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[1] Professor of Philosophy Sydney University from 1927 to 1958

[2] Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth), Chapter 3.1-3.9, 3.18-3.22

[3] A taxonomic group whose members can interbreed

[4] John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

[5] Samuel (Dr) Johnson. (1709–1784)

[6] The Bible: John 1:1

[7] The independence of the US set in train the events that led to Australia, as we know it.

[8] William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 Romeo & Juliet, Act II Scene 2.

[9] 1926–1984

[10] Leonardo da Vinci - Painter, Sculptor, Architect and Engineer 1452-1519

[11] Sir Alfred Jules Ayer: Language, Truth and Logic (1936); The Problem of Knowledge (1956). Bertrand Arthur William Russell (Earl Russell) OM, FRS (1872 –1970): co-author Principia Mathematica; A history of Western Philosophy; On Denoting; Nobel Prize Laureate.

[12] Little person, invented by the alchemists – thought to reside in sperm and to be passed to a woman at conception – see also Stewie in Family Guy

[13] George Bernard Shaw

[14] D.H. Lawrence Lady Chatterley's Lover Chapter 11

[15] Albert Einstein

[16] The great mathematician Alfred North Whitehead described the history of philosophy as simply "a series of footnotes to Plato".

[17] Macquarie Dictionary. This is tautological; life as the absence of death is not a very useful definition.

[18] Coleridge

[19] Milton Areopagitica

[20] Richard Dawkins 1941-The Selfish Gene (1976) ch. 2

[21] The bases are adenine (A); thymine (T); cytosine (C); and guanine (G) A bonds only with T, C with G.

[22] Written in 2000 – we now know a lot more, look it up

[23] Charles Darwin 1859 English natural historian 1809-82

[24] New Scientist 28June 2003 P20

[25] Richard Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene'

[26] See Susan Blackmore 'The Meme Machine'.

[27] Unless, of course, we cause it.

[28] Air from the Musical 'Hair' 1968

[29] U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division quoting McEvedy, Colin and Richard Jones, 1978, "Atlas of World Population History,"

[30] U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division

[31] Not even oil – long predicted to be the first cab to run out of fuel

[32] Catch 22 – ibid

[33] Byron; Don Juan - ibid.

[34] More strictly the Last Universal Ancestor (LUA) AKA Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA), the unicellular organism or single cell that gave rise to all life on Earth three to four billion years ago.

[35] I will leave you to ponder our moral obligation to the unborn (or never to be born) both human and no-human – if any.

Every sperm is sacred.

Every sperm is Great.

When a sperm is wasted God gets quite irate.

– Monty Python's Meaning of life

[36] Douglas Adams - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

[37] Encyclopaedia Britannica 2002 – Form and Function of the Nervous System

[38] This is the prevailing view at the moment but it is in dispute and some leading scientists think that Neanderthals bred with pre-humans and were absorbed.

[39] Fallingwater

[40] See New Scientist 4 Sept 1999 pp 31

[41] Song: Lloyd Price Personality 1960

[42] Alfred C Kinsey Sexual Behaviour In The Human Male 1948; Sexual Behaviour In The Human Female 1953

[43] Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest Act III

[44] First Essay on Population 1798

[45] Twelfth Night Act III Scene IV

[46] WS Gilbert - Pooh-Bah in The Mikado

[47] George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) - Don Juan

[48] Andy Warhol – Andy Warhol's exposures, Studio 54

[49] Sydney 'Truth', 1892 (note the use of grammar to add scorn)

[50] Oscar Wilde – Lane the butler in The Importance of Being Earnest.

[51] Of course a few are just thieves like Bond or Skase.

[52] 1921 song. Kahn, Egan & Whiting - Ain't We Got Fun

[53] The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money –Chapter 24 (1936).

[54] In Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault (1989, trans. 1991). "Les Reportages d'Idées," Corriere Della Sera (Milan, Nov. 12, 1978).

[55] Walter Lippmann

[56] Joseph Heller Catch-22

[57] Franklin Delano Roosevelt - 32 President of the United States

[58] Edgar Degas

[59] Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate

[60] Horace Walpole (1717–1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 58, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978).

[61] In 1999 Hubble Space Telescope images were used to estimate that there are over 125 billion visible galaxies in the universe

[62] The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) - a NASA satellite launched on June 30, 2001 to survey the sky to measure the temperature of the radiant heat left over from the Big Bang.

[63] Shakespeare – Hamlet, Act I Scene 5

[64] At least 'til Thursday (Woden's day Thor's day)

[65] Aldus Huxley Time Must Have a Stop 1945

[66] Section 116

[67] AA Milne - Now We Are Six, "Explained"

[68] Matthew 19:16-24, Mk. 10:25, Lk. 18:25 (Rope: kamilo in Greek was originally mistranslated as Camel in the English Bible)

[69] graffito

[70] Shakespeare Hamlet's soliloquy Act III Scene 1

[71] See also Romeo, Juliet, Ophelia, Gloucester (in Lear) etc.

[72] Friedrich Nietzsche

[73] The Truman Show - written and directed Peter Weir (1998)

[74] Dorothy Parker

[75] Samuel Butler Way of all Flesh

[76] Gore Vidal Two Sisters

[77] Mark Twain 19th Century Author

[78] Mae West

[79] In George Orwell's 1984; not the TV Show

[80] Book: John Irving - Screenplay: John Irving, based on his novel The Cider House Rules

[81] WS Gilbert – The Mikado

[82] Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee

[83] Mark Twain - Eruption

[84] Lewis Carroll – Alice in Alice in Wonderland

[85] Anon. Song Tune: Auld Lang Syne

[86] Albert Einstein 1879-1955 - Letter to Max Born, 4 December 1926; in Einstein und Born Briefwechsel (1969) p. 1 (often quoted: 'Gott würfelt nicht [God does not play dice]')

[87] TS Eliot - The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

[88] NewScientist.com news service 13 April 2008

[89] Wired Magazine: Issue 15.06

[90] 9 or 10 space dimensions and one time dimension.

[91] Three space and one time dimension.

[92] Sayings of Dan Quayle US Vice President, 1989-1993  https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Dan_Quayle

[93] We do not presently know any reason for the cosmological constants that determine the shape and laws of our Universe, to be as they are. There is every prospect that there are or have been other Universes in which life could not exist.

[94] Using this logic, we might be concerned that there will not be many more billions of humans in future, else why weren't we born then.

[95] Mark Twain - Letter to Mr. Burrough, 11/1/1876; Mark Twain and I

[96] Donald Rumsfeld US Secretary of Defence - May 16, 2001, interview with the New York Times

[97] Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

[98] Cabaret – Fred Ebb, J Van Druten / C Isherwood.

[99] Speak, Memory - Vladimir Nabokov

[100] A movie by Frederico Fellini 1960. Fellini no doubt had more reward making a great movie than the characters he portrayed did in partying and spending money. Fellini is dead – but his film goes on.

[101] F Scott Fitzgerald – This side of Paradise

[102] Shakespeare – The Tempest Act III, Scene II

[103] Susan Sontag, U.S. essayist. Notes on 'Camp', Against Interpretation (1964, repr. 1966).

[104] Bertrand Russell

[105] Shakespeare – Hamlet's Soliloquy

[104] British Medical Association





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A decade ago, in 2005, I was in Venice for my sixtieth birthday.  It was a very pleasant evening involving an excellent restaurant and an operatic recital to follow.  This trip we'd be in Italy a bit earlier as I'd intended to spend my next significant birthday in Berlin.

The trip started out as planned.  A week in London then a flight to Sicily for a few days followed by the overnight boat to Napoli (Naples).  I particularly wanted to visit Pompeii because way back in 1975 my original attempt to see it was thwarted by a series of mishaps, that to avoid distracting from the present tale I won't go into.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Secret

The Secret

By Richard McKie


 Download PDF (for e-readers)


Lansing Michigan was a fine place to grow up, she guessed.  It was nice, and safe.

Her dad worked in the Michigan State Government and her mum stayed home. They weren’t rich but they were comfortable. Their new house was big, the nicest they had lived in and it was in a really good area. 

She had never been overseas, unless you count nearby Canada, and that was mainly on trips to Niagara Falls, usually when one of Mum’s sisters came to stay. When they passed through Sarnia, into Canada, Dad would always say "Yea! Overseas again!". It was about his only joke.

Sometimes they went through Detroit. But after what had happened there the last time she shut that out of her consciousness. No wonder she is timid and takes fright easily. Now if a friend even seemed to be driving in that direction she would go into the foetal position and shut-down.

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Opinions and Philosophy

A Dismal Science



Thomas Carlyle coined this epithet in 1839 while criticising  Malthus, who warned of what subsequently happened, exploding population.

According to Carlyle his economic theories: "are indeed sufficiently mournful. Dreary, stolid, dismal, without hope for this world or the next" and in 1894 he described economics as: 'quite abject and distressing... dismal science... led by the sacred cause of Black Emancipation.'  The label has stuck ever since.

This 'dismal' reputation has not been helped by repeated economic recessions and a Great Depression, together with continuously erroneous forecasts and contradictory solutions fuelled by opposing theories.  

This article reviews some of those competing paradigms and their effect on the economic progress of Australia.

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