Stats for April 30, 2012, 9:56 am

What people have visited in April 2012.

  1. Home page / Archives 899 views
  2. Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 120
  3. Bearing the weight of all that interpretation: “Australia on Trial” on the Mount Rennie Case 109
  4. Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 105
  5. A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family 74
  6. The Rainbow Warrior 68
  7. About 67
  8. Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4 61
  9. Jack Vidgen–Australia’s Got Talent last night 56
  10. SBY’s speech in the Australian parliament 39
  11. This may well be the best Australian history book I have EVER read! 35
  12. Best documentary on climate change so far… 33
  13. Sport and multicultural Australia 31
  14. 2010 retrospective 6: cricket, boat people, Islam 30
  15. Niggling example of political short-sightedness: Maldon-Dombarton rail link 30
  16. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final 26
  17. Still reading and delving… 25
  18. Erasmus Darwin “Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay” 25
  19. Has school bullying increased? 25
  20. All my sites 24

And on the photo blog:

  1. Home page / Archives 370
  2. Anzac Day coming up: Wollongong’s McCabe Park 41
  3. The amazing Surry Hills Library 1 17
  4. Anzac Day Coming Up: Wollongong’s McCabe Park — 2 15
  5. Anzac Day in Wollongong 14
  6. Around Belmore Basin (Wollongong Harbour) 10
  7. St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Wollongong — 3 10
  8. Public housing at Poet’s Corner, Redfern 10
  9. Small Buddhist temple 3 10
  10. Gracious… 9

Most viewed photo April 2012.


The state of OzLit

No doubt with an eye on the upcoming Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Sun-Herald this morning editorialises thus:

AUSTRALIA can be very good at honouring its high achievers. Sports champions, medical pioneers, philanthropists, artists, entertainers – even politicians – are generally awarded due recognition. And, of course, as witnessed so movingly last Wednesday, the nation acknowledges the extraordinary sacrifices and heroism of the men and women of our armed forces.

But the country’s novelists have been largely neglected. Of the 53 books that have won the Miles Franklin prize for literature since its inception in 1957, 20 are out of print in Australia. David Ireland won the Franklin three times but until a recent rescue mission his entire body of work was out of print.

In 2011, Henry Handel Richardson’s The Fortunes of Richard Mahony appeared on no curriculum anywhere in the country…

Michael Heyward, a publisher who laments his own industry’s abandonment of so much great Australian literature, lays some of the blame with academe. Too few Australian novels, particularly those from earlier times, are studied in schools and universities.

Certainly, Australian novelists have fared poorly on high school curriculums compared with writers from Europe and the US.

The shabby treatment of our novelists appears to be another example of the dreaded cultural cringe. How could a story set in young, irrelevant Australia compare with the works of Dickens, Tolstoy or Faulkner? Quite favourably, actually.

The first 220-odd years of European settlement of Australia have been remarkable, yielding a huge diversity of backdrops for compelling literature. Australians have fought in wars, built cities, experienced political and social upheaval, performed and competed on world stages and made scientific and medical breakthroughs. As the country grows and its population broadens, those backdrops will expand.

Why so many Franklin winners have been forgotten will be the subject of much debate. There can be an argument that the Franklin judges often erred, making decisions based on esoteric parameters far removed from general appeal.

Respective merits aside, Australian literature is a vital component of our national identity. So much of the country’s history is preserved in the works of our writers. Sometimes their work is dense, difficult and dated but it’s unarguable the stories are valuable windows on life in Australia.

Heyward’s quest to rekindle interest in home-grown storytelling deserves support. There is no suggestion the works of Australian writers should be imposed on readers, but it’s vital their work remain affordable and available.

You can download The Fortunes of Richard Mahony for free from a number of places, including the University of Adelaide.

Michael Heyward has been vigorously publicising the new series of Australian classics from his imprint, Text Publishing – and nothing wrong with that as it is a laudable venture. Whether it will make any money is a moot point, however; but I wish it well. See Australian Classics Re-emerge, Full transcript: Michael Heyward in The Zone, The nation that lost its own stories.

I would have thought that here in NSW OzLit is quite well served at the school level. As the then Minister said back in 2008:

Australian literature already features strongly on the HSC English Prescriptions list which is the focus of HSC English study for all students. Selected texts are studied in depth. On the new 2009–2012 HSC Prescriptions list, of the 101 print medium texts listed, 33 are Australian and students may study Australian novels, poetry, drama and nonfiction works. Among the internationally renowned Australian writers whose works are listed are Peter Carey, David Malouf, Patrick White, Tim Winton and Gail Jones…

The publishing industry, believe it or not, is mainly about making money, and if punters don’t buy then publishers don’t reprint. That as much as anything explains why really fantastic writers like Thea Astley haven’t been reprinted.  And then there’s the whole fluid state of the business nowadays.  Another story in today’s Sun-Herald:

GENERATION Y is leading the paperless book revolution, a new study has found.

A study released by London publisher Bowker has found that Australia and Britain have the second-highest e-book consumption, with 21 per cent of respondents saying they had paid for an e-book in the past six months. India took the top spot, with 24 per cent of respondents buying e-books.

In Australia, young adults aged 18 to 24 were the most prolific downloaders of adult fiction, the study found.

Online book store Amazon says the most popular adult fiction e-book downloaded on Kindles in Australia was Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L.James.

The survey also revealed 19 per cent of Australia’s population had purchased an e-book – the highest proportion of a country’s population in the study. Britain came second with 17 per cent of its 62 million population purchasing an e-book, followed by the US with 16 per cent of its population of 313 million.

The research should act as a warning for those in the book business, said Kelly Gallagher, the vice-president of Bowker Market Research.

”Publishers and retailers must adapt to a very changed landscape. This research is essential for effectively navigating that new landscape and creating successful business models,” she said.

My own mostly freebie collection of eBooks now stands at around 1,800 titles — which I think is wonderful, but you can’t help wondering about the book business.

Meanwhile, go to YouTube to be educated on OzLit – from India!

Musing on my Anzac Day experience this year

As you know, I resolved to join the Anzac March in Wollongong this year to represent my father. My brother tells me he made a point of attending the Dawn Service in Devonport, Tasmania, where he lives. It was a much more profound experience than I had expected, and a very pleasing one too.

I had intended to find an RAAF section to march with, but the march was organised in RSL sub-branches or other groups. I wound up with a bunch of “Nashos” – my brother was a Nasho – all slightly older than I and representing all three services, though the Army predominated.



During the march


At the end of the march

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Part of the fly-past of vintage aircraft (Illawarra Mercury)

At the Diggers Club afterwards I had a number of great conversations with younger people who had served in the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

And here is another perspective on the day:

No, I didn’t

After yesterday’s post you may wonder if I watched it.


But I did see the first fifteen minutes and I have visited the QandA site this morning to see that there at least I didn’t miss much.  I should add that my real reason for not watching was that I simply needed an early night!  I should also add that it was a lie when I wrote yesterday that “I would rather have root canal therapy or listen to Alan Jones all day than watch the insufferable child-debater in adult garb Nick Minchin”. Well, almost a lie.

Nick is a classic example of what happens in this debate when ideology – Green/Bolshevik Plottism in his case – not science is your starting point. You tend to stick with things no matter how idiotic they are or how thoroughly they have been discredited or how often…

Take Nick’s article this morning:

Professor Michael Ashley, in yesterday’s Herald, expressed the usual denunciation of sceptics like me: the experts are on the global warming side; I am a cynical former politician who doesn’t understand ”the science”; they have found ”the truth” about climate – debate over.

Oddly, what he doesn’t argue is exactly the science – and that is because reality has got in the way of the theory. Indeed, the absence of warming since 1998 – despite rising CO2 levels and contrary to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions – shakes the foundations of the alarmists’ cause, as the Green icon James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, recognised this week.

OK, Lovelock. Nick is selective, as ever. Check the reports yourself.

Asked if he was now a climate skeptic, Lovelock told “It depends what you mean by a skeptic. I’m not a denier.”

He said human-caused carbon dioxide emissions were driving an increase in the global temperature, but added that the effect of the oceans was not well enough understood and could have a key role.

“It (the sea) could make all the difference between a hot age and an ice age,” he said.

He said he still thought that climate change was happening, but that its effects would be felt farther in the future than he previously thought.

“We will have global warming, but it’s been deferred a bit,” Lovelock said…

NOAA reports its data in monthly U.S. and global climate reports and annual State of the Climate reports

Its annual climate summary for 2011 said that the combined land and ocean surface temperature for the world was 0.92 degrees above the 20th century average of 57.0 degrees, making it the 35th consecutive year since 1976 that the yearly global temperature was above average.

“All 11 years of the 21st century so far (2001-2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century, 1998, was warmer than 2011,” it said.

In the interview, Lovelock said he would not take back a word of his seminal work “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth,” published in 1979.

But of “Revenge of Gaia,” published in 2006, he said he had gone too far in describing what the warming Earth would see over the next century.

“I would be a little more cautious — but then that would have spoilt the book,” he quipped.

Today, just coincidentally, we read:

Antarctica’s massive ice shelves are shrinking because they are being eaten away from below by warm water, a new study finds.

That suggests that future sea levels could rise faster than many scientists have been predicting.

The western chunk of Antarctica is losing 23 feet (seven metres) of its floating ice sheet each year. Until now, scientists weren’t exactly sure how it was happening and whether or how man-made global warming might be a factor. The answer, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is that climate change plays an indirect role — but one that has larger repercussions than if Antarctic ice were merely melting from warmer air.

Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey, said research using an ice-gazing NASA satellite showed that warmer air alone couldn’t explain what was happening to Antarctica. A more detailed examination found a chain of events that explained the shrinking ice shelves.

There is a wealth of material out there and what individuals like the extremely ancient Lovelock may think is beside the point really. What Nick calls “the hype of the Al Gores and Tim Flannerys” is also beside the point – whether or not one accepts that characterisation of either gentleman. It is the overall picture which has convinced every major scientific body in the world and the overwhelming majority of properly qualified climate scientists that there really is a crisis and that it is being largely driven by what we have done on this planet in the last century or two – one of those factors being anthropogenic climate change involving greenhouse gases, primarily CO2 from fossil fuel.

And really, Nick, not the “no warming since 1998” crapdoodle again! How often does this have to be rebutted????  Sheesh…


Tonight’s ABC orgy of climate change pseudo-balance could be a right royal waste of space, time and life…

I fear it may be as enlightening as the recent Q&A featuring in the red shorts George Pell and in the black shorts some noisy English scientist whose name escapes me… Some things it seems to me just don’t stack up in the QandA formula.

The Sydney Morning Herald probably gets it right this morning when it calls tonight’s double-header “ABC TV’s latest attempt to convert political controversy into mass entertainment.” “Beauty and the Beast meets the climate change debate” indeed.

Frankly I would rather have root canal therapy or listen to Alan Jones all day than watch the insufferable child-debater in adult garb Nick Minchin apply his razor sharp gifts and strong sense of irrelevance to an issue he quite clearly will not understand because it offends his political and economic presuppositions. I had a go at him two and a half years ago and I have had no reason to change my mind.

Dear Senator Minchin

I am a great admirer of your principled positions on issues like the monarchy and above all on so-called global warming. That you are sticking it up that socialist glove puppet Malcolm Turnbull fills me with joy!

I treasure your sage words on Four Corners earlier this month:

I frankly strongly object to you know, politicians and others trying to terrify 12 year old girls that their planet’s about to melt, you know. I mean really it is appalling some of that that sort of behaviour…

For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion…

I don’t mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change – of global warming. I don’t accept that and I’ve said that publically. I guess if I can say it, I would hope that others would feel free to do so…

Such wit! Such god-like wisdom!…

What must appal us staunch supporters of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is that she now seems to have been seduced! Can you believe it? Of course she is over 80, but I ask you!

And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more. The threat to our environment is not a new concern. But it is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come.  Many of those affected are among the most vulnerable, and many of the people least well able to withstand the adverse effects of Climate Change live in the Commonwealth.

Really, you just don’t know who to trust any more, do you?

His opponent seems a worthy person, but I really know little about her. I just feel in my water that the whole thing will be a waste.

Ms Rose kept a diary during the trip and has used it as the basis for a book, Madlands, which will be released later this week.

She says she hopes the documentary will be ”used as a starting point for Australians to re-engage with the science of climate change”.

However, she was disappointed over what she says was the producers’ decision to use fewer of her nominated advocates than Mr Minchin’s.

In particular, she says the claims of right-wing US blogger and anti- global warming campaigner Marc Morano (who denies any sea-level rise) were demolished by Rear Admiral David Titley, the chief oceanographer of the US Navy, but Admiral Titley’s segment did not make it to air.

Well I can help out there.

And then there’s these:

Mind you I just can’t get past how unbelievable it is that this debate even needs to happen…

Don’t get bogged down by deniers. Focus instead on the integrity of the science. That’s the tag line in a piece also in today’s Herald by Stephan Lewandowsky , an Australian professorial fellow and Winthrop professor at the University of Western Australia.

Stephan Lewandowsky is an Australian Professorial Fellow and Winthrop Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia. He is a cognitive scientist who has published more than 100 papers, chapters, and scholarly books on how people remember and think, with a particular emphasis on the role of skepticism in the updating of memories. His latest book on “computational modeling in cognition” draws together strands from philosophy of science, mathematics, and computer science to illustrate how cognitive scientists can best learn to understand how a complex system such as the mind operates.

Hmm. Also talking outside his field of expertise, though arguably a bit closer to the relevant disciplines than Minchin has ever been. Perhaps psychology and Minchin is relevant in another sense, however. Certainly psychology as much as any relevant climate science seems a fruitful approach to self-styled skepticism on the subject.

Science is debate. Science is about balancing evidence. Scientific debates are about the weight of evidence and they are conducted in peer-reviewed literature, which screens out ideas and opinions that do not withstand scrutiny. As a result, science expressly and inevitably differentiates nonsense from ideas that have scientific merit. It is the very essence of science that some ideas – such as the Earth being flat – count for nothing whereas others are taken seriously.

The only conclusion about the climate that is taken seriously by every single reputable scientific institution in the world is that the Earth’s climate is changing due to human greenhouse gas emissions. This is the only idea that has survived peer review and it is a fact on which the national academies of all industrialised countries converge independently.

There is a scientific debate about the climate – but that debate focuses on the likely consequences and on the resolution of remaining uncertainties, not on the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect which was established 150 years ago.

Read more: Denier vs Skeptic.

See my follow-up: No, I didn’t.

Five Months at Anzac





C.M.G., V.D., L.R.C.S.I., Colonel A.A.M.C. Late O.C. 4th Field Ambulance, late A.D.M.S. New Zealand and Australian Division





We had a good many Indian regiments in the Army Corps. The mountain battery occupied a position on "Pluggey’s Plateau" in the early stage of the campaign, and they had a playful way of handing out the shrapnel to the Turks. It was placed in boiling water to soften the resin in which the bullets are held. By this means the bullets spread more readily, much to the joy of the sender and the discomfiture of Abdul. The Indians were always very solicitous about their wounded. When one came in to be attended to, he was always followed by two of his chums bearing, one a water bottle, the other some food, for their caste prohibits their taking anything directly from our hands. When medicine had to be administered, the man came in, knelt down, and opened his mouth, and the medicine was poured into him without the glass touching his lips. Food was given in the same way. I don’t know how they got on when they were put on the ship. When one was killed, he was wrapped up in a sheet and his comrades carried him shoulder-high to their cemetery, for they had a place set apart for their own dead. They were constantly squatting on their haunches making a sort of pancake. I tasted one; but it was too fatty and I spat it out, much to the amusement of the Indians.

One of them saw the humorous side of life. He described to Mr. Henderson the different attitudes adopted towards Turkish shells by the British, Indian and Australian soldiers. "British Tommy," said he, "Turk shell, Tommy says ‘Ah!’ Turk shell, Indian say ‘Oosh!’ Australian say ‘Where the hell did that come from?’"

The Divisional Ammunition Column was composed of Sikhs, and they were a brave body of men. It was their job to get the ammunition to the front line, so that they were always fair targets for the Turks. The mules were hitched up in threes, one in rear of the other, each mule carrying two boxes of ammunition. The train might number anything from 15 to 20 mules. All went along at a trot, constantly under fire. When a mule was hit he was unhitched, the boxes of ammunition were rolled off, and the train proceeded; nothing stopped them. It was the same if one of the men became a casualty; he was put on one side to await the stretcher-bearers—but almost always one of the other men appeared with a water bottle.


Everyone knows of Simpson and his donkey. This man belonged to one of the other Ambulances, but he made quite frequent trips backwards and forwards to the trenches, the donkey always carrying a wounded man. Simpson was frequently warned of the danger he ran, for he never stopped, no matter how heavy the firing was. His invariable reply was "My troubles!" The brave chap was killed in the end. His donkey was afterwards taken over by Johnstone, one of our men, who improvised stirrups out of the stretcher-slings, and conveyed many wounded in this manner.


I watched the pinnaces towing the barges in. Each pinnace belonged to a warship and was in charge of a midshipman—dubbed by his shipmates a "snotty." This name originates from the days of Trafalgar. The little chaps appear to have suffered from chronic colds in the head, with the usual accompaniment of a copious flow from the nasal organs. Before addressing an officer the boys would clean their faces by drawing the sleeve of their jacket across the nose; and, I understand that this practice so incensed Lord Nelson that he ordered three brass buttons to be sewn on the wristbands of the boys’ jackets. However, this is by the way. These boys, of all ages from 14 to 16, were steering their pinnaces with supreme indifference to the shrapnel falling about, disdaining any cover and as cool as if there was no such thing as war. I spoke to one, remarking that they were having a great time. He was a bright, chubby, sunny-faced little chap, and with a smile said: "Isn’t it beautiful, sir? When we started, there were sixteen of us, and now there are only six!" This is the class of man they make officers out of in Britain’s navy, and while this is so there need be no fear of the result of any encounter with the Germans.

Another boy, bringing a barge full of men ashore, directed them to lie down and take all the cover they could, he meanwhile steering the pinnace and standing quite unconcernedly with one foot on the boat’s rail.

I have elsewhere alluded to the stacks of food on the beach. Amongst them bully beef was largely in evidence. Ford, our cook, was very good in always endeavouring to disguise the fact that "Bully" was up again. He used to fry it; occasionally he got curry powder from the Indians and persuaded us that the resultant compound was curried goose; but it was bully beef all the time. Then he made what he called rissoles—onions entered largely into their framework, and when you opened them you wanted to get out into the fresh air. Preserved potatoes, too, were very handy. We had them with our meat, and what remained over we put treacle on, and ate as pancakes. Walkley and Betts obtained flour on several occasions, and made very presentable pancakes. John Harris, too, was a great forager—he knew exactly where to put his hand on decent biscuits, and the smile with which he landed his booty made the goods toothsome in the extreme. Harris had a gruesome experience. One day he was seated on a hill, talking to a friend, when a shell took the friend’s head off and scattered his brains over Harris.