Monday, August 28, 2006

i rant

Via Jozef I hear that the Iranian President now has his own blog. (I followed the link to check it out fully expecting to see a lovely Blogger site in English. D''s in Persian.) According to the news story Jozef links to:

On his first posting, called ‘Autobiography’, the Iranian President describes his background as the son of a poor blacksmith. He says that he was a ‘distinguished student’, coming 132nd out of 400,000 students in an exam, despite suffering a nosebleed. And he says he kept up his studies in civil engineering despite the revolution.

I like this bit:
At the end of his first posting, he promises to make his entries shorter and simpler in the future.

Didn't take him long to get blogger angst, did it? Pretty soon, I expect he'll be announcing a blogging hiatus while he goes off and nukes Israel.

pleasure and pain

Maybe John Howard could get a tattoo across his belly like the one Angelina Jolie has? It reads, quod me nutrit me destruit, supposedly Latin for 'what nurtures me also destroys me'. Cos it appears the very factors that work for the Liberals at federal level are the ones that are working against the Liberal parties at state level. Mike Steketee had an analysis of the state Liberal parties’ woes in The Weekend Australian in which reasons for Labor’s state successes were debated. Factors for success appear to be largely impersonal rather than due to individual leader qualities such as charisma or competence. In the article, Judith Brett describes influential factors as 'incumbency...a strong economy…voters sticking with what they know in an era with threats to national security'. The newspaper’s editorial, also about the state Liberals, adds some more external factors: the lack of credible opposition leaders, and the state/federal counterbalance theory. (Naturally, Howard-lovers would argue that the 'strong economy' factor is an internal one, creditable personally to Howard's leadership. But many of us dispute this reinterpretation of political and economic history.)
I find it fascinating, this question of why people vote differently at state and federal level. I wonder who the swingers are. It's a conundrum. Is it that Howard-lovers are cuckolding him at state level? Or is it that state Labor voters betray Labor federally by switching allegiances to Howard? It is hard to believe that people who vote Labor federally would vote Liberal at state level, but I guess it's possible.
If the Liberals are failing in NSW, Imre Salusinsky (also in The Australian) argues it is because of Howard’s IR project. Headlined "Work Choices working well for Iemma", Saluszinsky says "if IR continues to frighten voters...on WorkChoices he just can’t lose". But if IR is scaring Howard voters over to Labor in the states, why wouldn’t they be scared enough to ditch Howard himself, the man personally responsible for the unwanted changes? Will voters really sheet the blame to Debham while keeping Howard in power federally because they want him there for other reasons (those external factors—he’s the devil we know in dangerous times, fortuitously presiding over boomtime, etc etc)? Maybe Iemma is just selling it better than Beazley is nationally?
The problem with Howard’s failed states is that as Steketee argues, "a continuing downward spiral in the State parties eventually must make the Federal Liberals’ job harder." Steketee also quotes Graham Young saying that if the Liberals lose a federal election, the party will probably "implode". Happily for non-Liberals, Howard might have already ensured such implosion when he refused to pass the baton to Costello while the party was on a winning streak. In effect, Howard told Australians that he regards Costello as unelectable and unfit to handle the job. That’s great for the Libs, so long as Howard wins the next election and then someone more electable than Costello gets to front them. But how likely is that? I mean, who on earth is there? (This subject is way passe, I know, but my theory on Howard’s motivation, apart from insane hubris, is that he is actually against a Costello succession, but has no way to weasel out of their age-old, highly-publicised 'gentlemen's agreement'. Behind the scenes, I'm sure it's all about giving another contender the time to get the numbers to challenge Costello.)
Howard’s vanity might well cause the implosion of the Liberal Party itself. And wouldn’t that be ironic for the man currently celebrated as Liberal Party hero and savior?

zip it real good
Just about the Kennett/Kroger/Costello hijinks last week, it was pretty funny to see Howard come out and tell his boys to shut their mouths and keep Liberal Party conflict behind doors. Why didn’t he practice what he preached and tell them in private, eh? In any case, we all know Howard is happy to let some people talk, when it’s strategic. He frequently lets out his loose cannon, Jackie Kelly, supposedly a ‘close friend’, to test waters and be his fall guy. She does not seem to have much invested in the longevity of her political career, so she hasn’t much to lose. He lets her criticise policy, for example when he let her be aggressive on childcare. I’m convinced this was to assess public reaction in case he ever wants to declare that he plans to listen to his minister and implement popular but not necessarily socially-conservative policies. He also allowed her to publicly deride Costello. I don’t remember hearing him come out and tell her to keep her trap shut for the good of the party. He let her talk because it helps destabilise Costello.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

conservative paranoia

Miranda Devine has made some preposterous arguments in her time, but her column last Sunday stands out as particularly stupid. She manages to turn public reaction in the JonBenet Ramsey case into a massive liberal conspiracy:

"There is a readiness, which has emerged in recent decades, to believe the worst of a seemingly model nuclear family and a desire to ferret out dark secrets. It is part of a move to undermine the concept of the nuclear family as the basis of social stability, and to strip it of its relative superiority as a vehicle for bringing up children and keeping them safe."

This is despite her earlier acknowledgment that,
"It was the fact that her parents had displayed her so obscenely like a mini-adult that first made them suspects."

But even if Devine is right and ordinary people's natural unease at the exploitation of a child is actually a secret left-wing push to kill off the nuclear family, it's interesting to note that this is despite ten years of conservative government in this country. So Devine reckons the public is dangerously liberal? Does that tell her something about how out-of-touch conservatives are from mainstream values?
But let's think about Devine's statement some more. So the "public", brainwashed by evil leftwing media of course, is against the concept of the nuclear family. In a country with rising marriage and fertility rates, does that ring true?
I wonder what Devine even means by "nuclear family". The patriarchal family structure with father as breadwinner and mother as housewife? (Then it must be feminists encouraging the public to kill off the nuclear family!) Or is she against blended or sole parent families? Or is she fearful of homosexual family units? That's the funny thing: even gays want to be nuclear.
Given that the majority of people are heterosexual and have a biological imperative to form unions and bear children, whether such unions are formalised by law in marriage or not, I don't see the nuclear family disappearing anytime soon. All I see is a conservative writer panicking because she senses that ordinary people have far more tolerant attitudes (in relation to the concept of 'family') than she would hope. And sorry, Miranda, but intelligent people don't regard the Ramseys as a model of great parenting. The public's issue with the Ramseys was their culpability in allowing the sexualisation of their child. Whether they were a nuclear unit or not is completely irrelevant.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


If Kim's insults aren't good enough for Tony, maybe Alexander's are:

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer lost his temper when quizzed about the email in parliament today, blasting Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd as a "halfwit" and Labor leader Kim Beazley as "lazy and idle".

Demonstrating once and for all the Liberal Party's superior intrinsic nastiness. Thanks for that, dude.

i know you are but what am i?

It is frustrating that Health Minister Tony Abbott wastes taxpayer dollars strutting around his office dictating pointless articles like the one the Herald printed yesterday ("From nice to nasty but still wishy-washy"). Do you think Fairfax had to pay for it as well?
According to Abbott, John Howard would never personally offend an opponent:

"Imagine the reaction if John Howard ever told someone to 'take your tablets', let alone abused an opponents as 'weak' and 'worthless'."

Strangely, he then proceeds to refer to Howard's classic insult to Beazley, "He hasn't got the ticker", which many interpreted as a criticism not only of weak character but of Beazley's physical condition. And that's not personally nasty?
Look at Abbott's semantics. Beazley's words are "aggressive" "abuse" and "uncivilised discourse", but when Howard insults someone, it is framed as a "damning verdict", essentially a truth handed down with judge and jury-style authority.
Ultimately, Abbott seems to be arguing that he and Howard are intrinsically nasty but that Beazley can only fake it. How else to interpret this comment?
"In the back of [Beazley's] mind, no doubt, is the Prime Minister's damning verdict about lack of ticker. Presumably the press gallery has concluded that contrived nastiness [in Beazley] is less of a problem than the intrinsic kind [in who? Howard and Abbott?].

Sorry, Tony, but my damning verdict of your article is that you've gone from nasty to nasty and you're still wishy-washy. Why don't you stop worrying about who's the nastier boy and get on with your real job. You know, that boring old Health stuff.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

unpopular culture

This afternoon a neighbor happened to mention an acquaintance called Elijah. I remarked that my nephew's middle name is Elijah too. "His dad's Jewish," I added.
"Oh," she said. She paused to give me a kind smile. "Well, that's okay."
"No," I said, aghast. "I meant, Elijah is a Jewish name."
Reminded me of what John Safran wrote last weekend,

"HEY Jew! Sure, it was fun being part of the Tribe when it was associated with blintzes and bagels and Woody and wit. But now when your workmates spot the Star of David necklace they're thinking rubble and bombs and babies from the night before."

another quickie

A couple of weeks ago journalist Julia Baird discussed (no link) basically what I call fertility chic and then announced she was nine months pregnant and taking maternity leave. (And unless Fairfax did a lot of retouching to the photo accompanying her column, gee, she has already lost all her baby weight.) Anyway, she wrote,
"Then there is the negativity of some other parents, whom I like to call the "Just-You-Waits". They pounce on the pregnant, knowingly, and declare, "Oh, you had a sleep-in! Ha. Just you wait, you won't sleep again!"
Well, I only have one thing to say to Julia: Just you wait. I mean, it took me more than two weeks even to get around to posting this response to her column, due to the demands of full-time parenting. Recent posts have been of the dash-off-a-quickie-to-keep-the-blog-alive variety, but I've got a dozen 'serious' posts waiting in the wings, on the off-chance I might get time this week (month, year) to finish and post them. Mind you, I did find it easier to find time for writing during those first few infant years, and then again she does have a husband. So, best of luck to Julia, but oh yeah, just you wait....

And also belated but hearty congratulations to my favorite beastie girl Zoe who, as most already know, is with-lovebeast again.

getting on a Wiggle getting a Wiggle on

My son thinks it's very funny to call me the 'Wiggle Mama' and he likes to be referred to as 'my little Green Wiggle'. When I put him to bed he requests Wiggles songs then cuts me off after a few lines of each song with an impatient "Nex wun" as if I’m another digital jukebox.
I sometimes wonder if he is unhealthily obsessed with the Wiggles. We own at least six Wiggles DVDs, numerous Wiggle books, several items of Wiggles apparel, two Wiggles guitars. We purchase Wiggles Band-Aids, Wiggles yoghurt, Wiggles biscuits, Wiggles shampoo and we have a Wiggles bathmat that my son loved so much he used to drag it around the whole house with him. Sadly, we have no Wiggles shares.
What are we all going to do when they retire to enjoy their squillions, which must surely be soon? Maybe we'll be stuck with the animated Wiggles and a bunch of stuffed animals. Has it ever struck anyone how few female characters there are on the show though? Sure, there’s some Wiggly dancing girls and Captain Feathersword has a couple of female pirates in his crew, and of course there’s Dorothy. But she’s a dinosaur. Where are the Wiggle Mamas? Now there's a possible spin-off...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

loaf affair

On our fridge is a postcard from my friend in Paris. Laid out on a white background are about thirty tiny photos of different kinds of bread. Loaf really is a many splendoured thing. There’s everything from the ‘baguette’ to the ‘pain de seigle noir’ (black rye). Some styles seem to be named after places or people and are probably regional specialties. Such as the ‘Tabatiere’ which is dusty and resembles a satchel and the golden ‘Courome’, eight balls fused into a ring. There’s the ‘Mauricette’ which looks like a zebra’s penis and the Cornetti which is shaped like a couple of sausages wrapped in a serviette, or maybe lovers under a doona.
Printed in small black type at the top of the postcard are the words "Le Pain".
"Le Pain in le cul, more like," I grumble as I start to mix up a new loaf. I am learning to make sourdough. There is no photo of sourdough on the postcard; maybe the French don’t make it? I mix the fifth loaf, my mind elsewhere. I forget salt and have to throw it in at stage two. The house is arctic and it has been raining, hard, for days. In the middle of an evening storm the icecream van jangles up our street, stopping for customers. What kind of person goes out in that kind of weather to buy icecream? I don’t expect the loaf to rise at all, but by the time I get up the next day, it has risen right to the edge of the tin and is starting to bubble its way over the sides. I preheat the oven but in the time it takes to get hot the cat has clawed open the kitchen door and let in a draft, and I watch as the loaf sinks down before my eyes. Damn, another demi-loaf. Still, I am quite happy with the taste and texture. It’s soft and springy and has a good, hard crust. Ah, le pleasure...

Monday, August 07, 2006


I mean, do they come any cuter?

(Some more new photos here.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

census working overtime

Question twenty-one: Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, body movement activities?
Oh, god yeah. Show me the box for "Like, totally" and I'll tick it.
Ahem. For example, getting out of bed, moving around the home or at places away from home.
Oh. Well, yeah, my two-year-old does jump on me in the mornings, around four-thirty some godforsaken days, thus helping me to get out of bed when I otherwise wouldn't. Does that count?
Question twenty-two. Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, communication?
...Um, is there a box for "Obviously"?
Joking aside, is anyone seriously going to put their real name on the census forms? I'm putting Jo Bloggs on mine. What statistical purpose does identifying information serve? None at all. I understand it's optional to participate in the 'time capsule' aspect of it, and assist your great-grandchildren with geneaological research and so on, but the operative word is that it's optional.
Do you really trust governments to keep your details private and prevent data matching? There's always gonna end up being some hacker some day who manages to sell your information to a telemarketing company so you can be niche-marketed to within an inch of your life, or maybe it'll all end up on a secret Australia Card database, being compiled "for our own good" of course.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

nice white space, shame about the blog

Apologies if you are getting a huge white header before posts appear on this site. Not sure what's wrong, but will try and work on it.

update: Ah, great...seems to be all fixed again now.