Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rear Window: A Life of Dissent - The Life and Work of E. P. Thompson


Published on 13 Jan 2016
E. P. Thompson, a British historian, poet, novelist and activist, was a voice of dissent in the dogmatic political environment of 20th century Europe. As a member of the New Left, his work and activism sought to bridge the gap between Marxist theory and practice, and to heal the fracture of the Cold War divide.

Jeremy Corbyn and crowds at Glastonbury 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

BBC – Corbyn "Incredible result for the Labour party because people voted for hope"


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reflects on the election result, telling reporters: "Incredible result for the Labour party because people voted for hope. Young people and old people all came together yesterday.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Convict Escape Ship – Cyprus Brig in Japan – 1830




A watercolour of a British-flagged ship that arrived off the coast of Mugi, in Shikoku, Japan in 1830, chronicled by low-ranking Samurai artist Makita Hamaguchi in documents from the Tokushima prefectural archive.

Photograph: Courtesy of Tokushima prefectural archive


A watercolour by samurai Makita Hamaguchi showing one of the sailors with a dog from the ship that ‘did not look like food. It looked like a pet.’

Photograph: Tokushima prefectural archive

















An amateur historian has unearthed compelling evidence that the first Australian maritime foray into Japanese waters was by convict pirates on an audacious escape from Tasmania almost two centuries ago.

Fresh translations of samurai accounts of a “barbarian” ship in 1830 give startling corroboration to a story modern scholars had long dismissed as convict fantasy: that a ragtag crew of criminals encountered a forbidden Japan at the height of its feudal isolation.

The brig Cyprus was hijacked by convicts bound from Hobart to Macquarie Harbour in 1829, in a mutiny that took them all the way to China.

Its maverick skipper was William Swallow, a onetime British cargo ship apprentice and naval conscript in the Napoleonic wars, who in a piracy trial in London the following year told of a samurai cannonball in Japan knocking a telescope from his hand.

Swallow’s fellow mutineers, two of whom were the last men hanged for piracy in Britain, backed his account of having been to Japan.

Some researchers, citing the lack of any Japanese record of the Cyprus, had since ruled the convicts’ story a fabrication.

But that conclusion has been shattered by Nick Russell, a Japan-based English teacher and history buff, in a remarkable piece of sleuthing that has won the endorsement of Australian diplomatic officials and Japanese and Australian archival experts.

Russell, after almost three years of puzzling over an obscure but meticulous record of an early samurai encounter with western interlopers, finally joined the dots with the Cyprus through a speculative Google search last month.

The British expatriate all but solved what was for the Japanese a 187-year mystery, while likely uncovering vivid new detail of an epic chapter of colonial Australian history.

Nick Russell

“If you’d said I was going to go hunt and find a new pirate ship, I’d have gone, ‘you’re crazy’,” Russell told Guardian Australia. “I just stumbled on it. Boom. There it was on the screen in front of me.

“I immediately knew and as soon as I started checking, everything just fitted so perfectly.”

The ship anchored on 16 January 1830 off the town of Mugi, on Shikoku island, where Makita Hamaguchi, a samurai sent disguised as a fisherman to check the ship for weapons, noted an “unbearable stench in the vicinity of the ship”.

It was Hamaguchi’s watercolour sketch of an unnamed ship with a British flag that first intrigued Russell when he saw it on the website of the Tokushima prefectural archive in 2014.

With the help of a local volunteer manuscript reading group, Russell has since worked at translating written accounts of the ship’s arrival by Hamaguchi and another samurai, Hirota, now held by the Tokushima prefectural archive. Hamaguchi’s is called Illustrated Account of the Arrival of a Foreign Ship, while Hirota’s is A Foreign Ship Arrives Off Mugi Cove.

Russell first thought it may be a whaling ship, but the manuscript readers were skeptical. Having learned mutinies were common among whalers, Russell last month Googled the words “mutiny 1829”.

This stumbling upon a link between a samurai record and the story of the Cyprus was the research equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack, according to Warwick Hirst, the former curator of manuscripts at the State Library of New South Wales.

“It was a fantastic find,” Hirst, author of The Man Who Stole the Cyprus, told Guardian Australia. “I have no doubt that the Japanese account describes the visit of the Cyprus.”

Read More in the Guardian

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kick out MAY in JUNE – Voters back Labour Manifesto

Voters overwhelmingly back policies set out in Labour’s leaked manifesto, including nationalising the railways, building more houses and raising taxes on higher earners, according to a poll.

The ComRes survey shows around half of people support state ownership of the train network (52 per cent), energy market (49 per cent) and Royal Mail (50 per cent).

Roughly a quarter of people (22, 24 and 25 per cent respectively) said they opposed the policies, outlined in the party’s draft document, which was signed off by Labour executives at a meeting on Thursday.

All 43 pages of Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a Labour government were leaked on Wednesday, days before the official manifesto launch.

The 20,000 word document revealed a radical plan for the country after 8 June; proposals that saw right-wing critics claiming the Labour leader wanted to drag Britain back to the 1970s.

The latest polling, conducted in the last 24 hours and published in the Daily Mirror, reveals wide-scale support for the proposals, even if the party leader remains unpopular.

On the plan to ban zero-hours contracts, 71 per cent said they backed the move, while just 16 per cent said they were against it.

Income tax hikes for the highest 5 per cent of earners on salaries of more than £80,000 also got the thumbs up from 65 per cent of voters, with 24 per cent opposed to higher levies.

And more than half (54 per cent) of voters said they supported the policy of building 100,000 more council houses each year.

Voters are split on whether MPs should be given a final vote on the terms of the Brexit deal, a policy that also found its way into the Labour manifesto.

Thirty-six per cent supported Labour’s call for Parliament to have a say at the end of the negotiating period, while 35 per cent are opposed, the survey found.

Meanwhile, Theresa May's support for fox hunting is at odds with nearly eight out of ten (78 per cent) of those polled, who said they wanted the ban to remain in place.

Voters were less flattering about the Labour leader, the survey found, with 56 per cent saying Mr Corbyn would be a “disaster” as prime minister and 30 per cent saying he should be given “a fair chance”.

Labour’s proposal for renationalisation of the railways is borne out by a Which? survey which reveals the extent of overcrowding and delays on the network.

More than half of travellers (53 per cent) could not get a seat at least once during the past six months, while one-in-seven (15 per cent) said this occurs "regularly".

Which? said it has been contacted by thousands of people sharing details of their nightmare train journeys.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Egon Kisch 1885–1948


Kisch arrived in Fremantle on 6 November 1934 on the P&O liner RMS Strathaird.

The ship was promptly boarded by representatives of the Federal Government who refused Kisch entry to Australia on the ground that he was "undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth".

Kisch professed to be deeply hurt and was sure that things would be put right once he was given a chance to explain. He was scrupulous, however, in denying his membership of the Communist Party of Germany.

Kisch was required to stay in the custody of Captain Carter on board the Strathaird as it proceeded through Australian waters via Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Attorney-General Robert Menzies prosecuted the Lyons Government's case against Kisch

On 12 November 1934, large groups of Kisch supporters gathered in Melbourne and the Strathaird was surrounded by boatloads of Kisch well-wishers. The International Labour Defence (another Münzenberg Trust front) engaged Melbourne barrister Joan Rosanove, who, with a group of Kisch supporters, went aboard the Strathaird and initiated a habeas corpus action.

The Melbourne court hearing the action delayed any immediate decision on Kisch, leaving him in custody aboard the Strathaird as it departed the city.

Egon Kisch in Melbourne 1934
On 13 November, Kisch defied Australian authorities when he jumped over five metres from the deck of the Strathaird onto Melbourne's Station Pier, breaking his right leg. The Victoria Police quickly took charge of Kisch and carried him back on board the Strathaird.

The next day, the issue rose to national prominence when Labor MP for Batman, Frank Brennan rose in the House of Representatives to accuse the Lyons government of cowardice. He asked why Kisch's right to speak in Australia was being restricted just because the Lyons administration disagreed with him.

In response, the Attorney-General Robert Menzies pointed out that every civilized country had the right to determine who should or should not be allowed in, and that, since Kisch was a revolutionary and since revolution involved violence, he was not to be permitted entry.

High Court Justice Evatt authorised Kisch to visit Australia, finding that the Lyons Government had failed to list the reason for Kisch's exclusion in their order

As the Strathaird made its way up Australia's east coast to Sydney, supporters of Kisch took his case before High Court Justice Evatt, who found that the Federal Government had incorrectly excluded Kisch from Australia because they had failed to list in their order the advice received from the British Government. Evatt released Kisch and ordered that he be free to visit as long as he respected the laws of Australia.

see more on wikipedia

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Peter Doherty: Why Australia Needs to March for Science

April 21, 2017 9.32am AEST

Peter C. Doherty
Laureate Professor, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

Peter C. Doherty is a founding board member of The Conversation, and is funded by an NHMRC Program Grant investigating immunity to the influenza A viruses. He will soon step down as Board Chair for the ending ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science, and serves in that capacity on the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology. His most recent book (2015) is 'The Knowledge Wars'.
Partners

The following article is adapted from a speech to be delivered at the Melbourne March for Science on Saturday 22 April, 2017.

The mission posted on the March for Science international website states:

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest. The March for Science is a celebration of science.
To me, it seems the reason concerned people across the planet are marching today is that, at least for the major players in the English-speaking world, there are major threats to the global culture of science.

Why? A clear understanding of what is happening with, for example, the atmosphere, oceans and climate creates irreconcilable problems for powerful vested interests, particularly in the fossil fuel and coastal real estate sectors.

Contrary to the data-free “neocon/trickle down” belief system, the observed dissonance implies that we need robust, enforceable national and international tax and regulatory structures to drive the necessary innovation and renewal that will ensure global sustainability and a decent future for humanity and other, complex life forms.

Here in Australia, the March for Science joins a global movement initiated by a perceived anti-science stance in Donald Trump’s administration.

Trump’s 2018 budget proposal

In the USA, President Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 incorporates massive cuts to the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

And, though it in no sense reflects political hostility and deliberate ignorance, British scientists are fearful that Brexit will have a terrible impact on their funding and collaborative arrangements.

How does this affect us in Australia? Why should we care? The science culture is international and everyone benefits from progress made anywhere. NOAA records, analyses and curates much of the world’s climate science data. A degraded EPA provides a disastrous model for all corrupt and regressive regimes.

Science depends on a “churn”, both of information and people. After completing their PhD “ticket”, many of our best young researchers will spend 3-5 years employed as postdoctoral fellows in the USA, Europe and (increasingly) the Asian countries to our north, while young American, Asian and European/British scientists come to work for a time with our leading scientists.

The proposed 2018 US President’s budget would, for example, abolish the NIH Fogarty International Centre that has enabled many young scientists from across the planet to work in North America. In turn, we recruited “keepers” like Harvard-educated Brian Schmidt, our first, resident Nobel Prize winner for physics and current Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU).

We might also recall that – supported strongly by Prime Ministers JJ Curtin and RG Menzies – the ANU (with 3 Nobel Prizes to its credit) was founded as a research university to position us in science and international affairs.

Not a done deal, yet

What looks to be happening in the US is not a done deal.

The US political system is very different from our own. The Division of Powers in the US Constitution means that the President is in many respects less powerful than our PM.

Unable to introduce legislation, a President can only pass (or veto) bills that come from the Congress. Through to September, we will be watching a vigorous negotiation process where separate budgets from the House and the Senate (which may well ignore most, if not all, of the President’s ambit claims) will develop a “reconciled” budget that will be presented for President Trump’s signature.

How March for Science might help

The hope is that this international celebration of science will cause US legislators, particularly the more thoughtful on the right of politics, to reflect a little and understand what they risk if they choose to erode their global scientific leadership.

There are massive problems to be solved, along with great economic opportunities stemming from the development of novel therapies and new, smart “clean and green” technologies in, particularly, the energy generation and conservation sector.

Ignoring, or denying, problems does not make them go away. Whether or not the message is welcome, the enormous power of science and technology means we can only go forward if future generations are to experience the levels of human well-being and benign environmental conditions we enjoy today.

There is no going back. The past is a largely imagined, and irretrievable country.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

UK Election – Kick out MAY in JUNE !!!

At Prime Minister May’s Questions before the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told her that she could not be trusted after she made a U-turn on her numerous claims that she would not hold an early election.

This was later echoed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who said: “Isn’t the truth that we cannot believe a single word the PM says?”
Mr Corbyn repeatedly challenged the Prime Minister to face him in live television debates which she brushed off — and now broadcaster ITV has pledged to “empty chair” her if she continues to refuse.

The Prime Minister claimed that she would rather be campaigning out on the streets, adding: “Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger.”

Mr Corbyn replied: “She says it’s about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates and it’s not hard to see why.
“The Prime Minister says we have a stronger economy, yet she can’t explain why people’s wages are lower today than they were 10 years ago or why more households are in debt, six million people earning less than the minimum wage, child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up.
“Why are so many people getting poorer?”
Mr Corbyn said: “If she’s so proud of her record, why won’t she debate it?”

The Labour leader suggested that the Prime Minister is reluctant to take to the stand because her party’s crippling austerity policies have failed.

He also pointed to the Tories’ record of broken manifesto pledges since coming to power in 2010.

“Over the last seven years the Tories have broken every promise on living standards, the deficit, debt, the National Health Service and schools funding. Why should anyone believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?” he said.

In his first speech of the campaign, Mr Corbyn explained that in this election and in government he won’t “play by the rules of the Tory game,” but stand up for the British people who “are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.”

Monday, April 17, 2017

ANTS ... More Social that we thought


Ants even keep plant lice as pets. They feast on the sugary feces that the lice discard. In return, the ants defend the lice against enemies. However, there are researchers who say this is less a symbiosis and more like slavery. The ants keep the herds of lice together through the use of force.



Triggering rescue
When an ant is injured in a fight, it excretes chemical substances. This is a call for its mates, who will carry the injured insect back to the nest, where it can recover. A German research team of the University of Würzburg have observed this rescue behavior for the first time.


Cook & Omai: The Cult of the South Seas

Thomas Gosse (1765–1844) Transplanting of the Bread-fruit-trees from Otaheite London: 
Thomas Gosse, 1 September 1796 hand-coloured mezzotint; sheet 52.4 x 60.6 cm 
This publication complements the exhibition Cook & Omai: The Cult of the South Seas, developed in association with the Humanities Research Centre at The Australian National University. The exhibition draws strongly on the collections of the National Library of Australia and, together with these informative and intriguing essays, reveals something of Omai’s impact on the European imagination. The Library has been able to collaborate with some of Australia’s leading historians in taking a fresh look at both the Library’s collections and the events leading up to the European settlement of Australia.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Mexico – Relics from the Ancient City of Teotihuacan



Some 50,000 relics have been discovered in Mexico in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexican archaeologists say. The city, located about 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Mexico City, dominated central Mexico in pre-Columbian times.

This picture was released by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH in Spanish) showing stone sculptures found at the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Serpiente Emplumada) at the Teotihuacan complex in Mexico City, taken on November 19, 2013.  The relics found include jewellery, seeds, animal bones and pottery like these human figurines.

see more at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29828309

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Weavers - Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award 2013

First Railway in China – 1872

The opening of the short-lived Woosung Road, the first railway in China, between Shanghai and Wusong in 1876
China's Railways 2016

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rose Cottage – Hawkesbury Heritage Farm


Location: Rose Street, Wilberforce, NSW 2756
Constructed: 1810-1820

Rose Cottage is the oldest slab hut in Australia and forms the centrepiece of the Hawkesbury Heritage Farm. The Farm recreates an 1800s town. Rose Cottage was built in the 1820s or 1830s and was occupied by the Rose family right up until 1961.

Grounds/Garden:
The 2282 meter square property is located on a wide flat ridge above the Hawkesbury River flood plain which lies to the east. The property is bounded by Rose Street to the northeast, the former Australiana Pioneer Village to the south and southeast, private property with a dwelling to the east, and the Heritage Hotel-Motel to the west. The property is enclosed by fencelines on all sides, some possibly reconstructed as part of the Australiana Pioneer Village.

Comedian John Clarke dies aged 68



Renowned satirist John Clarke died on Sunday. The New Zealand-born comedian and writer regularly appeared on Australian television from the late 1970s onwards.

Along with Bryan Dawe, he became a household name after writing and performing satirical interviews on Channel Nine's A Current Affair and later the ABC's 7.30 program, mocking everyone from Paul Keating to George Bush.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Trump – Chomsky Interview on Democracy Now!


Published on 4 Apr 2017

Full 70-minute interview with Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now! talking about Donald Trump’s first 75 days in the White House and much more.

Sydney March – 9 April 2017





Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Investigator



(from Wikipedia)
The Investigator (1954) was a radio play written by Reuben Ship and first broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on May 30 of that year. The play lampooned the actions of the US House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the notorious "Red Scare" inquisitor Senator Joseph McCarthy.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sydney – The Tank Stream

Tank Stream, 1842 by John Skinner Prout, courtesy State Library of NSW

The Tank Stream was Sydney’s first water supply in the early days of the colony. When Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney he was searching for a place to develop the new colony and chose Circular Quay in part due to the freshwater stream running through it, which had been used by the Gadigal people for thousands of years. The small village of Sydney relied on water from this stream as its main water source for the next 40 years.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Vale Chuck Berry – 18 October 1926 – 18 March 2017


Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday. He was 90.

Berry was rock and roll's master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment.

His guitar lines wired the lean twang of country and the bite of the blues into phrases with both a streamlined trajectory and a long memory. And tucked into the lighthearted, telegraphic narratives that he sang with such clear enunciation was a sly defiance, upending convention to claim the pleasures of the moment.

Berry was the fourth child in a family of six. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighbourhood known as The Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived at the time. His father, Henry, was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha, was a certified public school principal. His  upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age. He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Roscoe Holcomb – Graveyard Blues


I got up this morning, 
With the blues all around my bed. (Lord, lord, lord, lord, lord) 
I got up this morning, 
With blues all around my bed.
I had a dream last night, 
The one that I loved was dead. 

God I went to the graveyard this morning, 
And I fell down on my knees. 
God I went to the graveyard this morning, 
And I fell down on my knees. Asked that good of gravedigger, 
To give back my real good man please. 

Lord that gravedigger looked me, sweet mama, 
Right squarely in the eye. 
Lord that gravedigger looked me, sweet mama, 
Right squarely in the eye. 
He said sorry pretty woman, 
But your man has said his last goodbye.

Then I wrung my hand, 
Said I wanted to scream. 
Then I wrung my hand, 
Said I wanted to scream. 
I woke up this morning, 
And found it was only a dream. 



1924 – El Lissitzky Skyscrapers

1924 El Lissitzky created a series of eight lightweight horizontal skyscrapers to address
Moscow’s problems of overcrowding and inadequate public transport

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Clarence Ashley – The Cuckoo

Dolly Parton – Nine to Five

IWD – Spinning, Warping and Weaving the Wool in the 1590's

Spinning, Warping and Weaving the Wool (1594-1596) by Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg.

In 15th and 16th century France, two female textile guilds - comprised of single women and wives working independently of their husbands - wielded great power. By the end of the 18th century, they had been dismantled.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Planxty in concert at the national stadium in 1973


The legendary Planxty in concert at the national stadium in 1973, with Raggle Taggle Gypsy O, & "Give me your hand", is Tabhair Dom do Lámh. And Three Drunken Maidens. Banna ceoil traidisiúnta Éireannach é 

Christie Moore – Ride On

Miriam Makeba


Miriam Makes – Malaika


Zenzile Miriam Makeba was born in Johannesburg in 1932. Her mother was a Swazi sangoma (traditional healer-herbalist). Her father, who died when she was six years old, was a Xhosa. When she was eighteen days old, her mother was arrested for selling umqombothi, an African homemade beer distilled from malt and cornmeal. Her mother was sentenced to a six-month prison term, so Miriam spent her first six months of life in jail. As a child, she sang in the choir of the Kilmerton Training Institute' in Pretoria, a primary school that she attended for eight years.

Her professional career began in the 1950s when she was featured in the South African jazz group the Manhattan Brothers, and appeared for the first time on a poster. She left the Manhattan Brothers to record with her all-woman group, The Skylarks, singing a blend of jazz and traditional melodies of South Africa. As early as 1956, she released the single for "Pata Pata". The single was played on all the radio stations and made her known throughout all of South Africa. Though she was a successful recording artist, she was only receiving a few dollars for each recording session and no provisional royalties, and was keen to leave home

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Book review by Tony Smith [Trad & Now]

It may be a cliche but - More Than a Life is difficult to put down.

In the field of Australian folklore collection, especially in New South Wales John Meredith (1920-2001) was a giant, pioneer and icon. Keith McKenry pays tribute to Meredith's achievements without ignoring the personal costs resulting from singleminded devotion to a field that was unacknowledged until Meredith ploughed and sowed it.

Meredith had a difficult childhood in Holbrook. He worked after school to help sustain the family and despite being a likely dux, left school when long trousers became mandatory. He lost a kidney and endured months of hospitalisation and was an avid reader. His first book purchase was Old Bush Songs – verse collected by Banjo Paterson.

He worked in a pharmacy despite lacking qualifications and became interested in photography and radios. Choosing a scientific way of life he abandoned religion. He was principled about this, shunning Christmas celebrations, supporting euthanasia and determined to end his own life before becoming a burden.

Meredith embraced self-sufficiency, corresponded regularly with Grass Roots magazine and toiled on 'Walden' his bush block at Balmoral in the Southern Highlands. He did not marry and revealed his sexual identity only late in life. Meredith attempted to work around Australia by bicycle, going first to Shepparton then Red Cliffs picking fruit.

He returned to Holbrook to mind Harrison's Pharmacy. He was not qualified, but he 'did have a white coat'. While Meredith's income mostly came from employment in pharmaceutical companies, such work was a means to an end. His 'real vocation lay in his ... role as the pre-eminent field collector of Australian folklore'.

Meredith visited Canberra and viewed bushranger exhibits at Collector. He stopped at the memorial to poet Henry Kendall near Gosford, picked pineapples near Brisbane then worked at Atherton, hoping to buy a camel for further explorations. Finding the work hard he wrote a poem 'The Cornpicker's Lament'.

Meredith, at 28 had to choose between Sydney and the Bush, and Sydney won. Meredith worked at Elliott & Australian Drug P/L as a counter hand. He joined the Eureka Youth League and at a Springwood camp met lifelong friend Brian Loughlin. He boarded in Petersham with fellow Communists, sold Tribune and as Treasurer of the local branch, inevitably attracted the attention of security agencies.

At weekends he enjoyed the cultural life of the Art Gallery, Museum, the Botanical Gardens and the Domain. He concocted cocktails at work and bought an accordion from Palings. In a communal house in Clovelly, Meredith sang from the Palmer/ Sutherland folio of Old Australian Bush Ballads. This stirred his interest in 'Australian bush ballads as singing material'.

When he discovered Aboriginal rock carvings near Gosford, Walkabout magazine published an article in which he attributed joint authorship to Brian. McKenry says that this established a pattern 'even where the original research and/or the writing of text was almost solely his own work'.

Meredith joined both the blueblood Royal Philharmonic Society Choir and the leftist Peoples Choir which later became the Unity Choir using Peter Seeger's songbook. These were turbulent times with the Menzies Government attempting to dissolve the Communist Party. Cultural organisations such as the New Theatre were considered suspect.

The formation of the Council for Defence of Australian Culture meant that forever afterwards, nationalism was associated with the Australian left. Emphasising Australian identity seemed like disloyalty to Britain. Meredith began a music transcription course and persuaded friend Eric Burnett to buy a bush block at Heathcote.

He was in robust good health for a change but was rushed to hospital as his appendix was about to burst. Meredith's neighbour Jack Barrie held 'Australian nights'. Jack, John and Brian donned false whiskers and sang as the Heathcote Bushwhackers with bush bass, lagerphone and accordion. Their instruments, uniform and repertoire 'Click Go the Shears' and 'Botany Bay’ represented the 'birth of the bush band genre',

Harry Kay soon joined on harmonica but Meredith hesitated over Chris Kempster's guitar. McKenry notes an 'inherent conceptual tension' between the Bushwhackers being a novelty act and presenting neglected bush culture. The quintet established a tradition of unpaid performances. Meredith set the tone for the band with his accordion. Typically one member sang the verses while the others joined the chorus in unison.

Meredith searched for more songs at the State Library. Librarian Edgar Waters introduced him to Russell Ward and Nancy Keesing who had similar interests. Fortuitously, Hilda Lane (William's niece) introduced Meredith to Jack Lee. Lee performed 'Backblocks Shearer' while Meredith transcribed, a process so slow that Meredith borrowed a tape recorder for a return visit. Lee gave him a good contact in fiddler Joe Cashmere.

Meredith recorded 16 songs and 27 tunes that Cashmere knew by ear. Meredith bought his own Pecotape recorder which cost half a year's wages. He declared himself 'a song collector, to his dying day he had no interest in song analysis'. Unfortunately McKenry does not enlarge on this distinction.

Further opportunities came with the New Theatre's 1953 production of 'Reedy River' set around the 1891 Queensland shearers' strike. The Bushwhackers needed to sing their signature tune 'Click Go the Shears' but were worried about copyright. The story of how Meredith got around this problem contrasts with his later prickliness about others not acknowledging his collections. McKenry says that 'Meredith would carry the deception with him to the grave'.

Audience members brought stories backstage. Contacts included Frank Bristow and Jack Luscombe, veterans of the 1891 strike. Queenslander Alan Scott and Gay Terry were enthused and listened to Meredith's recordings. Scott returned to Bundaberg determined to collect local material. In 1954 both the Australian Folklore Society and the Bush Music Club came into being. Keesing introduced Meredith to Ina Popplewell of Darlington. Ina had no power so they went to the home of a friend who had 'the electricity' where Meredith recorded some 19 songs and three recitations.

Meredith was becoming more selective in his collecting. He was interested not in parlour songs or music hall but 'bush songs and to a lesser degree bush tunes and recitations'. The first edition of the AFS journal Speewa, the 'first periodical in the field of Aust folklore' included an article by Meredith on Jack Lee. Meredith embarked on a collecting tour of the Upper Murray to record in Khancoban and Beechworth.

In September 1954 the Bushwhackers discontinued their involvement in 'Reedy River', effectively ending the ten month season. In only two years Meredith collected some 300 items from 50 sources after a 'standing start'. There was no manual on how to go about song collecting. When the Bushwhackers performed for the Miners' Federation in Lithgow, Meredith met the remarkable Sally Sloane, from whom he recorded another 150 songs and tunes.

The 1950s were hugely productive for Meredith. Unfortunately, frustration lay ahead. Meredith wanted his collection to be preserved but was reluctant to let the ABC copy his tapes, fearing that they might be used without acknowledgement. He was perhaps less concerned for his own credit than that of the informants who had supplied the material.

Following protracted negotiations however, the National Library moved into the area and its invaluable Oral History collection was started. Further problems arose over the use of Australian material by some overseas folklorists.

An American Academic John Greenway joined enthusiastically in local activities and copied Meredith's collection of recordings. Greenway offended Meredith in several ways. First, when returning to a USA dominated by McCarthyism he wrote that Australian folk music was dominated by communists. Secondly, he claimed that he himself had collected the material Meredith had allowed him to copy. Thirdly, he lionised the Englishman A.L. Lloyd as a collector of Australian folk songs.

Meredith was not impressed. During the 1960s general folk revival overseas artists threatened to swamp the market and distract locals from the folklore Meredith loved. Yet not all of Meredith's frustrations arose offshore. When he decided to write with Victorian Hugh Anderson the book The Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Made Them Meredith received a six month Commonwealth of Australia Literary Fund Fellowship.

Meredith worked feverishly, sending Anderson some ten tunes per week, but the pressure told and he suffered a heart attack. This caused him to announce his retirement from collecting. He made his own digitalis from foxgloves to treat his heart, but he grew impatient with Anderson. As editor of the Bush Music Club magazine Singabout, Meredith's ideas developed.

He had set policies about which records and books to review. Initially, he would be critical of publications that worked only from secondary sources and he gave a negative review of Victorian Ron Edwards' Overlander Songbook. Eventually he decided to endorse songs which were collected here but whose origins were exotic. On first meeting Duke Tritton Meredith recorded the old shearer's traditional repertoire but shunned the Duke's own compositions.

His attitude changed however and Singabout published works by Tritton, Merv Lilley and John Dengate. Meredith described the magazine as 'traditional in style but contemporary in theme’. As McKenry's Bibliography shows, Meredith wrote plays, poems and a novel and took photographs and made films. As a musician he participated in some of the earliest recordings of traditional music by Wattle Records although his influence over style diminished after the Bushwhackers disbanded.

Wattle's LP 'Australian Traditional Singers and Musicians' included many of Meredith's sources such as Sally Sloane and Duke Tritton. Unfortunately, just one track was from Meredith's original recordings. The others had been rerecorded in the studio. Meredith passed the mantle to younger collectors.

He resumed collecting and obviously got on well with Peter Ellis on trips to WA and Victoria's Nariel Creek and with Rob Willis and David DeSanti, all of whom became prolific collectors. Meredith was immensely proud to be recognised with an Order of Australia medal in the Australia Day honours list.

Meredith refused to attend festivals. When the National Library wanted to launch his book of photographs Real Folk during the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Meredith made it clear that he would attend a Library event but not the Festival. In the same year, Keith McKenry organised a special concert on the theme of Meredith's collecting, the subject refused to attend, although he later heard a recording and was very impressed.

By organising Meredith's story into chronological order McKenry enables the reader to see how the central character developed. While Meredith is obviously the focus of More Than A Life, many of the musicians, collectors, writers, researchers and bureaucrats who were active in Australian folk music in the second half of the twentieth century have walk-on parts.

Their interactions might have been of varying warmth and productivity, but this book is a splendid introduction to their careers as well. Keith McKenry has produced a remarkable biography. His research has been extraordinarily thorough. The end notes show that he scrutinised Meredith's own writings, some of which were confidential until after the subject's death, correspondence and a mass of secondary sources.

Most appropriately McKenry listened to Meredith's recorded material and conducted extensive interviews himself. His writing style is clear and entertaining and the chronological arrangement of the material makes it accessible to the general reader. The strongest chapters are those where he sets the social and political background and shows how broader issues, such as the 'Petrov Affair' influenced cultural values.

If at times McKenry points to personal characteristics of Meredith that might seem negative, he writes with compassion, fairness and understanding. John Meredith could not have wished for a better biographer than Keith McKenry.

Notes

Many thank to Tony Smith and Cec Bucilo for permission to republish this review.

Rainbow Quest - Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Tom Paxton


        Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest - Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Tom Paxton

Greening The Home in the City

Grow a Garden and Birds will Visit
Environmentalist Indira Naidoo writes:

I had done enough reading to know that with good sunlight and a few basic elements such as pots, organic potting mix, some manure, compost and regular watering, a thriving balcony garden wasn’t a total pipe-dream.

I drew up a plan of my balcony to determine how many fully grown plants I had room for. I knew overcrowding plants in small pots was a common mistake of the novice gardener.

I wanted my garden to be aesthetic as well as functional. I decided to use large dark-grey painted fibre-glass pots which were sturdy but light-weight and placed them on wheeled pot stands so I could relocate them more easily. I installed a vertical wall and hanging baskets on the railing to maximise my growing space.

Potted vegies need watering more regularly than vegies in garden beds because they lose more moisture through evaporation. So I invested in a watering can and attached a hose to my outdoor tap.

I also made sure my plants got regular feeds with mixes of diluted fish emulsion and seaweed fertiliser, Munash mineral rock dust and a little worm juice from my Hungry Bin balcony worm farm.

I sourced my seedlings from quality garden centres and mail-ordered organic heirloom seeds from Diggers and the Italian Gardener.


Thursday, March 02, 2017

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit



Written by teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem and published in 1937, it protested American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Holiday grew to embrace the song so much she began to believe she composed it. She certainly made it one of the most powerful protest songs of the time. “Strange Fruit” was released on record in 1939, and quickly became famous. It had a particular impact on the politically aware, among artists, musicians, actors and other performers, and on broader layers of students and intellectuals. It is one of the few songs that has a book dedicated to its history: David Margolick’s book, Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society and an Early Cry for Civil Rights.

During the postwar witch-hunt, the performance of “Strange Fruit” became even more difficult. Some clubs refused to allow Holiday to sing what had become her signature song. She insisted on contracts specifying her right to sing it, but even that did not resolve the issue. Margolick’s book relates how at one club on West 52nd St. Holiday cried after her performance. “Did you see the bartender ringing the cash register all through?” she said. “He always does that when I sing.”

around town






Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Pete Seeger – To hear Your Banjo Play – 1947


Folk master Pete Seeger narrates Alan Lomax's documentary on the evolution and appreciation of American folk music. Special cameo performances include Woody Guthrie and Brownie McGhee, 

Andy Irvine Gladiators



From Wikipedia – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Twelve

The Sydney Twelve were members of the Industrial Workers of the World arrested on 23 September 1916 in Sydney, Australia, and charged with treason under the Treason Felony Act (1848), arson, sedition and forgery. They were John Hamilton, Peter Larkin, Joseph Fagin, William Teen, Donald Grant, Benjamin King, Thomas Glynn, Donald McPherson, Thomas Moore, Charles Reeve, William Beattie, Bob Besant.

Some within the Australian labour movement claimed the men were framed for their strong anti-war views and their opposition to conscription during the First World War. Former Labor Prime Minister (and later Nationalist) Billy Hughes forced through the Unlawful Associations Act (1916) through Federal Parliament in five days during December 1916, then had the IWW declared an unlawful association.

The case against the Twelve was assisted by the Government hysteria against the IWW. This was typified in the Tottenham murder case involving three members of the IWW and the murder of a policeman at Tottenham, New South Wales, on 26 September 1916. The prosecution made every effort to connect the murder with the charges against the Sydney IWW men. Frank Franz and Roland Nicholas Kennedy were found guilty and executed on 20 December 1916 at Bathurst Gaol, the first executions in New South Wales after a decade. Herbert Kennedy was acquitted.

The judgment by Mr Justice Pains on the Sydney Twelve brought sentences of fifteen years to Hilton, Beatty, Fagin, Grant, Teen, Glynn and McPherson; ten years to Moore, Besant, Larkin and Reeve; and five years to King. Grant remarked after his sentence was passed: "Fifteen years for fifteen words". The actual words which were quoted in his trial were: "For every day that Tom Barker is in gaol it will cost the capitalist class £10,000."

There was an active campaign for the release of the Sydney Twelve and other IWW members held in prison. The Defence and Release Committee was established at the behest of Henry Boote, Editor of the Australian Workers' Union weekly paper, the Worker, and of Ernie Judd, delegate from the Municipal Workers Union on Labor Council of New South Wales. Supporters included Percy Brookfield, the member for Sturt (Broken Hill) in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and the poet Lesbia Harford. Unions such as the Ship Painters and Dockers Union were active in the campaign.

The Labor Council of New South Wales commissioned a report into the case in 1918, and an enquiry into the case was also conducted by Judge Street. Both the trade union report and the judicial report found problems with the case, for example the chief witness, Scully, had concocted evidence which he gave at the trial.

After the Storey Labor Government was elected in New South Wales on 20 March 1920, Tasmanian Judge Norman Ewing was appointed to inquire into the trial and sentencing. The judge found that Grant, Beattie, Larkin and Glynn may have been involved in conspiracy of a seditious nature, but recommended that they be released. Six of the men, the judge found, were not "justly or rightly" convicted of sedition: Teen, Hamilton, McPherson, Moore, Besant and Fagin. King was considered rightly convicted of sedition, but recommended for immediate release. Reeve was found to have been rightly convicted of arson. However the judge also rejected any suggestion that the men had been framed. Ten of the men were released in August 1920, and King and Reeve slightly later.

The Watersons "Hal–an–Tow"


The Watersons performing the may day song "Hal-An-Tow" 
(you can also hear it on "Frost & Fire: A calendar of ceremonial (ritual & magical) folk songs"

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hedy West – Hard Times Cotton Mill Girls

Con Curtin at the 1973 Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel


Our favourite Publican of the World's End pub The Balloon playing "Off in the Morning"

Rosco Holcomb


Sydney Heads 1865

Sydney Heads by Eugene von Guérard, 1865
Photo of Eugene von Guerard

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Seamus Ennis – Uillean Pipes

Micho Russell


Ireland's Whistling Ambassador

McPeake Family Harp & Pipes


New Lost City Ramblers


New Lost City Ramblers - Mike Seeger Sings Man of Constant Sorrow

Dock Boggs - Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award 2014


"In his hands, the banjo was not a timekeeper but a storyteller."
Dock Boggs, 2014 Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

Doc Watson – Three Days with Doc


Documentary filmed in 1976 with folklorist, researcher and performer A.L. Lloyd "3 days with Doc Watson" which was shown on the BBC "Omnibus " series.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Vanuatu Aims to Bank Junk Food

A market in Port-Vila, the capital of Vanuatu
Experts say a health crisis in Pacific island nations is primarily driven by a shift from traditional diets toward ones high in sugar, refined starch and processed foods. 

Cookies and sugary drinks served at government meetings are about to go away. So are imported noodles and canned fish served in tourist bungalows.

Taking their place? Local coconuts, lobsters and lime juice.

While many governments struggle to ban soda to curb obesity, the tiny Torba Tourism Council in the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is planning to outlaw all imported food at government functions and tourist establishments across the province’s 13 inhabited islands.

Provincial leaders hope to turn them instead into havens of local organic food. The ban, scheduled to take effect in March, comes as many Pacific island nations struggle with an obesity crisis brought on in part by the overconsumption of imported junk food.

“We want to ban all other junk food from this province,” Luke Dini, the council’s chairman and a retired Anglican priest, said in a telephone interview from Torba. He said the province had about 9,000 residents and got fewer than 1,000 tourists a year, mostly Europeans.

Mr. Dini said the pending ban was an effort to promote local agriculture and a response to an increase in diabetes and other diseases that council members have observed in Vanuatu’s capital, Port-Vila. Passing a more comprehensive ban on junk food imports to Torba could take at least two years, he added, and a final decision on which products to ban would be made by the national government.

Public health experts who study the island nations of the Pacific welcomed the ban, saying that bold measures were necessary for an impoverished and isolated region of 10 million people — one where the cost of sending legions of patients abroad for dialysis treatment or kidney transplants is untenable.

“Imagine if 75 million Americans had diabetes — that’s the scale of the epidemic we’re talking about in Vanuatu,” Roger Magnusson, a professor of health law and governance at Sydney Law School in Australia, said in an email.

“Can anyone seriously say that Vanuatu doesn’t have the right to exercise its health sovereignty in every way possible to protect its population from an epidemic of that scale?” he added.

Experts say the region’s health crisis is primarily driven by a decades-long shift from traditional diets based on root crops toward ones that are high in sugar, refined starch and processed foods.

In a sign of how urgent the crisis is, the World Bank said in a 2014 report that 52 percent of adult men in the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga were estimated to be obese — the highest rate of 188 countries surveyed. It also said that of the seven countries worldwide with female obesity rates of at least 50 percent, four were Pacific island nations: Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

A study that year in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice said 10 countries and territories in the region had diabetes rates of between 19 percent and 37 percent. The rate in Vanuatu, which has a population of about 250,000, was nearly 24 percent, the study said, and economic development there was closely linked with consumption of animal proteins and simple carbohydrates.

By contrast, the diabetes rate in the United States in 2014 was 9.3 percent.

“It is so wrong what is being done to exploit these nations by providing a food supply that is not, in the long term, better for health,” said Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand who has studied health problems in the Pacific islands. She described the effect that the health crisis was having on families there as “decimating.”

Experts said in interviews that there was a precedent in the region for policies to restrict imports of unhealthy drinks and other products.

More than half of the 20 Pacific island countries and territories monitored by the World Health Organization, including Vanuatu, have taxes for sugar-sweetened beverages, said Wendy Snowdon, a W.H.O. official based in Suva, the capital of Fiji. Some communities in the region have banned tobacco, she added, and Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, has banned imports of carbonated soft drinks.

Gerhard Sundborn, an epidemiologist at the University of Auckland, said that sugar-sweetened beverages carried an average tax of between about 7 percent and 15 percent in the Pacific islands, and that governments there typically used the taxes to discourage consumption.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Midnight Oil – Back on the Road

Midnight Oil reuniting for huge Australian shows and world tour

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Japan – Fukushima nuclear reactor radiation at highest level since meltdown


Justin McCurry in Tokyo

Last modified on Saturday 4 February 2017

Radiation levels inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are at their highest since the plant suffered a triple meltdown almost six years ago.

The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled by a huge tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011.

The extraordinary radiation readings highlight the scale of the task confronting thousands of workers, as pressure builds on Tepco to begin decommissioning the plant – a process that is expected to take about four decades.

The recent reading, described by some experts as “unimaginable”, is far higher than the previous record of 73 sieverts an hour in that part of the reactor.

A single dose of one sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea; 5 sieverts would kill half those exposed to it within a month, and a single dose of 10 sieverts would prove fatal within weeks.

Tepco also said image analysis had revealed a hole in metal grating beneath the same reactor’s pressure vessel. The one-metre-wide hole was probably created by nuclear fuel that melted and then penetrated the vessel after the tsunami knocked out Fukushima Daiichi’s back-up cooling system.

“It may have been caused by nuclear fuel that would have melted and made a hole in the vessel, but it is only a hypothesis at this stage,” Tepco’s spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi told AFP.

“We believe the captured images offer very useful information, but we still need to investigate given that it is very difficult to assume the actual condition inside.”

The presence of dangerously high radiation will complicate efforts to safely dismantle the plant.

A remote-controlled robot that Tepco intends to send into the No 2 reactor’s containment vessel is designed to withstand exposure to a total of 1,000 sieverts, meaning it would survive for less than two hours before malfunctioning.

The firm said radiation was not leaking outside the reactor, adding that the robot would still prove useful since it would move from one spot to the other and encounter radiation of varying levels.

Tepco and its network of partner companies at Fukushima Daiichi have yet to identify the location and condition of melted fuel in the three most seriously damaged reactors. Removing it safely represents a challenge unprecedented in the history of nuclear power.

Quantities of melted fuel are believed to have accumulated at the bottom of the damaged reactors’ containment vessels, but dangerously high radiation has prevented engineers from accurately gauging the state of the fuel deposits.

Earlier this week, the utility released images of dark lumps found beneath reactor No 2 that it believes could be melted uranium fuel rods – the first such discovery since the disaster.

In December, the government said the estimated cost of decommissioning the plant and decontaminating the surrounding area, as well as paying compensation and storing radioactive waste, had risen to 21.5tn yen (£150bn), nearly double an estimate released in 2013.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ancient Aboriginal site a step closer to UNESCO World Heritage status

Budj Bim Landscape: Ancient Aboriginal site a step closer to UNESCO World Heritage status
An ancient Aboriginal settlement and aquaculture site in south-west Victoria is a step closer to being named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Key points:

The site is 6,600 years old, older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids

The Federal Government has submitted a nomination for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape at Lake Condah to be included on Australia's World Heritage Tentative List.

If the nomination is successful, Budj Bim would be the Australia's 20th World Heritage site and the only place listed solely for its Indigenous cultural value.

It marks a significant turning point for the Gunditjmara traditional owners who have worked tirelessly for several years to see Budj Bim gain a tentative World Heritage nomination.

Denis Rose, project manager for Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, said there was a sigh of relief when the group was informed of the tentative nomination.
  • "We've worked on this process for quite a few years, we've had to get our evidence together and we're just really glad and excited that we've finally been accepted on Australia's World Heritage Tentative list," he said.
  • The Gunditjmara people used Lake Condah and surrounding wetlands to form channels to harvest eels in the area thousands of years ago.
Today the remains of intricate stone traps used to form the channels can be seen at the site, and it is one of the oldest aquaculture sites in the world.

Mr Rose said the site is a hidden treasure and traditional owners were confident a World Heritage nomination would boost tourism.

"We take quite a few tours out on country and the general consensus is 'Oh, I didn't realise this was here'."



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Zinn Education – Reconstructing the South


In popular culture, the most memorable depiction of Reconstruction was D.W. Griffith's film, Birth of a Nation. Scalawags and carbetbaggers conspire with newly freed Blacks to ruin the South until the Ku Klux Klan arrives to save the day.
Missing from this racist portrait of Reconstruction ---- and from too many textbooks ----was the extraordinary experiment in grassroots multiracial democracy this period represented ---- land reform, public schools, expanded voting rights, greater equality.

Reconstruction was the key turning point in U.S. history ---- a period of democratic promise like no other. But a promise foreclosed by the terrorism of the defeated white elites seeking to hold on to "their" South.
The Zinn Education Project commemorates the Reconstruction period with new curriculum. We have just posted a new lesson, "Reconstructing the South: A Role Play," written by Zinn Education Project co-director Bill Bigelow. It is accompanied by a chapter on land reform in the post-Civil War South from the American Social History Project's important book, Freedom's Unfinished Revolution.
Download these teaching resources and share them with colleagues. Stay tuned. More to come.