Liked Is Martha Stewart’s turn on the cover of Sports Illustrated really about the male gaze, or is she chasing something else? (

When we get fit and put on good clothes, even sexy clothes, we’re hoping our girlfriends greet us with shrieks of delight at our well-toned arms and how well our jeans fit. Martha may have been on the cover of a men’s magazine, but almost all the discussion since her appearance has been by women.

Bookmarked When a mum breastfeeding her baby sparks outrage, we’re focusing on the wrong things by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

What confused me was all this deeply felt concern for children, when I really hadn’t seen much anxiety similarly expressed for all the thousands of Australian kids who live in dangerous, damaging, high-risk circumstances and whose lives are being compromised and even cut short, all with our full understanding of their problems.

I guess I might take all the outrage a bit more seriously if I heard wails of anguish about the more than 15,000 children in Lyle Shelton’s state who need foster homes and can’t live safely with parents who I assume are mostly still the gender they were assigned at birth; the criticism would be easier to take if it came from people who daily expressed horror at the 1.3 million Australian children who went without enough food every day, or the more than 50,000 kids who don’t get to go to school.

State and territory child protection services responded to more than 178,800 children in 2020–21 — an increase from about 168,300 in previous years — and the issues ranged from child abuse or neglect through to care and protection orders, or placement in out-of-home care.

Virginia Trioli’s reflection on focusing on the wrong thing to me is another highlight to the challenges of having conversations in the modern world? This again has me thinking about Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens’ discussion of contempt. For me, this is all nicely captured in Tony Martin’s Sizzletown, a podcast that is hilariously funny, until you realise the truth associated with so much of the commentary. I guess here I fall back on my oft repeated quote from Peter Goldsworthy ‘Maestro’:

Cartoon descriptions? How else to describe a cartoon world?

Replied to The Rebel Wilson affair reveals how inadequate the humble columnist is in the new empire of the celebrity god by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

The celebrities own the presses now, we in the media just get the notifications.

Although not ‘celebrities’ in the traditional sense, it has been interesting to read and listen to TISM announce themselves once again. Same same, but different? Yes, they were seemingly communicating via a video call, an affordance not as prevalent 20 years ago, but overall things were still as they were. Focus on anything but themselves. Maybe there might be some further campaigns to come, but seemingly always on their terms.
Liked Relationships are being torn apart by COVID conspiracies — once it passes, will our loved ones come back? by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

My love for our friendship has not died. But I do not know how to talk to my friend. Like the miners’ wives, I’ll wait. I hope I don’t have to dig us out.

Liked When kids cave under the pressure of COVID lockdowns, it turns out skateboarding can help by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

As far as I can tell, no jurisdiction has yet put proper thought and effort into ventilation, air filtration, and priority teacher vaccination at our schools not only to mitigate against future outbreaks but to find a way to keep schools open safely during lockdown and protect our children’s mental health and educational future.

There was important, challenging but not impossible engineering and construction work to be done to make schools safer for students, teachers and the families they go home to, but we haven’t done it. And we still refuse to see it as a high priority.

Replied to Looking at Victoria’s fourth COVID lockdown from behind is maddening by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

As the boom is lowered on yet another lockdown, how are we still having the same conversations? Fully 15 months on, how are so many issues unchanged, uncorrected and wildly off-track, Virginia Trioli writes.

Having gone out to catch up with friends only the weekend before Melbourne was again thrown into lockdown, I was amazed. Firstly, at the amount of people on public transport without masks and secondly at the man on the door of the bar who thanked me when I signed in. Is this where we have gotten to? It would seem that it is?
Liked Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency has never made me laugh by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

We are witnessing one of the most important battles of our times: not just the electoral one, but the battle between the power and importance of our institutions and of facts, and the self-interested misrepresentation of the truth.

The skirmishes are without precedent. Television networks actually took down and cut the feed of a US President as he gave a speech of countless untruths. Twitter now routinely deletes his tweets. Social media platforms suspend the accounts of his high-profile surrogates.

This is a moment of reckoning, the first time that a civil society has genuinely asserted itself over the jungle of social media and the ecosystem in which Trump has thrived and that he has so effectively used.

Liked Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown might be finally be over, but we are still deeply divided by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

It’s a bit of a paradox, because at the same time we have banded together strongly like never before. We wait to see whether what happens next, our recovery and the help we get along the way, will bind some of the wounds as well.

Replied to Just like Phillip Island’s little penguins, we can get up and keep going in these uncertain times by Virginia Trioli (ABC)

hopelessness and endurance from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”

The suffering of so many in this lockdown is real and not to be easily dismissed. So many days home again with small children or with out of work partners or with no-one at all, and the feeling is overpowering: I can’t go on. But then — I’ll go on.

Being in lockdown has felt like something between Waiting for Godot and Groundhog Day. I try to find solace in the fact that we are all in this together.
Liked We try to eat well, exercise and do the right things, but sometimes you just need a piece of cake by Virginia Trioli (ABC)

We try to eat well, and exercise and meditate and do all the right things, but as the infection numbers stubbornly bump the ceiling of triple figures, sometimes — well, we just need a piece of cake. And a cuddle, if we can. And a bit of joy.

Replied to Despite these strange times, we’re all still connected through music (

I’ve mentioned before that the loss of performed music is probably my greatest sorrow through all this, and I was wondering: what music was everyone else turning on, to find some solace, joy, escape, refuge?

Some days I turn to The Cure for solace, other days I dance with my daughters to Dua Lipa and Carly Rae Jepsen. Some days I retreat into the worlds painted by people like Joesph Shabason. However, when all else fails, Damian Cowell serves as a reminder of the absurdity of it all.
Bookmarked An arts degree has long been the butt of predictable joke but there’s another side (

The late essayist and quicksilver intellectual Christopher Hitchens once argued that “above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment … and this Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person”.

For many, the universality of the humanities degree is the most democratic expression of this ambition.

Virginia Trioli reflects on the democratic values associated with a humanities degree.
Liked A tale of fried onions, Thomas the Tank Engine and a little boy lost — and then found (

People with autism don’t often get that much understanding. It takes so much effort, concentration, emotional strength and focus just to get by in the neurotypical world that an autistic person can often start their day already in the kind of deficit the rest of us experience at the end of it. The world can be overwhelming. And dispiriting.

If on those few, terrifying days we can come together as a community in full understanding of what Will’s needs would be, might we not be able to do that for other autistics in our life on any given day? A little more patience, a little more consideration, flexibility and accommodation that means they don’t have to be lost before they can be found?

If you want your heartfelt celebration of Will’s discovery to have meaning and effect beyond this week, cross the road to ask if families with kids on the spectrum are doing OK, or if they are lonely or if they need some help. If you work with an autistic person, shift your perspective so as to make a little more room for theirs. If you don’t understand, ask.

Liked I thought life was back to normal. Then a text message from a listener shut me up (

“Not everyone can afford to go out to eat. I now have to manage my kids’ disappointment when they want take away or to eat out and we can’t afford it.

Declining offers to go out to eat by making excuses because I’m embarrassed. I enjoyed ISO. It made me feel ok about not having money to spend.”

Replied to ABC Weekend Reads (

Sarah aside – and you go, girlfriend – what have you learnt?

That you’re a little more prone to anxiety than you thought you were? That being an extrovert doesn’t shield you from loneliness? That being an introvert doesn’t shield you from loneliness?

I have learnt that there is no ‘deep work’ without a wife, especially when you are working in a shared space.
Replied to Weeknote 14/2020 (Open Educational Thinkering)

Although I’ve got enough done, I haven’t felt so productive this week. I think that’s because I’ve had to slow my brain down to stop it racing ahead and thinking of possible futures in which everything I’m currently doing fades into insignificance.

I’m taking a lot of solace in long walks with my family, in nursing a single malt and talking to my wife, and in hanging out with my parents on video chat. I even, with the help of our children, painted the garden fence this morning!

I am guessing no alcohol for Lent has long gone Doug?

I really like your point about turning to comedy or tragedy:

The rationale behind this is that, I think that in times of crisis it’s better to go for either end of the spectrum. Either comedy and light-hearted stuff to raise my spirits, or tragedy and dark content to make me realise that things aren’t really so bad after all.

I have been left thinking about some of the stories that Cory Doctorow has been sharing. Trying to find some hope in the tragedy.

This is how Virginia Trioli tried to make sense of things in her newsletter:

But every now and again the mists are clearing. When the household settles into a rhythm of energetic morning work and then quiet family reading; when the daily cycle around the park becomes the highlight of the day.

Not sure what the Stoicism says about hope.

Replied to ABC Weekend Reads (

We are entering a kind of wartime through which we will eventually establish a kind of normal, a way of getting through life while the bombs fall and we head into the bunkers, we now endure the infective pandemic version of that.

Thank you Virginia for your voice of hope in today’s newsletter:

I hope that in adversity, if we come together for the common good, this home front might just be the making of us.

Liked ABC Weekend Reads (

As I stood facing the sea that New Year’s Eve morning, as far east as the Rural Fire Service alert that awakened me at 5am urged me to go, I wondered why I wrote those words, but could not follow the warning.

We were hosing down a house that did not belong to us and preparing to take the kids into the sea if the fire that roared through Cobargo and now blazed towards the beautiful little town of Bermagui on the south coast of NSW came closer. It was 10am, and daylight was a faint line of lost hope on the horizon. Summer ended that morning even before it had begun.

Replied to ABC Weekend Reads (

Someone somewhere has persuaded us it’s not as important as the job at the desk, the ride up the greasy pole — and a lack of Federal arts policy doesn’t help.

This was a great read Virginia. I really liked your point about how on the one hand we prize the piece of artwork, but fail to recognise mathematical results. Yet when it comes to funding and priorities, we are told something totally different.

Portfolios are statements of intention, of what a Government’s priorities are and what it considers matters most to Australians.

It reminds me of Gert Biesta’s discussion of the interaction of qualification, socialization and subjectification in the creation of a good education.