Category Archives: Marcel

Looking for the “gay lobby”

Andrew Sibley has faith in its existence. Writing on the UK Creation Science Movement site (presumably not an anti-gay lobby group) he says with amazing confidence:

Channel 4 presented a programme of poor quality by Rod Liddle, The New Fundamentalism, Dispatches, 8pm 6th March 2006, that was nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on evangelical Christianity and creationists by a self confessed liberal Christian…

God called men and women to respect each other and engage in life long committed relationships, but Liddle seemed to ridicule children for their stand preferring the negative social consequences that a liberal attitude to sexual activity brings. He failed for instance to acknowledge the link between condom use and promiscuity. Condoms are about 95 to 98% effective, meaning they have a 1 in 20 to 1 in 50, failure rate. If the rate of extra marital sexual activity increases by more than a factor of 20 to 50 through contraception use then the incidence of unprotected sex will increase with damaging consequences for people and society. The issue of whether a gay gene exists or not is also an important one because many people suffer from confusion or mental illness, as a result of popular culture and the gay lobby teaching children and young people that gay sentiment is genetic, and not cultural. There is no evidence that a gay gene exists, although Jesus did acknowledge that some are born as eunuchs, this as a result of the fall. But God did not create people to be gay and our genes do not determine the thoughts we choose to think. While we have sympathy for those suffering confusion over their identity, it is important to maintain a correct understanding of our make up. Gay sentiment has more to do with exposure to a cultural replicator and nurture, perhaps through negative experiences in childhood…

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Penguin Classics: Wuthering Heights

I have been rereading Wuthering Heights in the excellent revised Penguin Classics edition of 2003. What a pleasure it is! My rereading has been prompted by my little bit of private tuition, a girl doing the HSC Advanced English course. It so happens, as I told her much to her amazement, that I first read Wuthering Heights for my Leaving Certificate in 1959 where, though I am not knocking “Rockjaw” Smith our excellent English teacher, the interpretive skills required were minimal really: basically just the oversimplified schematic interpretation by Lord David Cecil in Early Victorian Novelists plus a smidgin of Arnold Kettle’s somewhat Marxist, and very boring, analysis, plus whatever crib one could lay one’s hands on. Much more is expected of my current HSC student, in fact I would say perhaps too much.

Back in 1959 our ENTIRE course was: 1) Wuthering Heights; 2) Julius Caesar; 3) a handful of poems from a standard anthology; 4) a handful of essays from Bacon to Edwardian times, some of them splendid, many of them pointless; 5) Douglas Stewart’s The Fire on the Snow, a radio play about Scott of the Antarctic. Good too, that play, I still think.

Contrast 2006: Coleridge; Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; Wuthering Heights; Frontline. Read the rest of this entry »


NTDTV’s 2006 Chinese New Year Global Gala: The Classical and Beautiful State Theatre in Sydney

Well, the Opera last Saturday, thanks to Marcel Proust, and this tonight, thanks to M.
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Posted by on February 18, 2006 in Chinese and China, events, friends, interfaith, local, M, Marcel, music, personal, reminiscing



Sponsors save opera Butterfly – Arts – Entertainment –


And I am glad they did. I saw Madama Butterfly not in the Park on January 28, to which this article refers, but in the Opera Theatre at Sydney Opera House last night, thanks to Marcel Proust who had a spare ticket. The staging and direction were absolutely first-rate, and the singing from some of the lesser-known principals of the Australian Opera was better than adequate. I thought the tenor (Rosario La Spina) good, though of distinctly Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern appearance…

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Posted by on February 12, 2006 in Australia and Australian, events, friends, Marcel, music, personal


Jung Chang: Information From

Do look at Marcel Proust’s comment on the previous entry, and then review the information about Jung Chang here. Her account of the Red Guard period in Mao: the Unknown Story is all the more poignant given the fact that she was herself a Red Guard. I really believe that Mao: the Unknown Story is much better than 50% accurate and reliable, despite my “even if” in the previous entry. What she demonstrates very well in the course of this book is that the Cultural Revolution was no mere “mistake” but an emanation of Mao himself as he had been ever since the 1920s.

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Posted by on January 24, 2006 in book reviews, Chinese and China, History, human rights, Marcel, Top read


On China and Chinese History

Two years already
Two whole years
Seven hundred thirty days
Seven hundred thirty nights
Little by little
Have erased the memory
Like raindrops
One by one
Washed clean
The blood-stained Square

From “The Dead Do Not Forget: In commemoration of the second anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre” by Wu Ningkun. His A Single Tear, A Family’s Persecution, Suffering, Love and Endurance, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 1993; Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1993, is not as well-known as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, but is in my opinion a better book really. Here is an interview.
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Anniversary of Tiananmen

Marcel Proust tells me my blogs are unreachable in China, though I believe they were reachable last month in Hong Kong. Given the above, I am not surprised — in fact, if I am being blocked I am honoured! I guess all those nice things I have been saying about Jung Chang’s life of Mao Zedong won’t have made my sites China-friendly either.

And Mao: The Unknown Story continues to impress me. It makes a very good case indeed for Mao’s role in the war against Japan as being somewhat less heroic, and rather more Machiavellian, than the official story asserts. And that’s just one of many significant contributions the book makes to a more balanced assessment of Mao.

Like the period they indulged in the opium trade…

It is small wonder that Pol Pot became such a monster: he was really just “improving” a little on his role model. Helps to make sense of Robert Mugabe too, sadly.

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Posted by on January 22, 2006 in Africa, Asian, blogging, book reviews, Chinese and China, events, History, human rights, M, Marcel, Multicultural, personal, Political, reminiscing



Ramona Koval interviews Nicholas Jose: Sunday 23/10/2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI am now reading Original Face, thanks to “Marcel Proust” who dropped in last Saturday and lent me his copy. I didn’t go the launching, by the way. I am enjoying it. Marcel emailed me earlier this month with some well-observed reservations about a few points. I may come back to these later. Marcel enjoyed the book too, despite those reservations. There are one or two hints and fragments of Chinese I have known through M, here and there, and of course I have known Nick for fifteen years now.

I began the novel in the waiting room at the gastroenterologist’s today.

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Posted by on November 28, 2005 in Australia and Australian, book reviews, Chinese and China, Crime and/or crime fiction, Fiction, health, Lord Malcolm, M, Marcel, OzLit, Top read


English Teacher moments

English Teacher moments

The link above takes you back to August, when I mentioned Scott Poynting, an ex-student from Wollongong who is now at the University of Western Sydney. Imagine how pleased I was to receive this email the other day.
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Posted by on November 19, 2005 in Australia and Australian, education, ex-students and coachees, Marcel, poets and poetry, Sirdan


The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf. New York: Schocken, 1987

In this and similar posts, always bear in mind what I say about the purpose of this blog: to clarify ideas for myself, and then maybe for others. What I am really wrestling with is what attitude is best calculated to minimise the harmful effects of division in a culturally diverse society such as ours is, especially in the current world climate, not as some ideal but as a matter of fact and practice. As an ESL teacher who has been necessarily concerned with multicultural matters, and as one who in his own life has lived an intercultural experience, these things matter a lot to me. In most Sydney and suburban schools these things are part of the daily round as well, if not for much longer in my case.

I read this some years ago, borrowed (of course) from Surry Hills Library.
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It just isn’t possible to be a grumpy old man these days, especially an enlightened one such as myself (tongue in cheek of course), without recourse to the wonderful Don Watson who, as Paul Keating’s speech writer, no doubt had quite an input (he’d hate that) into the marvellous Redfern Speech I referred to a few days ago.

Yesterday, despite having a Great Book Clearance ongoing, I simply could not pass on Don Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Cant & Management Jargon, Random House Australia, 2004 at the remainder shop price of $8.95. Do read the (PDF) Introduction.

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Posted by on June 1, 2005 in Australia and Australian, book reviews, linguistics and language, Marcel, OzLit, Political