Ten years since the GFC!

First, just in case you notice some changes in format here. I am now posting via Chrome, as Microsoft Edge in my Windows 10 no longer displays the log-on box from WordPress.com. There are also issues, I suspect, with Facebook chat — where a cousin of mine noted that Edge is only good for downloading a better browser!

OK, last night on 7.30 we were reminded that it is ten years since the Global Financial Crisis, to which our then Labor government responded — comparatively — quite brilliantly. See Inside Australia’s GFC response: Government wargamed financial disaster scenarios.

So I looked back to my blog for September 2008.

Self-portrait?

22 SEPT 2008

Interpret this as you will! 🙂

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And:

Strange things in the boot of Malcolm Turnbull’s limo…

28 SEPT 2008

Consider Eric Abetz. Now here is a man who knows left-wing bias when he sees it: any lack of resemblance to Quadrant or deviation from the Australian Christian Lobby is clearly a Communist Plot. Now he wants Q&A “regulated” — not just the show, but the audience — despite the good showing his new leader made there last week, and despite the fact that, much as I hate to admit it, Q&A actually made me warm a little towards Julie Bishop!

SENIOR Liberal Eric Abetz believes the ABC TV political talk show Q&A has failed in its attempt to provide a representative cross-section of the community because the audience was overwhelmingly made up of Labor and Greens voters.

The figures, provided to a Senate committee, show that for seven episodes there were on average double the number of Labor and Greens supporters in the audience as Coalition supporters.

In some episodes, Coalition supporters made up as little as 10 per cent of the audience, with an average of 20 per cent. Labor and the Greens accounted for as much as 54 per cent of the audience, which participates, with an average of 50 per cent.

Senator Abetz said: “The ABC has to immediately rectify these figures for the remaining episodes of Q&A this season.”…

Just when some were thinking, or Malcolm Turnbull was having us believe, that this creepy Howardism was dying Eric lands feet first with his hobnailed boots firmly on our faces. Thanks for reminding us why we wanted the Howard government to go, Eric! Well done. We will be very careful to scrutinise the blandishments of Malcolm Turnbull from this moment on…

And:

Turnbull triumphans, Wall Street requiem

17 SEPT 2008

 

To take the parochial first, Malcolm Turnbull is now the Leader of the Opposition here in Oz, around three months later than I expected he would be. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes, Now Rudd has a contest. Sure, Turnbull has an ego the size of Jessie the elephant — who lived incidentally in the old Sydney Zoo where Sydney Girls High now is. But then, Disraeli was hardly a shrinking violet, to cite a 19th century English Conservative in comparison. The Rudd government had better perform now, difficult as that will be with an Opposition scenting blood and still playing spoiler. I know that’s politics, but I really wish they could do better than that. One of the best things that could happen for the sake of the country would be for people like Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott to go completely out of fashion. Their approach to politics damages the rest of us. They think it is about winning a game; I think it should be about winning respect and caring for the country. However, the rise of Turnbull does put an intelligent, capable person in the position of alternative Prime Minister, and that has to be an advance. One hopes the Liberal Party moves right away from the narrow, anal, and even at times quite evil, legacy of John Howard.

Annabel Crabb in the Herald this morning did amuse me with this though:

Accounts of the Turnbull ego do differ across the broad church of the Liberal Party.

Some argue it is Milky Way-sized, while his intimate admirers and defenders (whose ranks are fast swelling with opportunists) argue it could probably be squeezed into Wembley Stadium.

The chances of him finding anything about yesterday genuinely humbling, however, are about as good as Zimbabwe’s new power-sharing agreement panning out well.

Now for Wall Street. I could go into cliche mode about the wickedness of capitalism and the sin of greed, but while I may have such thoughts anything I would have to offer would be utterly banal. So I turn to a couple of people much better informed than I am. First, here in Oz, there is Ross Gittins: Worrying only makes things worse.

One good thing about our modern problem of information overload is that, no matter how bad the news, we never focus on it for long. Another day, another crisis. The end of the world is so last week.

I came to that conclusion in the aftermath of the great Wall Street sharemarket crash of October 1987. It was hugely dramatic and quite frightening. And just because most people don’t know what these things prove, doesn’t stop them concluding they must be Very Bad. Sometimes I think the less you understand, the more dire the conclusions you draw. Just to help things along, the media carried pundits predicting that, as in 1929, the great crash would precipitate another great depression (thereby revealing their towering ignorance of the true causes of the Great Depression).

Always one to react against predictions of death and destruction, I limited myself to saying it made a world recession likely. Wrong. In the end it had hardly any noticeable effect on any economy. I had figured that the scare it gave would prompt people around the world to pull in their heads and thereby bring on a downturn. But I reckoned without the media’s ever-shrinking attention span. After a week or so the crash that was going to end it all hardly rated another mention. The punters soon forgot about it…

Second, in the USA I suggest John Taplin. That links to his September 2008 entries….

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Random items on Queen’s Birthday

Let’s start there, as it is a good news story! Yes, it is the Queen’s OFFICIAL birthday and the local version of the Honours List is out. I am pleased to see a familiar Wollongong face — my boss 40 years or so ago.

Rex Cook still keeps in touch with students he first taught when he started teaching at Grafton High School back in 1950. The love and affection these students, many of whom are aged in their 70s and 80s, still have for her father, is one of the reasons Wendy Cook-Burrows nominated Mr Cook for an OAM.

She said the 92-year-old Mount Ousley man was “gobsmacked” when notified of his OAM for service to the community of Wollongong, and to education….

And I taught Wendy back then too…

Next: Getty Images has released a set of slides claiming to be Australia’s oldest. This one is particularly evocative, though there are no details of its provenance.

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Now to the weird and wonderful present. China Daily has posted this on Twitter, probably with due glee:

Screenshot (174)

Yes indeed. Read Donald Trump adviser says ‘special place in hell’ for Justin Trudeau as White House steps up G7 row (not from China Daily.) I for my part am considering joining the Justin Trudeau Fan Club! After all, his country is a fellow Commonwealth member!

And we are all on tenterhooks with eyes on Singapore now. I hope the famous one-minute body language reader reads correctly. (Maybe I should warn him that if a Korean gives you full eye contact it is not necessarily a good sign, despite our western assumptions.)

. Looking just past the person’s face is generally the norm from what I’ve noticed. I don’t think you need to stress over the occasional direct glance, but you should be careful about “gazing”, or staring directly into someone’s eyes for a long period of time. It’s considered challenging and possibly even aggressive, depending on circumstance.

No, I didn’t watch it…

By which I mean the “tell-all” paid interview on Channel Seven last night.

I did watch the new TV series of Mystery Road though. Loved it!

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About:

Filmed in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, Aaron Pedersen and Judy Davis star in Mystery Road – The Series a six part spin-off from Ivan Sen’s internationally acclaimed and award winning feature films Mystery Road and Goldstone. Joining Pedersen and Davis is a stellar ensemble cast including Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Anthony Hayes, Ernie Dingo, John Waters, Madeleine Madden, Kris McQuade, Meyne Wyatt, Tasia Zalar and Ningali Lawford-Wolf.

Directed by Rachel Perkins, produced by David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin, Mystery Road was script produced by Michaeley O’Brien, and written by Michaeley O’Brien, Steven McGregor, Kodie Bedford and Tim Lee, with Ivan Sen and the ABC’s Sally Riley as Executive Producers.

I have in fact been reading a lot lately, including some very interesting choices from Wollongong Library. Kudos to whoever is responsible for buying new books there! I may list my recent reading in another post, but here is my current one:

the-half-has-never-been-told-slavery-and-the-making-of-american-capitalism-books-about-slavery-nonfiction-674x1024

I am finding it quite riveting. I don’t think I could ever read or see Gone With The Wind ever again! The book is not uncontroversial.  Here is a post by a dissenter. But see also Harvesting Cotton-Field Capitalism.

“Have you been happier in slavery or free?” a young Works Project Administration interviewer in 1937 asked Lorenzo Ivy, a former slave, in Danville, Va. Ivy responded with a memory of seeing chained African-Americans marching farther South to be sold.

“Truly, son, the half has never been told,” he said.

This anecdote is how Edward E. Baptist opens “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,” an examination of both the economic innovations that grew out of the ever-shifting institution of slavery and the suffering of generations of people who were bought and sold.

Mr. Baptist, a history professor at Cornell, said in an interview that his book represented his decade-long effort to blend these two aspects. Published in September, “The Half” joins a new wave of scholarship about the centrality of slavery — and the cotton picked by slaves — to the country’s economic development.

Mr. Baptist shows the ways that new financial products, bonds that used enslaved people as collateral and were sold to bondholders in this country and abroad, enriched investors worldwide. He also emphasizes viciously enforced slave labor and migration. The cotton boom led planters to sell slaves — one million moved from old to new slave states from the 1790s to the 1860s. Productivity, he argues, came through punishment. Enslaved and formerly enslaved people like Ivy are at the center of this sprawling story….

Sometimes unfolding in a novelistic way, his book casts unreimbursed labor as torture and Southern plantations as labor camps. Mr. Baptist imagines the thoughts of a slave being put to death. He quotes exchanges between planters about the sexual exploitation of enslaved women….

As he writes in the book: “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African-Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth.”

It is the specific human stories that make this book so compelling. It would appear that our convict era was a holiday camp compared with the ante-bellum South!

Fascinating story of Wollongong Art Gallery

Must go again! On an earlier visit:

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It is the Gallery’s 40th anniversary.

An immersive interactive installation project that celebrates the significant and generous gift by Bronius (Bob) Sredersas, a Lithuanian migrant and steel worker whose personal art collection became the impetus for the establishment of Wollongong Art Gallery.

Incorporating the Sredersas art collection, this innovative multidisciplinary exhibition recognizes both the Gallery’s origins and celebrates the contribution that migrants and refugees have made and continue to make to our communities.

This work has been created by the Society of Histrionic Happenings under the curatorship of Anne-Louise Rentell​ through the Gallery’s Visiting Curators Program.

​​THE GIFT on Vimeo

See also THE GALLERY / The Story of Us.

It was not until 1975 after a chance meeting with a very modest gentleman named Bronius (Bob) Sredersas. Bob wanted to donate his collection to the “Children of Wollongong”. This momentous gift was the catalyst on which the Art Gallery was built (Sredersas Gallery). The Illawarra County Council donated the property formally known as the Hughes Whetton Reilly Building (now Wollongong Youth Centre), including the land upon which it stood to Council on the proviso that the property be used for an Art Gallery. Through the persistence and hard work of the society, volunteers and donors, and with the assistance of Council and Government funding bodies, a Director and Board of Trustee was appointed and on the 2 June 1978 Wollongong City Gallery was officially opened by Mr Neville Wran, Premier of NSW at 85 Burelli Street, Wollongong attended by over 500 people. The first exhibition was titled Burghers of Calais, with works borrowed for the National Gallery and Art Gallery of NSW.                                      

Local ABC has a great feature: The Lithuanian secret service officer whose art collection changed an Australian city.

Bronius 'Bob Sredersas stands in front of a painting while holding a cigarette.

I was back in Wollongong by late 1978, though seeing out the year working at Sydney University.

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“North Wollongong Beach in the early 1980’s. Photo thanks to Lost Wollongong member Michael Schurr.” I was living not far away in Church Street at that time – well, at least from late 1978 to the beginning of 1981.

I recall hearing about “The Gift” at the time. Interesting the role played by Father Michael Bach, whom I met earlier in the 70s when he officiated at a wedding where I was a groomsman.

Mr Sredersas’ life outside of work could not have been more contradictory — he would not be seen at the local pubs that were filled with steelworkers or at the local football matches and horse races.

Instead, he would spend his time at his fibro cottage in the Wollongong suburb of Cringila, tending to a garden of roses, cabbages, lemons and a line of trees to absorb the dust from the steelworks.

It was in 1956 when he decided that his home needed a painting and he caught the train to Sydney, a journey he would regularly make over a period of 20 years….

In 1977, hastened by a break-in which saw 13 of the works stolen — including two Willian Ashtons and a Norman Lindsay — Mr Sredersas began to wonder where his collection would be stored over the long term.

He decided that the people of Wollongong, the city he felt he owed a great debt to, should own the paintings.

A devout Catholic, Mr Sredersas, who was then in his late 60s, enlisted the help of Father Michael Bach who was the administrator of Wollongong Cathedral at the time….

Too many Whitfields!

I have a lot of family history in my blogs, much now consolidated in Neil’s Family Specials and Memory Hole. Lately some potentially confusing comments have appeared in what is in fact my original (though revised) post on Whitfield family history. What a maze that comment thread has become over that past 10+ years! On the other hand much there is of value and interest to family members — or families members! There are, it appears, at least four Whitfield families floating around in Australia history.

One lot came from Hull. I noted them almost ten years ago.

There is a new series ongoing on Ninglun’s Specials: Looking for Jacob. Yes, I know I said I was dropping the series idea, but not the series tags, but a recent email from one of the Whitfield family historians set me off on a small expedition to record the area we now know held the convict Jacob Whitfield’s residence in the 1830s. I was just now reflecting on this: as a child I met, and remember, at least four of the children of William Joseph John Whitfield (born 1836), the grandson of the convict, none of whom ever mentioned their great-grandfather. In fact there was a story my father had that the original family member in the colony had been a shipwright from Hull in northern England – Dad even had a shipwright’s chisel in his tool kit that allegedly came from him. Curiously, there was a Jacob Whitfield in Hull around the time of the Battle of Waterloo, listed in Indentures of apprenticeship cancelled or discharged before the magistrates 1813 – 1821: “Jacob Whitfield, son of Jacob Whitfield of Hull, blacksmith to Thomas Stephenson of Hull, master mariner, 21 June”. Not our Jacob, it seems, though the general trades area is right: but how did my father make a Hull connection in his story? (See also Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days. Our Jacob came from Ireland.)

I noted that a family in Sutherland Shire traced back to the Hull Whitfields…

It turns out there is another Whitfield family altogether extant – and with Shire links.

Perilous Seas: The Whitfield Family – Ancestors & Descendants England & Australia 1605-2012

The Whitfield family farmed in the Tyne Valley of Northumberland before moving to iron works on the Derwent River in Cumberland where two daughters drowned in separate accidents. Descendants experienced contrasting fates. One, James Whitfield made a fortune on the Australian goldfields before becoming a successful entrepreneur in Workington. His siblings lived and worked in industrial towns and the youngest, William Whitfield became a master mariner in Australia, experiencing a number of misfortunes before returning to Hull, Yorkshire, leaving his Australian family behind.

Now that is interesting, because my father used to say his Aunty Jessie and one other family member had traced the family to Hull, and there was allegedly a lost fortune there… That must be this family, but there is no doubt there is no close connection.

Speaking of confusing, have a look at this! Jacob Whitfield (1759 – abt. 1851). Family historian Bob Starling was on the case:

In a 2011 comment on “About the Whitfields: Convict Days” Bob Starling wrote:

For some years I have been searching for Jacob Whitfield’s death. It was noticed that Jacob gave his religion as a Quaker on one of his applications to marry. With this fact the Quaker society in Sydney has carried out some research and came up with the following piece of information:

“In searching the incomplete records we have of burials in the Friends Burial Ground within the old Devonshire Street (Sandhills) Cemetery, I came across a reference to:
“Burial Notes missing of … Jacob Whitfield” Unfortunately, there is no indication of his date of death or burial. Burials took place in the Friends Burial Ground from about 1837 through to about 1880.”

Whilst we can now accept that Jacob died in Sydney, probably between 1851 and 1856 we cannot quite put him to rest until we find an exact date.

He was certainly around for a long time.

whitfieldchart

From Bob Starling

Now going way back it would be interesting to see how all the Whitfield families link to Wikipedia’s Whitfield family.

The Whitfield family was a landowning Norman family in present-day United Kingdom; the family was seated at Whitfield Hall Northumberland in Northumberland. The area was granted by William, King of Scotland in the twelfth century. The family derives its name from the old English hwitfeld, meaning open white lands….

Quite likely the Irish connection began as part of the Plantation of Ulster.