Fairly random notes from Byron Shire and beyond

Dr Sandra Tuszynska checks out her vomiting ‘shrooms.

Phillip Frazer

You may have missed this:

A Queensland mycologist (studier of fungus), Dr Sandra Tuszynska, believes mushroom vomit could one day replace plastics, bricks and certain metals.

She says the mycelium – a white, furry, web-like growth that oyster mushrooms throw up on themselves – is tough, water repellent and fire retardant. She discovered that if she set the ’shrooms loose in a bowl of coffee grounds, they spat out enzymes that digested the grounds ‘until the whole thing becomes all white and really sturdy and then you bake it.’ As you would.

Dr Tuszynska, who works as the environmental projects officer at Woodfordia, home of the Woodford Folk Festival, says the mushy goop also digests plastic. That’s big, given the world produces more than 400 million tonnes a year of plastic and 95 per cent of it is not recycled. And some Amazonian ’shrooms can digest in the dark, like, under a land-fill.

This fun story is online here.

Former Greens senator Scott Ludlam.

What Scott Ludlam learned over ten years in the Senate

In this month’s issue of The Monthly, former Greens senator Scott Ludlam reveals why he hasn’t fought like hell to get his parliamentary seat back after he lost it for being a dual citizen. Born in New Zealand, he has been in Australia since he was three, but he should have renounced his NZ–ship before entering parliament.

Ludlam was elected in WA in 2007, the year Kevin Rudd led Labor back to power after 12 years of Liberal PM John Howard. The idealistic WA Green quickly learnt lessons, such as that ‘Australia’s role in the world is decided in the cabinet room or the prime minister’s office with the blinds pulled down’. And the Opposition doesn’t fight that because at the top levels they all grovel to ‘excruciating lengths’ to support US military bases on our land as well as building up our own ‘national security state’.

He learnt that Labor leaders keep Greens out of policy-making, and devise wimpy plans to appease the big businessmen and their Liberal Party, and that those guys are hard to appease.

The best policy making Ludlam saw took place outside the old boys’ club of corporate lobbyists when PM Julia Gillard got together with the Greens and other cross-benchers, plus experienced experts and bureaucrats, to design a sensible tax on fossil fuels. The policy, and Julia, then got buried by Abbott’s ‘bitch-witch’ campaign, more Minerals Council money, and Murdoch’s media.

Ludlam believes our fundamental political sin, the ‘dark, foundational lacuna in our history’, is that ‘Colonial Australia began as an armed invasion, followed by two centuries of violent dispossession’. Still today, he reminds us, a majority of parliament supports torturing innocent people on Pacific islands, ignores the causes of spiraling wild weather, accepts perpetual war in the Middle East, and approves of rampant global surveillance and drone assassinations.

All this, and the frenetic drudgery of life in parliament, came to mind when a barrister rang him to say he had a document proving Ludlam was still a New Zealand citizen.

He was devastated that his senate career was shot, but he also thought, ‘there are many other creative ways to make trouble’ and to resist ‘our government’s ugly drift into bogan authoritarianism.’

Parliament, Ludlam concludes, is evidence that ‘we’ve ritualised the big disputes that in other places and times were resolved with machetes and guillotines; instead we use how-to-vote cards and attack ads with menacing voice-overs’. Now, he says, we must resist the notion that this is as good as it gets.

The Bangalow food factory man not mentioned

Mayor Simon Richardson joined the celebrations among careful-progress advocates last week when the development application for a large food packaging and distribution plant on the Lismore Road opposite Bangalow Industrial Estate was somewhat suddenly withdrawn.

That’s what an ‘informed, inspired and invigorated community can do’, he said, then added ‘now we must… find homes for those food producers who were caught in the middle of the issue’.

What ‘middle’ is he referring to? Perhaps the space between Bangalow citizens who couldn’t see why the town that sells $5,000 leather jackets should tolerate thousands of trucks on its roads – and Bart Elias who was behind the development, who has been linked with John Ibrahim, a Kings Cross bloke described by NSW Police as a ‘major organised-crime figure’. Brookfarm and Salumi surely could see those two demographics would never play well together?

NSA boss says Putin has trumped the president

Admiral Mike Rogers, director of America’s National Security Agency and US Cyber Command testified last week that: ‘I believe President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay’ for having his cyber warriors interfere in America’s elections.

‘If we don’t change the dynamic here,’ Rogers added, ‘this is going to continue and 2016 won’t be viewed as something isolated.’ This is a failure even Trump’s patriotic backers in Congress find seriously offensive. Trump just tweets ‘WITCH HUNT!’, perhaps believing that Putin’s hackers will be his backers.

Phillip Frazer is a dueling citizen at

One response to “Fairly random notes from Byron Shire and beyond”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    Mushrooms don’t vomit but have you seen a toad’s stool?
    Well take a seat as there is not much room here to sit.

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