Tim Fischer’s death reminds us that the Australians fought an even bigger, longer and more deadly battle than Long Tan (discussed in the most recent blog) in Vietnam – the Battle of Coral- Balmoral – at which he was wounded.
The battle took place over many days in May 1968, after 1RAR and 3RAR, established Fire Support Base Coral. Shortly after the North Vietnamese attacked the base and overran several positions. In close quarters hand to hand battle the Australians, with assistance from mortar and artillery fire, drove the NVA back.read more
They did what they were trained to do, a friend and fellow Vietnam veteran said to the blog about the new film, Danger Close, when they caught up this week.
This was not to denigrate in any way the sacrifice and bravery of 108 infantrymen with supporting artillery, helicopters and ultimately Armoured Personnel Carriers. Rather he meant to emphasise that the Australian Army trained, trained and trained its members to confront exactly that sort of situation and worked to inculcate a culture and camaraderie which produced professionalism, resilience and bravery.read more
Commonplace books are probably less than common these days although maintaining them online should make them easier to compile and access particularly when for some of the items stuck in them scanning is easier than scissors and paste.
They have always had a basically personal role – reminding the owner of some wisdom, odd fact, memory or a source to be plundered to illustrate other writing or to provide a veneer of intellectual breadth.read more
As well as having to keep an eye out for Russian electoral interference we now need to watch out for the fake news promulgated by knights of the realm – and the employee whistle blowers who provide the evidence of what their knightly employers, such as Sir Lynton Crosby and his company CTF Partners, do.read more
The phrase putting lipstick on a pig is probably unfair to pigs. For a generation brought up on Miss Piggy it might even be incomprehensible. But it does sum up a public relations innovation which resulted in a man who had been convicted of sexual assault getting positive coverage in the US magazines Forbes, HuffPost and National Review.read more
Cairns in Far North Queensland is a remarkable place where remarkable things – excellent, good, bad and odd – occur.
For the good, the odd and the bad start with the Cairns Aquarium. It is one of Cairns’ most popular tourist attractions but one has to wonder what messages visitors take away from it and how it subtly reinforces climate denialism.read more
“From whence and whereof cometh yon Trump? From some distant time or world?” Well that’s how it might be put in cod Elizabethan dialogue.
Yet reading Taylor Branch’s trilogy about America in the King Years (the blog has read the 3000 plus pages of the volumes over the years – taking somewhat longer than it took Branch to write all three plus some other books) it is remarkable how much the divisions in the US in the 1960s through the assassinations of Martin Luther King, JFK and Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam War are still resonating today in a way which makes Trump less of a new phenomenon and more a throwback to, or logical outcome from, another era. Indeed, in many respects they make today’s America look just like a distant time or world or at least one formed in that distant time and world.read more
The defining characteristics of Australia’s right wing cultural warriors – whether in the Liberal Party, the Murdoch media or the usual think tank suspects – are their breathtaking hypocrisy and the very real threat they pose to the liberal values so many have fought to inculcate in society.
Freedom of speech is supposedly banned from universities by snowflake students and radical academics; religious folk aren’t allowed to speak up about their beliefs; the ABC promotes left wing ideology while banning contrary voices; cartoonists can’t draw images about race; and, ‘ordinary’ Australians are drowned out by inner urban Green voters.read more
There is nothing more beloved of apocalyptic thinkers, intelligence agencies, conservative politicians and general scare-mongers than the threat of some disaster. It is even better when the threat is insidious, little understood and able to be transformed into policies which actually have other purposes.read more
UK Tory Government climate policy is enough to create a slight yearning for the days when Australian conservatives looked to the so-called Mother Country for guidance.
These days Australian Tories seem to be a contradictory amalgam of fundamentalist Christians, neo-liberals and enthusiastic culture warriors who look to venerate US political conservatives almost as much as they once did the monarch. Now they combine enthusiasm for royalty and opposition to republicanism with being, to all practical purposes, US Republican epigones.read more
An insider’s view of how public relations really works