Monday, October 29, 2012

Cherries are back!

Pete Seeger: Keeping the fire burning

As he often does when the weather's decent, Pete Seeger recently played a free show outdoors in Beacon, N.Y. A few dozen people packed around the stage that held Seeger, his ever-present banjo and a small band; a group of kids in red T-shirts clustered down in front, singing along. The emcee for the afternoon was Susan Wright, the music teacher at Beacon Elementary School, where Seeger visits regularly.

"Friday, he came in and we worked with the kids," Wright says. "He's kind of like having a great elder musician-historian come to visit — a combination grandfather and Santa Claus, but really skinny. They know, when he comes, we're gonna sing together. We're gonna do stuff together. They really get him."

Seeger has been singing for anyone who'll hear him throughout what he refuses to call his "career." There's good reason for that, says David Bernz, who produced two new Seeger albums.

"Almost every time that Pete interacted with the mass media, on some level they spit him back," Bernz says. "The Almanacs [Seeger's 1940s folk group], they got on the radio, and then immediately, people criticized their politics and they were off. The Weavers were on the radio; they got blacklisted. He gets a Columbia Records contract, but then he finds out they're keeping his records in the warehouse. The Smothers Brothers want to edit him out.

"The great thing about Pete is ... he would never let that stop him," Bernz says. "He sang at every little church, little school, summer camp, gathering — year in, year out, to kids and adults alike. And when you look back on it after these decades, you realize that Pete has been heard."


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Langston Hughes: "hold fast to dreams"

Hold fast to dreams,
for if dreams die,
life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly

Hold fast to dreams,
for when dreams go,
life is a barren field
frozen with snow

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

London: Huge Union Anti-Cuts Demonstration

The TUC estimate: "between 250,000 and 500,000 people"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Anne Summers : Gillard speech

Julia Gillard's extraordinary speech on misogyny saw her return to her former debating finesse, writes Anne Summers. Only in Canberra, it seems, did her words fall on tone-deaf ears.

"After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia."

This was the judgement of The New Yorker magazine overnight in a blog post written by its managing editor, the Australian-born Amelia Lester.

Her summation, and the opinions which informed it, were in stark contrast to the consensus of most Canberra journalists, who stood virtually shoulder to shoulder in this morning's newspapers to condemn the Prime Minister for the same speech.

Gillard's words were condemned as  "desperate" (Michelle Grattan), "completely over the top" (Jennifer Hewett), "flawed" (Peter Hartcher), and "defending the indefensible" (Dennis Shanahan). You can see other, but essentially similar views, reported here.

If you checked into social media yesterday while the Prime Minister was delivering her speech, you might have noted Mia Freedman tweeting that her entire office of young women were clustered around the television watching with enthusiasm:

The whole Mamamia office is gathered around the TV watching @JuliaGillard in full flight during #QT. Extraordinary performance.

There were many, many other expressions of delight at Gillard's words on Facebook and Twitter while she spoke and as the day progressed.

In the 24 hours since the speech was delivered, a clear polarisation has emerged between the mainstream media, particularly print, and a very large body of online opinion that has applauded the anti-misogyny contents of the speech and welcomed Gillard's return to her former debating finesse.

What we saw in that speech was an angry and offended Gillard finally unleashed. Gone was the forbearance, and the turned cheek. Finally she was telling us how upset she was at being called "a witch" and "a bitch".

She was seething as she told the House of Representatives, "I was very personally offended when the Leader of the Opposition, as minister for health, said, and I quote, 'Abortion is the easy way out'." And she was practically in orbit when she responded to Mr Abbott's taunt that she led "a government which should already have died of shame".

Watching her, you saw her eyes narrow and her shoulders almost shiver. It seemed, to someone watching on television as I was, that she was almost convulsing as she alternated between rage and disbelief. Here was the Leader of her Majesty's Opposition using the very same words that a shock jock had just a week earlier used against her father, who had died exactly a month earlier.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Katoomba spring snow

Katoomba Street
Leura road sign

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Juila Gillard speech

went viral - more than one million hits in 4 days

... more than one and half million hits in 6 days

... two million hits in a week

Monday, October 08, 2012


Monday, October 01, 2012

Eric Hobsbawm: June 1917 - October 2012

His masterwork remains his incisive and often eloquent survey of the period he referred to as “the long 19th century,” which he analyzed in three volumes: “The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848,” “The Age of Capital: 1848-1875” and “The Age of Empire: 1874-1914.” To this trilogy he appended a coda in 1994, “The Age of Extremes,” published in the United States with the subtitle “A History of the World, 1914-1991.”

“Eric J. Hobsbawm was a brilliant historian in the great English tradition of narrative history,” Tony Judt, a professor of history at New York University, wrote in an e-mail in 2008, two years before he died. “On everything he touched he wrote much better, had usually read much more, and had a broader and subtler understanding than his more fashionable emulators. If he had not been a lifelong Communist he would be remembered simply as one of the great historians of the 20th century.”

Unlike many of his comrades, Mr. Hobsbawm, who lived in London, stuck with the Communist Party after the Soviet Union crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the Czech reform movement in 1968. He eventually let his party membership lapse about the time the Berlin Wall fell and the Eastern bloc disintegrated in 1989.

“I didn’t want to break with the tradition that was my life and with what I thought when I first got into it,” he told The New York Times in 2003. “I still think it was a great cause, the emancipation of humanity. Maybe we got into it the wrong way, maybe we backed the wrong horse, but you have to be in that race, or else human life isn’t worth living.”

more from New York Times

Qld: State of Emergency 1982

The declaration by Queensland then Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen that Brisbane was to host the 1982 Commonwealth Games took place during a long period of struggle for land rights and self-determination by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Queensland. The Indigenous population of Queensland were still living under the conditions of the controversial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act 1971, known as The Act, where they were denied the civil liberties that the rest of the population took for granted.

When the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people learned of the announcement that Brisbane was to be the host city to the 1982 Commonwealth Games, it was seen as a platform to highlight their struggle on not only a national, but an international level. Australia’s Indigenous peoples saw an opportunity to direct international attention to The Act and other issues of concern such as land rights.

State of Emergency is an exhibition at the State Library of Queensland