Saturday, December 11, 2010

About 9 months since my political divorce

It has been an uninspiring year, hasn't it?

I suppose various wikileaks have backed the Rudd removal a bit. Well, they've confirmed things people would already know, if they exercised some judgement.

Australia, the party I left included, are sh!thouse at foreign policy. And lie and lie about it. Afghanistan being just an example.

Be prepared to go to war with China, we've said. Well. Be prepared for an entire generation to be wiped off the face of the Earth, on the basis of assurances given by panic-stricken politicians incapable of independent analysis.

China has basically told us they're just supporting North Korea in public, but view them as nuts. So why, knowing even China is working on them, would the US indulge in brinkmanship on their terms?

We learn nothing. Nothing.

Anyway, over that, now I'm just a dad, tired of the world, happy when I'm in my garden, watching my kids run around. Sitting there this morning with my feet on the grass, quartered vegemite sandwich in front of me. Mitts sits beside me, then shuffles up against me, Bear sits on the other side, we all eat our vegemite as the olive tree rocks gently in the morning breeze.

Or with all of us in the city, Beloved holding Bear's hand and me with Mitts on my shoulders, the way Bear was 2 years' ago, looking at the Christmas windows. Mitts looking around in awe- at the city, the buildings, all those trams, all that pointing and naming. The friendly, uncommercial Santa who's always in the square below Collins.

Or when I bent down to scoop one of them up and they both hugged me as hard as they could.

I still notice politics. There is just no home for me there at the moment. Not for a while I suspect. And 2011 does not fill me with optimism.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Breaking Sad

'Something's gotta give.'

So Beloved declared last night, as we found ourselves half-seriously considering a suggestion that we move to Cairns. She'd caught up with a friend who lives there, having moved from Brunei after her Aussie pilot husband explained that cheating was just part of the pilot lifestyle and shrugged.

The friend had offered to babysit, all the time, as she loves kids but is over the relationship game for a while, and frankly that's the best offer we've got on the table.

I've been a bit perkier lately, since starting a new job in which I'm well over my head but at least feel stimulated and surrounded by what seem to be *touch wood* nice people. I still talk to my father, though despite the great 'offence' he took last year, where I 'got him wrong' and mistook his words for criticism, he has since made several nasty attacks on my career (a topic I don't even discuss with him any more) and dug up his intense dislike of music with the suggestion that if I encourage it in the kids they'll wake up in a gutter somewhere with a needle hanging from their arms.

I'm attempting to keep him at arm's length without cutting him off completely, and the idea of counselling to find ways to deal with this is becoming attractive.

But Beloved is also disappointed. Her parents keep making excuses to find other things to do on their weekends, watch aeroplanes or dig garden beds or other priorities. They are choosing not to be a meaningful part of the kids' lives, and I think we are both still struggling with this.

My birth mum used to talk of moving to Melbourne. She has a great bond with Bear, and makes a great effort when we visit. If she came up, even for a couple of years, she could be part of their lives, and ours. But I know for a range of reasons this is improbable.

I think being wandering, independent types we probably underestimated the amount we would want family. Now we have kids, and see other families where everyone gathers around and is involved, even families where everyone is interstate where the effort, and enthusiasm, is on another level. I think also because they banged on for years about how much they'd like grandkids, we never imagined Beloved's mum choosing to potter in her Canberra house weekend after weekend, instead of spending the mortgage-free largess on a few 1 hour plane tickets to Melbourne. Or my mum choosing to stay in Bundaberg when my dad refused to come down for Christmas.

So. Why don't we move to them? Well, in the case of my birth family, in Hobart, I would have too much guilt, it could wreck the already uncertain relationship with my parents in Bundaberg. Unfortunate, as I get the sense we would get some support there. Parents in Bundaberg- my mum would try, but you don't have to read back far on this blog to get a sense of the ongoing poison that drips from my dad. Despite hints of caring and reflection coming through in recent times, as he works through the darkness of chemo. That might work well for years, only to have him tell Bear she needs to lose weight when she's 9 or something similarly in-character, whereupon I would probably do something that would risk my incarceration.

Beloved's dad and stepmum make a pretty good effort, when we're there, but apart from my concern that their love of money, expensive aeroplanes, cars and the like might rub off, they live in the middle of nowhere near a small, sad, violent town. Beloved enjoyed growing up there, but the ball might bounce differently next time around. And Canberra, her mum, sister, other family? I probably could have been tempted, but the ongoing mediocrity of interest shown by her mum has not only put that option to bed, but is slowly but surely pushing Beloved further and further away.

Perhaps, as it is for me and my dad, what was previously tolerable now just looks unpleasant in the light cast by small children.

We work, relentlessly. She works about 4 and a half days and gets paid for 3. Late night phone conferences are frequent. There are no breaks. We go out maybe 3 times a year together. Time with the kids is lovely, there is never enough. It is lost standing on crowded trains that are stuck, yet again, at Clifton Hill. We get up, we process the day, we flop into the couch, we sleep. Day after day, week after week.

I know you might say what people always say, what we already know, that we just need to get over it, stop expecting more from family, adjust. I know. We want to. It just isn't easy, the disappointment clings on hard.

Last night I watched a show about kids who are selectively mute. A granddad was taking so much time out to be with his granddaughter, taking her boating, chatting to her, patiently trying things until one day she speaks into a phone and leaves him a message. His eyes watered. So did mine. At him, his devotion and care.

So. Cairns? Adelaide? Volunteers Abroad on a small island? The UK?

Or just hang in there and hope it gets better, easier, one day...?

Something's got to give.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The not so Awesome Dancer...

So what exactly is disruptive misbehaviour in a 3 and a half year old?

Beloved and I are both feeling a bit thrown, well, quite upset, after getting bailed up by the teacher at Bear's dance class. She wasn't subtle. Bear doesn't always do what she's told, and when she [gets bored?] wanders off in a different direction or doesn't follow instructions properly, a couple of other kids (who I note approvingly must look up to her a little) do the same.

This particularly riled the teacher, who emphasised that because these other kids (who are Bear's friends from outside class) followed her, she was disrupting their learning.

Gutted. And not quite knowing in which direction to feel bad. Is Bear's behaviour, which is not loud or aggressive, age-inappropriate raucousness? We push child care to tell us if anything's up, but they've described her as generally obedient, patient, and a good sharer. This last point particularly comes out when we observe her with her other peers, and she seems to us to show mature conflict-resolution skills and tolerance.

Are we being those parents we don't want to be, who can't see that their precious little angel is really wild, undisciplined and in need of more discipline? If we aren't, perhaps someone (who teaches classes of much older kids as well) has a slightly impatient and even age-inappropriate attitude. Certainly the fact that she said

I don't want to shout at them, but...

twice, might have been telling. Because I wanted to reply 'great, I don't want to put a call in to the department administering your Working with Children Check'. But again- perhaps we're wrong, and 3 and a half year olds should know to remain tightly disciplined in dance classes.

Perhaps they should accept personal responsibility (or in lieu we, as their parents, should suck it up) if their own conduct leads others astray.

After all, Bear isn't 3 and a bit anymore, you've got to grow up sometime.

...

My childhood (and beyond), so much boredom, so much unfed creativity, so much annoying teachers with my inability to focus on their head-slapping repetition, all rushed into view. Bear already makes up songs, paints, loves to just get into an activity and explore. Are we letting her off the leash, setting her up for trouble? Should responsible parents get in and crush the dissent early so that their children have the best possible chance to thrive in school, being, per the Prussian model it evolved from, set up in much the same structured, one for all, way?

Kids are full of so much creativity and joy. Looking around, at the way we become as adults, I suppose it's not surprising we try to crush it out of them early.

Age appropriate kid versus impatient teacher, or feckless fawning parents? Certainly this will preoccupy Beloved and I for several wine-fuelled chats on the couch...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Media outrage at slight glimpse of human error

The incident involving Conrad French approaching Abbott in a pair of speedos embodies everything that is wrong with politics, and the under-educated over-powerful media that shapes it, in this country.

My hyperbole? Let's take a deep breath and have a look.

A labor staffer- so for the first bit of perspective, not an elected member (just an underdressed member, but I digress), likely to be on a pretty average salary and to work very hard for it- pulls off a stunt that:

* shows a lapse of judgement in the current political environment, and given his position;

* would have made complete sense otherwise, given Abbott's history, as a minor, inoffensive, non-aggressive (he desisted pretty much immediately) prank.

Wait, let's use some caps here: A MEMBER OF THE POLITICAL CLASS FELL OFF MESSAGE AND ACTED HUMAN FOR 30 SECONDS!

That's it. Abbott laughs it off. Brandis agrees it's not that big a deal. Yet according to The Age Gillard is under pressure to sack him.

Sack him. Take away his job and career. For wearing speedos.

'Under pressure' from whom? The media. This kind of tawdry, senseless scandalisation of the unremarkable is what we have come to expect as normal. It doesn't seem odd that there is 'pressure' to sack someone, for running in a pair of budgie smugglers.

[As an aside I think everyone who wears them should be subject to some cruel and unusual punishment, however this should not be meted out arbitrarily in this case!]

I have met Conrad. He seemed fine, he works hard for that party which I was a member of. I don't have any special attachment to him though and I'm not writing this out of bias- he's part of the machine that ultimately let me down.

But I've chosen to comment on this as I think it's a great glaring paradox of our system that we, and the media, rabbit on about wanting human beings in politics, then any time there's a minor slip off the company prompt card the hysteria is deafening.

He'll be dwelling on his embarrassment, and nurturing that awkward sense that this will be used against him for years to come. Only the media cares, because if he isn't sacked then the scandle-cycle hasn't worked properly, and they miss an additional news story.

Monkeys. Go find some other peanuts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Alone

The only vestige of family with any sort of active involvement in our lives has gone. Beloved's sister and her partner have moved back to the town of circling cars (Canberra). We feel alone and Beloved in particular is sad and disappointed.

It was very nice having at least a couple of family members close. Yet something stood in the way, they didn't engage the way we, Beloved in particular, hoped they would. They were fantastic with the kids, when we saw them. But being 15 minutes away this didn't seem very often, and yet I suspect in their view it was more than ample- duty done, slightly older family with kids attended to, back to the fun stuff. I suppose we hoped to be included as fun stuff which, when you're loaded up with kids and chores, I guess is hard to pull off.

The memories of when we did things together, several days at the beach for example, are special. But they are also sad memories because there are so few of them, over a couple of years living just a suburb or so apart.

The days at the beach preceded Mitts' expected birth date by just a few days. They were our support, particularly as this time around we had Bear to consider, and no-one else who could easily take care of her. Yet they also had friends renting a house in the country, out of mobile range, and when the opportunity arose there was no hesitation extending that from a weekend to several nights. Several nights for which we cobbled together a series of emergency contacts and kept our fingers crossed, wracked with stress. They were back just in time for the birth, but in a way the symbolism can't be altered- they easily could have missed it.

That can never be taken back, the symbolism - involving those whose role in his life would be second only to ours- stark and painful.

Yet they've done more than anyone else, so they shouldn't wear the full blanket of our deep disappointment. They came, they helped, babysat, played. Not as much as we'd have liked, and perhaps partly out of obligation, but at least it happened.

There are four families in our constellation. The kids don't really know any of them. Two or three people have built slightly better (than nothing) relationships and are remembered by name, but that's about it. Early experiences travelling around convinced us that there was no Shangri La of loving familial support waiting if we were prepared to move. There are certain individuals (my two mums come to mind) who would probably jump at the chance to spend more time with the kids, but who for various reasons will not be moving closer in the short term. Which is sad, the kids would love to play with them now, it'll be different in 10 years...

Beloved and I returned from London, where I had been working, at the end of 2002. Sometimes I miss London. One of the biggest reasons for not going back would be the effect on the kids' family relationships. We emerge from 3 years of incredibly hard graft and effort, less support than most of our friends, almost no time to ourselves, having dragged the kids around endlessly trying to get those extended family ties up and running. There is only modest gain to show for it.

Sometimes I miss London and can envisage, without much loss, a life built elsewhere.

The kids themselves are fine, we as an immediate, nuclear family are fine, tired but happy. They are so full of energy and joy at the moment, I am just getting over the fact that no-one else in our family constellation wants to share that with them.

I know, swallow a bag of cement and harden up, that's life, not meant to be easy, &c &c &c*... Beloved and I are just taking stock, and feeling quite sad about it all.


(*Love the use of ampersand-c in the old texts I've been reading...)

Monday, July 19, 2010

3 year old politics: 'Where's Kevin Rudd?'

'That's Julia Gillard', I say, as the PM appears on TV in full electioneering mode, 'she's the Prime Minister.'

Bear, 3 and a half years old: 'Where's Kevin Rudd?'

I'm stumped. I want to give her a neutral take, let her get all the positives from seeing a woman in a position of power. Despite my own disappointment at the consummate sell-out she, and Labor, now represent (oh and wasn't that dirty little ad with the border security garbage in it just an insult to the intelligence of the much feted masses?)...

'He's not Prime Minister any more...'

'Why?'

'Because he, um, his polls were bad, he was having some problems.... *thoughtful pause* ...so he stopped being Prime Minister and now it's Julia Gillard.'

...

'WHY?'

....

'I don't know love. But it's good because she's the first woman to do this, so now girls can do it too.'

Bear thought about this in silence. She was processing something about change, the inadequacy of the explanation for Rudd's removal- why has this man who was on the TV and in the papers, who daddy said was pretty important, just disappeared? And perhaps: why is she the first, why would girls not be able to do everything boys can do?

It's the machine, lovvie, and now he's just a ghost therein....

...Oh and you can lovvie, you can, we're just coming out of the triassic now...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Best Kind Of Sick Day

Yesterday, I had a magic day.

Mitts had a very mild case of conjunctivitis. Because it's highly contagious, he was sent home early from childcare on Monday and we were told to keep him home the next day. However, icky as it can be in bad cases, conjunctivitis is normally the most benign affliction from a functional point of view. The upside of this is that a parent is stuck at home with a child who is not in any functional sense sick.

So Mitts and I did some bonding. We started running around the house like nutters, throwing balloons at each other, laughing every time one of them bounced out of our hands. We stopped to read a book, it had a xylophone in it so I pulled out a real one and Mitts got stuck into it while I shook a maracca and gave him a round of applause after each atonal solo.

In the garden we kicked a ball along a few times. Then he made up a game where we sat on the top step of the granny flat, then on the lower, then sat back up again, each time with Mitts making the move then patting the step beside him while looking at me. I did actually think this was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen, though I kept an earnest straight face.

We went to some parkland, morning and again in the afternoon, walked on the grass, him holding my hand, something he's just learned to do, or sitting on my shoulders. There were ducks (All Nations Park) and moorhens (Darebin Parklands) and we sat for several minutes as he looked and pointed at them.

At Darebin it started to rain, I pulled him off my shoulders and, carrying him like a bag of potatoes, half-ran back up the hill, across the grass to the car. He smiled the whole time.

And even when I had to pretty much pin him to the floor to get the eye drops in, he took it well. The tears didn't last.

It was the best kind of day.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh well, off to Nauru perhaps?

Dili says take your colonial crap and shove it.

Abbott says the Labor Government should try Nauru.

Abbott's probably right, from her point of view. After all, the fact that Nauru is not a signatory doesn't prevent a centre on Nauru from processing in accordance with the Convention principles.

It isn't, after all, as if Timor Leste has the capacity to meet the obligations in full and provide asylum on its tiny land mass in the way we do. The plan was, I assume to do the processing then find people a home.

What a place to get to.

Reffophobia and apologia on the left- or why it's ok to be angry

There's a lot of work going into examining the motives of those attacking Ms Gillard, particularly in respect of whether some may be motivated by misogyny, or ignorance, or some other explanation.

Sure, examine away. That's legitimate. So too is questioning what is behind people who claim to care about refugees leaping stridently to her defence.

There probably are some gender bigots among those hammering her. I hammered Rudd on the same issue.

There are probably also some racists, and a far larger contingent of awkward hand wringers and ill-read ignorant-types (who really do find some elements of truth in all those references to people smugglers, queues, overcrowding et al), among those springing to her defence. The stats suggest there must be a bit of crossover, as much as we're a marginal dictatorship the asylum message has clearly touched otherwise generous and not-at-all xenophobic people across the country.

In these discussions it's been said that anger is a clue to some unreasonable or irrational motive. Sounds as gendered as 'blood under her nails' to me. Women get angry, men get use their fingernails in combat, but we know which gender each image is more usually paired with.

I'm angry, what of it? You see desperate people rotting in boats and camps while the politics of race flairs out and you don't get angry, well, don't start on some other progressive issue then. Go be calm under the wonderful status quo. And don't get angry about some other issue that for you is important, if it doesn't involve people as vulnerable as the ones I'm upset over. I often vent about thinks that upset me here, sometimes it's in the realm of anger. But I don't go around feeling anger every other day. This issue, those words said, these policies, make me angry.

There's an argument Gillard's getting special treatment. There may be some merit in this. I tend to think it's more related to a mix of timing and policy- she came in now, and was compelled to address ugly policy issues, and some of us are particularly upset at how she did that. But timing aside, looking at the Lawrences, the Kirners, the Kernots, the nasty little comments that have been directed at Gillard over her familial status, there's no doubt there are some big double-standards out there. So bring on the analysis. Bring on, for the likes of myself, the self-reflection. Perhaps we've vented too quickly at Gillard, as opposed to Labor in general. She's been appalling; but equally so has the party machine, and so was Rudd c2010, so let's keep some perspective and work on our even-handedness.

I liked her until recently. I promise to try to like her again. If her policies improve.

So, there's something there to work with.

And there's some pretty gross human rights abuses going on, now, on Gillard's watch. Some stupid policy fumbling, some making the ignorant, the bigoted and yes, the at-times outright racist, feel loved and understood. There's one of the most repellant speeches given since the middle of the Howard term.

And there are people who call all forms of bigotry. And those who seem more angry, sorry -earnestly upset, about the fact that Gillard is not being given an appropriate honeymoon.

Is it legit to be annoyed, or even angry, if it appears she's getting unfair treatment due to her gender. Damn straight.

Does it say something about people if they can't comprehend or empathise with the very strong emotions some of us feel about refugees, race, that whole awkward Cronulla *thing*? Maybe, in some cases, it does.

Maybe just as 'blood under her fingernails' is gendered, so too 'I hear you bogans and I heart your right to be ignorant' is dripping with this country's deep, nasty narrative of fear and race.

Am I suggesting perhaps at least 1 in 3 of those who are not getting it might not hold the same level of concern (to put it nicely, ever so nicely) about refugees, race, that whole awkward Cronulla *thing* that those of us who are more angry, hold?

Yes.

But - and read this before you take the slightest bit of umbrage or in any way misunderstand me- as a wise and decent person once said to me:

If it's not about you, then it's not about you.



Thursday, July 08, 2010

People Smugglers as Slave Traders?

Plopped in a thread at LP...

It’s unedifying to read of otherwise progressive types picking up on the whole ‘people smuggler as slave trader’ narrative, without at least unpacking the differences between perhaps the odd overlord making handsome profits out of it all on the one hand and poor boat crews putting nasi in the mouths of their families on the other.

Wheel it right back to the ‘danger’ thing. Ever been on a boat, indeed any sort of basic transport used by the masses, in a developing country? I’ve caught rides on Indonesian fishing boats while backpacking, you sleep on the deck, in all weather, no safety rails, large families with chickens and bags of rice sleep there too, cramped on. You hope it doesn’t sink, as they sometimes do. If backpackers do this sort of thing by choice (and I’m not the only one, if you spend some time working through the eastern islands of Indonesia), is it really hard to imagine desperate refugees making the choice? Does it really prove the boat captains are exploitative? Are you sure they don’t put themselves at similar risk, going to work each day?

When I spent time in Papela, a ‘sea gypsy’ settlement on the island of Roti, I was shown the fresh graves. Tropical storm here, diving for sea cucumbers while breathing through an air compressor there. Dead children. Dead fishermen.

The truly evil smuggling cases I’ve read about- people packed into shipping containers, or having their documents removed so they can be held as bonded labourers, don’t seem to feature among those we demonise. Mostly, we just seem to be suddenly (and in a most faux act of unconvincing generosity) extending wonderful, first world expectations of reasonable care, as if the OH&S Act can be extended more easily that the right to claim refugee status or have that assessed through Australian tribunals.

The construction of the dreaded demonic, evil, people smugglers is one of the great acts of declaratory securitisation in a nation with a less than robust history of peering behind the rhetoric on matters foreign.

Here and there I’m sure they exist- nasty, exploitative figures making handsome profits while turning their back on the risks and consequences. But I never see any effort to distil these from the mass of general boat captains and crews, most of whom I suspect do not deserve this characterisation at all.

It doesn’t do anyone any credit to just simply adopt the dominant talking points on this.

Oh Noes, Restless Natives

If only someone in Sussex St or Julia Gillard's office owned an Atlas, they might have found their way to Timor Leste and explained what is expected by the great southern benefactor. Now instead of saying 'yes sahib', the locals are getting wobbly on the message, fancy that.

Rumours the initial delegation flew to Lord Howe Island by mistake are, of course, unfounded.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Timor Solution

The best I can say is that my worst fears were, slightly, worse than this.

The renewed due process for Sri Lankan applicants is welcome.

The ongoing freeze for Afghanis is baffling, even more so to anyone who saw 4 Corners last night, recalling both the extent of the ongoing violence and the specific discussions of what happens to people who annoy the Taliban or help the outside forces.

The no-longer-Pacific solution? The devil, or something redeeming, may be in the detail. However it smells like an old fish served up under a fresh dollop of sauce.

And Abbott has slyly offered a small biscuit to the asylum lobby, by breaking ranks and offering to actually increase the intake from the mythical queues.

What a petty, grubby, unedifying little 'debate'. What a stupifying waste of public funds.

... Greens-pushing bloggers may not yet have convinced me that I'd want to join that party, but they've probably, at least, earned my primaries. I'm not the only one either.


Monday, July 05, 2010

Sometimes I love the Black Letter Law - Saeed v the Immigration Minister

Let's be realistic, you wouldn't get the same result in this recent High Court case if you went overboard on the purposive approach.

Go on, try to follow the Court's reasoning. Who needs Sudoku anyway?

Dad insults career redux

So anyway he's decided to avoid discussion of his prognosis and treatment and talk politics. Pretty soon, knowing how much we disagree on the topic, he's pushed on to asylum seekers. It's been a very long day and I'm weak, so I don't shut down discussion immediately.
 
Let's just be neutral on the politics for these purposes and accept he's entitled to a different view. And even assume that my robust defences of my own position, as I keep being bated with the kind of garbage people rabble on with when they phone up Alan Jones, have not been baited by someone deliberately not letting go. After all, I do know better, I should have just shut it down straight away. Still, with all that being said, and knowing what a vicious little vole he can be, I was still stunned when he started on the personal.
 
OK, I'm probably (for obvious reasons) speaking on the issue in a less than diplomatic manner. Phrases like 'ignorant shits' are probably passing my lips, and references to the lessons of 1938 remaining unlearned. Suddenly he lunges for a new tack (his voice edgy with snarling hostility at this point):
 
How do you get on at work? If you speak like that your career can't go very far... (repeated in similar terms, several times)
 
So we had the previous career insults. Me raising them. Him telling me I misunderstood him and therefore we are wired not to get along. And now, clearly more misunderstanding- he wasn't referring to my career, he wasn't implying (again) that I could be so much more in his eyes if only I had or lacked some quality. I'm just an ungrateful shit who doesn't understand him.
 
The subsequent discussion, which descended further as I (and dear reader I am SO SORRY I take offence and become angry at misunderstandings like that above, I KNOW I need to be a better son, grateful I was taken in, etc. etc.) let go of the reins on references to the fact that no, in my workplaces full of well-informed people I don't usually run into the same issue and, whoops, are we projecting again given I'm not the one who didn't go far in an organisation dominated by aboriginals or people sympathetic to their concerns as he grumblingly harboured reactionary views, and so on.
 
I tried to stay in the other part of the house but as I put down the phone, Bear asked "Are you alright daddy?"
 
I gave her a hug and told her yes, people just disagree sometimes.
 
And wondered whether I have to play some sort of martyr now he's so ill.
 
So I have recently made a vow not to discuss career with him, a vow I've been keeping, avoiding that marred, ugly topic. I've heard his frustration as he tries to ask more questions, as this is the only thing I have to hold back that he really cares about- not because he wants me to be happy, but because he likes to live vicariously through it, proudly talking it up to friends, taking credit, even as I get the putdowns and unwanted advice on what I'm doing wrong.
 
Perfect son = a long way away, no effort, no responsibility, but ongoing credit for career as some sort of achievement of the father.
 
So recently as part of cleaning up this festy little corner of my life I've stopped talking about it, and I've been good, resisted that 'still 12' temptation to tell him all the latest. Now, more lessons learned, no. more. politics.
 
From now we shut down to talk about health, house and family. Politics, as of my hanging up the phone last night, joins career on the paternal Do Not Call register.
 
And now I just have to work out what remains. Whether I should be dragging my family up there, despite his abject lack of effort, despite the stress it causes Beloved (me, I'm about on par here or there, it's the content of what he says and does that I find offensive), because he's ill, and that's what sons do? Because I hope that if I've ever offended my kids this much (and if I've done so in the way he's turned on me so often, then please hunt me down and kill me) that they would try and try again with me.
 

So I saw posterous

And I thought, looks great, posting by email would be much more office-friendly. Why can't I do that with blogger?

Apparently I can, so here's testing.

Update; so it worked, but now all my info has gone to the bottom of the page, and the colours aren't loading up properly. Is this happening to you, dear reader, on my site? Any idea why?

The White Kind Of Migrants?

Pursuant to the previous post, I hadn't heard this particular line she's wheeled out. But all that banging on about political correctness takes on a clearer tone when you understand that what Australia needs are the right kind of migrants.

Of course we do. People like my dad couldn't agree more.

Gillard warms up for the mother of all sell-outs

If you celebrated the notion that Gillard's ascension marked some sort of turning point in the system, a change from the old order, you might be reconsidering.

First the vicious execution, now the sell-outs.

Apparently she sees political correctness everywhere, especially in relation to asylum seekers. I'm flumoxed, here I was thinking we lived in the same country- that would be the one where the overwhelming national voice is screeching about the thousands of boats threatening to overwhelm us, the fact that they're full of murderers and terrorists, the fact that they make up 200% of our immigration take etc., but apparently the quiet, humble ordinary folk are being shut down by political correctness.

So it's not about race or culture, not about bigotry? Could have fooled me- as per my heated argument with the old man last night, or more genial discussions had with a couple of relatives holding the same views not long back, it soon becomes ALL ABOUT our 'way of life' and protecting 'our culture' and signposts in other languages and all those Sudanese waiting to jump on boats (I know, they're actually the ones in queues, you explain it, they don't get it, foreigners are foreigners...).

So we wait. Minority deluded politically correct loryars like me waiting to see what she's warming up for here. If in fact she's 'acknowledging' concerns prior to doing the right thing, then I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Part 2, unloading about the old man and the latest string of insults he managed to bark out under the guise of the abovementioned discussion, coming shortly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gillard: please don't execute your Ricky Ray Rector

It'll be all too tempting for Gillard to extend the farcical suspension of due process for refugees. It's all too easy to viciously kick the least empowered, when the window-licking hordes want to see them viciously kicked.

To any right thinking person, Bill Clinton's integrity was laid bare when he saw through the execution of a cognitively non-functional man on the eve of his presidential election.

Gillard will tell us all we need to know about her worth as a purported leader of the centre left when, any day now, she has to make a call on extending the suspension of processing. Given she's just extended our involvement in the Afghan war, and in the background the UN is trying to gain access to Sri Lanka to investigate possible crimes against humanity, I hold out some hope that she will see that these people, from those clearly dangerous regions, at least deserve to have their claims heard, and heard fairly.

Suspending due process is like suspending the Racial Discrimination Act for the NT intervention; it speaks for itself on all the wrong levels.

This is the great moral challenge of her time. If she fails it, we can stop with all the hoo-har about her gender, her eloquent advocacy, her toughness... all mere warbling in the background if she shows that she has no basic ethical or moral fibre.

Please Ms Gillard, I know you can't deliver me utopia on this unpopular issue, but please don't sell out any further. You will, seriously, end up sitting to the right of the liberal party. And if you do that, people really will start putting Abbott above you in the preferences.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Et Tu Gillard- The Ides of June

In the fuzzy hallway footage, Gillard strolled along with that same measured, slightly ungainly walk, as instantly recognisable as Sting's voice, almost wandering through the door to drive the blade into the back that carried her into power.

Blood is all over the carpet. I've been a politics addict since around the time Hawke had just made PM, I can't recall an act of such cold, political ruthlessness to match this.

I don't know if it's a good thing or a massive case of blinking too hard, too soon. I have no personal love left for Rudd, it started draining away when I heard what an appalling hypocrite he was in the treatment of his advisers and senior public servants. I can't help saying in schadenfreude:

THAT'S WHAT YOU DAMN WELL GET for brutalising your people, effectively ruling any people who have families they care about from your team, anyone over 30, for relying on controlling spin doctors rather than policy experts.

And the love of course was pretty much gone by the time I'd digested the great asylum betrayal. But still...

Still....

It didn't take them long to dump him, did it? He may have blinked in the face of Abbott, but he's not the only one, clearly.

And was Julia Gillard really unconnected to all the crappy policy decisions over the past few months or so?

And in her core area, education, we've had, what, hardarse fighting with teachers and principals, a few buildings, a few laptops, some lost in the mail or something? Where's the huge injection of funds needed in poorer schools, where's the genuine revolution in the nature of the teaching profession? Where's the drive to get all kids receiving the analytical and critical skills needed to find their way through the glut of information and garbage they will be swimming in by the time they turn 21?

It'll be nice to point to her on the screen and tell Bear that the top job has at last gone to a woman.

It'll be good to see Gillard head-to-head with Abbott. To date she's tended to eat him for breakfast (but noting Keating used to do exactly the same to bumbling Howard...).

It'll be fascinating to see if the chance is taken to recalibrate any of the policy positions, if (at the most possibly optimistic) the Labor Party starts standing for things again.

It'll be fascinating to see what they do with the mine tax (needs a sensible recalibration to remove it from the issues list), the ETS, refugees (if as Rudd has suggested there is a move to take it to the right, I think I really will walk out and donate my kidney to the Greens- but I trust this won't, CAN'T happen...).

But I have to say, with all this, with all my disappointment in him, it is still tragic to watch a man who was Labor's Caesar, who beat Howard, who gave us the apology, signed Kyoto and at least had a good crack at the ETS, who has worked so hard for the Labor Party, hobble out of his office on his knees, blood streaming from his back, to face probable death in what appears to be a wholesale rejection by everyone around him.

Rudd, you've pissed me off on so many levels. But all the best tomorrow, wherever it, and life, takes you. And you know what, I reckon history, poring back over the sheer size of the financial crisis and the way it would have hobbled your better spending plans, the way we came through that, some of the things you've done or had a go at, history may not end up liking you but I'll wager it will look more kindly on you than the polls do right now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Child Bigotry Double Standard

So Pleb A is standing there at work, chatting to Pleb B. Pleb B pulls out their phone and says:



"Hey Pleb A, I want to show you a pic of me hanging out with my bandmate, here's us with guitars grinning at the camera."


Pleb A looks then pulls away quickly.



"I'm not into black people. Nothing personal, I don't have anything against them, and yours is an ok one I'm sure, but I just don't like them myself, prefer not to see pictures of them."


So the other day a workmate I really get along well with does precisely this, but in respect of a picture of my kids. I don't send these things around every other day, it was in fact the first time in several weeks of working together that I waved such an image in her general direction. (acknowledging that there can be overkill in this department, and that sometimes the kid-waving thing can be insensitive...)

I just don't get the 'thing' about not liking kids. Different to not liking some, particularly badly behaved kids, or even not liking kids in cafes or some other more particular circumstance. This is just the whole 'I don't like kids at all' thing. Even when I was younger, in my 20s, dating and drinking and whatnot, I didn't have, or get, this particular dislike.

Each to their own I guess, and I do have a couple of friends who fit this description but are civil and tolerant. That's a fair enough compromise, we can be mates and not take the matter further.

But I really struggle with the situation where someone treats even a glimpse of a photo as if they're being asked to put fire ants up their nostrils.

Bearing in mind I'm psychotically protective of my kids, and view them as an absolutely indistinguishable part of who I am, it throws up a bit of a barrier to a better friendship.

Friday, June 04, 2010

In defence of the jury system

My jury's still out on its value, but if prosecutors aren't going to exercise some sane discretion in cases like this, thank the traditions of the common law for 12 decent human beings.

Defence exhibit A.

Defence exhibit B.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Brumby's welcome backflip

Victoria's getting an anti-corruption commission. It's about time, and we need to be cautious about getting too excited until the detail is parsed over.

But in the predictable holler of 'backflip' going around, and having earlier had a dig at the Premier's attitude and silly comments about lawyers myself, I think a modicum of credit should be given.

He commissioned a report, it recommended he change policy, and he did. With many years of frustration in the public service behind me, can I say the shame is that this does not happen more often.

Politicians should not be condemned for 'backflipping' in the face of evidence. It is nothing less than proper conduct.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Australia- are we just international hypocrites?

As you'll gather from my previous post, I am in a bit of stroppy contrarian mood when it comes to selective invocation of international law. I don't like whaling, ditto Israel boarding those Gaza-bound vessels. Still, do we have an issue with consistency when we suck down on a few VBs and venture to tell the world what to do, worse, lecture them on international law?

Because we would never act like pirates and send blooded, armed commandos onto a humanitarian vessel that was acting in accord with international law, would we?

If a couple of refugees had freaked out and tried to grab the SAS soldiers' weapons, they would have had no alternative but to fire. This may in fact be true of some of the Israeli commandos. It's like the old self-defence adage about not pulling out a knife unless you are prepared to use it. If it's not absolutely necessary, don't pull it out. Don't attack civilian ships with commandos. It's a gutless abuse of the licence society has given you to train those commandos and have them at your fingertips.

(OK, without changing the heading as published because I know that throws feed readers, I concede on immediate reflection that it's a bit tabloidy! We're more than 'just' such, we aren't the worst global players. Obviously I still have an ongoing dose of the Mr Sh!ts...)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Suing Japan- Australia turns gamekeeper on international law

I don't resile from my eariler thoughts on this action.

I'm pleased we're back to supporting the notion of international law, it's been a bit hit and miss in recent times. I trust the plenary rule against use of force, resolution of future boundary disputes by international tribunals, and proper adherence to the refugee convention are all back in vogue. And that, instead of brandishing some 'privileged' advice from some hack in Canberra that allegedly says it might be legal, we'll willingly hand any of these highly disputed positions to an independent tribunal of international legal experts for appropriate resolution.

Tuvalu should start working up their climate claim....

Still, when it comes to managing our delicate relationships in the construct known as Northeast Asia, at a time when China is using secret 'trials' to pressure companies into doing favourable resource deals and the Koreas are taking us back to the most fragile moments in the Cold War, getting litigious with one of the only democracies in the region over whaling is entirely about putting populism above moderately intelligent policy making.

Refugees can wait for their due process, but the whales will have their day in court.

In other news, Australia has switched sides in the bluefin tuna debate and is to ban eating meat from all animals smarter than a pippie...

And of course any suggestion the decision to litigate now has been taken with a firm eye to the inward-looking nationalism and mistrust of other cultures that's become, yet again, the centrepiece of an election, is entirely misplaced.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Liberals leaving conservative parties

Malcolm Fraser has finally done what he should have done years ago. Beloved mused on why it took him so long. I can only assume that as it took me a long time to leave Labor, having given so much loyalty to it, for an ex prime minister it would be a wrenching step.

If the likes of Russell Broadbent, Judy Moylan, Petro Georgiou, George Brandis and Malcolm Turnbull were to do likewise, and seek to create a liberal party, politics would suddenly get more interesting.

Meanwhile, back at my local branch, another long term branch member who has consistently been involved in grass roots work, branch administration, hitting the hustings, who I emailed to tell about my own decision, has now also left. His tipping point was the policy asplosion that is the net filter. That wasn't on my top 5 list, but in terms of what appears to be a policy fail that will not even achieve its plenary aims, I concur.

Still, I might have to reconsider my earlier assertions about foreign policy. In some broader sense I know what I meant, but I forgot to account for the incumbent shadow foreign minister, singularly one of the least competent people in parliament. Ex union hacks might not make great analysts of the finer nuance of international relations, but that doesn't mean running a commercial law firm is any better. Julie Bishop, you moron.

And didn't she breach some security-related law with that bluster? I'm sure its true, I'm sure our security agencies do use all manner of spy-widgets in their work, but isn't the real issue that Mossad used passports belonging to real Australian citizens in an assassination?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A bit like cancer

Cancer. It is like a cancer, isn't it? I need the metaphor to explain the disease itself; the way you deal with a scare, get the all clear, then wait for the next one to arrive. And sooner or later it does.

No all-clear this time. Someone in the family, not Beloved or the kids, but still close enough, has had some precautionary lumps removed, only to find one of them isn't benign. It's in a place where prospects are not always great.

If you're a regular reader you'll know who someone is, because this comes in the middle of a rift, a rift that came in turn on the back of decades of struggle, some hits, many misses. Although I haven't blogged about it much lately, things have improved a bit since I wrote a fairly raw post a few months ago. In his usual, screwed-up way he's moved on and acted as if nothing was up, sending me books he thinks I'd like and getting chatty again on the phone. In some ways when I stop to think about it this makes me quite angry in itself, but I've generally resolved not to dwell too much and just accept it as the latest instalment in a long melodrama.

In fact the angriest I've felt since was when someone told me I needed to forgive him completely or I would never be able to move on. I couldn't fathom the logic of this, as much as the person may have meant well. I've relinquished, started talking to him again, decided that even though he won't make the effort to visit us I would still give his relationship with his grandkids a chance and visit them, from time-to-time. I'd partly-accepted, if not entirely excused, his conduct (and indeed a lifetime of it) as that of someone who was badly abused as a child, who is emotionally damaged and imperfect. What the fcuk is forgiveness in this context? A dishonest act of quasi-religious ascetic transcendence? In my heart I won't forgive the rejection entirely, and frankly with a personal philosophy that believes people should be held to account, it would create cognitive dissonance within me to try.

I found the statement, delivered in lecturing tones, akin to blaming me. After all, if forgiveness is what we should do, and we can't do it, then we aren't doing what we should do and apparently any lingering sadness or disappointment we carry is our fault. Isn't it possible we aren't actually the cause, that's the emotionally-abusive party who rejected us? And while clinging to daily bitterness won't make us happy, trying to take a happy-clappy view of things won't either? Isn't letting them slip back to normal like nothing happened, continuing to facilitate what contact they choose to have with their grandkids, continuing to talk to them and effectively accept the screwed-up status quo they have insisted on defining, isn't this all enough?

So. Cancer.

I will put my (apparently unacceptable) residual anger aside. I will take the family up to visit soon, far sooner than I previously intended. I will let the most important things take precedence, provide the opportunity for grandparent and grandchildren to find moments together. Perhaps because, despite my previously posting the worst of my fears and concerns, I believe this deeply repressed and self-centred man still cares. He may leave this world wondering why he didn't make more out of the past 3 years, regretting pissing his days away between the garage and the garden while his grandkids were growing up. He should. I won't do anything to make it worse.

We haven't got to that point yet, but the prognosis is currently uncertain. He's an old bugger, but I don't want him to die.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aker's not homophobic but...

"Some footballers think there's something wrong with people, they have some kind of disease."

Some people think there's something wrong with footballers, they have some kind of retardation.

We know there are dumb bigots, racists, and people who can't understand what's wrong with s3xual assault in footy. Sometime in the past decade or so most people who haven't fallen on their small heads coming out of a particularly high mark came to the realisation that this isn't a good thing...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A well founded fear...

Jake Lynch, Crikey:

The government’s ill-fated bid to defuse “controversy”, by suspending asylum claims for people arriving from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, looks sicker still this week after a report from the International Crisis Group reminded us of the violations visited on the Tamils in the final months of the civil war, this time last year. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed, it says, citing witness testimony, satellite images, documents and other evidence: most from systematic army bombardments of areas that had been officially declared “safe”.


No wonder the Sri Lankan government is cracking down on journalists and NGOs: it has plenty to hide. More than 100,000 people are still interned, with reports trickling out of maltreatment, r-pes and the mysterious “disappearances” that have been the signature MO of the security forces there for decades.



And what I think is on-the-money comment on political pragmatism gone wrong:


You can’t triangulate on race. It’s a lesson the Rudd government is learning all over again. There is no limit to how far a declared party of the Right will go, in search of a wedge: so the supposed “centre ground” simply moves further and further away from the comfort zone of a government still aspiring to hold together a “progressive” base of support.

Ay, some of it has cracked the sh!ts with being 'held together'.

Wiggly Party & a Deskbound Daddy

As I jot this down, in a quick 5 minutes mental transition between 2 tasks on my desk, Beloved, Bear and Mitts are sitting 4 rows from the front at a Wiggles concert.

I know, I should be more concerned about the branding and so in. Indeed, I think they've made the same mistake as many adult rock bands in transitioning to bigger, more polished settings, sounds and albums. But when push comes to shove (and I'll bet there'll be some frenetic shoving at knee level today!) they aren't bad musicians, their messages are healthy and inclusive, and they get the kidlets singing and dancing. So I'm excited for them, for Bear in particular, and a bit disappointed that I'm missing out.

This morning Beloved went in to wake Bear up, talking up the gig. And Bear responded:

"I want daddy to come to the Wiggles concert too..."

*sigh*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Abbott caught with insufficient art...

Despite ending my Labor membership, I certainly don't like Abbott one iota, and I should still be taking visceral pleasure in his squirming discomfort on the subject of the truth.

I am certainly happy that he is in trouble. He is undoubtedly from a dark, wet place in the dungeons of the far right that I do not want to see anywhere near the reins of power. I enjoyed watching last night (and if I enjoyed it, Kerry looked like he was being given a small country for Christmas).

It would just be a lot more enjoyable if it reflected a deep, ethical adherence to the truth among both the political classes and the fourth estate. If his opponent were spotless, and 100% reliable in his word. If people actually, really, gave a toss.

It's just ironic that Abbott may suffer damage for being relatively artless about that which is usually practised through more sophisticated craft...

Labor trolls- a short time coming

Mere nanomoments between breaking lockstep, and drawing ire from trolls. Here's Dr Adam Carr in a Crikey thread:


"What a pathetic whiny spineless whinger. First sign of rough weather and he/she throws up over the side and demands to be put ashore."

I'm not sure what service Dr Carr, or the Greensborough Growler, or any other sources of vicious vitriol I pick up have given to the ALP. Perhaps it's substantially more than my 15 years. I am still stunned at the speed people I might have been standing at the hustings with can turn, or at the remarkable assumption, plugged here by someone who posits himself as an intellectual political analyst, that after such time, and dozens of compromises sucked up while standing on the hustings copping abuse from aboriginal-hating rednecks in the NT, or from Greens and Liberals alike in Northcote, relentlessly doing my bit for the party, I can't make a decision to leave.

I will resist the impulse to flame back; it's inconsistent with my flame-delete policy here, and in any event if any of those people visit I'd rather give them the opportunity to look again at my last few posts under politics and reconsider. You can disagree with someone without instantly resorting to mindless hatred.

15 years, and every territory or state election, and every federal election, as well as the republic referendum, becomes, in this thoughtful analysis, the first sign of rough weather.

If you feel like responding here, don't be vicious, cowardly, or senselessly vitriolic, or you'll be deleted. On the other hand if you want to explain why someone who's put in 15 years then leaves because the party fails to line up with most of his key policy positions is a mere spineless whinger, and can do so in reasonable tones, fire away.

In my hiatus post, where I tried to pull together my strongest reflections after several years of blogging, I wrote:

Being flamed by the other side is unpleasant, slightly. Being flamed by your own is sickening, it turns your world on its head, makes you wonder why you have found common political ground with someone like that.

Indeed. I suppose the difference now is that it makes me feel better about my decision. It's still unpleasant.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Leaving Labor

Done. And it hurts a bit.

Done without vitriol, just disappointment.

Done without joining the competition, without any clear home for my politics. A centre-left secular humanist, with liberal tendencies restrained by some cynicism towards the market, lacking attachment to unions, per se. There is no home for me in Australian politics.

Done, taking me back to the mid-1990s, when my friend at university was campaigning for a seat, and I joined his campaign, then his party and faction. They were the 'moderates', a uniquely NT mish-mash of right and centre, pragmatic at a time when that seemed more acceptable. Decades of corrupt, hard-right rule by the Country Liberal Party made any compromise acceptable back then. And in the NT you didn't have to be part of a key union, large 'labor family', or other inside player in order to get involved. Membership meant real involvement, meeting the players, having a substantive say.

Done for a vow, one that was never clear in the execution. It involved dumping on refugees, a 'never again' following the Tampa capitulation. Yet I'm a centrist, I understand that my views aren't those of the people in the marginals and I do accept compromise. I didn't expect utopia- indeed, I can see that at some point refugee numbers could need restraint, and that decisions must be made that leave some people, whose lives aren't that great, on the wrong side of an application. I grumbled through a few 'toughening' steps, and kept the faith. But when it became arbitrary and irrational I knew the line had been crossed.

Done during the Great Rudd ALP principles-dump. A decision was made to dump a succession of ideals, to clear the decks for a debate on the economy and perhaps health, backed no doubt by some IR scare campaigning. The decision involved taking people like me - let along substantial numbers of party members well to my left - for granted. That taking-for-granted is pretty much standard operating procedure in Labor, based on a perceived need to pander elsewhere for crucial marginal seats. But taking several huge hits in succession just made my post-Tampa vow all the easier to keep.

Done during my year of clearing the decks. I haven't ruled out trying to re-join in the future if things improve. But the way forward is now hazy, in a year where I'm trying to stocktake the things I put energy into, to prioritise, to work out how I can do something worthwhile with my life.

Done to relieve the cognitive dissonance. I'm pretty straight-talking, the eternal compromise is always very unsettling.

Done because the one issue on which the ALP is genuinely left of centre- the continued influence of the unions- is not really my issue. Partly due to that issue and the influence of a couple of huge unions in particular, the party is pretty much as conservative as the Liberals when it comes to social liberalism and the continued comingling of church and state in this country. Those, by contrast, are my issues.

Done because the ALP are dumb on foreign policy. No better way to put it, it's a lack of knowledge and competence. On balance I will agree with more of their positions, but viewed objectively the Liberals actually seem to have more people who know what they are talking about. Who read books and stuff, even if they aren't books I agree with. This is a big area for me, miniscule as it is for the electorate, and I find the directionless floundering under Rudd's stewardship (let's face it, Smith is a patsy in this portfolio) highly frustrating. Ultimately I'd like to see us revisit our brainless sycophancy and flag-waving militarism, to find a completely new settlement with our place in the world as a small-to-medium power with quite different policy needs from either the US or UK. I'm tired of our foreign policy being resolved on bases that a year 10 student could rip apart. Which leads to...

Done because I believe in good policy. Policy I don't agree with is one thing, but policy I don't agree with that was hatched without, or against the prevailing analysis, simply on poll-driven impulse, is just an ongoing offence to our nation and polity. I really do think I believe that it would be better for the party to formulate some strong positions it genuinely believes in, that are backed by evidence, and to fight for those at the hustings. To just dump all perceived risks and run on the smallest of differentiations is to rob the people of their choice.

Done because, unlike many hard-wired members of political parties of all persuasions, I really do believe that the nation, and the policies, are more important than the -any- party.

Done.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pneumonia & the Care Bear

My throat had been sore for over a week. On Friday my right chest started to hurt. On Saturday everything hurt. We had a wedding to go to so I pushed on. Picked Bear up from her new dance class then took both kids to the park until my Dr's appointment (Beloved had other, wedding-related appointments). I was a bit shaky. The appointment was close to an hour over time, about half of which I spent with both kids in the crowded surgery. It wasn't pretty, but we managed.

He didn't actually call it pneumonia, or anything other than a bacterial infection that was attacking pretty much everything. My chest was sore by now, and water on chest from bacteria lines up with pneumonia, but then again there was pain all over. Even in my right knee! I felt like I'd been on the armagnac the previous night- sadly untrue. Driving the kids home felt a little irresponsible, although generally still switched on I could feel my concentration starting to waver. I resolved not to drive again until I was better.

Beloved eventually got home, and I curled up in bed for a while. But time ticked on and I had to get up again soon to get ready. I could see Beloved really didn't want to cancel the wedding and I didn't want to let her down. We don't get many nights out to ourselves, either.

We caught the tram. I started shaking. Beloved told me the air was moderately warm. Waiting for the ceremony I felt like I was lying naked in snow. I shook, but I worked every muscle in my body not to shake more. People still looked at me like a crack addict.

My latest painkillers sank in after the ceremony and the shaking went down. It felt more like a chilly Autumn breeze blowing under my shirt. I made skeriks of conversation. Talk commenced of going home. I became aware of people telling Beloved to put me in a cab. She was weighing it up a bit, out of guilt towards the hosts. It all made me a bit angry.

Marriage is about going home with your spouse when they are violently ill, I felt like saying to them.

You know I wouldn't have thought twice about it
I whinged ruefully to Beloved when she did take me home, soon after, and she agreed. I'm not good for many things, but I come through with that stuff.

At the gate, I fumbled, my hands were now shaking violently. I gulped down tablets then walked straight into bed, a bit after 9pm.

I woke many times, shaking yet also an inferno. Beloved put a cool cloth on my head and contemplated running me to hospital. Me, I've felt worse. Actually a few hours earlier was worse, almost on a par with when I caught Typhoid in Indonesia. But at 2, 3, 4 in the morning I got a perverse satisfaction from the idea that the intense heat would kill the little fcukers!

By morning I was back a bit. I got up slowly, moved about slowly. Both kids watched me. Bear knows what sick is, but Mitts is also a sensitive little boy and he stared at me, waiting for me to suddenly explode back into play. Sorry little man, I didn't have it in me. Beloved took him for much of the day, so he could charge around and burn off his unending wells of energy.

Bear sat with me. She brought books, read them to me (she tells the stories in her own way!) or vice versa, or simply lay her head on my arm, sucking her thumb, as we threw the rules in the bin and veged in front of the TV. Progressively, with rest, veging, and the empathy of a loving daughter, I got better.

The End.

Tax Cuts- Is Rudd taking the piss?

After breaking a core promise on childcare Rudd is hinting at tax cuts?

*faceinhands*

If nothing can be done to assist the atmosphere, or ease the viciousness towards asylum seekers, could he not at least find some -surely electorally saleable- socially progressive ground by giving a bit more to health or education?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Civil Fraud? Ellis & the deliberate misuse of childcare stats

The assertion seemed incredibly smelly to anyone remotely connected to the real world of kids and child care (i.e., not Kate Ellis, nor absent parent Kevin Rudd). A surplus of places? Is my suburb, group of friends, favourite parenting discussion board populated by people living in unusual or exceptional pockets of the country?

Or is the Minister telling something a bit slippery & porky?

Well, no doubt on some level she's technically correct, but Susie O'Brien at the Hun has torn any sense of substantive truth out of her assertions, and I felt it useful to share highlights on the remote chance someone who passes here doesn't otherwise come across it.

So anyway...

Rudd Government informed us last week it had dumped a core election promise of building 260 new childcare centres.

...what I still remain to be convinced about...

shameless, dishonest misrepresentation of statistics it employs to justify its decision

....is the idea that...

The figure averages out all long daycare centre vacancies (as opposed to occasional daycare vacancies) and doesn't present any breakdown according to the age of the child and the specific location of the centre. In effect, therefore, it's a total con

...we can never expect...

It's like saying the average Australian household income is $66,000, so there mustn't be any poor people in Australia

...politicians, because of some vague notion that it's needed for politics to work...

What good are places for three-year-olds in Frankston if you are a pregnant first-time mum in Richmond staring down a two-year waiting list

...the kind of vague notion that propped up 'caveat emptor' for so long...

most centres tend to have a larger number of vacancies for older kids, because many children go to kinder instead. But in many Melbourne suburbs you can't get a place for a one-year-old

...an absurd notion, finally on the way out in commerce...

the Government is being deliberately misleading when it says new centres are no longer needed

...anyway that we can never, ever expect them...

Back then, Labor knew the con was on. Labor's Jenny Macklin insisted at least 260 new centres were needed because: "There's no point having a childcare place available for a four-year-old if you have a two-year-old."

...or more particularly hold them viscerally to account (except by the usual love us or leave us, choice of 2, ballot box option)...

In just under three years, Rudd and his ministers have, in effect, become everything they criticised about the Howard government.

...Precisely! Thanks Susie! Sorry, I was saying... to hold them to account for lying or deliberately misleading the people they are trying to sell their political product to.

I do not accept that we have to accept, for evermore, that it is acceptable for a politician to flagrantly set out to mislead us, and that our only recourse comes once every few years at the ballot box.

I don't know the simple way forward, how to calibrate the test, how to adjudicate and enforce, but if we at least seriously questioned the premise, the accepted state of affairs, then maybe one day we can do better than this rot.

And before I have any further digs at Kate Ellis, I must say I have the same inside reservation about this that I have about the insulation fiasco- that it is not the Minister copping the flack who has really made the key decisions....

In just under three years, Rudd and his ministers have, in effect, become everything they criticised about the Howard government.

Ay, it's not just a bacteria that's putting my insides into turmoil at this eleventh hour.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We need to talk about Kevin... Kate Ellis... Labor...

An explosion of ethical and bad policy misfires may not of itself damage voting prospects, but it is giving me palpitations in membership renewal month.

Kate Ellis has proved (who would ever have thought?) that being young and the 'sexiest politician' or somecrap doesn't actually make you good at the helm of national policy. The astonishing broken child care promise is yet more evidence of why not everything should be run from Canberra. Oh, you have stats that show vacancies do you, somewhere out in the nation? How about coming down into the suburbs and finding them so that people like Priscilla Davies can go to work:

The Clifton Hill woman is on the waiting list for five centres, but has been told to expect an 18-month wait, which has forced her to abandon her plans to return to work in June.

18 MONTHS NO WAY YOU LIE
, Kate Ellis must be saying. Except, funnily enough, that's the same wait time in most of the surrounding suburbs as well. Including ours.

Good Labor outcome, Kate.

What else is news? Well down in Victoria we don't need a Royal Commission. In case the fact that a gangland boss can be killed while in almost-complete isolation under video surveillance in maximum security when he was a known hit target etcetera, etcetera, got you a bit concerned. Now you know, it is ALL RIGHT.

He denied he wanted to hide anything, and suggested ''greedy leftie lawyers'' were pushing the issue.

Greedy leftie lawyers.

Well, one can understand Brumby's point. After all if you were a very powerful person you might not want your supporters, funders or associates exposed to a greedy leftie lawyer. Just think what Saturday dinner gatherings they might have omitted to mention.

Covered the asylum backflip/kowtow already. Here's hoping this appeal manages to tap some of the judicial clawback embodied in the recent High Court decision of Kirk. Better yet, how about a declaration from that Court to the effect that there can be no ouster of jurisdiction on any land (sea or air) over which Australia claims sovereignty? A little bit of rule of law can only scare people who like breaking it.

Speaking of which, elsewhere human rights have been dumped. Someone, somewhere, felt threatened. And teachers need to shut up now they've been given laptops. And Kev is still proud that he's officially the worst employer in the nation.

No irony, that's the thing I'm getting from all this. Never mind the ethics, or the lustful adoption of policy-based evidence making, there's no sense of irony. No shame.

Damn. So disappointing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rudd's Reffo Bashing Redux

This isn't a post about policy. Not directly, not in the sense of asking the same questions about why this tiny number of desperate people are such favoured scapegoats for poor government, insecurity, and the self-evident failings of our education system. That's just too frustrating, coming as it does at the end of a minor-thesis-writing process that involved, in part, exploring the irrationality of so many Australians, the left as well as the right, towards the region, people in boats, the usual themes that have been used to de-secure life on an apparently vast and remote continent for well over 100 years. Prodeo's onto it, anyway.

No, this is a post about the meaning of 'never again', a mantra so many in the ALP, such as myself, hoped would prove true following the humiliating nonsense of Tampa. Some left back then, joining the Greens or retiring from political involvement altogether, while others such as myself sucked up the bad realpolitik and thought 'well, this has been a particularly nasty period in Australian history, but perhaps once the poor-bugger-me set have had their little vent, and the aftermath of 11/9 has settled, we can reach saner ground on this issue.' Quietly we waited, watching things improve a little, trusting in people's decency and empathy to slowly eat away at the policies. And for a while it appeared things had changed. Not remarkably, but perhaps enough to remove reffo-baiting (nonsensically known as 'border security', as if there were any threat whatsoever to the integrity of the border, as such) from the prime issue tray.

We were wrong. Abbott, the great prodigy of St Ignatius Riverview, my alma mater, with its Ignatian slogan Men For Others...

...The term has come to mean that if one person graduates from a Jesuit school lacking a sense of social justice, the school has not achieved its primary mission...

...has ramped up the hatred for the Samaritans, and in response Kevin Rudd- not desperately trying to get elected like Beasley, in fact from a position of notable political strength, has screamed 'ME TOO!'

Pathetic. And palpably dishonest. Any idiot who follows international affairs knows neither Afghanistan nor Sri Lanka has demonstrated any improvement in respect of the treatment of its vilified minorities. In Sri Lanka's case it's a bit like claiming that the Tutsis were safe once the Hutus had successfully taken power (or indeed, as the worm turned back, the other way around). But in any event that is a moot point, because if people cannot show the requisite risk of persecution then the process, stacked against them to begin with, should weed that out. The fact that Rudd has suspended the process demonstrates complete lack of confidence in the very argument he is asserting.

So where does this leave the 'never again' contingent? Did I in fact vow to leave the party if it ever stooped that low again? Perhaps assuming it couldn't possibly do so twice, that last time was the result of a particularly bad confluence of events and the sheer surprise factor of Tampa...?

Bizarrely, I'm to the right of many in Labor, at least theoretically. But I found myself arguing with a comrade at the last branch meeting I went to, she was from the left, and she was running the old 'better off than the other side' line I've run so often, and I found myself really struggling with it. Labor has been better, pound-for-pound, than the Howard Liberals, but is that the test we should be applying? There is another test, the opportunity-cost test, one I've often held the Greens up to. It goes a little like:

If there wasn't an ALP, in its present form, dominated by unions and factions, controlling the space it does, obtaining consent from the likes of us, what else could there be?

Or- is the only choice we have a choice between two social conservatives, with a hard left party sniping away from one side and some illiterate nutballs hurling bibles from the other?

If everyone who doesn't like the status quo just rolls with it, and accepts the apologia articulated by my comrade, will it ever improve?

Do I roll out my credit card again before May, keep up the membership, hope for something better if we win again? Wasn't that the hope the first time around?

Would I do more good dumping this policy shebang and going back to law, finding a way to a spot where I'm fighting tooth and nail to at least achieve some small wins for people who are getting screwed over?

Will we ever, ever, get over the fact that we're Girt by Sea?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Coming up smelling of rose-tinted glasses

Mitts staggers, almost runs. He is into tackling Bear at the moment, giggling the whole time. She's softened up on him I think, and is content enough provided she gets some 'her time' reading the Dinosaur book (COMP-sog-NAY-thus!), drawing or playing the Ladybug game.

The other day she drew a face, put the eyes where they should go, then the mouth, then the hair. I was rapt- parenting is all small miracles and found corners of happiness.

Mitts asks for cuddles (Mama!), his daddy (MAMA!), the cats (MA-MA!) and his mum (...ay!), but on other topics is quite happy to warble out all sorts of semi-intelligible noises. He chases balls, ALL THE TIME, something he hasn't got from his parents, both of whom are utterly incompetent with all things sporting. Still, I'm only going to encourage him, despite my preference for Brasilian Ju Jitsu if he is going to do some sort of contact sport.

The cats are exploring their new gardens, jumping fences and putting themselves in harm's way, so we're in the middle of feline AIDS injections.

I'm doing my usual career hand-wringing, Beloved is taking it all in her stride, and we are otherwise good.

Leaving me back here once more...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lentil As Anything gets a pink slip of thanks

Abbotsford Convent pushing out Lentil as Anything. Wanting to get more rent. Is this all there is to it? Is a place that, as I understand it, lives on public benevolence for vaguely articulated notions of the wider good, going to shaft one of the most respected and original businesses in Australia, one that gives so much back by skilling up welfare recipients and refugees, so it can rake in some more moolah?

Is there more to it? Some hitherto undisclosed dispute?

If not I'm appalled. Why don't we just take the whole damn complex, sitting as it does in prime DINKy million dollar real estate land, give it to a developer with a mandate to go up 15 stories, and let the market completely speak for itself? If that's all it comes down to.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'Abbott Failed Health' says Angela Shanahan

When a conservative columnist sums up an argument that should neuter Abbott's claim to Prime Ministership, any arguments he has with Rudd on health, and serve to demonstrate the emptyness of his strident self-serving attacks on Peter Garrett, it is worth savouring:

After all, a lot of people may remember that as health minister under John Howard, Abbott had a chance to fix hospitals and didn't.

That's it, that's all that ever needed to be said. The only problem seems to be that 'a lot' is far less than a crucial majority...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tony Abbott and the over-under estimation problem

Just a few days ago I sat with several of my left-of-centre brethren, discussing the state of play in Federal Politics. The general view was that Abbott is a good thing because he will not get elected. This optimism overestimates the polity as well as underestimating the man, who is clearly cunning, wiley, vicious, and not-stupid (I can't write that in the positive, I just can't).

And contrary to the painting of him as an ambition in search of policy, while this may be true at the level of fine detail he has clearly (as confirmed by Four Corners' unnerving portrait of the punching psychopath last night) held an immovable, focused hatred of most things socially progressive for decades.

And, while we're at it, Turnbull, who could just as easily have ended up in a different party, and who was not afraid of spineless expediency when it suited, was not the conviction-driven Judy to Abbott's poll-driven Punch. It is clear, based on the policy positions that have been adopted by the Liberal Party since the previous Malcolm left, that Abbott is the one in the party that complements his ideology.

All of which is an aside from my point(s). Despite disbelief on my side of politics, and probably true centrist liberals as well, the key bits of the polity, the people whose votes matter, are not as sensitive to small-minded meanness as we might like. They've shown that a cunning, flagrantly political animal with a mean streak and one foot firmly planted in the '50s can in fact embody all of the traits required for a successful and protracted streak in office.

I hope he's their Latham, as many predict. I just think my comrades should never, ever perform either of the acts of over-and-under estimation I've discussed here. Not in This Country. Not ever.