Category Archives: books & readings

Does Clive Hamilton value his own backyard?

Looking at the creative political sign in front of the Kingston Glass Workshop in October (now removed), the message was clear.

Continue reading Does Clive Hamilton value his own backyard?

photography at the National Library of Australia

Viewfinder: Photography from the 1970s to Now

The National Library is staging an exhibition of 125 documentary photographs, “Viewfinder: Photography from the 1970s to Now”. Continue reading photography at the National Library of Australia

Marion Mahony Griffin – What A Life!

Particular major urban developments in Canberra have been promoted to be in line with the plans of Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin or somehow in the spirit of the Griffins.

Continue reading Marion Mahony Griffin – What A Life!

What happens in Sydney – happens here

Book Review: Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul

 

Elizabeth Farrelly’s new book “Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul” is a must-read for anyone with an interest in their local planning issues.

Continue reading What happens in Sydney – happens here

Mythomania Peter Conrad

Recommended Reading

Mythomania: Tales of Our Times from Apple to ISIS – by  Peter Conrad, Thames and Hudson

Several years ago I had listened to most of Peter Conrad’s BBC podcasts on his topic of Myths – and loved them.

I have read just a little of this book so far – but can say that it as good as if not better than listening to the podcasts of Peter’s broadcasts. It is now part of my reading for the next weeks. And there are new topics covered.

Continue reading Mythomania Peter Conrad

NO is NOT enough

New book by Naomi Klein

“This is one attempt to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse.

And it’s a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future.” — From the Introduction

Continue reading NO is NOT enough

Hillary Clinton

The Destruction of Hillary Clinton

I have already reviewed this book – click here.

However I cannot stop pondering the challenge this story throws up for anyone interested in equity, fairness, and the role of the media in so many aspects of our daily lives.

If we had a real media, this story would have been totally different. Instead what happened here was the total manipulation of the media and through them members of the public, by all forms of malicious groups of people and individuals.

Continue reading Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

The Destruction of Hillary Clinton

It was on hearing certain phrases used over and over again on Australian TV programs talking about the 2016 US election campaign that I became suspicious that we were witnessing a lazy press.

Almost daily  the media was taking the same phrases and words and using them over and over again – with no evidence that they could be accurate except that they were the words and phrases being used by most journalists and commentators at the time.

On the basis we were supposed to accept their words as fact.

Continue reading Hillary Clinton

New Philosopher

Totally recommended reading

The theme being – Future thinking

From the publishers:

Although the term and precise starting point might be disputed, many anthropologists believe that ‘behavioural modernity’ – when certain traits such as abstract thinking and symbolic behaviour are said to have emerged in humans – started around 50,000 years ago.

Continue reading New Philosopher

Quarterly Essay – David Marr

David Marr – The White Queen

From the publishers: Most Australians despise what Pauline Hanson stands for, yet politics in this country is now orbiting around One Nation. In this timely Quarterly Essay, David Marr looks at Australia’s politics of fear, resentment and race. Who votes One Nation, and why? How much of this is due to inequality? How much to racism? How should the major parties respond to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim voices? What damage do Australia’s new entrepreneurs of hate inflict on the nation?

Continue reading Quarterly Essay – David Marr

The Monthly

Recommended: The Monthly April 2017.

This is a must read for the articles on the ALT-Right by Richard Cooke – who pulls no punches and tells it as we all know it but it seems few in the press are game to do – well done Richard; and then there’s a condemning article – with maybe far too much detail – but totally providing an accurate picture of the damage done to the NBN by Malcolm Turnbull and his pals. And what a cover!

Click here for the website

Rebecca Huntley Still Lucky

Book Review

Still Lucky, Rebecca Huntley, 2017. This is a good book. The message is clear – Australians are far more optimistic than we have been led to believe by our governments and the media. This researcher has done the research, travelled the country, talked to loads of people over many years. If you are interested in her reports on her research and comments – this book will give you all that and more.

Continue reading Rebecca Huntley Still Lucky

Helen Garner

Review: Everywhere I Look, Helen Garner

Here’s a good read. Being a selection of essays and diary notes based on many events and sometimes those quite happenings that one observes.

I have not read any Helen Garner’s work but have a reasonable awareness of the topics she writes on. Other reviewers have related this work to previous writings – for me I had to take it all on face value.

Continue reading Helen Garner

Being Turnbulled

9781760294885The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull, the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat

I wrote briefly about this earlier – and as I said before – it’s a book for anyone puzzled by the current loser who is Prime Minister.

click here for more on the book and here’s an article by the author about his dilemma–click here.

Continue reading Being Turnbulled

Being Turnbulled

9781760294885The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull, the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat

Here’s a book for anyone puzzled by the current loser who is Prime Minister. I am still reading it… click here or on the image. and here’s an article by the author about his dilemma–click here.   Review to follow…..

Quarterly Essay: Trump

Enemy Within: America politics in the time of Trump

9781925435207_fcThis essay by Don Watson, is totally recommended. If you are wondering what is going on with the USA and what is happening to democracy, then read this. It is not necessarily about Trump, but more about Don Watson’s observations of the American people and how they have ended up in this place – it is logical. This is in fact where the USA is today.

Continue reading Quarterly Essay: Trump

George Megalogenis

qe61The latest in this great series – Quarterly Essay – by George Megalogenis on Balancing Act: Australia between recession and renewal – hits all the buttons and makes the case for urgent action on how the country is being run – or more to the point how bad our governments have been for at least the last decade on so many things that effect the long term viable of the place.

Continue reading George Megalogenis

Quarterly Essay: Political Amnesia

Reviews: Quarterly Essay 60 — Political Amnesia

How we forgot how to govern, Laura Tingle, November 2015

qe60This is a recommended read for those with any sort of interest in how Australia has been and continues to be manged by the political ruling classes for the last couple of decades. I cannot say that anything Laura Tingle wrote about was shocking news, given my own experiences of dealing with governments and their bureaucracies,  but her insights and observations are definitely worth the read.

Continue reading Quarterly Essay: Political Amnesia

Notes on the Death of Culture

New Book: Mario Vargas Llosa, Notes on the Death of Culture
9780374123048_p0_v2_s192x300

I suspect that many people would agree that the joys and subtleties of culture is under threat by mass media technologies and the expectations of the immediate. The demise of culture is addressed in a new book “Notes on the Death of Culture”. This is not a joyous read as it is more about being in a state of despair about so many things about us in western society.

Continue reading Notes on the Death of Culture

New Philosopher

Highly Recommended Reading.

newphilosopher9_cover-155x200The July 2015 issue of New Philosopher has the theme of Property. This magazine has loads of engaging short essays and heaps of great graphics — and photographs.

This issue on Property is very timely as the debate around housing, affordability and ownership continue to dominate how we are making decisions about our cities and towns.

Continue reading New Philosopher

Germany: Memories of a Nation

Book & Exhibition Review

Germany: Memories of a Nation, 2014

germanyI was somewhat aware of the complicated history of the German peoples. Over many years I had dipped into history books about various aspects of German histories. But despite this I had still not quite got my head around just how the German state as we know it today came into being.

This book by Neil MacGregor is recommended not only because it deals very well with the layers of history, but because he does this in a very accessible and enjoyable method. I cannot say the same for the exhibition.

Continue reading Germany: Memories of a Nation

Dreams and Imagination, MGA photography

Review: Photography Exhibition Catalogue

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City, Monash Gallery of Art , until 1st March 2015.

MGA-Light016I have just read a copy of a wonderful catalogue of a significant photographic exhibition at the Monash Gallery of Art (MGA). Yet again the MGA lives up to their reputation as ‘The Home of Australian Photography‘.

Chances are that I will not get to Melbourne to see this exhibition. However, the catalogue is a real gem and should be sought after by anyone interested in the development of Australian photography during the early 20th Century. (click on the images to enlarge)

Continue reading Dreams and Imagination, MGA photography

Canberra

Book Review

Canberra, Paul Daley, 2012

canberra-paul-daleyThis is small book is another in the city series published by Newsouth (University of NSW). I have previously reviewed Hobart (click here) and Adelaide (click here). Paul Daley has told a set of stories about Canberra, the National Capital. Sadly he seems to not have invested the time to gather local knowledge about the city, its people, its life style and its complexities as a 21st Century city of 380,000 people.

Continue reading Canberra

Climate Change

Book Announcement

This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate,
Naomi Klein 2014

ThisChangesEverything398x425Yet to read this, but I am listing as a suggestion for your Christmas reading and/or gift list. We have to move on climate change and I agree that it is an economic discussion, one about capitalism and corporate greed. No wonder our infamous Australia politicians want it off the agenda. It is about dealing with their mates and how they are ripping off the planet.

Continue reading Climate Change

My Story Julia Gillard

Announcement: New Book

Julia Gillard’s – My Story

my storyHappy to promote this book. This story remains complex. There have been several thoughtful reviews of the book published online. As well as the usual crap from the mainstream media, who were part of the problem during Julia Gillard’s time as Prime Minister.  Sara Dowse has provided an intelligent and insightful review that is definitely worth reading. click here.

 

Hack Attack Nick Davies

2nd Notice: New Book
Hack Attack by Nick Davies

hack-attackJust to remind you that this book is worth reading. Sadly the ending is a bit depressing in that Nick considers the power elite have reshuffled a little but carry on a s before.

It has also been interesting to read the story of Rebecca Brooks. The question has been posed elsewhere, was she just a user of the corporate and political systems in order to climb the ladder to join the ranks of those in power?

Continue reading Hack Attack Nick Davies

Architecture of Enjoyment

Announcement: New Book on Architecture
Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment, 2014, Author: Henri Lefebvre

image_miniI’m about to get my hands on a copy of this book. Having read some of the commentary about the author and the concepts he is dealing with, the book reinforces the need for more discussion about the topic of enjoyment of architecture and urban spaces.

My life is already involved with dealing with planning bureaucracies that lack vision and any notion of good design. I have posted several times about the blandness of architecture in our cities.

Continue reading Architecture of Enjoyment

Canberra Architecture

Review: Book
Canberra Architecture, Andrew Metcalf
Watermark Architectural Guides, 2003

CanberraI picked up this book quiet a while ago but it is only now that I have had time to look through it. I am glad I did, as after reading through quite a bit of it, I have become more aware that Canberra has a reasonable amount of good and notable architecture.

I have a quiet interest in good architecture and have spent some energies complaining about the current crop of badly designed houses and commercial buildings being thrust onto Canberra. Residents have despaired that good design in our civic areas and suburbs has become a thing of the past.

Continue reading Canberra Architecture

Manhattan: The Island at the Centre of the World

Review: Book
The Island at the Centre of the World: The Untold Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Founding of New York, by Russell Shorto, 2004

centreofworldSurely the citizens of the USA would have by now have worked out the history about their first colonists.

They probably thought so until the research behind this book surfaced and now they can read about the real history from this author, Russell Shorto.

This book is the precursor to Russell Shorto’s later book, Amsterdam, reviewed earlier – click here.  Both are fascinating reads.

Continue reading Manhattan: The Island at the Centre of the World

Climate Politics

Book Review:  as posted on Inside Story
Power Failure: The Inside Story of Climate Politics Under Rudd and Gillard
By Philip Chubb, Black Inc.

gillardruddThere’s a good book review uploaded to the online site Inside Story. The book is  The Inside Story of Climate Politics Under Rudd and Gillard.

Andrew Dodd provides a thorough overview of Philip Chubb’s insider account of the demise of Kevin Rudd’s climate scheme.

His review males the book to be essential reading. My stack of books is already too high so I have provided this review as a way of tempting others. Click here.

Amsterdam

Review: Book
Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, Russell Shorto, published 2013

Amstersdam-250x378If you have any interest in liberal thinking, tolerance and the enlightenment, then this is a book you must read.

Given the threats to these values almost daily by the current Australian government, it is a must to take time out and do a reality check on just how far backwards these elected clowns are trying to take us.

While obviously about the city, this book is really a celebration of the people and their influence on the whole western world.

Continue reading Amsterdam

Post-Soviet Architecture

Review: Book
The Butt-Ugly Allure of Post-Soviet Architecture

The photographs of architecture of the Post-Soviet era.

There’s a review in WIRED online of a book. To quote: Frank Herfort moved to Moscow with no intention to make a book. Like all photographers, the German-born artist always keeps one eye open for potential subjects, but making a book of architectural photos was never the plan. “While scouting the new city for myself, I began to notice these amazing buildings.”

Continue reading Post-Soviet Architecture

Adelaide

Review: Book
Adelaide, Kerryn Goldsworthy, 2011

9781742232621.jpg.400x0_q20This is another of those smallish book  published about Australia’s capital cities. I have already reviewed Hobart, by Peter Timms.

I have to confess that I did not take to the book on Adelaide and at times seriously considered giving up. In the end I had a move quickly through whole sections in order to see where the author was going.

Continue reading Adelaide

Soils

Book Review (re-posted): Soils

What Has Nature Ever Done for Us

There is book review on the Guardian site. This is timely as Australia government goes through all sorts of actions to set the clock back on environmental issues. I dread what chance anyone would have right now of confronting this government over the long-term treatment of our soils, our biodiversity; in fact anything at all to do with nature.

Continue reading Soils

Philosophy in the Garden

Review: Book

Damon Young, Philosophy in the Garden

Melbourne University Press

From Damon’s own blog:

Damon Young explores one of literature’s most intimate relationships: authors and their gardens. For some, the garden provided a retreat from workaday labour; for others, solitude’s quiet counsel. For all, it played a philosophical role: giving their ideas a new life. This book reveals the profound thoughts discovered in parks, backyards and pot-plants. It does not provide tips for mowing overgrown cooch grass, or mulching a dry Japanese maple. It is a philosophical companion to the garden’s labours and joys.

Continue reading Philosophy in the Garden

Untangling The Web

Review: Book

Untangling the Web, Aleks Krotoski 2013

If you are reading this then you are on the web. After more than twenty years of being on the web it’s timely to benchmark what is happening?

In her book, Aleks takes us through some of the questions such as just how much have we changed because of the world-wide web, Facebook, twitter and google and all internet thingys.

Do not expect her to supply you with all the answers as the internet is very much a work in progress.

 

Continue reading Untangling The Web

End of the Road?

Review:  Book

End of the Road?, Gideon Haigh, Pengiun Specials, 2013

It’s a tough life taking an interest in your country. Traditionally the main sources of information for most people has been the media. In the last decade this source has become totally corrupted, especially the mainstream media and the ABC.

When it comes to the rhetoric around the car industry in Australia, the ideological arguments that are trotted out do nothing but harm and mislead. Thank god (or whoever is out there) Penguin has these ‘Penguin Specials’ and thank you to Gideon for his research and information that goes a long way to providing a reality check on where the country is at when it comes to having a car industry.

Continue reading End of the Road?

Laura Tingle Great Expectations

Review: Book

Great Expectations, Government, Entitlement and an Angry Nation, Laura Tingle 2013
an expanded version of her previous Quarterly Essay

The beginning of the 21st Century is a time when something changed in society due to a rise in the lack of civility and anger over expectations not being addressed. This unrest has surfaced within the larger political debates as well as in more discrete arenas such as companies, community groups, societies and associations.

The media has had a great time fueling this dissatisfaction through the constant emphasis on problems, large, small and imaginary, about our  governments. Continue reading Laura Tingle Great Expectations

Flat Earth News

Review: Book

Flat Earth News, Nick Davies 2009

Just when you though the media and news reporting was crap, along comes a book that proves your worst thoughts on current journalism.

Nick Davies went out on limb as he has criticised his own profession. I suspect he did not win too many friends.

He was reporting on the facts based on his own research and experiences from inside the tent on what had happened to contemporary journalism and why we are now subject to so much ‘churnalism’. Continue reading Flat Earth News

Battlers & Billionaires

Review: Book

Battlers & Billionaires, Andrew Leigh 2013

lc-leadn-malone-20130720164836879543-300x0Have you been wondering whether Australia is that egalitarian society we keep talking about especially in comparisons with other western societies?

As I write this review we are witnessing a millionaire, Clive Palmer, use his wealth to buy personal power in the Australian Parliament. At the same time the millionaire clan of Gina Rinehart and her children are locked in some court battle over a family feud over their millions. Continue reading Battlers & Billionaires

Take Your Best Shot

Review: Book

Take Your Best Shot, The Prime Ministership of Julia Gillard, Jaqueline Kent 2013

It was a very strange three or so years in Australian politics. It remains difficult to make sense of it all.

The media, Tony Rabbot, Kevin Rudd and his ruddites and the shock jocks all part of the murky times. Then there was the uncivilised behaviour that morphed into accepted everyday behaviour and all those supposedly close colleagues who turn on you. What a time for anyone!

Continue reading Take Your Best Shot

The Prince

Review: Quarterly Essay, The Prince, Faith, Abuse and George Pell.
David Marr, September 2013

This is one of those essays that I picked up knowing some of this story and already having opinions on religion in Australia, the associated politics and the horrible abuse issues.

I read this essay in one sitting and was totally taken aback by the details of events and the nasty side of human behaviour as told by David Marr.

This is recommended reading for anyone interested in the story of where this country has been and the issues we are yet to deal with properly. Continue reading The Prince

The Stalking of Julia

Book Review

The Stalking of Julia Gillard, Kerry-Anne Walsh

I should be able to say that there’s really no need for thinking and observant people to read this book.

The last three years in relation to the governance of Australia were just something totally unbelievable. We all think we know what happened.

I now consider that the labor government lost power well before the election. Was it because it was delivering fantastic economic management or was it because it did not deliver an outstanding set of national programs?

Continue reading The Stalking of Julia

Misogyny Factor

Book Review

The Misogyny Factor, Anne Summers

It was a month or so after our First Women Prime Minister had been removed from her position and following a number of not so nice events in my own life that I had started to wonder just what is happening to our Australian way of life and culture. What has happened to civility and respect.

There is a generation or two who seem to think that feminism is a cause now won and we should move on.

I find that certain men and women are fully capable of all sorts of weasel words about equality and the role of women in the workplace and act as if they champion such matters. Continue reading Misogyny Factor