Saturday, April 30, 2005

it's always bittersweet

...having a break from blogging. Back soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

littered with good intentions

It is a disgrace that Australians at Gallipoli this year left such a mess. The people who did so should be made to feel ashamed of themselves, and not have our Prime Minister condoning their behavior and excusing them. And what a stupid comment from Minister of Veterans Affairs, DeAnne Kelly:

Tourists had to walk several kilometres to get to Anzac Cove, and then to Lone Pine, making it difficult to carry much in or out, Ms Kelly said.

Well, they didn't seem to have any trouble carrying stuff in, did they? And after consuming their beer and food, they'd have had even less to carry out anyway, so there's just no excuse. Maybe DeAnne Kelly should've arranged for a few more bins and maybe some reminders to the crowd about basic civility.
No, it's entirely appropriate there should be public shaming of that kind of yobbo mentality.

Monday, April 25, 2005

forgive and forget not

What a strangle article by Michael Duffy at the weekend--"War is fun and a big picnic, lest we forget". He seems to be complaining that Anzac Day celebrates failure whereas we really should be celebrating our victories in warfare. Oh and by the way, it’s basically in our genes to be violent.

“It has become respectable again to think and talk about Australia’s involvement in war. But—and this is crucial to Gallipoli’s unique status—we prefer to focus on only one aspect of that involvement, the Australian soldier as victim. The digger as killer and victor is being airbrushed from public memory. Gallipoli suits this purpose admirably... Gallipoli is a glorification of futility...Let’s not forget how it enables us to downplay our success as warriors and our enthusiasm for killing...
By all means let us honour the dead on Anzac Day. But let’s not forget those Australians who killed, survived and often won. Their case is more morally complex and disturbing. It forces us to confront aspects of our humanity that we in this unnatural period of peace have begun to forget.”

First of all, we’ve been “killer and victor” in at least two recent wars I can think of that haven't exactly been "airbrushed" from people's memories yet, except perhaps Duffy's. We’re in "an unnatural period of peace"? Could’ve fooled me. I’m not sure I get him. Would he like us to have a day off to remember the invasion of Iraq instead (“Mission Accomplished Day”, maybe?), so we could congratulate ourselves on our innate fighting, winning spirit?
Oddly, Duffy goes on to detail how "there is plenty of historical evidence that men like war". He writes of the "seductiveness of war", "in terms of intensity, excitement, comradeship and meaning". He writes, "In general, for many men war has been fun". I think a helluva lot of returned soldiers would disagree. You only need to listen every year as Anzac children recall how their soldier father, on returning home, never again spoke of the horror he had lived through.
I’m sorry, but it’s just too easy to say "men are born to fight" because that dismisses the moral culpability of those who declare the wars, who set up the geopolitical circumstances that cause wars. Let’s not forget it’s organised killing.
No; I don’t agree with Duffy that it’s just in our genes, that our habit of using violence as a means of conflict resolution is the result of "survival of the fittest…and the fittest were those whose qualities included a capacity for violence." Hey, we’ve evolved a bit since our caveman days. Maybe, once upon a time, without language skills or the ability to negotiate and rationalise and reason, we had to resort to violence. But in the modern age, it’s not only the physically strong who succeed and pass on their genes. No, wars are a failure of diplomacy, not some immutable urge. So it’s right that we remember the tragedy and atrocity of war on Anzac Day, rather than celebrate a "win".
Me, I’ve never really felt that Anzac Day was part of my story, because I’m a migrant (arriving in Oz in 1971) of German, Italian and Polish stock. When I went to Turkey in 1992 to pay my respects it was mainly to accompany my true-blue Aussie boyfriend, for whom the story and the place were sacred. Still, I was as moved as he and everyone else was by the appalling sense of waste and tragedy; and not just for our young compatriots, but for all the Turks too.
Lest we forget the horrors of war. Absolutely.

Friday, April 22, 2005

being an idiot

I was obsessing over whether having a personal blog and writing about myself meant that I was terrifically vain and self-absorbed. Yeah, that's meant to be funny. But sometimes I look back on two and a half years of blogging and really feel embarrassed by the inherent narcissism.
I was talking vaguely about this to a blogger mate today and he said, "but who gives a fuck, really?" I realised he was right. Nobody really gives a fuck.
Not family or friends who might sometimes read it out of polite curiosity; nor ex-boyfriends or former colleagues or any other people I know who I might have told or who somehow found out about my blog over the years.
Certainly not the total strangers who read me--they're the ones least likely to give a fuck. Though ironically it's often those people who you actually write for.
"So, have you Googled me yet," I couldn't resist asking a friend a few weeks after I'd mentioned to him that I had some kind of website. He said he didn't know what Googling even was ("I'd like to Google you sweetheart, you know that, heh heh!") and I was kind of relieved.
Nobody gives a fuck. It's a liberating thought.

friendly fire

There was a bonfire on the beach yesterday evening and it was the first time the boy had ever seen fire. He determined to take a closer look and dragged me over until we were about twenty metres away. But then he stopped and did something he had never done before. He turned in fright, clung to my legs and started whimpering. I picked him up and comforted him and he peered anxiously over my shoulder at the huge strange creature which seemed to be both moving around and staying still. There were children just a little older than the boy standing around the fire with some adults. In their hands they held sticks and the ends of the sticks were in the creature's mouth. As the creature threw orange light around their faces, we saw that they were smiling and laughing. The boy could therefore see that the creature was benevolent, so I had to conclude that his initial reaction must have been some kind of primal instinct.
Later I wondered if perhaps he's now entering a so-called "clinging" phase. He has never shown any fear in the past, say towards the ocean, or other people*. But perhaps now he'll start behaving like one of his older playmates, who hides behind his mother's legs whenever he enters our house. My parents do claim that once, when they took my son to the beach, he had burst into tears after approaching another boy who turned around and stared back at him from behind black-rimmed, bottle-top glasses. But I contended that Harley had probably just trodden on a rock or was thirsty or exhausted rather than afraid, because after all he has seen plenty of strange-looking strangers in his life so far. People with bug-eyed or reflective sunglasses, people with neon-colored hair or shaved, tattooed heads, with pierced ears, tongues or eyebrows, or with bizarre facial hair. And he's never once shown any kind of fear towards anyone before*.
But then today, as I was standing in the kitchen doing the dishes, he suddenly clung to my legs and whimpered in the same way as when he had seen the fire. Though I did think it odd that he should be afraid of me washing dishes all of a sudden, I automatically scooped him up. And he stopped whimpering and craned his neck to check out the contents of the sink, and that's when I noticed a little smile of satisfaction appear on his face. The little trickster had obviously learnt from last night that I would immediately pick him up if he started acting in this way, and was putting this new trick to good use. Ah, he had me fooled alright.

(*Well, except for the Monster, and It had been chasing him with a hammer, so that's understandable.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

left behind

Well, that's a bit sad. The people who were paying me to host text links on my site have disappeared into thin air while owing a couple of months sponsorship. As they have pointedly failed to respond to my emails enquiring as to the state of play, I guess I've got no alternative but to accept they've done a runner and pull their ads. Means I only raised a grand total of one months' sponsorship fees--January--for tsunami survivors. Bummer. Well, bad karma to the sponsors. And maybe something else will come along eventually.
At least having to muck around with my blog template will give me a good excuse to update my blogroll, something I've been meaning to do for a very long time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

hit me with your Hockey stick

Joe Hockey wants people to use the internet more to access welfare services:

Mr Hockey has told the National Press Club in Canberra new technologies will allow Australians to make claims from home and reduce the time spent in queues.
"I want an outcome where consumers don't necessarily have to go into any of my offices, don't necessarily have to rely on filling out forms, don't necessarily have to rely on face-to-face services, that's the outcome I want," Mr Hockey said.

Nice idea. Only problem is we dole bludgers welfare consumers don't necessarily have a whole lot of access to new technologies. Or is the "digital divide" a thing of the past in this brave new Liberal world? I know that when my old jalopy of a computer karks it (and it'll be any day now, if all the groaning and grinding of gears and the endless stalling is any indication), I'm going to be out in the digital cold for a pretty long time (cue violins).
But look here, this is interesting too. More of that concentration-of-power thing that the Libs are so fond of:
Mr Hockey also announced the Federal Government will move to dissolve the boards of Centrelink and the Health Insurance Commission and make them statutory agencies.
He says he will introduce legislation during the winter sitting of Parliament.
Mr Hockey says the Government wants a more direct ministerial role in the running of the agencies.
"Under this structure, the heads of the agencies will now report directly to me through the Secretary of the Department of Human Services," he said.
"They will no longer be accountable to boards.
"The existing boards of the Health Insurance Commission or Centrelink will be dissolved."

I mean, who needs a whole board when you can have just one guy?

boulevarde of broken promises

It's depressing to know that the Howard Government is in all likelihood going to get away with breaking its election promises. Not to mention the fact that they made promises knowing full well they couldn't and wouldn't deliver on them.
Geez, don't you wish we could have a system where our political parties had to sign off on a written contract at the end of an election campaign, with such a contract spelling out all the "iron-clad" promises made to the people during the campaign, so that once elected, a government could actually be held accountable to the terms of that contract. And if terms of that agreement were breached, there would be enforceable penalties (say, being turfed out on their ear!).
Seems to me that to have made various promises to the people and have been elected on the basis of those promises and then to fail to deliver amounts to a clear breach of contract--you'd think John Howard, being a lawyer by trade, would understand this. Mind you, there's no need for a written agreement, since we already have a verbal one. They gave us their word, didn't they? Well, so much for that.
Anyway, I know...wishful thinking.

sinking the mateship

"I mean, what am I, chopped liver?"
"Mate, if it were up to me, you know I'd give it to you."
"But Tony, for god's sake."
"Well, the Party reckons the public have warmed to him since the whole cuckold thing. It's humanised him, mate. They reckon he'll get the sympathy vote. Whereas you..."
"But I've waited so long, so patiently, for my turn! I mean, this is my--what is it?--eleventh bloody Budget? I'm not doing this anymore, John. This is the last one, the last one, you hear!"
"There, there...there, there."
"You know what? I don't even want your stinking job! I'll tell you what I want. I want Alexander's job. OK? I want to do some sightseeing. I want to be a human Hallmark card. Goddammit, I want to wear fishnet stockings!"
"OK, settle down Peter. I'll put it to the Party; we'll see what we can do. Maybe we can get Alex home to do some remedial maths classes, and then he can do the numbers."
"And I'm not going down with the Budget either John. I've got my legacy to think about too, you know. This Medicare cockup, for example. You and Tony are going to have to wear that one, mate."
"Relax, I'll handle it."
"Let's see what the public thinks of the slimy little sycophant after that one."
"Come, come, old boy. That's not nice. Let's turn that frown upside down, eh? Show us that trademark smirk. Ah, good lad!"

(footnote: Rumour that Costello and Downer are to swap jobs is courtesy of Peter Fitzsimons in last weekend's Sun-Herald.)

Monday, April 18, 2005

love me two tims

God, I'm reading Tim Blair again. What is wrong with me?

Friday, April 15, 2005

trust him

"This election will be about trust. Who do you trust to protect the economy and family living standards? Who do you trust to keep interest rates low? Who do you trust to lead the fight against terrorism? Who do you trust to keep the budget in surplus, so we have more money to spend on health and education?"
--John Howard, Sixty Minutes, August 29, 2004.

having a barry

What a shocker of a week for the Howard Government. First, they can't avoid looking shabby and mean for their aggressive welfare reform which is designed to pick on (or should that be, pick off?) the weakest in society. Then, they reveal themselves to be barefaced liars on Medicare. And all the while, they're losing goodwill because of their lame diplomatic efforts on Shapelle Corby's behalf. (It's interesting to note that in the past 24 hours I've had 24 Googles to this site for Corby. To put this context, I got 15 or so a day for "Prince Harry pregnant" a while ago, and I get about 40 a day for having used the words "head job" recently (head job, head job, head job...'scuse me).
Anyway, I'm starting to feel that Howard's going to get his due come-uppance in the end. Any other blowouts we should know about, at this point? How much did that war of George's end up costing, eh?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

they don't know much about art but they know what they like

Looking at naked ladies...can it be art or is it just perving? In Boise, Idaho, it's definitely perving and you can't do it; meanwhile, over in Berlin it's obviously perving, but it's art too, and you can do it so long as you queue nicely:

Organisers of a performance art show in Germany featuring 100 naked women had to call in police reinforcements to control a long and impatient queue of people, police said.
Scuffles broke out late last Friday as people tried to jump over the barriers to get closer to the women, aged between 18 and 65, wearing see-through stockings and greased with baby oil, who arranged themselves according to the instructions of US artist Vanessa Beecroft.

I'm thinking...maybe I should grease up my model, arrange him in a nice pose and sell tickets to passing backpackers from Berlin and Boise...

hopeless case

You wonder how our Government can be so badly misreading the public mood about Shapelle Corby. Judging by the results of their intervention, it was a fairly half-hearted effort:

THE Howard Government's intervention in the Schapelle Corby drugs case appears to have had no effect, with the chief prosecutor declaring he had received no "overriding instructions" from Jakarta about the penalty he will seek in court.
Ida Bagus Wiswantanu said he had heard nothing about Justice Minister Chris Ellison's meeting in Jakarta last week with Indonesia's Attorney-General, Abdurrahman Saleh, during which Senator Ellison raised the prospect that Mr Saleh could intercede in the Corby trial to ask for a lighter sentence should she be found guilty of drug trafficking.

Sure, nobody can force the Indonesians to pass on information internally or to act on it. But why did the Australian Government leave it so late in the day before intervening? And why weren't they more effective in persuading the Indonesians of the importance of this case to Australia?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

grand, baby

I bought my child a piano yesterday, just a plastic one for sixteen dollars. He mistakes it for a drum and wallops the keys with a drumstick; I don't know if it'll last the week.
"Your papa plays the piano, did you know that?" I say to the child. He pauses and looks at me. "Next time he comes, you can show him how you play the piano, too."
The banging starts up again with gusto, setting off the neighbour's dog, and in amongst it all, I can now hear the child murmuring to himself. "Papa, papa, papa," he says. "Papa, Papa, Papa."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

miranda writes

Hmmm, I'm confused, Miranda. Anna Nicole Smith found her prince, married up, scored herself a rich guy and has never seriously pursued a career. I thought you'd be awarding her a gold star.
By the way, who's really to say she wasn't genuinely in love with Howie? They say love is blind, don't they?

same old, same old

Introducing your new, compact Spectrum
Oh look, they've gone back to the old format.
If you're reading this edition of Spectrum in a cafe, on the sofa or at the breakfast table, you'll see that your favourite weekend life, books and arts liftout now comes to you in a new, compact format.
Er, you've just gone back to the tabloid-style we had for years before you went and made it broadsheet a few months ago.
It's a case of new size, same content.
No, it's a case of old size, same content.
It's the first time we've combined life, books and arts content in this easy-to-handle format.
No, it's not. You're going back to exactly what you had before.
We've been strongly guided by reader feedback asking us to match Spectrum's quality reading with a more convenient, portable size.
People hated it broadsheet-style, so you're going back to what you had before.
We're confident, with these improvements, you'll find Spectrum even more essential to your weekend.
Okay, okay, we get it. Now, don't let it happen again, eh?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

let them eat wedding cake

Charles and Camilla have to beg forgiveness for their 'wickedness' from a Di-hard public? I mean, it's so goddamn wings-off-flies cruel. And some guy is going to get up during the ceremony and object to their marriage, too. I hope someone films it for World's Wackiest Weddings.
Lord knows I'm a republican but can't these people just get married in relative peace? Why the need for ritual public humiliation?
Come on. They didn't kill Diana, she died in a car crash (or maybe fame killed her). And let's not forget the fairytale princess had affairs herself.
Charles must really want to be married, to have willingly put them through all this.
Why isn't the Queen going again? Is she sulking? Strange woman, our Queen. First, forcing him to marry Diana, now not going to his wedding to his true-love.

So that's that then. They're happily married after all this time. Good luck to them and now maybe we can all move on.


Yeah, come down hard on 'em. Yesterday I read that here in Oz, spammers are starting to get arrested, and face million-dollar-a-day fines.
Today I hear on the news that over in America, a repeat offender has just been jailed for nine years.
Should be a pretty good disincentive to others. Mind you, while they deserve harsh punishment, nine years might be a bit much. Then again, they're guilty of stealing our time (something so precious) and threatening to ruin the internet while they're at it.
SO, the beginning of the end for the spam industry?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

artistic licence

I like this example of lateral thinking, but it seems it's been nipped in the bud again by people who won't believe it's just art:

A strip club in the United States that attempted to get around a ban on full nudity by giving patrons sketch pads for special "art nights" was cited for violating the city's nudity rules, officials said. The citation was issued on Monday night to the Erotic City Gentleman's Club in Boise in Idaho. Boise allows full nudity for "serious artistic" expression only, so the club handed out pencils and sketch pads to patrons so they could sketch naked women. However, a police spokeswoman said officials concluded that patrons were not focused on art, so officers cited three dancers for violations of the city nudity ordinance.

Meanwhile, I've been receiving a series of postcards from my girlfriend who lives in Paris and has just been to an exhibition of Gustav Klimt's erotic drawings. She writes, "Sadly, they only sell 'politically correct' postcards so I couldn't send you some of the special X-rated, masturbatory ones." Considering one of the postcards she's sent contains an image worthy of a Penthouse centrefold, I'm amazed they weren't censored by Australia Post too. I couldn't find the drawings she sent me on-line, but they're very similar to this one:

Now remember--focus on art, everyone.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

be still my beating heart

One-year-olds, especially adventurous ones who run everywhere rather than walk, are so damn accident prone and there's so many near-misses that sometimes you wonder how they're ever going to make it to adulthood.
Case in point: this morning, we walked around to our playgroup which is held in the local community hall. I guess I could get organised enough to accept one of the lifts people are always offering but I don't really mind the exercise, even if it is an 8km return trip and there's some pretty steep hills along the way. It's worth the effort though because there's about twenty other kids who go and hundreds of toys to play with and Harley really loves it.
Anyway, at some point he decided to do some exploring over by some potplants in a corner of the hall, and that's when he came across an unopened bottle of red wine that someone attending a function the night before had, no doubt drunkenly, stashed there.
He was probably wondering what sound a bottle of wine makes when it's hurled onto a wooden floor because suddenly there was an almighty crash and I looked up from where I was sipping coffee with the other mothers to see my child standing barefoot in about two square metres of broken glass and red wine. Luckily he was preoccupied with examining the pretty glass shards so I managed to leap over (in a single bound, I'm pretty sure it was) and hoik him up. But for a second there I had visions of severed arteries and his life ebbing out of him before the paramedics arrived.
Naturally after that I had to come home and open a bottle--the traditional way--to calm my nerves.
And I get the feeling this is going to get harder before it gets easier.

on being innocent

A friend has sent through an email petition to help save Shapelle Corby. In part the email reads:

"It is disgusting and barbaric in this day and age that a 'death penalty by firing squad' law exists, and that an Australian citizen should be subject to it. This law is out-dated and inhumane, and considering that convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has only been sentenced to two years and six months jail (with the prospect of appeal) for his proven 'conspiracy' participation in the Bali bombings that killed 183 people, in the same country, it is inconsistent and absurd that another person should face the death penalty for allegedly smuggling cannibis into the country.
Furthermore, the Australian Government and airlines should be taking more responsibility for this incident in any case, since it is the fault of the
Australian airlines/airport that the drugs even left Australia in the first place - which also leaves us to ponder on the security and possible internal corruption of staff working at Australian airports, in light of drug smuggling and terrorism."

If you haven't received the email and wish to protest, email our Foreign Minister at "".
I feel really sorry for Shapelle. My gut feeling--for what it isn't worth--is that she's innocent. I reckon her scarily-plucked eyebrows do have the unfortunate effect of making her look somewhat cunning, and that might be something for her to bear in mind should she ever get back to beauty school. But really, isn't this every traveller's nightmare? How on earth would you prove your innocence? It'd be virtually impossible, as Corby is finding out the hardest possible way.
It is a fact that this could have happened to any of us. When I did about 30 flights in a row while backpacking in my early twenties, I hardly ever bothered to lock my bags. I placed a lot of wide-eyed trust in airport security, just like Shapelle obviously did.
Given all the stuff-ups by the airports which have made it impossible for her to prove her bag was lighter when she last touched it than when it was recovered in Bali, I think she is especially deserving of the presumption of innocence here.
And assuming she's innocent: one minute she's on her way for a holiday to Bali, next thing she's facing the death penalty.
Imagine how it would feel.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

bedtime story

I've just started reading Jill Ker Conway's autobiography, The Road from Coorain. I like this bit at the beginning, when she's writing about her parents' sheep-farm:

"Here, pressed into the earth by the weight of that enormous sky, there is real peace. To those who know it, the annihilation of the self, subsumed into the vast emptiness of nature, is akin to a religious experience."

Yeah, I can relate to that. Atheists like me can experience the divine too, without needing to humanise it and call it "God" or go to church to worship it. Nature is god; nature is the church. That's my religion.
I often feel that sense of overwhelming peace when we're out walking along the beach road every day. It's a good long walk, running parallel to the ocean so there's nothing but bush and sea and sky all around you. OK, there's a row of ostentatious mansions along the west side of the road, but they're almost always empty and I just tune them out. I like to stare out at the horizon instead, or up towards the mountainous headland at each end of the road.
Still, apart from the ocean itself, there's not as much opportunity for experiencing the vastness of nature here at the beach as there was when we lived in the bush, by the lake. It's far more built-up, and we get a lot more tourists. I laugh at how I think the pace of life around here is so much faster than it was during the year we lived at the lake. "Fast", haha! Well, there's two bars here; there were none at the lake. Everything's relative.
To tell you the truth though, I pine for that time, last year. I feel a sense of lost innocence, or something, since having moved here. Like I'm more cynical and jaded and less naive. Everything's darker. It's hard to explain why, but I suppose it's something to do with the fact that when you're living in isolation, you can lose touch with reality a bit; you live in your head a lot more. I think I was living in a bit of a fairytale. And I miss it.
Maybe that won't make sense to anyone but me, but hell, sometimes blogging's just therapy.
Anyway, I'm off to snuggle under the doona with Jill now. I think I'm getting the flu--I've been aching all over all day. Just what I need.

putting my foot in it

I'm walking around with a nappy strapped to my foot. No, I haven't completely lost it. Though I have lost part of my heel. What happened was, this morning I dagged around to the shops to get milk believing that the object of my crush, who works near the shops, was safely away this week on a surfing trip. So I was just wearing old trackies and thongs and had pulled my hair up in an untidy bunch without even brushing it. And I'd been up since 4am so I looked shabbier than usual.
Of course, when I got to the shops there he was. Because of the rain, their trip had been rescheduled. Argh! Double argh! Isn't that just always the way!
This is after I've spent about a month wondering about him and if I'll see him again. We live in a very small town, but for some reason, our paths hardly ever cross. It's like he never existed. In fact, I'd just about written him off and gotten over it, but then when I saw him again this morning and attempted a chat, I realised--jesus, I still have this ridiculous crush on him!
And as usual, I turned into a goofy, gawky, tongue-tied idiot.
"So, where's the beard?" Great opening line. When I'd seen him in the past, he'd been sporting a sort of very long thin goatee, but it seemed to have disappeared.
Him (stroking his cheeks): "Oh, it's coming, it's coming..."
Only then did I realise he has been growing a full beard. A full beard! As long-time readers will know, I am partial to full beards on men. Anyway, that's just an example of the dorky behavior I exhibit around him.
I wanted to say, "Excellent! I love beards!"
I wanted to say, "Oh hey, I've been meaning to get your number."
I wanted to say, "So why don't you ever come around for a drink with G.?"
I wanted to say, "My god, you're attractive."
Instead, I stood smiling and then I eventually just pushed off with the stroller.
Then I meandered home kind of dreamily and, when slamming the screen door shut, managed to leave one foot in the doorway and so carved out a large piece of my heel as it slammed shut. YEEOOOWW! That'll teach me.
And I have no Band-Aids at present, hence the nappy.
I mean, I'm sure he's not interested in me, because he could easily make contact with me. Then again, perhaps he just thinks I'm dating G (I'm still not). I'm not really his type anyway: he's way too-cool-for-school and I tend to err on the side of dagdom, and after all, he's probably after some cute young surfie chick.
Still, it's kind of fun having a crush. Makes me feel young again.

hot air

Did anyone else read Shelley Gare's article (no link available) about the rise of "airheadism" in our culture in the Weekend Australian magazine?
A lot of what Gare writes is probably true, but one thing that struck me was the irony of the Oz magazine editor putting a picture of coquettish Paris Hilton-as-Barbie on the cover. Um, why do airheads rool? Hello? Could it have something to do with the fact that we're letting them? I mean we're not splashing a picture of Dr Joanna Blow-who's-working-on-a-cure-for-cancer on the cover, are we? Instead, we're happy to use airheads to sell the newspaper.
Another thing I didn't agree with was Gare's claim that shows like My Restaurant Rules are proof of a cultural obsession with idiots. I think that's a little unfair. True, it's a reality-TV gameshow, but the contestants on MRR do actually have to build and run a profitable restaurant. Sure, it's not brain surgery, but surely we all agree there is is a certain amount of skill and nous and business acumen involved in running a restaurant.
Personally, I think it's a no-brainer that people love airheads, because that's entertainment. But it's not new--what about old shows like "I Love Lucy", or the Marx Brothers, and all that kind of stuff?. It's just higher profile now, because the media is more pervasive than ever before. Maybe it's all just an example of that saying "empty vessels make the most sound". I don't know that I think civilisation is in danger of falling over because of Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson. Or is it?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

taking the Horn by the bull

I was just checking my blog for someone's birthdate--one of the lesser known functions of blogging--when I came across an entry from roughly this time last year linking to a news story titled Marital advice from the Bush Administration:

"The US Assistant Secretary for Children and Families has warned that the Australian Government policy of allowing low-income single parents to remain out of the workforce could simply entrench their dependency on welfare.
Wade Horn met Howard Government ministers this week to discuss what governments can do to promote marriage."

OK, so hands up who thinks Peter Costello has been listenening hard to the Horn? And if there was ever any doubt Costello's motivation...well, "skills shortage", my ass. It certainly seems as if our Hillsong-loving Treasurer is hell bent on "promoting marriage", doesn't it?
Makes me wonder if this survey shouldn't have also asked about whether Australians fear American domestic policy.
Worth noting though that Horn's Australian counterpart, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Larry Anthony, said Horn was using a "blunt instrument" that wouldn't work Down Under. Too bloody right. Imagine: under America's system, I would be forced back to work now, because Harley has turned one whole year old. Those poor American mothers.
Great cartoon from Bill Leak today. I too was wondering whether Our Pete pitched in much at home. He certainly doesn't seem to have a clue about what's involved in raising children and running a household.

media blitz

We live across the road from a posh resort and I'm told that Channel Nine's Getaway program is staying there at the moment doing a story on it. Hey, maybe we'll get to see our house if they pan around! I did see a bunch of guys with really huge cameras setting up at the beach this afternoon, but we were just leaving, so I missed all the action. I'll try and get us on camera tomorrow during the Tri-athlon though, haha. So keep your eyes peeled, if you watch those kinds of shows.
Also, I did an interview with a journalist from a woman's magazine yesterday, about parent bloggers. I didn't feel like I had anything much interesting to say in the end. I find it pretty hard talking about blogging actually, and I think in future I might turn down requests for interviews (if there are any). I think I've realised I don't really want to talk about blogging so much as just do it. But I Googled the journo--which I think I should really have done before the interview, but you live and learn--and it turns out she's written some very interesting stuff, on all kinds of subjects, including things like schizophrenia. And she's written for McSweeneys, which is a major plus in my book. Most relevantly, she wrote about people who "blogged" before there even was such a thing, back in 1995 when people's online journals were all carefully hand-coded.
Anyway, stay tuned.....

Friday, April 01, 2005

food of love

I've found the easiest way to get Harley to sleep is to start cooking something, anything. Provided he's already been fed, of course. The sounds and smells of the kitchen are so just comforting and hypnotising. (Yeah, I know I recently wrote that I don't cook, but I wrote that when I had PMT and the world always looks starkly different then. Because I do cook, almost every day. And sometimes I actually quite enjoy it.)
It's got be one of the great pleasures of childhood, drifting off to sleep while something's fragrantly sizzling in the background. My parents are both enthusiastic cooks and of all the things I remember of my childhood, food seems to feature most heavily. In almost all my photos, I seem to be eating. Orally fixated, I think.
My mother baked sourdough bread every night--ah, there's nothing like falling asleep to that. My father's specialty on the other hand was Asian food and he still makes the best laksa I've ever eaten, though he has competition now from my sister-in-law, who is Thai-Chinese. Her idea of cooking you a snack is to quickly throw together seven or more Thai dishes, and she's one of those cooks who makes it look a total breeze. My brother really porked up during the first few years of marriage, though he's back to normal now, so he must be exercising a bit more restraint! Or just exercising. Or just having to share the food with the kids now. Anyway, I really miss her cooking (they've been living in America for the past four years).
Speaking of food, I've been puzzling about what Harley must think whenever I tell him we're eating chicken. After all, he has a pretty good relationship with a number of Oma's chooks. I'm sure he looks at me strangely whenever I say it. It's not as if we ever eat "cat" or "dog", and last time he checked, bananas weren't running around the garden playing hide-n-seek.