Archive for the 'From the editor' Category

Richard Miles and Richard Waterhouse on the ABC

Dr Richard Miles from the Department of Classics and Ancient History and Professor Richard Waterhouse from the Department of History, have both been featured on programs on the ABC.

Richard Waterhouse and Richard Miles were both interviewed by Joe Gelonesi for the ABC Classic FM’s morning interview.

Richard Waterhouse spoke about his research into Australian popular culture: about convicts, slaves, sport and the Trocadero. Richard Miles spoke about his research on Carthage: about trade, money and Rome (which he refers to as ‘Hicksville on the Tiber’ when compared to the early Carthage).

Richard Miles has also been interviewed by ABC News 24, where he spoke to Scott Bevan about Carthage, civilisation and his BBC2 program, Ancient Civliations, broadcast on the BBC in 2010, and to be aired in Australia late this year. The interview was aired on the ABC News program, The World.

You can download the podcasts of the programs from Classic FM’s morning interview, and watch Richard Miles’ interview on ABC TV online.


SOPHI’s Pakistan flood relief morning tea raises $242.75!

Thanks to all those SOPHI staff who were able to make it to the morning tea last Wednesday, and to donate to the Pakistan flood crisis collection. And a special thanks also to all those who couldn’t make it to the morning tea, but made an effort to get their donations in.

We’ve finalised the collection now, and raised $242.75, which will be donated to Oxfam Australia’s Pakistan Floods Appeal.
See the Oxfam Australia website for more details or if you didn’t manage to donate through SOPHI, but would still like to contribute to this relief effort.

With best wishes, Julie-Ann and Elia

George Eliot, Australian/American relations and incompleteness

From the editor…

I’m no expert on the mathematical science of set theory (and therefore offer in advance my apologies to Professor Mark Colyvan) but it sometimes appears to me that SOPHI might just be a subset of the ABC’s Radio National.

colyvan talk
Mark Colyvan on the Philosopher’s Zone

I was listening to podcasts (admittedly while pruning the trees in my garden before the council cleanup*) and heard the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science‘s Mark Colyvan talking on RN’s The Philosopher’s Zone, in a program entitled ‘Kurt Gödel and the limits of mathematics‘.
The program description reads:

Kurt Gödel was one of the foremost mathematicians and logicians of the 20th century, best known for his famous incompleteness theorem, which tells us that there are mathematical ‘blind spots’: parts of mathematics that traditional methods of proof cannot access. The theorem has far-reaching consequences for computing and even for our understanding of the nature of the human mind.

Given this was a man whom, according to Alan Saunders’ introduction, Einstein came to Princeton ‘merely to have the privilege of walking home with’, it made fascinating listening.

*I later listened again without secateurs in hand.

Moira Gatens on the Philosopher’s Zone

Only the day before (yes, it was a weekend!) I’d caught up on Moira Gatens from the Department of Philosophy speaking to Saunders in a program called The Philosopher and the Novelist, where she spoke about the influence of Spinoza on George Eliot — The discussion reinforced my admiration for Eliot, who is a favourite author of mine, even if Oscar Wilde (quoting Ruskin) referred to her characters being ‘like the sweepings of a Pentonville omnibus’! (He was more scathing of Mrs Humphrey Ward’s Robert Elsemere, which he said was ‘simply Arnold’s Literature and Dogma with the literature left out’.)

Moira has just returned from the University of Amsterdam, where she held the Spinoza Chair: A two month appointment which included the annual Spinoza lecture at Spinoza House in Rijnsburg, where you can still see the benches where Spinoza worked while plying his trade grinding optical lenses.

James Curran on Background Briefing

Curran programAnd then on Tuesday (9 June), James Curran from the Department of History was a guest on RN’s Rear Vision program A True Friend? The US/Australia alliance, where Australia’s relationship with the US, from the fall of Singapore through to ANZAS and the Bush/Howard alliance, were discussed in light of the now twice-cancelled trip to Australia by President Obama.

I recommend them all!
Radio National website
The Philosopher’s Zone website
Background Briefing website
Julie-Ann Robson

Ten out of ten and a koala stamp

From the editor…

‘Ten out of ten and a koala stamp’: that’s the rating Philip Adams gives to the new book co-authored by the Department of History’s James Curran and Stuart Ward (University of Copenhagen): The Unknown Nation: Australia After Empire — the highest award given by Late Night Live!

First broadcast on the 5th of May, the Adams’ interview with James Curran and Stuart Ward explores one of Adams’ perennial topics — Australians’ search for a national identity.

The interview is available as a Late Night Live podcast.

Paul Kelly, Political Commentator for the Australian writes of the book:

‘This book is fresh, provocative and full of insights. Sympathetic to the new nationalism of the 1960s and 1970s it dissects the flaws in this nationalism and its inability to replace the British race myth. It captures the dilemma of contemporary Australia-a nation still searching for a new myth of national self-realisation. Readers of all persuasions will benefit from this readable and challenging account.’

    Gleebooks will be hosting an in-conversation James Curran, Stuart Ward and David Marr on Wednesday May 12, 2010 (6:30 for 7) More details here

The book is published by Melbourne University Press.

Julie-Ann Robson

What are the odds…

From the editor…

What are the odds of having a book on gambling reviewed in the Wall Street Journal? I’m no statistician, so I’m not going to answer that question, but it might be better betting than the odds on who will be the British PM at the end of the month…

Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars, by Shane White, Stephen Garton, Stephen Robetson and Graham, tells the story of ‘one of America’s rare black-owned businesses, turning over tens of million dollars every year’ (Harvard University Press ‘About this book). The reviewer says

Long before the arrival of glossy state-run lotteries in the 1960s and ’70s, smaller lotteries—illegal, but almost as well-organized as a Powerball drawing— thrived in poor neighborhoods. In Chicago, the lotteries were known as the policy racket. In New York, they were called the numbers game. The history of these illicit enterprises is a picaresque mélange of race and class, business acumen and organized crime. A significant part of the story—Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s—receives a thorough and insightful treatment in “Playing the Numbers,” which recounts a flowering of black entrepreneurship in addition to capturing how integral the numbers game was to the lives of average Harlemites.

Read the full Wall Street Journal review

Congratulations to the authors!

Julie-Ann Robson

‘This is the best of all possible worlds’

From the editor….

Driving around on a long weekend is perfect opportunity not to be thinking about work. However, I confess I was thinking about work, because the two people being interviewed by Alan Saunders on the Philsopher’s Zone were from SOPHI: Paul Redding and Simon Duffy; both from the Department of Philosophy. The program was entitled ‘The Universal Genius – Gottfried Leibniz’, and although I reached my destination before the end of the program, I shall be podcasting it. The Philosopher’s Zone tells us

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is known as the last “universal genius”. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, he made important contributions to the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, philosophy of religion, as well as mathematics, physics, geology, jurisprudence, and history. He is also famous for saying that this is the best of all possible worlds. This week, we talk to a couple of experts about the subtle and strange ideas of this great philosopher.

Podcasts… It’s amazing what one can learn while walking the dogs.*

To listen to the podcast, or read the transcript, go to the Philosopher’s Zone website.

*From one podcast (from the BBC’s ‘In our Time’ program on the Calculus wars) I learned not only about the origins of calculus and the battle between Newton and Leibniz, (which came up in conversation with a physicist friend that week and gave me the opportunity of nodding emphatically that I did know what he was talking about) but that both Leibniz and Newton have biscuits named after them!

Julie-Ann Robson

Views expressed by the editor do not necessarily reflect the position of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry.

Australian Policy and History Network

From the editor…

As an avid Radio National listener, I had to do an Orwellian double-think yesterday morning as I was making my tea and listening to ‘Breakfast’. Gordon Brown, heading into an election, wants to be seen as ‘a man for the future, looking ahead rather than dwelling on the last 13 years’.

Only a few days ago, I was listening to another RN program, ‘Future Tense’, about the Australian Policy and History Network — a new organisation with the ambition of linking historians with politicians an policy makers by  ‘Linking the past with the present for the future‘. I dare say that from Mr Brown’s campaign slogan he’d rather not link the past with the present, and would rather voters forgot the moats, duck-pond follies and other financial rorts  — oh, and the small matter of the GFC —  and look into the gleaming future: a future of new, wondrous architectural follies achievements and ‘the best Olympic Games ever!’ Let’s say (reading between the lines of his campaign slogan) he’d rather historians kept their pesky hands off the past (and the present, for that matter!) and focus on a future under the splendid rose of New Labour. (No comments about Blake’s poem, please.)

But before I digress…

The point of this post was to let you know about the innovative work being done at the Australian Policy and History website. Their brief, as stated on their website, is as follows:

Australian Policy & History aims to provide policy-makers, the media and the general public with relevant, accessible information about the historical background to current events and issues. We connect historians with those making and commenting on public policy, so that the insights gained from the past can be used to inform decision-making in the present, leading to better outcomes in the future.

And to let you know that they are calling for network members, contributions, and are offering grants for contributors and early career historians.

The website for the Network is

And the story about the Australian Policy and History network can be found at Radio National’s Future Tense website.

Julie-Ann Robson

Views expressed by the editor do not necessarily reflect the position of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry.