Tuesday, 31 July 2012

You Didn't Win That! Somebody Else Won That For You!

Fr Z strikes again - and he's got a whole PAGE of them. http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/07/usa-gold-as-seen-by-pres-obama/

Alive and Quite Possibly Kicking

I'll be speaking at the three-day Colloquium to be held at Campion College, Old Toongabbie, at the end of August.

The Colloquium will run from Friday 31 August - Sunday 2 September, on 'The Christian view of history and the revival of the Liberal Arts'. For the details, see below. The registration form also gives you a preliminary program of speakers and papers.


I'll be speaking on Saturday, late afternoon, and my topic is 'When Worlds Collide: the Catholic histories of Warren Carroll and Eamon Duffy'.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Garbo Speaks!

Campion College have very generously archived an audio recording of a presentation I gave in December 2011.
'Breaking the 180 degree rule: is God back in the movies?'

The full series of talks can be found at: http://www.campion.edu.au/component/content/article/63-media/231-symposium-2011

My presentation begins at 1 minute 30 seconds, after the ad for Campion College and my introduction by Dr Susanna Rizzo.

Here's (Another) One We Prepared Earlier

'Unworthy of Strong Women', in J Biggs, R Davies (eds) The Subversion of Australian Universities (2002).

My musings on the Orr, Rindos and Ormond College affairs, and also - for the first time in print - self-defence tactics for use at a wine-and-cheese. Some advice never goes out of date, even after 10 years.

Our First-Class 'Second-Class Citizen'

This just in from Michael Kirby, a man who recently announced that he felt like a second-class citizen because he and his longtime partner could not marry.

On this occasion - his receiving yet another public award, to universal acclaim, while enjoying his presumably well-funded retirement from the top ranks of the legal profession - we feel his pain.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Quadrant (magazine) Articles, 1996-2012

Reaping the Whirlwind
December 2012

[Featuring disappearing files, a traduced Catholic lawyer and an almost-castrated Italian Archbishop. Now free to all good and well-behaved readers!]

Taken for granted: funding arts and humanities research in Australia
October 2012

Imagine a world in which humanities and arts academics were given credit not for winning enormous grants, but for their ability to function without them. What if academic excellence was measured by who could produce the most for the lowest cost?

Fact, counterfactual, and fiction: some current dilemmas in history
January-February 2012

[Featuring an extract from my kiss-and-tell forthcoming historical novel Only For Sheep, a thrilling tale of love, lust and colonial expansion in the dusty plains of New South Wales. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

November 2011

[Featuring a chauffeur-driven historian, Florence Nightingale in a fugue state, and the perils of knowing things about people. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

March 2010 

Indigenous Australians, far from languishing in brute savagery under white domination, appear in the archives—and consequently in this book—as lively, irrepressible, audacious, ambitious, clever, eager, talented. 

June 2009

[Featuring the Rule of St Benedict, Geoffrey Blainey, and people who are obsessed with Germans. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Dunlop and MacKillop
March 1996: 59-60

[Featuring me on the subject of sanctity, heroism and not fitting in. Not hinting or anything …]

Quadrant (magazine) Book and Film Reviews, 1996 - 2011

Blameless yet talented
R J Stove, Cesar Franck: his life and times, Scarecrow Press, 2012.
July-August 2012

[Featuring a happily married composer, the Prussian Army, and a very large box of chocolates. Quadrant subscriber access only.]
Jan Gothard, Greater Expectations: living with Down Syndrome in the 21st century, Fremantle Press, 2011.
June 2011

[Featuring a bitchy obstetrician’s nurse, devious Education Departments, and the triumph of the human spirit. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

A.G. Evans, William Wardell: Building with Conviction, Connor Court, 2010.
November 2010

In June 1865, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney burnt to the ground. When Archbishop Polding heard the news, he was almost as flattened as the cathedral, but he was sensible enough to approach a really good architect—a proven cathedral-builder and a man who clearly knew his onions. And so he commissioned William Wardell to design the new St Mary’s.

Juno-esque in Saffron [review of Claire McCarthy’s The Waiting City, 2010)
September 2010

[Featuring a collapsing marriage, a bout of food poisoning, and the supreme warrior-mother goddess Durga. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Linda Himelstein, The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire, HarperCollins, 2009.
May 2010

This is where the story of Pyotr Smirnov enthrals, because he overcame the constant obstacles, maximised his opportunities, and, importantly, never allowed a setback to reduce him to sitting on the stove all day and complaining like someone out of Chekhov.

Adrian Goldsworthy, The Fall of the West: The Death of the Roman Superpower, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2009
April 2010

[Featuring global warming, the fall of Kevin Rudd, and some slitty-eyed Huns. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Eamon Duffy, Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, Yale University Press, 2009
October 2009

[Featuring the original Vicar of Bray, a scandalised Quadrant editor, and an archiepiscopal slipper. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Tilar J. Mazzeo, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, HarperCollins, 2008
May 2009

Madame Clicquot was plain, tough and sharp-tongued, and like a lot of plain, tough and sharp-tongued women in trying circumstances, seemed to have a penchant for handsome young men with promise.

Stephan Talty, Empire of Blue Water: Henry Morgan and the Pirates Who Ruled the Caribbean Waves, Simon & Schuster, 2008
March 2009

[Featuring my speculations about (a) what would have happened if Oliver Cromwell had joined the Mayflower voyage, and (b) Burt Lancaster in tights. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Virginia Nicholson, Singled Out: how two million women survived without men after the First World War, Penguin, 2008
January-February 2009

I especially liked the Irish-born French scholar Enid Starkie, the blue-trousered scandal of the Senior Common Room.

Civilised disagreement
Peter Coleman (ed), Double take: Six incorrect essays, Mandarin, 1996
May 1996: 80-81

Monday, 16 July 2012

Doomed Planet - Donna Laframboise in Australia

Donna Laframboise in Australia
Laframboise represents a long and noble tradition of investigative journalism. Long may she prosper - and what a timely reminder of all the good reasons to attack the Finkelstein project here.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Quadrant Poetry - updated!

Poetry  (updated! and now in reverse chronological order by date of first writing)

Hope Road (2012)

Paradox (2009)

Saturdays (2009)

Knit (2008)

Personals Ad (2008)

A Difficult First Date (1998, 2008)

Fickle (1998, 2008)

My Friendly Neighbourhood Psychiatrist (1997, 2008)

Belladonna (1996, 2008)

Witch Hunt (1993, 2008)

Spirit Level (1989, 2008)

The reply of the Marxist professor to the used-car salesman (for R J Stove) 
Quadrant, October 1996: 71

Love song of the modern woman to her partner
Quadrant, July/Aug 1996: 86 [*a shorter version of this also appeared in Chronicles magazine in the US, but I can't for the life of me find it now]

Quadrant QED posts, 2009

For more QED posts, see:

QED Posts, 2010
QED Posts, 2011
QED Posts, 2012
QED Posts, 2013

Avatar reviewed
December 27, 2009
With these bald caricatures wearing black and white hats, it’s a good thing the film is lovely to look at, because otherwise it would stink to high heaven.

AFI AWARDS: The Nite of Nites
by Ainu Campbell-Barracks
December 14, 2009
The real surprise at the AFI Awards was that Cate wasn’t nominated for anything. I mean, this is Cate we’re talking about.

Don't ask, don't tell
December 7, 2009
Trouble is, I can’t write about this film without introducing spoilers, and this is a film which is best seen without knowing too much about it.

November 23, 2009
The nice thing about disaster movies is that you can show things that could never happen in real life, like having the US government take the heads of European nations seriously.

Prawn cocktail
October 26, 2009
The full complexity of modern South Africa – drugs, gangsterism, crime, black African superstition, white superiority, a desperate and corrupt military – is aired for public consumption, and a very unpleasant mess it is.

Red Shoes
October 19, 2009
The parts I enjoyed the most in Mao’s Last Dancer were the ballets. Vivid, lively, colourful, fast-moving, energetic and thoroughly entertaining, they were everything the rest of the movie wasn’t.

Nobel-esse Oblige
by Ainu Campbell-Barracks
October 12, 2009
Wow! Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize! Gosh, I mean that one really came out of nowhere, didn’t it?

Charlie & Boots
September 27, 2009
This authenticity is a joy after the paralysing self-consciousness which usually affects Australian film. Refreshingly, this movie seems to be pitched at people who don’t live in expensive inner-city terrace housing and don’t actually care who edits The Monthly.

The Young (and the Restless) Victoria
September 21, 2009
Apparently Martin Scorsese had something to do with this film; I find that hard to believe. I do, however, find it very easy to believe that Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, had plenty to do with it.

14 things about Teddy
August 31, 2009
In retrospect, I don’t think many of Teddy’s really great achievements have been praised enough. It’s easy to remember minor achievements like driving his first wife to drink and Mary Jo Kopechne into a pond, and yet so many other things go unacknowledged. So here is a list of what I think are the defining achievements in his career.

Robbing Hoods
August 24, 2009
It’s intriguing that the movie industry can portray even closeted gays in the military as just as tough as, if not tougher and even more meritorious than, everyone else, but when it comes to Hoover, gays in the FBI are effeminate and rather cowardly snobs.

Colette at the movies
August 17, 2009
So I watched the gorgeous scenery (apparently France basked in perpetual summer for the last quarter of the nineteenth century), admired Lea’s real pearl necklace, wondered when Chéri was going to strangle her with it, and regretted that he didn’t.

Harry without magic
August 3, 2009
Julie Walters is winsome and heroic and red-haired; Helena Bonham Carter dresses up in corsets and does her by-now-patented mad girl routine (Hamlet, Fight Club, Sweeney Todd, etc etc etc). Michael Gambon was the cause of some serious sniggering with his faintly paedophilic visit to the young Voldemort’s ghastly orphanage.

Online newspapers
June 15, 2009
The project aims to digitise the vast newspaper archival resources in every state, and create a searchable database which will, for the first time, open up thousands of previously-forgotten news items to historical researchers.

Sex and the single footballer
May 25, 2009
When Australian Rules footballers invite a stripper to perform in the dressing room before a show, "it is absolutely, completely unacceptable and inappropriate and it sends all of the wrong messages.” Name the source of that quote -

Sex and the single girl
May 18, 2009
Feeling bad about oneself is the first sign of wrongdoing in present-day antipodean culture, and finding the culprit – who is invariably someone else – is the customary solution.

Fat chance
May 4, 2009
As I walked in, I was greeted with the sight of a rubber model of 15 kilos of fat and two pleasant ladies who appeared to be in charge. I was handed over to a man who was going to be my personal weight-loss consultant. He was a cheerful man.

Music without instruments
May 4, 2009
Kitchen sinks, polypipe, empty tin cans, bin lids, water, newspaper, brooms, dustpans, brushes, boxes of matches, hubcaps, and all the other detritus of any industrial workplace are transformed by STOMP09 into a symphony orchestra.

Eavesdropping on a cultural crisis
April 30, 2009
Mervyn Bendle is dead right when he writes about Asian students haplessly absorbing mega-jive about Australian history and culture.

The Boat that Sucked - Big time
April 17, 2009
The only thing I can recommend in this film is the clothes. The costume department excelled itself: Chris O’Dowd’s patchwork velvet wedding jacket is to die for; ditto Rhys Ilfans’ purple velvet sharp-fitting suit. The irritating lesbian wears some lovely crocheted waistcoats.

The Flea Market
April 13, 2009
At the Flea Market you will also discover that many middle-class Australians have no idea of fundamental economics, which could be why they are currently in debt up to their eyeballs. 

Whale songs
March 30, 2009
Members of parliament caught attending strip-joints in foreign cities can argue that magnetic field deviations caused them confusion.



Why this blog?

I have, as someone once said - in fact, more than one person said - an opinion on EVERYTHING. This means that I have written about more things than I can possibly remember now, but I’m pretty sure they included: local and family history history, theology, Church politics, history of medicine, health sociology, mental health history and research, historical epidemiology, women’s history, history of religion, film criticism, nursing, institutional histories, stupidity in Australian politics, eco-worship, and universities.

This blog exists solely to point you to the published and online stuff, to save you spending valuable time on Google.

Update 22/7/12: OK, so I still have an opinion on everything, as you've probably discovered ...