And I blogged 15 years ago…

Longer, in fact, but this morning thanks to the Internet Archive I found quite a few survivors from Diary-X. “In early 2006, the server’s hard drive failed. Since there was no backup, the entire website and all of the users’ diaries were lost irretrievably.” Well, not quite.

Here are some samples.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

I had dinner with Sirdan last night — fish, asparagus and rice, and very good too. We got to talking about those ancient times we have both lived through, pre-leporine you know. (I just had to use that word, having found it recently.) Anyway, it turns out that among his past accomplishments are pottery and photography, and that last one I happen to have shared. In fact I began to get serious about it when I bought an ancient Praktica in Cronulla some time around 1968: single-lens reflex, a shutter that sounded like a gun going off, and no electronics whatsoever…

Later on I learned developing and printing (as Sirdan also did, but before me and in another country) and began to achieve some pretty fair results. I even taught photography for a couple of years…

Well, all my gear was stolen around 1987-8: the house in Glebe where I was living was burgled three times in one year. The last break-in happened while my flatmate Andy and I were both asleep upstairs; we heard nothing despite the burglars having neatly removed the back window in order to get in. The burglars, too, were disappointed and took nothing. In fact, one of them left behind a pair of sunglasses…

Yum Cha

Nine Dragons again today. We agree that it is probably the best over-all of the venues we go to. The spicy calamari, roast pork, duck are almost orgasmic. (I obviously should not have read Wendy Perriam!) Oh, and we, for the record, were Sirdan, the Empress, bus-driver Paul, James, Malcolm and myself.

20 September 2004:

Michael in Tasmania wrote a delightful entry yesterday, the last item being his reflections on 1964: “I remember 1964. At that time I had never seen a cassette tape, an FM radio, a calculator, a computer, a color television set or a video recorder. Heart transplants were still the stuff of horror movies and there were plenty of people who doubted that astronauts could ever land safely on the Moon.” It is indeed hard to believe this is forty years ago…

I had been talking to Mister Rabbit about this very year only last Friday, since this was the year I did my English Honours under Professor Sam Goldberg, got hepatitis, and completed my degree… I wrote about all this on my old diary, and looking back at those entries I am rather proud of them actually. So have a look, eh. (“Vermont 4 is wonderful. Well done.” — ICQ Message 🙂 18 January 2003.) This one and the one following it deal specifically with Sydney University.

Mind you, a few links there won’t go anywhere: Mister Rabbit’s old website is long gone and the new one is still in gestation, so to speak, and I doubt that literary quiz of mine still works….

12 February 2005:

One of the most marvellous writers of the 20th century, one whose enormous talents as a writer for the stage enthralled me totally, one whose wisdom I could only aspire to, has passed away. I refer, of course, to Arthur Miller, a voice for all that has been best in America. Interviewed in 2002 for the Christian Science Monitor, Miller ruefully acknowledged the applicability of his 1953 Tony Award winner The Crucible to the America of George Walker Bush.

In researching the play, Miller read through transcribed testimony from Salem court records. He compared the religious devotion of the 17th century with the trust Americans had in their judiciary and Congress following World War II.

In both cases, people in positions of power were “manipulating the faith” that Americans had in religion or in government, Miller says. “It’s a little bit like how you have millions of people in Muslim countries all worked up now, and I’m sure the mullahs who lead them are manipulating those people.”

The play’s prosecutor warns that “a person is either with this court or against it. There be no road between.”

Miller points out that “in one way or another, that speech is repeated anywhere this kind of a movement begins. It’s always ‘it’s a new time.’ We don’t consider the shades of evil. You’re either for us or against us.”

I am one of the many who found their own fathers in Death of a Salesman. Truly a wonderful writer….

Wow! Hard to take in the time that has passed since I wrote those. Naturally the internal links may or may not work, but being themselves web archived they just might!

Meanwhile here is an interesting 2004 item about the reality TV performer who later became The Donald, aka President Thug. Extract:

 Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have been against the Iraq War from the beginning, and he has cited this story as proof. The Iraq War began in March 2003, more than a year before this story ran, thus nullifying Trump’s timeline….

One thing about television, it brings out personality. People are able to watch me in action. They hear my voice and see my eyes. There’s nothing I can hide. That’s me. Television brings out your flaws, your weaknesses, your strengths, and you truths. The audience either likes you or it doesn’t. Obviously, the audience likes me.

In the history of the business, there’s never been anything like this—a businessman has the highest-rated show on television. Businessmen don’t even get on TV, let alone have the number-one show. What can I—[phone interrupts]. Hold on, I want to take this….Reeeeeg! How are you? … I’m sitting here with Esquire magazine. They’re putting me on the cover. It’s a story about…wait, I’ll let him tell you. [Turns on speakerphone.]

Esquire: What it feels like to be an American icon…

Everything I do in life is framed through the view of a businessman. That’s my instinct. If I go into a pharmacy to buy shaving cream, then I’m going to look for the best deal on shaving cream. I watch Carmelo Anthony play and think, How stupid was it for Melo to be drafted third? Can you explain that one to me? Look, I watched Detroit. Carmelo still would have been one of the best players on the team. He’s as smooth as silk. And Detroit uses its second pick to take this kid from Serbia. A project. First year, the guy doesn’t even play. A friend of mine says, “It’s gonna work out for them. It’s gonna be good.” What’s gonna be good? No matter how good Detroit is, is this Darko gonna be better than Carmelo? And even if he does become good in four or five years, he’ll look somewhere else for more money, right? I just can’t believe it. How stupid a move was that?….

I’m competitive, and I love to create challenges for myself. Maybe that’s not always a good thing. It can make life complicated. I’ve gone through so many phases—although to me it’s been one steady life. I used to be thought of as an eighties phenomenon. When the real estate market crashed in the early nineties, I was billions in the hole. Yet right now my company is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than ever. The show is the biggest thing on TV. And I’m saying to myself, Where do you go from here? And my answer is: I have no idea….

Of course now we know.

Before the Sopranos moved into the White House…

Yes, 2014 is alas five years ago. In keeping with my last post I now present some images (and more) from October in that distant time.

Bruce has since passed away: Friday Australian poem – #NS2 — “Because” by James McAuley. Do look. “Last Wednesday at the Wollongong City Diggers I had a most amazing conversation with B, a retired carpenter, in which this poem came up. It spoke to him too.


“B and I were sitting here”

Wollongong: the new shopping centre. Yes, rolling pins and colanders!



Enjoy this morning’s flowers here in West Wollongong:

Tree at my window – with cockatoo:



Jacaranda and Bottlebrush West Wollongong:


West Wollongong: misty:


Reworked some earlier photos:

FotoSketcher - P9230780a

Now which aunt was it?

On the weekend I reread my cousin Ray Christison’s excellent biography of our interesting great-grandfather, John Hampton Christison. (Or rather, I reread the draft Ray sent me pre-publication. Thanks, Ray.)

The life of John Hampton Christison could quite easily be construed as a work of fiction. John was a remarkable man in many ways and was typical of his era in others. His fortunes foundered many times as he navigated the difficult waters of 19th century commerce and the passage of his life was marked by dramatic changes in occupation. Like many in colonial societies John was not averse to claiming a status in life above that accorded him within the restricting social structures of Great Britain. Time and again he claimed a past that exceeded his humble roots.

Ray is currently in Scotland visiting some of the “scenes of the crime”.

Also on the weekend I cleaned this old thing, which for some reason I have kept. It has no pottery marks and is probably not worth much, but it is a survivor of the 19th century. (I look as if I could be too!)


Now I am not sure which of my mother’s aunts that belonged to — a Christison aunt — Lillie perhaps, or a Hunter aunt. Or maybe it belonged to my great-grandmother Sophia. For some reason my mother kept it all my life — and longer — and now I have it.  Below left-to-right around 1941 we have: my cousin John, his father Eric Christison, Sophia-Jane, my grandfather Roy, and my brother Ian Whitfield. Auburn Street Sutherland.


And from 1880:


So much going on today

Indeed. Here is a local manifestation of one of them:


Personally I find that mindless and unnecessary — and badly executed as well. But here in The Gong we will be seeing rather more today.

Businesses and miners will also hold demonstrations ahead of the Global School Strike 4 Climate rally and march starting at noon. The Wollongong rally will be held outside the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in Burelli Street. Organisers are intending to march up to Crown St Mall and back again before heading towards Flagstaff Hill. There will be a community picket at the South32 office, UOW Innovation Campus at 10am.

The bigger picture:

Thousands of students will lead climate strikes across the country on Friday, joining millions around the world demanding greater action to protect Earth from emissions.

The global rallies come ahead of Monday’s United Nations climate summit in New York, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not scheduled to attend. Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne will represent Australia.

The School Strike for Climate in Australia has singled out three main demands: no new coal or gas projects; 100 per cent of electricity to be supplied by renewable energy by 2030; and provision of a fund to support a “just transition” for fossil-fuel workers and their communities.

Sadly Climate Strike or no Climate Strike I really don’t think any of those demands is likely to happen in real life, but this is encouraging, if true: China and India demand $100 billion for climate action on eve of UN summit.

Now I hasten to add that I am what some call a “global warmist”, along with the majority of world scientists and people like Sir David Attenborough. Look at the sidebar of this blog!  That’s just another way of saying I am sane.  Not that I am suggesting that some of our more notorious parliamentarians are bonkers, though I am tempted… Take Craig Kelly (Lib) who sits — add a letter if you wish — just north of the Gong. He’ll probably appear on Sky News in the next day or two, possibly with Andrew Bolt. Here is the gospel of Craig: I kid you not.

I understand how persuasive that peer group pressure can be for teenagers and their desire to conform and fit in with the crowd.

However, I would say to any student considering joining the so-called climate protest, don’t be a sheep and think for yourself because you are being used and manipulated and everything you are told is a lie.

The facts are, there is no link between climate change and drought. Polar bears are increasing in number. Today’s generation is safer from extreme weather at any time in human history.

There is no 97% consensus. Such claims are a fraud. Crop yields have increased remarkably, wildfires have declined 25% over the past two decades, we are seeing less cyclones, not more.

Cold weather kills many times more than hot weather, including here in Australia. The sea ice is not melting away.

In fact, where the ill-fated Franklin expedition sailed in 1845, this year is blocked by thick sea ice.

Renewables ain’t renewable and they certainly don’t make electricity cheaper. And if you are worried about sea level rise, I suggest that you get some old photos of Fort Denison, get the tide gauge data and go and have a look for yourself.

Don’t take my word. I encourage all students in my electorate to study the science and learn for themselves.

Rarely have I seen so much bullshit in such a short space!  If you are tempted to take ANY of it seriously, go and have a good read here.

Meanwhile our PM — whom I praised just the other day, and don’t regret doing so — is being treated to Maccas at the White House with you-know-who and a gaggle of right-wing business types. Inevitably I thought of the last time a State Dinner was granted, by George W to John Howard, and I recalled a very pleasant night at The Belvoir watching Keating: The Musical.  This song seems so apt again.

Hang on a tic, just let me talk
‘Cos you can tell by the way I use my walk
I’m just a bloke, a normal bloke, and nothin’ more
I’ve got my home, I’ve got my health
I’ve got my lovely wife and kids,
I’ve got no tickets on myself
I’m just a bloke, an Aussie bloke, to the core.
So you know that I’d be grateful to the nation at large
If you thought it was appropriate to put me in charge…

If Mr Morrison says “Maaaate!” one more time I think I’ll throw up!

Update Monday 23 September — Spring Equinox!

Here was the scene in Wollongong while not far away I dined on minestrone soup. “Around 50 Chinese visitors having fish and chips at City Diggers right now. So well-dressed I have to assume they are from Shanghai! Pretty amazing this almost daily occurrence when you think back….” So down the road:


Quite a success, and world-wide was amazing. (Al Jazeera had the best coverage I saw.) Now today Climate change ‘hitting harder and sooner’ than forecast, warn scientists ahead of UN meeting. And just one symptom: ‘Funeral march’ held for Swiss glacier lost to global warming.

And where are we, and Donald Trump today?