Monthly Archives: April 2008

Overdue catchup for Aussie gays and lesbians

There is no doubt this is good news, so far as it goes: Matching rights for gay couples, Government moves on gay reform, and Opposition gives qualified support. That last story:

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Other blogs

There’s food for thought on Jim Belshaw’s blog in two recent posts. I think it is fair to say these posts transcend party politics, as they refer to a managerial style that cuts across the party divisions; it is a style I am only too familiar with from my experiences in the NSW Department of Education in the last ten to fifteen years. Whether Jim is entirely on the mark or being just a little bit nostalgic I will leave you to judge, but it is fair to say he writes from considerable experience.

The posts are:

Wombat’s Waffles is back on the air. Davo has obviously had quite a time of it in the last twelve months, but the recent posts show that the steps he has taken seem to be paying off:

After the trauma, despair and angst of the previous year, my life has settled into an almost zen-like pattern of simplicity, peace and tranquility (though there are still a few ‘legal’ tentacles from the past that have yet to be dealt with – choking off any attempt to truly ‘break free’; more about that, later).

After many months, perhaps years, of intermittent and sparse rainfall – the weather Pixies have blessed this area with a gentle, soaking patter of rainfall which began yesterday afternoon and has continued all night. I don’t, as yet, frequent the pubs around here so don’t know much about the local “gossip”, but do know that some of the farmers in the area began “dry seeding” last week, in anticipation. One can only hope that “follow up” rains happen in the months to come, and not – yet again – disappear and deliver that cruel blow to dry-land grain farmers of watching the half-grown harvest wither and die into the shrivelled husks of despair.

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Posted by on April 30, 2008 in Australia, blogging, Chinese and China, current affairs, human rights, Jim Belshaw, Kevin Rudd, other blogs, Political, politics, TV



Sorry about that, Chief…

Oops, as they might say:

THE Pentagon’s former chief prosecutor has admitted he never wanted to pursue charges against the Australian terrorism suspect David Hicks.

Mr Hicks’s family and lawyer claimed vindication yesterday after the US Air Force Colonel, Moe Davis – appearing as a witness at a pre-trial hearing for another Guantanamo Bay inmate – said the Australian was not worth charging because he was not considered as serious an offender as other inmates.

But Colonel Davis said he had “inherited” the Hicks case from another prosecutor and was under political pressure to press charges. He had wanted to pursue cases that warranted 20-year sentences, which did not include Mr Hicks. He said the plea bargain to which Mr Hicks agreed to get out of Guantanamo Bay had been organised without his knowledge.

Colonel Davis was once a strident defender of the military commission process and a harsh critic of Mr Hicks and his military lawyer, Major Michael Mori. He resigned as chief prosecutor late last year, saying he had been forced to make inappropriate decisions. At Monday’s pre-trial hearing, Colonel Davis criticised the military commissions as being tainted by politics and using evidence gained by coercion.

Mr Hicks’s Adelaide lawyer, David McLeod, said “the worm has turned”.

“Perhaps the Australian public can now reflect on why it was that David Hicks pleaded guilty when the choice was return to Australia or be a subject to an indefinite political process of detention at Guantanamo,” he said. “It is total vindication of what the other [US] senior prosecutors said in emails in 2005 that the process was rigged, politically rigged.”…

Sydney Morning Herald

I think I’ll leave that right there, but future historians will have fun with the whole saga, won’t they?

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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My Vodpod(s)

I have just added to the Ninglun’s Videos Vodpod and VodPod has itself had a facelift. It is well worth exploring now.


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Posted by on April 29, 2008 in music, site news, updates


That de facto English test: scrap it, or admit what it really is!

I am 100% behind Petro Georgiou on this one, as an ESL teacher and as a common-or-garden variety Australian citizen who has never had to sit for a “citizenship” test.

Liberal backbencher Petro Georgiou says Australia’s controversial new citizenship test should not just be reviewed – it should be scrapped altogether.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says he has no plans to abolish the Howard Government-era test, but he is open to making improvements.

Mr Georgiou broke party lines to oppose the test when it was introduced by the former government and says his views have not changed.

“I would hope that the review recommends that we go back to the early form of the test which was about basic English, and not have funny little questions about which cricketers were the best cricketers in Australia’s history,” he told ABC Radio’s AM program.

Mr Georgiou says the test is deterring substantial numbers of people from applying for citizenship.

His comments came after the release of new Government figures showing there has been a drop in the number of people applying for citizenship. —  ABC News

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Posted by on April 29, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, current affairs, immigration, Multicultural, multicultural Australia, multiculturalism


Sir Gustav Nossal on Talking Heads last night

It’s no secret that I enjoy ABC 1’s Talking Heads. Last night was the turn of distinguished Australian scientist Sir Gustav Nossal, a product of that Middle Europe Jewish world which, following the hideous events of the 20th century, contributed so many brilliant migrants to Australia.

PETER THOMPSON: So let’s chart the life of Gus Nossal and see where it all began.

SIR GUSTAV NOSSAL: My earliest memory is in Vienna. I went to hear Adolf Hitler give his first major speech after the dreaded Anschluss. At six years old, I didn’t know too much about it but it was dramatic.

My father, being of Jewish extraction, left it pretty late to decide that this 1,000-year Reich needed to be fled from. And we didn’t actually leave Austria for Australia until January 1939.

One of the aspects of the Austrian heritage which has stayed with me for a lifetime is a very deep commitment to the arts and to culture. And I have these memories of the old 78s with Caruso singing away, with all of the Beethoven symphonies, Mozart and so forth. And of my dad sitting in his armchair reading to us – Goethe, Schiller and Heinrich Heine…

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Posted by on April 29, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, challenge, culture wars, environment, Holocaust, humanity, immigration, Indigenous Australians, John Howard, multicultural Australia, multiculturalism, pluralism, TV


I have taken no (zero, zilch, nada) interest in the IPL competition…

…because I rather like Cricket.

If I wanted to see to a circus I would go to a circus. If I wanted to watch World Championship Wrestling I would… There are better things on television at more convenient hours, and not on Channel Ten, which also brings you various other prime examples of Reality Television. Etc.

Nonetheless I was amused by this post on Life Is a Street Car Named Desire.

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Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Cricket, sport, TV, weirdness


Awe and wonder, but definitely not science

Such is my approach to the Biblical AND Quranic texts that deal with creation. I revel in the poetry, but would never try to base on that poetry any kind of intellectual understanding of how the universe came into being, continues, and what its end might be. Traditionalists and fundamentalists are barking up the wrong tree, in my view.

Speaking of the poetry, you will find heaps of it in the texts of the Jewish tradition, both canonical and other, and in the Quran, but very little on the creation theme in the Christian canon known by Christians as as the New Testament, apart from the opening of John’s gospel.

Take this wonderful poem in Ecclesiaticus (Sirach), which you will find in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles but not in Jewish or Protestant ones.
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Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Bible, Christianity, faith, faith and philosophy, inspiration, interfaith, Islam, poets and poetry, religion



Aluminium is a mum

Oh dear, this is what comes of not checking my regulars often enough!

Evangeline Kay

Born April 17th, 2008 at 8:29pm.

Weighing 7lb 10; length 51cm

Hmm… Metric length, Imperial weight…

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Posted by on April 27, 2008 in blogging, events, other blogs


I like Norman Davies

I have just finished the collection of essays Europe East & West (Jonathan Cape 2006) and found it fascinating.

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Beijing agrees to Tibet talks

I found Rowan Callick’s report in today’s Australian very interesting.

CHINA last night moved to reopen talks with the Dalai Lama in an effort to prevent the Olympic Games from being engulfed in controversy over its stance on Tibet.

The official Xinhua news agency said Beijing would start negotiations with a personal representative of the exiled Tibetan leader “in the coming days”.

It said the first talks in almost a year followed repeated requests “made by the Dalai side for resuming talks”.

But the approach also follows the transformation of the “journey of harmony” – as the international Olympic torch relay is known – into a war of words and frequent violence between Chinese nationalists and supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The Australian leg of the torch relay in Canberra on Thursday was marred by scuffles between Chinese and Tibetan supporters, leading to seven arrests.

Tenzin Takla, a spokesman for the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, last night welcomed the offer as “a step in the right direction”. He said the issue could only be resolved by face-to-face meetings.

Within China, the reaction to international criticism over Tibet has sparked a nationalist surge, heightening anxiety over the impact on the Olympics, which start in Beijing in just 15 weeks.

International leaders, including Kevin Rudd during his trip to China this month, have urged Beijing to return to the negotiating table with the Dalai Lama, who has said that he seeks only autonomy, not independence, for Tibet, and that he does not want to disrupt the Olympics…

Callick goes on to quote Liu Xiaobo:

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Australian poem 2008 series #12 — Judith Wright recycled for Anzac Day


Judith Wright (1915-2000) is one of my favourite poets. “The Company of Lovers” was written during World War II and I think captures the feel of the time as many lovers were separated by the war. It is not one of her better known poems.

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Posted by on April 25, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, OzLit, poets and poetry


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For those who don’t visit the front door…

There’s a new page in progress on Ninglun’s Specials — quite far advanced now: More tales from my mother.

UPDATE 25 April

That page is now finished and has been joined by two more taking the story of my mother’s father’s teaching career from 1906 to 1922. There are some good stories in those pages, and some excellent social history. My mother was a rather good writer, I feel. Yes, it is all posthumously published from a manuscript she left me.

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Posted by on April 24, 2008 in site news


Women and children in the rear, thank you…

This year’s Anzac Day March, so the local RSL has determined, will ban relatives and descendants marching with the relevant units. Instead they are massed at the back of the parade. This is because some vets watching at home had complained they couldn’t spot their mates in the crowd last year.

I had actually thought of marching this year, as I was interested in having a chance of tracking down in the few still marching with the WWII RAAF someone who may have served with my father. Now I am not going. The chances of my finding anyone have, thanks to the RSL, been considerably reduced. So I think it is a shame, that decision, and I suspect there will be others who agree.

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Posted by on April 24, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, events