Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for the ‘Jim Belshaw’ Category

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

Polling Day in Surry Hills

Just past 8am and the polling booths will have just opened for today’s election. There will be no surprises in Surry Hills where Labor is 100% sure to win. But nation-wide? There were those at last night’s meeting still saying “landslide to Labor” but it does seem it will be a very close thing.

I have to say I thought Noel Pearson’s dummy spit yesterday was impolitic. He could have saved that for after the election. I really wonder too whether he bothered to look beyond the campaigning hype (on both sides) at actual ALP policy on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs, particularly Constitutional Recognition Of Indigenous Australians. All he has done is tarnish his own reputation for a degree of balance and originality — for which I have up to now tended to respect him — and made life difficult for himself if Labor gets elected.

Here in Surry Hills it is a grey morning and the sound of crows fills the air. Is this ominous? If so, for whom? I go coaching in Chinatown shortly and will vote either on the way there or on the way home, depending on the crowds. Meanwhile I note, if this relates to anything, the relative readership figures for the past 21 hours on my blogs here at WP:
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Is Australia a Christian country?

Jim Belshaw has an interesting post on this, to which I wrote an off-the-cuff response for the sake of discussion, and Jim has replied. My answer, basically, is “No”. Except in a very broad cultural sense. One could also ask the question in the past tense, as Jim has, and one would get very many answers, as indeed Jim points out. Obviously Australia is more a Christian culture than it is a Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Muslim, or Jewish one, yet all those are, and in all cases long have been, living traditions within Australian culture, not to mention what remains of Indigenous spirituality.

Much better heads than mine have asked the question; it disturbs me nonetheless when people like the current Prime Minister make assumptions about our being a Christian country. My argument would be that we are very much a non-religious country in very important respects, even more deeply than the fact there is not and cannot be an established religion. I would even argue that secularism has been a critical ingredient both intellectually and practically, a point I made — or tried to make — in my comment on Jim’s blog. (Didn’t Manning Clark devote a lifetime and many pages to constructing a long epic poem of a history on this theme? At least he thought it mattered, which made him a rather odd “Marxist”.)

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Written by Neil

November 21, 2007 at 12:48 am

John Quiggin, Jim Belshaw and Bruce on the culture wars

First came John Quiggin on 15 November, then Jim Belshaw on 17 November, and then Bruce on 17 November. There is considerable comment on the first of those entries. I do not propose to examine those posts in depth, but do ask that you read them all. Each in its own way is very good.

Now you will gather from my post tags that I have a position on this; in fact this post will be the 349th under that tag! Over on Oz Politics and Big Archive you will find 326 more! There is also a page on a rather specialised aspect of all this: Revision or Ideological Makeover? HREOC’s “Face the Facts” Rejigged which traces the evolution of changes of attitude and policy — not as successful as the government planned, I would say because HREOC has not been totally abject — that I encountered as an ESL teacher from 1996 onwards.

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Written by Neil

November 19, 2007 at 11:13 am

Earliest memory meme

My Sabu memories in the previous entry lead, almost like The Chaser’s prize segue segments, to the meme Arthur has sent me.

I have to:

  • Describe my earliest memory where the memory is clear, and where “clear” means I can depict at least three details.
  • Give an estimate of my age at the time.
  • Tag five other bloggers with this meme.

Easy, Arthur, as I have the relevant story on a page already, but here it is again.
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Written by Neil

November 16, 2007 at 10:33 am

Posted in Diversions, Jim Belshaw, Personal

Tagged with

Update on gay marriage, Marcel, Jim, Rabbit and David Smith…

Marcel has posted a follow-up. (See also here.) It contains a dreadful pun… Carefully argued, though. Again I anticipate more discussion.

Very serious note: yesterday Thomas posted Today’s news, one item concerning someone he had been in primary school with: Reward offered for missing Matthew. See also Help Find Matt. Not looking good, that, and it does seem it may be a reminder of the dark side of homophobia.

Related, but lighter: I see in SX News (Sydney) a write-up of the 12th annual Gay Parade at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

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Written by Neil

November 2, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Some light rather than heat on non-standard marriages

… otherwise known as “gay marriage” and the focus of much heated debate on both sides. However, do look at the discussion that has started between Jim Belshaw (from a somewhat conservative but far from homophobic perspective) and Marcellous on this topic. I am not joining in as I feel outclassed by both of them. However, go there for a refreshingly hysterics-free — and non-theological — exchange of views.

A trained policy analyst and a barrister on the case. Interesting.


Check The Rabbit’s comment on Marcel’s post, and Jim Belshaw’s excellent follow-up.
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Written by Neil

October 29, 2007 at 12:13 am