Like many other Australians I have convict ancestors. As far as I remember this was never a secret in my family but in  society at large it was something to keep quiet about. When I was a kid  “official” opinion still held that the only real Australians were those who thought of themselves as transplanted […]

What I did with an Amazon voucher

Recently I was given an Amazon voucher. My Principal Advisor suggested that my thank-you email to the donor might be the basis of a short blog post, so here is a summary of the books I bought. The Third Reich: A New History    Michael Burleigh is one of my favourite contemporary historians. I’m looking forward […]


Nearly always, more means worse. Increasing the number of university students lessens the value of a degree; the more popular a film or book, the more likely it is to be rubbish;  the longer a memorandum,  the more confused its meaning; while an individual display of emotion may or may not be genuine, a display […]


  The basic principle of our political system is that every idiot’s opinion is as valid as mine. We’ve all heard the condescending line that what we call democracy is “the worst system except for all the others”.  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the people who mouth this cliche are usually those who […]


(This post is adapted from one that was first published on my earlier blog The Disappointed Solipsist) If you hit me with a brick I’ll still be angry about it five minutes from now. On the other hand, I don’t care that  your Cro-Magnon ancestor stole a bone from my Neanderthal forbear. Somewhere in between […]