consulted a Zulu tribal historian for information from Zulu oral tradition about the attack. There are, however, a number of historical inaccuracies in the film but in the overall scheme of things are relatively minor.
The film was largely instigated by actor/producer Stanley Baker and is also the film that first introduced Michael Caine in a major role, ironically playing a foppish British officer rather than the cockney role for which he would become world famous for.
Despite the overwhelming odds, the discipline and training of the British army enabled them to repel the first Zulu attack.
Where at the film’s climax the two armies compete against each other with their chants and songs. History tells us there was no stirring rendition of Men of Harlech but who cares, in this film it is magnificently staged as a prelude to the final slaughter.
Zulu also boasts a terrific supporting performance by the criminally under-rated Nigel Green as Colour Sergeant Bourne, a seasoned officer who plays a key role in organising and leading the British defence
Nearly 60 years after it first released, Zulu has remained a constant favourite of many a film goer in its numerous re-releases and then as a perennial television fixture. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since I saw it on one of it’s many re-releases.
In 2018 Chief Mangosuthy Buthelezi defended the film’s cultural and historical merits, stating that there’s “a deep respect that develops between the warring armies, and the nobility of King Cetshwayo’s warriors as they salute the enemy, demanded a different way of thinking from the average viewer at the time of the film’s release. Indeed, it remains a film that demands a thoughtful response.”
And as a final note, the film boasts an outstanding score by one of my favourite film composers in John Barry.
I was stooged again by the missus and ended up at Southland Shopping Centre on Sunday.
She’s got a way of making lunch not seem like shopping and I fell for it again like the pasty I am.
So there’s a new Japanese that seems nice and the missus told me about the robots that bring the food like its a good thing.
We went there.
This joint’s automated and the first thing that happens is we get instructions from one of the humanoid kiddies:
1: select from the touch-screen
2: add to the cart
3: send the order
4: your food will be delivered
5: and pay at the counter when yr done
Then she gestures with an open hand to the cash register where there’s another possible humanoid with a permanent grin.
No immediate threat, I thought to myself but that was when I noticed what was behind her on the shelf. One of those Asian gold cats with the kitten-eyes and an arm that’s waving waving … always waving.
So while waiting for food and with one eye on that freaky cat, I watched.
All the actual human kiddies stood around essentially doing nothing until a robot arrived and then they unpacked the food dispassionately. No visible emotion, it was almost like they were trying to out-robot the robots.
Cold like the pot-stickers ultimately were.
A returning robot smacked straight into the chair leg of the table beside us.
I’m sitting there smiling at the farce and saying “stupid bloody robots” … just a little bit too loud.
And the missus is cringing because she knows that I could equally be commenting about:
a: the wait staff
b: the machines
c: the customers
d: the sheer absurdity of it all
But this old Polish bloke beside me at the next table is chuckling because he can overhear me.
Looking at him and smiling, I peck peck pecked the touchscreen for more food. Raising my eye-brows I said, “I feel like a chicken”, and exaggerated the pecking motion with my hand.
The bloke’s wetting himself while his wife is pretending to search her hand-bag and mine is pretending that this isn’t really happening.
Maybe its my weird sense of humour but I think its hilarious that I was actually ordering more chicken at the time.
Joseph’s Dream, Rembrandt, 1645
Changes in my personal life meant that I was forced to downsize in 2014. My new (small) place is ultra-convenient. No need for a car so I didn’t buy one, until now. Didn’t fancy dying carless. Ordered a new yellow MG hatch in mid-May. I cancelled at the end of October, have been told yet another fairy tale by the car salesman. In order, and I’m not making it up: It’s arrived but in quarantine; it’s been sent back to China; a new one has arrived and is on the docks; it will be here very soon in a matter of days; it’s back on the docks.
Cars are no longer manufactured in Australia. General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Mitsubishi are all gone. Driven out by union bloody-mindedness and the economic challenges of manufacturing for a small domestic market. The current wait time for a new car in Australia can be up to a year and more, I hear. This applies no less and perhaps more to electric cars. Me, I ended up buying a used car. Pre-owned, or pre-loved, I think the shysters who sell cars call it. Though I’m being mean. I bought online and the service seemed pretty good. It would have been more difficult if I were mad enough to go electric. Few to choose from. And imagine trying to find an electrician to fix a charging point in my 1970s apartment building. It would blow all the fuses. Anyway, my park is outside, so how would that work? It’s irrelevant. Electricians have to be booked many months ahead.
I mention all this to draw attention to the reality that we can’t always get what we want. Even Chris Bowen. The Labor government and their wayward modelling mates reckon that one third of households by 2030 will be driving electric cars and have charging points installed; that’s 3.8 million of them (cars and charging points)– from the low tens of thousands of EVs now trundling around posh suburbs. It’s crazy talk. Part of the climate-change-cum-green-energy madness infecting the political and corporate classes.
Add in AEMO’s requirement that we build nine times the wind and solar farms we have now. And, that’s quite apart from the blanketing tens of thousands of far-flung square kilometres with wind and solar to make green hydrogen and Australia into a “green hydrogen [exporting] superpower.” And that’s apart from building 28,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines. And, still, when the sun don’t shine and that wind ain’t blowing strongly somewhere, where’s the power coming from? All coal-power stations demolished. Natural gas development demonised and stymied. There’s batteries! It’s mindboggling. They can’t be serious. We’re being gaslighted, surely? It’s working. Death where is thy sting.
Short of leaving this mortal coil, what to do? Think of England….
Enshrine racism in the Constitution
Karl Popper defended equalitarian justice by which he meant equality before non-discriminatory laws and an equal distribution of the limitations on freedom that are required for a functional society.
Traditional or individualistic justice, as described by Popper in his critique of Plato, “calls for equal treatment of the citizens before the law, provided, of course, that the laws show neither favour nor disfavour towards individual citizens or groups or classes.”
There are three main demands or proposals to promote equality and freedom, namely (a) the proposal to eliminate ‘natural privileges’ (no special classes), (b) justice applies to individuals rather than groups and (c) a major function of the state is to protect the freedom of the citizens.
Listen to it. An audible summary of Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies.
Or read all about it on kindle.
Or read on paper in The Popper Guides.
Boulevard Montmartre – Spring Rain, Camille Pissarro, 1897
The New Energy Narrative
It’s Time for a new narrative, a new Energy Story. The game has changed, not officially and not among the True Believers but every month it will get clearer to anyone who bothers to check. We are in damage control. The exit from coal, gas and oil has just about run its course.
That is official among the developing nations of the world while in Australia, Europe and the US the old narrative will be propped up by assorted vested interests for some time to come. According to the official narrative wind and solar power are clean and cheap and the flight from coal is irreversible.
To the contrary, the unreliable energy from wind and solar factories is not clean. Look at the trail of environmental and human damage from the beginning to the end of the life of batteries, turbines and solar panels. It is not cheap, it is not sustainable and it is not renewable when you consider the non-renewable resources used to produce it.
The new narrative recognizes that fossil fuels have enabled people in the modern world to live lives of ease and comfort that were inconceivable for the masses in the past. In a generation, a billion people were lifted out of grinding poverty.
And we will recognise the indispensable role of the thousands of products of the petrochemical industry that we use practically every minute of the day from putting on our makeup and cleaning our teeth to undergoing medical treatments in hospital.
This morning at 6.40 the wind was blowing at CP 17% across the NEM and delivering 9% of demand. That CP is a bit more than half the average (29%.)
SA, the wind-leading state, was doing better than the rest with CP 50% and exporting 20% the power generated in the state. Still, 35% of the generation came from gas and without gas there was no spare power to export.
Victoria is the leader in total installed capacity and there the wind was blowing at CP 5% to deliver 5% of demand. 20% of demand was sourced from SA, Tasmania and Queensland via NSW. Don’t blow up your coal stations Dan!
People in the bush are revolting
Across the nation, dozens of communities in the path of major transmission lines and wind and solar developments are fighting back using every avenue they can find to save their surroundings. Watch this site for reports on developments in this contest.
The Menzies Research Institute is hosting a webinar forum on the protests from rural communities faced with the wreck and ruin inflicted by wind and solar factories and the transmission lines associated with them. Register here. The date is 15 December at 6.00 Sydney time.
The saved generations
Driving across the Sydney harbour bridge recently my Chinese friend asked who designed the Aboriginal flag that now flies alongside the Australian flag. Investigation revealed that it was designed in 1971 by Harold Thomas, a Luritja man from central Australia, who identified himself as a member of the stolen generations. He had recently graduated with honours from the South Australian School of Art.
We know that there were no stolen generations and this identity was applied to an elastic figure in the order of 10 to 30+% of young people who were taken into care. We know that many of these young people became very successful, think of some prominent agitators in the grievance industry.
Here is a thought, what about a collection of short biographies of “stolen people” to run in a series, released daily in the runup to the vote on the Voice?
Will Cat readers contribute by providing names in the comments. Don’t be repetitive, the prominent ones will be identified by many people and they will soon be listed, so search further afield. They don’t need to be great and famous and many of them may be pleased to be listed, perhaps anonymously, to correct the mythology.
There was a young lady in the Commonwealth service who achieved some minutes of fame a few years ago by going public to say she was fed up with the way people like herself were getting preferential treatment on the basis of next to no Aboriginal ancestry and no social disadvantage in growing up.
A list from Wikipedia
- Gordon Briscoe, Doctor of Indigenous History, Order of Australia
- Deborah Cheetham, Aboriginal soprano, actor, composer and playwright
- Katherine Mary Clutterbuck (Sister Kate)
- Ken Colbung, political activist and leader
- Ningali Cullen (deceased), co-chair of the National Sorry Day Committee
- Belinda Dann, born as Quinlyn Warrakoo, forced name change to Belinda Boyd, deceased at 107 years of age making her the longest-lived member of the stolen generation
- Polly Farmer, Australian rules footballer
- Lorna Fejo, the Warumungu woman named by Kevin Rudd, in his Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008
- Ruby Hunter, musician
- May O’Brien, WA educator and author
- Lowitja O’Donoghue, AC, CBE, DSG, nurse, public administrator and Indigenous rights activist
- Doris Pilkington Garimara, author of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
- Bob Randall, Indigenous Australian of the Year
- Aunty Isabel Reid (born 1932), elder and advocate for the Stolen Generation; NSW State Recipient of Senior Australian of the Year 2021; oldest living survivor of those forcibly removed under the Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (NSW), having been sent to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, paid homage to her on 13 February 2021, the 13th anniversary of the Apology.
- Rob Riley (deceased), CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service 1990–1995, author of Telling Our Story which instigated the National Inquiry into Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families
- Archie Roach, musician
Roundup of Partners and Fellow-Travellers
Drop in and see what they are up to!
. . . have been a staple of cinema for ever and a day in dramatising the life of a historically-based or non-fictional person or people. Such films show the life of a historical person and they differ from docudrama films and historical drama films in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a single person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their lives.
Back in the 1930s Warner Bros. embarked on a series of prestige biographical films starring Paul Muni which included The Story Of Louis Pasteur, The Life Of Emile Zola and Juarez. They have dated now and you can almost smell the greasepaint but they were immensely popular at the time.
In the 1940s we saw the emergence of biographical films featuring music composers whether it be classical eg. Chopin in A Song To Remember or contemporary with Cole Porter in Night And Day and Glenn Miller in The Glenn Miller Story; but as accurate representations they were more fiction than non-fiction.
In fact, it’s been a constant criticism of the genre in the way facts are distorted or even invented to serve the film’s narrative. We have seen this recently with the 5th season of the Netflix series The Crown.
One of my favourites in the way it focused on the most important years of a historical person is Franklin J. Schaffers’ Patton released in 1970. The film focused on U.S. General George S. Patton’s years during WWII and starred George C. Scott in the title role in a performance which I rank as one of the top 3 male performances of all-time. Scott totally immersed himself in the role in that he is General George S. Patton.
Because the figures portrayed are actual people, whose actions and characteristics are known to the public (or at least historically documented), biopic roles are considered some of the most demanding of actors and actresses, but are also often the most rewarding as a fair number of such portrayals have seen the winning of the Academy Award for either Best Actor or Best Actress.
A favourite of mine in regards to detailing the life story of a person is Richard Attenborough’s 1992 film Chaplin. Unlike his earlier Gandhi which I found to be a crashing bore, despite Ben Kingsley’s excellent performance, Chaplin is a very entertaining biopic of the legendary film comedian and boasts a superb performance by Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin.
Some other favourite biopics of mine I would recommend are Young Winston, La Vie en Rose, Michael Collins and even Bohemian Rhapsody (despite it being wildly inaccurate).
So what favourite biopic films do Cats enjoy ?
This morning on Wednesday Nov 23 South Australia is in a wind drought. The wind-leading state is demonstrating the great green future of Australia as we pretend to transition from coal.
Before sunrise SA was importing power from Victoria and drawing almost 30% of its demand from the wind, with 70% from gas, with a bit of input from diesel generators. The wind CP was 22% of installed capacity and falling.
At 8 (Sydney time) SA was still importing power and the wind was down to 7% of installed capacity, providing less than 10% of demand. The sun was starting to make a contribution but gas was still delivering almost 70% of demand.
This is the live display that shows the flows between the states. Check the Fuel Mix tab to see the contribution of different sources, not including rooftop solar because these souces are not registered generators and they are not measured accurately by AEMO.
Below is a screen shot taken about 8am. The vertical axis shows the Capacity Factor. The upper line is the picture for the NEM in total and the lower line is SA. The coloured lines are individual wind facilities. this is the live display. Check the boxes to get the various state figures.