Thinking Allowed - Including musings by Daan Spijer.

Archive for March, 2016

From the Kitchen

March 23, 2016

From the Kitchen #180


There are a number of important issues in Australia that affect the way our society operates, around asylum seeking, criminality and terrorism. The two main federal political parties appear to be acting on the notion that they will remain, or be, electable if they show that Australia is tough on both issues. They each support the ‘get tough’ attitude of the other, whichever of them is in power and they have been doing this for decades. They do this based on the notation that we need to be kept safe from “illegal immigrants” and terrorists – and sometimes conflate the two groups. They promulgate the fear and then play to it. (more…)

Book Reviews

March 17, 2016

Dark Emu

Dark_Emu_cover_200pxDark Emu – Black Seeds: agriculture or accident
Bruce Pascoe
ISBN: 9781922142436
175 pp, including index and extensive bibliography
Magabala Books 2014

Shortlisted: 2014 Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing

Bruce Pascoe is an extraordinary writer and he has crafted an extraordinary book. In Dark Emu he examines the history of Aboriginal relationships with the land as that history has been concocted over more than two centuries by European ‘invaders’. (more…)

From the Kitchen

March 7, 2016

From the Kitchen #179


We are living fearful lives. Our politicians are keeping us that way and the media are assisting them eagerly. Although we live in the ‘information age’, we are not given ready access to the information we need to make informed choices or to intelligently debate the issues that affect our lives. (more…)

Book Reviews

March 5, 2016

Ghost River

ghost_river_cover_200pxGhost River
Tony Birch
University of Queensland Press 2015
ISBN: 9780702253775
294 pp

This wonderful novel by Tony Birch is like the river itself. It often flows gently, within defined banks, and occasionally overflows in violent flood, destructive and uncaring. In this, the river could be considered as the main character, around which the other characters ebb and flow.

The (other) main characters, viewed from the human perspective, are Ren and Sonny, two twelve-year-old boys living next door to each other in the Richmond area of Melbourne, near the Yarra River around the 1960s to ’70s. Sony is a bit like the uprooted trees that occasionally career down the river, a potential hazard. Ren becomes his best friend and tries to buffer Sonny’s behaviour. (more…)

Book Reviews


Clancy Tucker
ISBN: 9780646932262
95 pp
Clancy Tucker Publishing 2015

Clancy Tucker has written a delightful story of a teenage girl overcoming adversity.  Rida is an immigrant, a Muslim, and is bullied at school because of the way she looks and because she is regarded as a nerd.  She doesn’t fit in because she stands out.  In the process of trying to avoid her tormentors, she meets people who assist her in unexpected ways.

Rida also meets Ky, another girl who doesn’t fit in and who has a secret that eventually turns Rida’s life around completely.   This is a narrative very much of our time, dealing with issues of xenophobia and prejudice and how various people deal with these. (more…)

Book Reviews

Between You and Me

between_you_and_me_cover-200pxBetween You and Me : confessions of a comma queen
Mary Norris
ISBN: 9781925240993
203 pp plus index, notes and bibliography
Text Publishing  2015

Much as I love delving into language and grammar, I would not ordinarily pick up an autobiography of a copy editor; but the subtitle grabbed my attention and piqued my interest.

This is not so much an autobiography as a collection of anecdotes and accounts of those who work in this field, sprinkled with examples of good and bad use of language and its grammar with an ultimate shrug of the shoulders, as if to say: Who gives a flying duck?  The ebb and flow of this entertaining work reminds me of the writings of Bill Bryson – musings more than exposition. (more…)