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Category Archives: Oz Culture

My primary age daughter made an Easter Hat at school. She was then given a writing exercise to describe it. All spelling and punctuation is as per the original

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My Easter hat has dangling bangles stapled on to it. On the top of my hat a little chicken that I named Mrs. Chicken is sitting peacfully. Her feet are sticking out from under her cute, little , soft body. She has her hands drawn just below her arms. I think Mrs. Chicken looks really cute. My actuall hat is VERY glittery. The sparkles are silver.

I like my hat because it is very simple but without Mrs. Chicken it would be nothing.

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Somewhat of the same genre:

Swishy

This Is A Complaint About Bed Time

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

My Literary Genius Six-Year Old Retells Goldilocks And The Three Bears

i like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

The Intolerable Ubiquity Of Pencil Sharpenings

I have just read David Marr’s essay The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race (Quarterly Essay #65) on Pauline Hanson and her party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The confluence in name between Pauline Hanson and her party is exact and intentional. As Hanson said on national TV The Party is me [1]. And she is correct. The One Nation phenonemon is entirely a product of Hanson’s passion, personality, raw determination and resilience. Without Hanson One Nation cannot exist.

I will use this post to comment on Marr’s excellent essay, which Marr conceived in order to put a floor of fact under Hanson’s people and her political people [2]. Like all observers of Australian politics, Marr wants to understand the One Nation phenonemon, how it is that a race-based political party can thrive and become so influential within Australia. For those who abhor the phenonemon of race-based politics this understanding is a foundational, crucial first step towards neutralising One Nation or at least preventing it advancing further from its present toxifying influence into a genuinely Fascistic unadulterated race-hate movement.

Can I just say that the title of Marr’s essay The White Queen is marvellous ? It captures Hanson and the relationship of Hanson’s supporters to her perfectly.

Typical

A portion of Marr’s essay is strict quantitative research in which a profile of the typical One Nation voter is resolved from longitudinal survey-based research. This section while relatively dry reading is absolutely essential to understanding Hanson’s people.

Marr finds that the typical One Nation voter is Australian-born, male (56% v 44% female), identifies as working class , secular (not religious), lives on urban fringes of cities and large towns (but also in small rural communities), likely to have a trades education (i.e. is less educated than the general public), are pessimistic about their own economic prospects and those of Australia generally, heavily distrust government and politicians, are inclined to a law and order viewpoint in solving societal issues, thinks there is too much welfare, detests immigration and multiculturalism but does not personally live among or even know recent migrants migrants (though they may live in neighbouring areas to migrants)  or know those on welfare and, strikingly, perceives a nexus between immigrants and crime.

Marr summarises the Hansonites as being from National Party heartland

Infantile

This post will develop over the next few weeks as I add to it, but I just want to start with one comment for now. Hanson’s people are, at an emotional level, infantile. 

Marr, summarizing Rebecca Huntley, who has conducted voter focus groups for many years says Hanson’s people yearn for the past [3]. Many Australians aged 40 or older may express an opinion that the Australia of their youth was a better place, but if pressed, most voters will say, no, they do not want to return to the Australia of the 1950’s with its monoculture, remoteness from the world and limited work opportunities for women. But Hanson voters do really want to return Australia to the 1950’s. Hanson’s voters want to return Australia to the young adulthood of their fathers, when they were children, when everything was certain, secure, predictable and they felt physically and emotionally safe.

Consequently, even though Marr does not say this, I do: Hanson’s people are infantile.

Engaging One Nation

This is an important finding for engaging with One Nation. It means that you are dealing with children. How do you win an argument with 55 year old children ? You can’t. You just need to give them a few lollies and their favourite blanket and hopefully that will quiet them down before they trash the joint.

John Howard knew this. When engaging with One Nation he didn’t try and argue with them. He tried to mollify them. Specifically, he addressed their insecurities. Howard said, speaking of his GST reforms, that he would  give them something better than what they had i.e. economic security and in this way draw them back to the mainstream.

Keating terrified Hanson’s people. Open borders, open tariffs, familiar industries closing down, unfamiliar new industries to be encouraged, the welcome of Asia. Every Hansonite in the country, beginning with Hanson herself, filled their nappies in horror.

The Hansonite infantilism drives their insecurity. Hence their attraction to law and order solutions such as Capital Punishment and to gun ownership, by which they hope to protect themselves and their property from both ravishing migrant hordes and theiving, dishonest government.

Hansonites are impervious to argument. They need calming down.

So the first thing you need to do for Hansonites, like Howard, is say ‘Yes, yes I hear you’. And then listen. I mean really listen. But, as for children, don’t necessarily do as they demand. Reassure them. Offer them a rosy picture of the future. Let them know they are important. I would even give them a few lollies like, I dunno, rural subsidy for road-building or construction of humungous Anzac Day memorials if it was thought this would help social cohesion and defuse their anger to some degree.

Social cohesion is worth paying for. And it is necessary for governments to argue the case for social change. Hansonism is partially at least a result of governments taking the conservative under-educated for granted.

But ultimately if the giant 55 year old toddler baby Hansonites refuse to stop tantruming, they should be ignored. Their core constituency is low in number. You can’t let the country be governed by children.

And this is the problem that Marr identifies throughout his essay. The major parties are willingly accommodating to Hansonites. John Howard was in fact a Hansonite himself. So is Dutton and the rest of the conservative, reactionary, white male rump of the Liberal National Coalition. Both Liberal and Labor have adopted Hanson’s policies in regard to Asylum-Seekers.

The country needs a government that will treat Hansonites as children. But not dismissively as Keating did, but inclusively, without succumbing to the attraction of populism or the fear of educated reactionaries who should know better.

Hanson Is Not Racist

Hanson denies she is racist. She defines racism as a belief that one’s own race is superior to other races and says that she doesn’t think that whites are superior to Aboriginals or Asians or anyone else.

I believe Hanson. Marr does not.

Marr says that what betrays Hanson as a racist is her conspiratorial mindset, the belief shared by aggressive, ideological racists that they (the hated and feared other race) have a secret agenda to take over. This is certainly Hansonite territory.

Hanson once believed that Asians were soon to swamp Australia and now believes that Muslims intend to impose Sharia Law on us all. So-called University-educated Elites were also imposing Political Correctness on mainstream, normal Australians like Pauline Hanson, so taking over Australia with some kind of leftist Sharia. Malcolm Roberts, her climate denialist compatriot and co-Senator thinks that Climate Change is a hoax invented by Jews acting in concert with the IMF and United Nations to take over the world and enforce One World Government. Why would Jews want to do that ? Because they are evil, presumably.

While the fear of being swamped or displaced by another race or culture is indeed a feature of racist thinking I don’t believe that Hanson is racist. I consider, instead, that Hanson is Xenophobic, i.e. has a fear of outsiders from other races. Specifically Hanson fears the extinction of her own culture: which is conservative, white, secular nominally-but-not-actually-semi-Christian Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Fish and Chips 1950’s Anglo-Australian middle-class parochialism. Once upon a time everybody Hanson knew, met, or ever even saw, was like that. Hanson thinks that this particular thing that she is, is the only kind of Australian that is authentically Australian.

John Howard is this kind of Australian too. John Howard once said that he was quintessentially Australian. This gave John Howard the self-assumed right and authority, therefore, to state what was Australian and what was UnAustralian. What was Mainstream and what wasn’t. Who could have rights and who couldn’t. Hanson assumes the same nativist, infallible perfection of insight. She is Australia and can therefore speak infallibly for Australia.

Hanson fears the loss of her own culture in her own country. She fears and experiences disempowerment. Her views were derided are passe, unacceptable and crass. She feels a displacement from the cultural centre, in other words a loss of privilege which she perceives as an attack on her and her culture; she perceives targeted assistance for Aboriginals as unfair to white Australians. She calls herself  a proud Australian. I don’t want to see my culture gone. She wants everyone to behave the same way as her when in her town, state and country. She refuses to accept that her views may be out-dated or vulgar and finds such an idea impossible. She does not believe that it is acceptable or possible for a culture to change, that there is more than one way to be Australian, that the idea of being Australian can evolve.

Hanson is definitely conservative and Xenophobic. These things do not mean that she considers her own culture superior to other cultures, but she does want to make sure her own culture remains dominant in her own town, state and country. I doubt she shares the anti-Semitic views of her co-Senator Malcolm Roberts.

[1] Marr, QE #65, p.72 from Sunday Mail 10 January 2015.

[2] QE #65, p.96

[3] QE #65, p.59

[4] QE #65, p.71

A recent school news item done by my primary-age daughter:

Swishy

This is a description of my families cat: Swishy. She had green eyes, brown and white fur, cute, little, white paws and an innocent face expression.

One day when I was 18 months old, my sister was 2 years old and my brother was 5 years old, our family were playing a game of UNO. In the middle of my sister’s turn my dad heard a meowing sound and saw……….

A CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once everyone had seen the big suprize we started to think what to name this mysterious cat. We ended up calling her………… SWISHY!!!!!!

A few years later the Council instructed some builders to build a unit-block RIGHT NEXT TO OUR UNIT!!!!!!! Since the Council said for all this to happen mice and rats came, and since mice and rats came. For my family and our next door neighbours it was like rats were taking over the WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The same year but later when we were still on holidays ………………………………………………………………………………..

Swishy DISAPPERD

My family and I were really sad.

THE END

Somewhat of the same genre:

This Is A Complaint About Bed Time

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

My Literary Genius Six-Year Old Retells Goldilocks And The Three Bears

i like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

The Intolerable Ubiquity Of Pencil Sharpenings

My primary-aged daughter wrote my wife and I this letter which she left on our pillow to be discovered and read. All punctuation and spelling is as per the original.

To Mum and Dad:

this is a complaint about bed time. Me and Milly can’t go to bed in your room because it’s got dirty underwear and smelly clothse on it. pluse Me and Milly are sisters and we hate seaperating from each other. My second complaint is that you and you talk to each other and also READ in bed befor bed time and evern AT bed time. So now I have a complaint for each of you    Mum; you’re first: me and Milly see EVERY thing and we KNOW that you go on the computer when “ALMOST” everyone is asleep

BUSTERED !

and dad; STOP BEING SO SERIOUS ABOUT IT !

from Sue and Milly.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

My Literary Genius Six-Year Old Retells Goldilocks And The Three Bears

i like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

Keep It Light

A controversy recently erupted over Coopers Brewery cancelling a limited edition release of their Coopers Premium Light Beer. Coopers had planned to release 10,000 cases of beer cans emblazoned with different Bible verses to commemorate the 200th birthday of The Bible Society. In conjunction with the release, The Bible Society produced a video of Liberal Party MPs politely discussing the issue of Same-Sex Marriage, taking different sides without hostility. The video exhorts Australians to ‘Keep It Light’.

Coopers cancelled the release following a boycott by pubs with a LGBT clientele. Coopers also promised it would join Marriage Equality Australia, issued an apology by video and press release, affirmed Coopers support for its valued Coopers drinkers and extended family, as well as saying that Coopers encouraged individualism and diversity.

Bully Is Spelt ‘L-G-B-T’

Many Christians then expressed shock, outrage and disgust over Cooper’s decision to cancel the release of Bible Society cans saying that the Gay Lobby had bullied Coopers into their decision by use of a boycott, that this was typical of the bullying tactics of the Gay Lobby, that Christianity itself was under attack, and that free speech in Australia was dead. Examples are here, here and here.

Especially galling to Marriage Conservatives is Coopers decision to join the Marriage Equality Association. Marriage Conservatives see this as proof that the Gay Lobby uses force and intimidation to compel compliance to their agenda.

In my view Coopers got what they deserved by way of the product boycott.  Coopers are not neutral on the Marriage Equality question. They were just pretending to be. The LGBT community saw through the charade instantly and called Coopers out for being anti-Same Sex marriage, which they are.

I think Coopers got what they deserved.

Imagine This

The following is a fictional scenario designed to illustrate how Christian groups have over-reacted to the Coopers decision:

Officeworks decide to assist The Australian Federation Of Islamic Councils celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first English language Qu’ran.

So Officeworks release a special edition of Copy Paper emblazoned with quotes from the Qu’ran on them such as

‘And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say).”

AFIC release a video with Liberal and Conservative Christians debating whether or not Jesus is God, while referring to special edition Officeworks Qu’ranic Copy Paper.

The video participants all agree that a discussion about whether or not Jesus Is God is of vital importance to Australia.

Subsequently it emerges that Officeworks are long-time donors to Islamic Charities and to AFIC and most of the Officeworks board are Muslims.

1. Are Officeworks neutral on the Jesus issue ?
2. What are Officeworks trying to achieve by releasing Qu’ranic copy paper ?
3. Some churches boycott Officeworks. Are they justified in doing so ?
4. Are these churches enemies of free speech ?
5. Have the churches bullied Officeworks ?
6. Can we now say that free speech is dead as a result of the church boycott ?

Language Markers

Initially Coopers defended The Bible Society video, saying that the video debate was light-hearted, balanced and mature and that ‘its a debate we need to have’.  This essentially endorsed The Bible Society’s line that the “national conversation” on Same-Sex marriage had become “fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion”.

These different phrasings of the same sentiment are exactly how anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations voice their opinion that the Gay Lobby uses bullying and intimidation to achieve its goals. When anti-Same Sex organisations speak to each other or to their members they typically characterise  LGBT advocates as intolerant, shouty bullies, as the three articles here, here and here demonstrate.

But when anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations or persons wish to talk with the general community they emphasise the need for balance, mutual respect and good manners as Coopers initially did, mirroring the language of Dr. Peter Jensen of the Anglican Church when he appeared on Q&A (See and Ye Shall Submit, 10 Sep, 2012) to discuss Gender and Marriage issues a couple of years ago.

PETER JENSEN: You’re speaking to me as though you respect me and I respect you, well I hope you do. Let’s have a respectful discussion on these matters not (AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOWN SNEERING). OK, I’m sorry.

The audience member sneered at Jensen because Jensen’s appeal to respect was transparently insincere and reeked of condescension as a perusal of the video will show, the segment quoted above occurring about 90% of the way into the episode.

Condescension

The Gay community see the repeated calls for mature, balanced debate on Same-Sex Marriage as arrogant, unbelievable condescension. Why is it that Marriage Conservatives think they need to instruct others on what constitutes morality, ethics and human rights when such matters are well understood by everybody ? Do Marriage Conservatives that it is only straight people that have a moral conscience or manners ?

Jensen’s comments, while superficially conveying a commitment to respectful discussion actually mean this:

You and the Gay Lobby generally are fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion. You are a bunch of shouty, intolerant bullies who systematically intimidate and victimise those with opinions different to yours. You force Marriage and Gender Conservatives to adopt Politically Correct positions by way of such intimidation. The behaviour of your lobby is reprehensible. Let me now demonstrate the manner in which mature, balanced, mutually respectful civil discourse on this topic should occur as I now explain it in the condescending manner of a parent instructing a child.

In short, the LGBT community recognised the language markers of their opponents in The Bible Society video and in Coopers defence of it. They saw through the charade and reacted to it. The entire campaign of Coopers was a pretence at impartiality by an organisation that was already committed to an anti-Same Sex Marriage position.

History

The long history of Coopers with The Bible Society, their long history of donating to Christian charities and to the Liberal Party is the behaviour which confirms the correct instincts of the LGBT community to the true attitude of Coopers to Same-Sex Marriage which is to reject it.

Which of course Coopers are entitled to do.

But Coopers should not be pretending that they are impartial on the issue.

And Christians should re-evaluate their over-reaction to Coopers decision.

Show Me The Bullying

The boycott by LGBT-friendly pubs is not a bullying of Coopers, though anti-Same Sex Marriage advocates portray it that way. Quite simply, people are permitted to boycott products for ideological reasons if they choose to. Why not ? How the companies react to the boycott is up to them. Boycott is not of itself bullying.

The pubs were not forcing Coopers to support any agenda. Rather, the pubs chose not to support a company they felt held a stance in opposition to their own values. Isn’t that a basic right in a democracy ?

The Newtown Hotel, which decided to discontinue stocking Coopers products,  said

“Dr Tim Cooper and the Coopers Brewery are entitled to spend their money however they wish — as are we”

In my counter-example above churches are permitted to boycott anti-Christian products if they so chose. Isn’t that self-evident ? Should churches really be expected to support anti-Christian organisations by buying their products regardless of what ideologies that company supports ?

But Coopers Support Marriage Equality !

Some defenders of Coopers see the decision of Coopers to join Marriage Equality Australia as proof that Coopers are honest brokers in the debate, promoting civil debate even while supporting the ideals of Same-Sex Marriage.

In my view, this view is mistaken. Coopers are anti-Same Sex Marriage.

Coopers have, for decades, been donors to The Bible Society, Christian Charities and the Liberal Party. These organisations are Marriage Conservatives. Then one day, faced with a damaging boycott to their $240 million dollar a year Beer business, Coopers decides to join Marriage Equality Australia.

Coopers is one of the biggest sellers in the inner-west of Sydney, amongst the many boutique pubs there and enjoys a 5% share of the national beer market. The boycott was taking effect in its retail heartland.

I think this plainly shows that Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is predicated on the profit motive. In my view Coopers’ pattern of behaviour established over decades for conventional Christian beliefs is much more of an indication of their true ideology than a sudden decision taken in the face of threats to profitability.

In my opinion, Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is simply PR and does not indicate any heart belief except a desire to protect market share.

But Coopers Didn’t Even Support The Video !

Coopers tried to distance themselves from The Bible Society video, which precipitated the boycott, saying

We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our Premium Light beer to feature in, or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s ‘Keeping it Light’ video featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson.

In my view, this distancing is disingenuous and while probably correct on the bare facts, does not account for the approval of the video expressed by Coopers in its first press release on the controversy, nor does any public comment by Coopers over the boycott reflect its own  mission statement given in its annual report last year, which Coopers says includes fostering family and community support based on Christian values. If those values do not include support for Marriage Conservatism then I will be highly surprised.

Finally, the distancing of Coopers from The Bible Society video does not square with its long-term support for The Bible Society. The press conference announcing the release of the commemorative cans featuring Bible verses and celebrating the work of The Bible Society was jointly hosted by Tim Cooper, the managing director of Coopers,and Greg Clarke, the chief executive of the Bible Society Australia. The Guardian noted that joint press conference was  laden with bonhomie.

The distance between Coopers Brewery and The Bible Society was not reflected in any language prior to the boycott and in fact is contradicted by the long-term support for The Bible Society by Coopers over decades. Press releases by The Bible Society reflect this sense of common purpose.

Bible Society Australia has teamed up with Coopers Brewery for the launch of a commemorative Coopers Premium Light beer.

Andrew Hastie, the Marriage Conservative Liberal MP in the video told the ABC  it was “a bit disingenuous [for Coopers] to suddenly distance themselves” from the video.

I fully agree.

Grandma, Ranji And The Politically Correct Bullies

My Grandma was a flat-out racist. Everyone in her generation was. Racism was normal in her generation. Nowadays its not.

One day my Grandma told my sisters You can marry anyone you like providing he is Australian, English, American or a New Zealander. What is the common factor amongst these nationalities ?

When The Olympics were on Grandma would cheer exclusively for the white athletes. She felt the muscular superiority of black athletes gave them an unfair advantage, particularly the black female athletes. Look at the size of them ! She would say, implying there was something not quite normal, not quite natural with black people.

Grandma grew up at a time when India was still a colony of England. She enjoyed cricket. England’s premier batsman for a period from 1896 was an Indian Prince named Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, popularly known as K.S. Ranjitsinhji or Ranji.

 As Wikipedia says  Ranji has widely been regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. The famous cricket writer Neville Cardus described him as “the Midsummer night’s dream of cricket”. Unorthodox in technique and with fast reactions, Ranjiitsinhji brought a new style to batting and revolutionised the game, amongst other things inventing the Leg Glance.

When Grandma saw something that was very black she would say ‘That’s as black as Ranji’s bum’. One day I pointed out to Grandma that it was vulgar to draw attention to a person’s skin colour. She nodded and said sadly ‘Yes, it is nowadays’.

Grandma’s voice carried a  defiance that indicated that modern social norms regarding racial equality had unfairly constrained her right to free comment on Ranji’s bum and its blackness. She was put out by my demand for manners in regard to dark-skinned people and if the term had existed at the time of our conversation she would have no doubt considered me Politically Correct. 

Grandma, like all racists, thought it perfectly acceptable to be mildly insulting to black people. Unfortunately for her, social norms had moved on. It was no longer OK to be a racist. She felt bullied by those who told her that racism was vulgar. She felt attacked and a bit vulnerable.

Loss Of Privilege

Grandma’s sense of vulnerability was a result of her losing her privilege of assumed racial superiority. Her loss of privilege to vulgarity made her feel like she was being judged and found wanting by the transient social fad of racial equality.

Advocates of an anti-Same Sex Marriage position are feeling that same sense of bullying, judgement, vulnerability and attack that Grandma did. Social Conservatives have lost the privilege of the assumed right to be able to state who should and should not be able to get married. Modern social norms consider the assumed privilege to reject Same-Sex Marriage to be Homophobic and Social Conservatives therefore to be ignorant of what constitutes basic human respect and decency.

Seen from the perspective of Same-Sex Marriage proponents, Marriage Conservatives thus find themselves in possession of a Homophobic ethic as vulgar and as self-evidently disgusting as Racism. Explaining his decision to discontinue stocking Coopers products,

Union Hotel general manager Luke Hiscox said he found the video condescending and could not continue to support the brand, especially as many of his staff identified as LGBTI. “The idea that we need to have a discussion about basic human rights is probably why people are so upset,” he said.

When told that their views on Same-Sex Marriage are vulgar and passe, Marriage Conservatives feel shouted at and bullied, same as my Grandma did when being corrected for her casual and unconscious Racism. Just as my Grandma was shocked to be called a Racist, Marriage Conservatives are shocked to be called Homophobic and reject that labelling.

Marriage Conservatives are feeling what its like, for a change, to be the ones considered to be holding degenerate views, to be told to reform their degenerate thinking and learn what is basic human decency.

The claim to be suffering bullying and persecution is the pained and confused cry of those having privilege stripped from hem.

After a considerable number of centuries where Marriage Conservatives have held privileged and uncriticised views, the shoe is now on the other foot.

So, personally I don’t think Marriage Conservatives are being bullied by the so-called Gay Lobby. Marriage Conservatives are merely suffering a loss of privilege. Naturally, we don’t like it.

I should know. I’m a Marriage Conservative.

Some Final Words On Ranji

Ranji had to crash through barriers of Racism in order to take his warranted place in the English cricket team. The ingrained Racism of authority figures in the England of the 1890’s gives a great background to my Grandma’s epithet ‘As Black As Ranji’s bum’.

Though popular amongst many in England, both in the upper-class and in the general cricket watching public, many resented that a dark-skinned man could be better than an Englishman at cricket.

Surely that bipolar attitude toward Ranjitsinhji must have been mirrored in Australia: admiration for his ability and disdain for his colour. Like my Grandma said ‘No-one could get him out’

Again from Wikipedia,  in 1896, although his form merited selection, Ranji was not chosen by the MCC committee which chose the team.

Lord Harris was primarily responsible for the decision, possibly under influence from the British Government; Simon Wilde believed they may have feared establishing a precedent that made races interchangeable or wished to curtail the involvement of Indians in British political life.[78]

Bateman’s assessment is less sympathetic to Harris: “the high-minded imperialist Lord Harris, who had just returned from a spell of colonial duty in India, opposed his qualification for England on the grounds of race.”[79]

Ranjitsinhji made his Test debut on 16 July 1896. After a cautious 62 in his first innings, his final score in the second innings was 154 not out,[84] and the next highest score for England on the last day was 19.

He was given an enthusiastic reception by the crowd and the report in Wisden stated: “[The] famous young Indian fairly rose to the occasion, playing an innings that could, without exaggeration, be fairly described as marvellous. He … punished the Australian bowlers in a style that, up to that period of the season, no other English batsman had approached. He repeatedly brought off his wonderful strokes on the leg side, and for a while had the Australian bowlers quite at his mercy.”[85]

Although Australia won the match, the players were astonished by the way Ranjitsinhji batted.[86]

Not everyone was pleased at his success. Home Gordon, a journalist, praised Ranjitsinhji in a conversation with an MCC member; the man angrily threatened to have Gordon expelled from the MCC for “having the disgusting degeneracy to praise a dirty black.” Gordon also heard other MCC members complaining about “a nigger showing us how to play the game of cricket”.[87]

My son sat a Scholarship Test today. Afterwards I wrote the following letter to the Principal of the school that provided the test.

Dear Dr. Principal,

Thanks to yourself and International Academy for providing the scholarship test today, 25 Feb.

I thoroughly  enjoyed the presentations by yourself and your staff and came away convinced that IA provides a world-class Secondary Education.

My son sat today’s test. I would describe him as a mid-range student with relative strengths in Humanities and Creative Writing. Mathematics he finds sometimes inscrutable.

We sat him for the test not because we think he has a high chance of achieving a scholarship, but to give him the opportunity to challenge himself at a high-level task and also because his very best friend will be attending IA next year. So we wanted to give him a chance to qualify and, who knows, pull off a stunner.

After listening to your remarks about the severity of the examination I was quite concerned that we had inadvertently put our son into something really beyond his capacity. I thought he might come out of the exam deeply frustrated, enraged or maybe catatonic.

Imagine my surprise when he bounded out of the exam at Midday with the good cheer and vigour of a Border Collie pup.

‘That was a cinch’, he said ‘Easier than NAPLAN ! Can we have McDonalds ?’

I found his assessment simultaneously both highly improbable and immensely encouraging 🙂

Off we scooted to McDonald’s where he devoured a Triple Cheeseburger, a Large Fries and six Chicken Nuggets in the manner of an Anaconda swallowing a Wildebeest, or maybe vice-versa.

Who knows what he would have eaten after a NAPLAN ?

Thanks again for your excellent talks and hospitality today.

May I wish you and IA all the very best into the future.

Best Regards,

(Repost For Christmas. Originally here)

In our place we don’t do Santa.

We have informed the children that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’s birthday and that Santa is a way people have of remembering the very nice man St Nicholas of Patara who would give presents to poor children for Jesus’s birthday because they had no one to give them presents.

Just The Facts

Objectively this is a factually historically sound precis of the identities of the major personages associated with Christmas and far closer to the truth than the western secular culturally approved Christmas story which is that Christmas is a day when the entirely mythical Santa Claus pilots a team of magic reindeer around the planet and distributes presents to children on the basis of good behaviour, completing his global mission in one night assisted by a team of magical elves.

So on a factual basis my family explanation of ‘Why Christmas?’ beats the objectivity index of the major alternative explanation by about 100-NIL.

Even if you think that Jesus Himself is a myth it is nevertheless true that Christmas Day came into being a celebration of Jesus’s birthday. Yes, yes I know, the actual day was appropriated from a pagan midwinter festival but it wasn’t called Christmas then.

Name That Stereotype

Now if you’re a hard core atheist you despise myths of all kinds so you wouldn’t be wanting to be feeding the children’s minds up with Santa nonsense. You’ll be telling them that Christmas (without the deliberate mis-spelling with ‘X’) is a celebration of the birthday of a mythical person called Jesus ’cause that’s factual, but that in your family Christmas is just about whatever you want to do at Christmas.

And if you’re an agnostic you’ll have no objection to Jesus as a putative historical personage or even as God, so you would have at least no objection to be going with the basic facts about ‘Why Christmas?‘, but you might decide to go with the Santa story because its fun for kids to play make-believe.

I guess the ‘Christmas is about Santa’ story would also be adopted to easy-going or less dogmatic atheists like Julia Gillard, Prime Minister Of Australia, who don’t believe in God but who don’t share the relentless atheist insistence on eliminating Jesus from public consciousness associated with, say, Richard Dawkins, and just like to see the kids get entranced in ‘the magic of Christmas’.

And from personal observation it would also apply to the general Australian public for whom neither Jesus nor atheism nor agnosticism registers at any meaningful resonance.

As far those who believe Jesus is God, such as myself, we obviously want to emphasize that Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday. Some Christian families also integrate Santa into their Christmas Family narrative but in my opinion this makes Christmas worse, not better.

Why Santa makes Christmas Worse

When our kids get a Christmas present they know that Mummy and Daddy have bought it for them, not Santa. So this is tangible evidence that M&D love giving them great stuff, and the greatest stuff that kids get, materially speaking, comes on Christmas Day. Pooh-pooh it if you like but gift-giving is a practical demonstration of love. Why should my kids think that Santa loves them more than M&D ? I think that its a positive for the children that they know that M&D bought them the big shiny bike or the Hot Wheels Trick Tracks Mega-Dino Challenge or the Dora The Explorer magnetic toothbrush with built in compass.

Secondly, the kids express their joy for the gift directly back to M&D and it goes like this WOW! THANKS DAD! THAT IS AWESOOOOMMME! Sorry Santa, you don’t deserve that gratitude since you don’t even exist anyway and I’m sure as eggs not letting you have it. So the M&D’s get to express the full volume of their children’s delight at the Christmas gifts, instead of vicariously filtered via Santa.

Third, we as M&D give Christmas presents to our children because we love them, not on the basis of whether or not they have been good. Our children get validated for who they are, not on the basis of their transitory behaviour. Our children know they do not have to earn the love of M&D unlike that fickle impostor Santa whose favour can at any time evaporate like summer mist.

Fourth, the children get facts not fiction. No matter how you slice it, Santa is made up. A truthful explanation of Why Do We Give Presents At Christmas must include some reference to Jesus, even if He is relegated to myth. Face it, Santa entered the Christmas narrative at some point many centuries after Jesus and doubly so the magic reindeer and elves.

Much as many hate it Jesus IS the ORIGINAL reason for the season and the reason why Christmas exists. Here’s a theoretical question your child may ask:

Child: ‘Mummy, Why DO people go around saying ‘Christmas is a time of peace and goodwill to all men’ ?
Incorrect Answer A: Because Christmas is a time when we get together as a family.
Correct Answer B: Its because that’s what the Angels said to the shepherds on Jesus’s birthday.

Quite simply, an integrated understanding of Christmas requires reference to Jesus.

Fifth, for those who are Jesus-friendly, awarding Christmas to Santa robs Jesus of richly deserved recognition. Americans have a thing called Martin Luther King Day. Contrary to current popular preferential meaning, this does not commemorate the day when Santa led a Freedom march on Washington DC to eloquently demand equal rights for African-Americans assisted by a team of magical elves. I think you get what I mean. Even if you think Jesus is just a man or even just a myth, why not let the kids admire and learn from His example ?

Santa Is Not All Bad

Ejecting Santa from Christmas is not without cost. My kids do miss out on the awestruck wonder of waiting for Santa to visit and some really great make-believe. And yes, my kids are almost the only ones at school who don’t think Santa is real, which can make them seem like Alien Life-Forms to the others who have been fed the 100% guaranteed Santa myth. Ironic that, but it doesn’t seem to lead to teasing.

But even without Jesus, Christmas is better without Santa (see reasons one, two and three above). Of course WITH Jesus there is another kind of awestuck wonder which happens to be based in historical truth, but even if you really wish to persist with Jesus is A Myth, at least you can tell tell the myth that is related to the actual origins of Christmas rather than the one that originated with Coca-Cola Inc.

Driving through Northern NSW today, I switched on the radio, surfed the AM band looking for the ABC and chanced upon the unmistakable cadence of John Laws. I was amazed he was still on the radio. Here’s how it went:

The Ignominious Lalal Tax

Laws: Rolf. What’s on your mind ?
Rolf: John, Islam specifically states that anyone who is not Islam is an infidel and should be beheaded.
Me: Awesome start!
Laws: Yes, I know. But look Rolf, The Bible has beheadings in it too. An eye for an eye and all that.

Within seconds the conversation had entered the realm of hyper-reality. The Koran does not say that infidels should be beheaded. That punishment is reserved for Apostates and for opposing forces during Jihad. And The Bible has no beheadings anywhere. Rolf and John were like two galaxies of ignorance locked in mutual inspiralling orbit. Fascinated and aghast I wondered what horrible energy would be emitted when they finally collided. I dialled up the volume a little more.

Rolf: And Islams have put a Lalal Tax on our food. How can they do that ? Can we take them to the High Court ?
Laws: Eh ?
Me: Stalemate. Laws found Rolf incomprehensible.
Rolf. Lalal. How can Islams do it to us ?
Laws: Oh. Ha. You mean Halal. Rolf, Halal.
Rolf: Yes, Lalal. Halal.
Laws: Well the Tax Officials have decided there can be such a Tax. It’s no different to the Heart Foundation Tick Of Approval. I think we’ve demolished your arguments, Rolf.

Wow. Does Laws really think the ATO have permitted Muslims to levy a tax on Australian food ? This was fantastic. I settled in behind the wheel and dialled up the volume a little more.

Rolf: Are you an Islam, John ?
Me: !!!!!
Laws: Er… No.
Rolf: Then you have to be…
Laws: Beheaded. I know. Thanks for your call, Rolf. [Dumps Rolf]
Laws: Heh, heh. Rolf is a good old bloke, but Lalal !? What can you say heh heh.

I had overestimated the energies of Rolf. Laws had simply consumed Rolf whole and regurgitated him as a mockable titbit.

Pauline Hanson

Laws: Next caller is Anthony. What’s on your mind, Anthony ?
Anthony: Aw, G’day John. I saw Pauline Hanson speak at The Commercial Hotel in Inverell last night. She’s tidy.
Me:  Pauline Hanson! I had hit the Mother Lode !
Laws: Oh yes! She’s a great bird! What did Pauline talk about ?
Anthony: Oh. Er…like…er…cutting immigration and common-sense things like that…and…er…lots of things. I bought her a VB.
Me:  Could this get any better ???
Laws: Oh well. Pauline is a great bird, but she’s a bit extreme on some things you know.
Anthony: She’s got the body of a twenty year-old.
Laws: YES! YES! I KNOW !! SHE’S A GREAT BIRD !!!
Me: Now screaming with laughter I narrowly avoided a head-on with a 26-wheeler Semi. I punched the station co-ordinates into permanent memory.
Laws: [Panting Softly] …but a bit extreme at times. Thanks, Anthony.

Rolf Reprise. Frank Cops A Blast.

Laws: Got a text here from Geoff of Glenn Innes ‘Just went to the supermarket and asked for Lalal Food. [pause] They said they didn’t have any so I informed them I would take their supermarket to the High Court.’
[pause] Heheh Rolf What have you started ? Lalal. Hehehe.

Laws: Now, Frank, stop texting me will you ? You’re just a nark. Malcolm Turnbull’s tax havens and the Panama Papers are COMPLETELY UNRELATED.
[Laws then played a sudden one-second highly amplified blast from his show’s theme music. It cut like a buzz-saw. The effect was curiously psychedelic.]

Laws: Besides which Michael Pascoe from The Australian, a good man, was just with me yesterday saying Malcolm has done NOTHING ILLEGAL.
[Another psychedelic blast]

Me: Confirmation Bias (CB) is the sine qua non of Talkback Radio epistemology as Laws brilliantly demonstrates in just two sentences above. Note how CB also bonds Laws with his audience as they absorb the legitimacy of understanding truth through pre-existing bias and also discover just who can be trusted [The Australian and News Ltd] and who should not be trusted [Frank and other critics of the LNP / Malcolm Turnbull]. This is how Talkback hosts train their audiences how (not) to think. And thus also why Scott Morrison thought that being The Minister for 2GB was worth bragging rights in the LNP Party Room.

Laws: Keep your texts coming 1300-654-813. Steve says ‘Shorten should get out of Canberra, do a pub crawl with Barnaby Joyce and meet some real people for a change. Then maybe he’d have some idea on how to run the country’. That’s good advice, Steve.

Me: My mind reeled at the thought of what kind of manifesto for Australia would emerge from the collective unconscious of the drunken, sexist racists strewn across Joyce’s rural electorate...

Laws: And keep sending the emails to me at THE.FORTRESS@LAWS.COM.AU

Me: …not a particularly welcoming one apparently.

Laws: But always the best way is the phone. Yes, Barry. What’s on your mind ?

Barry: Fruit Bats. They bloody stink. The Quirindi Bicentennial Park is full of them. They foul the ground and strip the trees. They’re just flaming Flying Rats !

Laws: And they’re protected! Yes I know. Look you can’t kill them. But how about blasting off a few shells from a 12-gauge ? The sound should disperse them.
Barry: Yeah, well, I can smell them from the car.
Laws: I recommend a box of 12-gauge. Always worked at our place.

Me: Barry then told a good joke about an Irish bag-snatcher. He’s in the line-up with six other guys, jumps forward and says ‘Yes. That’s her!’ 🙂

Laws: Imagine if you said that about a Muslim ! Thanks Barry. That’s a beauty ! Enjoy your day and get somewhere away from the smell.

Me: Would the Midday News report the apprehension of some maniac in Quirindi Bicentennial Park blasting into the air with a gross of shotgun cartridges ? Crying children ? A SWAT team ?

Local Warming

But I was warming to Laws. The program was a community. They understood and liked each other. They told jokes. It was kind of…nice. And Laws was able to hold nuanced views on Muslims and Immigration. I was feeling reasonably at home in the asylum.

Laws: Jasper. What’s on your mind ?
Jasper: (Lisping heavily) Hewwo John. I have two suggestions for you.
Laws: [Suspicious Pause] Are these suggestions I would enjoy, Jasper ?
Jasper: [Sounding like Christopher Pyne]. Oh yes! I think so !
Laws: [Understandably Cautious] Go on.
Jasper: I am still cowwecting all your Solo Vocal Albums and could you pwease pway more of your own songs on your pwogram pwease ?
Laws: [Brightening Considerably] Oh yes. Sure !
Jasper: And you should visit the Slim Dusty Museum in Kwempsey. I have just been two times. Do you wike it ?
Laws: SLIM. A Great Australian. Do we have anything, Commander-In-Chief ??

With cyborg-like speed, Laws’s producer locates and cues a Slim Dusty track which appears to be entitled G’Day G’Day. In a career spanning seventy years and ninety-seven albums this Slim Dusty Classic is lyrically and musically identical to the first song Dusty penned as a four-year old. Laws can be heard singing and humming along off-mike.

Dusty: …G’Day G’Day G’Day G’Day Ten to one an Aussie will say G’Day G’Day.G’Day G’Day G’Day G’Day Ten to one an Aussie will say G’Day.
Laws: Ah. I’ve always said that song should be our National Anthem.
Me: At least the words will be easy to remember
Laws: It just makes you feel good, doesn’t it !?
Me: I have to agree. It does 🙂

You know what ? I think John Laws broadcasting in rural Australia is a force for good. He is more educated than his audience but relates to them very well. His views on Muslims and Immigration are more nuanced than his listeners and he can thus act as a brake on their more reactionary and bigoted tendencies. He’s a bridge to reason.

But for now, as Paul Kelly said in his [OK maybe not] classic Australian track, Bradman,

Now shadows grow longer and there’s so much more yet to be told
But we’re not getting any younger, so let the part tell the whole

John Laws – I was glad I was there.

You made my morning.

This Christmas just past, my sister and I vocalised some truths about our extended family that were not pleasant. They were real things that we knew and which happened to us. It made Christmas lunch a little bit uncomfortable, a bit tense. But the things we said were true and everyone knew they were true.

When we were children we didn’t say anything because kids don’t get a say much. As younger adults we still didn’t say anything because power still lay with others present and we felt obliged and constrained to keep the status quo out of respect for the unspoken myths and rules of conduct of our family. We knew that what we wanted to say would not be welcomed.

Besides which, there was plenty we enjoyed and loved about our family

Finally as fully-fledged adults in our own right, decades later, we felt like we wanted to say those things that were true, which we knew, which happened to us. We didn’t feel like we wanted to keep on hearing the same myths repeated over and again and we didn’t want to keep some other very important things left eternally unsaid just to satisfy the emotional needs of others.

So we said what we knew to be true. What everyone knew to be true.

It was a bit uncomfortable. A somewhat awkward Christmas lunch.

That’s how Australia Day feels to me. I feel a bit awkward and tense when the Aboriginal people tell confronting truths about my family. I don’t like it. But I know its true.

They’ve had enough. They can’t stomach sitting quietly listening to those same old myths any more. Sitting quietly when everyone knows different anyway. Just listening to those half-truths, so everyone else can feel better and forget about what they really did.

I don’t blame them. When you grow up you have a right to be heard. To take your place at the table. Its not as if Australia is unaware of our atrocities anyway. We should let them speak to us and acknowledge what is true. This very small respect should be granted.

Even if we have to revise our family history.

Did you see the First Dog cartoon ?
Absolutely searing.

Top job, First Dog !

Yeah, so that’s why Australia Day feels like an uncomfortable family Christmas to me.

ABC’s The Drum on 16 July this week had a very good panel including ALP strategist Greg Turnbull, the ABC’s Maurice Benson and Deputy Editor of The Australian Peter Fray.

All of the contributors were excellent, including Fray, who was quite balanced throughout except for his assessment about how impartial and responsible and accountable blah blah blah The Australian is in relentlessly striving for truth, honour and freedom.

I was just a bit taken aback by Fray during the segment on the effect of Clive Palmer’s PUP on the government. Around 16:50 into the programme Fray says that the ALP is using the obstruction engendered by Palmer to claim that the LNP cannot govern. Fray says around 17:05

What I think needs to happen from the Coalition’s point of view we have got to cut through all that rhetoric and get on with business because this country isn’t being governed.

That WE instead of THEY seemed to just blur the distinction between The Australian and the Liberal Party. Look out for some positive reinforcement from The Australian over the next few weeks saying how marvellously effective Abbott, Hockey and Cormann have been.

Or maybe I’m being too conspiracist.

I’ll just have a lie down and take a couple of the red pills, yes the red pills not the blue ones yes the red ones NOT THE BLUE ONES I SAID THE RED ONES UR UR URGH better now