Friday, June 26, 2009

Mannish Boy- the nicknames, the song...

He has a short, reasonably sensible name. However he has, in less than 6 months of life, attracted the following nicknames:

- the Cub;

- Mr Man;

- Mr Magoo;

- Mr Mr Man;

- Mitta Mitta Man;

- Mitt Mitts;

- Mittsa;

- Widgery Boy;

- Chops; and

- Mannish Boy.

Cub was an attempt to find an equivalent of Bear, but a boy soon took his own path. Widgery boy has absolutely no rationale at all. And the rest all relate, one way or another, to the fact that his man-features - in particular his brow and chin which have been visibly different to Bear's since the 12 week scan - are stretching to beefcake proportions.

Chops, for example, I use because his thighs are shaped like big pork chops! Sumo Boy has also been heard.

Leading from this I often sing him variants to Mannish Boy which, for the uninitiated, is the song with the riff recycled for Bad to the Bone. Yes, the one that made the song famous. The new lyrics often go along the lines of:

I'm a mannish boy,
I made nearly half a year,
an' I tellin' ya baby,
I'm gonna nibble yo ear!

He loves it, especially the riff between each line; Dar-Dar-Doo-Dar-Dum, Da-Dum, Da-Dum... Oh I just thought I'd share! File under goofball dad keeps track of silliness.

Cat Psychosis Triggered By Stupid Novelty Card!

Now and then I notice a sleeper comment on an old post, something added well after it had slipped off the radar. Occasionally they are worth giving some airtime, as with this extraordinary tale left under my post about Mao going nuts back in '06:

My cat full on tried to kill me yesterday morning. The trigger was apparently a card that when opened has pooh talking. And pooh was the absolute devil. He thought it was me and next thing I knew I was having to fight for my life. I was thankfully on my way out the door, so I had on jeans and shoes. And for a cat that has no front claws...he certainly caused a significant amount of damage to my leg. And my arm seems to have a swollen lymph node now. I have had "cat scratch fever" before, and I am thinking that I have it again.

I left him in my apartment for the bulk of the day and when I came back...he was still trying to attack me. My parents came out and wrangled him into his cat carrier and took him to there house. Last I heard he was still in it b/c he was still aggresive. They were going to try and let him out later to roam the basement. He is going to the vet tomorrow, when it opens. I hope that they are able to fix him. But at the same time, I am sufficently scared of him and don't know what to do. I am going to wait to see what the vet says. I miss him something terrible. He was my baby boy. I saved him from my apartment parking lot. After a he had taken a ride in the engine of my car.

Well, it has to be said I'd hate being carried along in the engine of the car, and as for those fucking cards/books/plastic toys that talk....

No updates on the outcome. I hope things went back to normal for this anonymous commenter the way they did for Mao and I.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grech and the Libs- a tryst that's now public business

On Lateline last night Hockey was squirming, refusing to answer relevant questions and repeating Turnbull's breathtakingly arrogant analogy between their 'special friends' (or is it 'little mates'?) in the Australian Public Service and a journalist's sources. This brings yet another dishonest ploy into the utegate fiasco. The two are clearly different and both Hockey and Turnbull know it.

If politics and journalism rely on members of the Commonwealth Senior Executive Service to breach their contracts, their code of conduct, their responsibilities to the sitting minister and ultimately the public, while being paid at least $150,000 per annum, then this sits in what might be described as a grey area of law and ethics. It is not something to simply sneer and dismiss as a concern in every case.

Whistleblowing in the face of overt concerns about breaches of ethics by others, or manifest public interest, is quite different to merely helping your ideological mates and acting as an ongoing mole. That is dishonest and unethical. For the journalist or politician who receives such information the matter may be less clear, as it is accepted that they use virtually everything they can get their hands on in the course of their work.

However this case is clearly different.

Allegations remain largely speculative and piecemeal, but with the following presently in the public sphere:

- That the email was a piece of fraud, designed as a direct attack on the holders of the two highest offices in this land;

- A strong relationship between the upper echelons of the Liberal Party and Godwin Grech going back years;

- Bucketloads of circumstantial evidence swirling around that suggests Grech may have been involved in the creating or proliferation of the email;

- Bucketloads of circumstantial evidence swirling around that suggests Grech is inconsistent with the truth, and has not met (to put it at the minimum) basic expectations that come with being a very highly paid member of the Senior Executive Service of the APS;

we deserve and are owed a full explanation of why the obvious joining of the dots should not take place.

Turnbull's patronising tone towards the reporter last night was vintage truffles: the arrogant, unrepentant spoilt brat whose contacts, blue ribbon background and sheer bullying prescence have always got him his way.

Surely he looked at that footage later, in the overall context where he is fighting for his political life, and thought: What Was I Thinking? It was as if Latham, a day after grabbing Howard's hand too hard, turned and put Brendan Nelson in a bearhug.

Rudd's decision to avoid a night of the long knives in the APS was in some ways admirable, but this affair has surely damaged the careers of those who want to be able to move between working for the political party of their choice, and working for the public service.

Friday, June 19, 2009

May a dozen words muffle your point

Slap me in the face with a frozen flathead, I agree with Tony Abbott:

"Rudd's tone oscillates between injured innocence and earnest self-importance, but he never uses one word when a dozen might muffle his point," Mr Abbott wrote on News Ltd's website The Punch. Wit and brevity should be key during question time, he said.

Credit where it's due, that's a good one-liner.

It's because he's a bu-reau-crat Tony, welcome to my world and one of its plenary frustrations.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poo - Sun Tsu's Art of Toilet Training

"Let's try a bit longer luvvie, you must be close to doing a poo..."

"I want to get off the toi-yet!"

*starts dismounting*

"You sure Bearsy?"

(Voice of mum interjects...)

"She's close, really close.."

(Weak dad attempts to fix serious expression on face)

"Won't you give it a bit longer, luffiduff?"

*dismount now almost complete*

"I want to get off the TOI-YET!!"

"OK, OK, sweetie, all good, into the bath"

*picks up toddler*

*places in bath*

1 second

2 seconds

PHUTT!! A great brown cable splits in two as it hits the water, disintegrating in seconds among the various porous bath toys.

"I done a poo daddy."


So after hand-scooping most of it out, and pushing the rest into the plughole, and lobbing all the toys out around the bathroom floor, Bear has her first, standing-alone-like-a-big-kid shower. She couldn't believe how funny that was!

Fear OF Security- A history of Australian Foreign/Foreigner/Other policy

What I am reading: Fear of Security by Anthony Burke. I am nearly done, it has taken months between the rest of my life to navigate this single book.

Burke is a crit, and like most crits does that which he seeks to deconstruct in others- constructing a polemic narrative that deliberately illuminates the bits that suit the argument while often missing or shading over the bits that don't. That being said, he makes a litany of good points and has built a persuasive picture of Australia's history of dealing with security as something based of fear, and predicated on the removal of security from others.

This is not in itself a shocking hands-to-face revelation. Even a cursory reading of John Howard's favourite discipline, history, performed with the tightest blinkers on, cannot fail to uncover some obvious points:

* We tend to go to war in situations where we are not actually under threat...

* Against people who are not threatening us...

* Having hocked our foreign policy making to a great power somewhere.

And while a Windbag can split hairs over the means, motivations, and exact details, there is no doubt as a simple before-and-after question that this country was once populated by hundreds of tribes of indigenous people, a population now far smaller and scraping a life off the very bottom rungs of the Australian 'ladder'.

And the fact that as a nation we're hysterical over people who arrive in small numbers in boats is self-evident; provable in pure quantitative terms by comparing numbers of different types of arrivals and the reactions they inspire.

But still.

Put together, it is not hard to build an almost-unrelenting image of a nation scared to write its own foreign policy and irrationally defensive, and from that also aggressive, about issues of race and identity.

We may mewl about it now, but a century ago much of the population viewed Aboriginals as a "detested incubus" (in the observation of one Reverend John West) to be hunted down and removed from the land.

We have never learned the apparent, obvious and extraordinarily harsh lessons of World War I in respect of hocking our foreign policy to others and sending young men to die on foreign soil.

Never mind the warm-hearted humanitarian angle- this is also bad policy when viewed from almost any sophisticated analytical lens. Realism? A bright, literate realist would not trust great powers with our interests, and would never go on a venture overseas that demonstrably makes us less secure. Liberals? They aren't supposed to breach plenary principles of international law and snub multilateral fora.

All we are left with is dumb and insecure. It's a sad comment on how far we have to go to become a mature nation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I read my first word I read it I said it I said "I"!

"What's that Bear?"

*points to a capital letter 'I' on the page*


"Can you say that one?"

*moments tick by, a Bear wearing her problem-solving face*


"Ay!.... that's Ay!" she correctly states and a dad starts whooping with glee.

"Hey BELOOOVED, Bear just read her first word off the page, she said I, as in the letter 'I' which is of course a word, I'm so proud, did you hear me she READ HER FIRST WORD I AS IN "I", Beloooved...yay, WELL DONE BEAR, YAYY!!"

Beloved returns a volley of similar excitement from the other room. I sit there bouncing my feet and grinning ear-to-ear. Bear smiles, a little bemused.

Who says parents become obsessed with trivia?

At just under 2 years and 6 months my girl read something off the page and I am excited because I love and am sentimental about reading. Well, that and the usual overwhelming dad-pride.

Speaking of....

She's also into singing. This morning she sat next to Mr Man and sang for him, he stared back in awe, I got overwhelmed with the Ah-cutes. Last night she stopped as we were coming down the stairs, looking serious, and broke into a rendition of 'dancing face' by Justine Clark, complete with frowns, wiggling ears and other highlights. I cracked up laughing, but she didn't miss a beat, continuing with the song and hamming it up even more, clearly impressed with the effect she'd had.

Daughter's always on stage.

(Updated the title slightly! Bear has been talking her head off for ages, the excitement here was about her recognising a word, albeit a single letter, and reading it off the page with no clues.).

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Spew, snot and rain- yay for long weekends

June long weekend has always been a dead loss, I can't remember a time where, anticipating the opportunity, I've organised a holiday and taken advantage. This was no exception, with one catch-up with friends planned for the Monday, a plan cancelled due to excess snot and vomit.

There is no narrative I can unfurl; the whole weekend blends into itself as a scene, set in the lounge room, slate-grey outside with intermittent rain. We are passing Mitt-Mitts back and forth, he cries a fair bit, snotty, later throwing up a morning's worth of liquid and bringing us our closest brush with a trip to the Royal Children's. Bear is pottering around. Thankfully she got into the Angelina Ballerina puzzle book, so she was easily entertained in the one spot. Pulling out puzzles, putting them back in with approximately 1 frustrated dummy spit per puzzle. This did not lose its entertainment value after the 42nd time.

Beloved held out well, falling sick near the end. I developed a sharp pain in my lower back from constant child-handling, a pain that resulted in my legs nearly giving way while walking to get take away last night.

The cats circled, antsy, arcing in for attention whenever a gap appeared. The weather was so lousy that Mao refused to go outside at all yesterday.

We went shopping, to 'shoppo' as Lucy Tartan puts it, and were quite successful. I wheeled the kids around the ladies section of DJ's for 45 minutes, stopping by the change rooms to write off various pairs of jeans as ill-fitting. Sass & Bide, or Bidet as we say north of the Yarra, had no chance after I used the analogy of a short carrot to describe their lack of flattery. Beloved ended up with a nice pair of Diesels. The kids got PJs, Bear choosing hers with a little embroidered crab on the front. I got a mediocre coffee after a long wait at Muffin Break. That was the exciting bit over with, late Saturday morning. The rest you know.

Should I start a new tag "Cabin Fever"?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Seething Mom's Open Letter To Obama

Liked, moved, wanted to share this :

My husband and I understood exactly what those horrible marriage amendments were really all about and we knew it had nothing to do with protecting the sanctity of our 27-year marriage, and everything to do with hate, ignorance and bigotry masquerading as a mandate from God. It was also the point at which we painfully realized that enough of our fellow Arizonans, possibly friends and neighbors among them, felt so strongly that our son was not worthy of the same rights they enjoyed that they could pull the lever for enshrining his second-class citizenship into our state constitution. I cannot describe the pain we felt. Saying it was excruciating just doesn't do it justice.

(Hoping my amateur attempts at HTML construction work, given the wizywigg is still down, at least at work. Is it some 'latest java update' that work might not have? 'Stration.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sinophobia gets a natural break - on SBS

As I sit here, family asleep, flicking through my blogroll, the most blatant and frankly spurious attempt to link a bit of nationalistic business (?) lobbying to the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre just bleated out on the telly. The massacre is a good reason for opposing the Rio Tinto takeover?

This makes no sense. There is no rational link between control of Australian resource companies and human rights abuse. That is not to say human rights abuse should not be vigorously taken up with perpetrator governments, more so than at present. But this is not the context.

This ad appears to be driven by either extreme nationalism, outright anti-Asian racism, or plain business interest. After all, who stands to benefit if the deal fails? I do not know, the tangled web of relevant interests is not in front of me, but it sure isn't the human rights lobby.

The ad just got a second placement as I've been typing. SBS have no doubt sold those placements for healthy consideration, being bang in the middle of the World News and just minutes after a story going over the miseries of the massacre.

But I find that fact, the implicit sell-out of values and the unanswered questions about who would seek or fund such an ad positively creepy. Is it linked to the ad featuring Barny and Xenophobe? Or have we moved further into the catacombs of deep national phobia than even those fruitbats would care to enter?

Postcript: The deal is now off, anyway. As I noted in comments, my tone in this post probably needs a touch of context:

"It came across a bid reds under beds, not as nuanced human rights discourse, but then again let's acknowledge here that I was well into my second shiraz and getting pretty sleepy too, so the post was written in about 4 off-the-cuff minutes..."


A break in transmission. What was to be a post linking to a seminar run by a banker for lawyers on how to exploit the recession, coupled with some witty byline like 'why DOES everyone love bankers and lawyers so much?', has been shelved since I don't have any way of editing. I have lost my wizzywiggz!

My explorer has not changed in the past few days. Java is on. I have now cleared my cookies, kicked wall at the back of my workstation, and reached across to touch my corkboard, the nearest approximation of wood. All my tricks have been exhausted.

This has happened before. Has it happened to others? Is Google too busy splashing about in its wave search thingy to attend to humble blogger?



Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Nuts. Cats. Nuts. No Daddy!

*Thump* *Thump*

A ribbon of cream and brown cat fur swirls past, almost fluid with speed and linear perfection. Mao and Minh at play, something beyond tracking by the mortal eye.


"No not nuts daddy. Cats!"

I sit there stunned as Beloved cracks up. I am the punchline, but frankly I'm also just floored at being corrected by my 28 month old daughter.

Today the Doctor told Beloved that Bear is amazingly articulate.* They looked around the surgery, Bear pointed out the "stethoscope" and other points of interest, before asking if she could play with some toys in the corner "please, Doctor?"

Sorry to brag but I am a proud daddy, I am simply puffing up with pride. And pissing myself, what a crackup. Funny girl, my daughter.

*my emphasis, of course.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Relatives- We have one and she reads this site...

And sometimes more gets published here than we choose to share with the wider family. So it is entirely possible some worry hanging over our heads for a few days might stray onto this site, but not become the subject of phone calls to the grandparents. They might then get a surprise call from someone in the family structure, let's say one of Beloved's Aunts, asking what's going on.

Aunty-Aunty, tsk tsk!

When both her sets of parents found out about the scare, they were at pains to emphasise, over and over, how Beloved must call and share such news immediately. This I found somewhat insensitive and it probably emphasised the reasons she didn't.

The last time she had such a scare, buried way back in the archives of this blog, she called a parent and instantly got a long, one-sided talk about how that parent had once had a similar health scare and all the ins and outs of their experience. She was hardly asked about her own feelings, and hung up angry and disappointed. So it's little wonder she wanted to bunk down, eat chocolate, drink shiraz, cuddle her immediate family, and wait until we had some news.

Beloved does not mind Aunty-Aunty finding out, per se. Aunty-Aunty holds a special place in Beloved's history, a de facto big sister at a time when Beloved needed all the older role models she could find. Aunty-Aunty has a good manner with the kids. Aunty-Aunty just needs to move to Melbourne and she'd be roped into all the babysitting she could handle.


Message from Melbourne to prospective Indian Students

I think you make an excellent contribution to the intellectual life of my city. I am deeply ashamed at the rise of violence in this city generally, which is not being taken seriously and blamed euphemistically on things like alcohol or late night clubs. But it is clear that a portion of this violence, in a redux of the horror depicted in the movie Romper Stomper, is neofascist gang violence targetting others on the basis of race. And the race they're targetting is yours.

That this great shame is overtly racist is clear. You are probably familiar with the debate in the UK, where ironically your own ethnic group are pointed to as an example of 'successful integration' by racists attempting to distance themselves from that lable. If only those Jamaicans and Muslim Asians studied harder and fitted in better, like the Indians.

Well while I reject that argument as an excuse for bigotry, it is certainly true that you fit in easily. Contrary to the garbage about loud conversations on trains (has a piece of apologia ever been so laughably ridiculous?) you do not annoy me on the train. You study, you generally obey our laws (unlike violent neofascists or people who do not offer the special needs seats to pregnant women), you respect this country and you also make a huge contribution. Not the least in paying phenomenal amounts of money that help sustain our underfunded education sector.

All the better for showing, beyond a scintilla of doubt, that you are being targeted by a pure strand of racism that cannot even hide behind the usual pathetic excuses. There is no 'Indian Cronulla' to point to, no 'clash of civilisations'.

What's to do?

Well, do understand that our police have limited capacity due to under-resourcing, and cannot be on the trains when they are needed to stop this violence. They have much more important things to do.

If you have the marks, go to ANU, it's Australia's best Uni anyway. Failing that, I'd probably stay almost anywhere except Melbourne until the problem you face is taken seriously.

Again, I'm really sorry.