The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Malcolm Turnbull undergoes Charles Atlas transformation

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, September 2015.

Over the last six years, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull has undergone the most astonishing transformation, at least in the eyes of the voting public.

Comparing Mr. Turnbull's first 'attribute' measurements as Prime Minister in September 2015, to the last time these attributes were measured when he was Opposition Leader in June 2009, yield some startling improvements.

There's little doubt he has been the beneficiary of the Charles Atlas School of Dynamic Tension Image Building over the last six years.

Attribute (Essential Media)
June 2009 %
Sept 2015 %
Hard working
A capable leader
Understands the problems facing Australia
Good in a crisis
Out of touch with ordinary people
More honest than most politicians
Narrow minded

Monday, 31 August 2015

Something fishy about blaming Hockey

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, August 2015.

It's been reported that if the Liberal Party cops a caning in Canning then Joe Hockey may be canned.

However, this would be a humungous 'passing of the buck'.

The Greeks have a wise saying for just about every situation.

One common one is: "Το ψάρι βρωμάει από το κεφάλι" (phonetically) "To psári vro̱máei apó to kefáli" which translates in English as "The fish stinks from the head."

It literally tells us that as a fresh fish ages and begins to spoil, the odour alerting us to its unfitness for consumption commences from the head.

While a useful and practical piece of wisdom for our piscean gastronomical activities, its deeper meaning has far more significance.

Quite simply it's this: If an organisation is not performing well, look to the top for the reason.

If the Government is not performing well, look to the top for the reason, and the reason is its leader: Tony Abbott.

Yes, it's true, Joe Hockey is not the finest Treasurer we've had, but under Tony Abbott as PM, who would look good? 

To quote Paul Keating from 2010:

"If Tony Abbott ends up the Prime Minister of Australia, you gotta say, God help us. God help us." 

"Truly an intellectual nobody and has no policy ambition. Is that all there is? You know the song 'Is that all there is?' I mean is that where we'd be? Really?"

"Where is the thought out position? A conservative party can have a thought out position. The fact is that Abbott does not have this."

The fault, dear Antonius, is not in your Treasurer, but in yourself.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Australia desperately lacks the X-Factor.

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, National Reform, August 2015.

Australia is operating on only 2 cylinders. Putt-putting along on a road of not too much, to nowhere in particular, in no time at all.

Australia is nowhere near reaching its full potential as a nation.


Because half of our population, half of our talent, half of our creativity, half of our intelligence, half of our drive, is shut out of the key positions of power and influence.

We are desperately lacking the X-Factor, or to be specific, the Double X-Factor.

Exhibit A:

The current Federal Cabinet consists of 19 members.

Women now account for TWO of that number - that's right, count them slowly - two women in a cabinet of nineteen

That equates to 10.5% women and 89.5% men.

Exhibit B: (from a study by Conrad Liveris)

The ASX200 listed companies are led by 200 Chief Executive Officers and 200 Chairs, a total of 400 key commercial positions.

Women hold 23 of those positions. Yes, that's right, 23 out of 400

That equates to 5.75% women and 94.25% men.

Of the 40 Chief Executive and Chair positions in the ASX20 companies, ONE is held by a woman. JUST ONE. ONE. 

That equates to 2.5% of the positions held by one woman and 97.5% by men. 

Does anyone think this situation is remotely desirable?

If we are genuinely serious about reforming the Australian economy, then this ridiculous situation needs to be reformed first otherwise we are just tinkering at the edges.

Even Mr Magoo can see that.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Abbott Government's bad seeds were sown very early

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Abbott Government, August 2015.

It's clear that the Abbott Government is travelling poorly in the opinion polls.

However, what might not be clear to many observers is that the Abbott Government's problems did not start with ex-Speaker Bishop's helicopter escapades, or with Prime Minister Abbott's 'captain's pick' to knight Prince Philip, or even with the 2014 Budget; the Abbott Government's problems started immediately following the 2013 election.

It was apparent from the outset that unlike the previous two changes of federal government - the Howard Government in 1996 and the Rudd Government in 2007 - the Abbott Government did not enjoy a polling honeymoon.

Rather than the voters embracing the new government and affirming that a good choice had been made at the election, the polling showed that a sombre mood of buyer's remorse had permeated throughout the collective consciousness of the public.

Rebecca Huntley, Executive Director of Ipsos Australia Research, who was quoted in an article by Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald on November 30, 2013, explained it this way:

"Voters' expectations of the Government are not being met, and their fears are being realised."

That was the story of the Abbott Government then, and it's the same story now. 

(click on graph to see enlarged version)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I do love this woman

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Yesterday, August 17, was the birthday of the unforgettable Hollywood legend, Mae West.

She famously said: "I believe in censorship, I made a fortune out of it."

Mae West was such a sensation that in 1935 she was the second-highest paid person in the United States, only behind mega publisher William Randolph Hearst.

Mae West was a brilliant deliverer of a saucy line, as fine as any performer and, most notably, wrote a good deal of them herself.

Her first major screen performance (at the age of 38) was opposite George Raft in Night After Night in 1932, where she wrote and delivered this wonderful line:

Cloakroom attendant, "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!" Mae, "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie." 

You can view that scene on YouTube here

And these all-time classic lines from two 1933 films, starring opposite a very young Cary Grant, in She Done Him Wrong: "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?"

And in I'm No Angel: "When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad, I'm better."

You can view the clip of those scenes and several other classic one-liners from Mae West on YouTube here: "The Best of Mae West" 

She also recorded this marvellous hit song I'm No Angel in which she sings very directly: "Love me honey, love me, till I just don't care. I'm no angel" (remember this was 1933).

You can revel in her delightful vocal candour on YouTube here

To end our recognition of her birthday, a couple more of her fabulous quotes:

When Horace Greeley famously urged: "Go west, young man", I wonder if Mae was what he had in mind?

Mae West 1893 -1980 was certainly one of a kind.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Three great men, one great moment, a few thousand grains of sand

Fellow citizens,

Yesterday, August 16, marked 40 years since this great moment, when the legendary Australian public servant Nugget Coombs, suggested to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam that he pour soil into the hand of the representative of the Gurindji people, Vincent Lingiari, as he handed over the deeds to the land and said these words:

"Vincent Lingiari and men and women of the Gurindji people.

On this great day, I, Prime Minister of Australia, speak to you on behalf of the Australian people-all those who honour and love this land we live in.

For them I want to say to you:

First, that we congratulate you and those who shared your struggle, on the victory you have achieved nine years after you walked off Wave Hill Station in protest.

I want to acknowledge that we Australians have still much to do to redress the injustice and oppression that has for so long been the loss of Black Australians.

I want to promise you that this act of restitution which we perform today will not stand alone-your fight was not for yourselves alone and we are determined that Aboriginal Australians everywhere will be helped by it.

I want to promise that, through their Government, the people of Australia will help you in your plans to use this land fruitfully for the Gurindji.

And I want to give back to you formally in Aboriginal and Australian Law ownership of this land of your fathers.

Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever."

Three great men, one great moment, a few thousand grains of sand.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Irish ecstasy and Australian agony

Fellow citizens,

This week the Australian Government, with its joint party room discussions regarding equal marriage, shattered the dreams of many of our fellow Australians and torpedoed their hopes for a more equal nation.

Listening to the despair of advocates of equal marriage, it reminded me of this quote from Noel Pearson: "Only those who have known discrimination truly know its evil."

And of these words from the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, so powerful they've been engraved for all time:

And these words from Nelson Mandela:

The Coalition joint party room could have delivered Australia this great joy:

Instead, it chose to deliver Australia this great despair:

Christine Forster: "It's not the right result."

"Look, I'm feeling very disappointed. And, you know, I fervently wish that the vote had gone the other way."

"Obviously for me, as a Liberal, it goes to the core of my values as a Liberal, which is that, you know, human beings should be equal before the law."

We could have chosen the Irish ecstasy; instead we chose the Australian agony.

"Only those who have known discrimination truly know its evil" and those who haven't clearly have no idea or, worse, care little for the searing deep pain it causes.

Blog Archive

Our home

Our home
Earthrise over the moon (click on picture to view film)

The pale blue dot

The pale blue dot
Earth viewed from Saturn (click on picture to view film clip)

Our neighbourhood

Our neighbourhood
The Solar System (click on picture to view film)

Our Home Galaxy

Our Home Galaxy
The Milky Way (click on picture to view film)

A sister galaxy

A sister galaxy
Andromeda (click on picture to view film)

Another sister galaxy

Another sister galaxy
Triangulum (click on picture to view short film clip)

The Local Group of Galaxies

The Local Group of Galaxies
Our Galactic Neighbourhood (click on picture to view film clip).

Our farthest view of the Universe

Our farthest view of the Universe
Hubble's farthest view (click on picture to view film clip)

The virgo super cluster of galaxies

The virgo super cluster of galaxies
Galaxies within 100 million light years (click on picture to view film clip)

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Galaxies within 1 billion light years