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Other Writings > Letters to the Sydney Morning Herald — Banging On

Sydney Morning Herald

Sometimes, it's just fun to sound off about something, and even more fun to see it published!


Given her difficulty communicating, her impaired ability to understand others, and her repetitive focus on a few restricted issues, it appears Ms Hanson is on the political ought-ism spectrum.

Those on the spectrum suffer the delusion that others ought to be like them, ought to think like them, and ought to want exactly the same things they do. Any discernible difference is seen as a personal attack on the sufferer, who quickly becomes over-wrought by what ought not be.

Ought-ism is thought to be caused by a diet low in imagination although reality vaccinations, minor inconvenience, and over-exposure to privilege may also be factors. There is no known cure but learning to play with others may mitigate some symptoms.

June 25, 2017


If the banks don't like the exorbitant and highly specious charge that suddenly appeared on their statement, perhaps they should call our "1300 tell someone who cares" line to complain so we can bewilder them with our labyrinthine voice menu, put them on hold for a lifetime, prattle off a long script about their rights, transfer them seven times, apologise insincerely, inform them it was fully detailed in section 183 of the "Fair Share" provisions on page 819 of the Product Disclosure Statement, offer to increase their tax rate, and finally ask, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely they would be to recommend our democracy to a friend or colleague.

May 12, 2017


As we endure this full on invasion of ersatz patriotism, Brandzac and Gallipolysteria, at least we know how Turkey felt 100 years ago. With luck the result will be the same.

April 25, 2015


What is this “public good” the Herald's Editor is talking about (“Report tackles vested interests for public good”, December 9)?

Is it one of those inconvenient truths like fairness, decency, honour, compassion, character, and representative government that's under threat from global yawning and a rise in me levels?

December 10, 2014


Careful David Adler (Letters, June 27)! Taken in isolation, being "clearly contrary to Australian law" is no reason not to discuss something. Historically, this would have applied to women's suffrage, recognising indigenous Australians as more than fauna and same-sex relationships, to name but three.

You do not need to advocate something or even support it in order to explore it and, perhaps more importantly in this case, explore how we react to it and use it to prop up our own morally repugnant positions (like racism). The rather tenuous risk of influencing impressionable people is also no reason not to discuss something. Can I now not mention the Holocaust or Holocaust denial without fear of validating the delusions of neo-Nazis? We are no doubt right to fear whatever it is that inspires or motivates people (and, yes, we must acknowledge they are people, lest we become the worst hypocrites imaginable) to commit honour killings. But we must also remember that no fear is ever adequately managed by denial, repression, censorship or more fear.

Creating a suitable forum for discussing the most abhorrent of human behaviours may be beyond the market-oriented minds of the festival-loving elites, but even more unthinkable than the act is not being able to discuss it.

June 28, 2014


Speaking of myths, Julia Baird reinforces one: that preparing food is a chore (''Time to applaud the Domestic God'', February 2-3).

The revolutionary idea that a fundamental everyday activity required to sustain life is some sort of domestic drudgery rather than one of life's essential pleasures may explain why we seem content to mindlessly stuff huge quantities of anything ''convenient'' down our throats until we're enormous and unhealthy rather than taking the time thrice daily to nourish ourselves and our souls by making meals from real food and pausing to enjoy them.

If we valued the time we spend nurturing the animal we are (and those we live with) perhaps we'd begin seeing the act of sustaining life not as chore to be allocated in a gender war or a career opportunity for celebrity, but one of the most important things we do each day, something sacred upon which to build a meaningful and respectful life.

I cook all my meals from scratch, including the Friday night pizzas. It keeps me grounded, alive, and mostly sane, but there is a downside: I can never find time to download apps or update my status.

February 4, 2013


Tuesday's Heckler omitted one of tea's greatest virtues: a sense of community. The egotistical coffee drinkers make an individual order: double-shot decaf skim soy cappuccino with no chocolate; it's all about them.  

Meanwhile, community-minded tea drinkers make a pot, to share.  Then someone offers to "be mother" and serve others.  Only when everyone has a cup does personal preference, a little sugar maybe, come into play.  It's all about us.

"Tea or coffee?" may well be the defining question of our age.

March 2, 2011


Alicia Dawson needn't worry (Letters, September 20): the education system is carefully designed to ensure even budding geniuses turn out ordinary, and if that fails, a few years in a nice corporate job will finish the job.

September 21, 2010


Icelandic ash is revealing how the past 100 years has turned us into a pack of spoilt, planet-consuming whingers.

I'm stuck in Australia for a few days and can't think of anything better to do than hang around an airport: boo-hoo.
I might miss this year's dawn service in France: boo-hoo.
British wedding planners are denied access to cheap Kenyan-grown roses: boo-hoo!

I think mother nature is gently hinting it's time to grow up and get real about living sustainably.

April 20, 2010


On a call to honour Germaine Greer…

Why would Germaine need a gong (Letters, March 10) when she has received the greatest honour Australia can bestow on a writer: that of being reviled, denigrated and hated by people who haven't read you, don't understand you and would never let ignorance of your views get in the way of a good opine?

March 11, 2008


Responding to a letter on reports on Mother Teresa's doubts and spiritual emptiness…

Just think, if Mother Teresa had thrown the bible away and sat very quietly under a tree for long enough, she might have discovered through grace that she didn't need forgiveness from "god" because she wasn't born sinful and the heaven she sought was present int he here and now (Letters, September 14).

November 17, 2006


The true offence of copyright infringement is busying yourself trying to capture a moment instead of participating in it, an activity that ironically would also have resulted in a perfectly legal “recording” of the experience with the versatile multimedia device known as memory.

November 17, 2006


With political will, buckets of funding and unparalleled co-operation, Western scientists built the first atom bomb and sent men to walk on the moon.  Why don’t we do the same for viable nuclear fusion?  In one fell swoop we could end our dependence on oil, turn around global warming, avoid stockpiling weapons-grade fissile material and begin to build a sustainable future.  All we need is for a coalition of the willing to generate enough heat and pressure so great minds can develop this much-sought-after non-weapon of mass destruction.

May 30, 2006


In the 175th anniversary Herald, Robert Willis asked "Did a great-great-great grand parent of Bill Carpenter, Rosemary O'Brien, or Peter Fyfe have a letter published in the first Herald?" Naturally, all three of us responded…

Robert Willis, in 1831 my great-great-great grandfather was in Scotland dreaming about migrating to a yet-to-be-proclaimed South Australia where he hoped to farm stolen land, raise a family, and send an epistolographer east to take on the illiterate convicts of Sydney.

April 19, 2006

And don't think I didn't relish being named in such august company!


By banning cameras from its pools, Randwick council has not offended common sense. Rather, it has boldly struck a palpable blow in the fight to reclaim the human spirit from the technological age.

There is now a little patch of Sydney where, if something interesting is happening, people have to pay attention and watch the view, not the viewfinder. Folks wanting to remember something are forced to make a memory.

Best of all, absent friends must resort to imagining what it was like, aided by the now vital storytelling ability of their chums who were there.

Let's look on this ban as a wonderful opportunity to not relentlessly document every minute of our lives. We might enjoy our experiences, awaken our imaginations and even live a little bit more fully as a result.

February 25. 2005


Responding to a letter calling for the letter writers to lighten up…

Bob Moore's invocation to lighten up (Letters, August 5) is timely. We are in the middle of a dangerous and life-threatening metaphysical obesity crisis.

We've pigged out on a diet of sugary, content-free entertainment and high-fat fast-sound-bite debate. We've lounged around with a couch-potato aversion to the soul exercise of thinking, engaging, and contemplating. The result is a metaphysically flabby nation with a potential heart condition. No wonder we sound depressed.

The only solution is to cash in the physical gym membership, turn off the TV, and get into the delicious all-natural, fresh and nutritious inner buffet offered by our galleries, concert halls, book clubs and the like, then enjoy the ensuing workout of debate scrutiny and revelation.

In no time we will all be metaphysically trim, taught, and tittering all the way through the Letters page.

August 6, 2004

Another of my favourite letters


On NSW changes to the stamp duty regime…

What's the big problem with stamp duty? normal people pay if only once or maybe twice in their lives.

As for the urban nomads, aspirant renovators, and evil property speculators, let them pay.

It will remind them that housing is not an asset to maximise capital growth of balance our their portfolio, but a place to live, to grow, to find some perspective, and discover something really valuable.

December 20, 2003


Responding to a rather indignant letter about the allegedly mediocre state to letter writing, I relished forcing the author to eat his own words, slightly spiced of course…

I wonder what Oscar Wilde would make of a devastating and insightful riposte like Kevin Rugg's "I'm sick of reading this crap" (Letters, July 9). Would Shaw dare reply to our esteemed epistler's barbed cry of "Who cares?" Surely even Shakespeare would hang his head in shame, for are his plays not all too replete with "brief question" and "lame, 'witty' utterance"?

In his famed anuran epic, Aristophanes pits the smart-alec retorts of Euripides against the tragic utterances of Aeschylus. Permit me to use the same device to reply to Mr Rugg: "Bring back the old-fashioned, long, literate, painstakingly furnished, quality…" little bottle of oil.

In times as dry as these, we need the lubrication.

July 10, 2003

One of my favourite letters. Not only did I get to quote Aristophanies I also used the work anuran!


The conservatives have invented an implausible diversion to keep the media busy while they ruin the country. They search their ranks and discover a fish-and-chip shop owner, preselected as a party candidate and persuade her over a plunger of coffee to resign from the party and run as an independent, a martyr for the conservative cause.

When she makes her carefully scripted maiden speech, they do not condemn her, but leave her free to provide the counterbalance that makes the Government look good. Finally, before anyone catches on, she becomes a plausible excuse for their inevitable defeat at the polls. It must be a conspiracy.

February 24, 2001


I'm outraged by the heresy in the Kevin Smith film Dogma.

In the opening disclaimer, Mr Smith uses "platypi" as the plural for platypus.

As all good English speakers know, platypus comes from the Greek for flat foot and so its plural is platypuses, although some may prefer platypodes.

Let Mr Smith say what he likes about God and the Church but English is still sacred, at least outside [of] America.

February 19, 2000


A real convicted drug trafficking criminal bearing the torch is a perfectly suitable image for the Olympics: it poignantly counter-balances the addictive drug-like cocktail of global corporate greed, exploitation, tokenism, and cronyism that is peddled by the modern Olympics, a movement so morally bankrupt it must spend $220 million in advertising to patch up its image and keep the sponsors happy.

By allowing Warren to bear the torch, we metaphorically bear all.

February 1, 2000


Following the suggestion of B.Coombe (Letters, May 4), I agree to work on the Queen's Birthday holiday provided I can have a day in lieu to celebrate Wattle Day, when we honour something truly Australian.

May 7, 1999


If only customers could impose fees on banks, like could get interesting. Imagine a $6 "waited too long in the queue" fee, a $12 "have to fill out another form" fee, the $25 "you don't understand my simple request fee", and best of all, the $80 "I need a lawyer to understand your terms and conditions" fee.

Heaven will be like this.

September 16, 1998

This was the "half-Ted" — my 50th letter published!


As one of the young victims of a progressive education, I had to do a night course to learn some Latin. Like Dorothy in Oz, I stood amazed as the English language suddenly burst forth in living technicolour, rich with history, and full of shadows of meaning. I was glad to have left the black and white Kanzas of ignorance.

It's time we dropped a few houses on those wicked witches who would have us all eschewing eloquence for the sake of their tiny minds. Cave! You have been warned.

Match 9, 1998


Driving to Canberra on the weekend, I was overwhelmed by the auric splendour of wattle in bloom.

If anyone but Mother Nature had put on such a majestic spectacle we'd call it vulgar. Why do we no longer celebrate this incredible indigenous floral icon?

Bring back Wattle Day!

September 18, 1997


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