Wednesday, February 28, 2007

mood for change

I’m about to mess with my site for a bit as I attempt to import the new Blogger template and do a bit of maintenance/rejigging while I‘m at it. Meantime, sorry for any outages or odd moments.

border lines

I'm so jealous of those of you who could go see Anna Broinowski's doco on Norma Khouri, Forbidden Lie$, which premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival the other night. Anyone see it? Still, maybe the film will just happen to be showing in Sydney in May, as I'm heading there for a girlfriend's wedding, and to go along to the Sydney Writers Festival to hear my sister's good mate Suzanne Leal talk about her book "Border Street".
(I won't hold my breath for Broinowski's film to make its way up to Porpoise Spit...)
Might try to hook up with some Sydney bloggers then, too; if anyone's interested, let me know.

Mountain comes to Mohammed update: Ah, but I see in my local paper that the Beatels are gonna be playing Porpoise Spit on March 30. See you there, Ringo baby! Talk about the long and winding road...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

good things come in threes

Happy birthday, handsome.
Love, mum.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

lie, and think of england

It doesn't make sense to me. If the south of Iraq is stable enough that the British troops are considered to be surplus there, but Baghdad and other parts of Iraq are a hellhole in desperate need of a surge, then why aren't the suddenly spare British troops being redeployed to assist the Coalition's surge? Why endorse a reduction in the Coalition force by 5,000 soldiers at the same time as you are 'augmenting' it by 20,000? And are we really expected to believe that the Allies can now go ahead and unfurl a "Mission Accomplished" banner in Basra while other parts of Iraq remain out of control? What's to stop all the terrorists and insurgents relocating to the South once Baghdad gets too hot to handle?
Kerry O'Brien tried to get an answer from the Foreign Minister as to whether or not the British 'reduction' is known to the Australian Government to be part of a phased withdrawal and Alexander Downer deflected the question by saying 'Well, everyone in the Coalition has an exit strategy'. But O'Brien wasn't asking if the British had a vague open-ended exit strategy, he was asking specifically if it was a 'phased' withdrawal. Because the implications of it being 'phased' are obviously that it is time-based, rather than conditions-based, as Downer would have us believe.
So, are Downer and the Australian Government aware of the mooted timeline of the British exit strategy? Or are their office staff helpfully keeping sensitive information like that from them, in the time-honoured Howard Government fashion?

the daisy thief

I used to baulk at getting flowers. Now I am touched to be given fresh daisies several times a week. He likes me to put them in a small green espresso cup on the kitchen table. There are not many daisies left on the sidewalks of our neighborhood.

He's nearly picked off the entire garden at his preschool too, and it seems they've finally asked him to stop helping himself. "Jenna said no more flowers," he observed nonchalantly the other day as we walked home from school. After he'd just ripped off another giant white daisy on the way out the school gate.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


A fence to write home about with. This must be where the Derwents live. Unless it's the Fabers' castle? Somewhere on the writers' block anyway.

(Stumbled across here.)

the sound of silence: kerrching!!

Last night I saw an ad on telly from one of those mobile ringtone companies. This time it was advertising a silent ringtone. Yeah, silent. They said, it rings at a frequency most people can't hear! They said, get the ringtone now and see if you and your friends and family can hear it! Damn clever marketing, doncha think? It's so clever I think I might just have to adapt it for my own money-making purposes. So, available for purchase right now, my very first novel...printed in invisible words! Buy now and see if you can read it!
I guess the kind of people who would buy a silent mobile ringtone are the kind of people who would buy an air guitar.

Monday, February 19, 2007

suspicious minds

I agree with Cardinal Pell that on climate change, "the science is more complicated than the propaganda!" It's certainly more complicated than Pell's own propaganda.

"The evidence on warming is mixed, often exaggerated, but often reassuring. Global warming has been increasing constantly since 1975 at the rate of less than one fifth of a degree centigrade per decade."

That reassures him? That the globe will have warmed by a whole degree in just fifty years? When it only took a few degrees difference to bring on an ice age?
"We know that enormous climate changes have occurred in world history, e.g. the Ice Ages and Noah’s flood, where human causation could only be negligible."

I'm trying to follow his logic: When humans weren't around, they obviously couldn't have caused climate change. Therefore, even though now they are around and have clearly changed the planet somewhat from the time of Noah, they still can't have caused climate change. Hmmmm...okay!
It's bizarre to me that Pell preaches having faith in a mythical deity despite there being absolutely no scientific evidence for the existence of such a creature, and yet he preaches denial of climate change in the face of abundant scientific evidence.
"I am deeply skeptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence."

Funny, whenever atheists ask for evidence, we are told all we need is faith.
"What we were seeing from the [climate change] doomsdayers [is] an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition."

That's a bit rich. One of the country's leading purveyors of one particular brand of superstition, lecturing everyone else about superstition?
I guess if you believe that a God created the world in seven days, you probably think He can fix it in seven days too. And that way, you don't have to take any responsibility or do anything to attempt to fix it yourself--except maybe just pray a bit harder.

ps. Pell might find this story enlightening.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

arguments that don't hold water

"Merde," Morris Iemma might've thought to himself on reading Ken's post at Surfdom after the televised debate on Friday night (which I didn't get to watch). It's curious that Iemma might lose Labor votes because of his water policy, but on the other hand the conservative Miranda Devine comes out swinging at Debnam.
While I can see Ken's point, I'll still vote for Iemma. A win for Debnam would be ecstatically claimed by Howard as a defacto win for WorkChoices, in the same way that conservative journalist Imre Salusinszky interpreted a potential Iemma win as a defacto loss for WorkChoices. So I hope the water issue doesn't lose too many 'lefties'.
The only comforting thing about the possibility of a 'Premier Debnam' is that if the checks and balances/counterbalance theory works, then if NSW voters switched to Debnam, you'd expect them to be more likely to dump Howard.(Maybe this is why Howard has seemed so lukewarm about Debnam lately, despite early indications that he would be invading state politics to help liberate voters from Labor.) I guess if a vote for Debnam ultimately translates to a vote for Rudd, that's okay with me...
Contrary to the counterbalance theory though, voters might actually find it a relief to see the states able to work co-operatively with federal government, rather than be competitive adversaries as the Liberals have characterised the relationship between the states and Canberra. So it's not inconceivable that Rudd could get in despite the supposed liability of there being so many Labor-run states. Or rather, because of it.
The Liberal Party probably doesn't even care if it wins state elections anymore--far easier for Canberra to just appropriate state powers instead. Peter Costello was interviewed in The Weekend Australian ("Public wants us in charge: Costello"; story is not available online). He claimed that "The public sees the commonwealth as a more competent administrator than the states...People take the view that because the commonwealth is more competent, it should involve itself in more areas, and you can understand that." He offers not a skerrick of evidence in support of there being such a 'public view'. Cynical voters might even suspect the federal Liberals would not be quite so desperate to wrest power from the states if the state premiers happened to be Liberal. Truth is, the Liberal Party does care about the states, but it can't show it, and so it has no choice but to press on with Plan B (the power pushes).
Costello's argument is that the states should be demoted to having only a role of "service delivery" rather than any executive role. The Australian describes this as the Liberals' "twin federalism push" (water and health) but we all know of at least one more push that's looming large: education. The paper's editorial even laments that Howard is not more aggressive on that one. But Howard's just biding his time, lining up all his ducks.
Ultimately, it's one thing to want to make federalism work more efficiently (Rudd's pitch), but the fact remains that if voters really wanted Liberals holding state powers then they wouldn't have repeatedly elected Labor premiers.

Updated:- After hearing about John Howard today announcing more funds for schools maintenance, I have to think that he is likely to shelve any attempt at big ideological reforms in education until after the election. If he wins, he will argue he is mandated to implement the grander (and more disturbing) reforms at any time of his choosing, because he has already staked out his position during the campaign the Liberals and the conservative media have been running these past few years. But this year, well, he has more than enough Grand Ideas to defend already.
Obviously Howard has been listening to his focus groups and has belatedly realised that parents do care about education, but that they have more pressing, practical concerns than obsessing about whether or not teachers are Communists.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

rat refuses to abandon sinking ship

When will John Howard acknowledge that Iraq was a massive error in judgment? It's obvious that we are now obligated to try to fix the mistake that's he made. But how dare he lecture us about the need to fix his mistake when he doesn't even have the decency to admit he's made one?
Last night on the 7:30 Report the PM tried to share around the blame for his choice to join in the Iraq war, by referring to "the widely-held view that Saddam had WMD". He shamelessly ignores the fact that there was also widely-held opposition to his decision to involve Australia in the conflict. At the time he dismissed us all as 'the mob' and told us he knew best. He told us he was sure Saddam Hussein was an 'imminent threat' to Australia and suggested that Hussein had links to Al-Qaeda.
Well, he didn't know best and he ballsed it up.
Now he claims Australia must remain in Iraq lest the US be humiliated, but he doesn't seem to get that the US has already humiliated itself, that George Bush has single-handedly run America's reputation into the ground. Yes, salvage work is now necessary for both countries. But surely he doesn't expect us to thank him for that.
And maybe it's self-serving for Howard to hypothesise about doom in the Middle East but it displays muddled priorities when he still can't bring himself to take seriously the imminent threat to the entire planet due to climate change.

Monday, February 12, 2007

kingdom come

Imre Salusinszky’s fluff piece on Peter Debnam pretends to find the Opposition leader’s unpopularity a ‘puzzle’. Maybe Salusinszky would’ve felt less clueless if he hadn’t shielded himself and his readers from the more negative details of the Debnam story. Such as, for example, Debnam’s unfounded slur on Bob Debus under parliamentary privilege and subsequent lack of apology to him. Or maybe Debnam’s newly-hatched plans for East Darling Harbour that business groups and Labor agree are ‘bizarre‘. And let’s not forget this little pearler (via Suki):
“I'm happy to have [people] demonstrate around the state, but you leave my wife alone, you leave the female members of my team alone,” Mr Debnam told reporters. He Tarzan. We Jane.
Salusinszky makes a desperate attempt to sell Debnam to us on the basis that he’s a “devoted family man” but this is neutralised by the fact that Morris Iemma is evidently a devoted family man himself. And I mean, even Saddam Hussein was apparently a “devoted family man”.
Dorkier than Howard, riskier and more impulsive than Latham, the only thing Debnam appears to have going for him is his underdog status. Unfortunately, in the absence of any other selling points, that won’t be enough.
In another column in the same paper, Salusinszky mocks Iemma with, "By 2016, it will be hard to tell the difference between NSW and the Kingdom of Heaven’. That’s funny. I thought according to the Federal Liberals, we’re already living in the Kingdom of Heaven. We’re constantly being told we’re rolling in rude economic health at a Federal level thanks to Howard. Dennis Shanahan (in the same paper) writes that "economic management remains as the only unsullied pillar of strength for the Coalition." But around the Labor-led states, we’re told we're living in misery. In Salusinszky’s story, Debnam contends that NSW is "confronted by four crises: a housing crisis, an economic crisis, a budget crisis and a water crisis". I guess that’s only when you’re wearing your State goggles. With your Federal ones on, all you can see is roses as far as the eye can see. Well, as far as the election booth, anyway.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

the power v. the passion

The Passion won it hands down. Turnbull was good, but Garrett was better. Here is a man who can simultaneously warn and reassure. All Turnbull could offer was denial of his party's denial on climate change, and talk about money and doomsayers. Garrett could talk money, too, but more importantly he inspired, and Turnbull didn't. Garrett also has far more credibility on the environment than Turnbull can dream of. (Transcript here tomorrow.)
Just apropos China, and on being its quarry: if the world's giant economies want our product so much, don't we have any leverage to get them to engage in climate-friendly practices as they pursue economic growth over the next decades? If the argument is that the business will be taken elsewhere, can we form international unions ("Coalitions of the Willing", haha) to turn it into a seller's market? (Sorry if this seems terribly naive, I'm no economist.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

say what?

Just some things the boy has said over the months that have made me laugh.
Holding a crayon to his lips:
"I just make lipstick on my mouth."
(He must get this from the girls at school, cos mum doesn't wear lippy!)
Scrunching up the doona around his waist:
"Look, mum! I'm a fairy princess!"
While out walking:
"Oh, pretty pink flower! Oh, pretty white flower! Oh, pretty dog poo!"
Picking up his drumsticks, says hopefully:
"Maybe we can wake the neighbours again?"
After biting me on the leg once:
"Ow, you bit my leg! What'd you do that for?"
Looks guilty. Brightens up and points to my other leg.
"But I didn’t bite that one."
"I’m the adult and you are the child."
"I’m not a child! I’m Harley!"
Countless times a day:
"But I’m a big boy, Mum."
Is treated to some junkish chicken snacks that are shaped like little drumsticks. Next morning:
"What do you want for breakfast?"
(Took a while to figure out what he meant with that one.)
"Let’s read one of Mummy’s books!"
"OK. Which one do you want me to read?"
Of all books, picks out my copy of My Secret Garden.
"Uh….maybe not that one…"
"Argh! It’s a bit late for making that noise out loud. Just make it in your head."
Sombre: "You need to do thinking in your head too, Mum."
"How old are you, Harley?"
Confidently: "Six years old." (He turns three in a couple of weeks.)
"You know, Opa made that table. With his bare hands."
Regards the pale wood.
"He could’ve made it pink."
"So, are you looking forward to seeing your dad tomorrow?"
"Of course, Mum."
And while waiting for his dad to pick him up:
"I love you soooo much, Mum."
One morning, after buying him something on ebay and explaining that it would come through the post, he hops back into his bed.
"What are you doing?"
"Waiting for the postman."
"It’s bedtime."
"No...thanks anyway."
"It’s bedtime."
"But you’re my best friend..."

Friday, February 02, 2007

always on

Excuse me while I kiss this new broadband connection...God, it's exciting to leave dial-up behind and finally get the internet on tap. I'll be back with more soon, if intermittently as I get my new computer up and running. So far, so incredibly good. Touching wood.
A lot changed in three months I was totally offline last year. The Labor leadership, control of the American congress...and Surfdom turning into a group blog now that Tim Dunlop's mainly writing at blogocracy. Well, from now on I'll be riding my bike along the Road to Surfdom from time to time too, so I hope to see you there. (I don't think I'll be cross-posting material, but that may change.)
So, back into it then. Blissful.