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  Issue #128

John Williamson lets Waltzing Matilda rip at the rugby

Mike's Pith & Wind - Anthems
It was probably the coffee. Officially I don’t drink coffee anymore, but I’ll occasionally indulge in a small cup of Greek-style brewed coffee when we have guests over for tea. (By ‘tea’ I mean dinner of course, but old cultural habits die hard). Anyway, as a result of drinking a thimble-full of coffee I slept fitfully on this night and awoke from a dream in which I was contending forcefully to group of people who couldn’t care less that ‘Australians don’t sing enough’.
It started me thinking about national anthems in general and the anthems of Australia and New Zealand in particular. Antipodean crowds gathered in sporting stadiums will, albeit reluctantly, actually join together in song to celebrate an impending sporting clash between nations. The national anthems on both sides of the ditch are pretty weak, although I suppose both at least have the virtue of brevity, despite the New Zealand version having lately doubled in length to include a verse in Maori. This allows Kiwis to feel smug about being culturally inclusive as well as having a verse that nobody understands. I’m hopeful that the Maori verse isn’t as lame as the English verse, but I‘m not optimistic. Incidentally, the South Africans (another rugby-playing nation) did something similar with their national anthem, jamming together two musically incompatible anthems to be sung in at least three languages, perhaps by way of a commentary on their political situation. The result is hardly brief. Mind you, it’s not as rambling as the Argentine anthem, which, as a rugby.. read more

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Dick's Toolbox - Be happy
As Garrison Keilor used to say ‘It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon’. The cold weather has neither stopped the roses from flowering nor various fruit trees from budding, so there is something obviously out of kilter with the seasons. I am resigned to the fact that the impetus to limit the amount of carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere doesn’t seem to get any traction in Australia as we open up even larger open-cut coal mines so that India, China and other countries to generate the electricity so that they, too, may watch reality TV in air-conditioned comfort. Electricity is the underlying fundamental technology that makes the modern world go round so if you own a coal mine what are you going to do? Even though we should be encouraging solar energy herein Australia the government will cast around for as long as it takes to find a consulting firm that will give them the answer that they and the large companies want. You don’t need it, solar is Un-Australian. It will probably also be a.. read more

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