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.

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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!

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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.

What a treasure-house of glimpses into my old stamping ground!

On YouTube I found a whole treasure-house of videos from inner east Sydney posted by Sydney City Council. They stop at 2015, but include ones going back to at least 2010 when I was still in Surry Hills. I have posted two already on Facebook but will choose three different ones for this post. They cover such a wide range of things that it will be hard to choose! I should warn you they are raw footage and the ambient noise is quite loud.

NSW Schools Spectacular(s)

Other than Mongolian rock I have been featuring the NSW Schools Spectacular on my Facebook recently, usually with an expression of pride in the achievement these events represent on behalf of all the NSW state schools. Sadly: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that the 2020 Schools Spectacular is cancelled.”

The NSW Schools Spectacular is an Australian variety show featuring more than 5,500 students from public schools across New South Wales and was performed annually at the Sydney Entertainment Centre (later known as Qantas Credit Union Arena) between 1984 and 2015, after which the venue was permanently closed. In 2016, it moved to Sydney Olympic Park, and found its new home at Qudos Bank Arena. — Wikipedia

Let me focus on just 2016.

2016 had some outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island input, particularly this young man, 16 at the time, Sebastian Kelly-Toiava from Macquarie Fields High School in Sydney’s southwest.

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Here he is showing amazing passion in the anthemic Took the Children Away by Archie Roach.

This story’s right, this story’s true
I would not tell lies to you
Like the promises they did not keep
And how they fenced us in like sheep.
Said to us come take our hand
Sent us off to mission land.
Taught us to read, to write and pray
Then they took the children away,
Took the children away,
The children away.
Snatched from their mother’s breast
Said this is for the best
Took them away.

And in the even more anthemic Treaty by Yothu Yindi, including sections in language.

In 2016 another of the featured singers was Fletcher Pilon from the NSW Central Coast.  At 14 he had won the 2016 Australia’s Got Talent, and that is in itself quite a story. The second video below tells it.  In the Schools Spectacular he performed Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire.

Now to his audition performance for Australia’s Got Talent. “In August 2015, 10-year-old Banjo Pilon, Fletcher’s brother, was hit by a car while skateboarding and died. After his death, Fletcher wrote the song ‘Infinite Child’ in honour of his brother.” — Wikipedia.

I challenge you to watch this dry-eyed.

No, really! What genius is even thinking about this!

Isn’t this one of the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen? I think so, and have ever since seeing them in the wild 60+ years ago!

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See Telopea speciosissima or Waratah. It is the floral emblem of NSW.

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Apparently some turkeys want to change that! To quote Peter Hannam’s report in the Sydney Morning Herald:

No flower may be “so proud and stately and grand as the waratah”, so a popular book once told our children, but it seems devotion to the fiery red NSW emblem is fading within parts of the Berejiklian government.

The Department of Customer Service, which oversees branding, says it has “no plans” to ditch the waratah as the state’s logo, but leaked details of focus groups suggest some government staffers have other ideas….

The leak surprised government officials with one senior member on Sunday saying it would be “a bloody bad thing” to replace the waratah….

Too right it would be a bad idea!

The Herald poll seems to agree.

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