Thinking Allowed - Including musings by Daan Spijer.

From the Kitchen

January 30, 2016

From the Kitchen #177


The first wave of foreign insurgents onto a large island continent lying between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in 1788 can be examined as a metaphor for the dire straits all life on earth finds itself in today.

The passengers and crew of those eleven ships came from a society that considered the ‘great unknown continent’ to be empty and ripe for exploitation.  There was a disregard for the existing inhabitants and their culture, as well as for the land with which those inhabitants were intimately and inextricably bound.  The foreigners manipulated the official record so that they could consider themselves as having come into a vast land with unlimited resources, in relation to which there were no competing interests. (more…)

From the Kitchen

January 17, 2016

From the Kitchen #176


“What’s in a name?”  Call a rose a squirrel, it will smell the same.  Or will it?  Would my preconceived idea of what a squirrel smells like – I’ve never smelled one – change my experience of the flower’s scent?  Was Shakespeare wrong? (more…)

From the Kitchen

January 7, 2016

From the Kitchen #175


Living in a democracy, we spend a lot of time considering the merits of the people who want us to vote them into positions of government.  And then we spend a lot of time discussing and arguing about and contemplating whether we used our vote correctly, or voicing our disappointment at the shortcomings of the present incumbents. (more…)

Book Reviews

December 18, 2015

Cold Faith

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cold_faith_cover_200pxCold Faith
Shaune Lafferty Webb
Hague Publishing  2015
ISBN: 9780992543723
221 pp

It seems that a large selection of the books offered to YA readers continue to be post-apocalyptic. Why is this? Are authors trying to prepare young people for ‘real’ life or are there other, deeper meanings in all this?

Having young people be heroes has always been possible in a ‘normal’, though somewhat fanciful world: series such as The Secret Seven and Swallows and Amazons. In these, Enid Blyton still had functioning adults in the background, even if they did not form part of the adventures. The more modern offerings appear to paint worlds in which the adults have lost the plot and the young people have taken it upon themselves or are charged with the responsibility to find solutions. This is the case in The Hunger Games, the Divergent trilogy, the Matched trilogy and even in the Harry Potter series. At least Harry Potter and his friends receive training in survival skills from some of the adults around. (more…)

From the Kitchen

December 17, 2015

From the Kitchen #174


We are all different, unless you are the old bearded man in the crowd in Life of Brian who insisted he was the only one who was not an individual.  None of us is identical to any other person – get used to it.

The problem we face is the result of chimeras: we are, it seems, wired to grouping people and then treating all members of a particular group as identical and to believing them to be fundamentally different from members of every other group, including our group.  And then we start to fear the other and that fear leads to unhelpful, even destructive, behaviour.  Next, we notice that some members of our group are not the same as us and they have to be re‑grouped.  Take that to its logical conclusion and each of us will belong to a group of one.  Funny that! (more…)

From the Kitchen

December 1, 2015

From the Kitchen #173


They come onto the train and look around.  She leads the way to a group of empty seats and sits down.  He sits opposite her.  They’re silent as the train takes off.  Both have their legs leaning to the left so that their knees don’t touch.  She is holding her bag on her lap with both arms.  He is clutching a book.

She looks through the windows at the back fences streaming past, the colourful graffito tags indecipherable.  He starts reading his book: Life of Pi.

They both wear school uniforms, from different schools.  He looks to be three years older than she.  She turns to him.  “That was a cool film.”  “Yeah, but the book’s better.”

I wonder about their relationship.  Casual?  Romantic?  Just met? (more…)

From the Kitchen

March 23, 2013

From the Kitchen #172

Full page photo

In the entertainment we watch on TV, we are used to there being a sliding scale between fiction and non-fiction.  ‘Fictional’ stories are often ‘based on true events’ and documentaries can be ‘dramatised’ to make them more interesting.


From the Kitchen

March 6, 2013

From the Kitchen #171


An interesting discovery was made recently in an attic in a very old house in Guilford, England.  It is a metal box, like a biscuit tin with a hinged lid, containing scores of small pieces of paper, each with a short message in tiny writing. (more…)

From the Kitchen

September 2, 2012

From the Kitchen #170

This is coming to you from a different kitchen.  The morning sun is flooding the courtyard of the Neram Harvest Café at the New England Regional Arts Museum in Armidale, northern NSW.  Despite the sun, it is still too cold for me to sit outside – the air temperature has risen from an overnight low of -4°C to around 10°C – although the hardened locals are sitting out there in their shirtsleeves.


From the Kitchen

August 15, 2012

From the Kitchen #169

Having finished my last post with a quote from Douglas Adams, I shall start this one with another:

We don’t have to save the world.  The world is big enough to look after itself.  What we have to be concerned about is whether or not the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us in it.