Monday, July 31, 2006


Listening to Sarah Blasko taped illegally off triplejay. Covers of Flame Trees and Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road. I could never tire of her voice.
Thanks also to Julie Shiels for this image:

taking in the trash

The free weekend magazines that come with the quality broadsheets are giving New Idea some stiff competition lately. In the latest Good Weekend, there’s a story on how Shane Warne has bedded up to a thousand women. In the Australian magazine, a friend of Paris Hilton endorses her vapid claim that she’s an icon. In the Good Weekend, a ‘pal’ of Anna Wintour protests Wintour's not the Prada-attired devil satirised in a new film. Though she sure does sound like a creepy friend, doesn't she?

"Anna happens to be a friend of mine, a fact which is of absolutely no help in coping with the cold panic that grips me whenever we meet...make[s] one feel gets into a cold sweat—-and I am not alone in this reaction among her friends and acquaintances."

Sheesh, with friends like that...Oh, I know Wintour can hardly be lumped in the category of 'trash', being editor of American Vogue, and that fashion is about big biz and money, and that Wintour has the whole aphrodisiac of power thing going, etcetera. But these people come across as so awfully shallow.
Who to believe on Paris Hilton, though? The Murdoch story states that "Hilton did, however, sue Salomon successfully for $535,000 and to this day receives a percentage of the [sex] tape’s profits." This entirely contradicts a quote from Hilton in a recent Herald story (via the spin starts here):
"According to media reports, Hilton took control of the situation and exploited it as a money-making venture. Rather than suing Salomon, it was suggested that she had done a deal to take a 50 per cent cut of the profits. Hilton says this is untrue. ‘I didn't receive one dollar. I've never received any money from it, ever. I was going to sue, but that meant I'd be in court for a whole year, spending millions of dollars. So I said, 'I've just got to take this as a lesson in life. Don't ever trust anyone again like that, move on and just forget about it.’"

Finally, the Warne story. It’s an extract from a new unauthorised bio by journalist Paul Barry. I dunno, but maybe when you have to rely on New Idea as a primary source, you can’t help ending up sounding a lot like a New Idea story. Barry ponders possible causes for Warne’s infidelity, referring to an expert view that men like him (Warne) "have sex with women to get respect from their mates, who are far more important to them than any girl could ever be." Barry adds, "If this is what motivates Warne...there would be no point at all in keeping his affairs private. They would need to be advertised, so his mates could be impressed, which at some level they undoubtedly are." If that's the case, then Barry advertising Warne’s score like this is doing Warne's ego a big favor.

with a little help from their friend

As if Howard would've cut and run from the Liberal Party. He's their savior, their reinventor, their rat in shining armour. And they need to milk him some more first (as much as rats can be milked, anyway). As Liberal Jackie Kelly pointed out recently when she declared she'd quit if Howard did, "Why put [federal government] at risk until we’ve got some state governments in power?" Clearly, the strategy is to clone Howard at state level and work is already underway. Two weeks ago the Sunday Telegraph reported that "Howard will help Libs to oust Iemma", quoting Howard saying to Debnam, "We will do everything we can to get rid of the Labor government in NSW and install a coalition government under your leadership." In other words, move over Debbo, this job’s too big for you, the feds are coming in. But hey, don’t worry, they're perfectly happy to "install" you as a successful Howard clone.
It's embarrassing for the federal Liberals that their state colleagues have been caught up in all the recent factional dramas, when the Liberals prefer to be able to criticise federal Labor for the same thing. But that's where the Howard management style is evident, silencing dissent and displaying a veneer of unity at all costs. Much like that veneer of unity that Costello and Howard have maintained all these years.
Elsewhere, Howard has already been campaigning for the federal election. Saturday's Australian reported that, "Flanked by sitting MPs Stuart Henry in Hasluck and Michael Keenan in Stirling, John Howard showered praise on the pair at electorate functions, loudly congratulating locals for their good sense in having elected them. The two men beamed modestly...Howard’s prolonged attention was like a starter’s gun going off." They’re all desperately hoping they’ll be able to bask in the reflected glow from Howard's halo.
As if Costello had a chance.

weak at the knees

Saturday’s The Weekend Australian ran an extract of Greg Sheridan’s new book, promising he would "reveal how Canberra has stood up to Washington", yet what the story actually reveals is the Howard Government’s trademark meekness towards Washington. The Sheridan piece is typical of the conservative media’s obvious desire to reinvent Australia’s role in Iraq, to help insulate the Howard Government from potential punishment at the polls.
As Sheridan sees it, if you want to blame anyone for Iraq, blame Clinton, but whatever you do don’t blame us: see, our Foreign Minister made valiant "repeated attempts to get the Americans to focus on post-conflict planning but [was] unsuccessful...Downer wanted to talk about phase four—the post-bellum period, the peacekeeping and nation building phase". And on it goes: "Downer urged...Downer understood...Downer told...Downer knew..." Even in the opening anecdote involving the Clinton administration, there’s our Foreign Minister sagely contemplating the long-term picture: "Downer said Australia would support the US but he wanted to know what the US planned for post-Saddam." Sheridan reports that the US said it was "planning for the future...but did not offer any details." Well, this was good enough for Downer. "’You can count on us,’ he said, or words to that effect," Sheridan confides. He refers to Downer’s own proposal for an exit strategy for Iraq, which America evidently politely ignored. (A man, a plan, a pair of fishnets: Iraq.) Anyone know, what was Downer’s brilliant plan? Does he have one for Lebanon? And will he genuinely "stand up to Washington" by insisting on some kind of plan before committing Australian troops this time?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

all i knead is loaf

I know why it's called sourdough. It's not so much the taste or the method, but the feeling it invokes in you when you wake in the morning and check the tin and find your loaf is still only about an inch high.
I've been taking lessons from my mother, the master. She's been baking sourdough for forty years. I'm onto my fourth loaf.
"Any idiot can make sourdough," my mother always says, though it must be noted that she guards her secret recipe with her life lest any said idiots get their hands on it. And it was a big moment some years ago when she finally allowed me to put her recipe down in writing. (Don't tell her I keep it on the side of the fridge.)
I thought I had nailed it with the very first one. It emerged from the oven late at night, and I promptly polished off half the loaf while it was still warm, smothered in butter and honey. I marvelled at my incredible natural talent. I nearly wrote home about it, but then when I tasted a slice cold the next morning, I realised with irritation that it had a faint, raw, doughy flavor. I consulted my teacher and she advised me to bake it hotter and longer.
The second loaf did not rise at all. I baked it anyway, hotter and longer, and despite the fact that it was only about three millimetres high, the taste was almost perfect. I mixed up the third loaf with renewed hope. It deigned to rise to halfway up the pan.
"My mother made bread every day of my life," I complained (sourly) to friends. "Shouldn't I have picked this up by osmosis or something?"
The fourth loaf was mixed with extreme care, taking instructions down the phone line from the parental advisory centre. That evening, as I walked past the tin and glanced over, I thought how oddly familiar the dough looked today. How it reminded me mother's dough!
This is the one, I thought. This. Is. The. One.
Well, I hate to spoil the tension, but it's still in the oven even as we speak, so we'll have to wait and see. But it sure looks promising.

oh-oh, the naps are getting smaller

When your baby stops having any day sleeps at all, that's the killer. It means working a shift that starts at around five-thirty in the morning and continues without a break until about eight at night. I look back very, very wistfully to the time when I was able to blog (or read a paper, or shave my legs) while my son had his siestas. My god, the first two years of parenthood were such a breeze. 'Course, it's all worth it when your child is so utterly adorable. But still...I'm sure this life of endless servitude was not in the brochure. Well, more soon, if the boss allows it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

on other hogs (apart from the Prime Minister)

While searching for a link for the previous post just now, I noticed Amanda Vanstone is now embroiled in some new scandal, involving her shares in a piggery allegedly mistreating its animals:

Senator Vanstone said she owned shares in the piggery but had nothing to do with the running of the operation, thought to be one of the largest in South Australia...."I am simply one shareholder in this business," Senator Vanstone told AAP through a spokesman. "I have nothing to do with the running of it"....Animal Liberation executive director Mark Pearson claimed Senator Vanstone had shares in the piggery worth more than $1 million. He said her husband, Tony, was a director of the operation. Further details were being sought from Senator Vanstone's office on the size and nature of her stake in the piggery, and her husband's involvement. Mr Pearson alleged the piggery was breaching industry codes of practice by keeping pigs in severe confinement.

I don't know if it's symptomatic of the Liberal worldview or anyting, but it's funny how shareholders can claim to be an innocent party, when dividends and share value depend on corporate practice. How can you own part of a company but having no idea what it does? "Nothing to do with the running of it", other than funding it?

devil in a pink shirt

Ah, lovely to see a bit of colour injected into what is otherwise just black and white and read all over. From the "News" section of today's Australian, in a story about the continuing Liberal leadership crisis:

Amanda Vanstone, wearing a hot pink top, said she looked forward to a constructive Cabinet meeting.

Not sure what the boys were wearing given the lack of further fashion commentary in the story. Fishnets, maybe? No; one has to assume that none of the other emperors were wearing any clothes at all.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

dealing from the rich

In an anti-union editorial in the Weekend Australian, the following sentence struck me as weird:

" target companies such as Woodside, BHP and Qantas essentially for having the temerity to offer employees better deals than they could get under union-negotiated collective bargaining agreements..."

If it is possible for employees to get better deals, why aren't they being offered them even when unions are at the negotiating table? Could it be because the deals aren't genuinely better? To qualify as "better deals", you'd think employees would be receiving more income. So if big companies are paying less when unions are negotiating, you'd think they'd be thanking unions. Sorry, but I smell a rat.


So if the Prime Minister feels a television gameshow should shut up shop because of the inappropriate actions of a few of its contestants, I assume he will just as stridently advocate closing down the whole Liberal Party next time one of his staff behaves disgracefully?

on a roll

Well, I have finally updated my blogroll, so hopefully I've caught all the moves and shakes that have happened in the blogosphere in recent months. Now, for some blogging...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

woe is imre

Interesting. Imre Salusinszky, a rightie in a rightwing newspaper, going ahead and calling the Liberal Party's leadership woes "woes" for once*. Pretty funny actually, the seat of Bennelong getting more a view of Struggle Street at a time when, after ten years, lil Aussie Battlers like myself can justifiably ask, what has Howard done for us lately, or at least for the past decade? In some ways its good that he's been in charge for so long because for once there's a reasonable prospect for holding a leader and a party accountable, for immediate and medium term negative change, I mean.
Salusinsky quotes former deputy PM John Anderson as being “profoundly upset” by the Australian Electoral Commissions’s proposals: “With all the sincerity I can muster, I urge the Electoral Commission to look again at this.”
The Salusinsky story makes me wonder. Geez, with something so serious (or just seriously humiliating)—the page 2 story’s called “PM at risk of losing seat” after all—you wonder how the Rodent’s going to handle this one. Get heavy challenging the AEC’s decision? NSW Liberal state director Graham Jaeschke forshadows the defence to Salusinsky: “We’re concerned that the margin has been cut for no apparent reason.”
No apparent reason? I dunno. That doesn’t really sound like the AEC to me.

*Sorry, but for some reason, my computer crashes if I try to view News Limited sites, so I won't attempt to link to the story in today's Australian.