Amongst other virtues this makes for a strong primer on how we got into this mess and the intricacies of the geo-politicial relations of our surroundsAmongst other virtues this makes for a strong primer on how we got into this mess and the intricacies of the geo-politicial relations of our surrounds....more
I was really surprised by Girt. Needing something light to read I turned to this thinking the initial humour would really come to wear thin. Instead iI was really surprised by Girt. Needing something light to read I turned to this thinking the initial humour would really come to wear thin. Instead it was captivating, consistently funny and quite revealing. Senior high school history teachers could do a lot worse to engage and inform their students than to prescribe this text. I can't wait for the second volume. 3.75 coconuts....more
**spoiler alert** Quarterly Essays are important and usually poignant. This QE however is very important. You doubt? Check The Australian's coverage o**spoiler alert** Quarterly Essays are important and usually poignant. This QE however is very important. You doubt? Check The Australian's coverage of this essay. All the worms are coming out of the wood.
There is a swell of anti-Murdoch energy in the (English-speaking) world at the moment and, as Manne notes in concluding this piece, now is the time to take advantage of it. You think this is vindictive? Some leftie foment? What about a 70% ownership of this nation's papers? What about our third biggest centre having no credible non-Murdoch-owned rag? What about this arm of the press seeing itself as more than just an objective reporter but rather, as The Australian's Editor-in-Chief Chris Mitchell told Manne, as a national player in the game of politics?
We can't tolerate this. We can't tolerate it from any side or forum now or in the future....more
I would never normally read this genre. In this instance my lady received an advance copy and after idly thumbing through the first few pages I noticeI would never normally read this genre. In this instance my lady received an advance copy and after idly thumbing through the first few pages I noticed reference to a number of places of significance to me and thus I read on.
As part of an arrangement we call Shit Kringle with friends at the end of last year I gifted a night for two at Fawkner Formule One. The date? Valentine's Day. Fawkner Formule One is situated at quite possibly THE most depressing intersection in all of Greater Melbourne, where the Western Ring Road and the Hume Highway intersect. It's neighbours include a Dan Murphy's, a McDonalds and The Fawkner Bingo Centre - bigger than most aircraft hangers.
It turns out the killers in the case of Herman Rockefeller had their first threesome with a prostitute at this very hotel.
We meet Herman Rockefeller, a swinger of sorts (depending on which expert's definition you care to employ), a man worth $400 million and with a secret past.
The first hundred pages maintain a sense of suspense, both as facts about Rockefeller's life and it's components are revealed; and about the lives of those who would eventually be convicted of his manslaughter. After this though all but the afterword is of more interest to those keen on the legal machinations of the case.
My main issue with this book is the author's obvious biases as expressed in her portrayal of the major players. While noone who knows the case disputes the abhorrence of the crime nor the lack of sophistication or intelligence of those who were eventually found guilty, Bonney is too light on Rockefeller. True, his devious sex life was not what was on trial but the author never seeks to criticise his fatal decision to persist with sexual approaches towards a de facto partnered woman despite her and her partner's protestations.
Rockefeller's actions of course do not justify his killing but the absence of any real examination of his actions within this book is conspicuous. Bonney is all too keen to deride the killers' simple ways. Perhaps a good example of where she is coming from is the following paragraph from page 174;
'Above Robert's [Herman's brother] head are the green branches of an ancient plane tree, one of the deciduous varieties that give this suburb and it's neighbours their description among Melbournians as 'the leafy suburbs'. It is meant in a slightly envious way, as if having trees were a sign of affluence doled out by the fates, and not the result of planting seeds in the dirt.'
The suburb Bonney speaks of is East Malvern, in Melbourne's well-to-do east and about a world away from the outer northern working-class and welfare-dependent Hadfield of the killers. The passage leaves little mystery as to what type of locale the author, a former Barrister, resides.
Bonney also never seeks to note how the victims family's ongoing suffering due to the murder of Herman may be inextricably linked to their sudden and disbelieving realisations about his hidden sex life.
This is however a worthwhile read despite the fact that it on occaision comes across as condescending towards those from backgrounds of entrenched poverty, endemic neglect, abuse, poor education and welfare-dependence and that it leaves a lot about the case and the life choices of it’s actors unexplored. ...more
Much like Judith Brett's Quarterly of last year, Tingle's is first and foremost an historical and expositional essay rather than anything particularlyMuch like Judith Brett's Quarterly of last year, Tingle's is first and foremost an historical and expositional essay rather than anything particularly prescriptive. Also like Brett's this essay is a great Australian History for Dummies - this time in the field of economics, federalism and private/public funding models, but for me the author, like Brett before her, missed the chance to propose much in the way of an future alternative to our current state.
Yet despite this Tingle's use of the Magellan simile at the end of the piece is helpful. We need an inspired and inspiring leader, a parliament less prone to inane bickering and a less individualistic and opportunistic polity. We have become selfish, dumb and conceited. Not only that, in being aware that we have developed these traits, most of us actually seem proud of them. ...more
My mother is an active member of the Catholic Church in Australia and given her soft catholicism and advocacy for issues of social justice I often faiMy mother is an active member of the Catholic Church in Australia and given her soft catholicism and advocacy for issues of social justice I often fail to understand how she can continue to be part of a crew that is, at least to laypeople, represented by a man as seemingly heinous and immovable as one George Pell.
In profiling the man, David Marr can't help but profile the organisation, explaining in due course how such an abomination as the regular, serial and continual abuse, sexual and otherwise, of young children could occur, and how the systematisation of it's coversion has, and is, aided by the church's top-down hierachichal nature.
The Catholic Church is an ancient body which by it's very design is ill-equipped to chart the seas of progress and late-modernity. It certainly doesn't help that the bullish and the arch-conservatives have had the run of the joint for the last while.
In advance of reading this Quarterly Essay I did not expect to be outraged as much as I was. In the last few years I have read a lot about Cardinal Pell and the most abhorent cases of child sexual abuse to which Marr claims him to have been linked. Still, I found myself quaking with rage at times throughout this piece. Marr, however is in no way sensationalist or emotionally irrational. As with his profile of now PM Tony Abbott in QE47: Political Animal, Marr is happy to admit positive attributes, to compliment when fit. This makes his writing all the more powerful. He is no polemist. His arguments are not as easily dismissed by the conservative right as are those of the more poetic yet also more factually loose like...hmmm...Bob Ellis.
The most intriguing insight into Pell comes in the essays conclusion when Marr writes:
"I have no reason to believe he [Pell] is other than one of those rare priests who is totally celibate. But everything about him suggests he has paid a terrible price for this. He has had to gut himself to stay that way. All the rules he insists the world must follow are the rules he needs for his peculiar quest. As I read the man, listen to him and watch him in action, I wonder how much of the strange ordinariness of George Pell began fifty years ago when...[he]...decided as an act of heroic piety, to kill sex in himself. The gamble such men take is that they may live their whole lives without learning the workings of an adult heart. [Pell]...is a company man of uncertain empathy."
In all, his writing is beautifully measured and this essay provides a perfectly weighted charge against all that is wrong with Pell and his fellow enablers. Now, let us only hope Marr is planning on completing the wicked triumvirate in 2014 with a profile of Andrew Bolt. ...more