Aspergers, English-speaking and Senator Revenant

To supplement my post Testing for English competence? read Annabel Crabb in today’s Sun-Herald.

The policy – proposed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton with all the mellifluity of a man who has spent nine years in the Queensland Police – is currently under consideration by the parliament…

It’s drawn immediate support from Pauline Hanson.

Asked by Channel Seven what she thought of the proposed test and its associated Australian residency requirement extension from one to four years, the Senator declared: “It’s a start in the right direction.”…

The last minor mangle is a small sample of Senator Revenant’s somewhat loose connection to the English language. What price her IELTS score, I wonder?

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Interesting: If you can’t speak English, you don’t deserve to call yourself a Senator, Pauline Hanson.

SHE wears her love of Australia like a badge of honour, but a leading speech expert says Senator Pauline Hanson should consider learning how to speak our language if she wants to inspire the nation.

Michael Kelly, a body language and speech expert gave Ms Hanson’s maiden speech in the Senate barely a pass mark of 5.5 out of 10, blaming her poor pronunciation and “clunky” delivery for creating an “amateurish” first impression.

Putting aside her controversial politics, the 30-minute oration was “not up to the standards Australians should expect of an inspiring member of the Senate,” Mr Kelly said.

Stumbling over basic words like “custody” and “integral,” Ms Hanson gave the impression she had not rehearsed the much-anticipated speech, which “lacked impact,” was “monotone” and at times was “twee” and “juvenile,” Mr Kelly claimed.

“It was like she was completely unprepared. She hadn’t worked out her phrasing, it was monotone and she struggled to read parts of it out,” he said.

“She was mispronouncing words like “custody” which she delivered as “cus-dy” and that just leaves an unprofessional impression,” he said…

The lowest point were her remarks offering to drive migrants to the airport herself, Mr Kelly said, immature and unbecoming of a senior parliamentarian….

To be uncharacteristically fair to the Revenant of Oz. I suspect that much of the trouble she has brought on her own head over the education of children with disabilities, particularly those on the autism spectrum, stems from her own intellectual and linguistic incapacity.  Rather than being taken out of context, her remarks had been typically garbled and ill-considered, but she does have a point. There should be better training and resourcing for the education of children with disabilities in the mainstream. I have a little experience here as in my last three years of teaching one of my duties was to support one-on-one some students with Aspergers. I had a couple of successes and one not so successful. At the time (2003-2005) this was all rather new to us. Glad to say one of the students concerned is now a friend on Facebook.

Many years ago — 1970 in fact — I taught at Dapto High School, south of Wollongong. In those days we had no idea at all — I do not exaggerate — when confronted, if we were, with students with such things as Aspergers/autism. Today is so different, as this excellent page from Dapto High attests. Do visit it if you want authoritative information on the subject.

I looked that up because of an item in today’s Sun-Herald by Peter FitzSimons — someone whose writing at times annoys me. But not today…

Even for Pauline Hanson, her attack this week on kids with autism – maintaining they had no place in “our” class-rooms – took the breath away. As ever, her polarising politics is divisive, driven by a mean-spiritedness that has set post-war records in Australian politics, and entirely ill-informed. In fact, the inclusion of students on the autism spectrum and wider Special Needs students has been successful across our brown and pleasant land, and some of it I have seen up close.

TFF’s brother, Andrew, is Principal at Dapto High School, where they have run a stunningly successful integration program for students on the autism spectrum for the last nine years, and they now have no fewer than 28 of them.

“These students enrich our school and this community every day,” he told me on Friday. “Students are encouraged to participate in the full range of activities: sporting, cultural, academic etc. Participation in mainstream classes is accommodated when ever possible; often playing to particular strengths; Art , Music, Engineering etc. It works. Never had a single complaint. It is inspirational and heart-warming on so many levels for so many of our Dapto students . . . and wonderful for those on the spectrum, and their families, too.”

Great to hear!

Otto Warmbier’s death underlines plight of thousands of North Koreans

That is a must-read opinion piece by former justice of the High Court of Australia, Michael Kirby.

Otto’s individual story is so sad indeed, but as Michael Kirby writes:

A seemingly minor player on the geographical chess board, North Korea has suddenly aspired to be a king. A tiny pawn, like Otto Warmbier, can quite easily be removed from the game, and even from life. When and how the young Otto’s brain damage first occurred may never be known. Like much else about North Korea, it is shrouded in obsessive secrecy and mystery.

How should we remember Otto Warmbier from Ohio? His plight should draw our attention to the sufferings of an entire people subjected in North Korea to daily acts of fearsome disproportion and violence. Accidently perhaps, Otto’s incarceration, coma, removal and death, once again, call to notice the sufferings of the other prisoners, languishing in the jails of North Korea. A young American’s fate becomes a metaphor, a kind of symbol, of a big story about thousands of nameless statistics locked up and oppressed in North Korea. They are voiceless. But Otto Warmbier speaks of their suffering from his grave.

One of the silliest-looking world leaders (though there has been competition for that lately from another self-clapper) and surely one of the most rotten in every sense.

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Go to the United Nation’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was chaired by Justice Kirby. Read it and weep.

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And now for something completely different

This seems amazing: Uluru: Google street-view allows visitors to ‘experience all its wonder’ without violating culture.

You no longer need to travel to Central Australia to marvel at the beauty of Uluru, with Google Maps launching a street-view of the iconic landmark.

Embedded in the interactive map are audio stories from traditional owners the Anangu people about the cultural significance of the site, Tjukurpa — the traditional law — and their creation stories.

For Anangu people Uluru is more than a rock, it is a living cultural landscape and it is sacred.

But Traditional Owner Sammy Wilson said many tourists visited Uluru without ever understanding that.

He hoped the street-view would bring more people to Uluru, educate them about his culture and improve life for his community, Mutitjulu.

“This Google thing what they want to do for visitors to come so they can have a look … hear about the stories,” he said.

See also Google Street View.

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After London — inspiring and not so inspiring

How great that the concert in Manchester was such a success!

Not so great — all but one of Donald Trump’s post-London tweets. One was presidential:

Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!

But alas he can’t help himself, as CNN reports. Correctly too:

After a night’s sleep, Trump woke up Sunday morning and, around 8 a.m., fired off three more tweets.
“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” Trump started.
“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!,” he continued.
“Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!,” he ended.
Of those five, one is the sort of thing you can imagine a president not named Donald Trump saying in the wake of a major terrorism event like the one in London; that’s the second one Saurday night in which he pledges to help London in whatever way they need it and insists America stands with them.
The other four tweets are pure Trump — and the exact opposite of what we have long considered “presidential.”
In one — the first he sends out — he uses the just-breaking terror attacks as a way to make the case for his travel ban, which continues to be hung up in the courts.
In another, he suggests political correctness is responsible for the attack, a common Trump refrain during the campaign.
In a third, he takes on those pushing gun control — noting that they are silent because these attacks didn’t involve guns.
And, finally and most Trumpian, he attacks the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for allegedly insisting that the people of London have “no reason to be alarmed.”
As is often the case with Trump, he has taken that comment from Khan heavily out of context. In a statement, Khan said: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is ensure that we’re as safe as we possibly can be.”
Khan is clearly referring not to the threat from terrorists but to the increased police presence when he uses the words “no reason to be alarmed.” Trump chooses to misunderstand him for political purposes.
Trump tweeting things to forward his own agenda in the wake of terrorist attacks is nothing new. Following shootings in an Orlando nightclub that left 53 people dead, Trump offered this: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” After an incident of a knife-wielding man at the Louvre Museum in Paris, Trump tweeted: “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.”
In short, the tweetstorm following the London attacks isn’t the exception, it’s the rule for Trump. Using these attacks to prove his political point is his default position not a one-time popping off.
Trump’s responses are the latest example of how he is radically altering the idea of what it means to be “presidential.”

Sad!

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Ten years ago: Lord Malcolm

So hard to believe this is so long ago!

Final Lord Malcolm reports: Malcolm Gordon Gleeson, died 1 June 2007

01 JUNE 2007

See the special page in Malcolm’s honour.

Monday 28 May

His beloved Swannies won at the weekend at least. I told Sirdan I would check in this afternoon and Lord M was less cyanosed: the blue lips were more or less back to normal. His half-brother in Tassie has been in touch and a last bit of organising Lord M is doing as far as he can is to enable his half-brother to come to Sydney for the funeral. Lord M was on the phone about that this afternoon. He told the friend he was talking to to come in ASAP as every minute now was that much nearer the end. “If I can stay alive overnight — and that’s the hard bit — I’ll fix that tomorrow,” Lord M said. “Then I can go peacefully.”

I said as I left, “See you again, if the gods permit.” I put a smile on his face by telling a story about my mother. Years ago we were seeing the Picton great-uncles off the planet at rather regular two year intervals. One was left. My mother, slightly the better for sherry at the time, said, “OK, Uncle. See you in two years.” “You might see me girl, but I won’t be seeing you,” he replied with a bit of a twinkle in the old eye. My mother was a touch embarrassed.

See a blessing for Malcolm.

Later

I had quite an amazing conversation with M about all this…

Tuesday morning 29 May

Phone conversation. He’s still hanging on. Compare Sunday, May 29, 2005.

Thursday 31 May

I have just come from the hospice. His ship is about to leave, it seems… He was conscious of my visit, and I am told his half-brother came to see him Tuesday. He couldn’t talk though as he is only just breathing. The hospice will ring when the time comes.

Mind you, he looked worse on Sunday, but then, as I said to Sirdan, on Sunday he looked worse than my mother did after she had died.

8847.jpgLater

Sirdan, The Empress and I met at The Shift this evening to talk about arrangements. Sirdan had spent several hours with Lord M this afternoon, together with another friend from Lord M’s flying and music lives.

Now to watch Air Australia on ABC, in Lord M’s honour, so to speak.

As you now know, I was right to think that would be the last time I was to see Malcolm…

Notice of memorial service

02 JUNE 2007

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aids_ribbon.gifA Memorial Service for the Late Malcolm Gordon Gleeson will be held in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart Hospice, Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst Friday, 29th June 2007, commencing at 11:00am. It is a red ribbon occasion.

All who wish to celebrate his life are welcome to attend.

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If you have not yet done so, do visit the tribute to Malcolm.

The first two weeks after 1 June 2007

The Empress and I have approved the beautiful order of service prepared by Dorothy McRae-McMahon. People who wish to may bring some object they associate with Malcolm, as there will be a space in the service for the receiving of such objects.

A poem read at the actual funeral last week will be read again.

UPDATES

15 June 2007

Today I went possibly for the last time to Malcolm’s place for the great CD and book clearance: possibly 1,000 books. Peter from 2MBS-FM was great; not so great was that only one lift in The Northcott — do read that — was working. Still, with a shopping trolley and a proper trolley we managed to get them all down from the third floor and into the van.

One odd coincidence is what was already in the van: Marcellous’s books!

I brought home a bag of items for the Bangarra Dance Theatre archives; yes he had a connection there too!

I found a great picture of Malcolm as a young sailor. He was very handsome.

I also found a small book of quotations in English and German, written by Malcolm. Here is one surprising one.

If you love without evoking love in return — that is, if your loving as loving does not produce a reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent — a misfortune.

— Karl Marx, 1844 Manuscripts

18-19 June

The Empress has finished with Malcolm’s flat now. He and I have a few formalities to do, then that’s it until the Memorial Service.

Today I had a nice letter from an old aunt of Malcolm in Tasmania.

I see Sirdan has just been reading this in South Africa. See his comment on the guest book.

20 June

You will see I have created a page for the Memorial Service. It is simply the text of that service. I have sent a copy to the aunt in Tasmania.

There is a lovely comment just appeared from Norma, one of Malcolm’s colleagues in the NGO NorthAids: see the tribute page.

21 June

Sirdan returned to Sydney this afternoon from South Africa.

28 June

It seems I will be voicing others during the service. I am of course reading what Malcolm said of himself, as on the tribute page. That was not read at the actual funeral, and Malcolm wanted it read at the memorial service. I also received another letter and a poem from his Aunty Joy in Tasmania. She was glad to receive the documents I sent her. It turns out too that she knows Dorothy McRae-McMahon’s brother!

This entry is now archived to its beginning date. The order of service has now been unlocked. It will be expanded after the event.