Cyclone Yasi:

Pandora Bower Crooke writes: Re. “Queensland’s new natural disaster: the brooding power of Yasi” (yesterday, item 1).  Australia is the safe, isolated country that we call home. The natural disasters that have hit our nation have called upon us all to respond with help, and we did. We’re full of intelligent, innovative people, but we need to stop pretending we have time to continue to concentrate on our present wants and needs.

The Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi are current emergencies that we can stand against in unity as a strong nation, but we can’t let ourselves fall back into our safe and quiet way of life once they’re out of the way. There is a bigger problem out there, and there’s no doubt it’s the reason we are beginning to see our planet fight back.

It’s called Climate Change, and I — a 14 year old student of Australia — will not stand alone in the active fight to stop it.

Justin Templer writes: You write that cyclone Yasi winds are expected to reach 302km/h in some areas, with winds of 295km/h expected near its core. I suggest that there is a 99.3962% chance that you have been imprecise.

The National Curriculum:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Berg: Taylor confirms curriculum motivated by ideological antagonism” (yesterday, item 12). Chris Berg certainly made a powerful argument about mucking up the curriculum, again, as soon as the good guys can get back into office.

Apparently, according to his argument, “Europe’s advances in law, philosophy, and even science have been conceived of in largely Christian terms, by largely Christian people.”

So there it is. A highly dubious argument that Christianity was around, western civilisation developed, therefore, umm, what exactly?

It would be a surprise if many kindergarten children hadn’t heard of Christianity, and quite frankly any more knowledge than that is a little bit of a waste. It has a familiar ring to the  Christian argument that morality is something that only evolved out of (Christian) religion, and that without religion there is only a moral vacuum, ipso facto, because I said so!

We could save ourselves millions by sacking these bureaucrats and these consultants, and any minister, who ever attempts to touch the curriculum again. It is an exercise in futility, matters only in the deepest labyrinths of academia and education departments, and makes not one wit of difference to education outcomes. The fact remains that the only way you know you have grown up is when you find yourself casting off the dogma forced upon you in childhood.

It’s a forlorn quest to find a more useless activity for our pollies and bureaucrats than the damned curriculum wars. Please, Mr Berg et al, get off your high horse and go and do something useful.

The Middle East:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Quiggin: how’s Fukuyama’s end of history looking now?” (yesterday, item 13). So John Quiggin wants to revive Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis.  I’m not sure that protests in Egypt are enough to convert me to Hegelianism.

As regards the triumph of representative democracy, the USA has lasted two hundred years, but most other examples are barely a century old, and the leading light of liberalism, France, only enfranchised women in 1944. As a less developed country, India is the obvious role model for Egypt, but it has really operated as a one party state with intermissions.

Yes, liberal democracy has spread since the end of the Cold War, but twenty years is a blink of the eye in the sweep of world history.

Lee Rhiannon:

Alex White writes: Re. “Rhiannon: the hidden millions in political donations” (yesterday, item 10). I read with mirth Lee Rhiannon’s “hidden millions” article which curiously included no mention at all of Greens Party donation receipts. Rather than front up honestly to the $1.6 million dot-com donation, she ignores it completely.

The line she uses on her Democracy4Sale website – “it’s all the National Greens fault, not us in NSW” – is risible. With the Victorian Greens Party Secretary now working for PR firm Gavin Anderson and lobbying Greens MPs, Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon has no credibility when talking about political donations.