Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for the ‘Aussie interest’ Category

Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, “Homecoming”

Years ago I had a student just beginning Year 12 at a Jewish school north of Sydney; Bruce Dawe’s poetry was our first mission. Over the Christmas holidays (well, that’s what I’d call them 😉 ) he went to Queensland, found Bruce Dawe in the phone book and rang him up. “Hey, I have to study your poems!” Result? An invitation to come over for a cup of tea, and some good points to make in class…

An Air Force veteran himself, and veteran too of all manner of jobs, this very down-to-earth Australian poet found his voice and his anger during the Vietnam War. “Homecoming” is just one of many he wrote at that time, but is justly the best known.
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Written by Neil

November 30, 2007 at 12:01 am

Australian Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey 2

Jim Belshaw has posted on the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey 2006 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released just today. I have downloaded the full report, and to be honest have not had time to do more than browse.

Jim’s post does have a good historical introduction.

He then notes:

A second thing stands out when I look at the numbers. Those in the 15 to 19 age cohort had lower levels of literacy than the 20 to 24 year age cohort and by a reasonable margin.

The following graph captures that; I won’t even try to explain the five categories at this stage. The general trend is what Jim is referring to.
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Written by Neil

November 28, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Surry Hills Library threatens restaurant

Nothing like a good parochial story.

You see, Sydney City Council is building a swish new community centre to include, among other things, a new Surry Hills Library, at the moment temporarily housed on the Northcott Estate. Next door to the new library site is an Indian restaurant.

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Written by Neil

November 28, 2007 at 8:34 am

An old bloke

Lovely story of Election Day in Coffs Harbour NSW from Pip Wilson.

Written by Neil

November 27, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Reckoning: The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

Here are some extracts from a  Joseph E. Stiglitz article published in Vanity Fair two days ago.

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 26, 2007 at 5:17 pm


I thought it delightful that ABC had scheduled (unknowingly of course) Choir Of Hard Knocks Opera House Special for the first day of the Rudd government.

Twelve months ago Jonathon Welch brought together a group of Melbourne’s disadvantaged to form a choir, but had no idea what a sensation the choir would become. Now the 42 members of the Choir of Hard Knocks have been invited to perform in the Opera House concert hall.

Taking such a disparate group on the road is a risky venture, and the stakes are high. It’s a real show of faith in the Choir, and nerve racking for the organisers. It’s a massive logistical operation given the varied emotional and physical needs of the choristers. For most, it will be their first time on a plane or their first trip interstate.
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Written by Neil

November 26, 2007 at 8:42 am

Sirdan’s Sunday lunch

The Empress, E, Sirdan’s neighbour and I had our post-election Sunday lunch today. There was no weeping or gnashing of teeth.


The conversation did get around to a remarkable story that was front page news in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald even with that day’s election dominating: Lesson for the school of hard Knox, concerning the young man above.

IT TAKES a lot of guts at the best of times to stand in front of 1350 fellow students, 150 teachers and 600 parents in the school assembly hall and tell it as it is.

But when it involves accusing some of your year 12 classmates of being cheats, and fingering influential parents for bullying the school authorities into giving prestigious positions to undeserving sons, the effect can be nothing short of sensational.

Especially when the school is the well-respected North Shore institution Knox Grammar, which counts among its alumni the veteran broadcaster John Laws, Macquarie Bank chairman David Clarke, former editor of the satirical Oz magazine Richard Neville, Hugh Jackman and ethicist Simon Longstaff. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 25, 2007 at 3:59 pm