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Archive for the 'journalism' Category

Prisons are full of Naughty People

Monday, April 18th, 2016

The go-to political and media punching bag has long been our prison system. Escapes have a certain glamour. Crime is rating high on the Idiot Box. There are people in prison extorting, getting drunk, corrupting guards, raping, bashing and stealing. Riots. Hunger strikes. You name it, the prison system is a microcosm of the outside World without that ethical signature we think of as civilisation.

That’s the real trouble with all these stories. The latest article about Risdon Prison this last week was the shock horror front page revelation that prisoners are using an illicit mobile phone network within the prison to send out selfies that other people post on Facebook pages in the prisoners’ names.

Oh, for fuck sake. The headline should have simply read “Breaking News: Prisons are full of Naughty People”.

Considering the Australian prison system houses over 30,000 inmates and releases 50,000 inmates a year back into society; considering those inmates have friends and family that visited them (or forgot to visit); and considering this country has 24 million residents, of which only half a million live in Tasmania – it’s probably not much news to anybody that Tasmania’s prisoners use illicit mobile phones.

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The Surgeon of Crowthorne (Book Review)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

The Professor & the Madman

Simon Winchester’s The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words was also published in the United States and Canada as The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s the little known story of Sir James Murray, editor of what would later be the Oxford English Dictionary, in his dealings with the most prolific of the amateur philologists, Dr W. C. Minor. The illusive minor refused meetings with Murray until after 20 years of missed opportunities the editor made his way to the village of Crowthorne in Berkshire to meet this amazing man. He found Minor, a retired U.S. Army Surgeon convicted of murder, at the address given: Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Not as the institution’s governor; Minor was an inmate. The year of their meeting was the Autumn of 1896.

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In Defence of Hearing “It’s NOT a Word!”

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

I like the order of dictionaries. Rules. The glue that holds civilization together. But the thing that I really do love about words within the context of language is our ability to create rules that allow us to throw away the rules as we evolve through centuries of common usage. Dictionaries evolve. Language doesn’t languish. I’ll try to explain to you why “It’s NOT a word!” is a ridiculous pedantic statement (unless we are playing Scrabble).

Have you ever heard of words called nonce words? In the Middle Ages nonce was a term for a special occasion, a particular purpose, or for the one. Claudius used the term “for the nonce” in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s an old word that evolved through the early 14th Century as an empty filler in metrical composition and in 1884, at the hands of James Murray, editor of what would become the Oxford English Dictionary, nonce became an adjective. Words used only for the nonce, for the occasion.

The English prison term nonce means child molester. This usage appeared in the 1970s from unknown origins. It has nothing to do with the term nonce used throughout history. Don’t be confused.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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