Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Isn't the problem with Australia taking Japan to the ICJ over whaling...

...the potential for this to open up for scrutiny our generally unrecognised claim on Antarctica, as well as the way we assert our maritime boundaries?

We didn't want that explored when East Timor was the potential plaintiff, in fact we didn't think much of the ICJ full-stop back then.

This is a thought that's occurred to me, rather than a well-researched hypothesis. But it does seem likely that the government will not take its rhetoric any further due to the risk that international litigation might prove to be a double-edged sword that swings back and maims us.

That and the possibility that it will hold that the whaling is sufficiently scientific, thereby robbing opponents of their legal objection...

UPDATE: well, well, it appears I might have been wrong. In my defence I didn't count on race and nationalism being such a hot spot in this Australian election. Again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best children's stories - Tubby The Tuba

Beloved's favourite story from when she was a little girl... her old LP had long since disappeared, and it wasn't in the shops, but here's the audiobook. We just took a listen and both of us had moist eyes... Bear pinching my hand, thoughtfully, while Mitts just rampaged off and tried to climb the couch.

Tubby, a Tuba, just wants to play a melody like all the other instruments...

Enjoy, Tubby The Tuba.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Environment Minister Goes Bush!

Clearly, for the world to be in balance, this headline should have read:

State OH&S Regulator Goes Bush And Inspect Snakes

Well, my jury's still out on the extent of Garrett's culpability, but despite the crowing and braying the case against him seems pretty average at this point. And the political hypocrisy is mind-blowing.

In a pretty one-sided media scrum, Helen puts the counter-argument pretty persuasively.

Garrett has sucked a pretty dry mango since joining the ALP. I'm not The Greens' biggest fan overall, but it seems he would have had a far saner, more tolerable run if he'd gone there. I suppose he didn't know Climate Change (which back then looked interesting and progressive on the ALP platform) would get hived off.

I don't think the ALP have mounted a serious counter-attack, and I'm starting to wonder why. Perhaps he is earmarked for a slow demotion?

After all, can't lists be compiled of people who died because of coalition ministers' programs? This seems to be the extent of their point. Abbott on Health, Hockey on Human Services- there must be dozens of people who died missing out on hospital or support beds under their watch, if that's what it comes down to.

Back to The Greens, and even at the time I thought it was unnecessary for Bob Brown to burn the bridges the way he has done with Garrett. Because even at the time Garrett made the call, I thought of Cheryl Kernot, and wondered... whether Garrett would have some regrets once he'd tasted the inside of the party and parliamentary machines... and if the door had been left, even partly, open...

I don't know, do you think they still would, or could?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hanson answers the paradox!

Interviewer: "So, you don't like the way this country's been heading the past 40 years, don't like Aborigines, don't like Asians, spit on our national anthem... why exactly are you still here?"

Pauline Hanson: ....

...(tilts head)....


I hope she's done her research. Certainly she'll find a few corners of old blighty filled with her ilk, but they won't take kindly to a foreigner, a convict no less, trying to teach them how to do fish and chips.

In my couple of years there I tended to find that the cranky old "This is MY country" types over there had a particular bee in their bonnet about Orstralians. Sometimes, what they said even felt like racism.

I wonder what will go through her head as she's sitting in the pub one day, listening to some half baked, under educated, whining chav rattle on about "what really annoys me about you lot is you come 'ere, goin' on about how good orstralia is, think you own the place, an' I wish you'd just go..."

And in one final humiliation, she's dumping Australia because it's not a land of opportunity. WTF? This from an uneducated, aesthetically and verbally challenged simpleton who was able to start a political party, get into Parliament, change politics forever then drag the experience out on various reality TV shows?

Did she want her face on the flag as well?

G'luck in blighty. I'm sure your stellar combination of skills and natural attributes will spark numerous opportunities in that famously egalitarian land. Maybe she'll sign up for Ladette to Lady...

Trackback to LP where the focus is on Tony Abbott's role in her political downfall...

Bear breaking out in song

Yesterday: "You can't always get what you want-want... you can't always get what you want-want"...

Saturday: "This time ba-by I'll be-ee-ee bulle-e-tproof!"

Spanning generations, my girl chalks up some serious cred with Rollings Stones and La Roux, respectively. Particularly impressed that when I started singing the former with her, and we did the "try some time, you just might fi-ind", she hit the dominant fifth to create the perfect harmony for "get what you nee-eed".

[While I'm pottering about music, KD Lang.. wow. Hallelujah should now officially be banned from reality TV shows and minor diva cover albums for evermore. It has 3 owners, that's enough.]

They're good kids. Yesterday I was sick, and sickly, and flopping around with sallow eyes and no energy. She gave me hugs, Mitts gave me concerned looks. I felt loved.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poo Anguish

Poor little buddibuds has a stomach thing going on. His poo has been lousy for a little while, with ups and downs, but this last week it seems to have taken a turn for the worst. He is clearly in discomfort, at least some of the time, and taking a crap has given him a rash and even made him cry.

Last night he wouldn't sleep for a while, he was clearly in some discomfort, wriggling, breaking into tears even as his eyes stayed closed and his mind tried to sleep. I was sad and frustrated, sad for him, frustrated with everything else. I broke a scrubbing brush trying to remove a frustrating lump of flek off the sink. "Fcuk YOU" I declared at the flek, the brush and the sink.

You will be pleased to know the kids did not witness this outburst.

Sometimes a dad has the touch, but last night rubbing his back, holding across my shoulder, pacing back and forth in the room, even the 'sweet spot' all failed. He needed mummy, and it was only after she got back from shopping and administered cuddles that he finally relented.

He had one of those persistent boogers too, did I mention? The kind that keep catching at the top of their throat just when they've drifted back off to sleep...

We think it might be milk, soy or both. We had him on rice milk a few days and it helped. Don't really know, don't know where to start. Starting with the Dr, this afternoon.

Poor lil' man...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What sort of hiatus is this?

I don't know. It's like Murphy's law, you make a call you've been building up to for months, bereft of inspiration, then suddenly the blogwaters break.

A little.

I don't know. I do know I'm particularly bad at this whole 'stop blogging', 'stop this blog', 'start a different blog to discuss X' thing. It's probably a certifiable condition under the DSM, but at least I'm not putting anyone in mortal danger.




Getting ridiculous - Racism's left-right swap and the national interest

It is ridiculous when you find yourself agreeing with Greg Sheridan and Ted Baillieu on the one topic.

And offended by the sharp conduct of people you thought you respected, on the same topic.

It's politics, I get that. And nobody in electorland wants to offend the bogans, I get that too. So what's needed here, in the national interest, is for the Foreign Minister to use the external affairs power in the Constitution to take conduct of the issue, as far as possible, off the Victorian Government. It's not so much a case of legislating or litigating, but rather of Rudd and Smith strongly reprimanding their stateside brethren for damaging Australia's regional relations, economy, and potentially even national security.

The denialism is, in itself, grossly offensive to our neighbours, and is damaging a strategically-crucial relationship in the name of placating people in marginal seats. Imagine how we as a nation would be taking it if Aussies were being so consistently targeted in another country, and we were being fed some tosh along the lines of 'well they're asking for it, the way they hold their mobile phones'...

That's right, we'd crack it. The bogans would be baying for war. And our trash papers would be treating the truth as selectively as theirs are. There's been some hype and exaggeration in India, but nothing that can't be easily understood with just a smattering of knowledge about the effect the long tail of colonialism has on these issues through most of the non-white world.

Rudd, Smith, step up and take control.

I'm not a die hard centralist, to say the least. In fact what I'd conclude with is that THIS is the sort of issue Rudd should be wading into, before water rights or hospitals. It's national business and it's about time it was taken into hand and dealt with firmly.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Redux? Sibling rivalry and punishment

No no it's still in hiatus I just had something I wanted to quickly, belatedly, post.

So there's a bit of rivalry going on, if I can call it that. Perhaps Bear captured it best when she described her feelings about Mitt, in a particular context, as 'Frustration'. She's frustrated.

And sometimes it gets physical, I see that expression, the same one I get when I set my jaw and hit the cupboard that hit me. I mean to say, hit the cupboard that I stupidly walked into because I wasn't looking where I was going. A sudden welling of emotion that says 'Right! I'm taking action! I don't care!'

So your answer is going to be 'she gets it from you' but honestly I've managed to maintain a remarkable (if I may say so) amount of composure around the kids, pretty much all of their lives. Not only don't they ever get physically punished, but most of the time I think Beloved and I do pretty well at not losing our cool (too much) when getting cross and delivering admonishment or punishment. The latter usually involves a short period of 'thinking time', or loss of some expected privilege.

Which is the kind of response that gets dolled out if she hits Mr Man, pushes him over, yanks on his arm, or otherwise unleashes some unacceptable aggression. But it's hard, and I don't think it is straightforward, despite what the 'kids today need discipline' crowd might argue.

How much is she interpreting such admonishment as 'I shouldn't hit people' (the generic language we try to use, to take the focus off Mitts), how much is it 'I'm in trouble for hitting my brother' (not so good), and how much is it 'Mitts annoyed me and they've taken his side'?

Sadly I suspect a bit of the last creeps in. But what do you do with unacceptable, and sometimes dangerous, amounts of physicality when they are unleashed?

Thankfully there are reasons to be optimistic. Much of the time they play well, they are now sharing a room on her request and she is coping (though frustrated when he wakes and cries), there is giggling, cuddling, and plenty of good attention. Also, he's almost as big as her already, so give it a few more months and I think she'll be learning, one way or another, to keep her hands to herself.

But damn, it's hard.

By the way, as a post-script to this post-script, did I mention how proud I was when she selected the word frustrated to describe her feelings? I know, I know...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Memo to the Net: 5 years worth of thoughts on blogging and life... A post-script in assorted figments...

I've fallen into hiatus again. It may be the last time. This may be the last post, sans bugle.

Sometimes its nice to vent and talk for a moment about life. Sometimes its nice to live in the moment. Sometimes there aren't enough moments.

You can't do it all on one blog. Funny doesn't want to read dry, dry doesn't want to read teary. You can't help but care.

It's hard getting too close to a movement you aren't part of.

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.

I started poliblogging 5 years ago with a firm belief that my side of politics held most of the decent people. I now hold the firm belief that it holds a marginal majority of decent people. I have come to be suspicious of extremes, I like the line that joins the yin and the yang.

You can't capture the emotions of parenting on a blog, not fully. It's an experience best enjoyed in person.

Men and women, even those who are trying hard, are still a long way from understanding each other. It is worth the effort, but there is still a long way to go. Very few people are really trying to understand the other.

Debates about music and sport are pointless, logically. They can, however, be a great test of the character of both yourself and those you think you respect.

A room full of bloggers is a study in asymetry and disjunct. It is also a guaranteed source of excellent conversation.

Keeping confidences can be hard. When someone has coffee with you and talks about how they're considering joining either Party A or Party B, then joins the latter and within weeks starts virulently attacking Party A and all of its supporters on their high profile blog, you don't break the confidence. But its frustrating, and you learn about the nuance that underpins so much polemic.

The more people you tell, the less you can write about. Anonymity is the friend of fine personal blogging (see my first 10 or so posts...).

Before LOLCATS was big, I gave you Chairman Mao, don't forget it.

An idiotic blog about a talking cat is an amazingly popular idea. A talking cat is a very funny, and telling, way to discover that some of your favourite threads are populated by people with an irony bypass.

It was also my wife's favourite.

A post about a 60 year old bodybuilder will attract daily visits from people who have searched for 60 year old bodybuilders on Google. It will prove to be the post with the longest tail. You will find yourself wondering at the meaning of life. (redux, perhaps?)

The kids are doing fine, thank you. Mitts is walking around holding on to things, taking steps, and Bear is jumping, painting, helping me water our new mini herb garden and still taking no prisoners. Beloved is back at work, enjoying the return to adult interaction. Minh and Mao are enjoying the new house and the greatly increased time spent outside.

I'm on tolerably better terms with my father, and with myself in respect of my father. In his own, emotionally retarded ways, he's been making small efforts. He still isn't being a proper grandfather, but perhaps the worst interpretations I started to put on his actions were excessive. I hope so, disappointed as I am.

Being a parent is complex. Try to listen to the narrative of the person, allow that to sit apart from the narrative you've adopted. For my part, I'm tired of existing narratives. All of them.

The second hardest thing to capture in a post is raw emotion. The hardest is humour.

It will be reasonable to call for an end to anonymous blogging when it is illegal to hold anything a person has said on a blog against them in a place of work. When you see pigs fly, let me know.

I have learned about mutuality and ethics. I learned not to flame, as I don't like being flamed. Something my mummy said about doing unto others springs to mind.

In this and other things I believe blogging has made me a more thoughtful person.

Blogging is often more like talking than the kind of writing we associate with articles and books. The world does not understand this.

As large group and corporate blogs take over the 'sphere, I reflect that the art of the editor, now much maligned, was always at least as important as the art of the writer.

Writing posts is quite easy. It can be done efficiently and balanced with a decent workload. What drains your energy and time is going back to comment threads to see what people are saying about your last assertion.

Godwin's Law is a crock, designed to allow history to repeat itself. It is based on the negligent conflation of two distinct acts: asserting equivalence and drawing analogy. If you see people cracking down on dissent, or touting racial nationalism, or calling for war at the drop of a hat, history is there to remind us of why we find these things so repugnant.

Feed readers, facebook and twitter have all been invented in the time I've been blogging. What does this say about a policy focussed on teaching primary school kids to use laptops?

When I was in primary school, Ataris had just been invented. I wish I'd learned to work one of those Ataris inside out, I'd have been so much better off when I hit the workforce in the late '90s.

People have given me some touching and profound advice on this blog, and shared the most personal and instructive experiences. Thank you, I am grateful. This has been a highlight.

Once you start keeping 'a record', such as things your kids are doing, a blog can become a source of incredible guilt if you are not diligent and thorough.

Long posts that talk about all sorts of unrelated crap are rarely read. I know.

Part of the reason for previous blogging resurrections was a sense of wanting to reconnect with my online peeps. Facebook has now been invented, there was always email. Mine's armagny [atsymbol] gmail DOT com.

The answer to that is, I don't know, maybe.

Work is hard to find satisfying once you've turned down 2 or more opportunities to do jobs you'd prefer. Even if they were on less pay, or in Canberra.

The Oz Blogosphere is ostensibly saturated. But there are major topics that are all but ignored. I'm not sure why, or whether there is value in exploring them, but I do think there is still room for more, well-placed, writings.

Ditto political parties. On a left-right axis the space is largely filled. On a more nuanced, multi-axis analysis, there are some large empty spaces, and they sit surprisingly close to the middle ground.

Australia is an inherently conservative country, and the likes of Tony Abbott or Barnaby Joyce should be treated with the respect that you'd give to a Taipan in a sleeping bag.

Like music, and probably other creative arts I know less about, writing can sap your emotions as much as it can buoy them.

Child hatred is as common as doting parental blogging. Sometimes, when I'm reading some bigot's rant about prams in cafes or pregnant women, I wonder "Do they vote the way I do?" I hope not, but the thought is troubling and not easy to dislodge.

A way to test the true mettle of your favourite bloggers is to experiment by joining in the same old threads under a different ID. See who treats you like an outsider, see the snobbery and exclusion embraced by some of your favourite blogerati. It can feel like the sandpit all over again.

All good posts must come to an end. So must messy, tatty, incoherent ones.

So must messy, tatty, incoherent blogs. I have, after all, given you an engagement, a wedding, 2 cats, 2 kids, and an outstanding reason to explore old Brandy.

Back to hiatus, perhaps not for long, perhaps for ever.

Love yaz all.