Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dogmatic bigot

Part of tertiary education involves developing critical thinking skills, and learning to engage with ideologies and beliefs differing from your own. The library collection of any tertiary institution represents a spectrum of scholarly opinion. In plain English, just because an item is held in the library, it does not mean that the institution, its faculty, or library staff endorse the viewpoints of its author, authors, or contributors.

It is unprofessional for librarians to refuse to hold resources just because they disagree with the opinions expressed in them. I write this wordy disclaimer because my library holds literature both supportive of, and hostile to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishnas. 

Some of this literature was written by ISKCON's founder,  (1896-1977). I noticed that he went by the title of "His Divine Grace." It strikes me as blasphemous that the late Swami, a mere man, would consider himself to be divine in any sense. He was an ordinary man, just like I am, and in need of salvation from Jesus Christ, just like I am (Romans 3:10, 23, 7:18, ).

The Bible consistently attests that Jesus is the only sinless man who ever lived. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 4:15, 9:14, 1 Peter 1:19, 2:22, I John 3:5). I wouldn't want to entrust my eternal destiny to another fallen, sinful human being such as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, or indeed any other spiritual leader of his ilk. It would be pure folly.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Soap and water

It wasn't all that long ago that swearing was considered highly offensive. Now it seems this is changing. Some words that a few years back were considered to be expletives have now come into common usage.

It's fitting that Amanda Dunn observes that some newspapers have a more liberal attitude to swearing than others. Without naming names, The Age, in which this article was printed, clearly has a liberal policy towards printing profanity.

If this reflects changing societal attitudes, then I would suggest that it is also reflected in the lack of courtesy and respect that some people show to others these days.

Think of people who don't even apologise when they accidentally bump someone in public, or don't wait for passengers to alight from a train carriage before they get on it, don't bother to reply to invitations to events or turn up to them late, and using text messages to communicate with someone rather than talking with them directly if the subject matter is difficult.

Either these problems are becoming worse, or I'm becoming more aware of them as I get older. Whatever the case, it's something to ponder.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The kid from Kogarah

Australian writer and broadcaster Clive James received a special award in recognition of his 50 year career at the BAFTA television awards, held on May 10.

For several years in the 1990's I religiously watched his programmes Saturday Night Clive and The Clive James Show. As he humorously explored the world of bad and bizarre television, it made having next to no social life at the time slightly more bearable. Even though I disagree with his atheism, I liked his writing talent and sense of humour.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Lest we forget to proof read

Gregory Wakeman, film reviewer for Cinemablend, needs to lift his game a bit. In his review of Russell Crowe's directorial debut, The Water Diviner, he writes that Crowe's character, Joshua Connor, goes to Turkey in 1919 to search for the bodies of his three sons who were missing in action and presumed killed in the Battle of Tripoli four years earlier.

Mr Wakeman or one of Cinemablend's editorial staff failed to proof read the review before it was published. Studios usually give press kits to film critics when they review a film. Presumably this kit contained a synopsis of the film, which would have helpfully explained that Connor's sons fought at Gallipoli in Turkey, and not Tripoli, which is the capital city of Libya.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Well and truly

In an opinion piece in today's Age, Neil McMahon asks the question, has Q&A jumped the shark? For those of you who don't know, a television show that has "Jumped the shark" is one that has run its course, and isn't as good as it used to be.

I would definitely agree that it has. When Q&A first started it seemed fresh and novel. t gave everyday citizens the chance to engage and interact with political and business leaders, and other influential figures from various fields.

I stopped watching it after I began to realize that it had degenerated into a lefty love in, and I grew tired of going to bed feeling angry and wound up, or shouting at the television. More often than not, the panels are stacked with left leaning progressives, with one or two token conservatives. In this hostile setting, the conservative spokespeople are made to look ridiculous and offensive. And that's if they are able to get a word in.

Peter Hitchens, Rowan Dean, Janet Albrechtsen are among those conservative guests who find that there is no room for a respectful exchange of dissenting viewpoints on this program. Conflict might make for entertaining television, but it doesn't do much for having a constructive debate.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This is City Boy's hit from 1978, 5705. It was released the same year as Paul Evans' Hello, This is Joannie (The Telephone Answering Machine Song), and two years after Electric Light Orchestra's Telephone Line. It seems that telephone-themed songs were all the rage back then.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lest we forget

Here's the transcript of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the April 1915 Gallipoli landings in the First World War. I have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the best speeches he has given.

It’s one hundred years since Australians and New Zealanders splashed out of the sea, right here. So now we gather in the cold and dark before dawn; wondering what to say and how to honour those whose bones rest in the hills and the valleys above us, and whose spirit has moved our people for a century. Year after year, we journey to what’s now a peaceful coast to remember things that, normally, we might try to forget. Year after year, from all over our country, from every walk of life, from every background, young and old make this pilgrimage.

We aren’t here to mourn a defeat or to honour a success, although there was much to mourn and much to honour in this campaign. We aren’t here to acknowledge a legacy in this country, although Gallipoli shaped modern Turkey as much as it forged modern Australia and New Zealand. Few of us can recall the detail, but we have imbibed what matters most: that a generation of young Australians rallied to serve our country, when our country called, and they were faithful, even unto death. 

Beginning here, on this spot and at this hour, 100 years ago, they fought; and all-too-often they died: for their mates, for our country, for their King and – ultimately – for the ideal that people and nations should be free. The first Anzacs were tradesmen, clerks, labourers, farmers and professionals; they were from every conceivable occupation, from every rung in the ladder of society, and from every point under the Southern Cross.

Instead of landing here, they would have longed for the homes they’d left behind, the times they might have shared with their families, the backyard sport they could have played with their mates. But ordinary men did extraordinary things.

“They lived with death and dined with disease” because that was where their duty lay.

In volunteering to serve, they became more than soldiers; they became the founding heroes of modern Australia.

If they had not been emblematic of the nation we thought we were, Anzac Day would not have been commemorated from that time until this – in every part of our country, in every place where Australians gather, and in every military base where Australians serve.

If they were not still emblematic of the nation we think we are, none of us would be here.
But like every generation since, we are here on Gallipoli, because we believe that the Anzacs represented Australians at our best.

It’s the perseverance of those who scaled the cliffs under a rain of fire.

It’s the compassion of the nurses who attended to the thousands of wounded.

It’s the conquest of fear, often through a larrikin sense of humour.

And it’s the greatest love anyone can have: the readiness to lay down your life for your friend.

It’s this that’s ennobled those Anzacs to all who have come after them: they faced the hardest possible test and they did not flinch.

The Gallipoli campaign was a failure, of course; the only really successful part was the evacuation.
But the survivors of Gallipoli and their reinforcements went on to become some of the world’s finest soldiers.

The Australian and New Zealand mounted infantry spearheaded the British army that captured Jerusalem and Damascus.

In March 1918, it was the Australian army corps that held the last great German attack that had split the British from the French armies.

And it was Monash, the engineering genius and citizen soldier, the commander who’d struggled at Gallipoli but succeeded in France, who pioneered the all-arms warfare that led to victory, by breaking the bloody stalemate on the Western Front.

Over the past century, the Anzacs’ descendants have honoured that tradition: in the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Iraq and – our longest war – Afghanistan.

Those serving on peacekeeping and relief missions have likewise kept faith with the original Anzacs.
Even now, our armed forces are serving in the Middle East and elsewhere, defending the values that we hold dear.

Today, all of us who have not been tested in war salute all of those who have.

Most of us have never worn our country’s uniform.

We have not climbed the steep cliffs of Gallipoli.

We have not trudged through the snow of Bullecourt.

We have not struggled through the mud of Passchendaele.

We have not experienced the horrors of Hellfire Pass, or fought through the jungles of Kokoda or Vietnam, or shaken the Uruzgun sand from our clothes.

We have not risked being shot out of the skies over Germany or torpedoed in the Med or in the Pacific.

But we are the better for those who have.

Because they rose to their challenges, we believe that it’s a little easier for us to rise to ours.

Their example, we believe, helps us to be better than we would otherwise be.

That’s why we’re here: to acknowledge what they have done for us – and what they still do for us.
The official historian, Charles Bean, said of the original Anzacs: “their story rises as it will always rise, above the mists of ages, a monument to great hearted men; and, for their nation a possession forever.”

Yes, they are us; and when we strive enough for the right things, we can be more like them.

So much has changed in one hundred years but not the things that really matter.

Duty, selflessness, moral courage: always these remain the mark of a decent human being.

They did their duty; now, let us do ours.

They gave us an example; now, let us be worthy of it.

They were as good as they could be in their time; now, let us be as good as we can be in ours.