Daily Archives: January 7, 2009

What an amazing Test Match!

Uncertain right down to the last seven minutes of a five day game!

jan06 027

This man and his extraordinarily courageous captain – deservedly “Man of the Series” — almost saved the game for South Africa

I watched just about every minute today. Oh, we won, though losing the series. But kudos to South Africa’s rainbow squad.


I am not the only one to have been enthralled by this test match. See Jim Belshaw’s “live blog” Exciting cricket, and Thomas’s case for the real winner having been Cricket: How cricket saved itself.

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Posted by on January 7, 2009 in Africa, Australia and Australian, Cricket


Yesterday’s crisis

Remember the “flight to private education” aided and abetted by John Howard and cheered on by the likes of Kevin Donnelly? Was that this century?

How things can change!

Patrician Brothers’ College, Fairfield: down 357
Saphire Coast Christian College, Bega: down 317
Emmaus Catholic College, Kemps Creek: down 291
SCEGGS Redlands, Cremorne: down 259
Australian International Academy, Condell Park: down 235
Terra Sancta College, Schofields: down 214
St Peter’s Catholic College, Tuggerah: down 209
St Patrick’s College, Campbelltown: down 191
Kindalin School, Penrith: down 181
St Gregorys Armenian School, Baulkham Hills: down 173
Norwest Christian School, Riverstone: down 164
Bethlehem College, Ashfield: down 159
St Joseph’s Catholic College, Gosford East: down 145
Mary Immaculate Primary: Quakers Hill: down 144
Redeemer Baptist School, Castle Hill: 142
St Bernard’s Primary, Batehaven: down 134
St Matthew’s Primary, Windsor: down 128
Blue Mountains Grammar School, Wentworth Falls: down 126
Tyndale Christian School, Blacktown: down 124
St Jerome’s Primary, Punchbowl: down 121
St Francis Xavier’s Primary, Lurnea: down 120
Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, St Marys: down 117
All Saints Catholic Primary, Liverpool: down 120
Holy Spirit Primary, St Clair: down 122
Holy Cross College, Ryde: down 116
Pymble Ladies College, Pymble: down 114
Red Bend Catholic College, Forbes: down 113
Masada College High School, St Ives: down 111
St Euphemia College, Bankstown: down 107
St Michael’s Primary, Nowra: down 104
De La Salle College, Ashfield: down 105
Carinya Christian School, Tamworth: down 102

See State schools swell amid private exodus in the Daily Telegraph. “In the past five years the student body at 439 private schools has shrunk.” Maralyn Parker comments: The beginning of the end for private schools. Well, perhaps the end for some.

…It would not surprise me to see some of the newer big business-type schools, with massive debt-based building programs and high expectations of unlikely future enrolments, go bankrupt in 2009.

If it can happen to Lehman Brothers it can happen to a NSW private school dependent on projected income from fees and anticipated government subsidies.

For years educators have been saying the unfettered expansion of private schools is unsustainable.

In 2009 we may all begin to understand why.

And I fear the public purse will be expected to do the bailing out as we have seen already with ABC Learning Centres.

Meanwhile the biggest cost to all school systems is teacher salaries. So without doubt teachers have already lost jobs in many of these schools and more will follow.

With reduced staff, schools then face the problems of providing a full curriculum. Some subjects may no longer be offered and some teachers will be asked to teach out of their subject field….

As Maralyn Parker also notes, the facts so far are from before the 2008-9 financial crisis.

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Posted by on January 7, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, education, generational change


2009 book notes: 1

jan06 The current Surry Hills Library crop has thrown up two excellent novels (Best Reads of 2009), one just short of that but still very good, and one ordinary novel with a good plot line.

Cormac Millar, The Grounds (Penguin 2006/7) – crime fiction ***** Best Read of 2009

This is just delightful in every way: witty, stylish, intelligent, and a good story as well. It’s up there with the best in crime fiction, social satire, and sheer enjoyment. The author is clearly conservative, but then this has never been unusual in satire. Among the targets are the sacred cows of university “reform” and international eduspeak and corporate jargon.

‘…My new system is going to let the academics do their work, and give us all something to celebrate going forward.’

The contagious phrase ‘going forward’, used at the end of a sentence, denoted a positive mental attitude and was obligatory in all statements and interviews given by managerially minded persons.

See: Cormac Millar’s Home Page and Book Review: The Grounds by Cormac Millar. That reviewer wouldn’t know good writing if it bit her on the bum; what she deplores I revelled in!

Jose Luis de Juan, This Breathing World (Arcadia 2007; first published in Spanish in 1999) – crime fiction, pomo to the hilt **** Best Read of 2009

Imagine a scribe/amanuensis in post-Augustan Rome channelling Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. You can’t? You will if you read this. Yes, it’s all a bit Borges, but it is very cleverly done and there’s much lovely writing. The other setting is Harvard University in the 1960s where crimes committed in Ancient Rome seem to be resurfacing. Plays with your head, it does. Intertextuality on steroids. It is also very gay and quite amoral. So be warned. Personally I loved it, and learned along the way a lot about how authorship and writing were seen in Rome.

See: This Breathing World, where The Guardian reviewer likes it rather less than I did.

Magdalen Nabb, Vita Nuova (Soho 2008) – crime fiction **** Best Read of 2009

Synopsis (from the publisher): Daniela is a quiet single mother studying for a doctorate in chemistry. She rarely goes out, so her murder in her bedroom at the family’s new villa seems inexplicable. It is true that her mother, who appears to be an alcoholic; her younger sister, who has had mental problems; and her father, who has made his money running nightclubs and is probably involved in the international sex trade, are not your average home-loving Italian nuclear family, but what can she have done to be singled out for slaughter? And why has the prosecutor asked specifically for Marshal Guarnaccia to head the investigation?

I took that from Vita Nuova by Magdalen Nabb (Mystery Book Review). Very strong on characterisation and spirit of place, yet I was a little disappointed. That’s not to say it does not merit the “best read” tag.

Published posthumously. English-born Nabb died in Florence in 2007 aged 60.

See: International Noir Fiction: The last Magdalen Nabb.

Aline Templeton, Lying Dead (Hodder 2008/hb 2007) – crime fiction ***

OK, the writing is very ordinary, even at times pedestrian. The plot takes ages to take off, but once it does it is really very well executed.

See: Interview with Aline Templeton.

Quadrant: a footnote

While I have not always slammed everything that appears in John Howard’s favourite mag Quadrant, as searches here and here will show, I am underwhelmed by it in its various post-Robert Manne manifestations. Even so, there are good articles there from time to time, and some good stuff in the literary area. But I have spat at the mag more often than not in recent years: for example — How Martin Krygier ambushed the Quadranters…; Three magazines and an amazing AIDS story… (“You will all be overjoyed to discover that HIV does not cause AIDS. Lord Malcolm will be especially pleased, I should think, as this means he isn’t really sick at all and must have been in hospital all those times for work experience, or a vacation, and all that pain he suffers must just be imaginitis… I look forward to ‘Why the Earth is Flat’ in some future Quadrant; I think we have already had articles on why climate change is a left-wing fantasy…); Vilifying Australia – The perverse ideology of our adversary culture :: Keith Windschuttle (“Windschuttle is to the study or History what the Visigoths were to Ancient Rome. He is the hired assassin of the Culture Wars.”) A bit strong that last one, perhaps, but it rolls off the tongue well.

Now we have a story I first saw on Arthur’s blog: Keith Windschuttle has Sokal on his face. The second link takes you to the original Crikey post:

Margaret Simons writes:

Keith Windschuttle, the editor of the conservative magazine Quadrant, has been taken in by a hoax intended to show that he will print outrageous propositions.

This month’s edition of Quadrant contains a hoax article purporting to be by “Sharon Gould”, a Brisbane based New York biotechnologist.

But in the tradition of Ern Malley – the famous literary hoax perpetrated by Quadrant’s first editor, James McAuley – the Sharon Gould persona is entirely fictitious and the article is studded with false science, logical leaps, outrageous claims and a mixture of genuine and bogus footnotes.

(Bloody ads on Crikey!)

The Sydney Morning Herald has David Marr on the matter:

The hoax was beautifully done. Provoked by Quadrant’s embrace of global warming sceptics, the unidentified hoaxer concocted the article early last year and sent it to Windschuttle. The aim was to "employ some of Quadrant’s sleight-of-hand reasoning devices to argue something ludicrous", the hoaxer later wrote. "Something like the importance of putting human genes into food crops to save civilisation from its own ills, and how this sort of science shouldn’t be scrutinised by the media because, you know, it’s empirical."

Skeptic Lawyer comes in on the defence team with Quadrant Demidenkoed. That is all. I think she misses the point and I commented rather tartly on my Google Reader: “Given the crap Quadrant has published on things like HIV in the recent past, it deserved all it got. The magazine has been unmasked as ‘new political correctness’ rather than serious intellectual enquiry.”  This note expands on that.

I was a Quadrant subscriber in the late 1960s.


On Quadrant see Club Troppo: Who is Sharon Gould?

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Posted by on January 7, 2009 in Best read of 2009, book reviews, Crime and/or crime fiction, Fiction, magazines, reading, weirdness


New Year blogging resolutions

1. It will not be the principal purpose of this blog to write theses. Been there, done that. I made an exception in trying to clarify my position on the Gaza issue recently, but even that is hardly a “thesis”.
2. I have never seen my blog as “saving the world”. I do however try to reflect values, which should be apparent, but usually I will do that by referring you to sites where I feel some connection with the values embodied therein.
3. I am cutting my active blogs to two. I will be adding pages to a third, English/ESL, starting with an essay on “Belonging” and Peter S’s poetry. The aim there is pedagogical. (Later I modified this one…)
4. I am not competing with anyone. I write for my own pleasure. If you enjoy it, good; if you don’t , there are plenty of other blogs.


Posted by on January 7, 2009 in blogging, personal