Mystery plane. There is a song circling in my brain. It’s from a BBC drama I loved in my youth about a girl band in the 1970s. It was called Rock Follies (anyone else old enough to remember it?), and one of the songs they sang was called Glenn Miller is missing about the famous bandleader from the 1930s and ’40s whose plane disappeared during World War II. As the astonishing mystery around Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 deepens, the melancholy tune keeps playing in my head. (Miller’s plane was never found, but while you expect that in wartime, it’s another matter entirely in today’s world.)

Every conversation I have had in the last week has ended up with speculation about what might have happened to the plane and the unfortunate people on board, particularly as the least likely scenarios now seem to be the ones being taken most seriously, such as this fascinating analysis by a hobby pilot and aviation enthusiast. Did the pilot or co-pilot hijack the plane? Or did someone else take it over? Where is the plane now, and what has happened to all the people on board? As a result of the speculation that inevitably follows such a mystery, I was grateful for this expert analysis in The Independent about what we know about the plane and its astonishing journey and what might have happened to it.

Parliamentary highlights. On a cheerier note, here is another song I came upon this week on YouTube and — I confess — it touched me so much, my eyes filled with tears …

gillard speech

My reaction surprised me because, while I loved Julia Gillard’s sexism and misogyny speech at the time, I am not one of those who has sanctified our first female PM. Perhaps the strength of my reaction comes from a hunger for honesty and big ideas in an era where petty point scoring appears to be as good as it gets. Gillard was as guilty of point scoring as all the rest, but as you can only make real art from big ideas, the Australian Voices Choir singing Rob Davidson’s Not Now, Not Ever! reminds us that this was a very big moment indeed. It is beautiful, melancholy and confronting all at the same time. I bet it gives you goosebumps.

Talking about a hunger for big ideas, this week also brought another landmark speech by a parliamentarian — this time, unfortunately, to an almost empty Senate. (If you are one of the few — outside the Senate — who have not yet heard Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s cri de coeur, you can find it here.) However, it was Elizabeth Farrelly’s take on Ludlam’s speech in The Sydney Morning Herald that I particularly enjoyed.

Our growing heartlessness. Two articles from the always excellent also caught my attention. This one about an astonishing act of courage and generosity by a conservative Christian who pretended to come out as a gay man to see what reactions he would receive from his friends and family. As you will see, it was not so much their reactions that were a revelation, but his own. However, it was this article from the same publication about our modern return to the Dickensian era’s propensity to blame the poor for their own plight that really impressed me.  That the blinkered lack of compassion it describes has become not just acceptable but almost fashionable is really frightening. And, to complete the gloomy picture, here’s a chilling vision from The Guardian of what is happening in UK schools that sounds an awful warning about the perils of pitiless policies that destroy the love of learning in students and the love of teaching in teachers.

This week an estimated 50,000 people march in cities and towns all over Australia in protest against the policies of the Abbott government. It received fairly minimal coverage in the media, which was a real pity because the protesters brandished some really awe-inspiringly witty signs (I particularly like the one about Tony Abbott buying Australia dinner). Here’s BuzzFeed‘s list of the best ones. It was also a pity that the state elections in Tasmania and South Australia took place on the same weekend, particularly as Tassie went over to the Libs decisively and the best SA can hope for is a hung Parliament. Much as I wish the marchers every success, the lack of simultaneous loud protest against the Abbott government at the ballot box inescapably dampened the impact of theirs.

Tweets of the week. The lackluster response of the mainstream media to March in March leads me to my runner-up for tweet of the week, which again goes to the indefatigable @watermelon_man …

But the runaway winner this week is this one — not necessarily because I agree with it but because it is so simple, so pithy and so appropriate …


But I leave you this week with this chilling and clever blank verse. Make sure you read it from the top down and then from the bottom up. I haven’t come across anything that confronts us with the point we are at right now as starkly. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Peter Fray

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