(Above: Chairman Rupert's contribution to calm, rational, informed, considered news yesterday. For an understanding of the meaning of apocalypse as the literal "end of the world", do not consult the editor of Mx, but go to the wiki here. On the upside, I went to line the cocky cage with the rag, the bird took fright, flew away, hasn't been seen since, and so the problem of caged birds might well be solved).
Amazing sights and sounds.
Yesterday in Newtown in the town square, there was our local member (one Carmel Tebbutt) looking engaged, involved and concerned, the first sighting in living memory. And across the road at the railway station, four indolent cops lolled about cracking jokes, the visible arm of the law - and no sniffer dogs in homage to North Korea on hand. Most likely they later walked up and down the street to show the visible arm of the law to intending voters.
And the automatic voice on the train for no reason at all suddenly announced to tired commuters wending their way home "Good afternoon customers". Only those expecting a rendition of "how much is that doggie in the window" by the digital voice would have been disappointed ...
Oh yes, the pond could read the signs. There's going to be an election, or perhaps an apocalypse, or perhaps both ...
Meanwhile, Peter Costello turns up today to remind us why the smirk isn't missed, as he advises us Colourful slogans are not a guide to international affairs. Nor for that matter the colourful stupidities of Peter Costello ...
Costello is tortured that Julia Gillard delivered an unctuous, fawning, Uriah Heep, ever so humble and worshipful speech in the United States, with a tear in her eye ...
This is of course the staple diet of the Liberal party, and where did it get them? As Costello tearfully reports, John Howard organised Driza-Bones for world leaders and two months later he's voted out of office and lost his seat. Take that John Howard, and yet oh the bitterness and the bile and the unfairness of it all for the smirk, never to be crowned king ...
... I suspect that Gillard's finale to the Congress, with a tear and a quiver - ''You can do anything'' - would be viewed by most Australians as over the top. Perhaps she felt that as a one-time member of the anti-American Socialist Forum she had to overcompensate.
Unlike Liberals, who've long known how to tug the forelock in style:
For years prime ministers Holt - ''All the way with LBJ'' - and Gorton - ''We'll come a waltzing matilda with you'' - were accused, by left-wing critics, of grovelling. Gillard was more fawning than they were. If it had been a Liberal, the press gallery would have made a meal of it. What troubled me was whether Gillard really believed what she was saying.
Yes, dammit, it's just so unfair, Gillard fawning away, and getting away with it, when the Liberals were the masters of fawning and grovelling and lickspittle gutter trawling. Oh what bitter life lessons there are to be learned:
At the time astronauts were walking on the moon, which so impressed the young Gillard, the US was bogged down in a war in Vietnam that eventually it realised it could not win. A lot of Americans learnt from that experience that there are limits to US power and one of the things it cannot do is impose democracy in a country where there is a well-organised enemy.
Uh huh. Now there's some sound logic to explain why the Liberal party rushed to support the adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan just as they supported the adventure in Vietnam ... but perhaps as a one time member of the extremely pro American Liberal party forum, the smirk is now attempting to overcompensate ...
Why it seems, according to the smirk, that the Americans can't balance their budget, or introduce a decent system of financial regulation, and ...
America has the greatest military in the world but there are financial limits that constrain it. Public opinion limits how and when to deploy it. It is well to remember there are limits to power when engaging in international relations - no doubt the reason the Obama administration is loath to put troops into Libya. The feminist anthem ''I am strong, I can do anything'' is a colourful slogan. It is not a recipe on how to act in international affairs.
Uh huh. The limits of power from the man who would be king, denied his chance to fawn and grovel ...
Suddenly the smirk is an isolationist, and to hell with democracy in Libya. Naturally he also supports immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Oops, sorry, I think I misread it. What I meant to say is now is the time for all good men to join the party, and indulge in cheap, non-feminist, mindless slogans of a colourful kind:
It is because it can't do everything that the US needs allies. Australia is an important ally in Afghanistan. It was an important ally in Iraq. And allies can speak frankly to each other. The truth is generally much more complicated than a slogan.
The truth is generally more complicated than a feminist anthem and cheap jibes about left wingers? Well you won't find much of the truth in the smirk's irritation about being outdone in the fawning and flattery stakes ...
And finally it would be remiss of the pond not to mention belatedly Kevin Donnelly's outstanding piece Curriculum is substandard, PC, and ignores Christianity. If ever you wanted a good reason for Donnelly not to be allowed near children, have a read.
In relation to the seven capabilities (most of which are subject-specific and impossible to teach as abstracted skills) the case can also be put that it is more important that students commit themselves to the qualities and dispositions associated with a liberal education, such as civility, morality, objectivity, compassion, kindness, humility, creativity and truth-telling.
The history curriculum provides a clear example of this unwillingness to acknowledge the grand narrative associated with the rise of Western civilisation and the importance of Christianity. In one section the document asks students to act with “moral integrity” and to “work for the common good” but the curriculum writers refuse to acknowledge that such ethical values are culturally specific and can only be understood in Australia in the context of the Western tradition.
Yep, you can read it over and over again, but when you boil it down, Donnelly is saying that moral integrity and work for the common good - and no doubt civility, morality, objectivity, compassion, kindness, humility, creativity and truth-telling - are culturally specific values that can only be understood in Australia in the context of the Western tradition.
Such hubris and cultural arrogance surely deserves a tin pot gold medal, and at least 435 comments to date (and wow what a bunch of loons, proving once again that The Punch makes loon pond look like a small pool for tiddlers).
Yep, it's bugger off Buddha and Confucius and bring the little heathens unto Christ seems to be Donnelly's limited, befogged, befuddled idea of secular education in the lucky country.
There are so many irritating and condescending and Xian ideas lurking in Donnelly's piece that we could be here all day, so we'll just limit ourselves to one:
The decision by the curriculum writers to ignore the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) in favour of the politically correct alternatives, BCE (Before the Common Era), BP (Before Present) and CE (Common Era) further illustrates the extent to which Christianity is ignored and undervalued.
There are of course practical as well as cultural reasons for the use of BCE, as outlined in its wiki here, but it's really pleasing to see Donnelly label Jews as politically correct, since in one form or another Jews have been using alternatives to AD and BC since the nineteenth century. But I guess after all, according to Donnelly, the Jews, not being Xian, should also bugger off, along with the Buddha and anybody else who doesn't understand the rich rewards of Xian thinking and Xian institutions, and the Pellist heresy and the Jensenist nepotism ... (and yes, as any good Xian knows deep down, there's still a case for the Jews to answer in relation to the messiah).
Donnelly's idea of education and of history is to treat it as an opportunity for propaganda.
While the most recent document refers to Christianity a number of times (and once to the Catholic Church) the focus is very much on diversity, difference and cultural relativism.
Shocking. The very thought that students should learn about diversity, difference and the different ways peoples, cultures and religions view the world is profoundly, disturbingly shocking. Where on earth do they think Australia sits in the world? At the bottom of Asia with China as its best customer and Islamics next door in Indonesia?
When Christianity is mentioned it is usually in the context of other religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam) and there is no attempt to detail the historical and cultural significance of Christianity.
Indeed. Where are the prayers at the start of class, and the routine indoctrination into the joys, wonders and splendours of Christianity? I mean, sure there are other teams in the competition, but really any history class should surely start with a chant and a cheer, Go Xians.
When studying ancient Rome, for example, students are asked to consider the rise of the Roman empire and the spread of religious beliefs, but there is no mention of Christianity.
And quite possibly no mention of Edward Gibbon's excellent thesis, outlined in six volumes, that Christianity ruined the great culture that preceded it, and the unhappy, unfortunate loss of Rome lead to the wretched triumph of barbarism and religion in Medieval Europe. Speaking of which, back to Donnelly:
In the study of Medieval Europe, Christianity is included, but the stated aims, that students should learn about “the dominance of the Catholic Church and the role of significant individuals such as Charlemagne”, “the Church’s power in terms of wealth and labour” and “the nature and power of the Church in this period”, indicate that students will be left with a less than favourable impression.
Yes and seemingly without mention of the joys of the Inquisition. Guaranteed to leave a favourable impression in the minds of many a budding Jesuit ...
Oh dear, I see I've gone on a bit, but that's what happens when you stumble across a goose who wants to take secular education back to the bad old days of the nineteen fifties, and a smirk seemingly incapable of remembering the futilities and follies of the government in which he served while serving up his own kind of colourful slogans with an ineffable Cheshire cat smirk ...
Pity the children, or maybe not, since children tend to be able to reach their own conclusions in good time ...