Orange brick road

The sky is this unwell orange colour, like it’s eaten too many carrots, and so is the ground where the sunlight filters down onto it.

It’s like Melbourne’s been wrapped in orange cellophane, a big, gaudy xmas present, left in the car to overheat.

Everyone is a little unsettled by the colour of the light, and by the smell of the smoke that is everywhere: in the air; in your clothes; in your significant-other’s hair; sharper in rooms left closed for a few days; breathing from car vents.

Safely over in the United States, where the skies are red, white, and blue, NASA looked up and found a sunspot. They used millions of US dollars’ worth of equipment to find this sunspot, but, with the sun gauzed over by the smoke of two hundred thousand burning hectares, we here found it days ago for free.

It’s large enough to swallow the Earth, this sunspot, and to suck the whole lot of us right down to the Sun’s thermonuclear core without a moment of discomfort on its part, or on the part of the Sun. I imagine that we, however, would be fairly uncomfortable with the process (even if not for long).

It’s an electromagnetic tornado, spinning darkly within frenzied clouds of whitehot fusion.

NASA were so worried that when they launched the Space Shuttle Discovery, they launched it at night, so that it had less chance of bumping into the Sun and being sucked down that sunspot without a trace.

They can stand to not lose any more shuttles. Not even if the shuttle ends its days by dropping benevolently (for the Solar munchkins, at least) onto some wicked witch at the centre of the Sun.

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Bushfires and the media

I can’t help the feeling that everyone in the media is a little annoyed that the weekend bushfires weren’t the cataclysm that they were expecting. And advertising.

Friday night, on the Channel 7 News, Jennifer Keyte anounced in stentorian tones,

“Victorians will live and die this weekend, depending on the weather.”

Personally, I think that <generalisation>the media</generalisation> is totally irresponsible about reporting on bushfires.

They want to terrify us. It’s good for their business.

The warnings and portentous threats that were coming out of the commercial media in the lead up to the weekend were obscene. See, thing is, once we know that the fires are about, there’s not much we can do about it. Worrying won’t actually help.

During our little fire back in ’97, the authorities set up a phone counselling service for people traumatised by the fires. Most of the people who rang in lived nowhere near the flames.

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