Wednesday, June 30, 2004

let them eat hash cookies

It's not OK for terminally or chronically ill people to smoke pot:

Washington: The US Supreme Court will hear the Bush Administration's claim that federal drug agents can arrest seriously ill Californians who use home-grown marijuana to relieve their pain.

But it's OK for George Bush's daughters to smoke it:
[Ashton Kutcher] tells Rolling Stone that he partied with the Bush twins about 1-1/2 years ago. He says he met Barbara and Jenna Bush, now 21, at a party, and the sisters (along with a Secret Service agent) went back to his place afterward. Kutcher adds: "The Bushes were underage-drinking at my house. When I checked outside, one of the Secret Service guys asked me if they'd be spending the night. I said no. "And then I go upstairs to see another friend, and I can smell the green wafting out under his door. I open the door, and there he is, smoking out the Bush twins on his hookah."

join the club

Noticed a flyer on the local noticeboard today inviting mums with traditional values to start an informal local mothers' group. What do you think they mean by that? Do we have to have a husband? Bring a flag? Might give them a call and see.

had a dream about you, baby

Dreaming is free costs approximately $196:

Tokyo-based Takara Co says its "Dream Workshop" stand - shaped like an oversized mobile phone dock and about 35cm tall - can be programmed to help sleepers choose what to dream. While preparing for bed, the user mounts a photograph on the device of who should appear in the dream, selects music appropriate to the mood - fantasy, comedy, romantic story, nostalgia - and records key word prompts, such as the name of a romantic crush...Several hours later, it plays back the recorded word prompts, timed to coincide with the part of the sleep cycle when dreams most often occur. It then helps coax the sleeper gently out of sleep with more light and music so that the dreams are not forgotten.

Hmm...when you have a crush on someone you don't generally need much help dreaming about them! Kind of happens of its own accord. Still, you could see this kind of thing having potential application in treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder or similar conditions causing nightmares, couldn't you?


Great timing! Last night I spent a bit of time subscribing to most of my favorite blogs using bloglines, which is a great blog aggregator for people like me who drive (ahem) vintage computers for which there are apparently no RSS feeder downloads to be had. And voila! this morning I log in to find Rob Schaap has just graced the blogosphere with a new post, though he threatens to make us wait another three weeks for more. I don't always understand everything Rob writes about (he's way too smart for me). But he's one of my absolute favorite bloggers all the same. Welcome back, Rob! I've missed you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

kruse in for a bruisin'?

Someone landed at my site today after doing a search for Labor's Giovanna Kozary, who I mentioned in passing the other day. Following that link back to the search, I was amazed to find that the top search result also mentioned my first-ever boyfriend, Bill Kruse, who I dated when we were about 14. Even back then I remember he was a pragmatic idealist; for instance, he was heavily involved with the United Nations Youth Association. Now he's a PhD in anthropology, and he's spent many years working with remote indigenous communities. Anyway, last time I saw Bill was at his wedding reception in Melbourne some years ago, and I don't recall him saying anything about going into politics. Then again, I was pretty drunk at the time! However, it seems he's now the Labor candidate for the seat of Curtin, having moved to WA with his wife. Apparently it's a safe Liberal seat, but if anyone can change that, it's Bill. So good on him.

got the hint

Well, it took me a while to face facts, but due to popular demand--or rather, due to popular disdain for Blogger comments--I've reinstalled Haloscan comments. Hopefully they will prove a little more friendly! But thank-you to those people who did bother to register with Blogger comments. Also, I've been meaning to say a big collective thank-you to those very kind bloggers who sent gifts--books, music, toys, children's books, baby clothes--to me and Harley over the past few months. We really appreciated it. Who needs a baby bonus when you've got bloggers?

update: Of course, if people still don't comment, I'll really have egg on my face, won't I...

Monday, June 28, 2004

conscientious objection

On reflection, maybe it's insensitive of me to write of beheading roosters (story below) given the amount of hostages being killed that way lately in the Middle East...
Anyway, on that subject, I just want to add I'm tired of all this continuing angst about the US alliance. We're an independent nation, for god's sake. If we can't have a difference of opinion, or decline joining a war of aggression, or object to foreign policies of pre-emption and unilateralism, then that relationship has serious problems in the first place. We shouldn't have to walk on eggshells regarding America. I get mightily annoyed whenever John Howard admonishes us for wanting to get out of Iraq. Listen buddy, you shouldn't have got us into this situation in the first place, and that's a fact you can't escape whichever way you paint it. And hell, if anything your Government "cut and run" from Afghanistan, by failing to adequately sort out that mess before we got involved with Iraq.
Still, even though I fall into the ABH (Anyone But Howard) camp, I think it's time for Labor to stop with the small-target strategy and come out with the big stuff. I hate to say it, but I'm a bit disappointed in Mark Latham because I thought he'd be more of a big-picture visionary. Since an election date of August 7 is looking likely, but even if it's later than that, there's no credible reason to withhold policies--and this is coming from a Labor voter. I just don't think Labor should be acting coy, or perhaps worry that it's policies won't survive vigorous debate. Have the courage to get it all out now, I reckon, and be flexible enough to make any changes that may become necessary after extensive debate. Otherwise, Labor runs the risk of looking like it doesn't have the confidence in it's own ideas.

Murder most fowl

“Don’t worry about getting the drugs,” my dad says when he calls. “I’ve chopped his head off.”
My mother wanted to euthanise one of her roosters. They have four roosters too many; chicken sexing is an imperfect science. For the most part the roosters get on well and there’s certainly enough chicks to go around. But Spotty, the fifth rooster, was getting aggressive, even trying to attack my mother, so he had to go.
First she tried feeding him raisins soaked in vodka—an idea I think she borrowed from a Roald Dahl story—but it just made him randier. So the other day she asked me to ask a friend who is a vet nurse if there wasn’t something we could give him to knock him out before the axe came down. I ask my dad how my mother is, knowing she probably went off to the forest to have a good cry, she’s so attached to her animals. He says she’s sad, but doing OK.
“Did he run around without his head?” I ask.
"Well, he would’ve, but your mother held onto his body til he stopped struggling."
"Did it take long?"
"Oh, a couple of minutes."
So I gather they’ll be having a lovely roast later on, after my mother can bring herself to pluck him. Mmm….One of the best things about having moved up here is having been able to enjoy my mother’s sublime cooking again. As I’ve mentioned, she brings around a cake every Sunday, and they also bring other meals; a thermos of goulash, that kind of thing. And at their place every Thursday, I get to feast on all my childhood favorites. Last week, she made reibekuchen, which are a bizarre kind of fried potato cake that you sprinkle with vanilla sugar and drown in sour cherries. A bit of an acquired taste, possibly.
As we sat at the table and I stuffed my face with about ten of these cakes, I told my parents what I’m reading at the moment: fellow blogger Jozef Imrich’s amazing life story Cold River (yes Jozef, I’m ashamed to admit that despite being completely fascinated by the book, I haven't finished reading it yet--I’m a terribly slow reader these days; blame the demands of single parenting), and the short stories of Flannery O’Connor.
I tell my parents I am depressed because the writing is so good, it makes me think I’ve been deluding myself all along, because the truth is, I could never write that well.
My mother says, “Well, I always thought what you wrote at university was very good.”
“You mean, like essays and stuff?” I say.
“So like, non-fiction?”
“So maybe you should stick to that,” she says sweetly.
Maybe she's right.

elsewhere: A tale of six chickens.


I love reading Grassroots magazine (no website, alas). I like how readers will write in to the 'feedback' section and say, hi, I’m artist. Can I come and live on your land for free?. Now why didn’t I think of that? They often get quite specific about what they are looking for: Maybe it even has some water such as a river around so I can go for a paddle, or some good walks. Ah yes, lovely. But do you mean to say there are really people out there who are so altruistic they would invite total strangers to come live rent-free on their land? Maybe I’m too cynical.
Other things that would never occur to me until I read them in Grassroots are, for example, tips for how you can save money and energy by switching off your fridge in the winter months. I might try this at home: my house is insanely cold. The living areas are all open plan making it virtually impossible to heat up. I was planning to buy a second oil heater, until I got my energy bill the other day--it's already twice the previous one, and that's just with one lowly small oil heater. Argh! So it looks like I’m going to have to keep shlepping the heater from the living room to the bedroom and back every day. (Note: Harley's back in bed with me because he's refusing to sleep in the cot, but more on that another time.)
It’s unbelievably cold up here. I don’t remember Sydney ever being this cold. I don’t remember what my body looks like anymore, I’m never naked long enough. But I don’t really mind the cold that much; I just wear three layers of everything. The problem is that if Harley’s rugged up that way, it limits his movement and he needs to practice his rolling technique. It’ s a problem, but the Australian winter isn’t that long, so I think we’ll get through it. I hope.

parliamentary, my dear watson

Given his familial connections to Sunrise co-anchor Mel, I thought for sure Tim would blog about their new "Vote for me!" competition, which aims to get a viewer elected to the Senate, but maybe it’s a conflict of interest for him. Anyway, they’re insisting it’s not reality TV, but if it walks like a duck...

no comment

Don’t everyone comment at once, eh. Regular readers have probably noticed that I’m not getting as many comments as I used to. I blame this stupid new Blogger comments sytem which requires registration. Not just once--you have to log in to comment every single time. Another thing I don’t like about the system is that there’s less control—you can’t edit or delete comments or ban commenters. On the upside, it’s now possible for your site meter to reveal who actually reads your comments. Anyway, I am still considering whether to reinstall Haloscan comments, which are more user-friendly. It’s weird though: looking at my archives, you’d think there were no comments at all anywhere, because Haloscan somehow puts ‘0 comments’ on archived posts. Weird.

Friday, June 25, 2004

all at sea

I wonder how many bloggers will wish for this for Christmas?

For beach bums who get withdrawal shakes if they are deprived of email for a few hours, here's the answer: an Internet-enabled surfboard. The gadget, developed by microprocessor giant Intel, incorporates a touch-screen tablet computer and solar panels on its top surface, which is protected from seawater by a thin sheet of clear plastic. It has a wi-fi antenna for access to the web "and even a built-in webcam to capture those special moments at sea", the British weekly New Scientist reports in its next issue, out next Saturday.

And this would make the perfect blogspot name for any such beach-bum-blogger, but unfortunately it's already taken (and seemingly abandoned).

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

always something there to remind you

Everyone's forgotten about terrorism lately, right? Kind of gone off the radar, hasn't it? Not much in the news about it these days, eh? Best throw a bit more of our cash at advertising agencies to remind us that we're a terrorist target:

THE Federal Government may re-introduce its "Be alert but not alarmed" community awareness program, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.

You'd think there was an election coming up.

pull the other one

Tony Abbott, you're full of it.

Basically Latham is practising a form of left-wing Hansonism, he is listening to focus group polling and everything that people have a grizzle about he's striking a pose on," he said.

Are you seriously trying to suggest that your party doesn't listen to focus group polling?

Monday, June 21, 2004

department of forgotten affairs

I came across this transcript from February last year while looking for something else, and thought it interesting how it shows the complete meekness of the Howard Government in its relationship with the Bush Administration regarding Iraq. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said:

"I just wanted to say something about the statement that President Bush has made this morning. We are very pleased that in his resolve to ensure that Saddam Hussein is disarmed of chemical, biological and even in time nuclear weapons, President Bush has said that the United States will look to a second resolution from the United Nations Security Council...President Bush's statement today is encouraging. It demonstrates that the United States is prepared to stick with the UN process and to exhaust the UN process, whichever way that may happen. So it may be that there'll be a second resolution put to the Security Council. We hope if those circumstances do arise, and they will only arise if the weapons inspectors continue to report a lack of co-operation from Iraq, if those circumstances do arise we very much hope that the Security Council will show strength and determination in upholding its own previous unanimously supported resolution. Now, when I met with Secretary of State Colin Powell a fortnight ago in Switzerland, I said to him, as I have said to him over the telephone on previous occasions, that I did want the United States, if the worse came to the worst, to go back to the Security Council for a second resolution. I thought at the time he seemed sympathetic to that, and I think I said so publicly. And I know that the British Government has been urging President Bush also to keep the option of a second resolution wide open. So I'm delighted President Bush has shown the willingness to listen to his close allies and friends on this issue, and is prepared to consider going down that path. That is good news. And I think Australians will be pleased about that because I think the sense here in Australia is that people very much want the UN processes to be fully exhausted. And President Bush is showing an admirable determination to stick with UN processes." (emphasis added)

We all know what happened next.

elsewhere: Howard completely contradicts himself.

a safer place

Terrorism increased under George Bush:

The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration.
Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, told Powell that the number of significant terrorist attacks since 2001 hasn't declined as the department claimed, but risen by more than 35%. And he cited an analysis by two independent experts who used figures provided by the State Department report in concluding that significant attacks actually had reached a 20-year high in 2003. (emphasis added)

(lifted from mj)

Saturday, June 19, 2004

feeling marginalised

Looks like my vote will count for the first time perhaps ever this year, as I'm now living in the marginal Liberal seat of Paterson. And I even get to vote for my namesake: the Labor candidate Giovanna Kozary. (Well, kinda; 'Giovanna' is the full length version of my name.)

kraut pleasers

Achtung, baby. German blog aggregator Living in Germany links to an official search for the most beautiful word in the German language. Says one of the commenters, "Liebe is far too trivial". Geez, it's only the most important thing in the world! But maybe that's just me. Anyway, if you're a German speaker, go nominate your favourite word. (Unfortunately, my favourites are swear words, so I think I'll abstain - the brief is for the most beautiful word, not the most colorful!)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

kidding around

"What's that? You reckon John Howard's gonna win?"


when harley met benjy

"Psst...get a load of the jugs on that one!"

Harley (4 months) and new cousin Benjamin (one week).

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

knit in shining armour

Emotional rescue: Have just discovered some great sites selling wool and yarn online. For example, threads and more, which sells the divine Jo Sharp brand of Australian wool, as well as cashmeres and mohairs, and some really wacky Japanese threads (check out the Noro range).
I'm in knitter heaven.

joke of the day

Bush touts Afghanistan as model for Iraq:

President Bush on Tuesday held up progress in Afghanistan as a model for Iraq as he tried to paint the U.S. involvement in the Asian state as a success in his run-up to the November U.S. election.
An international peacekeeping force provides security for Karzai's fragile government in Kabul, but government control outside the capital is limited with parts of the country in the grip of regional warlords and militant fighters.

Via Reuters.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

see you later, aggregator

And in happier news...this is the kind of idea that used to make me very bullish about the internet, and still does. Vlado of kekoc fame has helped set up the new site, launched today, which aims to aggregate information about garage sales on in every state. Listing your upcoming garage sale for seven days is free. It's a nifty idea, provided enough people make use of it.
Speaking of content aggregators, albeit one of a different kind, what's happened to Living in Australia? I had only just discovered the beauty of blog aggregators like this one when it mysteriously went silent. Was it something barista said (his post dated May 31 is the last one up, and it's titled "abandoned and dystopic")?

Monday, June 14, 2004

get lucky

I can't usually get Channel 10 where I live, but last night I was flicking channels and happened to tune in to Big Brother just in time to witness evictee Merlin Luck's political stunt (he taped his mouth shut and held a sign saying 'free the refugees'). I managed to get Channel 10 again in time for the 5 o'clock news today, and got Amanda Vanstone's glib response:

"He's misinformed. There are no refugees in detention centres."

That's odd. Here's Vanstone last month, for example, responding to criticism from the UNHCR:
"As I announced in December, we had agreed with the UNHCR because of changed conditions in Afghanistan that we would reassess the Afghani caseload. That is both on Nauru and in the detention centres. We will be making some announcements about the progress of those assessments, but I think we can be certain that a significant proportion of the reassessments will now be refugees."

While we wait for Vanstone to make up her mind about what to call Australia's asylum seekers (I gather she would rather call them 'queue jumpers' or 'illegals'), can I just say, onya Merlin. Who knows, maybe he did it for the kudos, but good for him for daring to hijack commercial television to get the message across to other kids.

coming soon?

All good things come to those who wait. Right, Rob?

tastes like chicken

Saw an ad for McDonalds today:

"The secret's out. Soon at McDonald's, our Chicken Nuggets will be white meat".

Um...forgive me for being naive, but what are they currently made of?

essential oil

Obviously someone like me is going to be very happy about someone like Peter Garrett joining Labor, even though Labor would already have my vote. I think Mike Steketee summed it up best for me in the Weekend Australian:

Garrett, who joined the Labor Party this week, will bring passion, idealism and a personality that commands attention. More than that, he has the potential to appeal to voters as an outsider to politics - a very powerful image in an era of extreme political cynicism and large-scale disengagement. This, at least, is Labor's fond hope..."He gets to a lot of people who aren't terribly interested in politics," says one [Labor] strategist. "I don't know whether he's worth any votes. It's more about adding colour and movement to the party."

As you'd expect, backpages and surfdom have good threads going on the subject.

Friday, June 11, 2004

running interference

Here's one for Howard campaigners Bush, Armitage and Powell, from commenter Shaun over at public opinion:

"Based on the US & UK backflip in the UN security council the newly appointed Iraqi government will, when installed, have the right to direct Coalition troops and to ask them to leave.
So the situation is: The US Govt has given the Iraqi government the right to withdraw Australian troops but feels a future Latham Australian Govt has not got the right to do so.
Perhaps we can raise the issue at the UN to see if we can be granted sovereignty."

Good one, Shaun.


A (winter) blogger's definition of bliss: got some fingerless gloves and some socks-with-toes yesterday. What can I say, I'm easily pleased.

out of the blue

When we went to Sydney the other week, it was just a quick trial run to see what travelling with a baby is like. Learnt a few useful things, like: Everything takes twice as long when there are two of you. Which in hindsight seems like fairly simple maths! Anyway, Harley didn’t seem to mind travelling, so we’ll probably take another, longer trip in a month or so. Oh, and here’s what I wrote about that little trip, if anyone’s remotely curious.

Monday, June 07, 2004

almost like a dance

It’s been so nice sleeping next to a baby. I’ve been sleeping with him for almost four months. It just sort of happened that way. He has a perfectly decent nursery but didn’t like his cot at the beginning and I didn’t pursue it. The instinct to keep him close was too strong. I don’t really buy into the horror stories about squashing them in your sleep. You’re too conscious of the baby’s presence; you sleep lightly. In fact there was something on co-sleeping in the Sun-Herald’s weekend magazine the other week (no link, sorry):

”There’s been research observing mothers and babies sleeping together and it shows that even in the deepest sleep mothers are still very aware of their babies’ presence. They move to accommodate each other – almost like a dance – and mothers give their babies attention while both are sleeping.”

But nice as it is, it can't go on like this forever. You tend to disturb each other a fair bit and don't sleep as well, so I've been getting him into the cot more and more. My heart did break just a little the first time he slept in his own bed. The first of many separations, I guess.

man of tin rusts on his laurels

The PM keeps defending George Bush's comments on Mark Latham by saying, "He was asked a question by a journalist. He gave the only answer he could." The only answer he could? How about not answering? I mean, how many times has Howard himself declined to answer simple questions? He's renowned for it. He was at it again yesterday on Sunday, where he couldn't remember important details and tried to confuse the issue:

JOHN HOWARD:I think the indications of the "children overboard" issue in relation to [Abu Ghraib] is false and unfair, and the circumstances are quite different. As far as we're concerned, we don't have anything to hide in relation to Abu Ghraib. Australians were not involved. They haven't been accused of abuse, and if they were we wouldn't want to hide that anyway."

Does that mean that you did have something to hide in the 'children overboard' fiasco? Anyway, as everyone knows, nobody is saying Australians were involved in Abu Ghraib. It's completely beside the point as to whether there are similarities in the two intelligence failures. He must think we're stupid.
He also trotted out his old 'a vote for Latham is a vote for bin Laden' card:
"See, what people have got to understand is that whatever links there were between Saddam Hussein and terrorism thirteen or fourteen months ago, right now the terrorist are investing an enormous amount in Iraq, and they see victory in Iraq as a huge boost to their international cause, and that is why the position being taken by Mr Latham is so wrong, and that is why it is so important that the members of the Coalition should remain firm."

'Whatever links'? Hasn't it been established that there were none? In spite of all the emotional blackmail about staying-the-course, the fact remains that we should have poured all our energy into defeating Al Qaeda & Co. first, before going after tinpot dictators who weren't immediately threatening us. Don't you wish one of these guys would say "OK, maybe, just maybe we were wrong?"

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Man of Tin sounding hollow

PM regrets: I've been misled...Howard blames underlings again...I regret not putting money on it. This time the PM shrugs it off as "very bad communications" between him and Defence. The fact that it doesn't worry him worries me, and I'm sure it does a lot of other Australians. And instead of doing something about it, Howard heads off to Washington to have a quick chat with his buddy to get his story straight on Iraq.
Meanwhile, Tim's gathering election comment over at surfdom (from everyone, not just experts) so go on over and leave your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

original Zint

Last week my mother got her old photo albums out so we could compare Harley as a baby to us lot when we were small. We came to a photo and my mother goes, "Oh, that's Guenter Zint; you know, the guy who photographed the Beatles?" It turns out he and my dad were friends at the time. Cool.

On our way 'home': Zint with my mum, me and my brother, waiting for our ship in the migration hall in Bremerhaven, Germany in '71. He'd just helped drive us to the port and was seeing us off to Fremantle, Australia.

I asked my father about him and he said:

"We met in Munich in the late Fifties when I was a cadet with the news agency dpa [deutsche presse agentur] and Zint was being trained as a press photographer by them. He worked for Der Spiegel magazine later and photographed lots of leftwing demos, was kicked to the ground by police and is said to have converted to socialism at that time. We re-met in Hamburg when I worked there for dpa in the mid-Sixties. He had an English girl friend, Ada, lived in a commune and had taken to photographing the appearances of an obscure band called The Beatles in a Hamburg nightclub. Things sort of progressed from there...
"We came into contact again by e-mail recently, he lives near Bremen in a sort of extended family with Ada, another woman he has since married, and children from at least two marriages (but none from Ada).
"Zint and his firm Panfoto have a huge archive of contemporary social and societal images, which helps him make ends meet - I mean, there's always someone needing a pic of Reeperbahn floozies, Beatle maniacs and so on."

The Panfoto site is here, and here's a site with some of his iconic rock photos - the Doors, the Stones, Hendrix, Tim Buckley, and more.