What is wrong, and why we can’t seem to fix it

Throughout most of my life I have been living under conservative governments, and the nicest way I can find to describe political conservatism is to say that it embodies the popular phrase ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. However, as we all know there are many things wrong at present, and they need fixing. No amount of ignoring them will make them go away. This blog is about those awkward facts of world that won’t go away and which political conservatism won’t make go away either.

What I’m going to aim to do is post a blog once a week, on a Friday, so you can digest it over the weekend. The next week’s blog will either be the next in my series, or a discussion of issues that have arisen from the comments.

I’m going to have a very strict comments policy, comment will only be accepted if they are intelligent and polite contributions to discussion around the topic of the post. Everything else will be moderated.

If you find a blog here sympathetic, you might consider reading the blogs from the beginning, as they are supposed to be a more or less continuous argument.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Grumble 11: the difficulty our society has in making necessary changes

This grumble follows on from last week, where I asked why we can’t make a fairly simple change, legalising voluntary euthanasia for terminal or seriously ill people. This, I said, was a symptom of a wider problem, that we can’t seem to make necessary changes in our society very easily. This is very important because in the next few decades we’re going to need to change faster than any other society has ever done in order to escape the consequences of self-inflicted environmental changes.

The basic problem is that our whole society is geared to serving the people who got us into this mess in the first place: businessmen, bankers, advertising people &c &c. Instead of concentrating on the whole of society and what is best for the people as a whole, successive governments in all English-speaking countries and most other countries have, since at least the 1970s, simply been following policies to make the rich richer. And the problem with this is that when the rich (‘the 1%’) become richer, they simply want to get still richer and maintain their power, which is only maintained by continued ecocidal policies.

Continuing this way of running society is about as sensible as asking the iceberg for advice on how to steer the Titanic.

So, my argument would be that we need to dissociate ourselves from our ‘stakeholder society’ and embrace the good of the people as our goal. However, of course, the 1% have made sure that this is a very thankless task for any political organisation. The enemies of the people and the planet have made sure that almost the whole of media has become an echo-chamber for their propaganda, so that a majority of conservatively-inclined citizens (and a great many non-conservative ones) have become rabidly attached to any number of positions which stand in the way of necessary changes. The difficulty that the current Australian Labor government has had in enacting its so-called Carbon Tax is a case in point, and one made even more pointed when you realise that the centre of it is not a straightforward carbon tax, which might reduce emissions, but a ‘a market mechanism’ that will almost certainly become yet another scheme that the international banking canaille can rort and get rich off, and which will fail in its stated aims.

The long-continued campaign which the 1% have waged to continue their control over global society has had as its central plank convincing people that their prosperity depends on the continuation of the existing order when in fact the opposite is the case. Any acquaintance with the world will prove this thesis, but one example can suffice: in Australia at present housing is more expensive relative to average wages than it has been since the Second World War at least, and yet, in this situation, where even a modest new house can cost $600,000-$700,000, it is difficult to find one that has even basic adaptations to the Australian environment, such as correct orientation, double glazing &c. In other words the price of the house is pure inflation, and does not include actual improvements in quality.

(Of course, in a society which had a declining population, housing would be much cheaper).

As well a compliant media, another platform for the rule of the 1% is advertising. The extent to which advertising shapes our perception of the world cannot be underestimated. In the C18 there was an occupation of ‘barker’, a person paid to wander around the streets of a town shouting out advertising for businesses. Doubtless this person was as irritating as the leaflet profferrers in today’s malls, and as effective. The basic problem for merchants in the C18 was that almost everyone manufactured their own essentials, they merely required the raw materials, fabric for clothing which was made in the home and so forth. Even as late as the mid C19 most households in the English-speaking world still manufactured their own soap. It took an enormous and concerted effort of many generations on the part of manufacturers and advertisers to turn the population into modern consumers of finished products.

The main weapon of advertisers then, as now, was dishonesty. For example in the 1930s a Scottish poet, Norman Cameron, worked in an advertising agency in London. He was charged to sell a brand of cocoa and did so with an advertising campaign which told people that they were at risk of ‘night starvation’ if they didn’t have a cup of cocoa before going to bed. Night starvation, the campaign implied, it had all sorts of deleterious consequences, however, there is no such condition and it was an invention of Cameron’s. Cameron, despite, or perhaps because of, his Calvinist upbringing, thought this was hilarious. But we can view it as merely symptomatic.

The worst consequence of the dominance of advertising, and the creation of a false consumerism across society*, is that it encourages the idea that ‘market mechanisms’ are a way out of our present situation. Have said before here that no opportunity to make products more energy efficient and less resource intensive should be neglected, but this in itself is clearly not going to reduce total global consumption back to sustainable limits without a decline in population as well. We can’t have our cake and eat it, we have moved from a global society whose consumption was so little it made no long-term difference to the global environment, and now we have passed 7 billion people, so either we can all have the same standard of living as the average for people in somewhere like Chad**, or we can have a high standard of living for a lower number of people; energy efficiency and resource intensiveness of products aren’t going to make that much of a difference.

The power of the 1% can be gauged by the fact that the population argument is not widely argued, then dismissed, instead, it is hardly articulated at all.

* Of course people need to consume things in order to live, they just don’t need to consume everything they currently do.
** And if the population is to grow any more we would need the average consumption per capita of people living in Haiti.

Next week: lack of leadership

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Grumble 10: Voluntary Euthanasia

My grumble this week is about inertia in the face of public demand for legalised voluntary euthanasia.

A greater part of the opposition to voluntary euthanasia is doubtless religiously motivated. The real reason why we aren’t allowed to have voluntary euthanasia is that religious people feel that God wants people who are sick to suffer or to be in a position of dependency. Of course, like all arguments involving a personal, omniscient God this argument is a nonsense. If God created us and has foreseen all our history then she could easily not have created the desire for voluntary euthanasia in us, and the question would never have arisen.

Those of us who don’t believe that God likes to torture people, of course, would treat this argument with the contempt that it deserves, however this argument is almost never made, and instead we hear that we can’t have voluntary euthanasia because it ‘cheapens life’, or because people would be forced into it by their families when they became a burden.

As to the first argument, I can see clearly the difference between voluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia, the clue is in the first word. I don’t imagine that many people can’t see this difference, and I’m quite sure that if voluntary euthanasia were legalised then the legal system would be able to discriminate if people couldn’t. The second argument bears slightly more examination, it is probably true that people would sometimes would come under pressure to undergo voluntary euthanasia from their families. However, there are already situations where the legal and medical systems adjudicate whether a person is mentally competent to take decisions and that these decisions are voluntary, and the case of voluntary euthanasia could easily be added to this area. To say that we can’t have voluntary euthanasia because it would be abused is about as sensible as saying we shouldn’t try to collect taxes because people will always try to evade them!

The case of voluntary euthanasia seems to me very like that of abortion. My solution to the abortion debate is: if you’re a woman and you oppose abortion just make sure you don’t ever have one, and if you’re a man and you oppose abortion, mind your own business. In the case of voluntary euthanasia if you find this ‘offensive’, then don’t take that decision, but stay the so-and-so away from those who want to.

As to the reasons why I think voluntary euthanasia is a reform that should be introduced as soon as possible, they are as follows.

In the first place although our Christian heritage has a great horror of suicide, other cultures have not had this, for example in Classical (ie Greek and Roman) culture to kill oneself before you were captured by your enemies, or before you were incapacitated by illness, was considered a good and honourable death. The horror of suicide evinced by some in our society is merely a silly cultural foible which stands in the way of people who are incapacitated by illness from ending their suffering.

Secondly, whilst I recognise that great advances have been made in palliative care, there are some types of pain which are completely immune to the range of pain killers that are currently available. So for some people all the palliative care in the world isn’t going to help, these people would be better to have the option of voluntary euthanasia at an earlier stage in their illness. There are also conditions that result in a very unpleasant death; in Motor Neuron Disease, for example, muscles atrophy and a typical patient will experience great difficulty breathing at a certain stage in their decline. At this point people basically suffocate (unless they have indicated they wish to be kept alive by artificial respiration). Now, 30 years ago this information would have been kept a decent medical secret, but thanks to the wider dissemination of knowledge nowadays most people suffering from the condition will be aware of what I have just outlined and will spend their last few months anticipating death by suffocation. Again in this case voluntary euthanasia could be taken earlier in the decline and save the patient weeks or months of mental suffering.

Thirdly, doctors have for centuries been practising involuntary euthanasia on terminal patients by their decisions about when to stop treating, and more recently when to withdraw life support, and so forth. It seems odd that a mentally competent person shouldn’t have the same rights over their own case.

Finally I would also like to see patients who are not terminal, but who require high levels of care to be given the right to voluntary euthanasia. There are two aspects to this, people who are not mobile, require high levels of care and whose condition is not going to improve may decide that their quality of life simply isn’t good enough and that they don’t want to go on. People in this situation may also decide that whilst they could carry on they don’t want their resources spent on high level care, they would rather they ended their lives and allowed their heirs to inherit. And so long as it could be established that this desire was a genuine one, and not prompted by other family members’ pressure, then I can’t see anything wrong with it.

Voluntary euthanasia enjoys majority support in several countries and yet it is legal to some extent in only a few, such as Switzerland and the Netherlands. It is a good example of an obvious social change with many advantages and eminently manageable disadvantages. And yet its introduction seems remote in prospect anywhere, largely due to the influence of conservative social gatekeepers, themselves largely influenced by religious views that the majority do not share. Theirs is the eternal tasks of all religionists: to make what they call their ‘standards of morality’ belong to everyone. It is also a good example of how our society is not very quick to embrace necessary change. If something as simple as voluntary euthanasia is so difficult to bring in, how are other vital changes, like the change to society of declining population, going to happen in time?

Next Week: Grumble 11, more on society not being able to move decisively

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Grumble 9: Freedom from Religion

As can be seen in these blogs I am anything but unspiritual, but I find argument for religions of the theistic sort nonsense, particularly ones which see God as participating directly in human affairs. It has been an annoyance to me for many years that ‘our Judaeo-Christian heritage’ is constantly held up in front of us as a source of everything good, whereas I would argue that our way of life owes far more to the Common Law, for example, and our Anglo-Saxon heritage of bloody-minded independence. I also believe that religious precepts are largely restatements of the Primate Code of Conduct we inherited from our remote ancestors. (Oh, and of course there is no such thing as ‘Judaeo-Christian’, there is Judaism and there is Christianity, that’s all).

What follows is just a unordered list of what I see as some of the most irritating and senseless ways in which religion impinges on our lives despite the fact that the majority of Australians are secular (either by designation, or by less than full participation in their nominal religion).

For years religious bigots have blocked attempts to make access to abortion legal, and are still making trouble in this area. You would have more respect for them if they encouraged a view of society in which men and women were totally equal and women were not disempowered vis a vis men, so that, for example, many women were not forced to have sex without contraception and risk unplanned pregnancies. You would also have more respect for the religious opponents of abortion if they promoted actions that might lower the demand for abortion, such as full sex education and easy availability of contraception.

In the more recent past religionists have also led the campaign to deny the wishes of a majority of Australians and block any legislation allowing for voluntary euthanasia.

It is also intolerable that the Australian Government supports religious schools. This is unconstitutional and should not be allowed to continue. (However, religious history (ie the study of religion in history) should be compulsory for all Australian school pupils. These classes should also teach the history of non-theistic religions (ie Buddhism and Daoism), these are usually ignored in school curricula.

What a freedom it would be for children not to have religious brainwashing! I know, of course, that very few children emerge from religious schools with a fully developed interest in participating in Catholicism, Anglicanism or whatever. However, what is more insidious is the way in which religious school entrench the idea of a ‘them and us’ society. The school which charge higher fees, of course, have as their purpose the inculcation of snobbery, so that people who have been to X Grammar School feel superior and entitled all their life (especially entitled to government payments to private schools so they can send their own children to their old schools or similar). However, even the humblest school, by its teaching of (usually) Christianity, imprints in the minds of children the idea of their being special and different from society. Instead of teaching pluralism, ie ‘Here is our society as it is, we are teaching the information and skills you need to be a useful member of it’, their school teaching can be expressed as something like, ‘God loves everyone, especially you. God wants us to come to Heaven with him, we should practise charity and caring on earth, but the really important thing is going to Heaven to be with God, and remember, you can, though we’re not sure about…..’

It is astonishing that male circumcision is still widely practised in Australia. Circumcision is a grotesque mutilation and as well as being a physical assault with lasting consequences for the man, it is an affront to women, as it detracts from full sexual functioning. It crept into secular society from some obscure source in C19 American Protestantism and has infected medical practice in the US where a majority of male children are circumcised at birth, and to a lesser extent in Australia (it is almost unknown in the UK). All infant circumcision should be banned in Australia and religious circumcision should only be allowed to men of Jewish and Muslim background once they reach 18, after a course of psychological and medical counselling.

[The fact that many men who are circumcised report no harm or problems because of it is not a valid argument for it. Of course these men aren’t going to admit that their parents did wrong in mutilating them for no good reason when they were babies.]

Religion still dominates the discourse around marriage and relationships. A way out of this would be for the state to refuse to recognise any form of marriage and the courts to deal with disputes about relationships and custody of children on common law principles. It would be then up to individuals to decide whether to have their relationships sanctioned by a religious or secular ceremony (which would have no legal standing).

Australians are also frequently betrayed by their elected representatives, who conceal their religious beliefs and the effects these are likely to have to their decision-making. As part of the electoral process candidates should have to sign a statement indicating their membership of any religious group and whether they would follow the teachings of this group rather than the wishes of their constituents in their decision-making. As well as this there should be a mechanism for examining whether elected representatives are following the teachings of a religious group in their voting record, and if this proves to be the case, for replacing them.

Prayers before the beginning of the Parliamentary year and before each session should also cease (what is to stop those parliamentarians who wish to from praying privately?)

Why does Australia still have diplomatic relations with the Vatican? The Vatican is not a state.

Government grant-giving bodies are frequently also swayed by the religious beliefs of their members. As far as possible such bodies should not have any members of religious groups on them to avoid this. (This applies particularly to bodies granting funds for scientific research, and especially bodies with oversight of ethical issues, which for some reason seem particularly overrun with priests).

The Public Service should also be areligious as it is apolitical (the APS Code of Conduct, for example, has no explicit sanction against the influence of religion in the work of the service).


[A note on terminology: I object to the terms ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’ because it implies that God exists, only atheists are without her and agnostics refuse to comment on whether they believe she exists. That’s why I hardly ever use these terms. Instead I use unmarked terms such as ‘people’ to refer to anyone, whether religious or not, and ‘religionists’ for people who belong to a religion].

Next week: Grumble 10: Voluntary Euthanasia in more detail

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Grumble 8/Interlude: Duties of Creative Types under Modernity

This isn’t a proper grumble and it isn’t a proper interlude.

In the past few posts I have been excoriating the lack of decent literature. I have also been raising issues with the promotion of what I see as bad music by Classic FM in Australia, and the ignoring of good music as a consequence of this. Both of these phenomena I have diagnosed as a lack of virtue in society, which, it is obvious, is also responsible for our so far meagre efforts as a society to dig ourselves out of the rather deep ecological hole we are currently in (and for allowed us to get into it in the first place).

It should be clear that I am recommending that everyone in society should attempt to align themselves with virtue (in the sense I am using it here) and take to necessary actions for this time and situation. Composers and writers will continue to produce their works as part of this imperative.

Composers’ duties are clear: to keep on producing effective music, despite the fact that large part of the (classical) music industry is smitten with kitsch and seems to be on a mission to propagate only this type of music. The existence of record labels interested in effective music and a small, but sympathetic, listening public is a guarantee that effective music will continue to be performed and recorded. The same argument would apply to handicrafts—although the predominance of the mass-produced is a hallmark of modernity, there exists a small market for items produced in alternative ways and with regard to the niceties of craftpersonship.

The duties of writers are harder to perform because in modern publishing the enforcement of stupidity is that much more rigorous than in other artistic spheres. Add to this the problem that whereas music and handicrafts are, to an extent, not restricted to their own time, yet the written word is necessary identified with the period that produced it because language is time-bound.

A good metaphor for the writer’s task is this: in Ecuador archaelogists have discovered artefacts made in Pre-Columbian times which seemed to be made of platinum. This was astonishing as the high temperatures required to smelt platinum could not, it was thought, have been reached in the furnaces of the time. The answer that emerged when the pieces were analysed was, if anything, even more interesting than the supposition of highly-advanced Pre-Columbian furnaces. It seems that the craftspeople of the area had employed a technique known as sintering: they took nuggets of platinum (which could then be found in stream-beds along with nuggets of copper and gold) and ground them to a fine powder. They then added a small amount of powered gold and heated this mixture in a crucible. The gold melted, even though the platinum did not, and flowed around the fine particles of platinum producing a piece of metal that looked like smelted platinum, but was in fact a mass of platinum particles cemented together with gold.

This I take it is the ideal state for quality written work: the timeless particles of wisdom held together by the slightly less precious gold of rhetoric. What we have in modernity, of course, is work that is almost always base metal, almost never contains any precious metal, and whose rhetoric is anything but golden.

As many writers have noted, words are fleeting, and the written language documents the changing nature of language over time. Although many works have been lost over time—the complete poems of Sappho, for example—many have survived, and where their language has become outdated or disused people have taken the trouble to learn it so they can read and perhaps translate these older works. Recently for example I was reading a translation of Sumerian poetry written in the Third Millennium BCE. The language itself became extinct in the Second Millennium BCE, but by studying translations made into later languages scholars from the C19 have learnt to understand Sumerian again.

We can hope that as we now have sophisticated means to store and perpetuate written records we can now look forwards to a future in which no works of valuable literature are lost and people can rely on scholars and translators to continue to keep alive the words of the past. On the other hand it may be that this steady state future will not eventuate and works of literature will just have to take their chance, as they have done previously.

Meanwhile writers have to keep on writing and serving virtue and the Way as they see fit: provoking thought, overturning outworn ideas and renewing language.

One problem for writers is that languages such as English and French, which have been written for centuries, are being held back from necessary change. For example how many times have you heard the argument: ‘we must distinguish between “uninterested” and “disinterested”, “disinterested” does not mean “without interest”, it means “without financial or other involvement”’. In any normal language this distinction would have been lost a long time ago and two new common words meaning ‘without interest’ and ‘without financial or other involvement’, respectively, would have emerged. Now all that happens is people who don’t write well don’t distinguish these two, those who do, distinguish, but there is no vernacular way of expressing this difference.

English is in fact being held back from changing across the board by its written form. English is a Germanic language which has absorbed an enormous amount of vocabulary from French and other Romance languages and Latin and Greek. In the normal course of events borrowed words would be assimilated to the pattern of the language, but, several centuries on, English still has a very mixed inventory of word forms and is sadly polysyllabic. What needs to happen is for all these polysyllables to contract into dignified one or two syllable words, as is done in the spoken language (‘rehab’ for ‘rehabilitation’, for example). After several centuries of unchanging form English is getting old and tired and words that were once noble and purposeful have been applied to too many enormities over time for them to have preserved their freshness.

If you add to this handicap the handicap of generally foolish and unlearned publishers, you can see the extent of the writers’ difficulties. Really one could carp about this topic forever, but suffice it to say that the publishing industry generally can be relied upon to find and promote stale rather than fresh writing, crass rather than wise writing, and best sellers rather than works of value. (Best sellers, of course, are forgot almost as soon as the millionth copy leaves the bookshop shelf. Remember the Da Vinci Code, anyone?)

But virtuous writers will, of course, keep on writing, and their writing will, eventually, work its purpose.

Next week: Grumble 9: Freedom from religion

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

100 Great Books

As a follow up to last week’s discussion of the dearth of literature in our age, here is a list of 100 Great Books that I wrote some time ago in response to a challenge by a friend. You will note that the nearer we come in time to the present the more my choices are historical or scientific, I think it will be obvious why. I think that the most recent works are also the most provisional, because with the other works time has winnowed them, but with these works this has not yet happened.

The list is in chronological order.

The Illiad (C8 BCE)
The Odyssey (C7 BCE)
Sappho, Poems and Fragments (C7 BCE)
Book of Songs (C5 BCE)
Herodotus, Histories (450s-440s BCE)
Aristophanes, Plays (420s-380s BCE)
Te Tao Ching (C3 BCE)
Sun Tzu, The Art of War (C3 BCE)
The Chuang Tzu (C3 BCE and later)
Biblical and Apocryphal Wisdom Literature (C3-C1 BCE)
Catullus, Poems (60s-50s BCE)
Ovid, Metamorphoses (8 CE)
Tacitus, Works (90s-110s CE)
Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars (110s-120s CE)
Apuleius, The Golden Ass (160s CE)
Li Bo, Poems (730s-760s)
Du Fu, Poems (730s-760s)
Beowulf (C8 CE)
The Tain (C8 CE)
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (C8-C11 CE)
Old English Riddles (C9-C10 CE)
Khayyam, Rubaiyyat (C11 CE)
The Troubadour Corpus (C11-C13 BCE)
Mediaeval English Lyrics (C13-C15 CE)
Njal’s Saga (c 1280)
Ap Gwilym, Poems (c 1340s)
Chaucer, Poems (1370s-1400)
Childe, Traditional Ballads (C14-C18 CE)
Malory, Mort D’Arthur (1450s-1460s)
Dunbar, Poems (1490s-1510s)
Skelton, Poems (1490s-1510s)
Eramus, In Praise of Folly (1511)
Elizabethan Song-book Verse (C16 CE)
Montaigne, Essays (1560s-80s)
Shakespeare, Plays and Poems (1590s-1610s)
Jonson, Plays and Poems (1590s-1620s)
Cervantes, Don Quixote (1590s-1610s)
Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1610s-1630s)
Ray, Flora of Cambridgeshire (1660)
Traherne, Poems and Prose (1660s)
Molière, Plays (1660s-1670s)
Aubrey, Brief Lives (1670s-1680s)
Hume, Treatise of Human Nature (1740)
White, Natural History of Selbourne (1760s)
Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1760s-1780s)
Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1774)
Boswell, Life of Johnson (1780s-1790s)
English Folk-Song (collections of) (C18-C19 CE)
Clare, Poems (1810s-1850s)
Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1816)
Melville, Moby Dick (1851)
Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859)
Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)
Dickinson, Poems (1850s-1880s)
Hardy, Poems (1860s-1920s)
Rimbaud, Poems (1860s-1870s)
The Oxford English Dictionary (1880s ->)
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1894)
Conrad, Nostromo (1904)
Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis (1900s-1930s)
Thomas (Edward), Poems (1910s)
Akhmatova, Poems (1910s-1960s)
Rilke, Dunio Elegies (1910s-1920s)
Graves, Poems (1910s-1970s)
Vallejo, Poems (1910s-1930s)
Graves, Goodbye to All That (1929)
Borges, Poems (1920s-1970s)
Riding, Poems (1920s-1930s)
Hudson, Nature in Downland (1923)
Sturt, In the Wheelwright’s Shop (1923)
Heidegger, Being and Time (1927)
Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1930)
Graves, I, Claudius and Claudius the God (1934-5)
Orwell, Essays and Journalism (1930s-1940s)
Borges, Fictions (1930s-1970s)
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1940s)
Graves, White Goddess (1948, 1962)
Pearsall, Mountains and Moorlands (1950, 1971)
Ostragorsky, The History of the Byzantine State (1952, 1969)
Graves, Nazarene Gospel Restored (1953)
Durrell, My Family and Other Animals (1956)
Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, 1970)
Chang Chung-yuan, Creativity and Taoism (1963)
The Oxford Book of Food Plants (1969, 1997)
Brunskill, Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture (1971)
Strehlow, The Songs of Central Australia (1971)
Lewis (David), We, the Navigators (1972)
Le Brun Holmes (Sandra), Yirrawala: Painter of the Dreaming (1973)
Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1975)
Lack, Island Biology as Illustrated by the Land Birds of Jamaica (1976)
Simpson, Robert, Carl Nielsen Symphonist (2nd Ed 1979)
Stewart (Harold), The Old Walls of Kyoto (1981)
Rackham, History of the Countryside (1986)
Munro, Emerarra: Man of Merarra (1996)
Banfield, Gerald Finzi: an English Composer (1997)
Dixon and Koch, Dyirabal Song Poetry (1996)
Dixon, The Rise and Fall of Languages (1997)
Cavilli Sforza, Genes, People, Languages (2000)
Rackham, Nature of Mediterranean Europe (2001)
Mayr and Diamond, Birds of Northern Melanesia (2001)

Next Week: More on literature