Category

Humour

Books that have been important to me #4 Barbara and Allan Pease: Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps

By | ABC, Books, Education, Health, History, Humour, Media, Society | 160 Comments

In 1998, my wife and I were driving through northern New South Wales, and had the radio on. Margaret Throsby introduced her guest, Allan Pease, told us the name of his new book, and said something like, ‘Now I want to take issue with you at once about the title. I can read a map as well as any man!’ ‘How do you do it?’ he asked. ‘Well, I point it in the direction we are travelling and it’s straightforward.’ ‘That’s exactly the point of the title,’ he responded. ‘Most men can read a map however it is pointed, but most…

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Standing up against Nannies

By | Education, Humour, Media, Politics, Society | 113 Comments

I’ve written a few times (here, for example) about ‘the nanny State’, and the way in which well-meaning people want to protect ourselves from ourselves by making illegal things that we like to do. Of course, virtually all domestic law is about protecting us from us, but every now and then I want to cry ‘Enough!’ And I do so in this essay, which is about the efforts of a Green MLA in Canberra to protect us, or more specifically, her grand-daughter, from the wicked writing on Wicked camper vans. If you haven’t come across a Wicked camper van, then here…

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Exit right, Cory Bernardi

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Humour, Media, Politics, Society | 165 Comments

I have not met Senator Bernardi, but I’ve read  some of his writing. From what I have read in the media and on line, it might surprise some people to learn that in fact he is a published author. His seven books include two for children, the rest being about politics, collections of his own opinion pieces, and a book that did well in the review sections, The Conservative Revolution. Thus far the talk has all been about how his defection from the Liberal Party is another destabilising factor for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Since Bernardi is unlikely to vote for anything…

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Another passage to India

By | Books, History, Humour, Language, Music, Religion, Society | 3 Comments

While I have been at least twice to every Asian country save Mongolia and North Korea, South Asia has passed me by (vice versa, more accurately). I’ve not been to Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan, I visited Sri Lanka only briefly and a long time ago, while India I’ve been to once only. There’s no good reason. I had a very bright Indian doctoral student who has remained a friend through life, my eldest daughter travelled over India on her way home from London (which made her vegetarian for a decade), I think Virat Kohli is a superb batsman, and I have…

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Sport, academia, climate change and health, with a bit of humour thrown in

By | Climate Change, History, Humour, Society, Sport | 73 Comments

I was going to write an essay on Australia’s fate at the Olympic Games, perhaps in the hope that the Rio Games might mercifully be the last ever, but as I thought it over I began to worry that I had actually written such a piece four years ago, at the time of the last Games in London. Well, it wasn’t quite the case, but I did write about the Games then, and made similar points in another later essay. The truth is, I think, is that we’re not as good as we think we are in anything, but some of our…

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Managing comments on the website

By | Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Food & Wine, Health, History, Humour, Language, Media, Music, Politics, Religion, Research, Road Safety, Society, Sport, Theatre | 43 Comments

I’ve had to think hard about how best to moderate the comments on this website. A number of the recent posts have had more than 100 comments, and one has passed 200. Just following them is a decent amount of work, and it gets in the way of other writing important to me. My own practice has been to respond to anyone who I think is seeking a real answer to something, or who has found a weakness in what I have written, or who seems to have misunderstood what I wrote. I learn from such encounters. If I find I…

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The last essay for this year

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Food & Wine, Health, History, Humour, Indigenous, Language, Media, Music, Other, Politics, Religion, Research, Road Safety, Society, Sport, Theatre | 26 Comments

Even websites need a holiday, and mine starts tomorrow. I’m back at work in the week beginning 12 January, and wish all my readers a relaxing, safe and enjoyable holiday break too. I started this website in June 2012, so it is now two-and-a-half years old. Over that time it has attracted about 27,000 unique readers, who have in total visited the site more than 70,000 times, and read nearly 150,000 pages. Readers have made nearly 3,700 comments to my 608 posts, and of course to one another’s comments. Before I get carried away with such success, I should mention that my…

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The Christmas (shopping) story for 2014

By | Economy, Education, Health, History, Humour, Media, Research | 6 Comments

My Christmas piece for this year involves a pressure group called No Gender December, which wants us to stop supporting toy-making-firms that use pink for girls’ presents and see guns and trucks as appropriate toys for boys — what it calls ‘gendered marketing’. I would have passed it by had not the Prime Minister mentioned it in passing as an example of political correctness. Then I saw an article about it on The Conversation, and felt moved to comment there, as follows. Interesting stuff, but we’ve been through it before. Those of us who brought up kids in the 1960s and…

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The passing of Gough Whitlam

By | Economy, Education, Health, History, Humour, Media, Politics, Society, Theatre | 8 Comments

I wrote about Gough last year, when he turned 97, and I don’t want to repeat any of that. He was the most interesting politician I met, and he and Bob Menzies, for somewhat similar reasons, have been the two most powerful Australian politicians of my time. He didn’t quite get to 100 years, and thereby receive the Queen’s telegram, but he did have long innings, of which the last few years were not at all his most enjoyable. The tributes are pouring in, and they tell a similar story. He made us conscious of who we were as a nation, and…

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Now for something completely different …

By | Climate Change, Environment, Humour, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 9 Comments

It’s been quite a while since there was anything remotely humorous on this website, but I came across a funny piece in The Onion, an American satirical news website, and thought it was worth passing on. I’ve written about humour and ‘climate change’ before, and there’s not a lot of it. But The Onion has had a go. The piece begins with a worryingly red map, whose caption went as follows: Scientists say it may be too late to effectively combat climate change deniers, and that humanity may simply have to learn to live with their negative effects. Now read on. WASHINGTON—In a worrying…

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