Sunday, December 31, 2006

And Saddam was hanged by the neck

When they found him in the bolt-hole they should have put a bullet in his head and buried him in the desert. There would be no pretense of lawful conduct, there would be a plea of extraordinary circumstances in a time of war. Be done with it, move on.

Instead they handed him to a poorly trained court. They allowed his lawyers to be assassinated one after the other. They charged him with international crimes while dangling a breach of international law over his head (and around his neck).

The self-styled hero of the Arabs was able to style himself a martyr, slain by the new administration that itself indulges in torture and extra-judicial killing. Thousands of idiot would-be terrorists, young, angry, open to suggestion, are given additional inspiration.

We kill him, Israel builds a new settlement. There is no progress towards peace.

Our inconsistency and hypocrisy are so brazen, so flagrant, that any hope those young angry men might consider peaceful campaigns based on human rights and the rule of international law is jettisoned.

Because we're going to get loud and righteous when those brats who tried to smuggle heroin are lined up for the same penalty. Death penalty is wrong, we'll say, belatedly adding "for this crime, which we don't think is so serious". Not for crimes where we endorse it.

Do as we say, not as we do.

UPDATE: His hangmen, Shiites, got to taunt him as they killed him. Just like Abu Ghraib but with gallows.

More than anything it brings to mind the scenes of Somalis dragging the bodies of Rangers through the streets of Mogadishu. There isn't a sniff of law or justice about it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Missmuss Creme

It's been a while. Merry Christmas and a world-changing and left-leaning New Year to you all.

I got mentioned in a meme. Cristy, Paul, 3rd Pea; greetings to your wee family from sunny Melbourne. I was going to do the meme here as a way of stimulating the writing juices, but as it's all about Christmas, an overrated event that's well and truly passed, I think I'll just clump some thoughts together from the past few weeks...

It's nice to be wanted. I got a third job offer out of the process that largely took place several months ago. A brilliant job, one I never even thought I'd get an interview for, but one which involves moving to another city and taking a big pay cut, so I don't even have the luxury of weighing it up against my current role.

Work is fine. I'm getting over the manifest disappointment of finding out, contrary to at least some of my expectations, that there's almost as much oversight and duplication in the new role as in the previous one. While most people don't talk to each other at all, there are a couple prepared to say "good morning" and go for lunch once in a while. The actual law is interesting, the files challenging, so I'm not hating it yet despite some notable disappointments. Previous paragraph and all.

Enough. You'd rather hear about my little bear, I'm sure.

She kicks. She bum-butts. I sing to her and play with her tootsies. Her mum just laughs- Mrs Armagnac is holding up like a champion, having finished work and adopted a managing position on the big couch. My old bandmate is due around now, and in four or five weeks, just after us, other good friends will be joining the baby bonus club.

I want my little bear here now, I want to play.

I got an I-POD nano for Chrissie. I got beloved a leather bound journal to write about bear and a subscription to Who Weekly so she has a trashy distraction in the current months. The cats got lots of things that make noise to push all around the floor. Which they push all around the floor. Between lap-hopping and snarling at the black-and-white cat that comes up to the front window each evening.

Are you still out there, fellow blogaholics? What pressies did you give and receive?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

AIDS versus...


Circumcision can halve the risk of a man picking up the HIV infection which leads to Aids, scientists in the United States said last night. interim review of the data showed a halving of the risk of infection
among those circumcised.


The development of vaccines against the three most lethalinfectious conditions - HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, which together kill seven million people each year - will rely on work involving non-human primates for the foreseeable future...

Vaccine development is particularly reliant on monkey studies, to assess candidates before they proceed to expensive human trials. Neuroscience requires primates because they are the only animals with brain circuitry remotely similar to that of humans. There is also a case for allowing primate research for investigating reproductive medicine.

Sometimes there may be a reason we started doing things.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

3 days too long

Out of town with work, being inducted (induced...?), away from beloved, away from nightly sessions singing to my unborn poppette with my hand on beloved's belly, away from my cats...

Dadst, howsit you can leaves us??
I don't like being away. I'm an old sook. It's good to be back.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Home sweet truckload of moolah

It was hot. We stood a few metres from the auctioneer. I launched bidding early, held my nerve until our limit. It kept going, 30 thousand more and it eventually sold.

I'm glad in some respects it went for that much; for a few moments there it looked like the bid after my last, a mere 5 grand higher, would be the winner, which for whatever irrational reason would be hard to swallow.

But given that the place was not outstanding to begin with, the market might be sending us a message.

Preston and Coburg suddenly look attractive.

Damn it was hot, still is. A day to blast any last drops of optimism out of our withered husks and force us to pick up our tents and head north, towards the distant pools of mud, hoping they don't turn out to be a mirage.

Sorry bub, daddy didn't get you somewhere to live today, I'll keep trying.

Friday, December 08, 2006

'Greg Sheridan: Lacking any clue'

Finally, the Australian figures it out. Truth in subediting.

Sherro kicks off:

The situation is so bad in Iraq that any new ideas from anywhere are welcome.

Here's an idea- you were wrong, we were right, resign and start writing about the scallop industry or trends in trouser pleating.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hairing, Staring and Cloning

Not a great start, some senseless God Bothering:

The victory followed a visibly pensive Mr Howard and an emotional Mr Rudd telling Parliament they could not support laws allowing embryos to be created and then destroyed for research purposes.

Better, better:

Mr Rudd's cut-through leadership style has already antagonised a number of influential union bosses. Last night, the head of the Australian Workers Union, Bill Ludwig, lashed out at the re-election of Dr Emerson.

The faceless man who previously had Dr Emerson demoted loses non-existent face.

It is understood the head of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, Joe de Bruyn, is also upset at the demotion of Senator Hurley, who is aligned with the SDA in South Australia.

Most right wing member of Labor party contemplates joining the DLP. We'd be teary eyed.

Don't know Chris Bowen but the other members of the "must have four" are worthy- good to see hardworking Bob McMullan back. And it should be noted that factional co-operation allowed Rudd to have his way, recalcitrant union leaders notwithstanding.

On women and double standards, Matt Price has a bit of fun (though I must admit the hair really was extraordinary; the media might even have picked on a man for that sudden seismic shift!) running with the all hair approach to critiques of Julia's entrence into shadow vicehood:

Kevin Andrews rose to hammer Rudd on his slavishness to trade unions, but the unshiftability of his cut, matched with its downright preposterous blackness - more sable than raven - prompted widespread suspicions of a rug.

Marketed, curiously, as a "fresh" addition to Rudd's still evolving frontbench line-up, Bob McMullan raised a point of order. The best indication of McMullan's freshness is his distinctive comb-over, which officially went out of fashion in 1951.


And lastly, for both Kev and Jools, a gift in their first week with the news of the full sale of Medibank Private. Well, Alan Jones went off about it on Sunrise this morning, but as there's nothing on any of the major media sites yet I'll wait to see the details. But it sounded promising.

Punching along with lots of energy and some talent on the frontbench. 3 out of 5, would have been 4 but 1 off for the early God Bothering.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What's wrong with doctor's wives?

In amongst the staw men and personal attacks the following comment, made in defence of a certain type of Green voter, cut right to the chase for me (with respect to the author, who was not at the ruder end of the thread):

"...sometimes people vote Green to make a point, thinking privately that they will never get into power anyway. In their heads, a vote for the Greens is a vote for caring for the environment. So by this logic, in voting Green, they are doing a "good thing" for society. "

Precisely. Follow the logic as these educated, well-off, well-read individuals (men and women, it can't be hard reading my last post to see I'm referring to both genders in the way chardonnay left refers to non-chardonnay drinkers) then cast their vote for:

Black bashing
Tampa and long term stays in detention centres
Anti-Muslim bigotry
Inciting racial violence
Guantanamo Bay and the Neocon war on everything
Anti-worker IR laws
Bans on gay marriage (gee, in all the Labor bashing on that topic how many people forgot whose laws and wedge attempt drove the damn issue)
Constant needling away at women's right to choose
Money flowing from the poorest schools to the richest
Your ABC becoming their ABC
Anti-diversity media laws
'Climate change, what climate change?'


...So, they are NOT doing a good thing for society, not where you equate good thing with left thing.

No ifs. No buts.

I'm not gonna get any nastier than that, I have a couple of friends who fit this category. Generally, nice people. Politically, a waste of space.

In case it wasn't obvious I was not in the previous post or this one ridiculing people who vote Green who also know which side, broadly speaking, their bread is buttered on.

If you aren't defending the people I've described above, save me the breathless moral indignation.

** Initial snappiness edited back for irrelevancy. It'd be nice to debate the issue at hand, a little at least. **

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A walk in the light Greens?

Now I'm more a Labor man myself, taken to an extreme this evening when I rocked up to Ashtanga Yoga in Fitzroy with my Eureka bluey on, but, despite the phenomenal vitriol that's been flying from Green supporters since their so-so effort in Victoria, I see the value in taking a peek at their future options.

Dark or light? That's a relevant question when you polled strongly in blue-blooded Liberal seats where money talks and tradies through the rear entrance. The Doctors' Wives club take a keen interest in the Greens that doesn't extend to Labor, mostly due to a strong aversion to unions.

Problem is, the Doctors' Wives haven't raised their Gucci monacles and examined the Greens' own IR policy in much detail, and when they do they may sniffle back to Petrou. But then again they may not, and the Greens' high primary votes in the inner city may keep climbing. What might they do to achieve this?

Get over hating Labor, and have a thicker skin: if you want to dish it out, and make the wheeling and dealing that goes on at every election into a front and centre issue, then expect Labor to play hardball.

Any dickhead knows that when they're putting ideology first Labor will preference Greens before any conservatives and Greens will do likewise for Labor. Unless you make it your policy across the board to 'let the people decide their own preferences', random aberrations that have the potential to empower the Liberals (lest it be forgotten the sworn enemies of all remotely left wing people in this country) are nakedly transparent for what they are.

The Greens rightly caned Labor over its Fundy First deal last time around, we copped it and changed approach, so you cop it too and don't sleep with the dogs then try to crawl out of it with weasel words about letting people decide. You were covered in fleas.

OK, OK, I accept we will have a difference of opinion over this, and I also concede Labor played close to the wind. Move on; at least we haven't yet sent a foreign policy wonk over to sleep with your leader and convert him. And I reckon he'd find Ruddy rather cute, in a Harry Potter ofTweed Heads sort of way.

The big one is to aim high and develop and cost your policies as if you might actually win power. In this regard you would be distinguished from the Democrats, whose ambition never moved far beyond removing middle class expenses from the GST over a few glasses of Sherry. I believe most Greens actually do hold bigger picture ambitions, or at the least aim to form a coalition with Labor then pull policy in their direction.

However I do not see how the policies add up, fiscally. A big-spending honeymoon followed by years of darkness is not really the revolution progressive politics needs. Every major policy area is full of promises involving the spending of public money, but these are not subject to the same budget scrutiny that's applied to Labor and Liberals. Rein it back a little, differentiate yourselves from the Socialists. A bankrupt nation isn't going to be a green nation in the long run.

In other words, have you ditched the 'it's ok we'll just raise corporate taxes 30%' approach that so often underpins the striving of the far left?

And where, exactly, do you stand on the PETA wing of the animal rights movement? Are you more conservation and wilderness focused or do you share a pot with the people who stick fishing hooks into sandwiches? I think it's the former, but it's this sort of detail that will bring your policies in to the light green.

Or relegate them forever.

Speaking of conservation and furry animals (they're nearly always furry in PETA ads), one problem for the Greens is nomenclature and the perception that you are a one issue party. I noticed this on the hustings, I also noticed it in discussions with old school Labor types trying to understand their fellow lefty opponents- many people assume for example that where Green votes are highest this is because of conservation issues. As opposed to gay rights, probably the biggest winner in the lower parts of Northcote where the Greens polled well.

The Greens have to work extra hard to get over this, much the way Labor has to work that bit harder to convince people with no connection to unions that it will serve their economic interests as well.

All can be tackled, with will and the right people. And a bit of honest self-analysis.

It's not being talked about like the big upheavals in Labor or the Liberal-National tussles, but philosophically the Greens have some big decisions to make if they are to grow in influence and become an influential player in Australian politics.

Taking some responsibility for their lack of numbers and looking hard at policy would be a good starting point. In my humble submission. With peace, comrades.

Go Balls Out Kevin

As we'd say in Darwin. It is worth fighting until there's blood on the carpet over this issue:

"I intend to get new talent onto the frontbench of the Labor Party and I've already indicated that Peter Garrett will be part of that new, talented line-up," he said."There'll be others as well, I'm confident of that. "I'll be leading this show and when it comes to the outcomes I want I intend to get them."I don't particularly care if others have opposing views - that's what's going to happen."

Emmerson, Tanner, Garrett, fingers crossed for some promotion of talent for once.

Speaking of which, Laurie Ferguson again proves to be the sharpest tool in the box when he calls for Gillard to take Treasury.

Gillard should not take treasury. McMullen, Tanner or even Emmerson for that one. I agree with the talking head on telly this morning and would give Gillard IR, myself.

C'mon kids, get it right...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Gillard Conspiracy Theory

As predicted here, the Rove gaff was a bigger mistake than first perceived and has proven the catalyst for the end of Beazley. If Labor keeps the Bomber he is almost certainly doomed, because the narrow win will nonetheless act as a vote of no confidence.

Rudd is likely, though far from certain, to win this stoush (TM Liam 2005). But strategically why would he have wanted it? Hanging on until the next election was a win-win option for Ruddy. If Beazley won he would be foreign minister rather than a bleating opposition hack, and could set his sight on a 3 to 6 year timetable for the top job anyway.

But if Beazley lost, and it remains odds-on that Labor will lose regardless of who heads it, he, Rudd, would smoothly walk into the leadership and take with him some reformist clout and a mandate to run on some issue other than the twin IRs: relations and rates.

Now, if Rudd wins the challenge, it will be Julia Gillard who steps into the reserve spot, quietly fingering her partly-drawn dagger as she waits and watches his performance.

Is this her plan? Is it the plan of many of the unlikelies, such as Simon Crean, who are supporting the Rudd insurrection?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thank you Pampar

For your granddaughter, the love of my life.

For your grit and determination, crucial in your escape from the jungle following your plane crash in WWII.

For being a good husband to Mammar, so that you could have a huge family together.

For your stellar career as the brains and technical skill behind a decade of Australian legislation introduced by both political parties- yes, your work on the Trade Practices Act and Family Law Act has, with a few bumps, held up and changed our society in myriad ways.

For being a warm and welcoming grandfather to me in the short space of time I knew you.

Your line continues, your great-granddaughter is nigh.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Work Warbles and Pussy Action

I work. I eat, I sleep and I work again.

Adapting is hardest for the cats, because while I may be phenomenally lazy when it comes to matters of domestic duty I have infinite patience for watching the cats play outside, scratching the sweet spot just behind or in front of their ears, throwing balls of paper or swinging Mr Bear (bear on a string, 'nuff said!).

Here's why:

"Luk Mao, itf a biwd I can eatst!"

I know, they aren't the cutest cats ever in the whole world, I just happen to be biased.

I am busy, I neglect my blog, cats, guitar, wife, other important matters. Not in any order of importance, I hasten to add. I'm not having a Leunig moment.

My cases are interesting. But I've gone in at a decent level so the expectation's on to get up to speed. The law in this field is vast and dense; I'm enjoying the intellectual challenge but it's intimidating. I read the work of others and I find errors of law. I set higher and higher bars for myself and find there isn't enough time in the day.

There is never, ever enough time in the day.

Beazley is getting off lightly

This may be the end of his career, and that would be a damn fine lesson in polical cynicism. He's getting off lightly because people are not really shining a light on what it says about the man who wants to lead the nation.

It says he really didn't know anything about the people involved. It says he doesn't watch or know anything about Rove, or Belinda, and is generally out of touch. Not a mortal sin in itself. It also says he's had no interest at all in the tragedy of Rove and Belinda, and her battle over many years with breast cancer. That he skimmed those bits to get to the serious news, considered the story too plebian.

Celebrity culture may be pretty vaccuous, but their struggle is a genuine tragedy and one that's moved most of the country. You don't have to like Rove's show much to know he's gone through hell, to have followed the story of that hell in at least some basic detail, to have put yourself in his shoes, thought 'what if I lost the anchor of my world, the keeper of my heart?'

His eyes, in the funeral photos, are the embodiment of hell on earth. They are filled with the anger we'd all feel with someone close torn away by something so random and unjust.

Beazley clearly wasn't all that moved, preferring to move on to read about his mate Murdoch's latest acquisitions in the business pages or what brilliant things his favourite nation the US of A was doing in a given week.

But, when she died, he still wanted to make a bit of hay. Well, the hay's on fire, Rudd's circling at last, and frankly that was just one misjudgement too many. Not the name error, but what it, in this context, tells the electorate about him.

Most of the media attention just seems to have focused on this as 'another Bomber gaffe'. But it was not just a gaffe, and it's so much more this time. And the public, who care a great deal about the Belinda and Rove tragedy, will see it for what it is.

Rudd, Gillard, your moment may arrive 12 months earlier than you expected...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One solitary judicial conservative

This is one of the most important cases with respect to the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States to come before the Court in all of the years of its existence. If the legislation is to be upheld the consequences for the future integrity of the federation as a federation, and the existence and powers of the States will be far-reaching. The Act in its present form is well beyond, and in contradiction of what was intended and expressed in the Constitution by the founders.

Kirby in full flight? No, these are some of the opening words in the judgement of Callinan J, political and jurisprudential conservative, and on first blush the only Justice of the High Court capable of sticking strongly to his judicial approach when it contravenes his (alleged) political leanings.

The conservatives' Mabo has been handed down.

Kirby is the only jurisprudential radical on the bench. It is his judgement, and his alone, that should have drawn the long bow from the short clear expression of power,

The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to...

(xx) foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth;

so that it confers the ability to regulate industrial and employment law at all levels, despite the fact that the founding hobnobs chose to make only the following clear reference to industrial law,

(xxxv) conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State;

within that fine piece of British legislation.

Instead, and once again I stress that this is at first blush (I have all 200-odd pages in front of me but will not have read it until at least midnight!), Kirby supported the black letter conservative position (judicially speaking) that matched his more radical politics.

And the much-lauded judicial conservatives, with the exception of Callinan J (only HE gets the 'J' today), brought down a decision that is radical in its reasoning, centralising power, supporting the grasping expansion of the Commonwealth over the States, neutering the Federation and performing astonishing acts of hermeneutics on a group of words that clearly contain, by intention, no reference whatsoever to industrial or employment law.

It's early days. I'll read the decision. I'll wait with bated breath for Janet Albrechtson to scribble furiously about the decline of the judiciary and the need for a return to genuine judicial conservatism.

Only one judge has the right to adopt that mantle now.

(More analysis to follow on this topic in coming days...)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

To fight another day

Pampar has, against the expectations of all in hospital and most who know him, beaten both death and the suffocating pools of water death placed in his lungs.

Mammar thought she lost him when his plane went down in the war. He pulled through then, he's pulled through again now. I thought he might, he's had his mettle tested many times and isn't likely to go easily.

I wonder if he's hanging out to meet his first great grandchild. It's a long time when you're blind and your organs are trying to pack up and retire on you, but I have my fingers crossed that he'll make the next couple of months and at least hear the news that he's paved the way for 3 subsequent generations. Better yet, we'll fly up there as soon as beloved is able and he can hold her in person.

Two ends of a lifeline arcing towards each other. Separated by the vicissitudes of birth and death.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

They hold hands until death passes

Beloved's dear Pampar lies in hospital. His prognosis is not good, though we are talking about a man who was missing presumed dead in the war, who went on to advise Federal Attorneys-General and help shape the laws of this nation. So I'd say he's got a fair reservoir of fight.

But still, it isn't good.

His marriage saw out the majority of last century as well as all of this one. Mammar sits next to him now, in hospital, holding his hand. They still do that, holding hands- beloved and I took a sneak photo of them walking along the footpath in Civic, Canberra, like a pair of teenagers in crush.

Not all beautiful things fade with time.

His first great grandchild is only a couple of months from bringing new life into the world. He may never see her. I hope he knows that she will know all about him.

Mammar is still holding his hand, I wish I could give her a huge hug now and hold on until it all passes, until death moves on, with or without the man she's loved for so many decades.

We're all proud of Pampar, I hope he knows that. I'm proud to have known him as a belated grandson.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hope hangs on double twist of death

Fearless leader:

Saddam Hussein's death penalty is a sign of democratic hope for Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard says.

Fearless leader:

Prime Minister John Howard has urged Indonesia not to execute Australians...

Some slime. No connection, just exasperation...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Brazil and I

Hundreds of procedures, institutional foibles and idiosynchratic quirks are wizzing around my tiny brain following my launch into the new job. I cannot, of course, discuss detail as always, but I'll say enough that it's pretty interesting so far. I apologise for scant blogging, including visiting others (bloglines has sat dormant for a couple of weeks!). A thought of the day on each of my favourite topics...

Cancellation of The Glass House ranks alongside pulling the Jones book and the Safran episode on tar-coif as low water marks in the ilLiberal era of right wing political correctness and censorship. There is so little to compare to The Glass House that the argument it's being pulled to make way for fresh creativity is transparent bunkum. Labor should indicate an intention to go after individuals who abuse their power so blatantly and hold them accountable- retrospective legislation and a royal commission should do the trick.

Missed the Fisherman, the doco that inspired a defo case I've discussed recently, but it's covered by the Legal Soapboxer.

My daughter is coming along nicely, gave a few kicks as I hummed to her tonight, which I believe was her trying to burrow her way to silence through the back of beloved's womb.

We look at houses. We look at more houses. We look at Preston. Slowly it starts looking prettier- the eye of the beholder is wearied and myopic.

And I jammed with the boys for the first time in months and months. With 2 of the 3 of us close to fatherhood, we may end up becoming the alternative version of the Wiggles so we can justify practicing, but any chance to belt something out would be a welcome diversion from the statute books.

Regards from new starter stasis...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't cut and run on the Kurds

Iraq may splinter after all. Something I and others mooted at the time of invasion.

Despite the general anarchy and civil war there, one significant group have been grateful for the fact that Saddam was removed. No significant paramilitary groups have sprung out of them to mount homicidal attacks on passing US soldiers. They are a long suffering people; the Kurds.

If Iraq looks seriously like splintering or regressing into oppression, we may not be able to prevent it. But we could seal off and protect an autonomous Kurdish homeland. We could try and do a deal on behalf of the smaller minorities (if there are any Christians or Jews left) where they can seek refuge in Kurdistan in exchange for our protection and recognition of that nascent state.

We owe it to the Kurds, we should not feed them to the wolves. Message to Turkey- cope.

Don't arrest them

Just hand them over to her father, together with a crown-sealed immunity from the A-G. What would be suitable punishment for this? Death? Crippling with an iron bar?

Why do these animals disgrace us by sharing our DNA?

UPDATE: It's now a rape investigation. Good. Go to hell in a handbasket, you little vomitbags.

UPDATE II- Thoughts on YouTube:

The video in question is allegedly footage of an underage rape. People say companies like YouTube cannot be restrained, they are too big, it is impossible for them to police everything put onto their site. But they are lying.

It is impossible for them to police everything if they refuse to spend money employing people to police it.

There is also the question of whether we need the technology at all. Oh it's fun, hip, insane, get-out-of-the-way progress. Progress that includes film after film taken without the consent of the leading characters. Films at the vanguard of free speech, pushing the boundaries. Y'know, films of schoolgirls punching each other in the face, or of thugs urinating on and sexually assaulting a young girl.

We can block paedophilia can't we? Why not this trash? Leering footage of sexual assaults on underage girls qualifies for censorship in my humble opinion...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Crikey Piers, Revenge is Sweet!

Rub the salt in. Piers Akerman on Crikey:

...almost anyone can call themselves a journalist these days, as evidenced by the nonsense published by people claiming to be journalists on websites such as ... Stephen Mayne's Crikey.

Crikey on Piers Akerman:

...a NSW judge had this to say about Piers Akerman, in the course of awarding a $200,000 defamation payout .... "The inaccuracies of fact by the defendant... are gross... so extreme a misstatement of fact as to vitiate any defence of comment for any imputation based on it."

Yep, anyone can call themselves a journalist these days. Even Piers Akerman.

We on the left are well aware that the likes of Piers rely on bile as a substitute for competence.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Picture of my cats Mao and Minh

Mao is a 2 year old cream burmese, Minh-Minh is his half sister, half persian with the seal points.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What price the Mildura Massacre?

6 dead because, allegedly, he was drunk, speeding and had his 4 year old son on his lap holding the steering wheel.

I'm prepared to hold back on the stream of hateful vitriol that's bubbling away inside me. I am thus because I doubt he will see the mercy of the law. Its quality is likely to be finely strained indeed.

A couple of weeks back, seeking inspiration as I waited on my job offers, I walked into a random hearing in the Victorian Court of Appeal. The case I heard argued before the 3 judges involved an appeal by the prosecutors against a sentence for culpable driving that they said was manifestly inadequate.

That offender was just 18 at the time, with one driving prior. The victims in that case had both voluntarily got into the car with the intoxicated driver, and the girl who died most likely didn't have a seatbelt on. That offender suffered significant injuries himself in the accident.

The alleged offender in Mildura is 35 and the 6 victims in no way chose to share risk with him. He also put his own kids, especially his son, at risk.

Here's what the judges said in the Court of Appeal:

Whereas sentences of less than five years for culpable driving were once not uncommon, today such a sentence is a relative rarity, except perhaps where one is concerned with a first-time offender and the death of the victim has been more the consequence of bad luck than out and out stupidity.

That offender had his sentence increased from 3 years to 6, with a non parole of 3.5.

The Mildura accused may get some relief because he has kids to look after, and if he has no priors that could help as well. But 'out and out stupidity' sounds like a very good description of what we've heard so far, and I'd personally be banking on 7 or 8 years, with at least 4 behind bars, for this sad fool who's ruined so many lives.

Pointless provocation

We've known North Korea had prototype nukes lying around for several years. We, meaning the US in particular, chose to focus elsewhere.

Now we, meaning Australia as well for some utterly inexplicable reason, choose to prod and poke this insane little nation with condemnation and sanctions.

Why is this pointless? Because...

We are just bluffing and they know it;

They could care less about economic sanctions- this is an old style dictatorship happy to starve its citizenry in the process of preserving power;

We would not and pretty much could not mount a conventional war on North Korea, they have one of the most powerful militaries in the world and are incredibly close to South Korea, and not that far away from Japan;

Our only military option would be to strike North Korea right now with several nuclear devices, which won't happen; and

They may be lunatics but, unprovoked, there is no evidence that they would seriously consider rekindling the war with South Korea or attacking anyone else.

The US is calling a non-existant bluff. North Korea hasn't actually demanded much, they want the US to meet with them directly, primarily because it feeds the ego of their delusional leader. So what? If this all ends in tears, and hundreds of thousands of dead people, do the people who fucked up Iraq really think historians will look back and say 'they were right to refuse to meet and talk'?

Argue all you want. I'm right. This is a fast track to nothing gained and everything, EVERYTHING to lose....

What do KFC, Subway, Bendigo Bank, Vines Lawyers have in common?

Sponsorship of the Ocean Grove Football Club, according to the club website. Here, according to The Age, are their brand endorsed dinki di footy players being larrakins:

The men yelled "F... off Jews" and "Go the Nazis," Mr Vorchheimer told a News Limited newspaper. He alleged they then motioned to him and his children as if they were shooting a gun.

In front of his kids.

"I was pulled toward the open window and then punched by a right hand into my left eye by a passenger in the bus," he said. "Meanwhile my kids are on the sidewalk crying and screaming."

Mr Vorchheimer said he had suffered headaches and nausea since the attack, while his children had received counselling.

Real anti-semitism. How many right wing commentators, in particular those who scream 'anti-semitism' at anyone who doesn't support exterminating the Palestinians, will be baying for blood over this one?

Ocean Grove Football Club president Michael Vines confirmed players from his club were at the Caulfield Guineas that day and police were investigating the incident.

"Like any sporting club at our level, we expect our players to behave
responsibly," Mr Vines said.

'Responsibly'? So shouting neo nazi hatred at and punching a man out walking with his kids is 'irresponsible'? Is that much more than praising with faint damning?

Any politician serious about attacking race hatred and anti semitism would demand the club expel every player or member involved in this incident or else be shut down. Ditto for the Geelong Football League. And KFC Ocean Grove, Ocean Grove Cellars, Subway Ocean Grove, Bendigo Bank, B.M. Legal, and Vines Lawyers might want to revisit their sponsorship agreements.

I note Vines do criminal law and personal injury, which the Ocean Grove Football Club could find useful in the coming months.

'Go the Nazis', they shouted. In front of his kids.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not another Rum Jungle?

NT politics are a funny beast. Given the tiny population and the kind of money you can dig out of the ground up there, the fact that a Labor Chief Minister endorses a mine is no guarantee that the best possible science is being applied in a precautionary manner:

We have rigorously followed due process to ensure that economic gains are coupled with environmental integrity and community benefit.

Which means what, exactly?

Weasel words, when you try to reconcile the literal meaning of environmental integrity with the fact that, to Mr Lefty's ranting chagrin a few days back, they literally intend to dig a very, very large ditch and divert the McArthur river.

'The environmental damage will be outweighed by the economic gains' would be a more honest way of expressing the same proposition.

Time will tell whether she's right or whether this becomes another Rum Jungle. There's a major calamity they haven't included in Bishop's draft Australian History textbook, I'll bet.

How DO you damage the reputation of a child killer?

Defo here, defo there.

Someone living a Floating Life in Surrey Hills asks:

Would my habit of from time to time referring to the Prime Minister as “The Great Grey Garden Gnome of Kirribilli House” be defamatory, or would I escape because a reasonable person would not thereby think any less of the Prime Minister than they did before?

Daniel celebrates an $11.3 US million defo win in the US, hoping it will lead to a clean up of the those inhabitants of the blogosphere

...who are so lacking in integrity, creativeness, and ideas for posts that they use their blogs quite often to attack and ridicule other blog publishers with whom they may disagree or who may do things differently to them...

On the last thread Legal Eagle asks if I've read ABC v O'Neill. In that case a convicted child killer is suing the ABC over a doco called The Fisherman. He got an injunction- a holding order preventing broadcast of the doco until the case gets to trial- but last month the High Court scrapped it, talking about free speech as they did so.

Back in law school they told us many of the best improvements to the common law came about when a little old lady or similar, heart-tugging party, came before the courts. Perhaps a convicted child killer who's trying to sue for defo comes into the same category?

The Chief Justice and the newest member of the High Court said (of the lower courts):

They failed to take proper account of the significance of the value of free speech in considering the question of prior restraint of publication,

...good, free speech gets an affirming guernsey...

and they failed to take proper account of the possibility that, if publication occurred and was found to involve actionable defamation, only nominal damages might be awarded.

In other words, how do you damage the reputation of a convicted child killer?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Law Lords diss defo with public interest defence

UK Libel Laws, the basis for and close cousin of Australia's defamation regime, have made a quantum shift towards freedom of speech following a significant House of Lords decision:

..journalists will be free to publish material if they act responsibly and in the public interest and they will not be at risk of libel damages even if relevant allegations later prove to be untrue.

That's probably an over-optimistic journalist's take on what I'm sure is a finely-parsed ratio with a few devils in its complex detail. Nonetheless it's a huge change. Unlike Australia, whose High Court has given us a cautious right of political communication, I'm not aware of any previous moves by the UK's highest court to wind back their notorious libel laws in this manner.

The key test was whether a media organisation or newspaper acted fairly and responsibly in gathering and publishing the information, the judges said.

If the reporter and editor did so, and the information was of public importance, then the fact that it contained relevant but defamatory allegations against prominent people would not permit them to recover libel damages.

Assuming the Times have summarised it correctly, there are 3 elements to this defence, and all of them must be satisfied:

1) Acted Fairly;

2) Acted Responsibly; and

3) The issue is of 'Public Importance.'

I'm not that au fait on the intricacies of defo, feel free to correct me, but my reading is that in one fell swoop the UK has come from behind to firmly overtake Australia in the free communication stakes.

Our limited ability to 'discuss' political affairs, law since the mid 1990s, has not prevented a queue of politicians supplementing their super at the expense of the media, including small, dissident media like Crikey. And the new uniform laws aren't expected to radically extend this:

To some extent, the new defences of qualified privilege and honest opinion protect newspapers against claims from public figures; nonetheless, public figures will continue to take offence and threaten action, and this undeniably must have some chilling impact on papers, especially the smaller regional ones which cannot so easily afford to defend, let alone lose, a libel suit.

A side comment by the Law Lords may also flag consequences for other contentious areas like professional negligence:

The ruling also said that judges, with "leisure and hindsight" should not second-guess editorial decisions made in busy newsrooms.

Will that also start to apply to Obstetricians, Paramedics, even Lawyers who frequently find their split-second high-pressure decisions being forensically deconstructed for weeks on end in courtrooms?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Beta not have lost my feeds

Converted to Beta, largely because I figure pretty soon Blogger will start pushing and stop bothering with the old model. Also category lables could be vaguely useful.

Can anyone confirm that the old feed still works, or have I lost subscribers with this move? Also, is Beta giving people the shits for any other reasons?

The Fear

Learned some new yoof lingo from my cousin on the weekend. The Fear is what you wake up with if you've had a blinder and don't know what you said or did or to whom you said or did it. They ring each other up and say 'I've got The Fear' and there is instant understanding and empathy.

I like it. Why understate something with such grave, life-altering potential?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Backward nation identified

The Australian's Editorial:

...Kim Jong-il has turned its back on every norm of international and moral behaviour.

Note change of editorial policy, The Oz now supports normative principles of international behaviour. Bring on another Lebanon.

And with its announcement on Tuesday night that it feels compelled to go through with a nuclear weapons test, the Pyongyang regime has confirmed the backward nature of its regime once and for all.

Nuclear test= backward? Well I'm glad they won't be feeling too lonely in their regression: of January 2005 there are approximately 5,300 operational nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, including 4,530 strategic warheads and 780 non-strategic warheads. Almost 5,000 additional warheads have been retained in the "responsive reserve force" or are in an inactive status with their tritium removed.

So far backwards they're forwards again. Anyway, it won't stop us digging the key ingredient out of the ground.

Off to the mines, boy

The future looks bright:

...figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the skills shortage is having a profound effect on the choices of 15- to 19-year-olds in Western Australia, where the school participation rate has fallen from 75.5 per cent in 2000 to 69.7 per cent last year.

Craig Emerson says it's a worry, and that all kids should finish year 12. I agree.

Howard doesn't, but that has nothing to do with lowest common denominator politics and the triumph of anti-intellectualism. It's just that:

Not everybody is suitable for a university education.

Ah. School has no other value, and what's more you can leave school in year 10 and easily make your mind up later as to whether you feel you are suited to a university education.

Or you can die in a mine somewhere, if that's what you were born and bred for.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No beer for a week

I'm on antibiotics. Arm has just come out of sling. Can barely use left hand at all due to the precise location of a deep tooth-shaped wound between the tendons of my wrist. Every time I feel like a beer, which for obvious reasons is frequently, I have an almost overwhelming urge to kick the cat from one end of the house to the other.

But I don't. Though I'm more wary of him, his trust in me, despite the fact that he copped it immediately after he savaged me, is as strong as ever. He sniffs around the wound then rests against my arm, purring, as if to say forget whoever did that to you dad, I'll make you better.

Cats have neither a memory for finer nuance nor a sense of irony.

The altercation's had a bigger impact on Minh-Minh, who has been a bit out of sorts and melancholy ever since. I'm attempting to fix this with prolonged shoulder rides (she's a shoulder riding kitty) and lots of reassurance.

We need a new house. Everyone with a 3 bedroom Calibung in the area between Westgarth and Bell Street please step forward.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Psychotic Cat close to exile

Chairman Mao has had his 3rd serious psychotic episode. I'm not referring to a hiss, a firm bite to indicate annoyance or any of the like. I mean a 100% flip so that when you look into his eyes you see a blank sea of inexplicable fear and hatred. Until he flips back. It's like a switch.

It's not fun, it's not acceptable and it's not going to be tolerated when there's a toddler around. Which is deeply depressing, but non-negotiable.

The first time was when Minh-Minh, his half sibling, came on board. He really was a nut, for a couple of days, before becoming an apprehensive but vaguely sane creature and adapting soon after. Because I'd read that that's what cats do I accepted it, but was apprehensive. You'd have to see it to know the extent of the contrast, the flip.

The second was the last time we put him, with Minh, in the cattery, where previously he'd adjusted well and been loved by all the attendants. He did the flip again, and no-one could go near him until we arrived to take him out.

When we next holidayed we got a cat sitter. I hoped that was the last time we'd see it.

Today he did what he does quite often: jump the fence to explore the 2nd garden, then wander under the house. Usually you wait 10 minutes at most and he wanders back out, and when you grab him at first opportunity he might struggle to get away and keep 'playing' but he takes it all with fairly good humour.

But this time he spent an hour. Though he'd been in a good mood beforehand, as far as I could tell, he stayed under there glaring at me, and hissed when I showed him Minh. Hissing at her is a good sign he's flipping I think, because usually he defers to her and is affectionate.

When he eventually wandered out, looking quiet and benign, I reached down and grabbed him- pretty lightly- and he absolutely flipped. I couldn't control him properly because my other hand was holding her leash and when she saw him flip she panicked and started jumping around as well.

I made a split second decision that if I let go of him while he was flipping he'd potentially disappear for days so I held onto both of them while trying to wriggle back through the front door.

He absolutely gave it to my hand and wrist, big, deep bites that bled all over the ground and the walls in the house. When I had her in the door and could use my other hand I got him under control but not before he put a good couple of toothmarks in that hand and wrist as well.

He copped a slap far less than he deserved and is currently locked in the laundry until he cools. Minh keeps wanting to know what's going on but if she gets close while he's nuts he'll just put holes in her.

I guess all pets are wild animals, but perhaps the difference between those that genuinely adapt to domestic life and those that can't is the threshold it takes to snap them into pure, psychotic violence against the hand that feeds them.

I don't think he'd last long as an outside cat but we are going to have to do some thinking. I've already heard a number of sad tales of pets who couldn't handle newer additions to the family. I don't want us to join that, but there really is no room to move in the order of priorities.

Depressing. But the hands that feed are currently bandaged and bleeding, and I'm off to the doctor to discuss tetanus shots tomorrow. This will NOT happen again.

UPDATE: By late eve he was sheepish but sociable. Completely calm (4 hours in the laundry did the trick apparently). This morning jumped up for a nuzzle. I reluctantly let him, and his eyes closed with that adoring look he gives when he's handing out the love.

It was, as I suspected, a psychotic episode rather than some ongoing malaise. A slight wariness is all he displays to show that he's got any memory at all of the incident. Meanwhile, I'm off to the doctor.

On a slightly more comical level, apparently my mother got a full earful of everything. She'd called just before he came out, insisted on talking to beloved who'd just arrived home, leaving me with a cat in each hand when it was action time. However for her recalcitrance she got to hear the cat screaming like a banshee and me shouting "fucking c..[not cat]" at the top of my lungs.

I'm pretty loud. She might agree to call back later next time there's a crisis.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Almost Bjorn

Baby update. Nothing major to add, which is by all measures a good thing.

I have succumbed to baby-brand-insanity, perhaps it's the effect of the infectious whistle song in my head but I entered a local shop called Twinkle Tots and exited with 2 items of Baby Bjorn.

What's Baby Bjorn you ask? Well you might, if being male like me you are allegedly unable to grapple with the fundaments of early parenthood. Well, it's simple, it's this:

And this:

What do make of that Mark Latham? Is he too poofy metro-male for ya, ya tourette's headcase?

Nerdhog Day!

Dear Diary, today I shall do the following:

Try to get a seat watching Labor's latest recruit and other gun silk argue over my Bank and the future of Steve Vizard, among other things, here.

Then I shall enter the tomb-like library at the centre of the Supreme Court to have a wee read of some delightfully thrilling material on the Rule in Browne v Dunn. Where does a lawyer go to find a summary fit for publication? Why, Wiki of course (quoting Lord Herschell):
My Lords, I cannot help saying that it seems to me to be absolutely essential to the proper conduct of a cause, where it is intended to suggest that a witness is not speaking the truth on a particular point, to direct his attention to the fact by some questions put in cross-examination showing that that imputation is intended to be made, and not to take his evidence and pass it by as a matter altogether unchallenged, and then, when it is impossible for him to explain, as perhaps he might have been able to do if such questions had been put to him, the circumstances which it is suggested indicate that the story he tells ought not to be believed, to argue that he is a witness unworthy of credit.
Substitute they for he and you find the passage applies to all human beings. Easy really, I'm gonna read another 30 or so pages elaborating on that rule from a NSW tax case which I've memorised as Allied Pastoral Something v Comissioner of Taxation [1983] 1 NSWR at 800-odd.

Now that's a legal mind you'd want in your corner, hey? Don't answer, moving along...

Later, I shall obtain a present for my beautiful pregnacious wife from the brand new house of trash and garbage on Collins that just happens to make extraordinarily quaffable doughnuts.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Have job, bring on house, dadhood!

For the first time in my life I've felt like someone's really put some faith in me. In a series of acceptances and counter-offers I have sealed a deal that will take the "what do I do with myself" question out of my blogging for, hopefully, a long time.

Government employment involves bands or levels which you slowly move through. Well, all 3 jobs I've been looking at were pitched around the same level. One was the most glamorous sounding but was a little more junior than the others which, given that role involved moving to Canberra, made it a quantum downshift back into life when money was a constant worry.

Another was a bit of an unknown in that it involved high levels of advocacy and responsibility, so I was inclined towards the third, with a team I know and like doing work similar to that which has kept me busy the past 12 months.

The 'bit of an unknown' made their intentions known by offering me the higher responsibility of the next band up the Government scale. That's potentially years of working, clawing and waiting for those of you unfamiliar with progress in the public sector. They added family-friendly terms, extra leave and room for flexibility. In a permanent contract. For once in my career I felt genuinely wanted, and yes, flattery will get you everywhere when low self-esteem is creeping up on someone who feels they have outgrown their level of responsibility.

In a huge flap, bumping backwards and forwards and giving the prospective employers, and my wife (ok and yes my cats as well!) hell, I worked my demons and doubts to the surface, scraped them off, and stepped up for a new, scary, and exciting challenge.

Regular programming to resume shortly. Apologies in advance for any creeping legalisms that enter my posts. As always I won't be talking about the detail of what I do or where I do it, but all I can say is, think Kavenagh QC meets Travolta in A Civil Action.

As for Canby, well, it's not out of the long-term question, but I'll be aiming to go there in a leadership role, if and when the timing is right. For now, I'm redirecting that energy I've been pouring into the job pages towards planning for the exciting world of fatherhood.

Now, for some new cufflinks...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Alive and in stasis

I am, temporarily I hope, presently a member of the gainfully unemployed. The opportunity to bond with the cats aside, this hasn't put me in the highest state of elevation. I should have tonnes of time for blogging, for lots of things, but it's difficult to get motivated when you are constantly glancing at your phone.

I have 2 quasi-offers; roles I may get if all the paperwork gets signed off with the tees dotted. I have interviewed for a further position, an incredibly interesting-sounding role that will not eventuate for aeons (even if they do like me). This potential choice is great in some respects but leaves me indecisive and wracked by stress.

Still, there are worse things to be worried about!

We spent the weekend in Canberra, bringing out the usual tensions between beloved and her mother. Beloved's mother has a good heart, but seems to harbour some anger or bitterness at life in general that prevents her from enjoying the fact that most of her ducks have lined up pretty well. She's got a good job, house, caring partner, and reasonably (though it is being somewhat drained) doting daughters.

I know, I know, I'm gonna find out how hard parenting is, but how's this for a pretty basic lesson: if you're a well-paid boomer, you and your partner both own houses outright, you are browsing your next potential purchase at well over the half million mark, and you complain frequently to your two daughters, both of whom want to buy A house but can't afford it, about how subsequent generations have it too easy in the work and housing markets, you aren't going to come across as particularly in tune or sympathetic with the needs of your offspring.

I'm fond of mumsey, as I call her, and wish she'd take more pleasure in the good things she's achieved for herself. And be a bit happier.

Of course there's a lesson in this for all of us. Whatever job I end up in, I've got a fantastic wife and a daughter on the way, so really what does it matter how I earn a crust?

On a lighter front, while in Canby I met Zoe, Cristy & Paul, Dean (I forget which blog Dean's at, Zoe'll remind me though!) and Zoe's son Sage and partner Owen, at the still-fantastic muse of my short-lived ANU days, the Wig and Pen. Make mine a pint, what a nice crew!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I can jump puddles and cook!

Yesterday was my first day beyond my contract. Put another way, I am on sabbatical from gainful employment as I wait for the results of various recent interviews to manifest by way of something tangible. And because I did very little yesterday, waiting as I was for the phone to buzz, I decided to try and prepare a treat for beloved.

To make sense of this post you need to understand that I have never been able to cook, and have never cooked anything more complex than a basic pasta or a steak, with beloved usually doing the veges on the side while patting me on the back like I'm a kid making a mudcastle.

I started by buying two nice-looking fillets of snapper. I didn't have a clue what I'd do with them, but I went to Psarakos market in Thornbury with fish on my mind and made a purchase.

Before I lose any vegan readers at this point I'd like to divert. Cooking is a slow process, so we must wait for the other ingredients to arrive.

I want to congratulate Cristy and Paul from No Pod on their pending poppet. Read this sweet post. Is it still a pod? I'm thinking more of a gourd, becoming an all-out pumpkin before too long.

Beloved has now 'popped', so poppette is hanging out there in her very own baby un-bjorn. I talk to her but she's ignoring me for now. I've warmed up the vocal chords for some belly crooning but can't decide on suitable lullabies other than my kiddy staple- U2's MLK:
Sleep, Sleep tonight
And may your dreams, Be realized
If the thunder cloud, Passes rain
So let it rain, Let it rain
Rain down on here
So let it be, So let it be
Sleep, Sleep tonight
And may your dreams, Be realized
If the thundercloud, Passes rain
So let it rain, Let it rain
Rain down on here...
Well, it's rain on him, or he, or me, depending where you google your lyrics, but I sing 'here'. I have successfully used this on a number of babies; my highlight was a stellar performance in which I put a wailing bub to sleep in a Starbucks in London and basked in adulation and open flirting from 3 yummy mummies. But I digress...

I've never cooked snapper before, have only attempted fish a few times and always just fried or grilled it as is. I mean it, I really can't cook! The fishmongers suggested rolling the fillets in flour first, and that got me thinking (always dangerous). What about if I put stuff in the flour? I poured flour all over a plate then lobbed in some salt, pepper, and then, after tasting it first to ascertain exactly what was meant by 'hot', some cayenne stuff. Just a pinch.

Already out of my depth, I decided I wanted to learn to cook cauliflower cheese to go with it. No, better, why not with Broccoli? I thought this involved about 3 ingredients but in fact the recipe book listed around 200, several of which can only be obtained by hiding on a cliff and mimicking the mating call of lichen.

And, while I'm whinging, why is it so damn hard for these books to give a simple measurement for substances like flour and butter? What's wrong with two tablespoons you bloody food-toff-tossers?! IT'S NOT ME IT'S YOU.

About this time I called beloved for instructions on using our antiquated and suicidal (the upper grill leaps out into space on a regular basis) oven. In the background I could hear her workmates laughing- my attempt at cooking has become the office joke. Ha effing ha! I bang pans around for her entertainment and hang up.

Then I achieved something none of the nongs in restaurants appear to be able to do- I successfully boned my snapper!

Not that way, not the Nine way either. I took a sharp knife and painstakingly- without any damn instructions or experience I might add- removed a line of bones from the very centreline of the fillet. Two particularly stubborn bits I drew out with my teeth!

Why can't they do that at M'sier Ponce's Fish Garden A La Pretonce?

Which brings me, 20 minutes later, to the results. If I may say so myself I cooked the best damn snapper, and one of the best serves of Cauliflower and Broccoli cheese (the dash of Dijon mustard really drew out the flavour!) I've ever eaten!

Bragging, I know, but this is the first complex meal, with sauce and sides all made fresh and involving the actual reading of a recipe, that I have ever cooked. I've been scared of the kitchen my whole life. And that snapper was better than the 3 or more times I've tried it in a restaurant.

It's like I just rode a bike with the training wheels off and pulled a wheelie.

Beloved would have said nice things even if I stuffed it up. She's glad to see me slowly domesticating and learning these basic skills, whatever the result. But last night I scored majorly - her face, as she alternately downed globs of melted cheesy veggies and piscine glory, said that I am in the good books for a long time. A lo-ong time. There will be phone calls to cynical family members.

And for me- lots and lots of 200% prime grade lovin'...

Damn, I might try that again some time!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

She's a Poppette

That's the news. What more can I say? Any ability I might have had to be the disciplinarian has just gone right out the window. Daddy's little girl will have me wrapped around her little finger, and you know what, I can't wait!

She was healthy and active and a good weight and all that stuff, but frankly if she had two heads (and me being a Tasmanian it was a distinct possibility) I'd still love her to bits and then some.

We celebrated with Bailey's cheesecake and bubbly. Mum had bubbly in moderation. Dad got about 2 bites of the cheesecake.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rocks, hard places and scans

Last week at work. Done 3 interviews now. One for a role prancing around in Court. Two for more deskbound, but nonetheless interesting policy positions. Got one more lined up.

Have no idea in the universe what to do. With two of the roles based in Canberra our house plans are a mess. Baby is due January, looking like being a cusp between Capricorn and Aquarius at this stage.

It's at times like this you wish you earned a motza. That a huge pile of cash stared up at you each time you got an account balance from the ATM. To just do stuff. Like sit there without gainful employment until the right role came along.

As if.

It's probably of no consequence; if I can't decide this late in the day which role I'd like, then they must all either be crap or pretty decent. The hardest thing is not the job itself, but the doors I'll close by taking one over the other.

I've been at faceless government organisation now for over 3 years. I have been a contractor all that time, and now, with baby due, am out of gainful employment.

Whatever. My baby is more important.

Today we learn whether we have a poppet or a poppette. The name game will follow. Although we feel less panicky after having survived the first scan, it is still nerve wracking. I've never wanted a job the way I want to be a father. This will be a long day.

UPDATE: Sure has been. Am about to walk around to the ultrasound place. Gut feels liks two thick fingers have taken a strand of each of my intestine and colon and twisted them tightly around each other. Wood. Touched.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Teacher goes on pocketknife rampage

Just doesn't read right, does it?

Them Pakis

Apparently this lable (which in my politically correct ignorance I thought had gone the way of niggers, boongs, gooks and other charming expressions of heartfelt affection which for reasons unknown cause offence to those on the receiving end) is back in vogue.

Well, it is if you're a subbie at The Australian:
Windies to stand in if Pakis withdraw
That's what it reads lunchtime Friday anyway.

UPDATE: It's probably below the offensiveness radar here. I think I've crossed over into convict who lived for ages in pommyland mode...

Its use by the Oz probably amounts to no more than sloppy and yobbish subbing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Anyone doing it? Anyone listening to it? As even dinosaurs like myself contemplate the purchase of some sort of MP3 playing device, is it a great new way to throw ideas around or an overhyped niche?

Leo feels loved

Not that I'm getting old or anything but in memory of someone turning 34 today I got:

A trip to Sydney next weekend;

A DVD about babies and beer called Being Dad;

A card from beloved that nearly made me bawl;

Everything is Illuminated by Safran Foer, which I nominated in my previous post as the book I'm meaning to read (and which is going to inspire me to write the novel;

Child of the Revolution by Luis Garcia, about growing up in Castro's Cuba; and

A Ben Sherman shirt; a-and

More nice cards!

Last night I went to bed depressed, having worried a bit too much through the day about my career. Really, my contract runs out in a week and a half and I have a baby on the way, what's to stress about?

This morning I am reminded of why I love life. It's like the breathe meme below has manifested itself all around me; my wife, bringing me coffee in bed, her loving words in my card, the thoughtful pressies from her and from family... and now my cats are around me, little minh-minh keeps following me around the house with a little torn piece of paper she's found, we're playing fetch (both my cats play fetch, did I mention that? I'm a proud dad!), they both keep rubbing up against my feet or climbing on the desk and peering at me from behind the monitor.

I feel loved. It's all I could ever ask of the world. Top of the morning to y'all.

UPDATE: My new brother and blister in law have bought me a goat! Fantastic...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Double Meme Double Pleasure!

Tagged in a book meme which was obviously inspired by my pre-holiday post. Thanks Cristy and Helen. While I'm there I'm going to pick up Ampersand Duck's remember to breathe meme, which was started in memory of her brother, spotted at Cristy's. OK, let the frivolities commence...

1. One book you have read more than once

The Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway. A story about a man trying to catch a fish. Also a story about age, respect, childhood, loyalty, the curious bond between hunter and hunted, survival, meaning, honour, ridicule, determination, abject disappointment and the very meaning of life.

Proof that perfection can be achieved in a hundred pages. Like any other great story, but with 50% surplus waffle excised by literature's greatest precision scalpel.

2. One book you would want on a desert island

I'd get an anthology of short stories by a mixed bag of great writers, then I'd be able to keep sampling different writers over and over. Or maybe just The Turning, Winton's recent short story collection, because beloved liked it and his writing might evoke a little of Australia for me.

3. One book that made you laugh

Platform, by Houellebecq. I know it's wrong but he's just so good.

4. One book that made you cry

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Safran Foer. It comes under laugh as well. Also, if there were a category for best book you've read in the past 2 years this would probably take it out.

5. One book you wish you had written

In terms of quality but not the actual content I wish I'd written something as good as Atomised by Houellebecq. In an overall sense, taking ownership of content as well, I'd probably nominate Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close again.

The legal nerd in me wishes I'd written the argument that was put to the High Court and which led to Mabo II.

6. One book you wish had never been written

The Latham Diaries. Not the way he did it. It's just sad, a Shakespearean tragedy played out in a mess of blood and knives at the periphery of Australian politics. Maybe the Clash of Civilisations, because in certain hands it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I reflected on various books of religion, and decided that I wouldn't undo their writing, however I'd love to have final editorial sway over the following...

Nasty, genocidal bits of the Old Testament, particularly the stories of Canaan and Sodom and Gomorrah.

Any chunk of the Koran and Hadith that has proven open to sadistic interpretations.

7. One book you are currently reading

As per my holiday post, I'm part-way into reading the following:

Day of the Jackal by Forsyth;
The Tyrannicide Brief by Robertson QC;
The Latham Diaries by the Tourettes headcase;
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Murakami
Phoenix: Policing the Shadows by Holland; and
In the Shadow of Swords by Neighbour.

Currently focusing on the Jackal. Actually, there are others I've started and keep meaning to finish, including a non-fiction account of the real Carlos the Jackal's story. And a draft novel by a friend of my wife.

Plus, I'm supposed to be reading Kaz Cooke's Up the Duff!

I'm hopeless.

8. One book you have been meaning to read

Everything is Illuminated by Safran Foer. Plus all the half read books above. Plus Tim Winton's The Turning.

9. One book that changed your life

Different Seasons, a book of 4 novellas by Stephen King. In particular Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which was later turned into the movie.

I read this story in a train station in Norway, as a 17 year old backpacker. After reading it I became anti-capital punishment and formed the view, which I still hold, that the state should be held liable for everything that happens to any person who the state throws in prison. I also realised Stephen King wastes his talent with all that horror, fun though it is.

We, by Zamiatin, also changed my life. I'm not good at this 'one' business, hey?!

10. Now tag five people

Scroll on down...

Meme II: Remember To Breathe (12 simple things that keep me going year after year)

1. My wife.

2. My unborn child.

3. My cats.

4. My friends.

5. An image of myself standing on an airport tarmac somewhere as several world leaders shake hands having agreed to the final covenent, written by me, that brings peace to the planet.

6. Variations of 5 that involve slightly less ambitious but nonetheless rewarding outcomes.

7. My guitars, and stuff I sing along with them.

8. Folks and family.

9. The combined pleasure of coffee and newspapers, first thing in the morning.

10. The combined pleasure of a good book and a nice glass of something alcoholic, last thing at night.

11. The novel I must write someday soon.

12. All the dirtbags who ever screwed me over, because giving up would be letting them, and the dark, depressive blot they've left on my psyche, succeed.

OK, over to you, if you've read this and haven't yet done either or both of these, you're tagged. Feel free to leave a trackback if you take me up on it...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Two years of Australian History?

History should be compulsory. Some Australian history should even be compulsory. But 2 years' worth?

It's hard enough keeping students interested as it is. Imagine, your a teenager, and you have class after class, whitewashed of all critical content to please the conservative censors, of rote learning chronological historical facts.


First aside, here's Mr Lefty lampooning the idiocy of trying to remove critical content from the study of history.

Second aside, here's Pavlov rightly lampooning Julie Bishop for not being an expert on that which she believes all Australians should be forced to learn. Sure her education may have been lacking (all of ours were, apparently) but she's a smart woman, she can read, and she's had several decades to do her civic duty and get on top of all the detail. Those facts, dates, names...

I think there's at least as big a gap in the general population's knowledge of the history of the First and Second World Wars. Or of Ancient History, to which our society and culture are so indebted.

And I can't see how Australian history can remain interesting for 2 years unless you get into the juicy stuff that, inevitably, involves subjectivity and analysis.

Apologies and Apologies

So Howard now agrees with the notion that it's proper for the head of the Australian Government to apologise for the wrongdoings of previous Australian Governments?

Great, well let's see a rethink of this slip-slide evasiveness:

It does not, as a resolution, impose a blame or a guilt on present generations for past misdeeds...

...I don't think there'll be much sort of support in the Australian community for a continued debate about words and about what ought to have been or might not have been or should have been or could have been... phrasing something like this, you must pay regard to the sensitivities of many people who in the past thought they were doing the right thing in being involved in policies and practices affecting indigenous people which, by today's standards, are no longer acceptable and indeed are regarded as quite unacceptable.
And as we can now see, in the Prime Minister's eyes there are past attitudes that are so unacceptable that we say sorry, and there are attitudes that really aren't all that unacceptable so we sort of express regret but that's it.

'Quite' unacceptable, as he qualifies it, whistling his reservations.

Attitudes that treated Aborigines like animals are in the not-so-bad category, compared with 'left wing' (to use his words from last night's news) unpleasantness towards Vietnam vets.

Well I'm glad to see the Vets get their apology, their treatment has been appalling. But the contradictory positions he's taken on these two issues, both of which warrant an apology, demonstrate clearly that the justification he has provided for refusing to apologise to the Stolen Generations is false.

Howard has no problem with apologising in his role as head of the Government for its past misdeeds, nor with judging previous attitudes through the lens of his own hindsight.

He just won't do it for blackfellas.

What's more, if the 'right' has been so good to the Vietnam vets all this time, remind me how many terms of Government it took them to get this far? Aren't the vets still upset about missing out on a number of medals? Wasn't a Liberal Government with Howard as Treasurer in power shortly after the war ended? What did Howard do for the vets then, when apologies, recognition, and assistance might have made a real difference to so many lives that have gone down the drain since?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Christian refugees, Muslim oppressors

Like most people with half a conscience I'm chuffed that the Anti-Wops-in-Boats Bill 2006 was defeated. The sad truth is that the fact that West Papuans are overwhelmingly Christian and Indonesians are overwhelmingly Muslim probably had a lot to do with it. Double their numbers and substitute, say, Muslims from Aceh, and my money would be on the Bill passing.

More baby name fun

Via the Red Sultana, a baby name wizard!

I have no idea how to make it useful yet. It's certainly a Boyntonesque web device. Beloved and I could use any help we can find in this regard. We've pinned down a handful of names we like, and in keeping with the 'gee I'm going to be a conservative parent theme' most seem to attach to European royalty (unintentionally comrades, honest!).

We're only a couple of weeks from the next scan, and given that we will be divining the poppet's gender I will naturally be sharing this with you, dear readers. Once we know, the serious name shortlisting will take place.

I'm sure every parent-to-be frets about this decision, yet so many still stuff it up without blinking. Damn. And how can you predict, for example, that a particular name might become attached to a popular comical figure and therefore make a child an object of ridicule? You can't of course, and I have forgiven my folks and come to like my middle name. In my 30s.

Best inspiration? Zoe, whose son Sage is named after Great Sage of Heaven from Monkey. Untoppable, I thought to myself as I sat up last night working my way through the DVD box set I bought off (now blog-retired) Ladycracker. Incidentally, as I'm rambling off post, Chairman Mao was almost named Tripitaka.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What's your contra-latte?

The best thing to prevent a slip into extremism, on either side of politics, is to be anchored by a deeply personal issue on which your views are entirely out of whack with prevailing trends in your voter group. Being a gay conservative or a pro-Israel lefty might do this. Or you could be a latte-left type who generally votes with the 'inner city', while enjoying a rural pursuit like hunting or fishing.

For me it's simply fishing. Raised in the bush, I've experienced the deep connection to the earth that comes from becoming part of the food chain (part, not 'top of', in the NT in particular!). I don't fish often enough, but when I do I know I'm experiencing something absent from inner city life. Something you don't even get by watching wildlife, although I can do that for hours as well.

My attachment to it is so heartfelt that I would abandon other issues to protect it. I would never support or vote for a party that wanted to ban amateur fishing.

In this regard I am in a minority among inner city lefties. And the vast chasm between the views pushed by the likes of PETA and Animal Liberation and my own love for an age-old pursuit has repercussions far beyond this single issue. I believe that government should drive social progress and back it up with legislation, yet my love of fishing reminds me to think twice before supporting measures that take away people's rights, as opposed to protecting them. It makes me wary of the far left in general, and deeply mistrustful of any animal rights agenda.

A pity, because I believe in minimising suffering of animals in all contexts, whether that's using the most humane methods in my fishing or buying, where possible, free range eggs and beef. But while many who campaign for animal rights are willing to compromise, this does not appear to be the case for the cheerleaders of the movement. In this regard, the moral certainty in relation to something so debatable and the desire to legislate in absolutes, these activists remind me of the hardcore anti-abortion lobby. Perhaps that is what happens if you equate something morally with the murder of an adult human; all compromise becomes unacceptable.

My post is not directed at arguing about the merits of fishing, nor is it a dig at vegans or strong supporters of animal rights. I accept and even respect their reasons for choosing such a path, provided this does not trammel on something so close to my own heart. Because fishing is something I love in my soul, rather than a rational position reached over the 14th latte, I have no interest in debating its rights or wrongs.

Rather, I am interested in the idea of the contra-issue, the strongly held viewpoint that anchors you and gives you a direct insight into the flaws of those you otherwise agree with. How do people deal with this? It seems to be a choice between denial or moderation. Do you, dear reader, whether left or right, have such a contra-issue?

Monday, August 07, 2006

A crushing, crushing agenda

Its an almost unbearably reasonable 24 degrees, distressing because I am (briefly) facing a computer while beloved is lying next to the pool. The one with real sand and boulders, 2m deep, surrounded by palms with a swim-up bar and grill.

Day of the Jackal is waiting, my man's just ordered himself a short detachable rifle from a Belgian arms smuggler and is now pottering around Paris sussing out ideal locations to wipe out a world leader. Note to ASIO: this paragraph refers to a popular novel, the only terrorising I'm planning is the hotel drink waiters. You can never have too many chilled sav blancs when expending energy wriggling around under an umbrella evading the sun.

I have only eaten Barramundi twice so far; I'm keen to show restraint. Last night's Oysters Kilpatrick with a huge side salad of rockmelon, macadamias, and a big tonne of miscellaneous rabbit food was a useful diversion.

Palm Cove is proving quite a physical adventure. Twice now beloved and I have walked along the beach beyond the resort, once venturing what I estimate to be 500m along the sand. I demonstrated my hunk credentials by flexing my biceps and skimming a couple of stones across the windchop- beloved was flushed with pride!

This afternoon I may go for a little wade, but you can't overdo these things: too much action for a city dweller like me and I might be forced to beat a hasty retreat to the room. Stashed there, in case of medical emergency, is a nice bottle of Houghton's Dry White accompanied by endless movies, news and makeover shows on cable telly.

So far I'm having a terribly stressful time, in case I haven't conveyed that. I miss my work, the joy of rush hour commuting and the bracing and uplifting breezes that waft over Melbourne from Antarctica.

I'm waiting on the results of two job interviews, one in Melba, one in Canby, one running cases in court, one working on treaties and drafting laws, both, at long last, ongoing positions. But, oddly, I've barely thought about them since we arrived.

That's Palm Cove, all go, go, go, no time to think....

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cold-Induced Tourette's and Holiday Readings

I get colds, I hate colds, I take cold medicine because after a couple of years where I went off it and experimented with drinking juice, garlic tablets and other flights of fancy I worked out that the only way to prevent a full-blown flu, for me, is to medicate my snot glands dry and keep the crap out of my lungs.

As a side effect, I seem to get a little bout of tourette's syndrome.

Take this morning. Someone at work is talking to me about someone else I don't have a very high opinion of, and asks me if I know her. To which I reply in a deadpan voice with words that included 'hate', among others. Now I'm not particularly fond of this individual, but she's simply too mediocre to inspire anything approaching hatred, and the language was totally (notwithstanding that we're in a pretty robust team here) inappropriate.

In my last role I fell out with someone for ages when in response to a rather rude comment they made about their seniority as a lawyer, I replied 'you must be a fucking genius then!' Such language was common in that Court, and patronising people about their level of experience (and that coming from a pretty average lawyer) is very rude, but the out-of-character way I delivered it, at a crowded Court Registry counter, raised a few eyebrows.

There's no easy solution, it hasn't gotten to career-stopping proportions yet, I just have to try and keep an eye on it.

Go home, rest they say but if you are like me and you get several weeks' worth of colds each year you'll know that sitting at home the whole time just isn't an option. And besides some fucking arsehole (see, I can't help it) will inevitably be doing renovations next door with a radio turned to 11 on Hot 200 Bogan Radio singing along with the Choirboys, that's Murphy's Law.

The craphouse thing is that we go on holidays tomorrow, so I kick the holiday off on a sickly note.

The nice thing is that we go on holidays tomorrow, so I can beat this shitty lurgy lying next to a pool in 26 degree Palm Beach heat reading one of the gazillion books I've started.

Do you, dear reader, start lots of books simultaneously? I try not to, but it just happens.

Books I've started and may or may not progress (sorry about the links but I can't fucking be arsed this morning, and can only justify posting for a few minutes):

Day of the Jackal ... Frederick Forsyth
The Tyrannicide Brief ... Geoffrey Robertson QC
The Latham Diaries ... by that other fucking Tourettes headcase
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman ... Haruki Murakami
Phoenix: Policing the Shadows ... Jack Holland
In the Shadow of Swords ... Sally Neighbour

Yes I know three are about terrorism, I'm a political nerd, ok?

Books I'm eyeing off and may read instead:

Everything is Illuminated ... Jonathan Safran Foer
Something from the Booker list ... Someone Famous and Verbose
Something incredibly Fast and Trashy... Dan Grisham or some other idiot.

Or I'll re-read The Old Man and The Sea for the 4th time, some writing never loses its potency.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Grumpy Old Satirist v Rich and Thick

Could it all be satire? Best writing and funniest thread in ages over at the Sternezine (via TimT). There is bound to be trouble when people click directly through to a post on a satirical site without seeing it in context...

Tim Sterne on teens:

There was just so much wrong with high school: the teachers, the curriculum, the dubious sausage rolls in the canteen. Particularly distasteful was the forced daily contact with the school’s complement of psychopaths, sluts, stoners, bullies, flashers, boozers, wankers, geeks, freaks, and people who brought samples of their ejaculate to school in jars.

It seems to go against the natural order of things to see a teenager actually contributing to civil society. It’s like watching a gorilla suckle a parrot – sure, she’s helping and all, but it’s still fucking sick.
Teens (or some other illiterates, trolls, or fun-loving net yobs) on Tim Sterne:

omg i just LAWL at that artical! so let me get this straight what your trying to right about. YOUR A FUCKING FAG! is that it coz thats all im seeing!


your just some sick weirdo who needs to find something better to do in his spare time

You must be some dickhead if you wright 857 word to show the world how shit at life you are.

steve has some uber 1337 micro. and u got no idea. Ad nauseum.

So many it actually looks like they could be real. I've no idea why Sterne tolerate this nonsense, but if linking this attracts any illiterate trolls I shall evict them and their comments from the Armagnac den immediately.

Meanwhile, leaving the hugging of Prime Ministers to one side, I wonder what Carey's literature department think of the quality of their students' flaming?

And can anyone explain Uber 1337 Micro?