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Monthly Archives: February 2009

What’s new Sunday 1 March to Saturday 7 March

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Some of the February photos from the photoblog.

The collage was made with Shape Collage.

February stats

These appear on Ninglun’s Specials. See February blog stats 1 – most visited posts; February blog stats 2 — totals.

What’s new on my other blogs

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2009 in site news

 

Irony (noun) – the Murdoch press thundering about purity in English Studies (see also “hypocrisy”)

Funnily enough I was talking about such things last Saturday at my Glebe breakfast – and we didn’t have latte or chardonnay, nor were we weaving baskets. I was asked what I thought of the current (“new”) HSC course. The questioner, a writer and academic, had also been singing the praises of Flaubert’s sentences, savouring them in French as well as in English translation. How much more a literary tragic can you be? (And I say that with respect.) He went on to say he was rather impressed with the “new” HSC English, watered down as it is in terms of theory, because he was finding students much more open to thought and better prepared than they used to be. Depends who you ask, doesn’t it?

The worst thing you can do in my opinion to English studies is to pickle it in brine or turn it into a nostalgia museum.

So I find the discussions going on between the National Curriculum people and the Australian Association for the Teaching of English appropriate, well-informed, and intelligent. They are in that respect opposite to today’s editorial in The Australian which I find plain dumb and very badly informed.

Like most Australians, we thought the point of English classes at school was to teach children to read and write properly and to understand literature. Alas, we stand corrected. As Justine Ferrari reports today, the organisation representing Australia’s English teachers’ association, in responding to the national English curriculum, recommends that "meaning making in and through language, across a range of forms, media and expressions, should be the core organiser of the curriculum."

Quite. Read it again – it gets muddier every time.

In our view, and undoubtedly that of most parents and students, the national curriculum did a good job defining literature clearly as "plays, novels and poems … cinema, television and multimedia … poetry, picture books, multimodal texts, short stories and drama, and a variety of nonfiction forms such as biography."

The English Teachers Association of NSW, alas, sneered at the definitions as "nebulous". Instead, they suggested "the term culturally valued texts as a definition of literature."

Culturally valued by whom? Teenagers at the lower end of the class who prefer Big Brother to Oscar Wilde? Or, more likely, progressive teachers who find it easier to play films than take students through the themes and characters of Pride and Prejudice?

The NSW teachers want the national curriculum to be about "other models of English such as personal growth, cultural studies and critical literacy as that is how teachers understand and have operated within the subject". The best English teachers are happy to focus on their subject, but those who want to be social engineers and cultural warriors dominate these teachers’ associations, which are becoming irrelevant.

Teaching grammar, which promises to be a vital improvement in the national curriculum, was dismissed by the NSW teachers as having "no influence on either the accuracy or quality of written language development for 5 to 16-year-olds". As grammar has not been taught widely to Australian students in a generation, that claim is dubious in the extreme.

The papers also push hard for assessment that is "inclusive of the full range of students" and for teachers to be given wide scope to select materials to be studied in the interests of "equity".

However worthy the teachers believe this approach to be, it is precisely students from disadvantaged and non-English-speaking homes who have most to lose from such a defeatist system. Many disadvantaged students, and some from affluent homes, do not have access to good books and are not encouraged to read by parents.

English teachers who truly value their professionalism would encourage a rigorous curriculum, taught with expertise, that provides all students with the best possible written and verbal communication skills and an appreciation of literature. This is the best way to set disadvantaged students up for life.

The Rudd Government must ignore the push to impose the worst of current state-based systems on to the national curriculum.

Where can one start? Perhaps by pointing out that the words singled out for praise in paragraph three in fact paraphrase (and mean much the same as) the words roundly condemned in paragraph one. Nor do I find anything arcane in "meaning making in and through language, across a range of forms, media and expressions, should be the core organiser of the curriculum."

But then I wrote twenty-six years ago:

I am concerned here with theory at a fairly low level of generality; or, putting it another way, I am in search of models and procedures which might make my practice more effective, more critical, or more broadly based… In all of this I am making the following assumptions about English teaching:

1. Language creates and orders meanings, personal and social, outward and inward. Language is the primary means of creating, expressing and interpreting the self, in the context of society and history. Language is also a means of ordering and interpreting reality. While there are many difficult theoretical questions raised by the idea that language constructs the self and reality, we cannot give up the idea that in doing so language is more than merely self-reflexive.

2. Central to English teaching is the learner as meaning-maker, a participant in the network of meanings that constitute our culture.

3. In using and studying language or other means of meaning-making in a variety of contexts and realizations, the learner grows more competent, more aware, and less helpless.

Glossing that eleven years ago I said:

My own position (and that of many I suspect) has been an evolving one. Rather than earlier approaches being absolutely displaced by later ones, I have tended to keep what works from many perspectives. So when I embraced aspects of the process or whole language approaches, it was because these opened up the range of things students could do; but I continued to look at sentence grammar, paragraphing, spelling and so on. Teaching of grammar and style was enhanced by reading in the areas of stylistics and language variation in the later 1970s and 1980s, and these were in turn strengthened by the genre pedagogy of the early 1990s. An abiding concern of most English teachers has been critical reading; the meaning and scope of that has been enriched by insights from Freebody and Luke, Kress and Hasan, to name a few.

I am all in favour of teaching the classics, keeping in mind that the idea there were “classics” in English is surprisingly recent. There were no English departments in universities anywhere until the late 19th century, and very few until well into the 20th century. I am also in favour of enabling students to negotiate all the forms and media we/they confront in the real world. I think that is called “literacy”. It has also been called (by Hemingway) “crap detection.”  Very handy when reading the Murdoch press.

And that will do for now. Just as the Oz is simply regurgitating today, so I have responded to their past eructations. Check the appropriate tags and categories in the side bar. Here is just one example: Here we go again 2 (December 2007).

I get so tired of their threadbare bitching.

Read the AATE submission for yourself: national-english-curriculum-framing-paper-aate-response.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2009 in Australia, education, English studies, literacy

 

Love Ned the Bear

He’s a regular on Club Troppo, and I always note whenever it appears in my Google Reader. But this one I love so much I have to share it directly.

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Ah Sol! (Be careful how you say that…)

In case you don’t know what this is about, read Departing Trujillo flags more job cuts. See the obscene juxtapositions in a related story:

Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr says there is an extraordinary double standard when it comes to executive pay and worker benefits.

The clothing manufacturer Pacific Brands this week sacked more than 1,800, but last year its top executives received more than $7 million in pay rises.

Outgoing Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo is also due for a multi-million dollar payout.

Senator Carr says the executives need to explain.

"What I’ve seen for many years is there seems to be a great disparity between the way in which executives are treated and the way in which workers are treated," he said. “Look at what’s happening with Telstra. I find it quite extraordinary. There’s an enormous double standard about what happens on the shop floor and what happens in the boardroom." – ABC.

Hard to disagree.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, current affairs, globalisation/corporations, other blogs

 

Friday intellectual spot 7: Tobias Ziegler on perceptions of ideological bias in research

If that sounds like a recent post by Bruce, it’s because I took my cue from that post! I commented there: “I may steal this for my Friday Intellectual Spot (or should that be in my case ‘Intellectual’?) — a really good find, Bruce.” Now I have stolen…

Tobias Ziegler has a blog, Not a Hedgehog, on WordPress.com. The item Bruce cites appeared on a Crikey blog, Pure Poison, on 24 February: Pure Science: Seeing ideological bias in research findings. So I have tagged this “meet a blog” as well, since you have now met several so far!

The results suggest that research findings which support liberal approaches to public policy are more likely to be regarded with scepticism, and that this scepticism seems to be associated with concerns about the ideological bias of the researchers. These perceptions of bias are more likely to come from those who are conservative in general, or who hold conservatively-aligned attitudes on the specific issue the research looked at. These findings seem consistent with a lot of the reactions to research that we see in conservative columns and blogs, and in responses from the commenters on those sites. And although they were explicitly artificial, the descriptions of research findings are similar to what we typically see presented in the mainstream media – brief, superficial and lacking the detail needed for critical evaluation. Under those conditions, there appears to be a tendency to see Leftist influence on the research endeavour – and the source of the research becomes the focus, rather than the integrity and quality of the research itself…

…We regularly see scientific research and academic institutions criticised as having philosophical and/or ideological motivations to conduct research that supports certain outcomes (e.g., anthropogenic global warming). This study provides evidence for one type of bias in judgment that may contribute to these types of claims.

But that doesn’t mean those of us who lean to the left can sit back with a smug sense of self-satisfaction. Liberals still appear to be more suspicious of findings that contradict their existing beliefs. It’s good to be sceptical, but that scepticism needs to be applied equally, without being influenced by the nature of the findings. And as the authors of this study note, the proneness to see liberal but not conservative bias might be because researchers are more likely to be liberals.

Rigorous, objective research should be able to serve as evidence in the debate over public policy. Rather than dismissing any research on ad hominem grounds, everyone involved in that debate needs to focus on the research itself. If the findings are genuinely affected by ideological bias, point to the evidence of ideological contamination in the study. We need to avoid this natural tendency to point to the researcher just because the findings don’t fit with what we believe.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, intellectual spot

 

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Friday poem #5 – from Thylazine – Michelle Cahill

Today we go back to Oz Poetry and forward to some newer voices, courtesy of Thylazine and their TWELVE AUSTRALIAN POETS SERIES 2. I have chosen something by Michelle Cahill, born in Kenya. “Her first collection of poetry The Accidental Cage was Best First Book with Interactive Press 2006 and was listed among the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Books for 2006.”

Waves

You tell me how it feels
to be inside the glass of a wave,
quiet as a womb
with the force to pitch
against the velvet rocks
what skims iridescent
from its dark mouth.
Sea-gulls angle off the point
where I watch the grommets,
black seals in wet-suits
with livid lips.
When the wind turns
the sea wears a mask of mercury,
begins to swirl and chop.
The sky is spitting rain,
the surfers paddle back.
I wonder when love turns.
You scramble down the cliff
sprint across the rocks.
Now the waves close out
a monologue wracked
by contradiction.

A “grommet” is a young or inexperienced surfer.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Australia and Australian, OzLit, poets and poetry

 

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Most popular photos February 2009

On my WordPress photo blog:

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Mardi Gras Fair Day

Most popular in the past seven days:

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On Ninglun on Journalspace:

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Mardi Gras Fair Day

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Mystery head in church

More of you should visit the Journalspace blog… 😉

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2009 in blogging, photography, site news, site stats

 

St Mary’s South Brisbane

Many of us are watching developments with interest. This “rogue” Catholic Church has been using WordPress to get its message out: St Mary’s Community South Brisbane and St Mary’s Discussion Forum*. See also (Brisbane Archbishop) Bathersby ousts Kennedy at St Mary’s.

I had been thinking of posting on this, but would rather leave it to a progressive Catholic. Michael Bayly in St Paul Minnesota is an Australian expat whose blog The Wild Reed is on my blog roll, thanks to a tip from Renegade Eye some time back. Michael has just posted on the issue: Mustard Plants in the Hierarchy’s Garden.

…But wait! The center may be in a state of stasis and decay, but at the periphery of our living tradition we can observe sprouting and flourishing like mustard seeds, pesky* yet invigorating ways of being Catholic that are truer to the life and message of Jesus, and thus the true mission of the Church. Two recent examples are St. Mary’s in South Brisbane, Australia, and the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community in Minneapolis, USA. (The latter is my spiritual home.)…

See also a project Michael is involved with, The Progressive Catholic Voice.

Here in Surry Hills and Redfern one immediately thinks of Redfern’s Kennedy, the late Father Ted Kennedy. There the forces for “the centre” have apparently triumphed, but again the blogosphere, among other things, keeps the dream alive. See The Church Mouse.

The Church Mouse maintains an eclectic public record of the history and curious goings on in the parish of St Vincent’s Redfern, an inner city suburb of Sydney, Australia.

This is the third major revision of the website. All of the old website content – with the exception of the Church Mouse Journal – can now be found here, and that material is being moved over as time permits. New articles are published here…

A recent post included this letter:

RWTIt also links to replies.

Update 28 February

* Note these sites are being replaced by St Mary’s Catholic Community South Brisbane, a new site. The old sites carry this message: “All material from this site will be moved to the new site and this address will cease to operate from March 31 2009. You are encouraged to join the newsletter subscription list on the new site to receive our regular bulletins.”

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, challenge, Christianity, faith, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, Indigenous Australians, inspiration, interfaith, religion

 

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Tori Amos on blogging

Hat tip to Christian Taylor, national editor of SameSame.

Not too long ago during an interview with Tori Amos I asked her about her love of blogging, and if she thought that the internet was bringing us closer together or further apart. Her response, as expected, was an eloquent one.

"I think it’s both. It depends on how it’s used. It depends on the individual. I think the ability to access information right now is vital if we’re going to educate ourselves, not be educated by those who want us to be educated in a certain way. I think part of our learning has to be driven by our own desire to learn.

"Sometimes when I’m on the internet I find myself learning things that I didn’t even know I needed to learn, because I start cross-referencing a word or an idea and it takes me to sites that I would not have known about. The word association and how it works on the internet is alchemy. You can choose to get drawn into a black hole or you can choose to move out of it.

"Has the internet driven us apart? Has it made us more detached from each other? Well it depends. That’s an individual question everyone has to look at."

Indeed.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2009 in blogging

 

Bonds, King Gee owner slashes 1,850 jobs – ABC News

Without venturing into the politics or economics of it or analysing it in any way, my gut reaction to this story is great sadness. Here go ordinary jobs for ordinary people. What indeed do they do now? There are not many ordinary jobs for ordinary people left.

Bonds owner and clothing manufacturer Pacific Brands says it will cut 1,850 jobs in Australia over 18 months after posting a $150 million first-half loss and suspending its dividend.

The cost-cutting will see Pacific Brands close the majority of its Australian clothing and manufacturing operations, discontinue small labels and brands, and sell properties or relocate.

The company’s brands include Bonds, Holeproof, Jockey, King Gee, Hard Yakka, Dunlop and Clarks.

A total of 1,200 manufacturing jobs and 650 non-manufacturing jobs will go.

The site hardest hit by the cuts will be the Hosiery factory in Coolaroo, Victoria, where 298 jobs have been lost.

Jobs will also go at Bonds plants in Wentworthville, Unanderra and Cessnock in New South Wales.

There will be more cuts at Holeproof in Nunawading, Victoria, King Gee in Bellambi, New South Wales, and CTE in Brisbane’s West End.

Off to China go the jobs. Admittedly most of them were there already, but you figure the multiplier effect of 1,850 jobs taking into account families involved.

A sad day.

 

Almost decent wireless broadband speed!

This month Unwired is delivering at a notional 1024/256 – a quick check showed around 750 in fact – and that is a big improvement. Combined with the much improved Skype 4 this means my internet telephony is rather better than the two tin cans and string it used to be, though even at that stage it was great for SMS. I am all thumbs on a mobile phone when it comes to SMS; a full keyboard is much better.

The trade-off is that to get 1024 for the same price as half the speed I have dropped from 10 gig to 6 gig a month allowance – and that is cunningly split 50/50 into peak and off peak. Naturally I do most of my blogging in the off peak.

To monitor my downloads I have just installed an oldie, but new to me: NetMeter. It’s very good, and free. Right now it is telling me I’ve used around 44 meg so far today…

Later

Still in off peak (10 am) and it has been a busy morning. There were big updates from Microsoft (for XP) and a new version of my Firewall for starters, and then I went through my VodPods fixing or deleting broken videos, as I do once a month. Plus a big PDF upload to one of my coachees. And blogging. Result – 109 meg so far today! Must watch it, as according to the NetMeter that if continued would give about 7 gig a month!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in computers, web stuff

 

Fifty years on – guess what, nothing is for ever!

4shs There’s not much wrong with sport over all at my old school (class of 1959) and former work-place, as a glance at the current High Notes shows. But guess what: sport isn’t everything, and I know the English Department was rather chuffed when SBHS outperformed Sydney Grammar in English in the HSC last year… And there are other achievements, as the photo on the right from the school’s website suggests.

Nonetheless, a large minority – and you may take large several ways – did in the past secure the school a reputation in Rugby which was highly prized, even if never a majority activity. The cultural cachet it attracted is for anthropologists to explain, but while many dedicated staff and friends of the school, and many gutsy if increasingly outclassed students, have done their best to maintain that particular tradition, the writing has been on the wall for at least a decade – though it should be pointed out the game does continue, even if somewhat diminished.

So we read today in the Sydney Morning Herald: Worst XV: Sydney Boys drop the ball after 100 years of rugby – except that curiously I had to go through the Melbourne Age to pick up the story online.

SYDNEY Boys High School’s chocolate and blue rugby jersey will be no more when the Greater Public Schools First XV competition kicks off this year.

Citing safety, the school has pulled its teams out of top-level competition for the first time in 103 years. Instead it will combine its teams with those of Sydney Grammar, competing in the Second XV and B-grade fixtures. Grammar will continue to play in First XV and A-grade fixtures.

For three years, Sydney Boys High has had disappointing rugby results, because of mismatches in size and ability with those of opponents. The Greater Public Schools rugby convener Mark Ticehurst confirmed that the one-sided results had added to the risk of injury to Sydney Boys High players.

In 2007 the school lost all seven of its matches, conceding 633 points and scoring only eight points. Last year it contested only one game, which it lost to St Joseph’s 112-0, before forfeiting its remaining six games. Mr Ticehurst said: "It was the safety issue that saw Sydney High withdrawing. It’s an opportunity to develop their rugby, and although they will still be in a very tough competition, the pressure is off them to perform at the First XV level."

Sydney Boys High is the only public school in the GPS and selects its students on an academic basis. It has traditionally been competitive in rugby, but its students have recently shifted to sports such as soccer.

Last year the school had only 32 players registered in its senior rugby ranks, compared with 79 who signed up for soccer…

Seems the GPS has made the necessary adjustments too, and they’d better watch out in football (the real one) and basketball, among much else… Not to mention Debating of course.

My own contribution to Rugby fifty plus years back was one term as a linesman at age 12, which did score me “took an interest in Rugby” on my school reference. Not much interest, I have to say… I wasn’t in the large minority.

Update 26 February

The Sydney High School Old Boys Union published a correction yesterday, which I have just caught up with. See High Rugby Update.

…As the School announced last year, High and Grammar will share rugby fixtures this year, with Grammar competing in First XV and A-team fixtures and High in Third XV and B-team fixtures.

The High v Grammar first grade match will take place as usual in the last round of the 2009 competition and it is possible that High may play some other GPS First XV teams in other rounds of the competition.

These changes have been temporarily introduced as part of our planned process of building the participation rates, skills, strength and success of rugby at High, from the junior school up.

All other sports at High will be unaffected by this temporary arrangement and there is no impact upon High’s status as a GPS school.

There has been a resurgence of rugby in High’s junior years. In 2008 we fielded four 13s teams for the first time in at least 10 years. Last year’s 16As defeated Newington to record High’s first win in an A v A match for many years.

We are planning to field 16 rugby teams this year compared with 13 teams last season. A coordinated, three-sessions-a-week coaching program for all junior rugby teams commenced last year and we now have about 15 old boys regularly coaching our teams…

There was truth in the Herald story, but it wasn’t really news, and the emphasis was skewed by the angle the journalist took. So “SYDNEY Boys High School’s chocolate and blue rugby jersey will be no more…” is more than a bit hyperbolic.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, education, generational change, memory, personal, Salt Mine, sport

 

Pakistan on the Brink – Four Corners

Those who close all girls’ schools wherever they have the power to do so, who murder all their opposition, favour terror as a weapon, make their God a gun, and are driven by a crazed and extreme version of the worst aspects of the Abrahamic faiths – the Taliban and their supporters. What more can you say? The poor people of Pakistan — a country M visited in 1999-2000 and loved, having met with nothing but hospitality and honesty wherever he went, which included Peshawar and much of the North-West Frontier.

But what a different story today, thanks to Bush’s foreign policy, past neglect of the key significance of Afghanistan/Pakistan – the borders really are notional – and the sideshow that was the invasion of Iraq, even granted that things there are somewhat better.

But it is chilling to realise that whatever one’s hopes of peace the Taliban and company do not want peace, except their own peace – and that is what you just read in the first paragraph. That is not a peace the world can live with, even less the people of Pakistan. And yes I know what a quagmire Afghanistan/Pakistan has been for all who have ventured into it – the British, the Russians, and now NATO, the US, and our own military. Earlier US Cold war policy directed against the dying USSR in Afghanistan nurtured the monsters.

r341525_1554761Before you comment on this post, carefully review the Four Corners program linked to that image.

Before you start rabbiting on in a generalised way about Islam, consider that all the people we see in that program – terrorists, cultists, fanatics, and their victims – are all Muslims. There are indeed Muslims and Muslims. Jihad-watch style reaction does not help.

You don’t have to demonise the Taliban; they do that very successfully themselves. The dilemma — and what a dilemma! – that the program also brought out is that heavy-handed military “solutions” quite often strengthen the Taliban and such groups. Can’t help thinking though that it would be in everyone’s interests if India and Pakistan could bury their differences in the light of the common threat they confront. Nor would a just solution to the Israel/Palestine issue go astray – that being another running sore in the background to all these events.

Glad I just run a blog, and not the world!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2009 in awful warnings, best viewing 2009, current affairs, Islam, peace, South Asian, terrorism

 

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Another great Monday night on ABC

Coincidentally, visitor #320,000 (Sitemeter) came to the Floating Life blogs at 6.43 this morning from the ABC. The visitor read yesterday’s post on the 7.30 Report and Indigenous history.

But what a night Auntie gave us last night! We really are blessed with our non-commercial broadcaster.

6:30pm Talking Heads

7:00pm  ABC News

7:30pm  The 7.30 Report Website

8:00pm  Australian Story Website

8:30pm  Four Corners Website

9:20pm  Media Watch Website Download Watch Clip

9:35pm  The Cut

The Cut is a very promising program, commencing last night – as good as classics like Frontline or The Games, I think. Talking Heads was inspiring. Australian Story last night raised some troubling dilemmas. Four Corners was so powerful I will give it a separate entry, and Media Watch has rarely bettered last night’s episode, which revealed the poverty and venality of commercial tabloid current affairs yet again, but the first issue dealt with would have to be the bottom of the commercial barrel. Standards? You are joking…! See Young Australian of the Year Smeared.

What this nasty little piece suggests is that Jonty Bush and her secret lover have somehow conspired to rip off money from a charitable foundation and had it paid to her as an improper bonus: or as Kate Donnison so pithily put it – remember? – it accuses Jonty Bush of:

Kate Donnison: …dishonesty, deception and a secret affair with a married man.
— Channel Nine, A Current Affair, 22nd January, 2009

Dishonesty? Deception? Look who’s talking! ACA presents not a skerrick of evidence for its allegations, and all the evidence we’ve found shows them to be a pack of lies.

Read it all. It is utterly disgusting. Moral: don’t touch programs like A Current Affair until they mend their ways. They are the pits.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2009 in Australia, best viewing 2009, current affairs, media watch, TV

 

The 7.30 Report, the Australian War Memorial, Indigenous history

I am intrigued by a segment promised this week concerning a proposal – and a quick search took a while to find evidence for it – that there should be a memorial associated in some way with the National War Memorial in Canberra to the “Black Wars” in Australia. On Eniar I eventually found ‘Aboriginal wars’ memorial plan under fire.

8 June 2008 – IN the wake of the Stolen Generation apology, the Rudd Government is considering erecting an official memorial in Canberra commemorating indigenous Australians killed by white settlers in the so-called "Aboriginal Wars".

The plan, which was immediately rejected by the RSL, would see a memorial erected alongside existing statues and sculptures to Australia’s war dead on Anzac Ave, leading to the Australian War memorial.

The proposal comes from The Canberra Institute, headed by ACT Labor Senate candidate and former Hawke government adviser Peter Conway.

The government responded last week, advising Mr Conway the proposal would be considered by the Canberra National Memorials Committee, which approves the erection of national memorials on national land.

In its submission, the institute argued that the government’s recent decision to erect a national memorial for the Boer War – "a British Colonial War conducted over a century ago" – meant an "Aboriginal Wars" memorial was also justified.

The submission nominates a number of conflicts to be commemorated, including the Pemulwuy-led Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars from 1790, the Black Wars of Tasmania, the Port Phillip District Wars from 1830 to 1850, the Kalkodoon Wars of North West Queensland 1870 to 1890, and the Western Australian Conflict of 1890 to 1898.

The institute points out other colonial wars conducted at the same time as the "Aboriginal Wars" are already recognised in Hall of Valour dioramas at the Australian War Memorial.

If such a memorial is built, it will face fierce resistance from the RSL. The RSL’s Major-General (Ret) Bill Crews told The Sunday Telegraph the RSL would oppose the plan.

He said there was already a memorial for Aboriginal service men and women behind the Australian War Memorial.

"All of the memorials that have been established generally commemorate the role of Australians in conflicts outside Australia and there is no precedent for a civil-style conflict to be commemorated," he said.

The Federal Government yesterday announced the inclusion of the Myall Creek Aboriginal massacre site, near Inverell, on the National Heritage List at a 170-year memorial service.

What intrigues me particularly from the brief promo for The 7.30 Report is that Geoffrey Blainey seems to accept that “war” is a reasonable descriptor for what happened.

Certainly the Reverend John Saunders had little doubt on that when he preached in the Bathurst Street Baptist Church, Sydney, in 1838, just fifty years after the first settlement.

From The Colonist, 17 October 1838:

On the evening of Sunday last, a sermon was preached at the Baptist Chapel, Bathurst Street, by the Rev. John Saunders, in recommendation of justice towards the Aborigines of New Holland. As this is a subject in which we have taken a warm interest, we feel much pleasure in presenting to our Christian readers an outline of Mr Saunders’ discourse. The text was from a passage, in the 26th chapter of the Prophecy of Isaiah and 21st verse, "Behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."

The duty of the colonists towards the Aboriginal natives of this territory, is the important subject of discourse this evening. It is a topic which naturally falls within the scope of the Christian ministry, for it constitutes a part of Christian morals and is intimately connected with Christian doctrine…

…we have shed their blood. I speak not of the broils and murders which might find a parallel in the conduct of the white toward the white, but out of those extra murders in which so many have fallen. We have not been fighting with a natural enemy, but have been eradicating the possessors of the soil, and why, forsooth? because they were troublesome, because some few had resented the injuries they had received, and then how were they destroyed? by wholesale, in cold blood; let the Hawkesbury and Emu Plains tell their history, let Bathurst give in her account, and the Hunter render her tale, not to mention the South, and we shall find that while rum, and licentiousness, and famine, and disease, have done their part to exterminate the blacks, the musket, and the bayonet and the sword, and the poisoned damper, have also had their influence and that Britain hath avenged the death of her sons, not by law, but by retaliation at the atrocious disproportion of a hundred to one. The spot of blood is upon us, the blood of the poor and the defenceless, the blood of the men we wronged before we slew, and too, too often, a hundred times too often, innocent blood. We are guilty here…

I’ll be interested to see what is said this week.