Monday, November 30, 2009

Mary Bryant

I wasn't actually supposed to write about Mary Bryant today. I was supposed to write about Esther Adams. But when I looked up the name, I couldn't find anything. I must have typed the name wrong when I added her name. I did find an Esther Anderson....an actress on Home and Away. Maybe that's who I meant to write about. Anyway, I wasn't sure, so I decided to just skip it for now.

So, who is Mary Bryant?

Ah! She was a convict. That's pretty exciting. I didn't expect to be writing about that kind of thing today.

She was born in 1765 in Cornwall.

I feel like Cornwall has been calling out to me lately. I ran into it twice in one day last week (or the week before?). At the time, I was having second thoughts about going to Ireland. It's not that I have anything against Ireland. It's just that the Disney Vacation Club has only one resort they're doing trades with there. And it wasn't listed as one of their family-oriented places. I wasn't sure if Jack would have any fun there. SO, I asked Tim and Jack if they minded going to England instead. They were both fine with it.

 I suggested Cornwall because I had seen it twice in one day. It looks like a nice place to visit. We did some talking about Cornwall, but then it was decided that London might be better. I'm kind of torn between the two. It seems a bit crazy to go all the way to England and not visit the big famous city. But then I'm also kind of tired of doing the major touristy things. Although the last time I was in London, it was with my parents. They were totally into playing tourist...seeing the major sites surrounded by thousands of other people with their cameras clicking. Tim helped me to remember that our holidays are different than that. If we go to London, it will be about picnics in the park, people watching, little cafes, visiting neighborhood grocery stores, digging through used bookstores, playing in playgrounds, hanging out at museums, etc. Now I'm excited to go to London. However, it's highly unlikely we'll end up going there. I put us on the waiting list via Disney. It seem pretty hard to get any luck with that. We might end up having to change to Cornwall....or maybe even back to Ireland. Actually, we're probably lucky to even leave the United States. We'll probably get stuck at a hotel in Iowa or something.

Anyway, sorry. That was a long tangent there. Let me get back on track.

Mary Bryant was Cornish. I don't know what that is, but it makes me hungry. Maybe I'm thinking of Cornish Hen. Lately, I've been having a craving for poultry. That's kind of sad when you're a vegetarian.

Oh! Cornish just means she's from Cornwall. Okay. I should have gotten that.

Bryant was born into a fishing family. At some point, she left home and went to Plymouth. She ended up becoming a thief there. Along with two accomplices, she stole a silk bonnet, some jewelry, and some coins. She was caught, and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. Bryant traveled with the First Fleet.

The name of her ship was Charlotte. It left England on 13 May 1887. It had eighty-eight male convicts, and twenty female ones.

On the ship, Bryant gave birth to a baby girl. I wonder if she got pregnant on the ship, or before. I'm guessing it was on the ship. She named the baby after the ship...Charlotte. She gave it the last name Spence. Lord Wiki says this came from a fellow convict, David Spencer. He might have been the baby's father.

The ship arrived in Port Jackson on 26 January. A few weeks after that, Bryant had herself another man. William Bryant had also been a convict on the ship. The lovely couple got married, and soon had a baby together. Emanuel was born in 1790.

Is there any possibility that Bryant was the father of Charlotte as well? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that she went through two boyfriends on the ship. Who knows. There may have been even more.

In the colony, Mr. Bryant had a fishing job. He was then caught selling fish to some convicts. I guess he wasn't supposed to do that. He got a punishment of a hundred lashes. Ouch.

Then in 1791, the Bryant family decided to try to escape the colony. They managed to steal themselves a boat, and left on 28 March 1791. The family wasn't alone. They took seven other men with them. I guess they needed the help, or maybe they wanted to help others escape. Well, maybe it was a combination of both things.

Within sixty-six days, the Bryant family and their crew reached Timor. According to Lord Wiki, it was a very impressive journey. It's famous among people interested in sea journeys and all that.

In Timor, the Bryant group pretended to be shipwreck survivors. This worked for awhile. Then legend has it....William Bryant got drunk, and bragged about who they REALLY were. Oops.

Timor was occupied by the Dutch back then. The Dutch officials sent the Bryant family back to England to stand trial. On the voyage back, Mary lost her husband and two kids. They died of a feverish illness.

Bryant expected to be either hanged or sent back to Australia. Instead, she was sentenced to a year in prison in London. If I'm reading this right, she was defended by a famous lawyer and writer named James Boswell. The public was against her imprisonment. She got pardoned soon after.
Link
The Mary Bryant story has been featured in various plays and TV things.

In 1989 in London there was a successful play called Boswell for the Defense. Oh! And I guess they eventually turned it into a movie starring Michael Caine. Well, never mind. There was going to be a movie. It looks like production was stopped because of budgeting issues.

In 1995, there was a TV movie in Australia called The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant. It won an AFI award for best miniseries, and it also won a Logie.

I was going to watch a trailer for the program, but that's not working. It looks like they have some of the miniseries on YouTube. I'm going to watch a clip from the first part.

Wait! I think that ship officer guy is from Flashforward!

Okay. I just looked him up. It is him! His name is Jack Davenport.

I love Flashforward.

This miniseries sure has a lot of water drama.

Lord Wiki says the miniseries had the largest miniseries budget in Australia. It stresses the turbulent relationship between Bryant and the ship officer played by Jack Davenport. It sounds like a good story, although I'm not sure how much of it is true. Basically Davenport is infatuated with Bryant. On the ship, he rescues her from a storm and gets permission to take care of her. Later, she uses him in her attempts to escape. He gets mad about that.

Here we go. The Australian Biographical Dictionary has an entry on Bryant. Maybe they can give me a clue on what is true or not.

They say she was born on 1 May 1765. Her original last name was Broad.

She was arrested on 20 May 1786. She would have been twenty-one at the time. In the miniseries, they talk about her as if she's very young...like a child. I don't think twenty-one is all that young.

In Australia, Mary and her husband William received what they needed to escape from Dutch sailors. I'm not sure if they stole the stuff, bought it, traded for it, or were just given it. Anyway, they got it. Then they waited for an opportune time to escape. They picked a moonless night that had no ships around to chase after them.

During their adventurous journey, they had a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. This wasn't quite the tourist destination it is now. I'm guessing it was pretty dangerous. Well, it's still dangerous today, but  now they've got tour guides and all that.

When they got caught and were sailing back to England, Bryant lost her son and husband first. Charlotte died a little later. Poor Mary Bryant.

 I guess some good stuff happened to her though. She didn't remain a convict, thanks to the Boswell guy. It looks like she returned to her family in Cornwall. Still. I'm guessing maybe life would have worked out better for her if she and her family had stayed in Australia instead of trying to escape. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps her son, daughter, and husband would have gotten sick there as well.

This Australia history site has some information on Bryant. According to this account, it seems that William Bryant got the needed sailing-escape equipment by talking the sailor into giving it to him. I guess he used the power of persuasion. I wonder whether he lied about what they'd be using the stuff for; or if he honestly told them they were planning an escape. The website says, In October 1790 an East Indies trader, the Waaksamheyd, lumbered into Port Jackson heavily freighted with stores from Djakarta. Her Dutch captain, Detmer Smit, felt no obligations to the English convict system. I'm going to take that to mean the captain was on the side of the convicts, and not the system imprisoning them.

The website says their journey started out easy. They found good amounts of food, and fairly friendly natives. All was well. But then the weather turned, and things became a bit more difficult. At one point, they had a major lack of food and drinking water.

At the Great Barrier Reef, they ate some turtles. That's good. I mean for the people, not the turtles.

In Timor, they had planned to wait for a ship heading back to England. I guess they planned to go back as shipwreck survivors. Did they not worry that people might recognize them? Or did they plan to go to a different part of England....away from their family and neighbors? I guess it's not like these days. They wouldn't have photos of themselves plastered all over the Internet. Back then, it was probably much easier to escape and hide. If only William hadn't gotten drunk and confessed everything. I mean maybe that's NOT what happened. I don't think anyone knows definitely for sure. Maybe he didn't get drunk. Maybe they had been playing an intense game of Truth or Dare.

I just found a book on Powells about Bryant. I think I'll add it to my wish list so I can eventually learn more. But for now, I'm going to end this and get some laundry done.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brendan Nelson

I know who Brendan Nelson is. He was the Leader of the Opposition before Malcolm Turnbull got the job. I don't know what happened there; why Turnbull took Nelson's place. I also don't know whether or not Nelson is still a Member of Parliament.

The first time I heard of Nelson was on Sorry Day. When he spoke, some of the Indigenous Australians protested in some way. I think they turned their back on him, maybe? I forgot the reasoning behind it, but people on Livejournal tried to explain it to me. From what I know now, it probably had something to do with the fact that the Liberal Party hadn't fully supported the idea of an apology. Also, I'm slowly remembering.....I think he said something offensive in his speech.

Anyway, I guess I shall start learning.

Well, Lord Wiki says that Nelson is FORMER politician. So I guess he's not in Parliament anymore.

But we need to rewind and start at the beginning.

Baby Brendan was born in Melbourne on 19 August 1958. His birthday is a day before Jack's birthday.

Lord Wiki says the suburb he was born in was Coburg. He was the eldest of three kids. When he was a baby, the family moved to Launceston, Tasmania. Our friends live there!

Launceston was his family's hometown, so I guess that's why they moved there. Daddy Nelson was a marine chief steward. I don't know exactly what that is, but I can deduce that it probably has something to do with ships.

When Nelson was a teen, his family left Launceston and moved to Adelaide. There Nelson attended the high school Saint Ignatius' College. After that, he went to the University of Adelaide and studied economics.

This didn't fit well with Nelson for some reason. He dropped out of school after a year. I guessed he realized economics wasn't as exciting as he had imagined. Or maybe someone had pressured him to go into economics.

For a while (not sure how long) Nelson worked at various retail and hospitality jobs. Then he returned to school to study medicine. Wow. I wonder how he decided to go down that path. I like that he chose to leave school and work for awhile....instead of pursuing a degree he didn't like.

For most of us, we're bombarded with message of never give up. Don't quit! Sometimes we need the opposite message. It's okay to give up, and pursue another path. I saw something online about this...maybe from one of my friend's blogs. It was brilliant and thought-provoking. I wish I remembered where/what it was.

Lord Wiki says that Nelson eventually switched schools. He went to Flinders University. There he got a Bachelors of Medicine and and Surgery.

While he was a student, Nelson married someone. But that didn't work out. Nelson chose the quitting route once again.

Nelson moved back to Tasmania, but this time went to the south part. He became a general practitioner in Hobart. He did that from 1985 until 1995. In 1986, he got married again. The lovely couple had twins.

In 1987 he got together with the brother of Simon Crean (the Labor politician). The two of them, plus someone else opened up an after-hours locum service. I have no earthly idea what that means. Was it something do with medicine, or politics?

Well, I googled locum, and it seems to have a medicine connection. Maybe it's an Australian concept...or an Australian word. Yeah. The websites I'm seeing are Australian based.

In 1988, Nelson joined the Australian Medical Association. By 1990, he was president of the Tasmanian part. Oh! Then in 1991, he became the Federal president of it all.

And I had no idea that Brendan Nelson was a doctor.

Nelson's big issue was smoking. He was against cigarette companies sponsoring sporting events. He wanted to increase the number of nonsmoking seats on airplanes. That surprises me. I think I have a stereotype of conservative politicians being more likely to support the big tobacco companies. I don't know if this stereotype of mine is completely faulty, or based on some element of truth.

Wait. I made a mistake. Nelson didn't become President of the AMA in 1991. He became Vice-President. Then in 1993, he was elected President. During this time, the AMA had major hostility with the Labor Party. I don't know why. Was Labor in power then? Would that be a Keating year, or a Howard one?

Okay. It was Keating.

So far, I'm not seeing anything that awful about Nelson. I guess I'll get to that later. He seems decent so far.

Lord Wiki says he advocated gay law reform. Now was that in support of gay people, or not in support of them? He wanted people to show more concern for the environment, and he wanted to improve Aboriginal health. In a speech at an Aboriginal conference in Sydney, he blamed Aboriginal Health problems on the fact that people had been denied their land, hunting grounds, citizenship, freedom, and children. So, if this is right....he was at least acknowledging a stolen-generation.

Nelson was personally against euthanasia, but he did support the rights of doctors to withdraw treatment from consenting patients. Well, I think that's pretty reasonable.

I'm thinking....if I didn't know any differently, I'd probably assume Nelson was a Labor politician. This is all surprising me.

Ah! I just read further down. Nelson WAS part of the Labor Party. He joined when he was thirteen. He resigned from the party in 1991 when he became an AMA executive. It had something to do with him feeling the AMA job should be apolitical.

At one point, at some kind of rally thing, Nelson declared he had never voted Liberal in his life.

Ah, but later in an interview, Nelson said that Labor governments were generally better for Australia. But he said this might not be so in terms of health issues.

In 1994, Nelson joined the Liberal Party. So, what happened there? Why did he do it?

Around this time, he also moved to Sydney. He did more medical stuff there. He opened a surgery in the Rocks. I'm not sure what is meant by surgery. Is it a place where they do surgery, or is it just a doctor's office?

By 1995, Nelson was renouncing his support of the Labor Party. It had something to do with him losing faith in Medicare.

Around that time, Nelson retired from the AMA and went to Africa to hear about the country's struggle with AIDS. Lord Wiki says that Nelson's brother had died of AIDS a few months before that.

During this time, there was some political stuff I don't quite understand. It's something to do with a seat in Parliament, and something called pre-selection. Well, basically Nelson wanted the seat of Bradfield, and eventually he got it. Although Lord Wiki says that John Howard and Peter Costello supported his opponent.

In July 1995, there was some controversy. Nelson attended a party honoring Howard. He did some funny stuff that was a bit too risque for some ears. For that he received some criticism. Some people even wanted him to lose his pre-selection thing.

By 1996, Nelson became the Member for Bradfield, and John Howard became Prime Minister.

Lord Wiki says that Nelson (unlike Howard) was a vocal opponent of Pauline Hanson. He asked her to come with him to various Aboriginal communities. Nelson wanted the government to have a bipartisan condemnation of her statements. On 30 October 1996, a motion was passed regarding tolerance, nondiscriminatory immigration, and Aboriginal reconciliation.

All right. I'm still waiting to hear the bad stuff about Nelson. So far, he still seems decent.

Wait. Here's some controversy. I read it quickly and totally didn't understand it. It involves euthanasia, and maybe some plagiarism. Let me read it more SLOWLY.....

Well, I'm still not understanding it. I'm going to have to take it piece by piece.

It happened in the Northern Territory. Nelson and a former NSW premier were accused of trying to get someone to change his mind regarding euthanasia. Shit. Never mind. I give up. The wording here is too confusing. I'll try to remember to read about it elsewhere.

I do understand the plagiarism bit. Nelson did a speech. Later it was discovered parts of his speech had come from a paper done by an immigration expert. Oops. Nelson had to give an apology to Parliament.

In 2001, Nelson became Minister for Education, Science, and Training. Okay. I found the first thing I don't like about him. If I'm reading this right, he pushed for higher university fees. Not only that, but he pushed for more government support of non-government schools. What's the deal with that?

In 2005, Nelson introduced the whole voluntary student unionism thing. I've written about this before. I forgot when. The idea behind that is students can choose whether or not they want to join the student union. At first, I thought it sounded quite nice. I liked the idea of students not being forced to pay for something they might not want to take part in. But then I realized it's kind of like saying people should be able to choose whether or not they pay taxes.

Also, that year Nelson expressed support of schools teaching intelligent design (creationism). However, he emphasized that he felt evolution was the more important subject to teach. He was against creationism being taught INSTEAD of evolution. Then later, he said this creationism stuff should be taught in religion or philosophy classes. I can totally agree with that. I'm really not okay with creationism being taught in science. It doesn't belong there, in my opinion. But if there's enough kids from one religion in a particular school, I see no problem in providing classes that promote their belief system. I just think kids who are not of that religion should have the right to opt out.

In my PUBLIC (government school) I had a biology teacher who pushed her intelligent design views on us. That, to me, was HIGHLY inappropriate.

In 2006, Nelson became Minister for Defense.

In 2007, John Howard got some major rejections. Nelson became party-leader.

Now I'm getting into some stuff about Nelson that I like less. In a speech he said, I don't support gay marriage, adoption or IVF. But I believe in addressing the social and economic injustices affecting homosexuals. Okay. Does anyone else see something wrong with that statement? Wouldn't discrimination in adoption and marriage BE a social and economic injustice?

What if we changed the statement. What if I said, I don't support interracial marriage, adoption, or IVF. But I believe in addressing the social and economic injustices affecting interracial couples.
Something is not right there.

Okay, here is the sorry stuff....or the NOT sorry stuff.

Lord Wiki says that in 2008, Nelson opposed making a formal apology. He said it would fuel feelings of guilt in some Australians, and feelings of victimhood in Indigenous Australians. See, the thing is those feelings have ALREADY been there. I'm betting those feelings have been there since those First Fleet people stepped onto the land. Apologizing is just taking those feelings and bringing them more out into the open. Sweeping them under the rug really doesn't help anyone.

By February, Nelson changed his mind. He said he supported the apology. It's hard to know what feelings truly come from Nelson, and what feelings are merely a matter of him kissing political ass. Was he always in support of the apology, but then sided with his party to get more Liberal endorsement? Or was he always against the apology, but then faked a change of mind because he realized it would make him look better?

Around this time, Nelson started having some problems within his own party. By July, he had very little love. Then in September 2008, Turnbull was in and Nelson was out. Nelson then announced he'd be retiring from politics. He did this in September 2009. Then Kevin Rudd appointed him as Ambassador to European Union and NATA.

Lord Wiki ends with some personal stuff. Nelson has been married three times. I wonder if he's still with his third wife.

He likes playing guitar and riding motorcycles.

I'm now trying to find a good article regarding the euthanasia stuff. Well, I just joined some British website called BMJ to get my hands on an article. It was free, so that's cool. I always ignore those sites you have to join. I should stop that. There's probably good stuff out there that I'm missing.

Now I'm going to read it.

It's from 1995. There was a bill introduced into the Northern Territory that caused lots of debate. The AMA was against the bill. I'm guessing the bill supported euthanasia.

Okay. Here we go. The bill was passed by the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. His mother had suffered a very long and painful death. He wanted to make things a little better for other people.

In the bill, a patient must be at least eighteen years old. And they need to have two doctors saying that the patient is likely to die within twelve months. I like the two-doctor deal. I mean what if you just have one crazy doctor who lies to you?

Now we get to the Nelson stuff. He was against the bill even though he had admitted to assisting two patients in their morbid endeavors. Nelson said, We can't reach for a legislative pen every time we have a problem or we see something in life we'd like to regulate. In the end doctors will continue to do what they believe to be right in the interests of the patient and his or her immediate family.
Interesting. It sounds to me like he supports euthanasia, but prefers that doctors do it outside of the law. I guess that brings us to a basic moral/legal question. Is it better to legalize something, or is it better to make something illegal, and just kind of expect people to go underground with it. Nelson said he worried legalizing Euthanasia would lead to unethical use of the law. Are people more likely to be unethical with something when it's legal, or is unethical behavior more likely to happen when something is illegal?

I don't know. Well, my gut feeling is that unethical behavior might happen either way. My other feeling is this. Yeah, I think there may be a few doctors who encourage patients to throw in the towel a little too early. But for the most part, I think it's less ethical NOT to help someone die peacefully.

I'm probably more against the anti-euthanasia movement than the anti-abortion movement. Although I'm pro-choice, I can sort of see the pro-life argument. It really isn't just about a woman's body, and her choice. There is ANOTHER person involved....or a potential person. But with euthanasia, how dare we tell people whether or not they can kill themselves or not? Now I don't think we should be required to help them. Some doctors might feel uncomfortable with this. But I definitely don't think it should be illegal to help someone if you're okay with it.

I'm looking at Lord Wiki now for an update on Australian euthanasia. He says it's currently illegal in Australia, but it was legal at one point in the Northern Territory. I guess that got shot down.

In the United States, it's legal in Oregon, Washington, and Montana. You gotta go west to die. Even my own state is mentioned. In Texas, it's a little more passive. Doctors have a right to withdraw treatment from patients when it's seen as being futile and inappropriate. I think it's crazy that a state wouldn't have that law. Although we do have that living will thing....you can fill out something that says doctors aren't supposed to go through excessive means to revive you. I wonder if those are valid in every state.

Let's see. What should I look at next?

This blogger (queerpenguin) talks about Nelson's brother dying of AIDS. Although Nelson has never admitted it, the blogger believes the brother was gay. That could be true. It might not be. The blogger quotes from Nelson who said, Homosexual people are our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our sons and daughters, and some are even parents, and they should be able to live in a society that is free of intolerance, persecution and hatred. He says this, but then he also says he's against the Mardi Gras parade. Nelson sounds like a guy who's trying to be loyal both to this brother and a homophobic political party. I think this is common in politicians...even Obama. They try to play both sides. They want to protect homosexuals, and at the same time...protect homophobics.

The blogger says, Nelson must tread very carefully while preparing the path for his leadership bid. John Howard will not allow any queer-friendly MP to go far in his government, which is why Nelson, as well as Communications Minister Helen Coonan, have attempted to bury their past records of positive queer activism.

It's sad when we let politics get ahead of our principles.

I like the blogger's conclusion. He says, I believe there’s still a good man itching to burst out of Brendan Nelson. I just hope he hasn’t been lost forever. 


I'm believing the same thing. From what I've read so far, Nelson seem like a confused man. I think his heart is in the right place. I think perhaps he just tries to hard to fit in with the Liberal Party. Mayne now that he's free from that world, he can do some soul searching and find out what he truly believes.

Now I'm going to read about the sorry stuff. Here's an article. What I'm wondering is whether people previously planned to turn their back on his speech. Did they have prejudices against his speech before it was spoken. Or did they listen with an open heart, and then he said something really awful?

It definitely sounds like people were very angry at the speech. People turned their backs. Some people pulled the plug on the TV playing.

The article has a few lines from the speech. One is, Our generation does not own these actions, nor should it feel guilt for what was done in many, but certainly not all cases, with the best intentions.
Yeah. I can see why that would anger people. I'm not sure if guilt is an appropriate word. Well, I think it is. Maybe we can say people don't have DIRECT guilt over what happened. Although it didn't happen that long ago. I'm betting some child thieves are still alive today. But in terms of something happening in the more distant past, I don't think we need to feel direct guilt. I'm not personally responsible for slavery. I never owned a slave. Well, unless we bring reincarnation into the picture.

I could have some indirect guilt....some SHAME for what my fellow white people did. I also need to have guilt for the injustices that African Americans face today. Even though I don't purposely support discrimination, I do participate in a society that tends to favor white folks.

In terms of best intentions. If you have good intentions, but end up causing great hurt....I think you still need to apologize. Let's say a parent never showed their child affection. They never hugged them. They never kissed them. They never expressed any love. They did this because they heard that too much affection might make a child weak. If the child grows up and confronts their parent, is it enough of an excuse to say, I had good intentions?

No! The parent needs to say, I made a mistake. I hurt you. I'm sorry. They can explain why they did what they did. But that doesn't excuse them from guilt and the obligation of an apology.

Here's the entire Nelson speech.

The beginning of the speech sounds decent.

This sentence might be a bit iffy. It sounded good when I first read it. But I think you can read into it a bit. We will be at our best today - and every day - if we pause to place ourselves in the shoes of others, imbued with the imaginative capacity to see this issue through their eyes with decency and respect.
I might have some issue with imaginative capacity. He seems to be saying we need to use our imaginations to understand what the hell these Aboriginal Australians are whining about.

It kind of reminds me of those yucky apologies I get from people sometimes. A good genuine apology says something like I'm sorry for what I did. It was wrong. I hope someday you can forgive me. The bad apology says something like, I'm sorry you were hurt by what I said.
There definitely ARE times when both parties are at fault. I've been in those situations. I'm to blame. The other person is to blame. One of us (or both of us) might apologize for the situation rather than our behavior. But in other cases, one person IS more to blame, and they tend to hide from the guilt by saying sorry for the other person's feelings rather than for what was said or done.
There's a big difference between saying I'm sorry we stole your children from you, and saying I'm sorry you feel sad that your children were taken from you.

In the latter, you're really putting blame on the victim's feelings rather than the action of the wrongdoer

Shit. I'm rambling. Let me get back on track.

Here's another not-so-beautiful paragraph in the speech. Whether Australian by birth or immigration, each one of us has a duty to understand and respect what has been done in our name. In most cases we do so with great pride, but occasionally shame.
Yeah. I'm not ignorant enough to believe that Indigenous Australians were perfect people. They made some mistakes too. But one group is definitely more to blame. It's like the husband who is caught cheating. His wife expresses anger over his cheating and lying. He then brings up the fact that she's not perfect either. Remember the time you messed up on the laundry and my favorite shirt turned pink! I'll forgive you for that, if you forgive me for my affair.
That may be a crazy analogy. What can I say.....

This speech is long.....

Here's more controversy: In some cases, government policies evolved from the belief that the Aboriginal race would not survive and should be assimilated. In others, the conviction was that half-caste children in particular should, for their own protection, be removed to government and church-run institutions where conditions reflected the standards of the day. Others were placed with white families whose kindness motivated them to the belief that rescued children deserved a better life.
This goes back to the best-intentions argument. I already rambled on about that earlier. So I won't do it again.

Nelson says, It is reasonably argued that removal from squalor led to better lives - children fed, housed and educated for an adult world of which they could not have imagined.

I disagree. I don't think parents should lose their children because of poverty. That's so unfair. I think we should help the WHOLE family not be in poverty anymore. I think we should work to keep families intact. Now when it comes to abusive families, that's a different story. I do think sometimes children should be removed. But during this time period, how many wealthy white children were removed from their abusive parents?

Nelson says, There is no compensation fund, nor should there be. How can any sum of money replace a life deprived of knowing your family? That's true. Money can't fix the past. But then we should also get rid of all wrongful death lawsuits, and other things like that.

Nelson goes on and talks about bad stuff happening in Indigenous communities...sexual abuse and all that. I don't deny that bad things happen to children living in these communities. But I think it comes from poverty and lack of resources and determination. It's widespread depression. And I think that comes from being displaced. What happens when your land is stolen, and you're then deprived of essential human rights? I don't know. Invasion is a scary thing. It makes people feel angry, lost, hopeless, and powerless. Yeah. I learned that from V (both the original and new series). And yeah, these feelings can go on for generation upon generation.

The right thing is NOT to remove children from their families and cultures. First of all, it's not like the majority of these children were put into fairytale white people homes. They were put into awful unloving institutions. Of course there were exceptions. I'm sure some Indigenous kids had awful abusive parents, and then got adopted by loving decent white people. But those stories don't negate the other less happy stories.

I think the right thing to do is help the community and the families become more self-sufficient, healthy, and safe for the children. I think families should be kept intact.

Well, really. I think I just have to imagine how I might feel in a similar situation. What if somehow my family lost everything. We if we became unemployed and homeless. What if we didn't have enough food to feed Jack? What if I became depressed and incapable of good mothering. What if we became incapable of providing Jack a decent home? Would I want Jack taken away from us? Would I want him to go to another family? Would this be the right thing for him? Or would I prefer that someone help us to gain our strength back?

And that analogy just deals with some cases. For many, it wasn't about providing children with a better home. It was about assimilation and cultural superiority.

I don't know. In terms of apologies, my feeling is this: By apologizing, you do not negate that there are exceptions in the story. Nor do you negate that SOME good people did decent things. I think maybe that's why people are afraid to apologize. They think if they say sorry, they're really saying, I'm worthless. I'm bad. I've never done anything good. You should hate me to the core.
I personally don't feel an apology implies any of that. And when a person offers an apologies with references to the good they've done, I think it really makes their apology much less impressive and meaningful. It becomes weak, and almost...embarrassing. I can't promise that my apologies aren't sometimes like this. I hope not. But I'm guessing it's human nature to do it sometimes. I'll have to watch out for this in the future.

Anyway, I want to go take a walk with Jack so I'm going to quit now.

As for Brendan Nelson, he's an interesting guy. I don't hate him. He seems to have some decent qualities. I think he's very confused. And I think he says some dumb stuff sometimes. But I'm used to being around people who say ridiculous things I completely disagree with.




Saturday, November 28, 2009

Doug Anthony

Doug Anthony.

Who are you?

He's probably connected to the previous few people on the list. So, I'm going to guess he has a political background.

I don't think he's a Prime Minister. But I'll be ashamed if I'm wrong.

Well, good. He wasn't a Prime Minister. But he was a Deputy Prime Minister. He had that job under McMahon and Fraser.

Anyway, let's go to the beginning.

Baby John Douglas Anthony was born on New Years Eve in 1929. So I guess that means his early childhood occurred during The Great Depression.

His birthplace was in Murwillumbah, which is in north New South Wales. It's about two hours south of Brisbane.

Daddy Anthony was a politician in the Country Party.

At some point, Anthony went to The King's School in Sydney. Did he go for boarding school, or did his family move to Sydney?

If I'm reading this right, he did university studies in Agriculture. Well, Lord Wiki says he went to an agricultural college in Queensland. I'm not sure if college is being used as the American type, or Australian type. He could have gone to a high school that emphasized agriculture.

After finishing with school, Anthony did dairy farming near his birth town. In 1957 he got married. The lovely couple ended up having three kids. The youngest son followed in his dad's and granddad's political footsteps.

In the same year that Anthony got married, his dad died. I'm not sure what happened first....the marriage or the death. But Daddy Anthony had been a member of Parliament. After his death, the younger Anthony was elected to take his place. So Anthony ended up in the seat of Richmond. He would be in that seat from 1957-1984. Then his son would get the seat from 1996-2004. Right now, there's a Labor Politician in the seat....Justine Elliot.

In 1964, Anthony became Minister For the Interior. This seems to be border protection type stuff.

In 1967, he became Minister for Primary Industry. This is agricultural stuff. Well, that works out, since he had been a dairy farmer.

In 1971, John McEwen retired and Anthony became Deputy Prime Minister. Lord Wiki says he was likable, and people would have probably preferred him as Prime Minister over McMahon.

At times, Anthony impressed people by being tough with McMahon. He tried to protect the rural voters, such as when McMahon tried to raise petrol prizes. Anthony pushed him to back down on that issue.

There's something here about opposition stuff. I'm finding it a challenge to understand. But I might be able to get it. It seems in some areas, the Liberal opposition was in agreement with Whitlam's Labor government. Lord Wiki gives an example. Both sides agreed with expanding aid to underprivileged schools. But (if I'm reading this right), Anthony wanted a stronger opposition. He urged the Liberal Party to be extra oppositional. And he welcomed the dismissal of Whitlam.

That all sounds ridiculous to me. Why push to be more oppositional? Why not just vote for what you believe in? Is it so shameful for a left party to be in agreement every so often with the right?

Politics make me sick sometimes.

When Fraser became Prime Minister, Anthony returned to being the Deputy guy.

Lord Wiki says that Anthony had less power under Fraser than he did with McMahon.

Anthony retired from Parliament at the age of 55 in 1984. Before this, he was given the honorary title of Father of the House of Representatives. This goes to the person in Parliament who has been there for the longest time. Right now, the guy who has that honor is Phillip Ruddock.

This ABC dynasty website has some information on the Anthony family.

It says Anthony was the youngest child in his family. His dad was elected to Parliament when he was seven. Anthony remembers staying at a hotel in Canberra and being read bedtime stories by John Curtin. Really? What? Was John Curtin babysitting him or something? That would have been about 1936.

Well, I doubt Curtin was babysitting. I was joking about that. He was Labor leader at the time. Maybe they were all at some kind of meeting, and Curtin took time out to read a child a story. It's sweet....politicians from one party giving attention to kids from other political parties.

Anthony's mom died when he was eleven. After that, Anthony went to The Kings School as a boarder. So, that answers my question from before.

Anthony attended Gatton Agricultural College. I think it looks like a university more than a high school. It's part of the University of Queensland.

After Anthony graduated, he went to help his dad on his dairy farm.

This is interesting. Anthony published a book of letters written by his father. It's called Letters Home To Mother from Gallipoli and Beyond.

There's a comedy group that got their name from Doug Anthony. They call themselves the Doug Anthony Allstars. I'm not sure why they chose that name.....

Here's an article about the book of letters that Anthony published. He says he found the letters in a school case. I'm not quite sure what a school case is. Anyway, Anthony opened it and found a bunch of mementos kept by his father. One treasure was a bundle of postcards that Daddy Anthony had sent to his mother when he was fighting in World War I. Anthony says his father rarely talked about Gallipoli so he never really knew that aspect of his dad's life. That's pretty cool that he found those letters. I have so many diaries and old letters saved. I wonder if any of my descendants will ever be interested in reading them. I kind of hope so.

Now I'm having fun on Google News Archive. That thing is awesome. Anyway, there was a Sydney Morning Herald article on 31 May 1964 saying Anthony was heading to Asia and would be missing the upcoming Beatles concert.

Well, I'm going to make this a short post. There's some agricultural information I can dig into, but I'm not really all that interested. Sorry!

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Favorite Australian Books...So Far

I've decided to make a post about my favorite Australian books. I think I actually planned to do this before, but I didn't. I don't know why.

Anyway, here's my list of my books on Shelfari that I've rated 4 or 5 stars:

1. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson--Well, it's not written BY an Australian. But it's about Australia.

2. So Much To Tell You by John Marsden--beautiful young adult book by the guy who wrote the Tomorrow series. I personally prefer Marsden's other stuff (outside the series).

3. Coldwater by Mardi McConnochie--historical fiction about an overpowering father during the early days of the colony.

4. The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney--I could really relate to aspects of the family in this book.

5. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah--young adult book about a Palestinian-Australian.

6. My Place by Sally Morgan--a must-read (in my opinion) about an indigenous family.

7. The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty--fun Aussie chick-lit with a sensitive look at postpartum depression.

8. Me Myself I by Pip Karmel--more chick-lit. It's about the road not taken.

9. Misery Guts by Morris Gleitzman--children's book about a young boy wishing to move to Australia. How could I NOT like this?

10. Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital--thought-provoking novel about terrorism and those who fight terrorism.

11. Featherman by Rhyll McMaster--beautiful, but sad book about child molestation.

12. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta--Goodness. I actually don't remember what this book was about, but I guess I liked it. I'm confusing it in my mind with Marchetta's other book. Okay. Shelfari jogged my memory. It deals with the mental illness of a parent.

13. The Secret River by Kate Grenville--I don't remember this book that much either. I think it was about the early days of Australia....settlers and all that.

14. Due Preparations for the Plague by Janette Turner Hospital--Well, it's not a happy book. But it might get ya thinking......

15. Oyster by Janette Turner Hospital--about a religious cult in Australia

16. Letters from the Inside--another great John Marsden book.

17. Family Baggage and The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney--I liked these books, but probably not as much as The Faraday Girls.

18. Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer--controversial and thought-provoking

19. Playing Beattie Row by Ruth Parkes--fun children's book mixing fantasy and history

20 Custom of the Sea by Hanson Neil--It's about cannibalism. Need I say more?

21. Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks--A crazy fun young adult adventure. Jink's novels are a great antidote to the whole Twilight phenomena because they don't emphasis physical beauty.    Not that I don't adore Edward, Bella, and Jacob....but sometimes we need a little something different.

22. The Dream Seekers by Patricia Shaw--historical fiction. I need to check out more of Shaw's stuff

23. Thursday's Child by Sonya Hartnett--about a boy who likes to dig. I don't remember much beyond that, but I do know I liked it.

24. Pants on Fire by Maggie Alderson--this is about a wild British party girl who spends some time in Sydney. I didn't expect to be able to relate to a party girl, but I ended up liking the book.

25. The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmel--the only book I know of (outside of the Choose Your Own Adventure Series) that uses second-person narration.

26. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta I liked this one, but not as much as Marchetta's other book.

27. Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry--I kind of don't remember this book, but I rated it highly. It's young adult literature.

28. Storm Boy by Colin Thiele--children's book about a boy and a bird.

29. Toad Away by Morris Gleitzman--cute and clever children's book about the infamous cane toad

30. Leaving Jetty Road by Rebecca Burton--A young adult book. I liked how Burton dealt with the subject of eating disorders.

31. The Tiger in the Tiger Pit by Janette Turner Hospital--Yeah. I tend to like her books.

32. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks A young adult book that makes us ask whether it's really that fun to be a vampire.

33. The True Story of Lilli Stubeck by James Aldridge--young adult novel about poverty and pride

34. A Fortunate Life by A.B Facey The inspiring autobiography of a man growing up in Australia.

I'm surprised I don't have any Tim Winton's book. Maybe I missed it. Anyway, I'd probably give most of his book three stars except for The Riders. I really liked that one.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Paul Hasluck

I don't know who Paul Hasluck is. I think MAYBE I saw his name yesterday when researching John Curtin. Perhaps there's some connection?

Well, Lord Wiki says he was a Governor-General.

He had the job from 1969-1974. I probably also saw his name when reading the book by Gough Whitlam. Hasluck was the Governor-General before the infamous John Kerr.

Hasluck was Governor-General when I was born.

He was born on April Fool's Day in 1905. His town of birth was Freemantle Western Australia. Freemantle always reminds me of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. I know that sounds random. But when I did the climb, I met this Canadian man who was doing a cruise. I asked him which was his favorite Australian place so far. He said Freemantle.

Anyway.......

Hasluck's family were Salvationists. I wasn't sure what that was. It turns out that they're the Salvation Army. I don't know much about this group, but I feel a little weary of them. I understand they do some good things for those in need, but I'm not sure I feel comfortable supporting them. I don't really know their stance on certain issues. I do give them my spare change now and then. But maybe I should make sure they don't stand for something I'm strongly against. If they do, I'd be better off donating elsewhere.

The Salvation Army started in England. That was around 1865. It came to Australia and the United States in 1880.

In many aspects, they sound like a good organization. They do a lot of disaster relief stuff. There's some homosexual issues. I'm trying to understand it. From what Lord Wiki says, I'm getting that they don't discriminate against hiring homosexuals for most of their job/volunteer positions. But they do want to not ordain homosexual ministers.

Well, now I'm looking at the actual Salvation Army website. They have a whole page on homosexuality. Their religious beliefs do cause them to frown down on homosexuality. But I have to give them credit. They're not as nasty as the Westboro Baptist folks.

They say:

For this reason, and in obedience to the example of Jesus whose compassionate love was all-embracing, Salvationists seek to understand and sensitively to accept and help those of a homosexual disposition and those who express that disposition in sexual acts. Salvationists are opposed to the victimisation of persons on the grounds of sexual orientation and recognise the social and emotional stress and the loneliness borne by many who are homosexual. 

The Army regards the origins of a homosexual orientation as a mystery and does not regard a homosexual disposition as blameworthy in itself or rectifiable at will.

But they do say homosexual behavior makes a person ineligible for soldiership. I think that's kind of sad, but I do understand it in the context of their beliefs. I personally though would prefer to donate to disaster relief programs that are more inclusive and a little less evangelical.

Anyway, I should get back to the Hasluck guy.

He went to Perth Modern School. It's a school for gifted kids. Although Lord Wiki says it didn't become a school specifically for gifted kids until 2007.

For University, Hasluck went to the University of Western Australia. Is that in Perth? I forgot.

Okay. Yeah. Lord Wiki says it is.

In 1923, Hasluck joined the staff of a newspaper called The West Australian. He would have been about eighteen then.

History seems to have been his thing. I wonder if that's what he got his degree in. He wrote about Western Australia history, and later started teaching history at the university.

In 1932, he got married to a fellow writer and historian. The lovely couple ended up with two sons.

In 1939, Hasluck started a publishing company called Freshwater Bay Press. Oh! It's still around.

Here's their website. The first book they published was a collection of poems Hasluck wrote himself. It was called Into the Desert. You can still buy it from the publishing company's site.

In 1941, Hasluck started working for the Department of External Affairs. I guess that would be foreign relation type stuff? With this new position, Hasluck did some international traveling. At one point, he had some contact with H.V. Evatt. Lord Wiki says Hasluck didn't like him. I wonder why.....

After World War II, Hasluck wrote books about the war. Then he decided to enter politics. Although wasn't working for the Department of External affairs part of politics? Maybe we should say he went BACK to working in politics.

Lord Wiki says one of his motivations for getting into (or returning to) politics was he didn't like Evatt's way of handling foreign policies.

In 1949, Hasluck became a Liberal Member of Parliament via the seat of Curtin. Oh. Well, maybe that's how I saw his name yesterday. It's funny. Although the division is named after a Labor Prime Minister, the people in the seat have always been Liberal.

A couple of years after he became a MP, Hasluck became the Minister for Territories. This gave him responsibility over Papa New Guinea and The Northern Territory. Lord Wiki says that he followed an assimilationist policy for the Indigenous Australians. I can't say that surprises me.

In 1964 and 1964, Hasluck was Minister of Defense. After that he became Minister for External Affairs. This is the job that Evatt previously had. But Hasluck didn't immediately take Evatt's place. Before him, you had Percy Spender, Richard Casey, Menzies, and Garfield Barwick.

Hasluck was Minister for External Affairs during the Vietnam War. Lord Wiki says he was a strong supporter of the conflict. He also supported strengthening ties with the United States and other anti-Communist countries. He opposed making friends with China.

After Harold Holt died, Hasluck opposed William McMahon becoming Prime Minister. He put his own name into the hat, but the Liberal Party feared Hasluck was too old and conservative. They didn't think he'd be able to compete with Whitlam. John Gorton ended up with the job.

Lord Wiki says there's a belief that Gorton didn't like having Hasluck in his cabinet. To get rid of him, he offered him the job of Governor-General. Well, that's pretty clever.

Hasluck accepted the honor. He resigned from Parliament. Lord Wiki says this might have ruined Hasluck's further chances of becoming Prime Minister. If Hasluck hadn't become Governor-General, when Gorton lost the job, Hasluck might have replaced him instead of McMahon.

Interesting....

Eventually, Whitlam became Prime Minister. This was a bit of an issue because he and Hasluck kind of hated each other. Back in 1965, Hasluck said to Whitlam, You are one of the filthiest objects to ever come into the chamber. Whitlam had responded by throwing a glass of water in Hasluck's face. Wow. What drama!

Okay, but when he was actually Governor-General, it seemed the two men were fairly civil to each other. When Hasluck's term was about to expire, Whitlam even offered to extend it. Hasluck declined the offer, saying he preferred returning to private life. Wow. Would history have been any different if he remained Governor-General?

Hasluck died in 1993.

After his death, Hasluck's son published some of his dad's private papers. The book was called The Chance of Politics. The book had some negative comments about various people, and therefore was quite controversial. Interestingly, I don't see the book on the Freshwater Bay Press website.

Anyway, I'm done with Lord Wiki. I'm going to eat some lunch and rest my eyes a bit. Then I'll find some other websites to look at.

The National Museum of Australia has a little write up on Hasluck. It's posted in a section called Collaborating for Indigenous Rights.

In his young adult years, Hasluck was part of an organization called the Aboriginal Amelioration Association. I can't find much about this organization, but I just learned the word Amelioration has the definition of the act of relieving ills and changing for the better.

I have a feeling then the organization might have had most of their heart in the right place. But they probably had some backwards and prejudicial ways.

Hasluck believed the best future for Indigenous Australians was to join white society and leave their aboriginal kinship and culture behind.

I think the world would work best if we say, You be like you, and I'll be like me. Then we'll learn from each other. I think this is preferable to the typical assimilation philosophy. Be just like us and not like you. Then we'll all feel safe and happy.

Here's a drawing made by Hasluck. It's of William McMahon. I'm not really seeing McMahon in the drawing, but I am impressed with Hasluck's ability to draw noses.

Here's a British obituary for Hasluck. They say that Hasluck is sometimes described as the best Prime Minister Australia never had. Oh, I don't know about that. I bet there are plenty of better Prime Ministers that Australia never had.

In his journalist days, Hasluck also wrote poetry (yeah, we already knew that) and did some drama critic stuff.

Okay. This is interesting. In the 1930's, some people wanted to segregate Indigenous Australians. They wanted to force them into missions and reserves. Hasluck fought against this.

So, what's worse forced assimilation or forced segregation? Well, I'd say anything forced is equally bad. There's a difference between saying Hey, you're welcome to join us white people. Come hang out with us. Come work with us! and going into homes and stealing children. There's a difference between providing areas for people to live and work, and forcing them to stay segregated.

Forced segregation is probably more racist though. Well, it's more overt, I suppose. In that, you're saying stay away from us. We don't like you. We don't want you around us. In the other, you're saying we don't mind you...as long as you act more like us and less like you.

Well, yeah. I think they're both bad. But assimilation might be seen as a stepping stone to better degrees of tolerance.

The Indigenous issue was one that Hasluck was passionate about. He wrote his masters thesis on the subject.

A former Minister of Foreign Affairs (the job that was once called Minister of External Affairs) did a whole speech about Hasluck. Alexander Downer did the speech for the first of something called Hasluck Asia Oration. Maybe it's a thing with speeches about Asia? Well, Downer says the annual event was designed to assist the Centre's purpose to work towards enhancing Australia's understanding of its Asian environment and its capacity to deal effectively with the region.

Downer's father was in Parliament with Hasluck. He told his son that Hasluck had a good sense of humor.

In 1938, Hasluck and his wife went on a three month journey to South East Asia. So even before he became Minister of External Affairs, he had some experience in that area.

This website shows a photo of Hasluck addressing Indigenous children in a Darwin classroom in 1958. I wonder what kind of things he said to them.

Here's something fairly random and interesting. This old article from 1969 says that Hasluck might have ancestors in common with Prince Charles. Both men might be descendants of an ancient British king named Caedwalla.

Here's an article that Hasluck himself wrote in 1966 regarding Vietnam. Well, it's probably more of an editorial.

It's about something called SEATO. Lord Wiki says that stands for Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. It was formed to combat Communism in Asia. The organization was formed in 1954 and ended in 1977.

Hasluck talks about his support of fighting in Vietnam. I guess it was alleged by some that Australia supported the war only out of obligation in being part of SEATO. Hasluck says this isn't true. Even if they weren't part of SEATO, he feels they'd support the war.

A blogger named Robert Van Krieken has a whole post about Hasluck. He wrote it a few weeks after Kevin Rudd did the whole apology thing.

Van Krieken argues that we shouldn't just apologize for generalized departments of government. Apologies need to be made on behalf of specific individuals. He says, If we are to apologize, not just for the hurt and suffering experience by Aboriginal families over the years, but also for what Commonwealth and State governments have done to bring that suffering about, I think we need to attach human faces and names to them. Generally this makes apology for historic injustice a lot more confronting and a lot more uncomfortable, but also a lot more realistic.

I can see his point in some ways, but in other ways.....

Well, I don't know.

Can we truly apologize for other people? What if they're NOT sorry?

Van Krieken says Hasluck was was probably the most sophisticated intellect behind Australia’s assimilation policies, including Aboriginal child removal, for most of this period. He is seen as a hero of the Liberal Party. They're very fond of him. Van Krieken says their reluctance to issue a former apology to the stolen-generations might come out of some sort of loyalty to Hasluck. Interesting. He might have a good point there.

Van Krieken points out that some of Hasluck's views of Aboriginal Australia matches the one of Rudd's Ministry. There's a desire to close the gap. The difference between now and then is today there's more interest in allowing people to celebrate and keep their culture.

Van Krieken says, Aboriginal culture and its way of life, especially once it had encountered European civilization, was presented by Hasluck and almost every other administrator in Aboriginal affairs as inherently flawed, producing only illness, disease, drunkenness and degeneracy.....

Reading all this....it's chilling. Van Krieken talks about correspondences that occurred between Hasluck and individuals concerned with taking babies from their mothers.

In one letter Hasluck writes, I have again asked the Administrator to ensure that, in the application of this policy, every care and sympathy must continue to be shown for the natural feelings of the people concerned.

Okay. Yeah. You can steal babies away from their mothers. But please do it in a nice way. Be sympathetic about it!

I think what Van Krieken is trying to get us to understand is these policies were not always made by wicked villains who found joy in hurting others. They were often made by people who truly felt that they were doing the RIGHT thing. In hindsight, most of us see what these people did as being dreadfully wrong. It would be helpful if we didn't have to wait for hindsight. We need to better evaluate our actions NOW. Today. When we go out and try to help someone, are we truly helping, or are we somehow causing them great harm?

So often I hear the excuse. Well, he was a product of his time. You have to look at things within historical perspective. People back then......

Personally, I hope my grandchildren never have to excuse my behavior with one of those above statements.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

John Curtin

John Curtin was a Prime Minister. He was the Prime Minister of Australia during World War II. I'm pretty sure he was part of the Labor Party. That's about all I know. Well, I also know that he vetoed the idea of Jewish refugees coming to settle in the Kimberley. But I don't know much about his decision. I'm eager to learn more.

Lord Wiki says that baby John was born 8 January 1885 in Creswick Victoria. Creswick is the hometown of Norman Lindsay and family. Sadly, I didn't remember that. I had to be reminded.

Creswick is about twenty-five minutes north of Ballarat.

Curtin was born into a Catholic family. His dad was an Irish policeman. I wonder if his mom was Irish too.

Curtin dropped out of school at the age of fourteen. He started working for a newspaper. He also joined the Labor Party, AND the Victorian Socialist Party. The latter group was actually Marxist. It seems Curtin was a bit of a radical. He wrote for radical newspapers, using the name Jack Curtin.

During World War I, Curtin was militantly anti-conscription. I imagine he might have butt heads with Billy Hughes. At one time he refused to attend a required military medical examination. Due to this, he was briefly imprisoned. Wow. It seems he did it for principle only. His eye sight was pretty awful, and he would have failed the test anyway.

So far, I'm liking Curtin. It's probably because he's left and radical. I'm left and fairly radical too.

All this was a hard time for Curtin. Lord Wiki said he took up heavy drinking. Yikes.

He also got married.

In 1917, Curtin went to live in a town near Perth....Cottesloe. I'm assuming he took his wife with him.....

Anyway, Lord Wiki says he liked living there.

From what I see on Google Maps, Cottesloe looks more like a suburb of Perth than a town near Perth.

In Cottesloe, Curtin became the editor of the Westralian Worker. He joined the Australian Journalists Association and became the president of their Western Australian Division. It seems he was proud of this. Lord Wiki says he wore the organization's badge the whole time he was Prime Minister.

Politically speaking, Lord Wiki says Curtin gradually became a bit more moderate. I'm not sure about the specifics here. Maybe I'll learn more later.

In 1928, Curtin joined Parliament. He got in via the seat of Freemantle. He would have been about 43 then. Lord Wiki says this wasn't the first time he tried getting in. It seems he had a few prior failed attempts. Well, I'm glad he eventually made it in.

There was hope, he'd get bumped up into a ministry position when James Scullin became Prime Minister. But Curtin's drinking prevented that from happening. He was stuck in the backbench. Then in 1931 he lost his seat. But don't be too sad. He got it back again in 1934. The guy who stole Curtin's seat from 1931 to 1934 was William Watson. It's kind of funny. Watson was originally from Victoria as well. The current person in he seat is Melissa Parke. She wasn't born in Victoria. She's originally from Western Australia.

In 1935, Curtin had some luck. Scullin resigned as Labor Leader. Curtin got the job by one vote. The Trade Union Group supported Curtin, but they insisted that he give up drinking. He did! That's cool. During this time, Curtin wasn't Prime Minister. Joseph Lyons from the United Australia Party had the big job. When World War II first began, Robert Menzies was Prime Minister. That was in 1939.

In 1941, Menzies went to the UK to discuss Australia's role in the war. Lord Wiki says at this time Menzies lost support....even from his own party. I guess that set the stage for Curtin becoming Prime Minister. That happened in October 1941. A few months after that, Curtin called out to the United States and the UK for help. Then I guess he directed more of his pleas towards the United States. Lord Wiki says this was significant in history. I guess it somewhat represented a break in the relationship between Australia and Great Britain? And Curtin tried to bond with the United States. I'm getting the idea that this was was the point in history where Australia and the United States loved each other the most. Curtin even allowed an American General (Douglas MacArthur)to become the boss of the Australian troops. Yeah. That's some major Australian-America bonding there.

Curtin during this time was working very long hours, smoking a lot, and not feeling healthy. He sadly died in office in 1945.

Curtin has three schools named after him. Wow! That's impressive for a guy who dropped out of the education world when he was fourteen. And from what I've read, it doesn't seem like he ever attended university.

There's the Curtin University of Technology which has campuses all over Western Australia; plus one in Sydney, and some in Asia.

There's a high school in Freemantle named after Curtin....John Curtin College of the Arts.

Then there's the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra. That one's part of the Australian National University.

Now I'm going to say good-bye to Lord Wiki, and go to the biography dictionary site. What lovely insights will they have there?

Both Mommy and Daddy Curtin were Irish. They had four kids. John was the eldest. Daddy Curtin had other jobs besides the policeman one. At one time, he was a gaol warden. Then he also worked in hotels. At times, the family was stricken by poverty.

It seems the family moved around Victoria a lot.

John Curtin had various jobs in his youth. By 1903, he worked as an estimates Clerk for Titan Manufacturing Company. This John Curtin website has a photo of him at work. The photo is from 1916. I guess he ended up working for that company for a long time. I definitely need to return to that website. I'll get back there soon.

When not working, Curtin continued his education by reading books at the library. He also played cricket and football.

At some point, Curtin lost his Catholic faith. I wonder how that happened, and how his parents felt about it.

In 1914, Curtin became president of the timberworker's union. One of the things he worked on was getting the Tasmanian Branch re-established. I guess something had happened to it? Anyway, while he was there, he became friends with a man named Abraham. Abraham ended up being the father of Curtin's future wife.

Curtin proposed to his future wife at St. Kilda Beach. She accepted. How romantic.

The website stresses the fact that Curtin was a well-learned man. He was an intellectual. But all that was a bit overshadowed by his heavy-drinking.

Ah! It says when Curtin moved to Western Australia, he stayed dry for over ten years. I'm guessing that means he eventually returned to drinking.

The website says that Curtin suffered from an ailment called Neurasthenia. Lord Wiki says this is a term used in the late 19th century for people who were nervous, depressed, etc. The brilliant Freud listed farting as one of its symptoms. And one of the primary causes? Excessive masturbation.
 Goodness!

Curtin and his wife ended up with a son and daughter. They moved into a red brick home in Cottesloe. I love details like that.

The website says that family life brought some happiness and stability to Curtin's life. He liked being a husband and dad. He surfed with his family. He took walks on the beach. He walked the family dog. He did household chores.

He was a well-liked man in the community. The website says he was tolerant and kind. His speech was gentle. He used very little profanity.

It sounds like though, that by 1927, things became rough again. He spent a lot of time away from home working. He returned to drinking.

He was not happy when he wasn't accepted into Scullin's Ministry.

It sounds like Curtin chose to return to concentrating on the home life. And then he gave up drinking for good. It sounds to me like this was the right choice. I understand drinking is fun for some people. It makes them happy. It makes them relax. But I think for many other people, it just brings unhappiness and disaster.

I'm just kind of quietly reading right now....a bit too overwhelmed to report much.

But here's something interesting to me. He didn't care for his Irish heritage. I can relate to that a bit. I don't care much about my Jewish heritage. But I do respect people who have strong love and attachment to their heritage. I think it's fine as long as it doesn't become divisive.

Curtin didn't like flying....airplane flying, that is.

In his later years, Curtin had a difficult time. The biographical website says he was more irritable and resented criticism. He tried not to dwell in self-pity, but it seemed he ended up doing so anyway. Despite feeling unwell physically and emotionally, he tried to persevere. Wow, this all really reminds me of me this past week. Reading this....I'm feeling TOTALLY bonded to John Curtin right now.

Curtin also dealt with some religious stuff. He had been a tolerant rationalist earlier. What's that? Well, I can't find an answer. My guess is it's someone who is somewhat atheist, but tolerant of religion. I could be totally wrong. Anyway, towards the end of his life, he gained some love and interest in God. He started believing in an afterlife.

I'm really relating to Curtin here. Is that like delusions of grandeur to relate to a Prime Minister? But see, I'm not relating to the amazing powerful heroic stuff. I'm relating to the difficult stuff.

Curtin was shy and moody. I've been accused of that before.

He's described as being sad-looking. On several occasions, people have suggested I smile....or smile more.

He's awkward. That's TOTALLY me.

There's some other fun trivial stuff about the Curtin character.

He was friendly and had easygoing chats with various service professionals. That might sound like it contradicts with the shyness thing. But in my own personal experience, people can be very shy in some instances and very outgoing in other instances.

He liked vaudeville, musical comedy, and film.

He liked crossword puzzles.

He liked good manners. I like good manners too. I don't care about things like how people hold a fork, and whether they have their elbows on the table. But I do care about basic decency...saying please, thank you, sorry, not being too late too often, etc.

All right. Time for the next website. I'm still liking Curtin. He might be one of my favorite Prime Ministers so far.

Here's the government Prime Minister page. I'm looking at their main page first...trying to get some historical perspective. Curtin came between Arthur Fadden and Francis Forde. Although I think Forde was the guy who was in the office for an extremely short time.

For some reason, this website is easier for me to understand. I guess they speak more in my language. I find stuff here that I missed on the other sites.

Anyway, they say he relaxed a bit on his anti-conscription feelings from World War I. In World War II, he sent conscription troops overseas.

Here's their background page on Curtin.

Curtin's dad was not very healthy. He retired from the police work when young John was five. The family then moved to Melbourne where the parents worked in hotels. They lived in a suburb called Brunswick which had many other poverty-stricken Irish folk.

The reason Curtin left school was because he needed to support his family. Tough break. Although one doesn't always need wealth and a prestigious long education to do well in life.

Curtin worked, and he became active in politics.

Before World War I, Curtin concentrated his efforts in promoting Socialism. When war broke out, his goal leaned more towards ant-war stuff.

Ah. Here's some marriage stuff. Curtin couldn't afford to get married right away. So his object of affection went off to South Africa. The two lovebirds kept the romance going via a long distance correspondence.

From 1917 to 1918, Curtin was having a very rough time with the alcoholism and depression. His friends helped him to get a journalist job in Perth. And that turned his life around a bit. There was a concept like that in a book I read recently. Oh! I remember. It was the Stephen King book. The idea is if your life really is in the pits, sometimes a change in scene might help. I agree with that. I know of certain people who would strongly disagree with me. They believe the grass is NOT greener on the other side. If you can't make it here, you won't be able to make it there. But I think sometimes a change CAN do us good. Sometime we need a fresh start.

In Perth, Curtin finally married his girlfriend. The two had been an item for five years already. The newly formed family first lived at 3 Napier Street in Cottesloe. I'm looking at it on Google Maps. It looks VERY close to the water. I wonder if the water nearby was nice. Was there a harbour? A beach? I'd love to live that close to the water. Although I shouldn't say that. Global Warming is likely to be nasty to people living so close to the coast.

I'm looking at Street View now. It looks like 3 Napier Street now has some kind of apartment complex. It doesn't look like a singular home. I wonder if the people living there realize that John Curtin lived there at one time. I bet they do. I bet the area has a little plaque or something.

After the Curtin family lived there, they next moved to 24 Jarrad Street. I'm looking at it on Street View now. This is so fun.

The website says Curtin still struggled with depression and alcoholism. But he tried to be okay. Sometimes taking walks along beach sand dunes brought him some relief. Beach walking can be very therapeutic.

It looks like they had about an eight minute walk to the water. I wonder if they had a beach right there. That would have been nice!

The two kids in the family were named after their mother and father. I wonder if certain types of parents name their kids after themselves. In some ways, it seems a tiny bit egotistical. Although I think it's different if the name has been around in the family for a long time. Then it's kind of like passing on a heritage.

As I said before, Curtin became less radical in his time through Perth. Some even felt he supported the conservative government too much. He supported Menzies in the beginning of the war, although he said he wouldn't go as far as supporting conscription.

All right. Now I'm on the in-office page.

He became the fourteenth Prime Minister of Australia eight weeks prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour.

He rejected Britain's desire to deploy US troops. I don't know much about this. My guess (probably from stuff I absorbed in the past) is that the UK wanted Australia fighting for the UK. Curtin wanted Australian troops fighting for Australia.

The website says Curtin had doubts about leading a nation through a war. I don't know who wouldn't have doubts. I don't think I'd like a politician who had that much confidence. I think most people would be slightly terrified. And my feeling is it's not whether you're scared or not. It's whether you can work despite the fear.

Australia was lacking in warfare tools. This was kind of a problem.

Before all that happened though, Curtin had TRIED to establish better diplomatic relations with Japan. He developed a friendly relationship with a Japanese ambassador named Tatsuo Kawai. Some folks weren't happy with that.

About two months after becoming Prime Minister, Curtin had to deal with a national tragedy. An Australian ship had sunk. This was the HMAS Sydney. It had been destroyed in a battle with a German ship.

Isn't this the ship that was recently found?

Yeah. Lord Wiki says it was found in March 2008. I remember that. The German ship was destroyed as well. Lots of lost lives. Wars aren't much fun.

Days after that incident, Pearl Harbor happened. This led to Japanese nationals being interned in Australia. One of these individuals was Curtin's friend Kawai. Wow....talk about having a strain in your relationship.

Australia was a bit nervous at this point. They worried about an invasion from Japan. They sought out help from the UK...figuring Australia had helped them with the first World War. Now the UK would help them. But Churchill really didn't do much. He wanted to concentrate more on the Middle East.

I had intensive email conversations with a friend yesterday about family members helping each other out. Should we be there for our family and friends; sacrifice our time, energy, money, etc. to helping them? And what do you do when the people you help don't later help you in return? I find it hard to be supportive of someone when they're not supportive of me. I guess I'm not very self-sacrificing. That's not to say I DON'T help, but I do it very grudgingly. I end up bitching about it a lot.

In my case, it's not really about wars and stuff like that. It's more simple things like being there for someone. It's hard for me to act excited with a someone's project, joy, accomplishment, etc. when they totally ignored mine. It's hard for me to offer sympathy to people who ignored or downplayed my problems in the past.

Around New Years...or maybe ON New Years, Curtin sent out a message to Australia. He said Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.
Some Australians did NOT like this at all. And Churchill didn't like it either.

Poor Curtin was under a huge amount of stress. People convinced him to take a little break, and he did so.

You know if something like that happened today, I think people would accuse the leader of being weak. They'd call him a coward. And maybe there is something unfair about a politician taking a rest while soldiers soldier on. But I don't know. Sometimes, even the strongest people need a little respite.

In February, the attack on Darwin happened. Much of the town was destroyed.

Around this time, Curtin enlisted the help of America...specifically the MacArthur guy.

Curtin had a hard time with the whole conscription things. His change of heart on that matter caused a lot of controversy. In an emotional scene, a fellow labor Politician said to Curtin that he had led young men into the slaughterhouse, although thirty years ago he wouldn’t go into it himself. This made Curtin weep. Oh. That's very sad.

The Labor guy tried to make Curtin sound selfish and cowardly. But I don't think it was like that. I think sometimes situations make us change our viewpoints on things. I really don't believe Curtin was anti-conscription because he personally didn't want to get his hands dirty.

The website provides some fun facts.

Curtin was the only Prime Minister to have spent time in gaol. Speaking of that....has Obama ever been in jail? I can't remember. And excuse my change in spellings here. I'm culturally confused. Really.

Well, I can't find anything about Obama being in jail. Was George W. Bush? I know he had been arrested for drunk driving. But I can't remember if he went to jail or not.

Curtin never owned or drove a car. Now I feel TOTALLY bonded to the guy. I don't like driving.

Here's a whole website about Curtin. I feel I've read so much today. Do I really want to read more? I don't know. Although I like Curtin. I'm not sure I'm ready to say good-bye to him.

Oh! The website is from that University of Technology. Cool.

Well, this part is kind of fun. It's kind of like a pictorial history thing. I think I'll just read it for my own enjoyment. If anything jumps out at me, I'll share it.

His mother was strong and vocal. The website says it was she who encouraged Curtin to go into politics. I like hearing positive mom stories.

This page says, Despite being a hopeless handyman who couldn't knock in a straight nail, he spent endless hours pottering in the garden. That's cute. I find Curtin to be so endearing.

This page just talks about how Curtin was a nice man....well-liked by many people. He was courteous and caring. Of course this all comes from a school named after Curtin. It's unlikely they'd dwell on any of his negative traits.

I am overwhelmed. There's so much good stuff here. I'm going to have to stop sometime. But anyone interested can go to this page. It has a link to a lot of goodies.

I do want to know more about Curtin and the Jewish Kimberly thing. I'll google that.

Here's an article about that. The plan of the Kimberly Project was to resettle 75,000 Jews in the area. Well, it doesn't actually say much about the plan, or why Curtin rejected it. It more talks about how there's Jews today living in rural areas of Australia.

I'm giving up. I scrolled my eyes down a bit at further stuff on my Google search. I came up with a link to my own blog. I've written about The Kimberley thing before. Had I found anything back then? Well, not really. But in comments, Matt defended Curtin and had some interesting insights.

Anyway, I'd better stop now. It's getting late, and Jack wants us to play around with stop motion animation.

Wait. Before I go. See? I really AM having trouble saying good-bye. Here's a website where you can hear Curtin making a speech on Anzac Day.

Okay. I'm still here. Now I'm reading this website. It gives valuable insight into Australia's relationship with America during World War II. I think some Americans like to imagine that they were Australia's perfect knight in shining armor. But it wasn't as simple as that. First of all, Roosevelt was a bit nasty in response to Curtin's pleas for help. Instead of saying something like Sorry you're going through a rough time and Britain wasn't there for you. We'll be by your side, Roosevelt said something about Curtin sounding panicked and disloyal. I'm betting he said that to stay on Churchill's good side.

Still, they did come to Australia's help. Was it pure altruism? Of course!

No, not really. I think it was less about wanting to help Australia and more about wanting to defeat Japan. It's all a game of alliances.

A lot of American soldiers ended up in Australia. Some Australians resented their presence. Others ended up marrying them.

I like the conclusion on this page. It says, Curtin's actions did not mark a sharp break with Britain, nor a sudden and permanent shift of allegiance to the United States. Instead, they marked another step in Australia's continuing search for its place in the world.

That statement made me a little emotional. It was said very well. I'm going to end on that note. I may not be ready to move on, but I probably should.