Alister McGrath on CS Lewis… yum!

A couple of weeks ago while “shopping” for a book, I came across Alister McGrath‘s forthcoming new book on CS Lewis. My initial excitement was tampered when I tried to buy that book only to receive a response suggesting I had not read the blurp closely enough.

The book (C. S. Lewis- A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet) was only going to be available from 11 April 2013. The kindle version, that is. The hard copy has been available for a few months apparently, but I am happy to wait for the kindle version.

So I filled the gap with a couple of “junk food” – Gary Neville‘s “Red” and Grisham’s “The Racketeer” – while waiting for the main event to arrive.

Last night on the way home I sat on the train straining through a third time filler – the so far very ordinary Ben Winter’s “A Policeman:…” and wondered if McGrath’s feature piece was available. Sometimes the published date is meant for another part of the world and us antipodeans often have to wait a little longer.

To my surprise however it was available. By the time the train pulled at at Blackburn and I got to the car and drove up to a parking lot to wait for Tress to arrive, the book was sitting in my kindle. I didnt start reading however till this morning. The first 10+ pages on the train this morning have been glorious appetiser stuff. I’m realy looking forward to slowly savour this one.



Be honest for a change

When faced with suggestion of one’s own flaws, do you blame others? Do you say it is because others dont see you for who you are and therefore the fault lies somewhere other than yourself?

Look at this re Gillard, who when faced with suggestion that hers has been a tragic prime ministership, suggested it was because Australians are not used to a female PM. What unmitigated poppycock.

I hasten to add that when faced with suggestion that one hasnt been a good pastor or church leader, dont say it is because others have different views of “doing church”. Objective listening and processing helps sometimes.

See this story re female PM across different eras and different continents. None have ever brought up the gender issue.

Facing fault helps.


Thatcher never hid in Gillard’s haven

by: Niki Savva  (The Australian)

April 11, 2013

SHE has never married. She is childless. She is the first female leader of her country. Her enemies have referred to her, among other things, as a “political prostitute”. And no, her name is not Julia Gillard.

She is Park Geun-hye, recently elected South Korean President, who came to office promising to broker peace and instead prepares for conflict. Ms Park’s mother was killed by a bullet meant for her father, Park Chung-hee, who also served as president of South Korea. He was assassinated five years later by his own spy chief. If you are looking for a tough gig, try that one.

Or try being Angela Merkel, who assumed office as German Chancellor in November 2005, and a few years later watched as countries melted down around her. As she battled to forge rescue packages to save the eurozone, she had to convince her own people it was worth it, even as the citizens of the failing states protested on streets with banners likening her to Hitler.

Elizabeth was on the throne, but Margaret Thatcher ruled Britain from May 1979 until November 1990, when she was deposed by an internal coup. She broke the unions, forced Labour to remake itself, helped bring about the end of the Cold War, fought another war and won it, modernised Britain’s economy and shook English society to its core.

One French president, Francois Mitterrand, said she had “the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe“. Another, Jacques Chirac, described her as a “housewife” (could there be a worse insult from a Frenchman) and, according to her, other unprintable things. Thatcher confessed in her memoirs she liked them both, and in any case she was extremely adept at turning every insult to her advantage.

After she became leader, when her appearance was criticised, she changed it. According to her official biographer, Charles Moore, one of her advisers ran into Laurence Olivier and sought advice on what to do about her voice. Olivier arranged for her to have lessons from the speech coach at the National Theatre. She stopped screeching and spoke with authority. Then again, she usually had something worth saying.

In a speech in 1982, she said: “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” She revelled in her alpha female persona.

Tony Eggleton, the former federal director of the Liberal Party, was with Thatcher the night she was elected, knew her well and worked closely with her over many years.

Eggleton provided this recollection of her to me just two days before she died, in preparation for this column, conceived before her death: “Whether confronting war, terrorism, international tensions or domestic issues, she was every inch the resolute prime minister; being a woman was irrelevant. Those Brits who didn’t like her was because of her philosophy and the approach of her government, not because she was a woman. I never heard her express any gender doubts. Always supremely confident and in control. Concerns, anxieties, complexes about being a woman in the political front line? Never!!”

My query to Eggleton about Thatcher was prompted by an answer from Gillard to a question at the Foreign Correspondents Association lunch last week as she prepared to visit China.

Gillard’s typically sympathetic inquisitor referred to the extreme and incredible hostility towards her from some media and her parliamentary colleagues, and asked Gillard if she thought it was based on misogyny.

Gillard replied: “I think what I would say about being the first woman to do this job is a broader point, which is it’s not been ever the norm in our nation before for people to wake up in the morning and look at the news and see a female leader doing this job.

“For all of the years before, you would see a man in a suit. I am not a man in a suit, and I think that that has taken the nation some time to get used to.

“I think it’s probably still taking the nation a bit of time to get used to. I think it’s the same sort of journey that many other nations around the world are on, and it speaks really to the changing nature of our times, and the forward progress for women in societies like ours.

“But it’s got some uncomfortable moments along the way, there is no doubt about that, and I feel one of the things that will certainly happen, having had the first female prime minister, is it’s going to be easier for the second and then it’s going to be easier again for the third, and then everybody will get over it and forget about it and no one will even bother to comment any more whether the images of leadership in our nation that particular year are images of female leadership or male leadership.”

Gillard’s answer revealed she considered the reasons for her unpopularity, and knew exactly where to pin the blame: not on herself, but on us.

She has concluded her standing has nothing to do with competence or trust or devotion to principles or character and everything to do with her sex.

So, it’s not her fault, it’s our fault. We, Australians, have failed to adjust to the fact that we have a woman as Prime Minister.

It is impossible to imagine for a single moment prime minister Thatcher, or any of those other women leaders, saying anything remotely like Gillard said at any time and certainly not as they prepared to fly out to meet one of the most powerful men in the world.

India, Sri Lanka, Israel, The Philippines, Pakistan and Malta, to name but a few, have also been led by women, and you can’t say their societies were more egalitarian than ours, or more progressive than ours.

None of them complained they were the victims of sexism and misogyny, even if they might have been justified given the nature of some of the societies over which they presided.

The case unravels too when you consider that, like Gillard, they surmounted all obstacles to make it to the top.

Gillard’s comments last week look even sillier and even more self-indulgent alongside the acres of coverage given to Thatcher’s approach and achievements, and her own “tribute” to Thatcher, which could not get beyond the fact, OMG, that she was the first woman to lead Britain.

Gillard likes to talk tough, and there the similarity with Thatcher ends, because when it gets really tough, Gillard ends up hiding behind her own petticoat.


Weekdays easier

Kiddo left on Monday and we (I) have just been motoring ahead mechanically the past few days. Last night I left early as we had an appointment with the Opposition Leader somewhere way down south. South Clayton isn’t a place we’ve been too a lot but last night Tress and I left work a touch early, got home around quarter to six and drove there to arrive just before 6.30pm for a multicultural dinner event organised by the Liberal Party. Tony Abbott was going to be the main speaker. We shared a table with a Liberal candidate for our constituency, Michael Sukkar, and met some other candidates. It was a very interesting evening and I think Tress enjoyed it too.

We got home just before 11pm, and as usual I couldn’t go to bed immediately so I turned on the tv with a little refreshment – the wine at the function wasn’t what I’d enjoy and certainly if I had to pay for it on top of having to pay for the event already. The Glen Livet single malt was very good. It was even better when I came across a channel which had a Cheers re-run just starting. It was the Shelly Long variety which was even better. It was so good to see the early stage of Woody Harrelson’s genius in flight. Frasier, Norm and Cliff were as funny as I remember them to be, as was the other short bartender – Carla I think, who is Danny DeVito’s real life wife I think. It was a good way to wind down before I eventually went to bed just before midnight.

A late night meant I skipped gym this morning. Also, I had an 8am meeting so it was a convenient day to skip gym.

My employer has had its head down for a while now – burrowing into the myriads of variables interplaying to sort out a happy place where shareholders comprising huge industry funds representing millions of employees, can be at peace with us as a major enabler and service provider, in ploughing in money to secure an IT system that works well.

I cannot imagine the complexities that go into a system which handles hundreds of thousands of employers all inputting data of millions of employees, and for the data and funds (as in money) to then go into the right funds, accounts, investments, insurance designs, benefits – and then to track and report as well as comply with the Amazonian body of superannuation laws.

That is why we have a whole section of people working in a separate building a couple of blocks away – analysts, programmers, all IT folks spread across half a dozen floors. I had to make my way there this morning, as I have countless times, to meet with a project manager to nut out yet another work statement for my Indian friends to sign off on.

This document is particularly important because it is a business end of sorts now and so many consultants are at hand to help plot the days ahead. Unimaginable amounts of money have gone into this work and the outlook isn’t any better. Chances are more dosh would be needed and relationships with shareholders will have to be delicately managed.

So all those stuff takes care of my day job. I still wake up at 5am most mornings, get to the gym, then into the office just before 8am, get coffee with the team at 10am, have lunch and walk around the block at 12.30pm, leave between 5 and 5.30pm, walk the little black furry friend at 6.30pm, have dinner at 7.30pm and then either read or watch the tele. Mon – Fri. Every week. Weekends I… better not start on that again.