Monthly Archives: April 2007

Photographing Lord Malcolm

Lord M wanted some pictures of him with Sirdan and myself, so Sirdan brought his camera and after lunch we went to the hospice. Lord M is pretty much the bionic man these days and can’t get out of bed much, but two nurses helped us wheel his bed to a spot with a nice background view and we took two sets of pics, one lot on Sirdan’s camera and the other lot for Lord M to look at on his mobile phone, along with some he took a couple of weeks back at the Chinese Garden.
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Posted by on April 29, 2007 in gay life/issues, Personal


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Good blogging advice

Easy Writer by Kanani Fong is well worth visiting. Kanani Fong came my way through On welfare issues with Korean-Australian students over on English and ESL blog, my main contribution to the Virginia Tech discussion. She had written about some of the mental health issues involved. I quoted her and she responded.

Her latest post is A Bit On Blogging . Here are the top two “bits” minus the references. Do look at the whole post.
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Posted by on April 28, 2007 in blogging, Observations, Web stuff



Language education in Australia

In Europe “Compulsory lessons in a foreign language normally start at the end of primary school or the start of secondary school… English is the language taught most often at lower secondary level in the EU. 93% of children there learn English. At upper secondary level, English is even more widely taught. French is taught at lower secondary level in all EU countries except Slovenia. A total of 33% of European Union pupils learn French at this level. At upper secondary level the figure drops slightly to 28%. German is taught in nearly all EU countries. A total of 13% of pupils in the European Union learn German in lower secondary education, and 20% learn it at an upper secondary level.” In China the study of foreign languages in schools, especially English, has been growing apace. It is estimated that 33% of Beijing residents will have reasonable English skills by the time the Olympics come around in 2008. See also Is English invading Chinese culture? (People’s Daily November 02, 2003.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 28, 2007 in Aussie interest, Cultural and other, Education, immigration, Multiculturalism and diversity


Big announcement on Riverbend’s blog

Riverbend has posted after another long hiatus: The Great Wall of Segregation…. This is a very moving entry. I won’t steal her thunder, except to reveal this bit:

…I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn’t know what our neighbors were- we didn’t care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

On a personal note, we’ve finally decided to leave. I guess I’ve known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?…

So sad on so many levels, isn’t it?
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Late Anzac Day thoughts

I didn’t do a special post on Anzac Day, letting last year’s serve, and a few people did Google to it I notice. However, two good programs on ABC-TV last night have inspired some reflections, not so much on the day and its significance — important and solemn rather than sacred as far as I am concerned; I can’t help thinking the word “sacred” in this context really isn’t quite appropriate.

The first program was decently low key, I felt: Andrew Denton’s Gallipoli: Brothers In Arms.

Why are more Australians drawn to the shores of Gallipoli each year? The Dawn Service at Anzac Cove, once a modest gathering of souls, has become an event on a scale that rivals the original invasion. The gentle, grassy slopes of this Turkish landmark are thronged with the relatives of those who fought and died, veterans of other conflicts, the merely curious, and a generation of backpackers paying their respects as they circle the globe.

In 2006, Andrew Denton went to meet some of these pilgrims, to listen to their stories, to ask why they had made the journey and what they were learning from it.

Focusing on the war-time experiences of three pairs of brothers, as told by the families who remember them, Andrew returned with a portrait of a special place, which then as now, is crucial to our understanding of ourselves and our nation…

As the program pointed out, even greater horrors awaited on the Western Front. (Transcript now available.)
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Movie The Dish

The Dish (2001) is set in the NSW country town of Parkes in 1969. It is well to keep in mind that it is essentially a comedy, but it does reflect a degree of truth about the role the Parkes Radio Telescope played in the moon walk of Neil Armstrong in July 1969. Just what is fact and what is not is made clear by the CSIRO at “The Dish”: Fact versus Fiction — a quick comparison.

It brought memories flooding back. First, I visited Parkes a couple of times in the mid to late 1960s. This YouTube replicates that, even if over thirty years later.

Second, I hadn’t realised the moon walk was the day after my mother’s 58th birthday, but I vividly recall watching it at Cronulla High School, which ground to a total halt that day while the whole school gathered around various television sets to see an event that really captured our imaginations. That was my last year at Cronulla as a teacher; it was my first appointment. The movie captures all that brilliantly, except I would quibble that the Channel 9 News they run a clip of at one point is the Melbourne version whereas in Parkes it would have been the Sydney version relayed through some local commercial TV station.

Loved the movie though. Do watch it if you get a chance. Here is a good review.

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Posted by on April 26, 2007 in Aussie interest, Films, DVDs, TV


This is of course bizarre…

…but what would you expect? Westboro Baptist Church is much loved by atheists and anti-clerical types generally (almost as much as the risible Aussie expat Ken Ham is) and deserves everything it gets, though it hardly deserves to be taken seriously. It is to mainstream Christianity pretty much what Osama bin Laden is to mainstream Islam, but fortunately less effective. It certainly gives religion a bad name.
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