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Articles Archive for February 2013

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[26 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 14,004 views ]

AS a writer, Barry Dickins is like Bob Ellis – when he’s good he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad … he’s awful.
In ‘Lessons in Humility’, an often bizarre but allegedly ”true” story of his life as an English teacher, Dickins ranges from one to the other, and sometimes in between. The book, with illustrations by the author, is a veritable curate’s egg.
When Dickins, in 1970, completed his diploma of education at the Melbourne State College in Carlton, no one, he explains, had taught him ”how to stand …

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[23 Feb 2013 | One Comment | 5,292 views ]

THE first 15 pages of this three-part book, set in the 1980s, are littered with somewhat pretentious literary allusions to writers as diverse as Sartre, Wordsworth, Patrick White and Alexander Pope. Name-dropping is not necessarily the best way to begin but, then again, the title of the book is ‘False Start’.
Yet as this unreliable memoir of many things best forgotten gathers pace, Mark O’Flynn’s laconic Australian comedy exhibits a voice and a compelling timbre of its own.
He manages to capture, in this memoir, what it’s like for a so-called …

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[16 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 1,966 views ]

Most history buffs know that on the night of May 31, 1942, in Sydney Harbour, a Japanese midget submarine sank HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21 sailors and leaving 10 seriously injured.
What is less well known is that a little more than a week later, in the early morning of June 8, 1942, two Japanese submarines – 1-24 and 1-21, captained by Commander Hiroshi Hanabusa and Commander Matsumura Kanji, respectively – shelled Sydney and Newcastle.
Although casualties and damage were slight, the bombardments fuelled the fear of an impending Japanese invasion. This was …

Columns »

[16 Feb 2013 | 2 Comments | 3,753 views ]

SOME perceptive social commentators compare population ageing with climate change as a key challenge in the 21st century. But in the community at large it gets much less than its fair share of attention.
But, like climate change, population ageing is unprecedented, enduring, profound and pervasive. It will change the shape of the society in which we live.
Since the industrial revolution, the world’s population has been growing at an unprecedented pace. Successive and ever larger cohorts have kept the age structure of the population young. This young population has proven to …

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[9 Feb 2013 | One Comment | 3,873 views ]

IN the US, and the West in general, the name of the Apache warrior and charismatic leader Geronimo remains dominant in folk memory.
But why is it that Geronimo is the Native American name lodged more deeply in the public mind than any other? Geronimo, bizarrely, was the codename of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, a fact that angered some Native Americans.
In his enthralling narrative of Geronimo’s life, Robert M. Utley alternates between the perspectives of white Americans and Apaches to create a highly nuanced understanding of the character …

Columns »

[9 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 4,293 views ]

FREE speech is fundamental to freedom and the very basis of democracy. All ideas, whether great or small, common or controversial, benefit from debate. Silencing argument, by contrast, is counterproductive and dangerous. It closes minds, forecloses options and ultimately risks removing effective political power from the hands of the citizenry.
Yet history demonstrates a pronounced tendency among committed ideologues of all types to silence anyone who disagrees with them. In Australia and the West, it is the so-called progressives from whom free-speech advocates have the most to fear.

The shrillness that defines …

Columns »

[2 Feb 2013 | 2 Comments | 8,116 views ]

I WAS alarmed to hear that the hugely talented director of the National Art School, Darlinghurst, Anita Taylor, may not be reappointed.
Given that student recruitment is strong, public programs are blossoming, the gallery schedule is sparkling, and there’s a raft of high-profile sponsorships and donors, the powers-that-be should be rejoicing to have Taylor in charge. As stellar as its history has been as Australia’s oldest school of art, the NAS had been dawdling around the turn of the century, constrained by the school-level art education priorities of the NSW Department …