Category

Language

The Lord of the Rings

By | Books, Environment, History, Language, Society, Theatre | 12 Comments

For the last few days I have been revisiting the mammoth film version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I first encountered the story via a three-volume Christmas present from my wife in 1961 (I think), and was immediately enthralled. The depth and the breadth of the story were beyond anything I had ever read before. It took some days to read it, to go into the appendixes, and to marvel at the thoroughness of the detail. Then I read it again, and kept going back to it for some years. A few years later I…

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The cancel culture is here

By | Indigenous, Language, Politics, Religion, Society | 20 Comments

I played tennis from the time I was six until the day in 2018 when I hurt my back during a game and discovered I had multiple myeloma and a compression fracture on T8, which spelled the end of my tennis. I followed my favourite players, men and women, until I was too old to care. My favourites were Ken Rosewall, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. I was once a ball boy for a doubles match between John Bromwich-Adrian Quist and Mervyn Rose-Ken McGregor. Only the oldies will know whom I’m talking about. I used to wonder why we didn’t have…

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The art of helpful communication

By | Climate Change, Language, Other, Politics | 5 Comments

Judith Curry published recently a short summary of a paper she admired, on scientific communication, and mentioned a longer version of it, which I went to, and found it equally useful. So here is my summary of the longer paper. It is important to me, because I try to follow the advice it contains. So much of what I read is biased in this way or that, and I fin I have to wade through the exaggeration to get to the point. And I don’t want to make the same mistakes in my own writing. Though the original paper is…

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An unexpected hazard of using email

By | History, Language, Media, Society | 29 Comments

I was an early user of desktop computers, and I think I bought my first Apple IIe in 1988. Throughout a series of ISPs and an apparently unending set of Apples I have had a relatively untroubled run with these devices. Indeed, I wonder how I ever managed to write and publish without them. It was certainly a much slower process in the days of typewriters. Well, what follows is instructive. Read on. The English is not great. I have redacted my password and my email address, and done some editing for neatness. Hello! I’m a programmer who cracked your…

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From Tribal to What?

By | Books, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 170 Comments

This essay has been in my mind for some time, though writing it has been prompted by reading a book review in October’s Quadrant. The review was by James C. Bennett, and the book,Shadows of Empires: the Anglosphere in British Politics, was written by Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce. I’ll return to both in due course. Human beings started in families who formed groups, which I here label ‘tribes’, both for protection and for mutual support in other ways. The tribes met other tribes, and in time competed with each other for land and other resources. About twelve thousand years ago…

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The changing Australian culture

By | Books, Economy, Education, Food & Wine, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society, Sport, Theatre | 22 Comments

To write a new website essay is now a challenge, but I feel up to it. And I’ve wanted to write about this subject at a little length, rather than as a series of asides. It is built around a most interesting book by the always interesting John Carroll, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University. Land of the Golden Cities is published by Connor Court, and my copy took me a month to acquire. And then I got ill. But reading it brought back a platoon of memories. Here are three. Late 1950s. Two of us, senior undergraduates,…

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Why write a thriller?

By | Books, Language, Society | 23 Comments

First, the bad news. I’ve written briefly about this before, but the fuller news is worse. Over the past six weeks I have had increasing pain in my back, not low down (L5) which has been my companion for 35 years, but quite a lot higher. At about the same time, but perhaps a month earlier, I noticed another pain in my left thigh, a pain which worsened and eventually stopped my playing tennis. My chiropractor (35 years in attendance) could not find anything to stop the pains, and proposed an X-Ray. The observed result was a fracture at T8….

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Is Western Civilisation worth studying?

By | Books, Education, History, Language, Media, Politics, Research, Society | 47 Comments

The back-story to this essay is the bequest of Paul Ramsay, businessman and philanthropist, to ensure that what he saw as the true gifts of what we commonly call Western civilisation were taught and appreciated. He felt that they were being forgotten, ignored — worse, ignorantly rejected, and by those who should above all recognise and respect them. So he put some $3 billion into a Trust some of which was to establish teachers and scholarships in Australian universities to ensure that what he wanted happened. He had in mind, I think, the ‘Great Books’ curriculum famous at Chicago. It…

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Aboriginal politics gains a new supporter

By | History, Indigenous, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 16 Comments

The newly elected President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Tony Bartone, has stated that the AMA will push for Aboriginal recognition in the Constitution, after the AMA endorsed the Uluru Statement. This might mean that materials supporting Aboriginal recognition in the Constitution might appear in doctors’ surgeries. Why is the AMA doing this? According to the ABC, Dr Bartone said that ‘we can’t really seek to close the gap when it comes to health outcomes until we address the fundamental building blocks… [The Uluru plan could improve] the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.’…

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Reasonableness and citizenship

By | History, Language, Politics, Society | 26 Comments

Last year, when some Coalition and cross-bench politicians were saying ‘Oops!’ about the nature of their citizenship, Mr Shorten declared, proudly and authoritatively, that Labor had strict and rigorous procedures, and he was satisfied that all his people were safe from the High Court’s frown. As it happened, he and his team seem not to have been strict and rigorous enough. Senator Katy Gallagher, former Labor Chief Minister in the ACT, was found to have been a dual citizen (Australian and UK) at the time she was elected. That decision pushed three Labor MPs, Ms Keay (Braddon, Tas,) Ms Lamb…

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