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?

Blair contemplates thinking

High speed backpeddling over Israel's invasion of Lebanon, coupled with some (re) thinking of the West's global anti-terrorism strategy: could this mark an awakening within the Blairite mind?

The poms are revolted and revolting:

Tony Blair will face down his critics today over his controversial handling of the Middle East crisis by insisting that he has been working throughout for a ceasefire in Lebanon and that his position has been misunderstood.


Mr Blair has being criticised publicly and privately by ministers and senior backbenchers, and has antagonised most members of the EU as well as the United Nations secretariat.

It emerged yesterday that he ignored not only the advice of the Foreign Office but foreign affairs specialists in Downing Street, who argued that the Israeli offensive was counter-productive and favoured a call for an immediate ceasefire.

Nothing new there. But not only is he backpeddling and clarifying his position in relation to the current carnage, he's starting to exhibit signs of reflection in relation to his Iraq-War-supporting hubris:
Tony Blair has called for a "complete renaissance" of the West's strategy to defeat militant Islam.

Speaking in Los Angeles, Mr Blair admitted the use of force alone had alienated Muslim opinion and there was now an "arc of extremism" stretching across the Middle East and beyond.

He called for an "alliance of moderation" that would combat terrorism using values as much as military might.

On a day when at least 52 people were killed in attacks in Iraq - and four British soldiers were killed by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq - Mr Blair's words were an apparent admission that the use of military force alone had failed.
He must have belatedly picked up the copy of the UK Times in which your scribe, randomly interviewed in a pub in Angel Islington, got a sub-heading on page 5 with the quote
"It's been all stick and no carrot since 9/11".

Happy to be at Her Majesty's service.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Paul on Paul on Shane on everything with a pulse

This morning, tired of staring at job descriptions trying to decide which of my potentially pending options I would like, or hate, or neither, I read the Good Weekend extract from Paul Barry's expose on Shane Warne.

I had already read that Simone (now) Callahan is considering suing, and in chattering with the missus (who is a far smarter lawyer than I) reached the conclusion that she would be mad to go there. All litigation is uphill, destructive, and best avoided if you have the chance. The shorter version of it is that Barry's book suggests Warne had lots of affairs and it casts aspertions on their marriage.

A law suit based on this seems destined to be ugly, and largely futile, as well as guaranteeing much higher sales of the book.

However going by the tone of the Good Weekend extract, by the end of brekky I understood why she'd be hurting beyond logic. And it did occur to me that she may have a winning case. So much appears to be imputed, or credited to vague-sounding sources, that the book may well be littered with the key elements for a good defo action: allegations of fact that are defamatory and whose existence cannot be proven.

It also has a whiff of malice, an unnecessary nastyness directed at the wife. She's just a stupid, big-titted blonde apparently, even though he also describes a revolting 'boys only' culture in the cricket scene that makes Aussie Rules and Rugby players sound like trappist monks, a culture that as he describes it pretty much forces wives to stay apart and away from the on-tour lives of their husbands.

Typical that the heat for Warney's slappery and the throwback conduct of the cricketers will be mostly felt by his wife and kids.

There you go Howard, that's what the sport you love and its concept of 'mateship' do for families.

While Barry waits to see if he'll be eviscerated on the stand by the likes of Stuart Littlemore QC, his namesake Toohey has laid into him with a cleaver in the Bulletin:
Now we know about Barry. Which is that he’s no good at writing trash. Trash needs love! Warmth! Fun! A tickle under the armpits! It does not require someone to be stripped naked, blindfolded, tied to a filthy dunny and smashed around the kidneys with an iron pipe. That’s what he’s done to Warne. And Simone.
Found via the Blair Wing project.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Credit where it's due- Condy Asserts

This appears to be already out of date, but having criticised the US and Dr Rice's response so stridently I was pleased to read that, allegedly:
Intense pressure from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice forced the Israeli Government to suspend its bombing campaign in southern Lebanon.
With doubts getting stronger over the Atlantic, could it be that even some neocons are starting to wane?