What was I up to in August 2006?

Getting stuck into John Howard, among other things. These ten years old entries are from Monthly Archives: August 2006.

He has transformed Australia…

01 Aug 2006

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… and sadly this is true, except I would say “deformed”. The image above derives ultimately from The Arabian Nights, of course, though this one is from Marvel Masterworks. You know the story, don’t you? “In the story of Sinbad the Sailor, the Old Man of the Sea, hoisted on the shoulders of Sinbad, clung there and refused to dismount. Sinbad released himself from his burden by making the Old Man drunk.” Getting rid of the Garden Gnome may not be so easy.

“It should never have come this far…” Immigration bill dropped

14 Aug 2006

I couldn’t agree more with Jan, who puts this beautifully:

It should never have come this far, never even seen the light of day in my opinion, but Prime Minister Howard has dropped his bill for offshore processing of refugees. The bill was to have been debated in the Senate this week. The Family First senator, Senator Fielding, decided at the weekend that he would oppose the bill, while Barnaby Joyce from Queensland was planning to move an amendment or to abstain. The Herald has a report here

Rather than having egg on his face than because this was one of the most vile things Howard’s government has so far devised. Whatever, this is good news, and good on Senator Fielding and those Liberal Party people of conscience.
See my Friday 11 August entry Punch and Judy outside Parliament yesterday.

See Howard gambles political legacy: commentators.

Alex Buzo, Australian playwright, dies

17 Aug 2006

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Not as well known as David Williamson, Alex Buzo was nonetheless an important part of the renaissance of Australian drama in the 1970s. He died yesterday at the age of 62.

The first of his plays that I saw was Coralie Lansdowne Says No at the old Belvoir Street Theatre in the early seventies; no, come to think of it, I think it was at the Belvoir’s precursor, the Nimrod in Kings Cross. A good funny play it is too. Subsequently I met Buzo while I was acting in the Balmain Theatre Group’s production of his The Roy Murphy Show in which I played Clarrie Maloney, a Rugby League commentator loosely based on the legendary Frank Hyde. Yes, it was not type-casting, and I had to spray my hair grey in those days. 😉 Apparently I did it rather well, because when I met Buzo again in the early eighties he addressed me as “Clarrie”!

I also took an entire Wollongong Year 12 class to the entire production process from casting to performance of Coralie Lansdowne Says No at Balmain in 1979, in which I would also have been acting had I not returned in the meantime to Wollongong. We drove up to Sydney once every two or three weeks during the rehearsal process and saw the production through all its stages; we also went to the first night and the party afterwards where the class met Buzo, who was particularly impressed by “Carcase”, the class reprobate, who engaged him in intelligent conversation on the nature of dramatic language. Good memories.

And on the mortality of my generation, I discovered at The Mine yesterday that Patricia O’Brien, a member of the English Department, died of cancer during the last holidays.

A brush with fame, yum cha, and the interfaith service

20 Aug 2006

Yes, there I was crossing Goulburn Street and who should be standing very tall beside me but David Williamson! Odd, eh, after some recent entries here! Then on to yum cha at the Regal with Simon H, Lord Malcolm and Sirdan.

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Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAfter that I went to the Interfaith Service at historic Pitt Street Uniting Church, there on the right. So I shook Stephanie Dowrick by the hand at last; I have long admired her books. At the top of the order of service was a quote from Rumi which I have long loved: Out beyond our ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. We were called to worship by traditions of several faiths, including a good clear blast on the shofar or ram’s horn. The music in the service was especially beautiful, featuring Kim Cunio and Heather Lee, one of the 13th century Cantigas de Santa Maria being truly exquisite. The spirit of Gandhi permeated both the form of service and Stephanie Dowrick’s address.

It may be long before the law of love will be recognised in international affairs. The machineries of government stand between and hide the hearts of one people from those of another.

Blogging against dementia?

23 Aug 2006

No-one has yet mentioned this in John Baker’s excellent Five Questions series, but one could conclude from Michael Valenzuela’s research that blogging is an excellent prophylactic against the dreaded brain rot, especially for us grumpy old men.

On the other hand, a blog may be used in evidence, your honour…

Let future historians decide how well we have been led…

31 Aug 2006

When they do, they could do worse than attend to Bernard Weiner, whose “Twenty Things We Now Know Five Years After 9/11” was referred to me by The Poet, with the note that he would send “The Boys” to get me if I did not publish this here. No need, Poet. It is indeed a masterly summation, with some strong words thrown in with the undeniable facts.

In sum, we know that permanent-war policy abroad and police-state tactics at home are taking us into a kind of American fascism domestically and an imperial foreign policy overseas. All aspects of the American polity are infected with the militarist Know-Nothingism emanating from the top, with governmental and vigilante-type crackdowns on protesters, dissent, free speech, freedom of assembly happening regularly on both the local and federal levels. More and more, America is resembling Germany in the early 1930s, group pitted against group while the central government amasses more and more power and control of its put-upon citizens, and criticizing The Leader’s policies is denounced as unpatriotic or treasonous.
The good news is that after suffering through six-plus years of the Cheney-Bush presidency, the public’s blinders are falling off. The fall from power of Tom DeLay is a good symbol of this, and the true nature of these men and their regime is finally starting to hit home. Cheney is acknowledged as the true power behind the throne, and Bush is seen for what he is: an insecure, uncurious, arrogant, dangerous, dry-drunk bully who is endangering U.S. national interests abroad with his reckless and incompetently-managed wars, his wrecking of the U.S. economy at home, and with his over-reaching in all areas.

If a Democratic president and vice president had behaved similarly to Bush and Cheney, they’d have been in the impeachment dock in a minute.

And speaking of “Know-Nothingism emanating from the top”, check today’s Sydney Morning Herald front page story Weapons cover-up revealed: “The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, issued instructions to suppress a damning letter about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the war, a former senior diplomat says.”

Sigh.

An important document in its own right

31 Aug  2006

I was fascinated by that picture of Milton Public School in 1907 which I added yesterday to my Social History page.  So I have enlarged it a bit.

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What do you see? Yes, look at the Aboriginal faces, getting an education at least, if not at this time, and not for another sixty years, counted in the census or given citizenship rights. There is a history here, and today you may trace it for yourself at Budawang Aborigines Milton-Ulladulla. And out of respect I should add: ” In accordance with traditional laws often followed by Indigenous communities in Australia the mentioning of and photographs of deceased people may offend. Please note on this site there is mention of Aboriginal people who are deceased.”

Prior to 1996 we were in a healthy state working towards acknowledging such history properly. This is not to denigrate the histories of any of us, or to wallow in guilt, but it is to walk together with all Australians towards a maturity we need to attain, but which we have in these days put on hold. “Maybe tomorrow”, as my acquaintance Monty “Boori” Pryor has it.

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