Friday, December 30, 2005

The Chairman has a message for you

Happy unears!

I will be down the Mornington Peninsula the next couple of days, staying at a winery. Apart from attempting to confirm my Sauvignon Socialist credentials I'm attending a wedding. 42 degrees in Vic tomorrow, and I'll be at a wedding; cross your fingers for the besuited, tie-choked groom.

Back with a vengeance in 2006, documenting the inexorable fall of the right...

A reasonable expectation of Rape

Today, Connex chose yet again to cancel my train. Although they publish misleading figures suggesting cancellations are low, in fact, for whatever reason, certain lines are cancelled frequently. Mine is the last you can catch to get to the city for a 9 o'clock start, so this seems particularly contemptuous.

Each day I sit in carriages where 2 or 3 arseholes inflict their usually inexplicably bad taste in music on the rest of us. In evenings, and even more so on weekends, violence is an ever-present threat, with thugs of various descriptions freely pissing up, chroming down, and hurling abuse at each other and along the carriage.

I've been threatened by one of the failed cops they recruit for the heinous act of putting one foot on a metal bar- not even the seat. And you can guarantee if you skip a ticket they'll be onto you like a pack of hyenas.

But security? As a right, as a reasonable expectation held by the public transport user, as an essential pre-requisite to moving more people out of cars into trains? Forget it.

You can be raped, you should know, and what's more it's your responsibility not to offer yourself up by such wanton acts as... drifting off to sleep:
A 55-year-old man charged over the rape of a 20-year-old woman on a train yesterday was arrested after he was recognised on last night's television news, police confirmed today.
Good that he's caught, but have a read of this:
Senior Constable Twaits said the attack was "very opportunistic, very brazen and quite callous."It is probably a timely reminder for those travelling on public transport to be mindful of their surroundings".
Maybe. Maybe, Cont-stable Twats, it's a timely reminder of the fact that between you and Connex someone is not doing their job.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lost cats

While I'm on catblogging, Fluffy (in Melbourne) and Quirkie (in Perth) have lost their cats. Please read detail, see images, and watch out for their loved ones.

Oddities from elsewhere

Jill in Alaska is blogging about how she's been bonked. Bonking in Alaska, it seems, is not what it is here.

I've been given a bottle of Armagnac at Sills Bend. Added gratefully to other presents including Kino Dendy tickets, Strokes and Warrant CDs, and of course the brilliance discussed in the previous post.

The sun is too beautiful, Southbank too tempting, writing policy papers has never been harder...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The possibility of a genius

God is speaking again.

Genius in a bitter screwball, Michel Houellebecq, has interupted my pedestrian reading patterns to discuss, with us mortals, The Possibility of an Island.

Most famous for attacking Islam (well, along with hippies, materialism, women, men, sex, lack-of-sex, corporate rhetoric, John Grisham, races, racists, predatory males, people who criticise predatory males, the intrinsic value of the human species and Belgians) and being acquitted of racial hatred charges, his masterwork to-date is Atomised, which follows the miserable lives of Michel the emotionally retarded scientist and Bruno his sex-obsessed half brother.

Atomised sticks blunt knives into the dangling organs of the sexual revolution. But it also veers into science fiction, something that isn't explored further in his next two strokes of genius, Platform and Lanzarotte.

I have been waiting for a long time for this book. Put simply, in my view, regardless of his message, offensiveness, ability to predict Islamic terror attacks on tourists or other notable good or bad qualities, Houellebecq is the finest writer on the planet.

He has absolutely mastered the craft.

And now he returns to science fiction. True science fiction, not the garbage written by simplistic proto-thugs like George Lucas. Science fiction in the vein of We, 1984, and the underated cinematic masterpiece Brazil.

Every free moment I open my christmas present and read the alternating dispatches from Daniel 1, fantastically wealthy comic and screenwriter and Daniel 24, his 24th cloned descendant.

The clones have all successively lived in isolation, apart from a cloned pet dog. They occasionally venture to the perimeter of their self-contained bubble home to kill 'savages' who wander too close. They have not socialised for generations. They attempt to analyse the gap between neo-humans (themselves) and the original, human, Daniel 1.

After several generations they lost the ability to cry or laugh.

He is a depressing writer, or rather, he is depressed. Because I don't share his cynicism towards people, love and happiness - well not to such an extreme degree - reading Houellebecq cheers me up, making me feel blessed to have good friends and the love of a fine woman.

It's kindof like living in Melbourne and visiting Canberra.


Where I spent Christmas drinking and listening to my new CD (Warrant's Greatest Hits!) with beloved, her sister and sister's boyfriend, and my irresistible cream burmese cat. Merry Christmas, happy Unears!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

OK, Wedding Photies

Something a bit lighter, because it's almost Christmas.

I've reverted to my old political habits on this site, but there's a personal side to the Armagnac Diaries. Some of you mightn't know but this site was briefly The Groom Stripped Bare, and I briefly used Groomzilla instead of my real name (being Armaniac, of course).

I started unloading at a particularly dark phase in the engagement, where between fighting with relatives and each other, tackling seemingly insurmountable logistics, and sorting out career issues beloved and I were losing the plot. Hence some of the most frank, and I think best, posts I've ever written are up the front of the archive.

Then things planed, flew into a blur, and next thing we were married and in Vietnam. So I probably still have a couple of posts to write for closure.

With apologies for anonymity-driven-discombobulation, here is the woman I will love forever in her Mariana Hardwick wedding dress...

and yours truly in 3/4 length self-striped dinner suit, open shirt, cravat and white orchid...

With love to you all; diarists, lefties, cantankerous old conservatives and spambots alike xo

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh, that's alright then!

Peter's put us in the picture:
[he] conceded his own Treasury believes there will be short-term economic pain
but for the avoidance of doubt the leaked communication
wasn't embarrassing, it wasn't advice, it didn't involve economic modelling and he hadn't misled parliament.
And he'll be PM in 6 months!

Why have my bits slipped?

Can anyone explain to this IT-tard why my sidebar has all gone down to the bottom of the page and how to fix? Gracius.

Well, I seem to have found a temporary fix, but it's left unseemly lines sticking out, and I still don't know why anything changed in the first place. I've noticed other blogspotters with wierd 'slippage', any idea?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Did Costello mislead Parliament over IR?

Was it a lie, or were we merely disabused of the whole truth?

The Australian has published what Treasury secretly told Costello about the IR changes:
..deliver smaller wage rises for low-income earners and cut productivity in the short term..

..the changes will only "moderately" improve employment...

..the negative effects of the laws for up to 1.6 million low-skilled workers..

..admits the effect on employment growth will be "not huge" and says the impact on productivity growth will be "slow" and is "difficult to quantify"..

Not good. And to the chase:

Challenging the Government's claims that workers will be better off, Treasury instead predicts that the wages of people who rely on minimum pay rates will fall in real terms because of smaller increases granted by the Government's new Fair Pay Commission.

Swan says he misled Parliament.

Costello's on the ropes, couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lawyers "Evil" and "Dumb"

Having practised some law myself I have to say the outgoing Legal Ombudsman has a point:
I've seen evil lawyers who are almost sociopathic, they don't seem to care, but, thankfully, they are in the minority. Some of them are just dumb too.
Dumb! Unfortunately not struck-dumb...

Real Aussies know racism when they see it

Sorry Johnny, you've missed the mark:
An Ipsos Mackay Research Poll for The Sunday Age showed 73 per cent of Australians agreed with the statement by NSW Premier Morris Iemma that "what showed on the weekend was the ugly face of racism in Australia". Just 21 per cent preferred Mr Howard's statement: "I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country."
Us real patriots, who love the multicultural, tolerant Australia, can reclaim the mantle from those unaustralian types who want us to be the next South Africa.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The face of Australian Civilisation?

Today's model is Mr Tastan:

After all, a measure of civilisation is how a society treats its most wretched. Here's how we treat ours:

Mr Tastan, 43, who has paranoid schizophrenia, has lived on the streets of the Turkish capital since the Australian Government wiped its hands of him almost three years ago. Despite living in Australia for almost 30 years, Mr Tastan was deported in January 2003 on character grounds...

Character grounds?

He is certifiably ill. In need of treatment.

What sort of primeval judgement says someone with such a well-established and overt psychiatric condition is "a bad character"? This is not some debate about fatigue, or psychiatric overlay, or other half-baked excuses for violent and criminal behaviour (and we haven't heard many of those lately, have we?).

This man needed treatment. He is a genuine victim. And instead we dumped him, after 30 years of the most shithouse life the lucky country can offer, in a country he was brought out from as a child.

It's not all Israel's fault Part II

73% of people in Nablus say they prefer constant war and occupation.

There's a massive hole in your tooth

My dentist didn't pester me for long about the fact that I haven't had my teeth looked at for over 3 years. He pointed out politely that I wouldn't be needing today's major filling had I been x-rayed a year back. Then he got to work.

And when he'd done the first grindy bit, you know, with the drill that always feels like it's about to catch and pull your whole tooth out and a bundle of bleeding nerves behind it, then he took a short rest. Got me to hold up a small mirror and tilt my head back. And showed me the biggest fuck-off hole I'd ever laid eyes on. I was already feeling nauseus. Then he reached in and pulled out a little piece of food and waved it in front of my nose.

I didn't sniff. I got the message.

Even if you brush and floss, the odd checkup isn't a bad idea. He was nice though, 2 fat syringes full of anaesthetic made me numb from nose to chin on one side. No pain. Not until I cabbed back to work and started writing a Ministerial....

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Most racist, most stupid

Expecting more Cronulla action? Not this time, over to the world's most uninsurable man.

The Iranian President called the Holocaust a myth and called for cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Jews.

Also in unrelated and undisturbing news, Iran approved a nuclear power plant.

This lefty, for one, won't be condemning Israel when they send the F-16s across and neutralise it. Or him.

I'm not condoning thousands going on a racist rampage, BUT...

Say the leading hate-dogs of the right:

Albrechtson. Of course. No one tells her to go back to fucking Denmark because her racism doesn't mesh with OUR culture, I bet!

Piers Ackerman: 'Oh it was all terribly awful, but those lefties who invented multiculturalism and imposed all those wops on us didn't half cause it.'

The Esteemed Herald Sun editorial desk: 'Well, some violence and terror at the hands of the worst trash Sydney can muster just proves its the fault of people who talk that multicultural crap.'

That's what I like about the right, they hate being called racist, it sends them into spasms, but they find so many more subtle and devious means to reach the same ends.

But then I found this one. Again, here at the Armagnac Desk we're keen to acknowledge any glimpse of humanity from the other side, so I give you...

Rice and Monkey Nuts: wanting us to understand the complexity of the situation, the background and deprivation that leads people to such terrible ends. Oh he still manages to relativise outright mass race hate and make unbalanced comparisons, but there's definitely a nuance, a thoughtfulness, that reaches back into his days as a lefty.

If only the MPD ridden fool could be vaguely consistent. Palestine, anyone?

UPDATE: Flutey's nailed it nicely.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Blogging Cronulla's Hitler-Savants

OK first off, you're welcome to criticise sharply here, but resort to personal mud when your arguments run out and I'll simply hit the delete button.

Guy acknowledges this wasn't the first violence seen by Cronulla, but implores locals not to whip up
a mob of drunken retards...
At Catallaxy they're calling a pogrom a pogrom.

Weez reflects on how as a white migrant to the lucky country:
It really was only hours after I got off the plane in Sydney in 1996 that I started to be fed crap about "wogs and abos" and yet strangely expected to commiserate with this racist tripe.
Someone's kept a sense of humour.

And Stoush had to end their fiery and interesting, er, stoush, because the vitriol descended into aggro. Same random thread-abuser I deleted here.

Then there's the Right. All that whistling and suddenly the yard's full of dogs.

But I'm not bothering with all the apologists and Golden But-meisters at this late hour. Instead, because we all need a little optimism, enjoy seeing one of them actually retain the bulk of their condemnation for Cronulla's Cornucopia of Cowards....

Tim Blair, surprisingly, keeps the anti-lefty digs to a minimum while his best mud gets slung at the racist yobs. He lables them Trash, Disgusting, Idiots and 'Winners', before calling for garbage disposal:
Round ‘em up—all of them, from both sides—charge ‘em, convict ‘em, jail ‘em.
He forgot "throw away the key"...

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

Well, they're extreme greens, no question, but they aren't genocidal or PETerroristic. Introducing VHEMT, whose aim is to persuade the human race to stop breeding en masse and wipe itself out.

What can you add to that?

Relax, Cronulla was all about "pride"

"Show of pride ends in disgrace" says the Herald Sun.

Of course! It was all about dinkum aussies being proud of something or other until thousands of them mysteriously morphed into gutless cowards and started using numbers and weapons to randomly bash anyone with a touch of colour.

Any resemblance to KRISTALLNACHT is purely incidental.

Next installment soon: let's go on a roundup of right wing commentators to see how many have pulled out the "Golden But"s and apologia....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Non-racists chase "Lebs and Wogs"

Move along, nothing to see here. Australia doesn't have issues with racism- provided you assimilate by becoming white and stupid.

The last thing you'd do is use some PC term like racist when a few good Aussie kids are out having a bit of fun in the Cronulla surf:
5000 people, some yelling racist chants, converged on the beach...
Grouse! Let's hope people don't misconstrue harmless larikinism
witness reports of at least three men being pursued and attacked as they tried to get away
as some sort of neo-nazi hate violence.

That wouldn't be cricket!

Anyway, any targetting was aimed at particular gangs who have been causing trouble, and was highly selective. For example, messages urged:
"Aussies" to take revenge against "Lebs and wogs".
So you're unlikely to get your head kicked in by inbred bogan hatemonkeys unless you have some Italian, Greek, Spanish, South or Central American, Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian or the rest of the Middle East including indigenous Jewish, Arab North African or Slavic blood. Or a very good tan.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Did Mr Pious accept 30 pieces of silver?

What dirty deal have they done?

Rabbit proof fence revisited

The Burgerbeast has decided to be honest and admit the government can't be arsed sending money further than the Queensland border and wants them troublesome native folk rounded out of the bush into highly successful urban black communities where we can share our benevolence and civilisation with them.

Makes sense. Compare:

Redundant barbarian culture.


Successful integration.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Self Appointed Blogwigs miss out on prize!

Dear me it's all too heartbreaking! Rigged by someone else for once....

That said, a non-blog (ok, where's the comments? Same for you, Bunyip botherer) that draws government assistance being chosen by the mainstream trash we excuse as media is hardly surprising. They weren't going to support a serious challenger, were they?

Fields of Gold play

We sit, her legs on my lap. The wedding CD playing, the soft one from the first hour between sets from the band.

It's moved on to Coldplay. God put a smile on your face. Before it was Fields of Gold. These songs tighten my chest a little, bringing back good, no, beautiful, but also sad and trying times that I am grateful to be through.

Coldplay was our car trip album for a while. OK, so we'd have a few CDs on rotation, but that one somehow made it back on again and again. Something about this particular song evokes a yearning for me. Optimism, but also, as it trips into the chorus and the bass frees up, things being beyond control and uncertain. We fought badly a couple of times. We didn't fight during the song, but I recall sitting, sad, as we drove in the aftermath.

We listened to that one after the worst fight. When I knew things were getting better when she looked up from where she'd been crying and called me a cuntferfucksmuss.

INXS Beautiful Girl has come on. We didn't listen to this at any special time. I just sang it to her often:
Beautiful Girl, stay with me...
I still love it, think it's their most underrated.

INXS now have something like Peter Andre crossed with the dentist from Manpower disgracing the memory of Michael. Look! I digress...

When she left London we'd been together a couple of months. We'd decided to move to Melbourne together. It was the biggest, most impulsive-yet-certain decision of my life. I knew that I loved her.

She gave me an Eva Cassidy CD. She told me to make sure I met her at the other end. And to learn Eva's version of Fields, and sing it to her when we met again.

As soon as I arrived at my friend's house where she was staying I walked through the house 'till I found a guitar, and met the challenge.

These things make me smile, 3 years on...

Not this year, just today

Correct me if I've missed something here, I'm well into my second glass of Bailey's. I bought because beloved likes.. Beloved is interupting me, from the lazy chair in which she's reading Cleo. Cleo!
Only 'cause pain-in-the-bumsky husband isn't talking to me, 'cause he's too busy with his broadband.
Quote, word for word, I shit you not. Anyway...

The Age, 10.22am:
VSU bill misses Christmas deadline.
The Age, 8.05pm:
Student union fees bill passed.
There's a substantial difference? Have I missed something?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cracking down on Seditious Vegans

The UK shows us how it's done, convicting a vegan cook under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 for standing
outside Downing Street reading a list of the British soldiers killed in Iraq.
Security risk- think Bloefeld.

Why didn't they just pin her to the ground and shoot her several times in the head?

Armagnac for Johnny

Cheers to our PM, he's a man who travels in style.

Maybe he should have bought one of these instead, and just hooned across the country giving sound bites.

Split the politics and personal?

Got broadband, ready to get serious.

Playing with different blog formats and ideas like a child with chemicals. Stay with blogger, or get 'professional'? Start others or keep it all here?

I intend to write a lot more political stuff, but want to keep the personal going too. I've noticed as I've politicised the content here more recently, visitors who came to talk about the personal have been alienated.

Is it over-indulgent to be a blog tart? Do you like it all here?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wirajuda II

The Bali 9's lawyers rightly took his comments, as parsed here yesterday, as casting doubt on the standard of justice the accused can expect.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Parsing Wirajuda's threat

There's much, as Indonesia's Foreign Minister suggests, that Australians can learn about law stuff from Indonesia...
avoid emotional reactions
You don't see Indonesians reacting emotionally when we pick up terrorists or join UN missions. And emotional reactions are not a normal human response to seeing a kid hanging from his neck until it snaps.
Without predicting the outcome of any court cases, Mr Wirajuda canvassed the possibility of the death penalty for some of the nine Australians.
Well that's alright then, they can expect Indonesia's fine tradition of fair trials to be upheld. Wirajuda's not putting a punt either way by the sound of it.
mature reflection on the case of Van ... might reduce the level of public disquiet
Of course, more you think about it, more you wonder why we don't snap the neck of every stupid kid who crosses paths with the law.
This is a matter of the sovereign rights by Australia's neighbours to impose or not to impose the death penalty
Sovereignty over subjects having been deleted from International Law by the collective jurisprudential genius savants of Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and other rule of law respecting nations.

The Australian contributes by lazy editing:
The nine alleged members of the heroin-smuggling gang were arrested in Bali on April 17 and have been charged with conspiring to smuggle more than 8kg of heroin to Australia.
Some were caught with heroin.....

Beyond all reasonable doubt they were so caught!

And finally we are reprimanded on failing to see the parity between a kid smuggling drugs out of a deluded sense of family duty and a psychopath planning the murder of a large group of people on the basis of their race:
Australians were victims of the Bali bombings. But in the case of drug trafficking, the victims -- in the case of Singapore or Indonesia -- were Singaporeans or Indonesians
Be clear- if you transit in Singapore you clearly intend to affect Singaporean civilians.

Glad that's all cleared up.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Act. Stress. Groundbreaking new site.

I reversed my decision. Then I woke and reversed it back again.

In an instant, by email, I threw away perhaps my best opportunity yet to fast-track into a career as a barrister. Years of dreams about standing in a wig arguing before the High Court surged like sewage through my conscience. I'm happy with the decision, but it was a very hard one.

I was so distracted I forgot a present I bought at lunchtime for a wedding (another!) we are going to tomorrow. I had to catch the train back into town to get it.

Need G&T!

A friend who attended my wedding, the brilliant (if sadly slightly conservative) Paul Knapp, has just started (no doubt programmed it himself from scratch) a site that is half news half blog where you "bump" your favourite stories up to the top!

Here it is: NEWSBUMP.

Bump.... brings to mind Fergie from Black Eyed Peas and her "Bumps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps..." Not what he had in mind I'm sure!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fanging but netless

Sorry I've been woeful. Due to some virus there is no access to most sites from my work, where I often came in early to post and drink the first hot roast of the day.

I've ordered broadband at home, and when it arrives the hard work will resume. I will write remaining posts about the wedding and honeymoon, then think about where to take things from here.

I got an offer from the job I wrote about a little while back. I am going to say no to it. Firstly because I see my future more in policy than law, and secondly because in typical lawyer fashion they want me to go in at the same level as a uni graduate, completely discounting my 5 years of experience, because I haven't worked in 'that area'.

I'm over law and lawyers. Except for Anonymous Lefty, of course.**

I wish I had time to post on the impending execution. I slammed Australia for not doing enough a few weeks back, and should acknowledge that even Howard has put in a fair effort. More honest than the gratuitous issue-milking by the Green Nettle.

** And the pin-up girl of the Soliblogger set, the Quantum calculator Ms Meruit!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rats, big fuck-off rats

OK, we've been fleeced from one end of Ha Noi to the other.

It started when we arrived at the first hotel we wanted to try. A guy peers in, looking all official, and asks if we have a reservation. We say no, he says there are no more rooms however they have a new hotel a block away, similar quality. He has a professional looking card with the 1st hotel's name, and a map showing the new hotel. We go there. It's a dump, we got screwed, we hear later that they've got a reputation as hustlers. Lonely Planet letter #1.

Then we book Ha Long Bay. In the previous comment thread someone says it's set up for honeymoons. Well, maybe the way Nauru camp is set up for honeymoons. We paid well above the par, going to a 'reputable' travel agent who are in Lonely Pissant and were also recommended by a couple of friends who clearly got lucky.

The boat was pretty crap. I didn't realise how crap till we stopped next to several other tourist boats while visiting a cave.

The cave has this rock, it's called Uncle Ho's Finger, and it looks like a huge fat cock with balls under it. Incredibly as I pissed myself they kept straight faces, and I realised they really DO call it his finger.

We paid $300US, supposedly to get a premium tour. Everyone else on our hock-job paid around $30-50US each. I'm going to lose my fucking rag in the travel agent in Ha Noi. If they don't pay some cash back I'm sitting on the front step and disabusing every other sucker who walks up until they change their minds.

Oh, yeah, the rats. Our room on the boat. I'm pissing, I hear a scream. Something the size of an alsatian has sprinted along past beloved's head. She runs out, I stay in the room changing. With my jeans half way up I hear a scuttle, I freeze. Something huge races along behind the curtains, a few inches away from my face. There is more scuttling near the door (it runs through a hole) and another scream, as it confronts beloved and other passengers in the ship's lounge.

I've found somewhere with cold tiger, I'm heading back there now.

After having words with the fuckwash who sold the trip, we're booking in five star.

Anyone thinking of Ha Long Bay- book in Australia so you can sue the miserable turds if they fuck it up.

Oh, otherwise, having a lot of fun, the bay itself is superlative, sea-kayaking up against the sheer limestone cliffs in the evening, with the water flat and black and no wind, incredible.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Fall of the individual poliblog?

So I'm sitting here sipping another tiger beer and of course my mind hasn't let go of blogging. The great addiction.

I've documented much in the lead up to my wedding, perhaps the essence of the purpose of this site. It has been carthartic, I met readers who don't frequent the political morass I'd previously played in.

Out in the lefty mainstream, blogging is dominated by large group blogs. Larvatus, Stoush, WSA caucus. They're good, but as excellent individual bloggers like Liam throw their hats into the collective ring I wonder if part of the character of blogging isn't slipping away, the individual personalities of the blogs. Writer/editors taking control of that which was previously left to the individual, flicking through their favourite voices.

No-one in the left has managed to approach the consistent, vicious but effective voice of Mr Blair (the Tim).

Is this evolution, or is there a gap? I'm married now, have made a new career direction, and am planning to get the net installed at home so I don't have to do all my blogging over a quick coffee before work or at lunch.

I'm ready to get it on, but I wonder if the time of the tight, individual, personal voice in poliblogging is over... except for the alpha-few.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Frantic, mad, and nice suit to go

Just a few words by way of update. I'm not able to open the proper site here, I'm only getting to see the blog via the draft function. I wonder if Uncle Ho has decreed that 'blogspot' is a naughty word.

Picked up my suit. Yesterday I got measured up, today it was ready. Can't tell if the stitching is rubbish, but it looks good, I had her do the bold-stitched Paul Smith style, she pulled it off well, the wool is a deep multiple navy pin stripe and the cut is, well, superb.

Ordered a couple of 'Goodfellas' style shirts on the back of that job. I'm going nuts.

Need more soft-shell crab, more 70c beer.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dusk falls in Hoi An, I am wed, I am happy

I sip Tiger Beer. I check the broad wedding band, screwing it round and round behind my knuckle. I look past the screen out the window as dark rolls over the river.

It's hot, but nice hot. Vietnam has been good. Marriage has been good, I am at peace.

Should I tell this backwards, starting most recently? At the markets, being sized up for a $60 suit by the cackling woman who kept slapping me on the butt- unnervingly accurate with her cupped hand I noted. At dinner, last night or the night before, eating soft shell crab and various other things but oh my the soft shell crab was good! You eat it whole, little crunchy legs and all, coated with a thin respectful batter and nicely seasoned. Down in the tunnels at Cu Chi, ears still ringing from sending a clip from a captured US M-60 into a cardboard tiger at the end of the firing range. Or back at the wedding itself. The band, how good were they, the best Police cover you'll ever hear, the cake, friends partying hard.

Me breaking into tears almost as much as beloved. When I looked at her I cried. She squeezed my hand and I cried again.

I cried during her speech, and I cried at the end of mine. I just gave her a list of things I love about her, then I said:
Thank you for being my girl, thank you for being my best friend, thank you for saying yes, thank you for becoming my wife.... I love you, and I will love you forever.
I sang to her, it was the big secret. I did it with the band, a blues I wrote that has a nice ending.

OK, OK, you really want to know about Vietnam, no? How about the war crimes museum? Little deformed babies preserved in jars ('agent orange'), sympathetic pics of GIs in mud or hanging dead from ropes below helicopters.

Or Cu Chi? Maybe the best tour I've ever been on. We saw the leg traps designed to send metal spikes into you 8 different ways. Yes, I paid about $20 to fire a belt of M-60 heavy duty machine gun rounds on a range. It scared the life out of me, let alone being at the other end. I raked the ground, it flew up in bursts of dirt, the sound was incredible. The M-60 fires heavyweight rifle bullets at ten rounds per second. It kills. Fearsome, sobering.

My guide was such a nice guy, and the army regular who went down in the tunnels with me. We did the main tourist tunnel, widened to accomodate americans, then they took me to another dirty dark little tunnel. I barely fit. I crawled, fast, about 60 metres in pitch darkness. When I came out I was drenched in sweat and hyperventilating.

The Vietnamese lived under there for a couple of years, only coming out to fight.

Have to say, they're very magnanimous about it, keep thanking me for Paul Keating's friendship bridge!

Scorpion and Spitting Cobra wine isn't as bad as it sounds, either.

The night calls, the tropical heat is making me amorous. More posts soon, sorry about the hiatus.

With regards, from Hoi An, Armaniac....x

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tomorrow, the groom is stripped bare...

Tomorrow I marry beloved.

I wrote a long post, but it inexplicably disappeared. I don't trust this dodgy net cafe, which also previously nearly cost me an essay. I'll keep this very brief.

Some of you have followed this since my engagement, on this blog. Some of you even read about the proposal *winks*

Thank you for your company, wisdom and friendship, it has helped me a great deal. I will continue here with writeups of the wedding, Vietnam, and random lefty political rants shortly.

I am in chaos, everything is chaos, but it isn't all bad, it's coming together. Sort of.

Sometime in the next 24 hours or so my birth and life families meet. They've never met. Well actually there was an encounter (life mum calls, birth brother answers...):

Mum: Is Armaniac (*not real name) there?

Bro: No sorry.

Mum: Who's this?

Bro: His brother.

Mum: He doesn't have a brother.

..... (sound of two lights clicking on)...

Bro: Um, I'm his er brother.

Mum: Ah, er, ok I'll call back later.


They were both so embarrassed, poor things. Thankfully when I heard, at my bucks, I was already pissed so I cracked up laughing.

My bucks was at pubs, drinking and enjoying fine conversation rather than watching waxed pink bits. Some of the lads tried to pick me up and carry me somewhere near the end, but after I'd inflicted various injuries with my knees, elbows and teeth they realised that I meant it when I said I'd draw blood before they took me anywhere.

Hijinks over!

And this is it. The last vestige of my youth about to be signed away forever.

Can't wait! Wish me luck, see you on the other side.....xx

Friday, November 04, 2005

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

If this tyke was my kid, I'd be a proud dad!

Joyce fingers obvious loophole

I've thought this many times, and now Barnaby Joyce has queried whether businesses with over 100 employees will artificially attract the unfair dismissal exemption by use of dodgy accounting structures.

Can I add- I wonder how many people realise that for these purposes Starbucks, McDonalds, 7/11 and other multinationals are likely to be exempt, because the business, I'd wage money on it, is defined to be the individual franchise.

How many people would support the idea that McDonalds gets an exemption for being a small business?

I haven't had time to fisk the legislation, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Meanwhile we should ask why Labor have not been identifying this, don't they remember the Waterfront Case which involved the same sort of form-over-substance chicanery?

Beazley and Combet are right that this is a fairly small part of an overall monster attack on workers. However they appear to be underestimating both its potential for exploitation and how much it might piss Joe and Josette Average off to realise they are being hoodwinked.

Meanwhile, as usual, the Speaker is busy abusing his power to advantage his party.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Happy birthday beloved

It's love-of-my-life's 30th today. I got her a hamper with chocolates and Moet, a bottle of desert wine, a CD with "Your Gorgeous" - which we've sung at each other on numerous drunken occasions - on it, and a couple of bottles of Givenchy pooh-bah.

Today she goes to Oaks with the girls while I stew at work, then we'll dine out in the 'cote tonight.

We hooked up properly the night of my 30th in London. A few days later we were in love. A few days after beloved's 30th we'll marry. Maybe 30 has magic properties for us....

Monday, October 31, 2005

Kim wants to Tampa with terror laws

Has Kim changed even one iota since Tampa?

"Me too, and burn the books while you're at it" he cries, while actual left wing to moderate members of the party look on in stunned disbelief:
Senior ALP figures were also exasperated by Mr Beazley's decision to announce his own vilification laws yesterday, saying he was "mangling the message".
Mangling. Not the first time either.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The deadlock clunks into place

Until about a week ago I was floating across the wedding experience. Anger and stress came in waves, reactive, responding to particular aggravations.

My gut was relaxed and open, I woke with a sense of peace each morning. Beloved entered a state of stress a while back, so I've been a foil to that, the trainer in the corner with a hot towel and massage on tap.

Then I felt the lock clamp in my gut. It's on, and it won't release until well into the evening of the 12th of November. About 5 vintage chandons if you want a precise measurement of time. I wake and my abs are tense. I feel nausea come on with no good reason. I try to distract myself writing songs or thinking up ideas for that novel but the logic-panic axis of my brain overrides more subtle creative impulses like an iron bar across the throat of a wren.

No, it's not rational.

Most things are organised, but still... got to burn a good hour and a half worth of mix CD. Don't even know how you go about doing that, let alone on what equipment. Got to check over and finalise vows. Got to pick a couple of nice poems.

Does anyone have suggestions for a wedding-appropriate, quality love poem?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

At a snip - Helmets fend off AIDS

Another layer of the male circumcision debate is peeled back after a probing report suggests a clean snip helps prevent HIV (and presumably other STD) infection. The thrust of the report is that exposing one's bishop can cut in half the chance of infection, with potential reasons including:
keratinisation of the glans when not protected by the foreskin, drying after sexual contact, reducing the life expectancy of HIV on the penis after sexual contact with an HIV-positive partner, reduction of the total surface of the skin of the penis, and reduction of target cells, which are numerous on the foreskin.
A complex debate so it's worth getting a firm grip on the issues.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How to hang a young man until he's dead

You might not even be reading this post if the subject looked like

or even this

Unfortunately if you're born with this mug

Australia cares less Asian Boy!!

The impending death by hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van, 25 year old Aussie, has of course attracted the same press attention as the Corby and Bali 9 cases. You all remember the day he was sentenced, don't you?

OK, in fairness there's been some cross-party movement in the past few days, and it's probably true that a longer-and-stronger campaign driven by the kind of public pressure someone blonde and titty would have aroused would not have changed Singapore's mind.

But the striking difference in the way "Australia" has reacted speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, on the gory details, there's a blunt piece in The Australian that will fill you in on the noble art of hanging a human until they're dead. Here's the executor's summary:

Once the prisoner is collected from his cell shortly before 6am, speed is of the essence. The longer it takes, the greater the opportunity for panic and struggle.

A hood is placed over the prisoner's head and his hands are pinioned behind his back, usually with handcuffs. His legs are bound together with wire to prevent him kicking out and catching them against the sides of the trapdoor.

The rope, attached to a concealed beam, is positioned around the neck and the trapdoor lever on the execution platform is pulled. The clunk of the wooden doors echoes around the chamber.

If everything goes to plan, the strike force of the noose will dislocate the neck at the second and third cervical vertebrae, the classic hangman's fracture.

The prisoner will enter complete neurogenic shock, unable to process pain, although electrical activity may continue in the brain for several minutes after the spinal cord is cut.

Those damn humans, trying to hang onto life down to the last living organ.
In Singapore the issue is rarely debated, the country's low crime rate being seen as sufficient justification for capital punishment. Abolition, it is said, would send the wrong message to criminals who may interpret it as an indication that the Government is going soft on crime.

Of course anything short of breaking someone's neck would be seen as "soft".

By a homocidal maniac.


I was pushing it to try another blog at this time, and it hasn't set the world on fire, so Press Gallery is once again available if anyone's looking for a URL.

It'd be nice to be funny, but I might leave it to the pros for the time being!

Thanks Brownie and Gianna for giving it nascent linkages...

Now, back to Mr Serious. *glowers*

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Howard pays for class warfare

Did I not predict on this site that Howard would pay for turning on his battlers with his class driven take-from-poor-give-to-rich industrial legislation?

You played with fire, now you burn. Et Tu Peter.

If only Labor was capitalising and showing leadership at this crucial time.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Booker winner changes name and chases the dosh?

Via Sterny, this is fascinating...
John Banville, the veteran Irish author who confounded pundits and bookies to scoop this year's £50,000 Booker prize ... is to abandon the melancholy, stylistic register that bagged him the Booker to try his hand at thrillers. Set in 1950s Dublin, his new novel, Quirke, tells the story of its eponymous hero, a pathologist who in the course of his professional activities uncovers what The Bookseller describes as "a murderous plot at the heart of the Catholic establishment of Dublin and Boston". Due out in the autumn of 2006, the novel - intended as the first in a series - will appear under the pen name Benjamin Black.
I guess it's a hard road living off literary grants, though his publisher could conceivably be telling the truth when he says
He doesn't want people reading Quirke and looking for the same things they do in a Banville novel. With this, his main intent is to entertain.
For money or love? Apparently he's in good company:
The heavily garlanded Joyce Carol Oates turned to the pseudonym Rosamund Smith to escape the baggage of her success and wrote eight "short, cinematic suspense novels", all of which featured twins. Kingsley Amis adopted the name Robert Markham to produce a new James Bond novel, Colonel Sun, after the death of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, in 1964. Gore Vidal, meanwhile, briefly rechristened himself Edgar Box in the 1950s to write three detective novels, while Banville's fellow Booker nominee, Julian Barnes, has brought out a number of thrillers under the name of his alter ego, Dan Kavanagh.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Spanking the plank

I have a new guitar.

It's a bit of an indulgence, but I don't care. I wrote a new song, it doesn't have words but is just a chirpy catchy and rather corny little ditty that I can't stop humming. About the same time I decided I'm not going to sit around any longer without a band.

So I went down to Brunnie Street, tried out 4 el cheapo steel strings with pickups and chose a nice Martinez with a satin finished neck.

I texted two members of my last band. I told one he's going to play lead guitar. I told the other that seeing as he's both an excellent drummer and melodic singer, he'll do both. Sort of like that guy in the Hard Ons. Except I'm going to sing too, not because I'm good but because I want to and I'll try hard and at least I can stay in tune.
I am skin and bones, I am pointy nose.... but it motherfucking makes me try!
(Ain't no right, Jane's Addiction)
I'll tune the Martinez pretty deeply and cover the bottom end. We may get a bass player once we're famous. Songs will be built around harmonies and call-and-response, sparse and semi-accoustic but interlaced with my friend's excellent lead licks. Think Day Tripper meets Alice in Chains unplugged.

Still haven't written words to the new song. Beloved says it sounds like Dawson's Creek, but I'm sure Beethoven copped similar jibes when he was working on the 9th Symphony:
Hey, that smaltz sounds like Mozart.
With apologies to Mozart. And Beethoven. And Dawson's Creek!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

20 things about Armaniac, a meme

Thanks to a nice outspoken female, who I have imbibed with, I am memed. I'll try to make these interesting...

1) I was almost expelled from a Catholic primary school (St Mary's Darwin) for writing a horror story about werewolves.

2) I was almost expelled from the same school for making a joke about balls.

3) I was on a dark road just outside Darwin with friends when 2 armed cops pulled over, trying to pick a fight so they could do us over. None of us rose to the bait and they left after 10 minutes, but you never forget.

4) My fiance was the first woman in 8 years of serious dating who I went out with for over 3 months. I knew I was in love with her within days of us getting it together. We tie the knot in just over 3 weeks.

5) I went to the same school as Tony Abbott and Nick Greiner, but it made me revolt and take up heavy metal guitar and anarchism.

6) When I was 3 I fell into the Moorehead River, deep in the Papuan jungle close to the Irian Jayan border, and almost drowned. I still remember clearly the smell and taste of the water, the sensation of floundering, the way the light dappled green through the water, the image of every crocodile I'd ever seen flashing through my mind, then the explosive crash and the feeling of my mum grabbing my hair and dragging me to the surface.

7) I started arguing with teachers about politics in year 9, as a right winger.

8) When Joe ran for PM, I wrote "Joe for PM" on the blackboard.

9) My father only hit me once in my entire life. My mum made him do it, and I could tell this made him extremely upset.

10) I didn't go out with, date, or kiss a girl until I was 16.

11) My cat can play fetch. If he brings you something and you ignore it, he hits you on the foot and points with his head.

12) In cadets I was the best in our platoon at sneaking up on people on my belly- I could move across leaves and broken branches without making a sound.

13) It took me 22 years to become happy with my appearance. That was also the year I realised I was going bald.

14) I failed year 12. Twice.

15) From 1996 to 1998 I had more trysts with women who had husbands or boyfriends than with singles.

16) Are we there yet?

17) I was in Dili (pre Independence) when Archbishop Belo returned after winning his Nobel Peace Prize, mingling with the crowd at the cathedral, and an Indonesian spy was killed in the grounds and carried right past me.

18) At the Catholic boarding school I attended in year 8 (St John's College Darwin), we had a paedophile Brother who would insist on rubbing scrot-rot ointment into the sweating crotches of the older boys. Thankfully I was still pre-pubescent.

19) I was brought up in Kakadu and was an obsessive fisherman. My largest was a bull shark about 8 foot long. It was in a tiny creek that flowed into King River, 40km from the sea, in Arnhem Land. When it felt my hooks bite it charged towards the mouth of the creek but there was a fallen tree partially blocking its exit so it leapt out of the water, over the tangle of branches, and belly-flopped on the other side. It is one of the most spectacular and awe inspiring things I've ever seen. When it eventually tired I was determined not to kill it so I refused to even lift its head out of the water for photos. I made my dad reach into the murky water with a pair of pliars and release it.

20) I once caught typhoid in Indonesia and got over it on bottles of water and about 3 packets of Panadol.

I tag anyone who reads this site, consider yourself memed!

Empty sick feeling

I don't like fighting. I don't think I want to be a litigator, fighting seems to come naturally to me, but I don't like it. Neither do I want a job where I get so pissed off that I get angry at my family or friends over things that are inconsequential.

I don't like having assumptions made about my time. I don't consider the fact that I was in Melbourne and had some free time good reason to be angry that I didn't go out and do some shopping.

I don't think the inconvenience of having the milk run out is worth being angry over. This is what makes people become bitter at each other. It's unimportant, unless you think making a point about it is worth hours or days of unhappiness.

They say depression makes people turn to comedy. I've started a little offshoot on an impulse today, to play with a satirical moment or three- the Press Gallery.*

Pop across from time to time and get the latest off-the-record briefings from my mystery sources in the nation's capital. I don't know about you, but I need a smile...

*UPDATE: No, that didn't help, and I know I don't have time to devote to any more projects, so I'm deleting it before I pick up any momentum. If anyone wants a damn fine URL for some political satire, register pressgallery.blogspot and post away.

I've turned to Iced Coffee and a Meatball Sub for comfort.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who's yer party??

Another one of those Politics Tests. Try your luck. Via Guy.

Interestingly it matches you to Australian Political Parties as well as scaling you left-right on key areas.

I'm left-wing on social policy and traditional values, I'm centre left on economic policy. Not too surprising. My match with various parties (the higher the better match) is allegedly:

One Nation - 45.4%
Family First - 45.3%
National Party - 26.3%
Liberal Party - 31.8%
Labor Party - 82.6%
Australian Democrats - 84.6%
The Greens - 90.4%

Odd in some respects. I would have thought the Liberals were my best match on the right. I think the Greens have been treated as more 'moderate' than they are, I'm definitely to their right (relatively speaking) on most policies.

But perhaps this reflects

1) How right wing much of Labor's policy has become; and
2) The fact that I support Labor, not a more left wing party, because I believe that compromise is part of being in a large, diverse democracy.

Have a try, see what you think...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wesleyan Mission

So I front up a few minutes after 8, dodgy Thai t-shirt and leather jacket to let people know who I am (of course, that'll make me stand out in a bar full of muso-bohos!), thinking 'you could have planned this better', and there's the Governor General and Brownie. Brownie gives me a great hug and tells me I look nothing like Steve Vizard. Dear Brownie, what did I do to create such a fearsome image?

First mouthful of Mountain Goat slides down well. I say to the bartender:
Oh I'm just holding a meeting of bloggers, so if anyone asks you where the bloggers are, that's me, ok?
She looks at me like I just beat a nun to death with a cricket bat in the middle of Federation Square.

Others arrive, Rex, Outspoken Female, CFSMTB and a NON-BLOGGER (he was ok though, it's fine...), Tony Teach, Boynton, Cast Iron... did I miss anyone?

So we're missing Mallrat and Ladycracker from the rsveepees. I know what ratty looks like, never met Ms Cracker, so I walk up to these couple of potentially literary looking young ladies near the door and say:
Hi, I'm hosting a drinkfest of bloggers, um internet writer types, and I was just well looking for someone who isn't here who I haven't even met before and so wondered, are you ladycracker? Either of you? Could you be?
After consulting with police about a restraining order, one actually came over a few minutes later and chatted with us, even taking down all our URLs on the back of a drink coaster and promising to investigate this strange cult.

If you've popped in, hi, welcome to our strange corner of blogopia.

To the crew, thanks for coming, more drinks soon is my request as I pass the mantle...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Tonight, a Moon over Rucker's Hill

Northcote awaits friendly and thirsty bloggers. Your host, moi, will be wearing jeans, a leather jacket, and some sort of tee shirt. 33, Bald, you'll work me out. I'll let the bar staff know so if in doubt just ask who the bloggers are.

Time: 8pm. Will go for a while, though we may move on later in the evening. If this happens peer into Terra Firma, Northcote Social Club and 303, all of which are within 200m of the venue...

Venue: The Wesley Anne, 250 High Street, Northcote Tel. 9482 1333

See you there!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day of the robber barons

Australia is now, officially, legislatively, no longer an egalitarian nation. The process of building workers' rights and collective empowerment was one of the great civilising projects of the 20th century, and now, in this playground of the select and powerful, it has been torn back decades in a single stroke of the legislative pen.

The arrogance of power can cause the megalomaniacal to overreach. Hitler decided he wanted Russia and England, and ended up with neither. Only unwritten history will tell if this ferocious attack on the people who've given them power will be the undoing of the Liberals. Fielding has it in a nutshell:
Mr Howard has put his ideological prejudice ahead of the long-term interests of the 'battlers' who have put their faith in him.
Kicked them in the balls, hard enough to crack them open is how I'd put it.

Greedy robber barons are as safe a Liberal preference vote as green hippies are for Labor. That's why Labor can't point all its policies into the far left. This attack on workers is being welcomed with glee by people who wouldn't vote Labor even if Labor had a thousand magic geese that would lay golden eggs in every pocket of the economy.

It's a present to the hard right, the ideologues, at the expense of the people who've actually given the snivelling rats power. Well, we will see if such a gobsmacking act of arrogance goes unnoticed by the battlers...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Drinks Friday week?

So, who's up for a beer?

UPDATE: It's looking definite for Friday week then, unless I get a surge of support for the Saturday. There are several takers, so the night is definitely on.

Parsing a fork in the road

I'm trained in law, I find it interesting, but am also a bit of a political junky. I pushed my employer for ages to give me some experience in policy, and now that's what I'm doing.

These are pretty nice people. I'm the only lawyer. My boss chats to me about wine, my nearest co-worker updates me on her pregnancy, which is at that late 'he's playing drums on my belly again' sort of stage. The pay's more than adequate. In the past couple of months I've already added a plethora of experiences to my CV: I've written part of a speech, drafted bits of legislation, written explanatory memoranda and ministerial documents, and spoken at meetings as the legal guy.

It's law, but definitely leading me in the direction of policy, law reform, and ultimately politics. A new direction, one I find very attractive.

Opportunities have suddenly brewed elsewhere. Specifically advocacy- running litigation in Court. There are a couple of these potential opportunities, and they would be ideal for building a career as a courtroom lawyer, something I have aspired to for years. They are in very interesting and sought after areas of law, blending criminal law with complex white collar issues. Long term this path would also lead to a lot more money. Exponentially more.

I could be making a decision that will be almost irreversible, and will shape my future for decades. Both of which lead to things that I've wanted to do, both are interesting.

Having good options can be more stressful than picking the best from a bad bunch, because the potential to squander a fantastic opportunity is so strong.

Sorry to be so navel gazing. After reading my blog, would you point me in either direction, or toss a coin?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Turkey the Auslanders

Turkey and the EU are to commence membership negotiations
overcoming strident objections from Austria.
Good old Austria and her fine frothing beer, delightful orchestras, magical winter playgrounds and undercurrent of Nazism.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Grogblog with 'gnac

Anyone want to join me for a drink?

The weekend of 14/15 October was suddenly looking pretty vacant, and I thought I'd see if anyone who passes through here is up for a low-key grogblog at one or more of my favourite haunts.

I'm thinking Friday the 14th, from about 8pm, at possibly my favourite Melbourne bar the Wesley Anne in Northcote.

Details on the Wesley Anne here:
250 High Street, Northcote Tel. 9482 1333 ...unique atmosphere reminiscent of an old-style gothic church... decor is very dim and prediminantly lit with candles and large open fire places... unusual and appealing drawing plenty of unfussy young locals in their casual gear.
It's got character and an interesting bohemian crowd, but is usually chilled enough for good conversation. It's also within a scrape and a jump of 3 other great bars, Terra Firma, Northcote Social Club and 303, as well as some good feeding spots. My thinking is- let people eat first then come. Meeting new people at a dinner where you can't move around is hard work, which is why I missed the last blog gathering.

If you can't make Friday but Saturday would be fine, speak now or forever hold your peace. I'm not expecting a huge crowd given my Beta-blogger status, but I can confirm that at least a couple of interesting personalities will be there.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Latham Diaries V: I'm spitting the dummy

The diaries were suddenly and abruptly shut last night. I may or may not continue; once a book annoys me I often quickly move on, there's so much to read out there, so little time.

Easton Ellis and Houellebecq both have books on their way, and I worship both of these insane screwed up individuals and their writings. I have books on Vietnam and Robertson QC's Tyrannicide Brief.

I have enjoyed my readings to date, but the obvious and well-parsed (here and elsewhere) flaws and outright contradictions in Latham's polemic hang over my head like an annoying blowfly. I detested his call this week for young people to avoid politics, which was no better than sour grapes. Now he's reached 2001.

First thing to note, no diary entry around 11 September. The date that tipped western politics on its head, which left me in a depressed and uncertain fugue for days, didn't register as worthy of an entry. Latho sometimes comes across as quite ignorant of the ways of the wider world, and this didn't help.

Then he gets to Tampa.

Here's the guy who has spend over a hundred pages going on about how Labor needs conviction and principles, and should not be following what it perceives as public sentiment, and he starts having a go a Beazley's belated attempt to do the right thing and quibble with Howard's dog-whistling legislation because his local bogans are siding with the PM. Worse, he repeats and endorses the great lie that people exercising their basic right to seek asylum are criminals.

Well, this is Australia's apartheid for me, the touchstone issue dovetailing conscience and law, and in an era of debating what is or isn't left wing and deserving of ideological conviction, it's a no brainer. That means even a narrow-minded yobbo who thinks he's PHD material can click his couple of neurons together and work it out.

If you think Beazley had to compromise and sway with public sentiment, well that's one thing. I actually sympathise with the predicament. Parties are after all in a democracy, and can't entirely impose their will even when they know they are right. But that's the sort of pragmatism Latho spends the whole book attacking.

However, if in fact you really believe the anti-Refugee position hook-line-and-sinker then you are not left wing. Join the Libs, join the Nats, please consummately and irrevocably wrench yourself clear of any so-called left wing political affiliation. Now. Thank you.

As this may be my post-script, I'll say I think Latho has a talent for writing, and lots of ideas, and I hope he continues to develop his social network and community empowerment ideas into a workable thesis.

And that, one day when he's cooled, he apologises to Gough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cat Fear

We have a cleaner who comes once a fortnight. We have a cat we love like a child. He's a beautiful cream burmese with a heart of gold. Naturally, he's an indoor cat, I don't want him eating birds or getting squashed under some bogan's penis replacement. So he isn't streetwise, to put it mildly. He wouldn't last very long if he strolled off up the road. He only goes out in our enclosed yard, under supervision. The cleaner knows this, they've been told this is the most important thing in the world to us. Repeatedly.

They outsourced the job to someone else. This in itself could be ok, they mentioned it to us first. The new person must have left the front door open. I came home and the cat was in the little garden next to the road, soaking wet, crying. He'd been outside for hours in the rain. We were so lucky he hadn't strayed from the house. I was so angry I couldn't string a sentence together on the phone to beloved.

We've spoken to the cleaner, they've given assurances. But I don't know, if people can't respect what's most important to you, how can you trust the fuckorgans inside your house? If they fucked up, and the cat was killed, they'd pay big time.

I'll be a psycho dad one day, I can see it.

Latham Diaries IV: Positive Discrimination and the left

A related thread on Larvae Prodder prompted me to share a little anecdote from the diaries.

Latham rocked up to a Labor women's meet. He proposed its expansion to a broader gender affairs role, citing a raft of issues faced by working class men in particular. This was no Evil Pundit style baiting; he pointed to depressing matters that need addressing, such as lowering uni entry levels and diminishing prospects. He copped a room's worth of hateful stares. Someone commented that this was why men shouldn't be able to attend their little meet at all.

So, for how long does 'positive discrimination' remain untouchable within Labor? So sensitive that a comment like
It’s sexist to have a Women’s Department when there is no Men’s department
on a left-wing thread attracts the threat of deletion, even though it is neither irrational nor vicious and is at its face entirely correct.

I believe 'discrimination' can be 'positive', but under the most limited and extraordinary circumstances of exclusion. For an egalitarian party there is, or at least has been, some merit in using this tool to rectify massive imbalances. But this must always be weighed against the fact that discrimination is discrimination, and to treat arguments against positive discrimination as heretical in my view borders on offensive.

I have the newest High Court justice, one of the most powerful and barrier-busting women in Australia, on my side...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Wines, Muffins and Latham Diaries III

A quick update from a slow reader...

I've been at beloved's farm, letting her father and stepmother choose our red and white wines from a selection we'd shortlisted.

From three varied Shiraz numbers everyone agreed that the McLaren Vale from SA, a surprisingly cheap wine given its body, depth and rich, pruney nose, would be the red. In the whites we took a WA Riesling, WA Sav Sem and a Marlborough Sav Blanc. I'm in love with kiwi whites (unpatriotic I know, but man- that nose, like eating passionfruits in a bed of long grass), so I was chuffed that they selected the Marlborough, after a close contest with the Sav Sem.

Beloved's grandfather told me tales from the war. He rarely talks about those days- he fought hand-to-hand in Papua and Borneo in WWII- so I listened intently and picked up some gems he's never told beloved.

They went in a parade down a Brisbane street while on rec leave, and women were lifting their skirts up and flashing their dark secrets from second story windows. 1940s, remember! Things you don't hear about in school, eh?

OK... the diaries... we've moved into Latho's free-markets-or-else phase. His frustration at the protectionist suggestions of Beazley and Crean is intense. He's mad that most of his colleagues haven't read his Civilising Global Capital tome.

There are contradictions coming out here. He castigates Beazley for social conservatism, but then seems to suggest that Labor listen to the 'values' being milked by Howard and Hanson (i.e. social conservatism). And he's showing his famed arrogance on the issue of free trade, in his disbelief that Beazley and Crean suggest some protectionist measures to try to save jobs.

So there he is, ranting on for free trade, cocking his head towards the bogans who think that owning two cars in the suburbs is hardship on a scale with being an aboriginal in Hermansburg with a life expectancy of 40, and he notes at one point that he feels like the right player on the wrong field (or some equivalent simile).

Well, if you are sympathising with the rednecks and you believe in free trade, you might from time to time feel like you were kicking towards the wrong goalposts as a Labor shadow minister. No?

Via Minotaur, in my last comment thread, comes a piece in the Australian recognising some choice cuts among the carcasses....
The book exposes the problems with Kim Beazley's leadership - his lack of reforming zeal, his shunning of confrontation, the absence of fire in his belly. It portrays a sick political and media culture and an endemic factionalism that threatens to suck the life out of the Labor Party. It highlights the toll that rumour-mongering can take on people in public life. It presents a case for opening up the debate on the US alliance beyond its present narrow confines.
Exposes... Portrays... Highlights... Presents...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Latham Diaries II

On style...

This isn't half as bad as I expected. QM feels the same way. I'm in the mid-90s, post Keating's loss.

The style of the diaries proper is: page or so of reflective comment that is obviously written recently, in italics. Then the short, punchy diary entries.

His writing is excellent. If as some are suggesting the whole thing is a Helen Demidenko style fake, and he wrote it in a burst this year, there are a couple of things that don't match up. He writes calmly, thoughtfully, and with no detectable hatred at this point.

And he writes too tightly for an auto-biographer. There is no excess fluff at all. It is very enjoyable reading and anyone who loves politics and doesn't read it is cutting off their nose to spite their face.

His big obsession in his early days is the difference between fixers and policy-makers, and the paucity of the latter. There's a sense of optimism draining as he realises how few people around him are trying to lead change.

Keating, he says, is one of the exceptions, and Keating gets a doting eulogy. Keating will be fondly remembered by true believers. Amen.

The difference between the media take and the book itself is starting to disturb me, anger me, bring out my inner Latham.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Latham Diaries I

The introduction is a 20 page political essay.

It was written in May this year, and if we take Latham's word that the diaries were written contemporaneously from the mid-90s onwards, then this intro can be taken as the best reading of his current state of thinking.

It is surprisingly low on vitriol.

It attacks machine men hard. It also acknowledges they are a product of their political institutions.

It mentions Simon Crean. I realise I don't recall any reporting of how he has dumped on Simon Crean. It will be telling if Latham has left him alone. Simon Crean lacked the pizazz to be elected, but he was a decent man and a real Labor martyr who sacrificed valuable self-promotion time to start the internal reforms Labor (still) desperately needs.

The media make out that Latham's sprayed on all his old comrades, so I'm going to make special note of any prominent individuals he does not unload on.

Latham candidly accepts a large chunk of responsibility as leader for failing to convince the public to embrace his models of social capital.

He is still too misty eyed in my view about the potential of suburbia. When he talks of growing alienation he includes a line about domestic violence and child abuse. I know a fair bit about this field, and it used to be at least as bad, if not worse. Men bashed their wives, teachers and scout masters raped young children, and people who complained were told to mind their own business or ridiculed for taking the word of a woman/child over a man.

But he now acknowledges that the answers may not lie simply in empowering the upwardly-mobile "working class". This is a big step, because it goes to the heart of the left's problems, and is a candid revision of his previous policy stance. The upper working class earns far more than the lower middle class, and often cares sweet fuck all for refugees, the environment, or international justice, so they can't be relied on with some misty-eyed Marxist waffle about workers uniting.

He talks the language of the social democratic idealist, and it spoke to this disenchanted lefty.

He has a visionary's grasp of the self-perpetuating conservatism of politics, business and the media. Not left-right conservatism as much as unwillingness to allow the boat to be rocked. He claims this conservatism is embedding itself deeper and deeper in the Labor party, so that mavericks and alternative thinkers are quickly crushed, as they are in the mainstream institutions.

The nail that sticks out is quickly hammered down.

He talks of downward envy- the whinging culture characterised by people complaining about the welfare and rights of those who are far, far worse off. Downward envy is a defining characteristic of our current society, he says.

Not a lot I'd disagree with in there, except that I hang on to a bit more optimism.

Tonight I kick into the diary-proper. I think I'll open a nice peppery Shiraz to mark this pleasure...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mingling politics and pleasure

"Hey Bad Boy Brendie ... Sticks on!"

That IS the technical term, I'm told. Via Darp.

Primary Colonic Irrigation

Your friendly spirit-swilling maniac has bought the political book of the decade.
Yesterday it filled a whole shelf at Dymocks. By lunch today they'd run out. The same was true at other shops but I found a big stash in Myer.

I chatted with the lovely old lady in Myer. About time someone spoke some truth she said, at least he's got the guts to say it like it is she said. I'm not sure I responded- it's sad he's had to resort to so much pure venom, clearly the material surrounding certain people has to be discounted somewhat.

His attack on Gough is so sad. The great man mentored him all the way, and Gough's call- that Latham, having left the leadership due to ill health, should also leave his important seat- was bang on target and honest. Clearly Latham felt the same way, it's what he went on to do. Any other call would have been nepotism.

But I'm not happy for the big questions about the faceless knife-wielding fuckwits to just dissolve under a sea of counterspin. After a day of annoying people with trackbacks and recalcitrant comments yesterday, I started to find there are others who feel like me: left wing, labor people, who don't like the damage, yet are unsurprised that the worst aspects of Labor's culture have resulted in such an explosion.

The people at the heart of the worst aspects of this culture are unapologetic. They have not moved to change their ways one iota.

Reform is not about dumping unions, nor factions, nor labor insiders who in most cases are party faithful dedicated to working for the party and for social democratic politics in Australia.

It's about reigning in power, making those things work for the party, and for Australian politics.

UPDATE: Expect updates and reviews every couple of days until I've finished it, right here in the Armagnac Diaries...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Social justice isn't a Lemon

Much better news for lefties over the Tasman:
As political scientist Barry Gustafson wrote in the Sunday Star-Times, Clark emphasised tolerance and inclusiveness, the view that social cohesion required recognition of Maori rights and aspirations, and equality of opportunity for the economically deprived. "That was a much harder message to sell," Gustafson wrote. Clark took the high road. She avoided the temptation of trying to match Brash on populist policies such as his last-minute lolly of temporarily cutting the petrol levy by 5c a litre, which he had only weeks earlier rejected as economically irresponsible.
Congrats, comrade.

Give them drugs

In the early 20th century parents would give kids opium syrup to quieten them down. It's hard to see how 90% of so-called ADHD prescriptions are any less crude. Most of these kids need more stimulation than they get in their home and school environments. Good to see this charlatan practice increasingly questioned.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Psychotic spurts

Last night groomzilla manifested his ugly head and shoved it up into my skull, squashing my brain and giving me a headache that's still going.

With about 2 glasses worth of wine made up of 10 different varieties gurgling around my stomach (courtesy of a wine tasting course), I stood at the sink, the cat yowling for food, beloved already eating dinner and ignoring me, trying to organise myself and 5 things at once.

My focus skewed off like a superball thrown into a cupboard, bouncing from one task to another to another. I stuck a plastic container in the bin. It jumped back out again. I gave it a good hard shove. The bin snapped off its little hinge (its attached to a cupboard door) with a splintering crack and rolled on the floor.

I swore.

Beloved, who has impeccable timing, decided it was time to give me a good lecture.

I swore some more.

I fed the cat. Cat was grateful, purring loudly, and this helped me collect myself.
I'm feeling a bit of stress. It pulses constantly in my neck and above my eyebrows.

The new position is interesting, but hard work. I'm learning the delights of writing a 10 page paper on complex points of law and policy and receiving it back again, and again, and again, with red pen marks all over it. I particularly relish people who don't write any better than me imposing personal style to the point that they are crossing each other's corrections out. And their own previous corrections!

Our wedding, we've just discovered, will play out to the tune of incompetent, stupid, lazy, pathetic people working on a certain Melbourne train station that's running 6 months behind schedule. Specifically to the tune of those people using a jackhammer the size of a tractor that sounds like an anti-aircraft gun.

A sweet family friend who I used to babysit when I was a kid, who's now in her 20s, has discovered that years of operations she received in Darwin for her cleft palate and hearing problems have been badly botched. She may go deaf as a result.

And my registration on my old school's web portal has come through, opening up the possibility of contacting or being contacted by people from a school that occupied the darkest period of my life. One I've almost buried, and semi-deliberately cut myself off from, but not put behind me. I think it would be good to contact people I was friends with, find out what they've been doing, maybe even re-start a friendship or two, just so that entire episode has some positive consequences in my life.

I'm steeling myself. Thinking about those days makes me dark and stirs something angry in the pit of my stomach.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Armaniac has been slapping the credit card around and made some acquisitions:

Wedding suit- black, long cut, with a dash of matrix. No waistcoat. To be worn shirt open with loose cravat underneath. Armaniac is a big fan of cravats worn loose underneath. Raw silk cravats, rubbing against the neck- it's slightly arousing.

Wedding Band- to be made by hand, white gold, original design by moi, that's all I'm saying.

Runners- ASICS, unfunky looking, but best for bouncing up the hill and leaping over small aggressive dogs.

Trainers (runners for having coffee in)- All Stars. Grey with pin-stripes, so I don't look too much like I'm trying to be 18. Though I am. Funkier looking than they sound, I promise.

Work Shoes- Florsheims, black leather but comfy with bits of trainer (see above) incorporated into the design. Also good for having coffee in. Will be road-tested at Salsa class shortly.

Pooh Bah- Very Irresistible by Givenchy, tones of mocha and spices but freshened by a minty cusp.

Ear Balm (digital)- Albums by Bloc Party and Starsailor. Have not been able to remove Starsailor from the CD player in my head. Keep humming the depressing line
"don't you know you got your daddy's eyes, and daddy was an alcoholic"
to the point where I need a good G&T and an hour with Kylie's Greatest Hits.

Bring it on, I'm ready for Spring. Wherever you are.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Democrat Twitches

Stott Despoja is a wasted talent; good to see she's still finding and fighting good fights. On gene privacy. Here's where we're going:
Earlier this month a German governmental council recommended a new law to prevent employers discriminating against employees with unhealthy genes. The move came after a teacher was denied a permanent job because her father had Huntington's disease. She had to go through the courts to reverse the decision.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Disaster Relief Arrives

Deleted, on reflection.

Not that I don't enjoy bad-taste humour, and I think it has a place in trying to make sense of the absurdity of something like the New Orleans tragedy. But the pic I'd slapped up, with Michael* Hasselhoff in his Baywatch gear ready to dive in, also featured a couple of people being washed along who, when I gave it some thought, probably died a few moments after the pic was taken.

I'll find some more funnies soon.

UPDATE: Good offensive lefty joke here...

(*see comments)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tim Roth's killer cravats

I'm losing my meme virginity. Not being one of the important bloggers I've been left out of this meming thing until now, when the Lady of Spray sent one my way. For those who accidentally landed in blogland while searching for new furniture, memes are a sort of chain letter by blog post where you get asked to list your favourite..., answer question ..., or similar. For this one I'm
to pick the actor who'd play me in a movie.

UPDATE - TAGGING: Currency Lad, Mallrat, Trix and Ruth.

I'm several screwballs rolled into one, so the answer's plural.

Childhood me: no-one else could play childhood me. I had so much blond hair, and big blue saucer-like eyes, and smiled constantly. I jumped around, sang, acted the fool, and loved life. It would be a boring movie. You'd probably go in my head to all the adventures I played out there; as a spy, as a caveman, as someone who could travel time, exploring space. A lot changed between childhood and adolescence...

Adolescence: I'd want the unhappy loner to have his redemption in spectacular fashion. Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid is getting there, but something darker that doesn't aspire to jockhood would be better again. The anger was flaring by now, the realisation that everything is nothing, the existential questions and bleak answers.

Christian Slater in Heathers comes to mind. That was one of my all-time favourite depictions of fucked-up adolescence, and hell, he got the cool gothy chick as well.

Now? Bald, complex and with a dark side; there's my favourite attributes in a male lead. I think my own dark side is well pacified these days, but I think heroes and happy chappies are boring, so I'd want to be written into a political thriller or borderline psychotic episode. I've had the you-look-a-bit-like thing with Billy Zane, Billy Corgan and Hugo Weaving, and they're all edgy which is good, but if you shaved his skull I'd probably rope in Tim Roth because I think he's the dog's bollocks of male anti-leads.

Tim Roth as a postmodern self-employed hitman knocking off reality TV producers, while running a cravat shop on the side. THAT'S a movie!

'Scuse the self indulgence.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Is this dodgy?

Teltra's new boss is talking down its value, causing a share slump. He has performance bonuses linked to share price. They kick off next month. Smell any rats? The Oz is suspicious...

Marbles and Jazz

My birth mother is in Melbourne.

I'm in a very complex place when we meet. It's not bad, just strange. A room full of assorted lifetime bric-a-brac. Birthday photos that were never taken at birthday parties never held. Wardrobes and chests full of other lives that weren't. A sense that we are both still trying to find a sure footing, as if the floor is covered in marbles.

Down the far end of the room, it gets darker. There's an open door, beyond it's black. I don't know what's out there, whether it's bad, whether it even leads anywhere. Perhaps it's a black wall. Perhaps it's a vast unending purgatory full of screaming voices and unresolvable illogic that would throw my switch and leave me gibbering in a padded cell somewhere.

I'm not strong enough to peer through yet. Still balancing, arms out wide.

Tonight I'll take her to see jazz.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No good News Orleans

Tell me 10,000 dead is just one of those press overshots. It defies belief. Katrina's wrath is going to out-slaughter September 11.

And Guardian's Gary Younge reminds us that looters ain't looters: Iraqis who stole after the fall of Saddam were just swept up in the excitement of freedom, according to Rumsfeld.

Nic White's joined the Right to say we shouldn't be using this as an excuse to go after Bush before the waters clear. Maybe he's correct:
"These troops are battle-tested. They have M-16s and are locked and loaded," said the Democrat governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and I expect they will."
Le Blanco shoots le negres, that's something for the party of JFK to ponder.

Barista has collated a striking collection of photos from the disaster zone.

Hot bump 'n' grind on the sly

No, this isn't where I turn Nikki Gemmel. As of yesterday, beloved visits this site (and I'm still engaged, and still alive!). Just a hypothetical from a raging discussion held over a fine plate of Coopers-beer-battered Whiting and chips in a pub at the cusp of an Adelaide Hill.

"Which is the greater betrayal? "

A theory goes, and it is only a (biological determinist) theory...

Men, if they fool around, are driven to share their genes as widely as possible. In the tribal groups and pre-agrarian societies where these instincts were being honed there was no DNA testing or child support, so man's investment in the consequences of his actions was limited. Sex with a woman other than his partner had few risks. While he might choose the more attractive woman if facing a choice, he is not too discriminating. He can copulate with multiple women of varying degrees of attractiveness, and each act potentially furthers his genes. The instinctive residue of this is men today being, relative to women, indiscriminate and up for it.

Women, if they fool around, are driven to get the best genes possible. Until the incredibly liberating advent of the pill and control over their own bodies, a woman could get pregnant during any romp. Her fun could be heavy with long-term consequences. With no obstetricians birth itself is a mortal risk. So while women enjoy sex just as much, perhaps more, than men, they are highly discriminating. This carries into the present, where modern women who have no 'moral' problem with cutting loose and enjoying casual sex, and who are on the pill and have a bag full of condoms, still go about selecting partners in a much more cautious manner than males.

OK, it's generalisation, there are exceptions. And it's theory strongly opposed by the blank-slate school.

But a question flowing from this got a few of us arguing vehemently, and the split was precise along gender lines: if betrayed by your partner (obviously not good to begin with),
would it be worse that they did it with someone they don't find any more appealing than yourself, in a random act of opportunism, or if they did it with someone better looking or smarter or more successful than yourself because of the fact that the person is better looking or smarter or more successful than yourself?
Females felt that if you were betrayed because your partner couldn't resist a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be with a Johnny Depp, Gael Garcia or equivalent like Jolie or Longoria, that would be much easier to take than if it was with someone friendly you met in a bar one time. Men disagreed.

Thoughts? Experiences to share?