In the days before email, every editor would regard the pile of mail submissions on the desk with a shudder -- what fresh horrors awaited? After a few years, you could tell the maddies by sight. They preferred green ink, their submissions were an inch thick. Should you venture into them you would find that they all the did the same thing in different ways. They attempted to explain current reality -- everything from tariff protection to urban planning -- in a theoretical extravaganza that began with either the Big Bang or a theory of neural operation, and proceeded from there.

Noel Pearson is no green ink maddie, but he comes pretty close to sounding like one in Radical Hope, an essay ostensibly on education, equality and race in Australia, but which manages to take in the question of whether quantum mechanics supersedes Engels dialectical materialist approach to dualism, how cognitive science has disproved Lockean rationalism, and how Western education would have been thoroughly transformed had the world listened to an obscure educationist named Engelmann.