All posts by Noel Turnbull

Australians aren’t like that are they?

As consumers have been fighting over toilet rolls; marauding busloads of city dwellers pillage local country stores of products; and, the PM says we will get through it all because we are Australians, it is probably a good time to ask the question – what are Australians really like?

Our national myths encompass a large amount of rot – brave, iconoclastic, independent, inheritors of the Anzac tradition and proud singers of that awful song We Are Australians. Sadly the Word program can’t quite capture the little tremor that comes with the singing of the word Australians. read more

Resuming after some maintenance

The blog – the author – not the site – has been experiencing some maintenance but will resume operations next week.

In the meantime there is an update on the review of David J. Silverman’s This Land is Their Land about the Wampanoag Indians, the Plymouth Colony and the distorted history Americans celebrate every Thanksgiving. read more

Compulsive leadership posturing

“Get on with it” erupted loudly from the sitting room this morning as if an after dinner speaker was just taking far, far, far too long to make any point at all.

But it wasn’t caused by an after dinner or breakfast speaker, just someone watching our Prime Minister exuding that faux sincerity and concern that Elmer Gantry personified. The problem apparently was that instead of getting to the point of what new measures were being put in place to deal with the pandemic he was spending time assuring us that Australia would get through it because we are Australians and uttering assorted other similar platitudes. read more

Credulity, stupidity and two types of infection

As the coronavirus infection spreads it is hard not to think that it might be a good idea for one of the recently infected, Peter Dutton, to be isolated on either Christmas or Manus Islands rather than one of the various properties he owns.

The Government is obviously worried that he may have infected colleagues, or the Government offices in Sydney in which he met with them, would not have been visited by a Hazmat clad team from somewhere to sterilise the place. read more

Grand Prix claims

There may well be a benign side to the Australian Grand Prix’s consistent overstatement of how many people attend the event – the potential number of coronavirus infections will be correspondingly reduced by the multiple by which the Grand Prix exaggerates its attendance.

Italy has been locked down but the Italian Government has given Ferrari’s Formula One team a special exemption to travel from coronavirus-impacted Lombardy to Melbourne and the Grand Prix CEO, Andrew Westacottt, says there won’t be a problem and that there is no need to do what Bahrain has done for its race – hold it without spectators. read more

Mercenaries in history, the recent past and today

The recent death of the 102 year old Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare reminds us of when the last of the mercenaries who fought in the world’s wars were replaced by mega-mercenary companies to which the United States and others have outsourced many military operations.

Over centuries rulers have outsourced wars and one of Hoare’s most famous English predecessors was the 14th century English condottiere John Hawkwood who plied his trade among the interminable wars of the time in Italy. But for those who have never heard of Hawkwood or Mad Mike you need to go to the history books (for instance Frances Stonor Saunders’ Hawkwood) to learn about the former and to the film The Wild Geese for the latter. read more

The foundational U.S. myth

All societies survive on myths – whether fraudulent, foundational or both – but one of the most widely of those celebrated among Western world nations (other than Christmas and which encompasses both) is the US Thanksgiving holiday.

For those few who may not know it, Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November which has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, when a proclamation by President George Washington made it a public holiday after a request by Congress and after another affirmation by Lincoln. read more

COVID-19 communication in a pandemic

Most governments are hopeless at communicating risks – except for the imaginary ones they conjure up to attack their opponents.

Yet when a major crisis like COVID-19 arises the natural instinct is to assure their citizens that it is a problem which can be contained and which they are doing everything they can to control. read more

Who is the world’s outstanding journalist?

Who is the world’s outstanding journalist? It’s a question which seems particularly important given the current status of journalism; the rise of fake news online; and, the need for journalists to be constantly posting to get their employers’ online media figures up.

It’s also a very difficult question to answer because how do you judge? read more

The real ScoMo: ‘a cross between Rasputin and Crocodile Dundee’

Up until recently Morrison has managed one bit of very successful marketing – himself. But now the real ScoMo – the one seen in his career before politics – is becoming more apparent.

Bevan Hurley, writing in the New Zealand publication Stuff on 16 February 2020, recounts Morrison’s 1998-2000 career as NZ Office of Tourism and Sport CEO during a period the local media called The Tourism Wars. Boards were sacked and claims and counter-claims involving everyone from the PM to various Ministers and officials ultimately culminated in the Government’s defeat and the election of a Labour Government. read more