Monthly Archives: August 2007

I don’t do sport here all that often…

…but I am fascinated by the Andrew Johns business. The Footy Show interview has been YouTubed:

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Posted by on August 31, 2007 in Aussie interest, News and Current Affairs, Observations


Friday Australian poem #4: Judith Wright

thunder This poem has been a favourite of mine for over forty years. It brings back nights by a roaring fire listening to old relatives out in Wellington NSW telling their young city cousin tales of the old days, as only these country people could: shuffling “the years like a pack of conjuror’s cards.” Thunderbolt (Fred Ward) was a bushranger of the New England area. That’s him on the right.

Wright shows a rare skill in this poem capturing an authentic Australian speaking voice and making poetry out of it in such a way that the more clearly poetic frame of the story both stands out yet also blends in. The voice of old Dan gains resonance from its setting. And that closure: wonderful.

The title: Judith Wright was living in Queensland when she wrote this poem during World War II. First published in Meanjin around about the time I was conceived 😉 it appeared in Wright’s first book, The Moving Image, in 1946. New England* was thus “South of her days” at the time.

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Guest entry: David from Michigan

Make sure you read the comments!

This arrived as a comment, but is so important that I have promoted it to entry status. David is referring to point 5 in yesterday’s entry Vital Reading.

Anyone who thinks that America is “full of” the likes of Philip Atkinson [a British expatriate, I see. — N] obviously doesn’t live here and is, I would suggest, a little dangerous themselves (it’s like the left-wing version of “all Arabs are terrorists” and it could be used to justify anything.) You can find some useful background to this article from the right-wing antiwar activist Justin Raimondo. Raimondo, who sees Neocons as a “pestilential sect” arising from the cold war (a small minority, but a highly influential and dangerous one in Washington) describes Atkinson and the Family Security Foundation as “at the outer limits of neocon kookery” — in other words, a minority of a minority. However, some of the tropes in the Atkinson article (particularly the half-based classicism) are common ones in Neocon fantasy, and Raimondo fears that this may be revealing of what “lies behind the mask” of Neoconservatism.

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Vital reading

1. The Herald series on migrant workers continues to unearth disturbing stories: A lonely death among the pines and Calls for action to save foreign employees. Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews adopts the legalistic Mary Poppins position: “the workers could freely complain about their employment conditions.” That is making several assumptions about the actual power such workers have culturally, socially and linguistically, and is ignoring on-the-ground factors such as access to such mechanisms and isolation.

2. There is a real stoush happening in Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate over the Gunns pulp mill project in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania. Opposition spokesman Peter Garrett is also in the frame. You may read the article that inspired Geoffrey Cousins to take on the Tasmanian Government, the Howard Government, and the Rudd Opposition at The Monthly: scroll down to Richard Flanagan’s “Out of Control” (May 2007) — and stay on that site to read some other articles while you are there. I am so glad The Monthly now gives free access to some of their excellent essays.

3. Through an ad on The Monthly site I went to High & Dry — that is a generous extract from the book — by Guy Pearse.

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Yea the great and terrible day of The Bush is nigh…

…and the Moon hath turned to blood seen even unto Surry Hills…


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Government careers down path of superficial idiocy on citizenship test

NOTE: Updated. I now give the resource book a qualified . Remarks below offer some qualifications, while others, especially about the TEST, still hold.

The singularly unimpressive Kevin Andrews was told how stupid this is over and over again. Go there and download whichever you choose; naturally I recommend (PDF) ATESOL’s contribution on behalf of ESL teachers — I can hardly improve on it. But The Garden Gnome wanted it and Andrews delivered and so the country is stuck with an English test that masquerades as something to do with benchmarks for attaining a successful Australian citizenship.

The Book of Knowledge (in English of course) does not appear to be available online yet*, so I have had to rely on the version presented today in the Sydney Morning Herald: I pledge allegiance to ? the Don. Nothing in there, it would appear, about the Eight Hour Movement or the Harvester Judgement, whose centenary occurs this year, but that is hardly surprising. Meanwhile not one person who represents any kind of threat to the Australian way of life will be deterred by this fatuous yet discriminatory exercise. But the government will seem to be doing something significant, and that is all that matters perhaps.

The Herald does provide these sample questions:

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Inside Iran

Last night Compass presented Part 1 of Rageh Omaar’s Inside Teheran, a significant counterweight to the rhetoric of politics there or here. You get the idea from this edited extract:

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Posted by on August 27, 2007 in Cultural and other, Current affairs, Films, DVDs, TV