Phil Shannon

Dissent didn’t obey strict decade-demarcation lines on Australian campuses in the radical 1960s, writes Sally Wood in Dissent: The Student Press in 1960s Australia.

Sir Alex Ferguson was deeply affronted by the Manchester United Football Club supporters who got stroppy about the proposed takeover of the huge English Premier League club he then managed by the US corporate raider, Malcolm Glazer, in 2004.

“They carried on to the degree where they actually thought they should have a say in the running of the football club,” exclaimed the outraged manager.

Ferguson got to the core of things by starkly asking just whose club it is.

Nobody better reflects the military and political elites’ cavalier attitude to nuclear weapons than Sir William Penney, the architect of Britain’s hydrogen bomb program.

Asked how destructive the new weapons were in meetings in 1961 between US Democrat President John F. Kennedy and British Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, Penney casually answered by saying: “It would take twelve to destroy Australia, Britain five or six, say seven or eight, and I’ll have another gin and tonic, if you would be so kind”.

In 1960, trainee priest Thomas Keneally abandoned the seminary at Manly on Sydney’s North Shore without any qualifications other than a Bachelor of Theology and with no skills other than medieval Latin.

His escape from his crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church, says Stephany Steggall in her biography of the Australian novelist, was through writing. This was both Keneally’s attempt to understand, and keep at bay, the “madness and melancholia” of the human lot, and his own course of personal therapy for exorcising the mental demons that haunted him for six years in an uncaring, dogmatic institution with its “anti-human moral code”.

The Billonaires’ Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football’s Super-Rich Owners
James Montague
Bloomsbury, 2017
330 pages

At this stage of the 2017 English Premier League (EPL) season, it looks like one of the two Manchester teams will win the championship — and with barely a Mancunian between them. Both Manchester United and Manchester City have overseas owners, overseas managers and overseas-dominated player lists.

Former top dog at the Health Services Union (HSU) Michael Williamson used to joke that “nothing’s too good for the workers – and their representatives”, as he brazenly defrauded the union to the tune of $5 million.

Just one lavish, boozy lunch with his cronies would burn through the annual dues ($600) of one of his low-paid union members – hospital cleaners, orderlies, clerks, porters, etc – writes journalist, Brad Norington, in Planet Jackson.

Those smirking denigrators of the “nanny-state” who gripe about “occupational health and safety gone mad” would do well to read Kate Moore’s The Radium Girls. It details a time when a nasty industrial poison, unregulated by business-friendly governments, destroyed countless US women’s lives.

At Tsarskoe Selo, the Romanov monarchy’s palatial rural retreat where the former “Tsar of all Russia”, Nicholas II, was detained after being forced to abdicate by the February 1917 revolution, the once all-powerful autocrat found much to get annoyed about.

In particular, Nicholas disliked the military bands that serenaded him with rousing renditions of the anthem of liberation, The Marseillaise, and, with black humour, Chopin’s Funeral March.

Miss Muriel Matters
Robert Wainwright
ABC Books, 2017
376 pages

In 1909, Muriel Matters planned to rain on the parade of King Edward VII to the ceremonial opening of parliament. She aimed to drop a shower of “Votes for Women” leaflets on his head from a chartered air balloon trailing streamers in the white, gold and green of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL).

In no breast did the prodigious financial corruption of world football’s administrative elite beat more vigorously than that of Chuck Blazer, the head of football in the North and Central American and Caribbean regional body.

Chuck was not called American soccer’s “Mr Big” for nothing. His bottomless appetite for high-calorie nosh gave him a gargantuan girth, which was matched financially in size by his tax-sheltered bank accounts. These bulged with millions of dollars received through fraud, embezzlement, bribes, perks, gifts and inducements.

Not only could he afford to rent an entire floor of luxury apartments in the prestigious Trump Tower in Manhattan, but he preserved one of them solely for the use of his cats.

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