By train to and from Sydney

First time in over a year. Very pleasant on the 8.35am express on the way up…



But cattle class on the 3.22pm from Central on the way back. Standing room only in a FOUR CAR train from the get-go at Central, and the following photo is at Wollongong AFTER the train had emptied many passengers!


See New train timetable: standing room only in The Illawarra Mercury 1 November 2013. Today did have a large contingent of school children returning to various Illawarra stations after The National Young Leaders Day in Sydney. But a four car train? Absurd.

We all get sucked in at times…

So it was good to see George Takei had posted this from Beware of Images on Facebook this morning.


On my now archival English/ESL blog I referred students to these three, still all going strong it seems.

  1. A List Of Fallacious Arguments 
  2. Fallacy Files
  3. Dan Kurland’s

The first one begins with this amusing quotation from an unlikely source:

“The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson’s time.”
Richard Nixon

And earlier this century…

Some recycles. Not all links will work, but surprisingly many do thanks to the WayBack Machine.

March 25 2001
Full moon?

Having seen a bit of shooting oneself in the foot going on last night at the Albury, I began to wonder! Note to self: light beer in moderation from here on for me for a while. Not that I was roaring drunk by any means: four schooners over the time from 5.00 (when I came up from coaching in Chinatown) until 8ish, and a middy elsewhere with a friend I ran into. But still more than an old person like me should, which is my point. I never drink at home, unless wine with a meal when I have guests. Nor do I use illegal drugs.
…Earlier in the day I was in the teller-machine lobby at the ANZ Bank in Chinatown. At the head of the queue was a young Chinese couple. The woman was making a withdrawal and having a furious argument with her boyfriend at the same time–in red-hot Mandarin I think. Next in line was an Anglo-Australian woman of about 40, quite stylishly dressed. After her was a young Chinese girl, then me. The Anglo woman did her transaction. Meantime, to free her hands, the young Chinese girl had put her half-eaten lunch and a drink down on a counter to one side of the machine. As the Anglo woman left, and as the Chinese girl was putting her keycard into the machine, the Anglo woman swept the Chinese girl’s lunch into the garbage! The Chinese girl was stunned! “You think that’s rubbish, do you? You’re so rude!” Actually I suspect the Anglo woman had concluded the Chinese girl intended to leave the stuff there, but it was clear to me that all she had done was put it down to free her hands for the machine. “Weird!” I said. The Anglo woman offered no apology but just stormed out. The Chinese girl was so shaken she told me to use the machine while she recovered.
Meanwhile the female half of the arguing couple had returned to withdraw more money–not looking happy. I, having withdrawn my cash, left.

March 26
Calm returns

There was another tragic case of foot-shooting on Saturday night, but not at the Albury. Someone had perhaps misread someone else, issuing a decree that was not as welcome as it might have been. As a result certain conclusions may have been drawn about Ninglun, conclusions that were wildly inaccurate. A chat with a third person resolved much.
Yes, that is as enigmatic as this diary ever gets, but thank God for Chat I say 🙂
Busy day and peaceful night. God bless all who have assignments due on March 30!

March 28
A dear friend

This entry is dedicated to John Wilkinson, a very dear friend first of M., than of myself (who made it to one Yum Cha). Ten years of friendship. John passed away last night after a long period of illness. He was one of the sweetest, sanest people you could ever meet. To Max and all his friends, especially Morris, my heart goes out.
John, it was a privilege knowing you. Rest easy now.

March 29
Free lunch

Sentimentalist that I am, I had lunch at the Galleria today. The place was much more crowded than it was last week, and the tiny kitchen near the front was a scene of frenetic activity. “Manuel” the gay waiter was on duty again, and slid chummily into the chair opposite mine as he took my order. On the next table a middle-aged lady looked slightly stunned as Manuel smoothly repeated the manoeuvre on the chair opposite her.
Half an hour later my coffee arrived, and her tea.
Forty-five minutes later she said something about this being rather a long time for a sandwich to appear. “I’m just the waiter,” Manuel apologised. Five minutes later her sandwich appeared, and another few minutes later my cheese and tomato on toast.
Now had the company been what it was last time I was there the delay might hardly have been noticed, but this time it was rather noticeable. Fortunately I was in no hurry.
That the Galleria people are really nice became apparent as I took out my wallet at the counter. Yes, I had scored a free lunch, and an apology for the delay. “But… I could see you had a rush.” “Don’t argue,” the English woman who runs the place said; so I didn’t 🙂
Who said there was no such thing as….?

And ten years ago was an election year, apparently…

New Series: Entry 9
lying rodents
02 September 2004: later: Had an amusing email from “Sillydog”…
Not so amusing – far from it – is that school hostage situation in Russia. Such a loathsome tactic. Nothing can be said for it at all; those who use such methods have forfeited their humanity, as far as I am concerned. On the other hand, it would be a brave person indeed who could find anything good to say about Russia’s record in Chechnya. Tragic all round.
I found Australian Cadaver Phil Ruddock’s attempt to make electoral capital out of it absolutely vile.
02 September 2004: AFTERTHOUGHTS on The Da Vinci Code
The Australian Jesuit magazine Eureka Street has a good article by Michael McGirr, “DAN AND MEL GET RELIGION – While Dan Brown and Mel Gibson can draw a crowd, Michael McGirr finds their stories still miss the mark…”

Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code also provides food for thought. It is a little difficult to account for the runaway success of this rather ham-fisted thriller. The Da Vinci Code uses stock characters, such as a stereotypical eccentric Englishman, Leigh Teabing, and many of the narrative devices of pulp fiction. …
The Da Vinci Code is based mainly around the idea, by no means new, that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus, that they had children and that their bloodline has continued in secret unto today. One of the phrases that recurs throughout the book is ‘the sacred feminine’. It is this which has drawn people to the book and for good reason.
Brown’s readers include many refugees from a male-dominated church which has undermined its own integrity by the way it has written women into the lesser parts of its tradition. Mary Magdalene, disguised as a man, is said to be the 13th disciple in Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. It is her need to disguise as a man which encapsulates the book’s real concern. The Da Vinci Code is a polemic against boys’ own Christianity..

McGirr is probably right about the appeal of the book to some feminist readers. Of course I would tend to see this as commercial calculation on Brown’s part.

  • “Liberal Senator George Brandis does not deny routinely referring to the Prime Minister as “the rodent”. He does, however, deny ever calling the Prime Minister “a lying rodent”. He believes John Howard is a truthful rodent. Actually, we should clarify that further, for Brandis is a barrister, with a barrister’s capacity for fine distinction. He would only ever call Howard the rodent; never a rodent, because the former is a nickname, whereas the latter would be a pejorative term. And, it must be said, in all the times this correspondent has heard Brandis use the r-word it has always been preceded by “the”, not “a”…” The Sydney Morning Herald.
    Nice Ratty! (Read and enjoy!)

    Scientists find fossil rodent.
    The largest rodent that ever lived, Phoberomys pattersoni, seen in this artist rendering, was roughly the size of a buffalo, and roamed the banks of an ancient Venezuelan river some 8 million years ago dining on sea grass and dodging crocodiles.

    Hereafter I shall refer to Mister Howard as “The Rodent” – you may insert whatever participle or adjective pleases you…
    01 September 2004: later: Not because anyone has said anything, but from my own perspective, I have decided to delete the Empress’s Sunday fatwa as being just too silly and embarrassing for further public exposure… Mind you, I was tempted at one point to do a really nice job on it – ornate font, parchment background, the full treatment. It might have been fun, but would have been unworthy.

    Check Tasmania Michael’s comment on the guest book before reading on…
    01 September 2004: I couldn’t pass by that memorable phrase as this entry’s title. Wherever the truth lies (bleeding, probably) in the war of the stat decs, I am sure “lying rodent” will pass into memory as a particularly apt descriptor of a Prime Minister who sacrificed whatever moral authority he may have had on the eve of the last election.
    “Anyone but Howard” as many a footpath in Surry Hills now proclaims, that being taken in turn from one of Howard’s many disaffected co-conservatives. Consider the 7.30 Report two nights ago:

    KERRY O’BRIEN: There is argument about whether it was originally meant in the best sense or said sarcastically, but you were once, a long time ago, called Honest John. You say that this election is about trust, which implies honesty. In terms of your own personal integrity, are you still entitled to be called Honest John?
    JOHN HOWARD: Well, it is not a description that I have used myself, Kerry, others did. Like everybody else, I value my reputation. I tell the truth. I try to be honest with people. I’ve been accused of other things by my political opponents, I accept that. In the end, the Australian people will make a judgment about that.When I say this election is about trust, I mean that in the broad sense of the word.
    KERRY O’BRIEN: Not in the personal sense as well?
    JOHN HOWARD: Well, of course. The broad includes the specific, doesn’t it? And includes it in every sense of the word. It goes beyond personal integrity. (Observe the following logical slide – a veritable glissando!) It also includes capacity, focus and experience and the ability to deal with difficult issues in a fast changing environment and we live in a world where that capacity is required of a national leader.
    KERRY O’BRIEN: You say that Australians are sick of kids overboard and dismiss it as an issue that was there for three days of the last campaign. It was there for more than three days, but I suspect there are a number of indefinable Australians who do want to know whether you lied about kids overboard during the last election to boost your prospects.
    JOHN HOWARD: Kerry, I didn’t lie about it. The original statement was based on firm information. That wasn’t the debate. Nobody is suggesting that we weren’t originally told. The debate was about the extent of the communication of the reverse side of the story.
    Look, what I’m saying is that people remember of that period that I stopped the boats. They will always remember that and they will always remember the Government was strong on border protection and the Labor Party was weak.
    I don’t believe the last election was determined on kids overboard, but what I’m saying is that this election is about the next 10 years, not about the last three days of the last election campaign and I believe very strongly that the overwhelming majority of the Australian people see it that way. But in the end, like everything else, this will be determined by the Australian people. It will be resolved by the Australian people when the election takes place.
    KERRY O’BRIEN: In the interim, these issues will continue to be debated. In Mike Scrafton, you have a former senior Defence official who says he made clear to you at at the time that no children were thrown overboard. He is backed up by two senior Defence officers, a serving major-general and Navy commander and also another senior Defence official.
    They say he told them all at the time that you knew that you had been told that no children had been thrown overboard and yet you continued to tell Australian voters the opposite. What do their accounts and recollections say about your honesty?
    JOHN HOWARD: Well, they’re not direct evidence. There are only two people had that conversation and I dispute his recollection. This is all known. People know that I dispute that recollection and I continue to dispute it, but there is really nothing I can add to that and my recollection is consistent with the recollections of my staff, but in the end, people will make a judgment about that.
    I don’t seek to denigrate Mr Scrafton. I’m sure he believes what he is saying.
    I am simply saying my recall is different and I’m also saying that what people remember about that issue is that we stopped the boats. We were very strong on border protection and the Labor Party was weak.
    KERRY O’BRIEN: The issue that I’m raising, Mr Howard, is not border protection because the kids overboard case didn’t alter your border protection policies one way or the other. The issue I’m raising is about integrity, morality, ethical behaviour.
    I know that you reject that this proposition applies to you, but I’m curious to know whether you feel that a man who deliberately and irresponsibly whips up public emotions and prejudice against a boatload of asylum seekers for political gain deserves to be prime minister.
    JOHN HOWARD: Well, I believe I deserve to be prime minister for a whole range of reasons. I reject the claim that I deliberately whipped it up.
    It was based on proper advice, I repeat that and I remind your viewers about that. The point I’m making about the boats is that the dominant concern of people in relation to border protection was the stopping of the boats, not the issue of whether children had been throw overboard.
    Look, we can go on all night and perhaps you might want to.

    Would you buy a used car from this person?
    Possibly the most insightful part of Louise Dodson’s article in yesterday’s Herald is this:

    Howard’s main subliminal message is the cleverest so far in the campaign. It is his use of the word “trust” to neutralise Labor’s “truth in government” campaign against the Coalition.
    Trust and truth are similar concepts so it did not seem odd to voters that Howard used the first rather than the second concept. But there is actually a world of difference between the two – trust encompasses so much more than truthfulness.
    As someone close to Howard points out, trust encompasses experience in the job, a track record of strong leadership, statesmanship and credibility. By using these markers it is easy for voters to judge Howard as someone to be trusted as against a difficult-to-judge Latham – because not as much is known of him, he has no track record in government.
    As soon as the election was called Howard, Peter Costello and John Anderson all immediately started to use the trust concept to attack Labor, asking rhetorically: “Who do you trust to keep the economy strong and protect family living standards? Who do you trust to keep interest rates low?” On day two of the campaign it was broadened out to “Who do you trust on tax?”
    The use of the concept of trust rather than truth appeals to voters who don’t want to follow the ins and outs of politics, they just want to make sure it is being done for them. In other words swinging voters rather than political junkies…

    Manipulative little swine, isn’t he?

  • Oh by the way – the Ian Thorpe searches are still finding my site each day: “Ian Thorpe chastity” is one of the latest. I should mention that Mister Rabbit actually went to school with Ian. True. So there… No connection to those search terms of course.

    And you thought I ranted nowadays! I am actually a reformed character! — 28 March 2014

  • Lunch at Steelers with long-lost cousin…

    Not really lost, but as he is considerably younger than I we hadn’t seen all that much of each other over the years, though his late father unfailingly kept in touch. See What a gathering of the clan that was! and Roy Hampton Christison 1927 – 2011.

    The “selfie” of the two of us is by Russell Christison, the rest by me. Dampish day, but great conversation.




    After Steelers we went to the Illawarra Brewery. When Russell left I stayed on and read for a while over a half-pint of Apocalypso.