Saturday salon 30/8


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. Union believes ABC cut will be much bigger


The coalition government’s review of the ABC has recommended much deeper cuts than previously proposed, the journalists’ union believes.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) says it has been advised that the government’s Lewis Review into ABC and SBS efficiency will suggest dramatically exceeding the $120 million of cuts over four years in the May budget.

It believes the review will effectively recommend a total cut of more than $130 million in the next 12 months and more than $100 million in each subsequent year.

MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren warned that the cuts, and the reduction in staff numbers, would cause irreversible damage to the national broadcaster.

“The cuts the Lewis Review is set to propose would decimate the ABC,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Severe cuts would have a direct impact on vital and unique services and would likely reduce the number of foreign bureaus and cause a distinct drop in the ABC’s rural and regional reach.

2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Kelly Higgins-Devine interviewed the author of Sapiens, Yuval Harari. Has anyone read it or found a decent review? Here’s a bit of a rave.

Harari reckons the key to our success as a species is the ability to cooperate en masse flexibly rather than inflexibly like ants.

3. Long-term Gaza ceasefire deal struck

But will it stick?

From The World Today on Wednesday:

After 50 days of conflict which killed more than 2,000 people, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have now agreed to a long-term ceasefire over Gaza.

The deal was brokered in Cairo overnight and will see the Israeli government ease its blockade of Gaza.

4. Qantas posts worst loss in airline’s history

CEO says Qantas has ‘turned a corner’ after posting its worst loss

Will it work? Qantas’ former chief economist crunches the numbers

Unions blame management for massive Qantas loss

Enough is enough – it’s time to go Alan Joyce

Virgin’s operating loss, proportionate to size, was about as bad as that of Qantas, whose loss was mainly asset write-downs. I think air fares are going to become more expensive.

13 thoughts on “Saturday salon 30/8”

  1. Happened to hear Bob Days’ maiden speech today as I was returning home.
    I always wrote FF of as a fundy church mob having not researched them but now have enormous respect for their position.
    Meanwhile all the focus is with PUP Lambie who was directly after * sigh*
    I’ll put up Days speech tomorrow so folk here can’t judge.

    The ABC seem distracted so you won’t find it there.

  2. Confound you, Brian, My Must Read book list is a mile long and now you add Maxine McKew’s Class Act to it.
    Seriously, it was refreshing to read the positive slant in the transcript of that interview. One thing did trouble me though: the talk about leadership. It was probably necessary and appropriate in this context. However, I have noticed leadership seems to be dragged into every topic being discussed nowadays. It seems to border on obsession; as though every problem in the world will be solved just so long as the leadership issues are resolved. It is horribly reminiscent of the obsession with privatization that spread like the plague in the nineteen-eighties: once everything is privatized , we will all be filthy rich and gloriously happy. Yeah?
    Anyway Brian, as one who has had real-world experience, what are your own thoughts on that interview?

  3. The A.B.C.? Remote Rupert and the Losers’ Party won’t be happy until they have destroyed the A.B.C.. No logic involved there; none needed; vandalism is fun in itself so logic doesn’t get a look-in.

  4. Graham @ 3, like it or not, good leadership from the principal is a sine qua non for good schooling. And McKew is right, they can’t just go off on a frolic of their own (many do) they have to know the latest research and use it wisely.

    A little while ago I heard about another, possibly better book on how to judge a good school by a lawyer with 8 kids who baulked at paying private school fees. Can’t remember the name.

    Most problems in education and schooling are resolvable and McKew seems to understand that this will require additional funding, especially for kids with special needs. I suspect, however, that her focus is on the mainstream.

    The word “rigour” sets my BS detectors going and she doesn’t explain what she means.

    Other than that there are two dimensions of schooling, the formal curriculum and what some educators call the hidden curriculum. Everything else in the experience of schooling and associated activities. You have to get both right. I suspect McKew doesn’t really understand the latter.

    In the ideal world I’d read it, but I’ve got a bit of an agenda of unread books already, so I’m not sure I’ll fit it in.

  5. It is a bit hard to know how effective schooling has been till many years later in life. Often too the really critical things may depend on one or two teachers who happen to do something for you at the time when you are ready for it. Sometimes it is not the teacher but other students who have a positive influence.
    For me the teachers that really made the difference were the window openers. Teachers who could point me at new ideas, new ways of looking at things were the inspiring ones.
    In this changing world the key things are to learn how to learn and how to deal with new problems. Most important of all a school has succeeded if it leaves its students with a lifetime interest in learning and unbounded curiosity.

  6. John, during my work years in education I visited about 300 schools around Australia. Somewhere between 10 and 20 only were schools that were clearly different and you felt a buzz being there.

    Larger schools, especially high schools, are usually good in parts.

    I also reckon that between 1 or 2 out of 10 teachers are really excellent and would be recognised as such be everyone. About the same proportion really shouldn’t be there.

  7. Brian: To what extent to you think the buzz you saw was a durable thing that depended on a school culture that had built up over the years or a transient thing that depended on particular teachers, headmasters or students?

  8. That’d be South Korea John, North Korea has a special kinda education system. πŸ™‚
    My son (2nd) recently did some courses with some South Koreans.
    He,s lifting his OP to pursue engineering, they need English.
    My son reckons they suppress their ” dog eat dog ” mentality and are happy to engage in ” You scratch my back, I scratch yours ”
    And they did with brilliant results for all concerned.
    It’s students teaching students and complaining the teachers are shit.
    Unfortunately in Australia we have an influential section of the social commentariate that advocate ” the right to be apathetic and lazy ” but not suffer the consequences of that ” right “.
    In both teachers and students.

  9. John @ 8, the buzz in each case depended on a dynamic principal and/or deputy (or deputies).

    If the leadership changes it can be lost or stuffed up. In an instance I’m aware of it took about 3 years of determined effort to do the job properly (stuffing up, that is).

  10. Unfortunately in Australia we have an influential section of the social commentariate that advocate ” the right to be apathetic and lazy ” but not suffer the consequences of that ” right β€œ. In both teachers and students.

    And of course you can provide links to these people’s advocacy?

Comments are closed.