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a Neanderthal bloke smouldering in his sexuality

Okay, so I’ve been failing in my duty to write here, and I’m determined to loosen up and post more often, never mind the quality…

I’ve long been a part time teacher of English to speakers of other languages, and I’ve even occasionally been paid for it, but now I’m moving into ‘foundation’ skills, or skills for all, helping people, whatever their background [non-English speaking or not] to improve their various basic skills [though we should avoid ‘basic’ as a condescending term], which can be collated under five headings – learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy, according to the Australian Core Skills Framework [ACSF]. I’m about to embark on organising, and possibly even teaching, a cooking class which will incorporate these headings. I will be assessing the skills of the students and matching them with employability skills, either from a distance – overseeing the actual assessments of teachers, and providing the proper accreditation – or in a hands-on way, assessing while, and in addition to, teaching. This on top of  foundation skills work through ESOL teaching in another community centre location. As to how all that progresses, watch this space.

Other than that, 1001 things to write about. As usual, I have six books on the go currently, each one of which could sustain several posts in different circs. They include two histories – Edward Gibbon’s stately Decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and Europe’s Tragedy by Peter Wilson, a history of the gruesome Thirty Years’ War in the first half of the seventeenth century. Of the others, I’m not making much progress, I shamefully admit, with Jared Diamond’s Collapse – an exploration of how cultures and civilizations have undermined themselves over the centuries. I suppose it’s just that I’m taken up with other works, including my current favourite, Travelling Heroes, by Robin Lane Fox, a study of the Mediterranean travels and activities of the Greeks of the seventh and eighth centuries BC, the ‘age of Homer’. Returning to the present, I’m also enjoying and being riled up by the essays in The Australian Book of Atheism, edited by Warren Bonett, with its warnings about the insidious – but well attested – creep of creationism and fundamentalism into our schools and society. And that’s just Christianity. Finally I’ve almost finished a set of lively, punchy little essays by Charmian Clift, which provide a fascinating picture of Australia in the sixties, from the perspective of literary-artistic liberalism. It’s surprising how little some things have changed, and the changes themselves allow for fascinating reflections.

Meanwhile there are other activities and interests. I’ve become a devotee of the ABC’s new lawyers drama, Crownies, and I’m trying to find time to read the odd article from Cosmos or New Scientist. A recent article on Neanderthals had me really scratching my head – we’ve all learned by now that we did interbreed with Neanderthals, in spite of their big noses and squeaky voices, but this article tells me that the only lineage from that interbreeding that survives today resulted from Neanderthal males breeding with human females. Where I started to get lost was in the explanation that mitochondrial DNA, passed down the female line only, is different in males and females, because the female mitochondrial DNA held in their germ cells [oocytes] is protected from mutations, and that Haldane’s Law, which I won’t go into here because I don’t currently understand it, may have operated to render most if not all female offspring infertile. In other words, I got stuck on the genetics and the embryology, mainly. I might have another go at it in another post – for now I just want to get back to posting!

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Written by stewart henderson

August 17, 2011 at 8:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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