Back fifty years…

This death notice came as a shock, but also took me back. Annette Perry, as she was then, was a colleague at Cronulla High School fifty years ago. Later she married another colleague, Lawrie Butterfield. They entered my life again in 1977-78 when I was working in teacher education at Sydney University. Through Annette and Lawrie I became involved in the Balmain Theatre Group at that time. Annette and Lawrie were then living in Rozelle, I in Glebe. As I noted in 2009:  “I was fortunate enough to meet [playwright] Alex Buzo on several occasions, most memorably when I played a Rugby League commentator in his The Roy Murphy Show for the Balmain Theatre Group in 1978.” I note that Lawrie went on to be Principal of the Open High School in Randwick: see (2004) Gift of languages on his tongue and world at his feet. According to Annette’s death notice she was aged 75, living  in Sunbury, Victoria, when she passed away. There is to  be a memorial service in Sydney.

Back to when and where Annette, Lawrie and I first met:

How young we were!

Yes, not all that much older than the class. And a good English class it was too! There’s a present Professor from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and U Sydney in the back row for starters…


Thanks to Marilyn Markham (Berriman) Cronulla High Class of 68. I think that’s her end front row right.

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65 years on I recall Vermont Street

See Frameworks for belief — 2 – my world 1952 to 1959. A repost and Curiosities and ephemera 5: 1955. There you will find these:

Here was my world from 1952 to 1955-6: Vermont Street Sutherland, NSW.

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And here I am in that world, towards the end of the period.

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That is April 1955 and I am in the front yard of 1 Vermont Street with my mother.  I am 11 years old, and newly at Sydney Boys High. I had had a serious illness just three or four months before – pancreatitis – so I may look a touch thin still. All the ribbons are because we are going to the GPS Regatta at Penrith, a big deal in those days and perhaps even more so in my family. I was the first in the family entitled to go as I was in a GPS school – albeit the only state-owned one – as I would later be the first in the family to go to university.

Just three years earlier my sister had died – 61 years ago today*. She was cremated and her urn placed in a rose garden at Woronora Cemetery, which she now shares with Grandma and Grandpa Christison, who died in 1959 and 1963 respectively…

* January 2013

And this from the other post:

Oh dear, yes, that is me…

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That’s my Aunt Fay on the left, then my mother, then ? the mother of my sister-in-law ?, then me in SBHS rig as I was in what we would now call Year 7. The photo, I suspect but don’t really remember, was taken on my brother’s wedding day. It was certainly taken at 1 Vermont Street, Sutherland…

Except now in 2017 it is no longer 1 Vermont Street, but 48, and it seems to be in a sorry state…

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And across the road another house where I lived at the age of 21 is completely gone, the developers having moved in. The white house on the corner is still recognisable, however, and the reservoir up the street, though much expanded since 1952-1955.

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Time! Yet lately I have found myself thinking about Vermont Street in the 1950s. It is amazing how detailed my memory of the interior of that house, as it was then, still is in my mind!

2017 now: Revisiting September 2016

Just so you know, though I was in Wollongong tucked up in bed at the time. Or sweating like a pig in bed…

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Now to revisit September 2016.

Five (of many) decent Australians…

Posted on September 17, 2016 by Neil

The first two came my way at Diggers yesterday. Terry the retired wharf labourer is a regular. He’s about my age so like me he lived through the Korean and Vietnam War periods and more, seeing things from a wharfie’s perspective. It was delightful then to be able yesterday to introduce Terry to the Major-General.

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Major General Brian (Hori) Howard served in the Australian Regular Army from 1959 until 1990. Amongst his many military appointments he commanded a battalion and an infantry brigade, was Director General of Operations and Plans for the Australian Army, instructed at the British Army Staff College, and served in several overseas countries including Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, and Uganda. He saw operational service in South Vietnam for which he was awarded the Military Cross. He successfully completed the Canadian Armed Forces Command and Staff College and the Australian Joint Services Staff College. Major General Howard’s last military posting was as Director General of the then Natural Disasters Organisation, (now Emergency Management Australia), Australia’s national counter disaster organization. For this service he was awarded an Order of Australia.

In 1990 Major General Howard was appointed by the Minister as Director General of the NSW State Emergency Service(SES), the organisation responsible for dealing with floods, storms, land and inland water searches, and the majority of road accident rescue outside major cities. He was responsible for setting up a modern emergency management and rescue system for the State…

source (pdf)

Terry and the Major General got on rather famously…

The other day my post concerned two of the weirdest and most rancid maiden speeches you are ever likely to encounter. But we did hear quite a number that were rather different, as Alex McKinnon noted:

It’s a perverse dynamic; people who tear down and divide get rewarded with airtime and column inches, while people who do the difficult, tiring work of building something up get ignored. But while major news outlets publish and broadcast Hanson’s speech, some very different speeches from newly-elected pollies have flown relatively under the radar. It’s worth taking the time to watch and listen to the words of these new politicians who in their humility, bravery, and willingness to be vulnerable, reveal a dignity and cause for hope that people like Hanson do their best to extinguish.

First, “young fogey” Julian Leeser, Liberal Party MHR for Berowra in Sydney, a wonderful personal account of his father’s suicide and its impact.

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…I felt a great emptiness ripping at my stomach. I went to the garage and saw the car was missing.

We called the Police and later they came round to tell us that they’d found my father’s body at the bottom of The Gap at Watsons Bay…

…the day he died the music died with him, and it was years before I could listen to his music again without tearing up.

Over the past twenty years I have gone back over the week leading up to my father’s death too many times – and I keep thinking back to the signs he was giving us…

Suicide, they used to say, is a victimless crime, but they never count the loved ones left behind.

In the past 20 years we have changed our approach to suicide, depression and mental health.

And while there has rightly been a focus on the mental health of adolescents and young people, we must remember that people suffering at other stages in their lives are equally important.

And sadly the number of older people taking their own lives is increasing – my own father was fifty five.

In these past 20 years, we have spent millions on mental health and suicide prevention. Every government has tried – but despite all the good will, it is a fight we are losing.

In my own electorate we have had more than 100 people take their own lives in the last eight years. And across Australia eight people die by suicide every day….

Second. Indigenous Labor Senator from the Northern Territory, Malarndirri McCarthy.

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Yuwu bajinda nya-wirdi kulu kirna-balirra yinda nyawirdi nyuwu-ja barrawu, bajirru yiurru wiji marnajingulaji ngathangka, bajirru yirru li-wirdiwalangu ji-awarawu li-Ngunawal Ngambri barra jina barra awara yirrunga, bajrru li-ngaha li-malarngu marnaji anka nya-ngathanya bii, li-ngatha kulhakulha, li-ngatha li-nganji karnirru-balirra.

Yes, let us begin. You are there, senior one—Mr President. We have no word for ‘President’ in Yanyuwa, so I refer to you as ‘senior one’. And I thank you for this place, and for all you others also here with me, and you, the traditional owners, the Ngunawal and Ngambri, for this country. This is your country…

My kujika has allowed me to see both worlds—that of the Western world view and that of the Yanyuwa/Garrawa world view. I am at home in both. I am neither one, without the other. But what of those who cannot balance the two and what of those who do not have the same?…

I think of the women in my life struggling still just to survive—I call them my mothers, sisters, my friends—who endured tremendous acts of violence against them, with broken limbs, busted faces, amputations and sexual assaults. I stand here with you. My aunt who lost her job that she had had for 10 years without warning simply because she spoke out about the lack of housing for her families, I stand here with you. To the descendants of the stolen generation still seeking closure, I stand with you. To the people with disabilities forever striving for better access to the most basic things in life, I am with you.

And then there is my young cousin-sister who struggled with her identity as a lesbian in a strong traditional Aboriginal culture. Her outward spirit was full of fun and laughter, yet inside she was suffocating from the inability to find balance in her cultural world view and that of the expectations of the broader Australian society around her. So one night she left this world, just gave up, at the age of 23.

To the sista girls and brutha boys who struggle with their sexual identity, I say to you: stay strong, I stand here with you. To the people of the Northern Territory and the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, I stand here with you.

Bauji Barra. Thank you.

Finally, MHR Labor for Cowan (Western Australia) Anne Aly.

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…Today I stand here not just as the first graduate from the university named in her honour to be elected to the federal parliament but as the first of Egyptian-Arabic heritage, along with my colleague the member for Wills, Mr Peter Khalil, and the first Muslim woman. I mention the latter points not to claim any special accolades but because they mark a significant moment in the history of this nation, especially right now and especially given the circumstances of my election…

My parents arrived from Egypt at the Bonegilla migrant camp in Albury Wodonga in 1969, later settling in the outer suburbs of Sydney. Despite having qualified as a textiles engineer, my father, like many migrants, ended up taking a job for which he was overqualified, though no less grateful. He became a bus driver, and together my parents built a life for themselves and their three children. I started my schooling at a Catholic school and I ended it at an Anglican school, having attended several public schools in between. Those years shaped my view of Australia and my place within it. Coming from a practising Muslim household, I would read from the Bible and sing hymns at morning chapel service while fasting for the holy month of Ramadan and celebrating the holy days of Eid. When I asked my mother what I should do during chapel service when we read the Lord’s Prayer, she responded that I should also bow my head in prayer and remember that we all worship the same God. Most importantly, I learnt that the values that make us Australians are measured not by the colour of our skin or by our religion or where we were born but by our dedication to the fundamental principles of equality and fairness…

I have worked with former violent extremists, I have become an advocate and a patron for victims of terrorism, I have advised the families who have lost sons and daughters to violence and hatred, and I have mentored young people who have sadly fallen prey to such dangerous ideologies. I have seen the worst of humanity, and I have often despaired, but I have also seen its best through the eyes of people like Phil Britten, Louisa Hope, Jarrod Morton-Hoffman, Gill Hicks and Michael Gallagher—all of whom have survived terrorist attacks; and through the work of organisations like Together for Humanity; the Bali Peace Park Association; and Youth Futures WA, which provides essential services to young homeless people in Cowan; and, of course, the inspiring young people who have worked with my own organisation, People against Violent Extremism—or PaVE…

Personally, I have mentored young people who have, sadly, fallen vulnerable to radicalisation, and I have helped families divert them from a destructive path. The ripple effect that reaching out and changing just one life can have on entire communities cannot be underestimated. I was most moved by the words of one young man who, in a quiet moment of contemplation, whispered to me, ‘If it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead or in jail.’ I am pleased to say that that young man is now successfully enrolled in a university degree, is a leader in his community and is looking forward to a bright future.

The fight against terrorism is a fight for reason, and we cannot afford to let it be hijacked by populism or by party politics. This is not the sort of issue where pointing out the gaps in our policy response should attract accusations of being soft on terrorism or insinuations of appeasement or, even worse, supporting terrorism. We have to get this right, because the currency here is people’s lives. That is why I will continue to argue for a reasoned, balanced and, above all, smart response to the threat of terrorism.

Our response to terrorism needs to be intelligent and proportionate…

Here then we have had five Australians who so far as I can see in their diversity bear little resemblance to the paranoid rantings of The Revenant of Oz. May such prevail.

Phone call from the Mufti

Posted on September 19, 2016 by Neil

See my 2007 post:

Old friend

04 October

I introduce my old friend The Mufti of Watsons Bay thus on Who’s Who:

The Mufti was my neighbour in 1988-9 and has become a good friend who has helped me in many ways. Even he would admit to eccentricity. In some ways a total Tory, he shares my desire to see the back of John Howard. It is amazing who the Mufti knows: he’s even had afternoon tea with the Queen. He was an Anglican priest but reverted to Islam a couple of years ago. Not a terrorist.

Nor too strictly Muslim either now. He called in today. I hadn’t seen him or even spoken to him for possibly a year. In fact I had been feeling a bit guilty about that. But it turns out he has been overseas quite a bit: Zanzibar for one!  Looks tanned and terrific, especially for a man of 77. The Rabbit has met him.

And 2008:

Surry Hills 12: personal space

Posted on September 23, 2008 by Neil

Thought you should see where these pictures come from — and I am a messy person, and I didn’t clean up specially for your visit either, I’m afraid. This is what my lair looked like on this day.

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The Mufti of Watson’s Bay gave me this screen for my 50th.

The screen now resides at M’s in East Redfern….

Just a simple 70-something old patriot, me…

Posted on September 23, 2016 by Neil

So let’s start with the National Anthem:

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Seems quite a few of our modern self-appointed patriots and their groupies and hangers-on don’t subscribe to tosh like that. Last night I watched (until growing horror and nausea forced me to pull the plug) a weirdo we’ll call Adolf the Incredible Hulk on an ABC2/JJ forum called Hack Live. Back in 2015, by the way, The Hulk posted this fan-pic on his Facebook:

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See that last comment from The Hulk himself? “There should be a picture of this man in every classroom and every school and his book should be issued to every student annually.” With three likes…

OK, so ABC2 decided to give the creep a forum last night. You can read their account:

Tonight’s show came a day after an Essential media poll showed that 49 per cent of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration. So where did our panel stand?

First up, UPF leader [Hulk] got things going by saying that he believes Australians feel ostracized in their own country.

People who are proud to be Australian are “immediately made to feel racist, or uneducated bogans,” [Hulk]  said.

At this point he was – literally – dominating the debate…

Lawyer and community advocate Lydia Shelly [wearing a hijab] said [Hulk’s] far-right views and those of radicalised Muslims were like “two sides of the same coin.” but [Hulk]  wasn’t buying it. “I haven’t beheaded anybody, I haven’t killed anybody, so I think that’s a bit of a long shot,” [Hulk] said.

Former soldier who served in Afghanistan, Andrew Fox Lane, pointed out [Hulk’s] past convictions and his attitudes towards women that have been posted online. Andrew warned against a blanket ban on Muslim immigration and said the rhetoric around the debate has become too brash, and should be more pragmatic instead…

So not everyone on the show was a loony… Read these two reports on the program: Daily Mail and Pedestrian TV.

Truly – the bloke made some conspiratorial claims about who controls the migration of refugees, which was met with claims he believed in the Illuminati – but tbh, after he dropped that “so what”, it was game over.

Put simply, [Hulk] was given an audience tonight. He was given viewers. He was given everything he needed to put his case across… And he shat the bed with patently racist and nearly goddamned fascist ideas. He alienated anyone who might have wanted to understand his frothing fear of Islam, while only speaking to those who’ve already made up their minds…

I do fear for my country if these far-right terrorism fear-struck nutters like The Hulk dominate in the future. As I wrote on 15 September this year:

For example, The Revenant says her patriotism “will never be traded or given up for the mantras of diversity or tolerance. Australia had a national identity before Federation, and it had nothing to do with diversity and everything to do with belonging.” I on the other hand put diversity and tolerance at the core of my patriotism. I think “fair go” captures that. For more see my 2011 series Being Australian.

Multiculturalism in Australia is conditioned by compatibility with the citizenship pledge.

I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,whose democratic beliefs I share,whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.

There is scope there for 1,001 individual or cultural variations. Assumed is a sufficient degree of integration both for the welfare of the individual and for community harmony – but this depends above all on willingness to accept difference as part of our freedom as citizens.

Reject all self-styled “Patriots” and support  the better country we have been working so hard to bring into being.

Search here under patriot.

NOTE: In case you wondered, I use pseudonyms for certain individuals or groups to minimise my contribution to their ego-googling. I have no desire to add to their online presence more than is necessary in rejecting their ideas.

Update

Related reading: Peter Hartcher, Our new threshold of intolerance: Australia is on the cusp of a dangerous crisis.

… Turnbull has shown repeatedly that, while harsh on terrorism, he is an advocate for tolerance and unity. Shorten and Turnbull and all leaders need to protect this deep national equity. Yet we now know that this, while necessary, is not sufficient.

Australia is on the cusp of joining the West’s dangerous crisis of cohesion.

1950s Sutherland: sheer nostalgia 60 years on

Posted on September 27, 2016 by Neil

Do go to the source, Picture Sutherland Shire, for (currently) 465 images.

Yesterday I wrote: “We spent much of 1953-4 looking for Russian spies in the bush in West Sutherland, being excited further that they were building Australia’s first (and still only) nuclear reactor just across the Woronora at Lucas Heights.”

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And here is Sutherland Shire Council Chambers in 1954, the year of the Royal Visit:

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Note which flag flies highest. We were still “British Subjects” in those days.

At Federation in 1901, ‘British subject’ was the sole civic status noted in the Australian Constitution. The Australasian Federal Convention of 1897–98 was unable to agree on a definition of the term ‘citizen’ and wanted to preserve British nationality in Australia. An administrative concept of citizenship arose from the need to distinguish between British subjects who were permanent residents and those who were merely visitors. This was necessary for the Commonwealth to exercise its powers over immigration and deportation. Motivated by the nationalism of Arthur Calwell, the Minister for Immigration 1945–49, this administrative concept was formalised in the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. In 1958 the Act was amended so that naturalisation could only be revoked if obtained by fraud. This prevented a naturalised person being stripped of citizenship and deported.

Throughout the 1960s, Australian citizens were still required to declare their nationality as British. The term ‘Australian nationality’ had no official recognition or meaning until the Act was amended in 1969 and renamed the Citizenship Act. This followed a growing sense of Australian nationalism and the declining importance for Australians of the British Empire. In 1973 the Act was renamed the Australian Citizenship Act. It was not until 1984 that Australian citizens ceased to be British subjects.

Next to Council Chambers was the Library. In 1954 I was a frequent borrower. The children’s books were in the room to the right of the front door.

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And local shops that I would often have been in. The car could even be our Standard Vanguard, if this photo was taken around 1953. We had graduated to a Vanguard Spacemaster by 1954.

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Not exactly crowded is Sutherland’s main street, is it? I suspect too by the light that this is summer.

South Australian superstorm and outage

Posted on September 29, 2016 by Neil

Yesterday a superstorm led to a total power failure in the entire state of South Australia. Think about that:

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See SA power outage: how did it happen?  One element some have raised is the fact that South Australia relies more than other states at the moment on renewable energy.

Key points:
  • South Australia has the highest rate of renewable energy in Australia
  • The ‘one in a 50 year’ weather event ‘couldn’t have been prevented or foreseen’
  • SA to be an example for other states and territories when planning for significant weather events

So, maybe not….

We haven’t heard the last of this though.

7884738-3x2-700x467Image of South Australian storm by Erik Brokken — on ABC News

Revisiting August 2016 – plus Debbie Reynolds

Cyrille de Lasteyrie via Eric Tenin on Facebook posted this remarkable photograph:

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Carrie Fisher watching her mother on stage from the wings

M returns, while I waste more time on Senator Belfry…

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Neil

M is (i believe) just back from Europe after a long and most wonderful two months and more. He went towards the end of May. Among a heap of photos he posted on Facebook a couple of days ago is this, taken while trekking to Mont Blanc.

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An appropriate kind of image given the rest of the post.

Yesterday I devoted time to Senator Belfry’s amazing appearance on QandA on Monday. The transcript is now up. A small sample:

[BELFRY] Sure, the longest temperature record for temperatures on this planet is the Central England Temperature Record, which goes back to the mid-1600s. And the first of the – sorry, the latest in the 17th century, the latest warming cycle in the 17th century going into the 18th century was faster and greater than the latest warming which finished in 1995. And Justin Bieber wasn’t flying his private jet around in the 1600s. That’s the first thing. The second thing was we’ve had a pause in this so-called warming for now 21 years. It depends how you measure it. 21 years. And I’m absolutely stunned that someone who is inspired by Richard Feynman, a fantastic scientist who believes in empirical evidence is quoting a consensus.
BRIAN COX: Can I just say – I brought the graph, right.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TONY JONES: Okay.
BRIAN COX: Let me tell you where the pause is. The pause that’s often quoted, if you take this point here, which is about 1997, I think, and you ignore 2015-2016, you can choose that point and you can draw a slightly straighter trend line on there. But that’s a misunderstanding. The question is does that rise and, also, secondly – I’ve brought another graph – is it correlated with that, which is the graph that shows the CO2 emissions – the CO2 in parts per million in the atmosphere – and you see that peak there, where it goes flying up. So the question essentially is first of all are those two things correlated and, secondly, do we understand the physical mechanisms and we’ve understood those since the 19th century. I mean, I can teach you. I’ll give you a lesson if you want.

Belfry’s technique is to drown you in a blizzard of horseshit. Let’s be honest here. You can go to yesterday’s post and find a link to his own site where the horseshit is stored in vast quantities. On the other hand you could go here.

Date:  Feb. 27, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.K. Royal Society Release Joint Publication on Climate Change

WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the national science academy of the U.K., released a joint publication today in Washington, D.C., that explains the clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change, and that addresses a variety of other key questions commonly asked about climate change science…

The horseshit vendors, Belfry among them, are armed against that of course. In response to what they will fling at you go to  Has the Royal Society embraced climate skepticism? and The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction.

Rather than being distracted by Belfry’s twaddle, take notice instead of David Attenborough, himself at one time a doubter of anthropogenic climate change.

When asked by the Independent if the world should be more concerned by our deteriorating environment than we are about the threat of terror attacks, his answer was simple: “Yes”.

“The nature of human beings is that they’d far rather face the disaster that is happening tonight than the one that is happening tomorrow,” he said.

“Climate change will affect the whole of humanity, while terrorist attacks will only affect a small section of humanity. Of course, you wouldn’t say that if you were related to someone who had been beheaded or blown up or murdered. But humanity is facing a very big, slow, long, drawn-out threat, and that is to do with the way the weather is changing and the size of the population.”

Sir David reiterated his warning during an interview with the Associated Press to mark his 90th birthday on Sunday, when he explained the most critical problems facing the natural world today. Top of his list was rising temperatures caused by climate change – “a very, very serious worry indeed”.

Finally, an excellent piece in today’s Fairfax press – if you could have found it on their abominable new websites, that is. I resorted to Google in order to locate it.

Richard Muller, a former prominent sceptic US scientist, re-examined 14 million temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world going back to 1753. The results prompted a “total turnaround” in his views, as my colleague Ben Cubby wrote in 2012.

“Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by 2½ degrees fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1½ degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases,” Professor Muller wrote.

Roberts [Belfry], a former coal engineer, and then manager of the Galileo Movement, was unimpressed.

“We’ve based our views on empirical science, and there’s nothing in the Muller study to undercut that,” Roberts told Cubby at the time. Climate change science had been captured by “some of the major banking families in the world” who form a “tight-knit cabal”, he insisted….

‘It does sound outlandish’

For Roberts to be right, at least 80 science academies around the world have to be wrong, as would almost 100 per cent of the scientists publishing work in the field….

Afterthoughts:

So frustrating having to revisit some of the most asinine arguments ever! I watched  my copies of The Climate Wars (2008) by Dr Iain Stewart and Meet the Sceptics (2011) and sighed deeply that all this was bubbling up again. See also my posts Look who’s at the rally along with A Jones and A Anderson… With friends like these… (2011) and Documentaries to make you think, cringe, cry, or wonder.. 2 (2011).

This one I have just downloaded!  Watts Up With That hates it; Lord Monckton tried to have it suppressed.

The truth is that it is brilliant and very fair to a whole lot of people who are not used to the concept of fair representation themselves. Even Lord Monckton is humanised rather than demonised; the presenter even goes so far as to say he rather likes him as a person. That is not just a ploy.

What’s up with Monckton is now pretty well known. It’s easy really: he’s just plain wrong.

Scarier even than that is the US Republican Party and so many “freedom-loving Americans” and weird right-wing TV channels from Fox on through even more biased and crazy excuses for news and commentary. Watch the doco to see what I mean.

And more on the egregious Belfry:

J.K. Rowling Joins Physicist Brian Cox and Monty Python’s Eric Idle in Calling Out Climate Science Denial

And more! Do visit Peter Sinclair’s Denier Destroyed on Aussie TV. Crowd Goes Wild (19 August), especially for the last two videos addressing the climate denial myths that Belfry promotes.

First, the “no warming in…(pick a number) years” canard, (which has really gotten pretty ragged with 2 record warm years in a row and a third underway) is a favorite of Far right US Senator Ted Cruz. I asked 4 scientists to weigh in on the deception…

Finally, the idea that “NASA has fudged the data” is put to rest by scientists who actually understand temperature data and how it is used…

Memento mori – another from the Class of 1959

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Neil

Look at my 2013 post Found–something from my last year at high school.

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Look at the Latin prize in Fourth Year, our second-last year at SBHS. David Chadwick, here some years later, but still very recognisable.

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And that is from his obituary, published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald

With the Japanese bikers in the halal restaurant…

Posted on August 21, 2016 by Neil

Samaras Restaurant was very busy yesterday when Chris T and I went there for lunch. I felt more than usually patriotic – proud of living in a land where diversity is accepted and respected — as we hoed into the amazing “meat lovers” platter, all halal of course. This is what we had:

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The menu says that is “for one” – well, you’d have to be very hungry to manage it. Chris and I shared and, with a side dish of cauliflower, had more than enough. And I tell you, it is even better than it looks! Even in Surry Hills’s “Little Lebanon” in the past I have not had better.

And yes, there was a table of around 15 young Japanese bikers and friends in the restaurant as well, all tucking into the excellent food, and appreciating the friendly vibe and good service. As did the anglo-celtic Aussies who took over those tables when the Japanese left.

Ah Wollongong! Here it is not too unusual to see sights like:

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Note the Buddha in the background, by the way. These photos are from my photoblog under the tag “multicultural”. Despite what some say, we Australians have been rather good at creating a positive experience of cultural diversity. May we continue thus to grow,

Which brings me to the latest by the Revenant of Oz, now a Senator. I prefer to name her thus 1) because she is a revenant and 2) I avoid adding to the sum of her name being mentioned on the Internet. Her latest has caused a degree of mirth:

Australian Multicultural Foundation and SBS chairman Hass Dellal said One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s preoccupation with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) implementing some squat toilets in its Melbourne office reeked of “insecurity”.

ATO’s acting chief finance officer Justin Untersteiner told the Herald Sun this week that the office deployed the toilets because it was committed to “maintaining an inclusive workplace”.

Pauline Hanson asks in a Facebook video posted on Sunday: “If they don’t know how to use our toilets…then what the hell is going on?”

She then responded to a comment on that post: “It’s not just a matter of dollars Wade. It starts with toilets and ends with costing us our Australian way of life.”

Waleed Aly commented in the Fairfax Press: a good opinion piece, I thought. He goes on to make an interesting point, having mentioned Revenant sidekick Senator Belfry’s amazing outing on last Monday’s #QandA.

…And  [Belfry]  sounds nothing like Hanson. Sure, he’s not a fan of the Racial Discrimination Act, but he doesn’t seem especially fixated on Muslims – or toilets for that matter. That’s even truer of Rod Culleton, who will be One Nation’s senator in Western Australia. He hates banks, probably because one of them took his farm.

But when asked recently about One Nation’s dogma that multiculturalism has failed, he replied: “I wouldn’t say it’s failed. I respect multiculturalism. You know, I’ve married a very beautiful Greek woman and her family love me like a son.” That woman, by the way, was also a One Nation candidate in Western Australia. Ask her about Hanson’s proposed royal commission into Islam and she says, “that’s one of the ones that, again, I will not be in agreeance with”.

Well, that’s quite a disagreement. It’s remarkable that Hanson would have candidates so at odds with what, until now, has seemed her party’s political reason for being…

We’ll only figure out what that all means over the next three (or six) years. But the starting point is that Hanson presides over nothing particularly organic. Drill to the bottom of One Nation and you find varieties of disillusionment, but not always xenophobia. It’s just not that coherent… But they might have more in common than they seemed to a month ago. That includes the same proclivity for bizarre video stunts. And you know that old saying: it starts with toilets and ends up costing your political authority.

I have wondered what collective I might use for the Revenant’s group: Ein Volk has connotations that may be unfair. I thought of the Had a Gutful Party, which is accurate but abbreviates to HAG, possibly sexist. Maybe POP? Pissed Off Party?

BTW, I do suspect that when you saw, as we all did…

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… your first thought was not “that’s a Muslim.” You probably felt something about the cruelty of war. You probably saw a frightened child. You probably reached out in humanity and wished this world could be better. Let’s keep those reactions alive, eh!

Addendum

And this bus-load makes me proud to be an Australian!

…Many of us are still pretty far from being comfortable travellers in an increasingly diverse world. We may be curious, but we can lack confidence, erring on the side of silence rather than diving in and risk saying the wrong thing.

Perhaps we worry that no one will stand with us if we do speak out. That our fellow Australians indeed are the racists we’re stereotyped to be. That it’s easier to stay quiet than risk a debate with a Hanson supporter. Perhaps it all just makes us feel too nervous and we pretend not to hear over our headphones.

Whatever it was on Thursday, this was a pretty neat example of 50-odd people keeping their cool, making it calmly clear that none of us was tolerating racism, and having the confidence to sort it out. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, so they say.

Thirty years is a long time and forty even longer

Posted on August 24, 2016 by Neil

I missed this, unfortunately, as I rarely attend night-time things these days, especially in Sydney. I had been invited:

Its a long time ago, but you taught me for a few years at Sydney High – 1985 and 1986 – for 2 unit English. Memorable times, including the infamous “shit poem” you asked a friend to come in and read for us, and our universal dislike of Dickens’ Great Expectations!

My colleagues and I are having a 30 year reunion on Saturday August 13, 2016 – we’d like to invite you if you’d like to come.

The inviter is on the right, a former teaching colleague on the left:

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Apparently a debate on the topic “It is better to live fast and wild in middle age than in high school” was part of the night’s proceedings. They were very good at debating, that class of 1986. Some have gone on to considerable eminence in related fields. I’m told  “over fifty-five ex-students and a small number of teachers calling ‘present, sir’ at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst on Saturday 13 August.”  I am sorry I could not be with them, but am having fun guessing, occasionally successfully, who is who in the photos.

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Some of these people may recall this:

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See More “Neil’s Decades” – 10: 1986 again

Watching “Billy Elliot” again

Posted on August 28, 2016 by Neil

Back in August 2006 I posted:

Then another coachee, doing Standard English, has as one of his texts (yes, I know) Billy Elliot. Again the laptop and the local video library worked wonders for us. Great movie. and a rich enough text too at many levels. A shame I have this embarrassing tendency to cry in the last few scenes, a phenomenon I described to my coachee rather than enact in front of him.

So ten years on I blubbed (privately) in the last few scenes all over again.

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Interesting viewpoint about that scene:

The worst part of the film, Billy Elliot, is the ending. I know that the ending has people sobbing in their seats (including Elton John), but it is so sweet and corny that it destroys the real-life aspect of the film. In the film, everybody is happy. Billy is a super-star. Michael is open and proud of his new boyfriend. Tony is thrilled to see his little brother perform. And Dad is overcome with joy and pride. Only Fairytales for children under seven should end with “And they all lived happily ever after.”

The story of Billy Elliot and the miners is depressing, and the audience needs a lift at the end. The film uses the silly happy ending to send the audience home happy. But it ruins the gritty reality of the story. The musical finishes the show with only hope for Billy’s future, and no real hope for anyone else. It is much more realistic for older children and adults. Then the musical cheers up the emotionally drained audience with the “Company Celebration” (Finale). Hall and Daldry corrected a major flaw with this change…

What I posted one year ago

Posted on August 25, 2016 by Neil

You’ll have to go to the original to see what this was about:

Random Friday memory 26: naked in The Shire

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Neil

Oh yes. Well, once at least when I was maybe ten years old…

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It was all down to my classmate CT who was a bit of a junior nudist…

Revisiting June 2016 – via 1959

A nostalgia hit for me, published yesterday on the Shellharbour Pictures page on Facebook:

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Shellharour with jetty: 1959 My grandfather rebuilt the jetty in 1909. Compare 1934.

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Now to June 2016.

End of June, and looking forward to voting KAOS!

Posted on June 30, 2016 by Neil

Second things first. It appears, as William Bowes’ Poll Bludger indicates, that Mr Turnbull’s party will get back in on 2 July, but with a reduced majority.

Daylight has finally opened between the two parties on the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, without quite freeing the Coalition from the risk of a hung parliament.

The Senate should be fun all round.

Bear in mind what is hiding in the basement, should Mr Turnbull get up. The influence of such should be proportionately stronger if Mr Turnbull is weakened.

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Here be monsters!

Following Mr T’s awful warning, if not quite in the spirit it was offered, I am definitely opting for KAOS all round! Exactly how is my business…

Interlude: M of Venice

Posted on June 26, 2016 by Neil

Or rather, M in Venice. One of a set he posted on Facebook on 24 June, though by then he was no longer in Venice. He was in Florence a few days ago.

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Great photo!

Very incomplete personal takes on Brexit

Posted on June 25, 2016 by Neil

“Certainly going to be interesting to see what happens in the UK in this coming week” I wrote here on 21 June. Well, that was a bit understated, eh!

Now I’m wondering if they should be dusting off the Honours of Scotland.

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Perhaps because I am conscious that the greater part of my ancestry derives from Scotland and Ulster (maternal and paternal lines), I still tend to see the UK through that lens.

The Brexit vote showed interesting divisions on those lines.

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See more maps here.

I must admit this aspect rather pleases me: “People gathered in Edinburgh and Glasgow to demonstrate against the result and show support for migrants.” Then there is this:

[Scotland’s First Minister] Ms Sturgeon said: “After a campaign that has been characterised in the rest of the UK by fear and hate, my priority in the days, weeks and months ahead will be to act at all times in the best interests of Scotland and in a way that unites, not divides us.

“Let me be clear about this. Whatever happens as a result of this outcome, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will always be Scotland’s closest neighbours and our best friends – nothing will change that.

“But I want to leave no-one in any doubt about this. I am proud of Scotland and how we voted yesterday.

“We proved that we are a modern, outward looking and inclusive country and we said clearly that we do not want to leave the European Union.

“I am determine to do what it takes to make sure these aspirations are realised.”

Here is a personal take from Edinburgh.

Amelia Baptie, 36, a mother of twins, said she was “heartbroken and devastated” by the result, as were most of the parents she spoke to in the playground.

She said: “I think if it was about hope on the Leave side then some good could come out of it, but it was about hatred.

“I am upset and worried. I don’t know what has happened to England. They have gone so much to the right and Scotland is being pulled along. My parents live in France and they are very worried now if they can stay, and about their income.”

I worry about some of the types in Europe who have been rejoicing about the UK’s choice – the likes of Le Pen and Wilders.

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See Exploring my inner Scot

I really do think we might see another Scottish Independence referendum not far into the future.

Another element in the UK vote was generational. This 21 June article by Chris Cook on BBC foreshadowed that.

A new piece of evidence on this has been released by Populus, a pollster that is doing a lot of work for the Remain camp. Their data suggests:

  • People aged 65 and over are 23% more likely to vote Leave than the average voter. Voters aged 18-24 are 37% more likely to back Remain. Those aged 25-34 are 19% more likely to back Remain than the average voter, the poll suggests
  • Students are 54% more likely to back Remain than the average person. Graduates are 21% more likely. Meanwhile, people with no formal qualifications are 48% more likely to back Leave…

After the event see  ‘What have we done’ – teenage anger over Brexit vote.

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Finally, a different, wider viewpoint: The Long Road to Brexit.

Markets are stunned. Commenters are shocked. But future historians may view this moment as inevitable…

The debate has cut across the usual divisions of Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat. There are left-wing Brexiteers (who dislike the EU for its lack of democracy and enforced economic austerity) and left-wing Remainers (who like its internationalism); right-wing Remainers (who see the EU as a huge market) and right-wing Brexiteers (who see it as an affront to national sovereignty). There has also been a national dimension: The biggest supporters of Brexit have been the English, and now suddenly the Welsh; the Scots and Irish, for different reasons, have taken the opposite view.

The campaign has highlighted differences too among generations, among regions, and perhaps most importantly among classes and among cultures. Supporters of the “Remain” campaign were disproportionately the young, educated middle classes, who saw the EU as both in their interests and as the political equivalent of motherhood and apple pie. Supporters of Brexit were disproportionately older, less educated, and less wealthy, and think their voices are more likely to be heard in an autonomous national state. Attitudes to immigration from the EU — unrestricted under EU law and running at nearly 200,000 per year — became the shibboleth. Remain saw immigration as a token of enlightenment, economic freedom and cosmopolitanism. The “Leave” campaign saw it as a cause of depressed wages, stressed public services, and long-term danger to national identity. The EU question has become more polarized ideologically in Britain than anywhere else in Europe…

Where indeed will it all end?

Post script

Have been reading heaps of posts. This one stands out: Called back to the present by Scottish physician Bob Leckridge, now living in France.

… and Jim Belshaw:

I watched the UK’s Brexit vote first with interest then with fascination and then with a degree of  horror. I was opposed to the original decision to join the EEC, but after forty years membership unpicking the whole thing becomes difficult. Further, the campaign itself and the consequent vote played to and accentuated divides in the UK….

Alas!

Yes, Jim’s post has disappeared! But now it’s back!

And finally…

Look at Steve Cannane, Brexit: Is Scotland brave enough to defy the UK? and Ian Verrender, Brexit will deliver a few home truths, both on ABC.

HSC 50 years on

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Neil

Featured in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

There were no calculators. Cigarettes were puffed on the school oval at lunchtime. One-third of students took French. And the most controversial musical you could study was West Side Story: that was the Higher School Certificate half a century ago.

This year marks 50 years since the first group of students exited the Victorian-era Leaving Certificate and entered the uncharted territory of the HSC after the Wyndham report changed the face of education in NSW.

And also in this year’s HSC Study Guide supplement:

This year marks the HSC’s 50th year. Since 1967, more than 2.3 million students have successfully completed the HSC and used the skills and knowledge gained to embark on the next stage of life at university, TAFE or work.

The HSC has evolved to reflect a constantly changing world, growing from 29 courses to 104 courses with exams. The first HSC included Sheep Husbandry and Farm Mechanics. The 2016 HSC includes Software Design and Development and Information Processes and Technology.

Students today are enrolled in five English, four maths, five science, eight technology, 63 language and 13 Vocational Educational and Training (VET) courses and 27 Life Skills courses…

Sheep Husbandry was not on offer at Cronulla High School where I as a newly minted English teacher fronted what would be the first 3rd Level (i.e. bottom) English Year 11 class in 1966. So strictly speaking this year it is 49 years since that first HSC, which was sat in 1967.

I did return to Cronulla back in 2011. See these posts: How young we were! (and do read the comment thread!) and Here I am at the Cronulla High 50th!

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Revisiting Cronulla High in 2011

See also my 2013 post If the jacarandas are out, the HSC must be coming… and my 2015 post Educational opportunity in Australia – 2015 and 1965.

Orlando

Posted on June 14, 2016 by Neil

There is no way I can hope to do justice to the horrific events that played out at The Pulse in Orlando. Let me first share Sydney’s response.

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See Candlelight vigils held across Australia to honour Orlando shooting victims….