Monthly Archives: December 2008

What’s new: Thursday 1 January 2009 to Saturday 10 January 2009

In South Sydney Uniting Church, Sunday 28 December. The hand-sewn item belongs to Dorothy McRae-McMahon.

In South Sydney Uniting Church, Sunday 28 December. The hand-sewn item belongs to Dorothy McRae-McMahon.

What’s new on my blogs


Posted by on December 31, 2008 in site news, South Sydney Uniting Church


2008 going, going…. 2009 – a year of living dangerously



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mccain1shepard-fairey-barack-obama gaza-children

The last image is Gaza on 10 December 2008. 28 December, ironically, is Holy Innocents Day in many Christian churches… My other images recollect the big silly season story of last January, 13 February, the Henson controversy, going to Wollongong with Sirdan, the Australian Liberal Party, World Youth Day, and the US election – just a sampling of 2008 as I saw it. And I didn’t mention the Olympics, the Sichuan earthquake, and so much more… Quite a year.


Fact: people I know are beginning to lose their jobs… The economic turmoil is far from over… Personally I see much uncertainty and possible change, not all good… Obama? Poor man, I say; what a job he has! And Gaza*, unfolding right now? Whatever the complex issues here, it is very very ugly. There is no doubt that even if Israel achieves whatever “victory” it seeks what they will also have achieved is an upsurge in Mumbai-style terrorism world-wide….

So, Happy New Year?

The folks at sent subscribers a New Year email which reads in part:

So what are the options? The Year of the Global Recession. It’s not very sexy, but it is pretty likely. Or what about The Year Of Enough? I recently read an inspiring tome of the same name by John Naish that’s all about being satisfied with what we already have. There are worse words to use in 2009 than "enough".

How about 2009 – The Year of No Fear? The older I get, the more I realise that we all have stumbling blocks that are in the way of us getting what we really want. Some of them are put in place by others, but most by ourselves. We’ve all got them, and the quicker we can jump over these blocks, the quicker we can get to where we really want to be, wherever that may be. Do I sound like Oprah yet? Good.

So there you go, I officially declare 2009 as The Year Of No Fear.

Who’s going to join me?

It’s a nice thought.

I leave this New Year post with a cartoon Len from Texas had on his blog recently.


But you may also like to visit Worldman: 2009 is ahead. Now there is an optimistic soul whose optimism is based on experiences most of us would find dire!


* I recommend Robert Scheer on Gaza.

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Posted by on December 31, 2008 in 2008 in review, awful warnings, personal



There was a great fad for this at the height of the weird 70s; I was introduced to it by an almost permanently stoned Science teacher from California…

But check mine over the New Year break! Looks like the position of Australian Cricket right now – but worse…


That’s a widget I have on Opera…

…which I recently reinstalled to replace Google Chrome. My main thing is still Firefox though, and sometimes Maxthon2 – which is good, but IE8 as little as possible. Partly this is related to how WordPress behaves in each one… (Chrome does mad things with my cpu load… It may be from its habit of constantly updating itself. The pic is on Photobucket because WordPress seems to be having a glitch right now…)

Now I wouldn’t vouch for biorhythms, mind, but I think staying under a rock may be called for…

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Posted by on December 30, 2008 in diversions, personal


The top fifteen posts for 2008 – up to 30 December

Here are the posts from all the blogs to attract most individual hits in the past year. Naturally English/ESL wins.

  1. Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte? 12,257 individual views in 2008 — English/ESL
  2. Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems 11,085 — English/ESL
  3. How should I write up a Science experiment? 8,346 — English/ESL
  4. Workshop 02 — NSW HSC: Area Study: Imaginative Journeys 4,543 — English/ESL
  5. Australian poem: 2008 series #9 — 4,037 — Floating Life
  6. Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, 3,978 — Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07
  7. Sarah Palin — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress 3,193 — Floating Life
  8. Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems updated 2,516 — English/ESL
  9. Assimilation, Integration, Multiculturalism — policy and practice 1 2,263 — Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07
  10. On the awkwardness (and fatuity?) of discussing religion 2,180 — Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07
  11. Sequel: Art Monthly Australia July 2008 1,917 — Ninglun’s Specials
  12. John Howard: bullying expert extraordinaire 1,893 — Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07
  13. Six suggestions for Imaginative Journeys 1,771 — English/ESL
  14. Workshop 010: HSC Advanced English — "Brave New World" and "Blade Runner" 1,690 — English/ESL
  15. Scaffolding 1,532 — English/ESL
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Posted by on December 30, 2008 in 2008 in review, blogging, site stats


Australian poetry on Floating Life

Over the past couple of years I have offered, sometimes weekly, quite a few Australian poems. You can find them via the WordPress tag “Friday poem”, but I thought I would set them out in order here. I began in 2007 on my first WordPress blog, and continued with a new series in 2008. There were a few other relevant entries which I include in this list.


  1. Two Australian poems of World War II – Judith Wright “The Company of Lovers” and Kenneth Slessor “Beach Burial”
  2. Oh, they’re so young… Judith Wright “The Company of Lovers” again
  3. Reading the Bible – Judith Wright “Bullocky”
  4. New: the Friday Australian Poem: #1 — Henry Kendall 1841-1882 — “On a Baby Buried by the Hawkesbury”
  5. Friday Australian poem # 2: "The Poor, Poor Country" by John Shaw Neilson
  6. Friday Australian poem #3: A D Hope, "The Death of a Bird"
  7. Friday Australian poem #4: Judith Wright “South of my Days” and “Woman to Child”
  8. Friday Australian Poem #5: Judith Wright "For a Pastoral Family"
  9. Friday Australian poem # 6: Mary Gilmore, "Nationality" and "Old Botany Bay"
  10. Friday Australian poem #7: Henry Lawson “Faces in the Street”
  11. Friday Australian poem #8: Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971) “Five Bells”
  12. Friday Australian poem #9: Charles Harpur (1813 – 1868) “A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest”
  13. Friday Australian poem #10: John O’Brien “The Old Bush School”
  14. Friday Australian poem #11: "Because" by James McAuley
  15. Friday Australian poem #12: David Campbell "Men in Green"
  16. Friday Australian poem #12a: not a poem! Follows up on #12.
  17. Friday Australian poem # 14: "The Australaise" by C J Dennis
  18. Friday Australian poem #15: Les Murray, "An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow"
  19. Friday Australian poem #16: Banjo Paterson "Fur and Feathers"
  20. Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, “Homecoming”
  21. Friday Australian poem #18: A B Paterson "The Geebung Polo Club"
  22. Friday Australian poem #19: Vance Palmer (1885-1959) “The Farmer Remembers the Somme”


  1. Australian poem: 2008 series: #1 — Marian Spires "War on Language" (2003)
  2. Australian poem: 2008 series: #2 — Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971) "Snowdrops"
  3. Australian poem: 2008 series #3 — anon. "Botany Bay"
  4. Australian Poem: 2008 series #4 and #5 — two for the price of one: Paul Buttigieg “Black Bastards” and Eric Bogle “Now I’m Easy”
  5. Australian Poem: 2008 series #6 — Henry Kendall “The Last of his Tribe”
  6. Australian poem: 2008 series #7 — Melinda Kendall “Lost in the Bush” and “Fairy Meadow”
  7. Australian poem: 2008 series #8 — Indigenous poetry
  8. Australian poem: 2008 series #9 — A B Paterson "The Angel’s Kiss"
  9. Australian poem 2008 series #10: Peter Skrzynecki "Summer in the Country" (2005)
  10. Australian poem 2008 series #11 — George Essex Evans “To a Bigot”
  11. Australian poem 2008 series #12 — Judith Wright recycled for Anzac Day
  12. Australian poem 2008 series #13 — Roland Robinson (1912-1992) “The Drovers”
  13. Australian poem 2008 series #14 — Rosemary Dobson (1920 – ) “A Fine Thing”
  14. Australian poem 2008 series #15 — John Shaw Neilson "The Orange Tree"
  15. Australian poem 2008 series # 16: cheating slightly… Bai Ju Yi “On West Lake” – Translated 1994 by N J Whitfield and M Q Xu
  16. Australian poem 2008 series #17: "Australia" — A D Hope
  17. Australian poem 2008 series #18: YouTube – Poetry Clip: Robert Gray “A Bowl of Pears”
  18. Australian poem 2008 series #19: You Don’t Get Me — Lachlan Irvine “The Thousand Yard Stare”
  19. Australian poem 2008 series #20: “Middleton’s Rouseabout” — Henry Lawson (1896)
  20. Australian poem 2008 series #21: Adam Aitken “Louis De Carne’s Diary”
  21. Australian poem 2008 series #22: Kenneth Mackay OBE "The Song that Men Should Sing" (1899)
  22. Australian poem 2008 series #23: George Essex Evans “The Women of the West”

See also

Neos; 02 — a poem.

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Posted by on December 29, 2008 in 2008 in review, Australia, Australia and Australian, OzLit, poets and poetry


This sounds fascinating: “638 Ways to Kill Castro” on ABC tonight

Tonight at 8.30 ABC1 is offering a 2006 documentary – better late than never I suppose – 638 Ways to Kill Castro.


Linked to film website

I’ll be watching it.

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Posted by on December 29, 2008 in America, best viewing 2009, History, TV, USA, weirdness


It’s time for every person in the world who cares for human rights…

…to condemn the attacks on Gaza. This is Gaza. Note the scale.


Barack Obama, show yourself a statesman… Speak out.*

I will not add my analysis, which is not worth a bean, but rather an article posted in the US Jewish magazine Tikkun – very much an Obama-style outfit.


A Press Release from The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

December 27, 2008

Let’s be crystal clear. Israel’s massive attacks on Gaza today have one overarching goal: conflict management. How to end rocket attacks on Israel from a besieged and starving Gaza without ending the impetus for those attacks, 41 years of increasingly oppressive Israeli Occupation without a hint that a sovereign and viable Palestinian state will ever emerge.

Indeed, the Occupation, in which Israel controls Gaza under a violent siege which violates fundamental human rights and international law, is not even mentioned in Israel’s PR campaign. Speaking to the international community, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni insists that no country would tolerate its citizens being attacked, a seemingly reasonable statement were it not for Israeli sanctions on Gaza supported by the US and Europe – sanctions that preceded the rocket fire on Israel – or the fact of Israeli Occupation in general. Solely focusing on the rocket attacks conceals the political policy that led to them: "The Hamas government in Gaza must be toppled," Livni has said repeatedly. "The means to do this must be military, economic and diplomatic."

The responsibility for the suffering both in Israel and Gaza rests squarely with successive Israeli governments, Labor, Likud and Kadima alike. Had there been a genuine political process (remember, the closure of Gaza began in 1989), Israelis and Palestinians could have been living together in peace and prosperity already for 20 years. After all, already in 1988 the PLO accepted the two-state solution in which a Palestinian state would arise on only 22% of historic Palestine, alongside the state of Israel on the other 78%. A truly generous offer.

In Israel, however, the effort is to hide its preference for control over peace. Framing its attacks as a response to rockets from Gaza, exploiting an immediate trigger to effectively conceal deeper political intentions and policies, does that. It also conceals Israeli violations of the cease-fire. The fact that the rocket attacks could have been avoided altogether through a genuine political process means that the people of southern Israel are being held hostage by their government as well. Their suffering, and the suffering of the people of Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories, must be placed squarely at the feet of the Israeli government.

Israel cannot expect security for its people and political normalcy as long as it occupies Palestinian lands and continues its attempt to impose its permanent rule over the Palestinians by military force. We call on the Israeli government to end its aggression immediately and enter into genuine political negotiations with a united Palestinian leadership. We call on the international community to end its sanctions on Gaza immediately in accordance with international law, initiate an effective political process to end the Israeli Occupation and bring about a just peace – which reflects the will of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

And there I leave it.

Next day

* Realistically, there is not a lot Obama can do right now, though it will be interesting to see how his administration handles the situation from late January onwards. I leave the statement from that Israeli group for the record as evidence that the current Israeli government’s approach is not the only one that has been on offer.

Paul McGeough is informative on what game is really being played: All-out battle for political control.

AS GAZANS hunkered last night, with corpses scattering their living nightmare, there was little comfort to be taken from the fact that the war inflicted on them in the weekend had more to do with political strategy in Israel than with military tactics in Gaza.

The timing of the expiration of a six-month truce that had held shakily between Israel and the elected Hamas government in Gaza has proved doubly opportune for the Israeli political establishment.

First, the US president-elect, Barack Obama, is obliged to watch from the sidelines as Israel’s disgraced outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, uses the last days of the Bush presidency to have another shot at imposing their will on Gaza.

Second, public disquiet with the Olmert Government’s handling of Hamas in Gaza means that Olmert’s two coalition colleagues who have their eye on the national leadership need to show what they are made of…

On the other side, this story has its own disgusting charm as well: Egypt says Hamas not allowing wounded to leave Gaza.


Posted by on December 28, 2008 in Israel