People Smugglers

Australia is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which obliges our country to accept people needing asylum. The present Australian government not only avoids its responsibility with regard to this convention, it goes further in criminalising the people who help refugees, as ‘people smugglers’. It should logically regard them rather as ‘humanitarian workers’.

To be consistent, the Australian government should withdraw its support for the 1951 Convention. If it does not, it should accept its responsibility.

Sherlock 4:1

There are some things I really hate about the way the ABC sends out its programs.

I particularly dislike the fact that that voiceover guy they have employed for years comes on immediately after the story has finished – while the atmospheric music is playing over the credits – with details about what’s going to happen in the next episode.

And his volume level is noticeably higher than that of the program – implying that it’s at least as if not more important.

There are at least two things about that that are reprehensible. One is that there’s no opportunity to take the thirty seconds of the credits rolling time to process the emotionality that’s been generated by the show.

Which implies in turn that what we’ve just experienced is not art but just trivial amusement. Switch it on, switch it off. It’s of no consequence.

It’s been making me angry literally for years, but I haven’t found a way of telling the ABC what I think … not that they would change a practice that’s been in place for a decade or whatever.

… I didn’t completely enjoy the first episode of series 4 of Sherlock, because I thought the performance of the actress playing Mary, Watson’s wife, was totally inadequate. She wasn’t remotely believable as the character she was playing. Which reduced the whole show to just that – a show – instead of the work of TV art that some of the Sherlock episodes are.

For once it wasn’t the writer’s fault. Or the director’s. It was down to casting director, maybe, but anyway the actress – who was merely suburban and lower middle-class – with an estuary accent – could not possibly have been the character she’s supposed to have been. Very disappointing.

Vale Gillian Alcock

Gillian Alcock was a prefect and dux of Narrogin High School in 1967. She went on to become an expert maker of hammered dulcimers and related instruments. She died 2 November 2018, probably as a result of having had MS for many years.

She is the second former student of mine of whose death I have heard. The first was that of architect Murray Etherington, who died of brain cancer in 2016.

Canine overpopulation

Because I live between a coffee shop and a park where people walk their dogs (in other words, take them to their toilet), I observe that the typical family these days has a man and a woman who either has two children or is pregnant with the first or second one – and … the dog – or two. And one of the humans is typically carrying a takeaway coffee cup – and often a phone.

From these observations, I conclude that from this (meaninglessly small sample) that human population growth is not a problem, but that dog population growth might be (because twenty years ago many fewer people had a dog) — and also that pollution from the needless use of non-reusable artefacts continues to increase.

Mary Magdalene

Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus

One of the reasons I wanted to see this is to get some idea of what Judaea might have been like back then – so, for historical reasons. And the opening scenes encouraged me to think that I might learn something – Greig Fraser’s photography is very good, and the landscape looked suitably unhospitable.

The only work that seems to be going on is herding and fishing, and Mary M seems to be a fisherman’s daughter. Everyone seems to be living in hand-to-mouth abject poverty. But as soon as ‘the Healer’ appears on the scene, everybody stops working. Mary literally drops the tool she’s using to mend a net and goes to join the merry band of disciples. Well, at least one of them seems to be inappropriately merry, as Jesus himself seems to be pretty miserable, and probably a bit deranged.

Joaquin Bottom (his birth name) is 43, but looks older – and much older than the 30-33 Jesus is supposed to have been, and not nearly as turn-the-other-cheek as the guy in the Bible. In fact, he does look quite like a rebellious insurgent – what we would now call a ‘terrorist’.

My main gripe about the film – as it was about Lion, Davis’s only other film – is that he clearly cannot direct actors, and has no global concept of the artwork (the film) as a whole (yes, I realise I can’t claim to know that – let’s say I intuit it). Phoenix is all over the place emotionally, and it’s hard to see that he has a lived-in core idea of what his version of Jesus is like.

Joaquin’s partner IRL is … Rooney Mara. It was probably contractual that if she took a role, so did he – or the other way around. Do they have sex in the film? … How dare I mention it! Of course they couldn’t. It would be something like sacrilege.

Bateleur Appears

I’ve started to compile cryptic crosswords again – like those in the Times and the Guardian – having acquired Crossword Compiler and a way to run it in a virtual box on this iMac.

My new setter name is Bateleur – after this guy  from the Marseille Tarot >


Dealing with an answering service seems to me to be a bit like part of a contest for control.

I call you when I feel like chatting, but you make yourself unavailable.

And you call back, if you do, at a time when you feel like chatting.

It’s not conducive to a feeling of being in contact. More a feeling of a being the loser (or winner).  I don’t have an answering service turned on. If you ring me, you get me. Sadly, you don’t (ring me).

As you can see, I don’t even know what it’s called now. Voicemail, maybe.

PRS no more

I find I’m quite sad after the departure of Malcolm Turnbull. I would never have voted for him, but I still thought he was a good bloke.

I seem to want not to occupy a position on not only politics, but also religion – and why not throw in spelling?

Most people are going to go on in the infantile state of believing in some kind of god, and also seem to be incapable of learning the difference between its and it’s.

While I am in no doubt about those two trivial matters – they seem to me to be of equivalent difficulty – I find that I have nfi about the conduct of politics.

So I have decided that as from today, I won’t comment publicly or privately on anyone’s PRS – politics, religion, or spelling.

I’ll do what Voltaire advises through his character Candide: cultiver son jardin. I’ll simply look after my own metaphorical garden. And that’s all.


I haven’t seen this comparison anywhere else, so I’ll present it here. We may have had a frequent change of leaders in this country, but there is at least one other country with a leader who is incompetent, perhaps criminal, maybe even insane, and there’s no legal way he can be taken down.

I’d rather be a citizen of this country.