Gibbon on Captain Cook

* The merit of discovery has too often been stained with avarice, cruelty, and fanaticism; and the intercourse of nations has produced the communication of disease and prejudice. A singular exception is due to the virtue of our own times and country. The five great voyages, successively undertaken by the command of his present Majesty, were inspired by the pure and generous love of science and of mankind. The same prince, adapting his benefactions to the different stages of society, has founded his school of painting in his capital; and has introduced into the islands of the South Sea the vegetables and animals most useful to human life.


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Fifteen films meme

Taken over from here.

“The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen films you’ve seen that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen films you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.”

Admittedly, I haven’t seen any of the following at the flicks. Still, due to the combined efforts of both the ABC and SBS, they somehow manage to stick in my head.
1. Carry On Sergeant
2. Carry On Nurse
3. Carry On Teacher
4. Le Salaire de la peur
5. Carry On Regardless
6. Goodbye, Mr. Chips
7. Carry On Cabby
8. Battleship Potemkin
9. Carry On Spying
10. Carry On Cleo
11. The Cars That Ate Paris
12. Carry On Screaming!
13. Carry On At Your Convenience
14. Carry On Up the Jungle
15. The Third Man

By the way, you might as well consider yourself ‘tagged.’

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J.B. Chifley’s fine discernment

1] Chifley’s musical taste and enthusiasm, for instance, were for light opera and musical revues. On one occasion Coombs came into his office to find him humming a Gilbert and Sullivan tune. “How is it, Doc,” he asked, “that nobody writes music like that any more?” Coombs replied: “Probably because he’d starve- at least if he lived in Australia!” “Well, anyway,” concluded Chifley before turning to the business in hand, “If you find a fellow who can write that stuff you put him on the Post-War Reconstruction payroll and I won’t enquire too closely what he’s doing.” He was also fond of band music- a fact which was decisive for the founding of the Canberra City Band.

L.F. Crisp Ben Chifley: A Biography. Melbourne: Longman, 1961;3 (pbk.) p154, fn1.

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Filed under Books, Gilbert & Sullivan, Government, History, Political, Trade Unions

Railway Station

There are such towns, which, and even if willing,
one can’t find words for, enough information:
the streets, the market, the presbytery building –
and there’s only one event: that’s the station.

Daily, unfailing, the punctual train comes
(o, the sad tedium of city expresses),
tremble before it the one-legged lamps
saluting, armless, the passengers passing.

The ladies, yearning upon platform empty,
whence blows provincial and sad ennui,
by the strange world of train windows are tempted;
a fairy-land journey. It lasts minutes three.

And then each slowly returns to her home,
chewing a longing that’s dull and unguessed.
And each says nothing to any in town,
but it stays hid in the words ‘all is lost’.

And when the train’s gone, and powdery gusts
of smoke hang drifting above the dull waste,
like some mysterious and farewelling ghosts
lone barriers salute with arm stiffly upraised.

Kazimierz Wierzynski (1894-1969), Dworzec (1921).

The word: two hundred years of Polish poetry / [translator: Marcel Weyland.] Blackheath (NSW): Brandl & Schlesinger, 2010; p417.

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On Sovereign Risk

Various recent comments to the effect that putative changes mooted concerning Australia’s current mix of revenue arrangements with respect to the Mining sector grossly threaten its Sovereign Risk standing strike me as hyperbolic and potentially misinformed. Over at least the past couple of centuries, Australian governments have had access to a remarkable pool of economic advice precisely calibrated to minimise investment uncertainty. This advice has generally been heeded by successive governments of disparate political complexion which, combined with other factors conducive to civil tranquility (take Australia’s consistently high ranking in the UN’s Human Development Index, for instance) have left it in a position whereby relative complacency on the question of Sovereign Risk therein seems prudent.

Mutatis mutandis, Australia isn’t entirely immune from Sovereign Risk concerns. Given that the above conditions of relatively high civil tranquility with governments being amenable to sage counsel while keeping an eye on constraints of commonsense emerged under its current system of government, it would seem that proposals to alter said system of government ought partly be assessed on whether such proposal/s are conducive to maintaining that enviable cocktail of conditions described above.

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Pause for thought

Does anyone else notice an eerie similarity between the respective melodies of John Brown’s Body and Der Hohenfriedberger?


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Gem of George St

Can you keep a secret?

During St Andrew’s Cathedral School’s term-time, their choir and congregation joins for Morning Prayer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8:00 AM, and Evening Prayer each Thursday at 5:30 PM, the latter of which I’ve somehow managed to attend fairly regularly over the past few years (alas, I rarely awaken in time for Morning Prayer, though.) While we’re fairly cosy at EP (myself and three chums from there take turns each week to shout each-other a cuppa in the QVB afterwards), all the same I reckon it’d be fairly nice if you too would come along.

Hence this screed. Combining (amongst other things) rather fine liturgy, pretty sound exposition and utterly sublime music all in the one place for free, I dare say St Andrew’s Cathedral Evening Prayer could be just the ticket to a nice Thursday Evening (or perhaps even longer.)

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