Category Archives: Language

A new novel for me: Moving On

By | Books, History, Language, Media, Society | 19 Comments

I am announcing the publication of my fifth novel, Moving On, in the expectation that some of my readers might be able to attend one or other (or both!) of the book launches, in Sydney (October 23rd) and Canberra (October 27th). There is nothing about climate change or politics in this novel. It is about what is suggested by the book’s title: what happens when, some time after a disaster or disappointment of some kind, you gather your own forces,  and decide that you need to move on. Doing so may not be at all straightforward. It is 1999, in Sydney, Australia….

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The present politics of marriage

By | ABC, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 131 Comments

At the time of writing there are two intersecting debates going on about marriage in our country. In the first, those talking about ‘marriage equality’ (code for gay marriage) are opposed by those wanting Australian society to adhere to the ‘Christian’ form of marriage that has been our lot for a few hundred years, one reserved for a man and a woman, whose ostensible purpose is the production and protection of new human beings. If all that sounds somewhat qualified, it is, and I’ll return to it later. In the second, the issue is whether the question is to be resolved by…

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Brian Cox versus Malcolm Roberts on Q&A

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 154 Comments

I did not watch the celebrated Q&A program in which Brian Cox, an astrophysicist and science communicator, had an argument with Malcom Roberts, the recently elected Senator who is apparently responsible for the ‘climate change’ policies of One Nation. I’ve watched a couple of these Q&A programs in the past, but felt that they were so manipulated and stacked that one would rarely get any value from them (apparently, however, there was a good one on Shakespeare last week). I did see extracts from the Cox/Roberts program, but that is all. I think Q&A is a good example of the peculiar…

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The distinction between true scepticism and denial

By | Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, Health, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 201 Comments

I came across the phrase in the title, and followed a link to a recent journal article which for once was available on open access. Entitled ‘Science and the Public: Debate, Denial, and Skepticism’,  it looked interesting. You can read it here. The four authors come from different fields, and propose to outline ‘the distinction between true scepticism and denial’. They also offer some guidelines to help researchers, and interested members of the public, decide how to deal with enquiries, on the one hand,  and problems which people see in published science, on the other. The reader is brought into the area of ‘climate change’…

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Left and Right in Australian politics

By | Climate Change, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 48 Comments

The last two essays have looked at the various meanings of  ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ as the terms are used in politics. In this essay I look at their application in our own country. I have spent some years in the UK and the USA,, and visited other parts of the world on a regular basis. In Britain it was clear to me at once that their politics, despite the apparent similarity of parties called ‘Labour’ and ‘Labor’, was not the same as ours, and the longer I was there the more I saw the differences rather than the similarities. Britain…

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#16 A Summary

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 65 Comments

Introduction: This is the last essay in this series, an attempt on my part to set out what I think about the ‘climate change’ issue. It is based on the fifteen previous essays in the series, each linked in the text with (#x), which are in turn based on ten years of reading and thinking about the matter, plus half a working lifetime in the research policy and funding domain. I do not claim to be right about all of this, or indeed of any of it. ‘Climate change’ is an incredibly complicated business, involving the areas of study of the…

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The election in Fairyland

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 41 Comments

For the last three weeks I have been in Queensland, and no one much there wanted to talk about the election. When the time came for me to vote, in Townsville a week before the poll, even the how-to-vote people outside were reluctant to talk about the likely outcome. I missed Bill Shorten at a Cathy O’Toole rally in Townsville by a minute or two, but later saw a big sign declaring that ‘Only Bill Shorten and Cathy O’Toole can deliver the Stadium!’ For those unaware of this election-winning slogan, Townsville would like a decent stadium just like Sydney and…

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My perspective on Climate change #15 ‘But what about the precautionary principle?’

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 48 Comments

I was at a dinner once where one of the guests gave vent to his objections to genetically modified foods, on the grounds that he didn’t want to eat chemicals. I’ve forgotten what we were eating, and our hostess pointed out quickly that her bill of fare contained no synthetic or other ‘tampered with’ food. I stayed out of that one, but I did wonder what the complainer knew of chemistry. Everything we eat, and indeed everything that we are, is a complex of chemicals. Human beings have  become quite skilful at determining the nature of some chemicals, and creating…

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Books that have been important to me #1 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

By | ABC, Books, Education, History, Language, Society | 23 Comments

I’m starting a new series of essays on books that have been important to me, those  to which I return for another read, which is probably the test of an important book. I was a voracious reader from an early age, and would read anything at hand, including encyclopaedias. I studied English at the honours level at high school, and then spent three years studying English literature as an undergraduate, which put me off reading books for pleasure for a decade. Well, not quite. I turned to science fiction, and read widely in that genre, and went into detective stories too. In 1964…

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Where does our responsibility stop?

By | Climate Change, Economy, Education, Health, History, Indigenous, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 61 Comments

Some readers will have come across a cry from the heart with the title ‘I’m 73, and I’m tired’. I read it with some sympathy, and an appreciation of why someone who served as a State Senator in Massachusetts and had been a Marine would write such a piece. Because I like to be sure that what I’m reading is the real thing, I did some research, and discovered that the author Robert A. Hall is real, and he did write it. He also wrote an earlier version when he was 63, with much the same message, but different details. It has been…

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