Open discussion on the evolution of Australian and New Zealand Thought

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Ross Parish - a note

Some time ago I began a series looking at the University of New England's contribution to Australia's intellectual tradition. I thought that this might be interesting and helpful because the University occupies a special place as the first university in regional Australia.

I have so far had to put the development of the series on hold because of other pressures. However, in researching a story on David Asimus I came across an obituary of Professor Ross Parish. This post is simply intended to record the link so that I do not lose it.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Project Gutenberg

Making use of the National Dictionary of Biography for the post on the Tasmanian economists has reminded me of the wealth of information in the Dictionary and in other souces that can be tapped via the portal of Project Gutenberg Australia. Among many other things there are several of Australia's "greatest books" on line, from a list compiled by Geoffrey Dutton in 1985.

Even more amazing in some ways is Google Books which provides access to the whole text of a massive number of old books and to significant chunks of recently published books.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Some Tasmanian economists

Peter Boettke, at the George Mason University in the US is a member of the Austrian school of economics and social thought. He speculated that people who grew up with some experience of manual work might make better economists than others, or at least they might have a more practical take on the issues that ecomomists are supposed to understand and illuminate by their their research and writing.

I tested out that idea by checking the careers of a number of prominent Australian (not Austrian) economists who had some association with Tasmania (my home state). The results of this study can be found at this link, and I will say up front that the Boettke's idea was strongly supported! Giblin is the outstanding supporter of the thesis, but they are all good.

This is a taste of the Giblin story, the rest is here, with a portrait by Dobell as a bonus!

"GIBLIN, LYNDHURST FALKINER (1872-1951), political economist, was born on 29 November 1872 in Hobart, son of William Robert Giblin, barrister, and his wife Emmely Jean, née Perkins. Educated at The Hutchins School, Hobart, and University College, London, he entered King's College, Cambridge, in 1893, graduating senior optime (mathematics and science) in 1896 (M.A., 1928). He rowed for King's but excelled at Rugby Union, representing not only his college and university but England too. Revisiting King's in 1938, an extraordinary career behind him, he was elected to an honorary fellowship and given the use of Keynes's rooms. When Giblin died the college established a studentship in his name.
After coming down from Cambridge he and a fellow Kingsman joined to prospect for gold in the Cassiar-Stickine district of North British Columbia. The isolated life, if at times adventurous, was always harsh and ultimately meagre of reward; it was essential to work as lumberman, teamster or boatman to help pay one's way. Giblin's correspondence from this period conveys the deprivation, the routine and the eccentric acquaintance of his mining existence. In 1904 he joined the crew of a schooner bound for Australia, but the same year found him once again in London, where inter alia, he helped to teach ju-jitsu. After visiting a Solomon Islands plantation in 1905 he returned to Hobart and set about establishing an orchard. He also taught mathematics and explored Tasmania's high country, measuring more precisely certain peaks. In April 1909, bristling with criticism of his State's recent financial past, Giblin unsuccessfully contested the seat of Franklin as a Liberal Democrat. He then joined the Labor Party, gave elementary lectures to branches on economic subjects, and made his way to the State and Federal executives. In 1913 he won the State seat of Denison. When Labor took office Giblin gained a reputation for independence. He became unofficial adviser to the treasurer J. A. Lyons, persuading him of the need for an inquiry into the public debt. Upon the dissolution of the assembly in 1916 he did not seek re-election.
From March 1909, when he had been commissioned a lieutenant of the Intelligence Corps, Giblin had been active in the citizen forces. In January 1914 he became captain and during 1916 transferred to the 40th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force. He was wounded at Armentières and Messines, and won the Military Cross in August 1917. Recovered, and promoted major, he fought in the third battle of Ypres, Passchendaele and on the Somme. He received the Distinguished Service Order on 3 June 1918, but a third wounding on 24 August at Bapaume removed him from the war."

Sunday, 6 January 2008

History of Australian and New Zealand Thought - 2008 directions

I actually did begin this post at the publication date. Then I got sidetracked. I have decided to bring it up at its original planned date even though the real time is somewhat later.

Back in December 07 I said that Rafe and I were still feeling our way with this blog. I thought therefore at the start of o8 I should set out what I hoped that we would be able to achieve this year.

When we set this blog up, we hoped that it would evolve into a platform for a worthwhile discussion of the evolution of Australian and New Zealand thought. This remains our hope. To achieve it, we need a couple of things.

A blog like this reaches for two very different audiences.

The first is those who find us through search engines. Some, we hope, will come back. But whether they do or not, we hope that they will find information of use.

To achieve this objective, we need to build a solid volume of content. This requires far more posts than we have so far been able to put up.

The second audience is regular visitors. To gain and hold these we really need regular posts, desirably a minimum of three a week. Then we can get them to comment, thus building involvement.

Both Rafe and I are, to use Rafe's phrase, busy bloggers. On our own, it will take a long time to grow the blog. Further, we also represent a necessarily limited range of views. A blog like this grows with a diversity of views.

This brings me to my core hope for 2008, that between us we can build a solid team of contributors better representative of the many streams in the thought of our two countries.