Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If Rex is Evan Thornley then...


*closes statute book*

*peels back seal on a 14 year old Armagnac*

*looks out over Spring Street*

Personally I could care less if a blogger I like turned out to be a reasonably interesting up-and-coming comrade. Anyone who devotes serious time to outing bloggers is a nut.

Political Bukkake

Being a member of a party whose 'thinkers' and string-pulling union officials seem to despise you is a thankless walk on a muddy, overgrown and ultimately lonely road.

You get your renewal. Because you earn a middling sum, and aren't a member of an affiliated union, your fee is enough for a return airfair to Sydney. The temptation to get the airfare, track down and slap some faceless pissant who's holding your party in stasis, can be overwhelming.

I will sign up again, try to deepen my involvement, find a nook where I belong.

On lefty's site I used political bukkake as a pun, but it seems apt for the process of earnest, wide-eyed pursuit of value from a political system starved of decency. You open your wallet, you spend hours-on-end campaigning to put people into power, you stand to attention as they step up to the policy podium, then they spray their worthless self-perpetuating seed all over you.

The membership of Labor is, apparently, out of touch with the voters. "Code" for saying the membership of Labor are actually mostly left-wing, while those at the top of the party with the faint taste of power in their mouths are repeating the policy of incremental divergence that has served the party so well for the past decade, and allowing a handful of people in marginal suburban seats to drive the once-great policy machine of the nation's opposition.

I'll sip my Aussie grown Sav Blanc, reflecting on how this makes me an irrelevant elitist. Study my worthless Masters degree. And wonder why and how we evolved into the democracy of incremental nothings.

Then I'll send off my renewal, and wait for the next wad of self-hating apologia to land from above.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas and 'Democratic Peace Theory'

A democratic vote in Palestine produces someone the world isn't happy with. A violent government. The civilised world is outraged (Doesn't sound at all familiar, does it?). This disproves policy wonks who've pinned all their hopes on what is called 'Democratic Peace Theory'- a theory central to Bush Doctrine.

As Daniel Pipes puts it:
The positive prong involves promoting democracy. The historical record shows that democratic countries almost never make war on each other and tend to be prosperous. Therefore, elections appear to be what the doctor ordered for the maladies of the Middle East.

This theory is so central to the foreign policy of the US and its lapdogs that it is crucial to consider its weaknesses and why it might fail.

Democratic Peace Theory started off claiming that democracies would not be warlike. War was the tool of demagogues, voters would not allow it. That theory, obviously, is entirely incorrect, and no-one sane still attempts to uphold it.

So the theory adjusted to its current form: democracies do not wage war on each other. And is applied to mean that, as long as we (Western democracies) convert them to democracy, countries will stop being a threat to us.

Overwhelmingly, to date, this has proven true. But there are historical factors that theorists believe may have caused this, and which splay doubt over the utility of the theory in a place like Palestine.

Consider the adjustment: why did the theory have to change shape? Because democracies have not proven to be, by any stretch of a whiskey-sodden imagination, peaceful. For Exhibit A I give you... Australia. How many times Australia has waged war across the past 100 years? How many of those occasions did we act in direct self defence?

OK, you feel the wars may be justified, but they are wars: democracies may act on different motives at times, but they are not peaceful by definition. Just as dictatorships are not necessarily warlike. "Peaceful" and "Righteous" are different concepts.

There is every reason to conclude that the countries we recognise as democracies haven't waged war on each other because they have mostly been, until recently, allies. With common interests.

Daniel demonstrates the blind siding of the Right when he asks whether Hamas will prove the exception to the theory. Ask the same question of Israel:

Will Israel stop taking military steps against Palestinians, irrespective of provocation, merely because they are now demonstrably a democracy?

Of course not.

Regardless of whether you believe it was justified or not, voters in the US, Australia, Israel and now Palestine are perfectly capable of making a democratic statement in favour of the use of military might, including against another democracy.

Democratic Peace Theory may have some relative merit, maybe democracies are less likely on the whole to wage war, but it cannot be blandly applied to any region, any conflict, any peoples.

The theory, which underpins Bush doctrine, is demonstrably deeply flawed. Democracy may be a feature of the bulk of peaceful nations, but it needs a populace who have moved, in education and ideology, beyond the primitive urge to wage war at every opportunity.

The theory is flawed for the same reason that the old dictator's cliche - 'democracy represents the imposition of Western culture' - is flawed: a functioning democracy will more or less reflect the people within that country.

If they hate the US, or Israel, or want to murder all the civilians of a particular race, unfortunately that's the government you'll get following free and fair elections.

I offer no defence of the election of Hamas. It is a statement by the Palestinian people, a tragic one, and they as well as their leaders may be held to account for it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cuba; not a good model

As with George Galloway, the progressive left would do well to ditch all associations with Castro's thugocracy.

That being said, arresting a supermodel for taking photos of slums at least shows they're even-handed oppressors.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hotman the penultimate pengacara

As he bails after his brilliant jurisprudence* failed to convince Indonesia's highest court of anything much, Shappers Corby's lawyer Hotman...

... Paris Hutapea shares some of the deep moral and philosophical underpinnings that drive his unending quest for justice:

"I want to buy the new model Ferrari. So, I have to make more money now," said the self-proclaimed playboy who is renowned for the diamonds and the pistols he wears under his designer suits. "I'm getting bored of all my old cars."
And I'm a firm believer in the right to a fair trial, and the incorporation of international jurisprudential norms into Indonesian law, and am satisfied by the social progress my meaningful work has achieved...
"I have everything that every man dreams of," he said. "I work from 6am to 6pm. Then I go to the best hotels and I find the best bottle of wine, of course, with a beautiful movie star.

"That's a pretty good life, isn't it?

"I am a playboy, but I am always a good husband and father when they need me."

Who could doubt it?!

(*And perhaps other less noble methods...)

Bugger flag waving at the beach, come watch a great band

Armaniac will be watching 2 of Melbourne's best bands over the next 3 nights:

Tonight the band from our wedding, the Hoodangers, will be at Bar Open, Brunswick Street Fitzroy, from about 10. Superlative musicianship combining a trad jazz base with Police covers, D&B rhythms, and improvised scatting about drunken escapades.

Friday night the Crayon Fields are supporting some other band I don't care about at the Northcote Social Club. The Crayon Fields are original and brilliant, very young but not genre chasing and lacking stupid half-chopped faux eighties haircuts or other unoriginal pretensions. I'd mention experimental Radiohead but I wouldn't be doing them justice, and they aren't as depressed as the 'Head either.

See you if I see you...

Armagnac recognised for heavenly writing

No, of course I'm not cool enough for a blog award. But someone got here after typing the following query into Yahoo:
what does it mean when you sing in an angelic voice in the spirit

Monday, January 23, 2006

It's not funny if they can't spell Canberra

Yanks care about their little sheriffs. About us. Austria. They care and remember Iraq and Vietnam and stuff. Even some of their leading foreign policy writers know where our capital city is, give-or-take 300 km.

Hat-tip Tim Dunlop, a man who'd be funny if he wasn't a lefty.

Lefties, according to that Birmingham has-been who contributed a half-arsed book about Falafals to the Anals of Australian Literature, are unfunny.

Lots of bloggers have weighed in of course, and the conclusion reached by most of the razor-wire batwing crowd is that funny = Tim Blair.

Well, I'm not feeling that hilarious tonight, and any efforts would be sure to run aground on my rampant political correctness anyway, so here's some comic genious from the master instead:

Laughing at Muslim girls and their wierdy foreign outfits!

Oh get back in your chairs.

UPDATE: Check out the totally unfunny exchange between Condi and the Chimp I found via Bill at LP.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cooked with Pandas and Poetry

(Warning: post contains amateur poetry)

The cats lie on cool stretches of wooden floor.

We've looked at houses, a couple livable, none that grabbed us. In Fitzroy, after pottering through a respectable if smallish house we found a lovely little cafe on George Street, off the beated path.

We shared a cinnamon muffin with cream and a refreshing green tea with orange that tasted like weak TANG.

The paper offered things to be angry about, things worthy of posts. But it is hot, so hot, that it bakes me into submission. And besides, I have an enduring image of China's new approach to winning over Taiwan; Pandas.

Bless. Bilbies for Iran?

So I'm in an idiotic rather than politically-charged mood. Jaded left me a comment. Jaded has a poetry/photo blog. I decided to join in the fun under a photo of a sign to "Platform No. 8":

On platform 8 you
left shoes
found a door
stood with baggage
spoke to the wind
slept a second
hummed in E minor
and laughed, briefly, when a pigeon shat.

This evening is a Riesling evening...

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Mujahadeen and the Shi'ite empire

The West played a crucial role handing Shi'ites the bulk of power in Iraq. The West played a crucial role supporting the Mujahadeen to overthrow the Russians in Afghanistan.

Will we end up regretting the former as much as the latter? Are both examples of a failure of strategic analysis?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Those damn un-Austrafrican Queers

(Via Harry) No marrying for queers in Nigeria; they're "un-African" according to the A-G.

I'd point out how stupid and pig-ignorant, as well as demonstrably irrational, this statement is, but given both major parties in Australia support a watered-down version of the same policy, it's hardly worth the energy.

We don't go so far as to have offences relating to mass gatherings of queens, perhaps due to the economic benefit derived from Mardi Gras. However I wonder if the Nigerians have gone so far as to give their laws extra-territorial reach?

It takes dedication and focus to give your ignorance extra-territorial reach...

Polly saw a Pecker

Via Lip, who's on fire at the moment with jokes, big breasted Italian newsreaders and security guards who make wheelies crawl to their cars.

If Chris Taylor's case is anything to go by, man's best friend is not a dog:
At first, Mr Taylor was amused when Ziggy [his parrot] started screeching "Hiya, Gary" every time it heard Miss Collins' mobile phone ring. He even saw the funny side when the parrot began making kissing noises when the name was mentioned on television.

But the truth finally dawned as the couple snuggled together on the sofa and Ziggy blurted out "I love you, Gary" in her voice.
Platinum. She confessed to an affair with "Gary" and Chris dumped her.

All good, she sucks. But unfortunately the parrot, Ziggy, had to go as well, according to ungrateful Chris:
"I wasn't sorry to see the back of Suzy [the Strumpet in question] after what she did but it really broke my heart to let Ziggy go," he said. "It was torture hearing him repeat that name over and over again.

"It feels like someone's got it in for me because I've lost my girlfriend and my best mate at the same time … I didn't want to believe it at first but when Ziggy said 'I love you, Gary' in Suzy's voice it sent a chill down my spine."
That's a bit crap, he has the pet of the century, surely he could have made more of an effort to see the funny side!

Now allow me to be a pedant. The Age heading reads "Parrot's love declaration turns boyfriend into a cuckold". Did it?

I thought he'd already been supremely cucked over...

Whinging carping faffing old sod

That would be me. My pissant blogging efforts over the past week relate to a handful of pathetic excuses:

* Running 3 feed readers at the same time to choose which one I like best (Google's looks best but Bloglines seems to be most functional overall. I'm loading you all up as we speak...)

* Playing dad to 2 highly strung exotic cats. They improve by the day; Mao has taken to Minh the impossibly cute persian-burmese cross, and after initially wanting to kill her he now licks her butt at every opportunity.

* Going on long walks through my favourite bits of our suburb looking for random bargains on outstanding large houses that are miraculously 30% below market value. Been looking plenty!

* Finally writing my remaining thank-yous for wedding gifts. OK, I"m a terrible procrastinator.

Grouchy digs at Green foibles will be superceded by regular sprays at the Right in the next day or so!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Greens, Nutjobs and Adulterers

A focus on positive policy outcomes rather than wanton abuse of their fellow lefties would go a long way for the Greens.

Here's an example- in his haste to abuse Labor and make hay from the sad resignation of Premier Gallop, Peter Robertson, the Green's most prolific blog troll, makes clear in a thread at WSA Caucus that if a party contains people who suffer mental illness, or have sex outside christian wedlock, then that party is not fit for office.

The Greens of course being full of the most rational, upstanding types.

Cat update- a meeting of lions!

I allowed the inevitable confrontation to take place.

It was fearsome. Brutal.

Watching a tiny little ball of fluff jump into the air with her tail up, and a full-grown teethed to the teeth Burmese male sprint for cover, is nothing short of hilarious. She's got bottle! She'll be in charge of the cathold within weeks I predict...

He's been bopping her a bit, a slap here and there. The odd hiss or growl as well, especially when he saw her on our bed. But he seems to be enjoying the game, the chase, and the feline company. He has passed up several opportunities to sink his teeth into her, including where he's latched onto her with his mouth, then released her again unharmed.

We've passed a stressful period I think.

And it's made beloved and I very happy...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Kyoto Quandrary

Here's a question for you: is one of the problems with Kyoto the fact that powerful developing nations, including 2 of the biggest powers in our region, hijacked it and turned it into a wealth relocation exercise?

If China are on a steep growth spurt, and confident enough to threaten neighbours, and may even be taking over the manufacture of bloody Vegemite before long, why do they need welfare?

I don't think it was just the US who scuttled this process.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

One crying new kitten, one hissing biting 18 month old...

So pursuant to discussions with fellow cat lovers, including on this blog, and the ongoing sense that our cat is too social to leave alone so much, we've bought another one.

"Hey pud, look, we've found you a sister."


"No really, she's from your breeder, but she's half burmese half persian. Look, she's cute."


"C'mere pud, want a hug?"


*Wipe cat spit off face*


It's been edifying to have your beloved cat that you'd risk your life for attempt to bite you somewhere near the face, or certainly make as if to do it. More than once. Between moments of high affection and indifference.

Our burmese is in the middle of a jealousy-induced multiple personality disorder episode, it's frightening, a little sad. His new friend, a sweet girly half persian, is letting out the odd squeak as she explores the unedifying surrounds of the downstairs bathroom. Not many options when he wants to kill her.

And tomorrow we have another go at reconciling them. I'm sure this will turn out to have been a good idea. Provided the burmese and I are still sane.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Prelude to Eugenics

The world's hottest couple have decided to breed.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Random clippings from the blogal sphere

Eyebrow raisers worthy of comment..

George Galloway, one of the global left's great embarassments, is going on the UK's Big Brother. His dodgy Respect party are scratching their heads, reports Harry.

Laban Tall promotes a campaign Justice For Linda Walker. Not a particularly heart rending tale; if you threaten low-level larrikins by firing an air gun next to them you shouldn't act surprised when you're charged with an offence.

Head Heeb's all over the Israeli post-Sharon issues. He notes a leadership crisis within the Likud factory, while Sharon's new party isn't suffering at all.

And our own Surfdom quotes a bit of wisdom, often short on the ground these days, from Christopher Hitchens on (un) intelligent design:
Just for once—for once—the raucous, boring, bullying noise of the religious morons is turned off, and one can hear the lucid tones of reason, detachment, culture, and irony. That the voters of the same town should have firmly retired the demagogues and dolts of their school board, and that both they and the judge should have been of a Republican tendency, only adds to my sense that the resources of civilization are not yet exhausted, and that we have wells of real intelligence upon which to draw. Please don't wake me up.

That'll do for now, I'm off to pour myself a finger of something smooth...

British Officer says US military incompetent and racist

A senior British Officer offers a blistering critique of the attitudes and competence of the US military in Iraq. He says
their cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted to institutional racism
but goes beyond social critique to question their basic competence:
US military commanders have failed to train and educate their soldiers in the art of counter-insurgency operations and the need to cultivate the "hearts and minds" of the local population.
In part, this stems from a simplistic and ultra-aggressive focus:
a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly swift and violent kind
and their habit of responding to insurgent tactics like a wounded, stupid, bull:
What he calls a sense of "moral righteousness" contributed to the US response to the killing of four American contractors in Falluja in the spring of 2004. As a "come-on" tactic by insurgents, designed to provoke a disproportionate response, it succeeded, says the brigadier, as US commanders were "set on the total destruction of the enemy".
The batwings hate Vietnam comparisons, but then the same mistakes are repeated, again and again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Lawful provocation?

Proof that provocation should remain part of the law. A woman is charged after stabbing her partner with scissors because....

...he kept playing an Elvis song, over and over!

High Court nominee hearing begins

So reads the headline in the Oz, which goes on to say:
George W. Bush's conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito began what was likely to be a contentious week of Senate confirmation hearings today..
What price a competent editor? High Court Australia, Supreme Court US. At least they haven't started getting it the wrong way around. Yet.

Sounds like another fundamentalist batwing:
A staunch conservative, Mr Alito is seen by abortion rights advocates as likely to cast a vote to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized the procedure some three decades ago.
As if his predecessor Sandra Day O'Connor voted to tell men which side to dress on.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Aggregators, podcasts and shifting sands

I've moseyed along in my dinosaur manner while this technology has evolved and changed the way blogs work, sites are read, and in turn posts must be written. For example, I've recently figured that if the hook, the interesting bit, of your post starts a few lines down, you will probably be ignored by people who are only reading the first couple of lines on aggregators like Labor First's.

Also, font and other layout choices become appear a lot less relevant if, as I understand it, many people read your whole posts on their own sites, in standardised form.

I started a bloglines account, also one run by Google; so far they don't seem useful but I'm waiting to see if that changes when people write new posts.

Are feed readers a revolution, or at best an incremental development like that half-arsed blogrolling program?

And what of podcasting?

I am not persuaded this will tip blogging on its head, because my guess is that about 30-50% of blog reading is done by bored people at work (not something I'd do, of course!). So text has a silent advantage. But others are dabbling in it- are any of you? Is it useful, or just novel?

Best Blonde Joke Ever

Apart from the one about the lawyer on the plane.

It's quite a few clicks away, but follow the links and it's worth it: Brilliant Blonde Joke...

Friday, January 06, 2006

World's most unlucky peace process

Sharon walks in the valley of death, just as he is passing through the epicentre of a campaign to tip Israeli politics on its head, pull left together with right, and progress peace.

So many fruitcakes on both sides will see this as an act of God. I'm far from a fan, but the man's started to feel the pull of wisdom in his twilight years, and his loss, like that of Mr Rabin, could not come at a worse time.

May he find strength.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Of lost cats and grogblogs

This morning I lost my cat.

Possibly he was pissed off and trying to make a point, more likely it was just curiosity that led him onwards and upwards.

He is an indoor cat. Burmese are incredibly smart in certain respects, but they have the survival instincts of lemmings. Also, they really are beautiful and exceptionally friendly, and tend to get picked up and carried away. So it's recommended that you keep them indoors.

Ours is an indoor cat, cutting a dashing figure as he flies from upstairs window-ledge to kitchen floor, skids as his little legs work into the turn and whistles back upstairs again. He has toys. We try.

But of course cats are still wild animals, deep in their hearts.

We got a brace thingy and a leash, but he doesn't like walking; he freaks out at the road or once he is out of eyeshot of the house. Home is where the heart is. To a point...

He gets regular out-times where he runs around the front garden. He likes these, he goes nuts one minute then flops in the grass the next. And what fascinates him the most is the bit where the garden joins the outside- the wall, the shrubbery, the herb garden where we found him mewling and crying when the idiot cleaner let him out the front. The bit that's just off-limits.

We got a new BBQ. I let him out for his morning stroll. I thought it possible he'd jump up on the BBQ and over the wall while I was upstairs getting ready for a few minutes, but assumed he'd end up in the herb garden.

I came down and peered outside. He was not there.

I looked around, into the laundry where his food and litter tray are. No cat.

I went outside and started calling.

I went through the house and out the front, and immediately did a walk around, peering into the herb garden, twice, and along the front of the wall (and on the road...). Nada.

I ran upstairs, peered under the bed, in the cupboard, under the visitors' bed, in the study, under the fucking study table, in the bathroom, I was calling, he usually comes when called.

I got louder, I got his can of salmon casserole and started tapping it loudly with a spoon. I did another round outside, peered next door, down the back of the block of units, walked across the road, looked under 2 cars nearby. By this point I was ill, so ill, and so angry at the stupid fuckwit who wasn't watching him properly.

My mouth was full of paper glue and my gut locked up with nausea. I am, to quote many a right wing blogger, a fucking dickhead.

I ran up the stairs, aimlessly sprinting through rooms. A thought crossed my mind that this is what a parent must feel - OK many times worse again - but the same, horrible, exponential rising fear when their child isn't where they thought they'd be.

I pelted back out the front and down the driveway and there he was. Just in front of the bins, looking slightly stressed, pottering back towards the front with a "dad, what took you so long, I was lost" look, tail bushy and up.

I almost cried, I gave him half a can of salmon. Now, late in the evening, he's passed most of it into his litter tray and the whole house smells. I care less.

He's my boy, and I love him.

And while he probably won't be at MoggBlogging tomorrow night in person, I, and possibly Mrs 'Gnac, will be there to share a drink with all comers and accept salmon on his behalf.

See you there after dinner, post 8.30pm, for an Armagnac at the bar...

UPDATE: Your nice comments are greatly appreciated.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dishonest Right Wing tactic number 385

Lefties are Nazis.

How even the slimiest little proto-fascists manage to pull off this stark reversal of the obvious, without imploding, has always baffled me. You know the twisted logic, you'll have heard it if you wander around the blogs, or read the odd batwing newspaper columnist on a regular basis.

Lefties, you know, are socialists. Hitler's Nazis called themselves National Socialists. So lefties can be tarred with the deeply unpleasant and, if it leaves even the slightest mark, highly damaging brush of Nazism.

Why is this dishonest? Because the intention is to tarr with that brush, obviously, to damage by nomenclature. And this is dishonest because the tarring, the damage, has nothing to do with any extent to which Nazi Germany had a socialist economy.

People don't hate Hitler because he wove some socialist economics into his philosophy. They hate him because of his racial nationalism and his militarism.

Racial nationalism and militarism- you don't see THOSE woven through the sneering rhetoric of almost every right wing commentator, do you?

Not racial nationalism, cowering behind golden buts and mincing dog-whistling rhetoric? Not steroid-infused militarism?

He'd be rather proud of The Right's leading wafflers, constantly chipping away at evils like multiculturalism while plugging the benefits of aggressive military expansionism.

Funny more of them don't take ownership of his legacy.

Wait, I could be wrong. The Hollywood epic about the nice capitalist who secretly saved the fiscal holdings of thousands of capitalists inconvenienced by Hitler's quasi-socialist economics is just around the corner, tearful tributes and Oscars to follow...