The Florida Loon strikes again — aka the Orange Zombie craves more brains….


You’ve got that, people?

Unless you are such masochists as to want a rerun of this:

Make Trump History!


Interesting American reaction to Trump’s speech.

Afterthought 17th November

But then that might be what Trump hopes rather than what will be… Here is another view on the event as damp squib….

Donald Trump held a humiliating event at Mar-A-Lago to announce he is running for President in 2024. The event was so weird and bad that people in the audience tried to escape but were blocked by security. MeidasTouch host Ben Meiselas reports.

One side matter that has Aussies scratching their heads is the presence of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who is a sad groupie from way back. Did she try too escape, I wonder?

Full marks also to 15-year-old Melbourne news anchor (Channel 6 — which possibly comes from his bedroom) Leo Puglisi, the first I know of to spot her in the “crowd”. Well done, Leo. And the guy with the mo behind Gina is the quite definitely bonkers Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell — one of the greatest laughing stocks in the MAGA Menagerie!

Five years ago…

Unbelievable that we ever even thought Trump might have something to offer the world!

Tell us, when will these things happen?

Posted on  by Neil


Signs of the End of the Age

Matthew 24:3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 24:4 Jesus answered them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. 24:5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many.24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. 24:7 For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 24:8 All these things are the beginning of birth pains.


See Comment: Why Trump’s threat to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea is extraordinary — even for him

President Trump took to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday and, in his maiden speech there, called the leader of North Korea “Rocket Man,” decried “loser terrorists” and said certain parts of the world are “in fact, going to hell.”

But Trump’s perhaps oddly chosen colloquialisms masked what was a pretty astounding escalation of his rhetoric when it comes to North Korea. Just to be clear: The president of the United States threatened to wipe a country of 25 million people off the map.

I fear Donald Trump really is mad…

Posted on  by Neil

Unwise, for sure. Now the “other guy” in North Korea is not the full quid either, to be sure. Trouble is, between them these charlies are threatening us all! This is the worst scene I can recall since the Cuban crisis in the early 1960s. And here is something Kennedy had to say.

Kennedy, in his memoirs, wrote about the seven lessons he learned during the crisis, number six being, “Don’t humiliate your opponent,” which is, of course, a central face issue. And, as Ting-Toomey put it, “By understanding the face-honoring process intuitively, intellectually, and diplomatically, the two statesmen learned to honor and give face mutually in the eyes of their salient referents and in the arena of international diplomacy.”

That’s from a 2004 article by Sarah Rosenberg. It’s pretty much a commonplace among those of us who have ever conducted cross-cultural relationships, personal, business, educational or political. Trump just seems to have no idea! He has obviously not grasped the significance of face, especially among Koreans — wherever in the peninsula they live.


That’s me 27 years ago visiting Wollongong with a group of Korean and Mainland Chinese from my class at Wessex College of English in Sydney. It was in that year that I began to learn about face. These students were good teachers.

How it played out for me later you may partly get from a professional post: On welfare issues with Korean-Australian students.

This post has become very long. Written over two days, it has four distinct sections.

— The first part is my immediate response to questions being asked about possible cultural factors in the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech. It should be noted that I do not aim to “explain” that tragedy.
— Then I present some other posts I have found that take up the same or similar questions. The most significant one comes from a Korean-American pastor.
— In the third section you may read further thoughts based on my own observation of Korean and Korean-Australian students in Australia.
— I conclude with reflections on the need to have a perspective shaped by something more than monoculturalism.


In the past fifteen years I have both at school and in the tuition sector had quite a bit of contact with parents and students in the Korean community. Before that (1990-1991) I learned something of Korean culture and attitudes from young adults studying English at a Sydney language college. Some of the conversations at that college went into some depth. There were some very thoughtful people in the groups I had then, many of whom were very keen to share, at times very personally and very deeply. I was interested as I had known virtually nothing about Koreans before that. What I learned stood me in good stead later on.

That someone in Donald Trump’s position seems not to have a clue about such matters ought to concern all of us. Indeed, he seems to deliberately cultivate his ignorance, preferring rather the stage show of one of his revival meetings to a mature engagement with the problem North Korea presents. That at least is how it seems to me, and it scares me more than I can say! I cannot recall anything quite like it before, not even from Reagan at his “Evil Empire” best, or George W Bush in full “Axis of Evil” mode.


Donald Trump pursuing an Emmy or Academy Award for worst performance as President of the United States.

But also — and I bet one of these everyone has forgotten!

It’s all happening in The Gong

Posted on  by Neil

What a week, starting on Sunday! Not that I will be directly involved.


See Elton John tickets, parking, traffic, food and everything else you need to know for the Wollongong concert .<!– –>

And then there is a Royal Tour on Tuesday!

Wollongong is in for a royal treat, with Prince Andrew, The Duke of York visiting the city in September.

And young entrepreneurs will get the chance to pitch their business ideas to His Royal Highness.

The Duke jumped at University of Wollongong Professor Alex Frino’s invitation to launch the Pitch@Palace Australia program at UOW”s Innovation Campus on September 26.

And here is footage from that Wollongong Concert!

The maths must be wrong! 2017 was just yesterday!

No, February 2017 is indeed FIVE YEARS AGO!

Melting in The Gong, but great Saturday lunch

Posted on  by Neil

Yes, records just keep tumbling. Mind you, yesterday wasn’t quite as hot here in Wollongong as it was in much of NSW. We managed to stay under 40C. But the humidity! I really am melting, especially at night. On the other hand my nephew Warren rang on Thursday from near Lightning Ridge, where he now lives. In the shade there it was 46, and in his shed 53!


And for The Gong, this look back at the times Wollongong resembled a scene from a blockbuster doomsday movie.

Chris T and I returned to Wollongong’s best halal Lebanese restaurant on Saturday. Great food, lovely people. Last time we were there was in January: Extreme contrast, and yesterday at Samaras again.


Meal mates: Samaras Restaurant owner Omar Nemer and community leader Grahame Gould are promoting tolerance through eating.

Among his supporters is community leader Grahame Gould, who is urging other Illawarra residents, business people and prominent figures to show zero tolerance for racism by attending an #illeatwithyou lunch at Samaras on Wednesday.

“I want to stop racist boycotts in their tracks; I want to show zero tolerance for that attitude within the community,” Mr Gould said. “It’s about fairness to individuals and giving people a fair go, which is a core Australian ideology.

“The Illawarra is becoming a region that has great diversity and … that is an important part of us having a great life, a vibrant community and a successful future.”

Mar 2015

A historian on Donald Trump

Posted on  by Neil

But first let me quote a tweet from 24 hours ago; recent ones on the interesting visit of Canada’s Justin Trudeau have thus far been more sensible.

Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!

I mean, you have to wonder why he bothered to post that! One might even question  the lack of mental balance it seems to me to embody.

And then we had this from some motormouth or other* among all the President’s men:

Donald Trump senior policy advisor Stephen Miller’s debut on the Sunday shows was rife with troubling foreshadowing, with his high-volume repetition of Trump talking points and botched invocation of Trump’s “voter fraud” lie…

Miller railed against a “supreme” judicial branch in other television appearances, but on CBS, he made Trump’s despotic ambitions explicit (emphasis added):

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned.

Those “further actions” remain frighteningly and ominously unclear…

Before going on, a detour to a past post, The History Summit in Canberra (2006). Some of the links may not work.

My continuing interest in history and historiography is well attested on my blogs: search this one to see a whole range of entries on quite a variety of topics where the search-word “history” will take you.

I studied History at Sydney University in a fortunate moment, looking back on it. Among my Ancient History lecturers in 1960 was Edwin Judge, “distinguished for his studies on the first Roman emperor, Augustus, and still more for his monographs on the social and structural aspects of early Christianity in the Roman empire, and how the Romans responded to it.” In 1961 I (and Philip Ruddock) studied 18th century European History under John McManners and English History under the quite amazing Mr Stephen. I wrote an essay that year on Edward Gibbon. Then in 1962 I came first in Asian History, taught by two more stars: Marjorie Jacobs on India and Ian Nish on China and Japan: see that review of his Japanese Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period: “Numerous scholars have written about Japanese foreign policy in the interwar period, and one is tempted to wonder if yet another account is genuinely needed, but when it comes from the pen of such a senior historian as Ian Nish, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ Nish has produced an archetypical study through his careful collection of evidence, through his judicious assessments, and through his lucid presentation: in short, this study is a hallmark of professional maturity and sophistication.” That year my essays, more successful than the Gibbon had been, were on Ram Mohan Roy and Mao Tse Tung and Chiang Kai Shek. Very exotic for 1962.

So, good fortune for me, and an approach to History that has never left me. I am not a raging left-winger when it comes to historiography; indeed, I am generally comfortable with Richard Evans, In Defence of History, despite the pomo rubbishing Antony Easthope gives it in that review! But then I am also a great fan of Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, The History Wars. And I actually enjoy Manning Clark, as literature as much as history.

Richard Evans. Quite a formidable historian whose specialty has been The Third Reich., more recently in The Third Reich in History and Memory.

Richard Evans has ventured into this arena in the past few days:


Now while I am clearly not overimpressed with Donald J Trump, I am also cautious about glib comparisons. The counter-argument to the image above may be found all over, including You’ve Heard People Compare Trump to Hitler. So We Asked a Woman Who Was Born in Nazi Germany….

Bur when Richard Evans weighs in I think we need to listen.

I spoke by phone with Evans, who is based in England and whose latest book is The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914,  this week. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed the differences and similarities between the 1930s and today, why fascists need to undermine the legal system, and the danger of calling seemingly unbalanced leaders “crazy.”

Isaac Chotiner: What do you make of Trump as a leader in these early days, and how would you compare it to the way other authoritarians have started their time in power?

Richard Evans: When you look at President Trump’s statements, I’m afraid you do see echoes, and they are very alarming…

Of course history never repeats itself. Democracy dies in different ways at different times. The First World War did have this brutalizing effect on public life right across Europe. It was heavily militarized. You can’t go out on the street without seeing squads of thugs in uniform beating each other up. That’s simply not characteristic of our own times. I think the Second World War cured Western society of that level of violence. But there has been an economic crisis. America is deeply divided. Britain is deeply divided. There are massive and bitter political divisions and social divisions in many European countries, so there is a parallel there, certainly…

I commend the article to you.


*On that motormouth: How Stephen Miller went from obscure Capitol Hill staffer to Donald Trump’s warm-up act—and resident ideologue.

Miller is 30 years old, and in some ways a quintessential member of the Trump 2016 menagerie: an obscure character suddenly elevated to a national role by dint of hard work, loyalty and the boss’s favor…

There is something eerily vintage about Miller’s stump speeches. The combination of their substance—vilifying immigrants as killers, the promise of nativist glory days ahead—and their delivery with a calm face around a loud, droning mouth, slicked-back hair and sharp suit, floridly invoking powerful cabals against the people: All of it harks back to an earlier time. It’s as if the video should be in black and white, and the microphone in front of Miller an antique, metallic affair….

Breitbart is Miller’s preferred media ally. “Every movement needs a dialogue,” Miller says. “Breitbart was a big part of that.” Miller worked tirelessly to make sure the dialogue kept going, and in the right direction…

Non sequiturs and The Tweet

Posted on  by Neil

I am a fan of Wiley Miller’s “Non Sequitur”: we get it in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Lately he’s been having fun with the “fake news”/”alternate facts” meme.


A convincing take on where President Tweet’s head is at comes from Josephine Tovey this morning. It’s a bit of a worry.

There’s a new rule emerging for observers of American politics trying to understand a confusing new outburst or claim from President Donald Trump – go and check what’s happened on Fox News in the past 24 hours.

It was key to understanding his otherwise confounding comments about Sweden at a rally last weekend, when he told a fired-up crowd: “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”…

This was not a first. In fact, a huge number of Trump’s outbursts and falsehoods can be linked to something he saw on television or on one of his preferred websites….

It’s not only Fox that fires up the President. Several of his most egregious claims in recent months have come from or mirror those on America’s most prominent conspiracy website Infowars – which is perhaps best known for pushing the lie that the Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax….

Meanwhile on Politico you find aggregated latest stories.  I guess Tweet would count them as “enemies of the people” when they run inconvenient stories like Trump’s disapproval rating keeps creeping up.

A majority of respondents said Trump is not honest (55 percent), doesn’t have good leadership skills (55 percent) or care about everyday Americans (53 percent), isn’t level-headed (63 percent), doesn’t share their values (60 percent) and is doing more to divide the country than unite it (58 percent). However, a majority also said they believe Trump is a strong (64 percent) and intelligent (58 percent) person.

“President Donald Trump’s popularity is sinking like a rock,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll. “He gets slammed on honesty, empathy, level-headedness and the ability to unite. And two of his strong points, leadership and intelligence, are sinking to new lows. This is a terrible survey one month in.”

But why should he worry? After all he won the most electoral college votes since Ronald Reagan, didn’t he? Not.

Mr Trump’s 2016 victory did not come close.

Former President Barack Obama won 332 votes in 2012 versus Mitt Romney’s 206 votes, a far higher number than Mr Trump’s 304 electoral college votes in 2016.

And Mr Obama won an even higher number – 365 – in 2008.

Bill Clinton gained 379 electoral college votes in 1996, and George H W Bush gathered an incredible 426 votes in 1988.

This amazing graphic shows quite clearly how the popular vote went — and confirms my belief in our Australian system of mandatory voting too! Bit hard to write these facts off as “fake news”, don’t you think?



From the Toronto Star: The complete list of all 80 false things Donald Trump has said in his first 4 weeks as president.

In 2022 Trump is unaccountably still followed by far too many people, and to venture an opinion — me on Facebook not long ago:

The Trump is dangerous, the Trump is a walking curse on the future of the USA. There is nothing to admire about him, nothing at all. In fact if you can watch even just the extracts from the speech of the man himself at this dreadful rally and find anything at all worthy of respect I am simply sorry for you. The man is just egregious in his foolishness, vanity and maliciousness. A leader? No way! And he NEVER learns.

Over the top? I think not.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 74 — five years ago…

They say this weekend will be the last in lockdown here in The Gong. But we have a new Premier whose right-wing zeal exceeds by far his common sense or respect for medical advice, so he has been fiddling with the rules governing the timetable for opening up. Not everyone is impressed.

Cathy Wilcox, Sydney Morning Herald

I do wonder if this will be the Premier’s Ruby Princess moment! Of course I hope not, but it may be “interesting” to review the Covid-19 stats for NSW in 5-7 days!

Now to five years ago — just a couple of entries from October 2016.

Crossing the Bar: Tennyson

Posted on  by Neil

This was a favourite of my mother.

Sunset and evening star,
         And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
         When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
         Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
         Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
         And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
         When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
         The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
         When I have crossed the bar.

I quote it today as yesterday at Diggers I learned that an ex-student from The Illawarra Grammar School, Peter D (Class of 1974), has passed away. He had been very ill for a long time. I used to see him and his wife at Steelers and, until recently, at Diggers. He was 59.


Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc…

Posted on  by Neil

I see Tony Abbott has gone into bat for The Donald. That figures…

Mr Abbott defended Mr Trump’s policies, which include building a wall between Mexico and the United States to repel migrants, as reasonable.

“Many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough,” he said.

Mind you, I don’t entirely disagree with what Tony Abbott says there about T’s supporters. It is worth reading David A Hill Jr, I Listened to a Trump Supporter.

She was a family friend, a good person. In rural Ohio, everything was tight. Money, jobs. If you really needed quick cash, she’d put you to work doing landscaping. She’d pay fairly and reliably for the area.

She’s voting for Donald Trump. I disagree with her choice, but I understand why she rejects Clinton so fiercely, and why she’s been swept up in Donald Trump’s particular brand of right-wing populism. I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated. I think that’s a loss for everyone involved, and that sometimes listening can help you to at least understand why a person is making the choices they make, so you can work on the root causes.

Hat tip to Alex Au in Singapore for that article.

Meanwhile The Donald himself lately does seem to be verging on the barking mad:

Florida: Donald Trump has denied a slew of new allegations of sexually predatory behaviour in an angry diatribe of speech in Florida, accusing the women who made them of fabrication and the media outlets that published them as being party to a conspiracy against him…

Mr Trump claimed a variety of forces including the Clintons and the media were seeking to rig the US election.

“Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds,” he said.

“This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8. Remember that.”

Sorry. Did I really say “verging on” then?

OK, back to that second debate. I found myself riveted all through – yes I watched the whole show – by the body language, especially The Donald’s. What a study in proxemics!


Pure monstering. The stills barely capture the effect that the pacing and scowling communicated. Not a nice man.

All that had me thinking again of what I learned from the 1990s on in my ESL studies and practice about cross-cultural communication, and the topic in fact came up earlier this week in conversation at Diggers with someone who spent considerable time in PNG and S-E Asia. A summary directed at business people is Different Cultural Communication Styles.

Factoring in personal space expectations between cultures enhances communication in any social or business setting. While Northern Europeans and European Americans feel most comfortable at an arm’s length away in a social interaction, Hispanics would consider that distance unfriendly. Knowing what is expected is helpful. Eye contact and touch etiquette also vary dramatically in different cultures. Asian cultures do not believe in touching in public settings, and they don’t favor direct eye contact. Like the Asian culture, Hispanics also view direct eye contact as a lack of respect. One significant difference between these two cultures is the way touching in public is perceived. Hispanics are a “high touch” society. Before meeting with a different culture, it is best to learn about these etiquette considerations.

That’s just one aspect. Oriented to schools is Communicating Across Cultures from the Victorian Education Department.

Interpretations of verbal communication can be culturally based. Misunderstandings can easily arise. For example in some cultures:

  • It is impolite to speak without being specifically asked by a superior, thus some students will not say hello, will not volunteer answers and will not answer generally directed questions.
  • It is not appropriate to refuse a request, thus saying ‘yes’ may mean ‘I am listening’, or ‘maybe’, or ‘no’. Avoidance behaviour rather than contradiction is used i.e. not doing what is requested is the polite response, as opposed to saying directly ‘no’.
  • Direct confrontation is to be avoided. It is more important to maintain the relationship, then to find an answer to an immediate disputed issue or problem. This contrasts with the anglo-Australian approach of trying to resolve issues by frank and open discussion of the disputed issue, clearly stating personal needs and preferences and direct bargaining tactics focusing on an immediate solution.
  • Asking questions when you already know the answer, which is a common teaching technique in Australia, can indicate a lack of intelligence in some cultures.

Then at the levels prom personal to international relations see the course Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts, particularly Michelle Le Baron, Cross-Cultural Communication.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists. We make — whether it is clear to us or not — quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others. In this module, cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors involving four variables:

  • Time and Space
  • Fate and Personal Responsibility
  • Face and Face-Saving
  • Nonverbal Communication

As our familiarity with these different starting points increases, we are cultivating cultural fluency — awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

In a multicultural society in an even more multicultural world these are areas we all need familiarity with. Back to proxemics:

The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. If someone is accustomed to standing or sitting very close when they are talking with another, they may see the other’s attempt to create more space as evidence of coldness, condescension, or a lack of interest. Those who are accustomed to more personal space may view attempts to get closer as pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Neither is correct — they are simply different.

Mind you, Trump was being “pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive”!

Related: My 1998 UTS Grad Cert TESOL assignment A Japanese Backpacker’s year in Australia may even amuse you.

One year ago exactly — a reminder of what a total goon we were dealing with then! Worth reposting it all.

Note: 500,000 more Americans have died from Covid since this first appeared. The 700,000 was passed yesterday.

On Donald Trump’s miraculous recovery

Posted on  by Neil

When Donald J Trump performed that characteristic attention-grabbing stunt yesterday and also tweeted about how much he had learned about Covid, I had a short exchange with my niece on Facebook. I had said “A showman to the end! Will be interesting to see what he has learned.” She replied: “Nothing I expect. You don’t end up in your 70’s and suddenly change.” Well, turns out my niece was right.

First, let me quote the ABC’s go-to person on the virus, Dr Norman Swan, on ABC News Breakfast a short time ago.

The ABC’s medical expert Dr Norman Swan said that Mr Trump being given “unproven therapies” was interesting. Dr Swan said this was because Mr Trump was either more seriously ill than the White House was saying or they had panicked and were, “just throwing everything at him. The reality is though, if he’s going to fall off the cliff with this, it’s going to be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday of this week,” he said. “So, he may well be returning to hospital. I hope not and the signs that they are sending him home are good but I imagine that this is the patient from Hell.”

On MSNBC the opinion was:

To be sure, the competition is fierce, but this might be the single most dangerous thing Trump has ever tweeted. The president wants the people of his own country not to “be afraid” of a deadly virus that’s already claimed the lives of nearly 210,000 Americans? There’s a significant percentage of the population that, for whatever reasons, is under the impression that Trump knows what he’s talking about. These people are now being told that if they get infected, they’ll be treated with “really great drugs [and] knowledge,” and ultimately feel the best they’ve felt in 20 years.

In announcing that I would write this post, I said: “I am about to write a second blog post today prompted by the 210,000 dead Americans and their families who are so grateful to Donald Trump for being told COVID should not dominate their lives.”

You will recall what Dr Phillips said after the motorcade stunt:

So the leopard has not, cannot, change his spots. As I said after that dreadful “debate” — and I do not repent my words:

On a slightly lighter note:

It is a White House where lies are normal and bullshit and spin rule. I do not go for any of the conspiracy theories that have emerged either on the right or the left. It is simply that Trump and it appears the toadies and fans around him are so far gone into the delusionary mindset of a Willy Loman or a Jay Gatsby that there is no way back. They have not realised that for all the worthy characteristics Arthur Miller and Scott Fitzgerald gave those characters, they both — like this presidency will — ended badly.

Do revisit Dr Norman Swan’s clever son.

And this US voter — a lifelong Republican — shows that not all Americans have drunk the Kool-Aid. Posted TODAY!

Then on 10 October 2020 this marvellous song appeared on YouTube:

Just wonderful!

May this creature vanish until he is a distant nightmare, or a cautionary tale for the future and nothing more….