Being in Griffith (part 11)

  • I have last period off - then travelling from here to my sister's place in Bundanoon. Travelling back to Newcastle on Saturday from there. For the next two weeks I'll be back in Newcastle.
  • I had my first net session yesterday for Yoogali Cricket club. It's a new club and will be fielding an A grade, a B grade and a C and D grade sides (C & D are youth teams that play on Saturday mornings). It was probably the best net session I have had in over a decade (mainly because I haven't had many net sessions in the last ten years). I was hitting the ball well and although I got out 3 times (bowled once, caught behind twice) I did manage to loft one of the captain's deliveries way over his head. I was also able to smack some bad deliveries bowled wide of the off stump - something I have had difficulty doing in the past. After my net session I chose not to bowl since I didn't want to embarrass myself! It was an encouraging start to my first full cricket season since 1988.
  • Griffith has almost no artificial cricket pitches. This means that we will all be playing on turf this season. And with Summer being the dry season here and 40-over one-day matches being played, I'm sure that I'll get in a lot of cricket.
  • I've changed around my blog template a bit. If you look to the left of the screen you'll notice a new category called "Film Reviews" in the OSO departments. I've also made a new category called "selected articles" where I've put links to some of my more better-written and/or more controversial pieces.
  • By the way, it's nearly ten years since I came up with my zero unemployment idea and nothing has yet convinced me it's wrong yet - not even conversations with economists. That doesn't mean I'm right though...
  • Asthma is better - obviously the pollen here only gets bad during certain periods.


Being in Griffith (part 10)

  • Today is the 2nd last day of term. Everything is winding down, especially the students.
  • I was in the staff common room the other day and a teacher was telling a story of an oral report one of her students was giving, a Turkish girl in year 7. The oral report was about her favourite teachers. Apparently during the report she said she likes Mr Cameron because "he is the only teacher who is able to control this class". That made me feel nice and warm and gooey inside.
  • It's amazing how some students who are badly behaved can actually respond well in different circumstances. One of my year 8 students who gives me a hard time actually began to learn and ask intelligent on-topic questions just because his other badly-behaved mate wasn't there. This happened twice.
  • My 24 year old neice, Leah, is getting married!
  • Here's a link to a great PBF comic that addresses, I think, the issue of global warming. (LANGUAGE WARNING)
  • How great is Mystery Men? It was obvious that there were difficulties in the script and in the production, but all the characters are loveable and the humour is sharp. It's the only film with Ben Stiller in it that I like (probably because he gets beaten up a lot). Problems included the disappearence without explanation of one of the main bad guys (Cassanova Frankenstein's Psychiatrist), the lame "Skunk scene" as well as continuity issues. It's a rough diamond.
  • The reasons for going to war in Iraq have pretty much evaporated. It's pretty clear now that there were no WMDs or even a WMD program, which means Iraq was not a threat. It's also pretty clear now that Iraq was not involved in 9/11. The hundreds of Iraqis that keep turning up dead every week indicates that the current situation is worse than what it was under Saddam. Finally, it seems now that the Iraq war has actually made the world less safe from terrorist attack. Our PM, John Howard, has gone on the airwaves and said that this recent intelligence report is form the same agencies that said that Iraq had WMDs. At the time, though, there were enough contrary reports to pretty much prove that someone (ie Bush, Cheny, Rumsfeld) was pressuring these intelligence agencies to report falsehoods. I'm thinking of the "Dodgy Dossier", the Yellowcake Forgery, the Aluminium Tubes affair, the fact that pre-war weapons inspectors found nothing and the pre-invasion resignation of Andrew Wilkie from the Australian Office of National Assessments. For those who were being objective and careful, enough evidence existed at the time that brought into question the upcoming invasion. It's all well and good to say "the CIA told us there was a threat" - but even at the time it was obvious that there was political interference within the CIA to create a false report. I guess that's why countries like Italy, France and Germany refused to support the invasion.
  • Being Ramadan means that some of my students are fasting. Apparently they can't eat or drink during daylight hours, which means that many muslim students can't participate in school sport at the moment. That didn't seem to stop a few muslim girls from playing handball in the playground yesterday, though.
  • I spoke to an Afghan year 7 student a few weeks ago. He told me that when he was a boy he witnessed war and killing first hand, and that used to cause him nightmares. Now that he is in Australia, the nightmares have stopped.


More evidence of a slowdown

Producer prices in the US have increased by only 0.1% in the last month. These numbers would not have taken into account the drop in oil price we have been seeing in the last 2 weeks. Given the inflationary effects of the oil price, either a) We have entered a miracle-stage of economic performance which has gotten rid of inflation altogether, or b) Prices are dropping because there is a drop in demand, because there is an economic slowdown. Obviously I am sticking with b).

Ross Gittins eviscerates the Liberal party's reliance upon the housing bubble in today's SMH. Just as persistent unemployment and fiscal looseness undid the Labor party back in 1996, the doom spreading in the property market at the moment will probably undo the Libs at some point and hopefully give a more realistic picture of their fiscal competence. The current situation is a result of a popped asset-price bubble that has been exacerbated by two federal government policies - the first homeowner's grant and negative gearing. These two policies essentially stimulated the housing market beyond what was acceptable.

The whole idea of being fiscally responsible and being concerned with economic neoliberalism means that the government should really butt out of certain industries. The coalition have not done this with the housing market - they interfered with it by throwing money in its direction and caused a bubble to form. While the bubble expanded, the beneficiaries voted for the coalition. Now that it has popped, the reputation of the coalition as good economic managers will be severely questioned.

In the bad old days, the ALP used to gain votes by throwing money at certain industries so that blue collar people think their elected officials actually cared (which of course they didn't). The same can be said about the Howard government's policy of boosting the housing market.

My solution? Demarchy.

Being in Griffith (part 9)

  • Had pretty bad asthma the last 3-4 days. Warm North-Westerly winds have stirred up pollen and dust. Last night it rained slightly and this morning I walked out to the car to discover it covered with muddy raindrop splotches. If this town is bad for Asthma I probably won't want to stay here.
  • Saw something silly last night on Austar - one of the adverts had a guy saying that all the technology you see in the film Minority Report is now available. Wow. Rocket packs for cops and the ability to see into the future - all available now.
  • It seems that one reason why the Iraq reconstruction went so haywire is because the officials who were sent to Iraq by America were inexperienced party hacks who were loyal to the Republican party and were trying to set up a captialist utopia.
  • One reason I don't like Al Mohler is because he supports the use of torture on suspected terrorists. I think this is wrong on two counts: 1) It is immoral and therefore unchristian, and 2) It doesn't work.
  • I found out the other day that South Africa's population is shrinking. The CIA world factbook indicates that the birth rate is 18.2 births per 1000 people, and the death rate is 22 deaths per 1000 people (Australia is 12.14 and 7.51 respectively). As a result, the population is shrinking by 0.4% each year. Crime and AIDS seem to be doing the trick.
  • At Griffith Presbyterian there is a South African family who have come to live in Australia permanently. Their decision to leave South Africa has meant that their friends in SA - including many Christians - no longer talk to them.
  • 8 teaching days to go before the end of term. Woohoo!


Sticking mud - another prediction going well

In December 2005, I wrote an article on this blog entitled "Mud that sticks - the coming Republican Crisis". In the article I basically showed just how much the GOP's ideological base will be eroded by the illegal wiretap program and the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Republican congress.

Well, a conservative by the name of Christopher Buckley has written an article in the Washington Monthly and has essentially expressed everything I had in December 2005 - as well as a lot more.

I'd like to thank the academy...


Being in Griffith (part 8)

  • I'm being an ogre to the kids now - I'm putting lots of them on lunchtime detentions and following through if they don't turn up.
  • My favourite dish in Griffith is the Spaghetti Campagnola from Belvedere's. Ham, peas and mushrooms in a cream sauce. Mmmmm...
  • One of the reasons I don't cook much Indian is that when you buy the paste, you need cream or yoghurt to add to it - neither of which I have regularly to add to it. As I was shopping last night it occurred to me that I could possible use a can of condensed milk (sort of like using a can of coconut milk for Thai). I will report back when this had been tried.
  • I actually managed to watch the three League matches over the weekend. As a Manly supporter I was obviously annoyed about the loss against Newcastle (I prefer Newcastle to lose these days), but I was greatly encouraged by Brisbane's loss. I got more satisfaction out of Brisbane losing than from Manly winning.
  • The rain last week dumped 10mm onto Griffith. This is not much compared to the 100s of mm dropped on Sydney and Newcastle in the last week... but apparently it was enough to make the grain growers happy. Since it also precipitated in the Snowy Mountains, the water available for irrigating will obviously be increased over the next 12 months.
  • The oil price is dropping - but I think this is due mainly to a decrease in demand rather than an increase in supply (as well as speculators no longing factoring in a "terror risk"). Indications appear to be that both America and Australia are now on the cusp of recessions, with unemployment rising slightly and the property markets contracting in both nations. Makes me glad to work for the government at the moment.


Comments re-enabled

Sorry 'bout that. It was a mistake on my part - I had gotten a number of ad-comments and I was trying to re-enable the password. Must've clicked the wrong box by mistake.


Being in Griffith (part 7)

  • It's raining this morning. After one month I'm becoming a country person and getting happy about rain. I am looking out of the window of the staff room now and actually seeing rain drops. I have year 10 first period - let's hope most of them decide to stay in bed.
  • Ross Gittins examines the issue of "incentive pay" for teachers. I think he's right - mostly. I suppose it would be nice for teachers to get pay deals that are more in tune with other professionals, but I think it would be better if money was spent on incentive for students to perform well at school. Many teenagers do not see how important education is - in many cases they just cannot because their intellectual development means that they do not assign value to the work they do at school. I see this every day (especially with my year 10 class) - it is hard to convince students that there are intrinsic and long-term rewards for good behaviour and hard work at school when their minds can only focus on the extrinsic and the short-term.
  • SMH reports on the growth of Linux - especially Ubuntu amongst low-end users. 2007 will not be "the year of Linux", but I think that the coming economic readjustment will force many cash-strapped, low-end users into seriously considering Linux. As for me, I am just annoyed that I have to endure using Microsoft here at school - and I'm a KDE fan rather than Gnome, which means I'm a Kubuntu fan, not a Ubuntu fan.
  • Steve Irwin - what can I say? I never watched the guy's shows and I found him plain annoying. He was a media darling overseas because of his stereotypical "Aussie" behaviour. I didn't shed a tear when he died, but I suppose it is a reminder that death comes to us all.


Being in Griffith (part 6)

  • I came up with an interesting idea yesterday whilst doing a professional development. The idea is to go to some local middle-sized businesses and get between $2000 and $4000 in sponsorship for the cash needed. I then get that money and divide it equally amongst members of my year 7 class - that's 20 kids. But the giving of money does not occur now but at the end of term 4 - the last week of school. That's between $100 and $200 they'll receive. But here's the catch - every time a student truants one of my classes, I'll fine them $5; If they turn up late, I'll fine the $2; If they don't remain in their seat in class, I'll fine them $2 every time they do so; If they are violent and/or abusive, $5... and so on. My guess is that the class' behaviour will settle down immensely and they'll learn heaps. I would then use that experience as the basis for an educational study whereby money is also given to students who pass key competencies, and also given to those who excel.
  • I had my first experience of evaporative air-conditioning over the weekend. The trick is - strangely - to have a window open near where you are so that the cool air rushes around near you as it exits the building. Unlike reverse-cycle air conditioners, evaporative ones actually increase the air pressure inside a building - it's like having a giant fan blowing in.
  • Now that I've experienced some heat here in Griffith, it's now time for the temperature to drop back down to freezing again. I had ice on my windscreen again this morning.
  • I went to a farm on Sunday that is owned by some friends I went to Bible college with back in 1992/1993. It was great to catch up with how their lives have been going in the last 13 years and how God has been working. It also introduced to me just how much fun farms can be for kids. Ross (the farmer) had a quad bike which he then tied to a kid-sized wooden racing car (obviously used in the past as a billy-cart). He then drove the bike (and thus the car) around the farm with a kid riding along. Great fun! He also had a Honda CX-650 that he bought about 5-10 years ago and graciously allowed me to ride around the farm in it too. After dinner he showed me his .22 rifle and we agreed that the next time I visit I would have a go shooting at a target.
  • Please pray for a disagreement that I am having with a good friend at the moment over certain theological issues.


Friday's a cruisy day

Period #1 year 10 - studying Australian music in 1970s. Wrote and talked about Sherbet, Skyhooks and Little River Band. I had asked some students to bring in some AC/DC and/or Cold Chisel but they forgot.

Period #2 year 7 - about ten minutes into the period the bell went off for an evacuation drill. Sepnt most of the lesson supervising kids on the oval.

Period #3 - free

Period #4 - "IBR" which I did yesterday, so it's a free.

Lunch Time duty

Period #5 - free

Will probably go off to "Exies" after school for a drink with the other teachers.