Friday, September 30, 2005

Latham Diaries V: I'm spitting the dummy

The diaries were suddenly and abruptly shut last night. I may or may not continue; once a book annoys me I often quickly move on, there's so much to read out there, so little time.

Easton Ellis and Houellebecq both have books on their way, and I worship both of these insane screwed up individuals and their writings. I have books on Vietnam and Robertson QC's Tyrannicide Brief.

I have enjoyed my readings to date, but the obvious and well-parsed (here and elsewhere) flaws and outright contradictions in Latham's polemic hang over my head like an annoying blowfly. I detested his call this week for young people to avoid politics, which was no better than sour grapes. Now he's reached 2001.

First thing to note, no diary entry around 11 September. The date that tipped western politics on its head, which left me in a depressed and uncertain fugue for days, didn't register as worthy of an entry. Latho sometimes comes across as quite ignorant of the ways of the wider world, and this didn't help.

Then he gets to Tampa.

Here's the guy who has spend over a hundred pages going on about how Labor needs conviction and principles, and should not be following what it perceives as public sentiment, and he starts having a go a Beazley's belated attempt to do the right thing and quibble with Howard's dog-whistling legislation because his local bogans are siding with the PM. Worse, he repeats and endorses the great lie that people exercising their basic right to seek asylum are criminals.

Well, this is Australia's apartheid for me, the touchstone issue dovetailing conscience and law, and in an era of debating what is or isn't left wing and deserving of ideological conviction, it's a no brainer. That means even a narrow-minded yobbo who thinks he's PHD material can click his couple of neurons together and work it out.

If you think Beazley had to compromise and sway with public sentiment, well that's one thing. I actually sympathise with the predicament. Parties are after all in a democracy, and can't entirely impose their will even when they know they are right. But that's the sort of pragmatism Latho spends the whole book attacking.

However, if in fact you really believe the anti-Refugee position hook-line-and-sinker then you are not left wing. Join the Libs, join the Nats, please consummately and irrevocably wrench yourself clear of any so-called left wing political affiliation. Now. Thank you.

As this may be my post-script, I'll say I think Latho has a talent for writing, and lots of ideas, and I hope he continues to develop his social network and community empowerment ideas into a workable thesis.

And that, one day when he's cooled, he apologises to Gough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cat Fear

We have a cleaner who comes once a fortnight. We have a cat we love like a child. He's a beautiful cream burmese with a heart of gold. Naturally, he's an indoor cat, I don't want him eating birds or getting squashed under some bogan's penis replacement. So he isn't streetwise, to put it mildly. He wouldn't last very long if he strolled off up the road. He only goes out in our enclosed yard, under supervision. The cleaner knows this, they've been told this is the most important thing in the world to us. Repeatedly.

They outsourced the job to someone else. This in itself could be ok, they mentioned it to us first. The new person must have left the front door open. I came home and the cat was in the little garden next to the road, soaking wet, crying. He'd been outside for hours in the rain. We were so lucky he hadn't strayed from the house. I was so angry I couldn't string a sentence together on the phone to beloved.

We've spoken to the cleaner, they've given assurances. But I don't know, if people can't respect what's most important to you, how can you trust the fuckorgans inside your house? If they fucked up, and the cat was killed, they'd pay big time.

I'll be a psycho dad one day, I can see it.

Latham Diaries IV: Positive Discrimination and the left

A related thread on Larvae Prodder prompted me to share a little anecdote from the diaries.

Latham rocked up to a Labor women's meet. He proposed its expansion to a broader gender affairs role, citing a raft of issues faced by working class men in particular. This was no Evil Pundit style baiting; he pointed to depressing matters that need addressing, such as lowering uni entry levels and diminishing prospects. He copped a room's worth of hateful stares. Someone commented that this was why men shouldn't be able to attend their little meet at all.

So, for how long does 'positive discrimination' remain untouchable within Labor? So sensitive that a comment like
It’s sexist to have a Women’s Department when there is no Men’s department
on a left-wing thread attracts the threat of deletion, even though it is neither irrational nor vicious and is at its face entirely correct.

I believe 'discrimination' can be 'positive', but under the most limited and extraordinary circumstances of exclusion. For an egalitarian party there is, or at least has been, some merit in using this tool to rectify massive imbalances. But this must always be weighed against the fact that discrimination is discrimination, and to treat arguments against positive discrimination as heretical in my view borders on offensive.

I have the newest High Court justice, one of the most powerful and barrier-busting women in Australia, on my side...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Wines, Muffins and Latham Diaries III

A quick update from a slow reader...

I've been at beloved's farm, letting her father and stepmother choose our red and white wines from a selection we'd shortlisted.

From three varied Shiraz numbers everyone agreed that the McLaren Vale from SA, a surprisingly cheap wine given its body, depth and rich, pruney nose, would be the red. In the whites we took a WA Riesling, WA Sav Sem and a Marlborough Sav Blanc. I'm in love with kiwi whites (unpatriotic I know, but man- that nose, like eating passionfruits in a bed of long grass), so I was chuffed that they selected the Marlborough, after a close contest with the Sav Sem.

Beloved's grandfather told me tales from the war. He rarely talks about those days- he fought hand-to-hand in Papua and Borneo in WWII- so I listened intently and picked up some gems he's never told beloved.

They went in a parade down a Brisbane street while on rec leave, and women were lifting their skirts up and flashing their dark secrets from second story windows. 1940s, remember! Things you don't hear about in school, eh?

OK... the diaries... we've moved into Latho's free-markets-or-else phase. His frustration at the protectionist suggestions of Beazley and Crean is intense. He's mad that most of his colleagues haven't read his Civilising Global Capital tome.

There are contradictions coming out here. He castigates Beazley for social conservatism, but then seems to suggest that Labor listen to the 'values' being milked by Howard and Hanson (i.e. social conservatism). And he's showing his famed arrogance on the issue of free trade, in his disbelief that Beazley and Crean suggest some protectionist measures to try to save jobs.

So there he is, ranting on for free trade, cocking his head towards the bogans who think that owning two cars in the suburbs is hardship on a scale with being an aboriginal in Hermansburg with a life expectancy of 40, and he notes at one point that he feels like the right player on the wrong field (or some equivalent simile).

Well, if you are sympathising with the rednecks and you believe in free trade, you might from time to time feel like you were kicking towards the wrong goalposts as a Labor shadow minister. No?

Via Minotaur, in my last comment thread, comes a piece in the Australian recognising some choice cuts among the carcasses....
The book exposes the problems with Kim Beazley's leadership - his lack of reforming zeal, his shunning of confrontation, the absence of fire in his belly. It portrays a sick political and media culture and an endemic factionalism that threatens to suck the life out of the Labor Party. It highlights the toll that rumour-mongering can take on people in public life. It presents a case for opening up the debate on the US alliance beyond its present narrow confines.
Exposes... Portrays... Highlights... Presents...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Latham Diaries II

On style...

This isn't half as bad as I expected. QM feels the same way. I'm in the mid-90s, post Keating's loss.

The style of the diaries proper is: page or so of reflective comment that is obviously written recently, in italics. Then the short, punchy diary entries.

His writing is excellent. If as some are suggesting the whole thing is a Helen Demidenko style fake, and he wrote it in a burst this year, there are a couple of things that don't match up. He writes calmly, thoughtfully, and with no detectable hatred at this point.

And he writes too tightly for an auto-biographer. There is no excess fluff at all. It is very enjoyable reading and anyone who loves politics and doesn't read it is cutting off their nose to spite their face.

His big obsession in his early days is the difference between fixers and policy-makers, and the paucity of the latter. There's a sense of optimism draining as he realises how few people around him are trying to lead change.

Keating, he says, is one of the exceptions, and Keating gets a doting eulogy. Keating will be fondly remembered by true believers. Amen.

The difference between the media take and the book itself is starting to disturb me, anger me, bring out my inner Latham.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Latham Diaries I

The introduction is a 20 page political essay.

It was written in May this year, and if we take Latham's word that the diaries were written contemporaneously from the mid-90s onwards, then this intro can be taken as the best reading of his current state of thinking.

It is surprisingly low on vitriol.

It attacks machine men hard. It also acknowledges they are a product of their political institutions.

It mentions Simon Crean. I realise I don't recall any reporting of how he has dumped on Simon Crean. It will be telling if Latham has left him alone. Simon Crean lacked the pizazz to be elected, but he was a decent man and a real Labor martyr who sacrificed valuable self-promotion time to start the internal reforms Labor (still) desperately needs.

The media make out that Latham's sprayed on all his old comrades, so I'm going to make special note of any prominent individuals he does not unload on.

Latham candidly accepts a large chunk of responsibility as leader for failing to convince the public to embrace his models of social capital.

He is still too misty eyed in my view about the potential of suburbia. When he talks of growing alienation he includes a line about domestic violence and child abuse. I know a fair bit about this field, and it used to be at least as bad, if not worse. Men bashed their wives, teachers and scout masters raped young children, and people who complained were told to mind their own business or ridiculed for taking the word of a woman/child over a man.

But he now acknowledges that the answers may not lie simply in empowering the upwardly-mobile "working class". This is a big step, because it goes to the heart of the left's problems, and is a candid revision of his previous policy stance. The upper working class earns far more than the lower middle class, and often cares sweet fuck all for refugees, the environment, or international justice, so they can't be relied on with some misty-eyed Marxist waffle about workers uniting.

He talks the language of the social democratic idealist, and it spoke to this disenchanted lefty.

He has a visionary's grasp of the self-perpetuating conservatism of politics, business and the media. Not left-right conservatism as much as unwillingness to allow the boat to be rocked. He claims this conservatism is embedding itself deeper and deeper in the Labor party, so that mavericks and alternative thinkers are quickly crushed, as they are in the mainstream institutions.

The nail that sticks out is quickly hammered down.

He talks of downward envy- the whinging culture characterised by people complaining about the welfare and rights of those who are far, far worse off. Downward envy is a defining characteristic of our current society, he says.

Not a lot I'd disagree with in there, except that I hang on to a bit more optimism.

Tonight I kick into the diary-proper. I think I'll open a nice peppery Shiraz to mark this pleasure...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mingling politics and pleasure

"Hey Bad Boy Brendie ... Sticks on!"

That IS the technical term, I'm told. Via Darp.

Primary Colonic Irrigation

Your friendly spirit-swilling maniac has bought the political book of the decade.
Yesterday it filled a whole shelf at Dymocks. By lunch today they'd run out. The same was true at other shops but I found a big stash in Myer.

I chatted with the lovely old lady in Myer. About time someone spoke some truth she said, at least he's got the guts to say it like it is she said. I'm not sure I responded- it's sad he's had to resort to so much pure venom, clearly the material surrounding certain people has to be discounted somewhat.

His attack on Gough is so sad. The great man mentored him all the way, and Gough's call- that Latham, having left the leadership due to ill health, should also leave his important seat- was bang on target and honest. Clearly Latham felt the same way, it's what he went on to do. Any other call would have been nepotism.

But I'm not happy for the big questions about the faceless knife-wielding fuckwits to just dissolve under a sea of counterspin. After a day of annoying people with trackbacks and recalcitrant comments yesterday, I started to find there are others who feel like me: left wing, labor people, who don't like the damage, yet are unsurprised that the worst aspects of Labor's culture have resulted in such an explosion.

The people at the heart of the worst aspects of this culture are unapologetic. They have not moved to change their ways one iota.

Reform is not about dumping unions, nor factions, nor labor insiders who in most cases are party faithful dedicated to working for the party and for social democratic politics in Australia.

It's about reigning in power, making those things work for the party, and for Australian politics.

UPDATE: Expect updates and reviews every couple of days until I've finished it, right here in the Armagnac Diaries...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Social justice isn't a Lemon

Much better news for lefties over the Tasman:
As political scientist Barry Gustafson wrote in the Sunday Star-Times, Clark emphasised tolerance and inclusiveness, the view that social cohesion required recognition of Maori rights and aspirations, and equality of opportunity for the economically deprived. "That was a much harder message to sell," Gustafson wrote. Clark took the high road. She avoided the temptation of trying to match Brash on populist policies such as his last-minute lolly of temporarily cutting the petrol levy by 5c a litre, which he had only weeks earlier rejected as economically irresponsible.
Congrats, comrade.

Give them drugs

In the early 20th century parents would give kids opium syrup to quieten them down. It's hard to see how 90% of so-called ADHD prescriptions are any less crude. Most of these kids need more stimulation than they get in their home and school environments. Good to see this charlatan practice increasingly questioned.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Psychotic spurts

Last night groomzilla manifested his ugly head and shoved it up into my skull, squashing my brain and giving me a headache that's still going.

With about 2 glasses worth of wine made up of 10 different varieties gurgling around my stomach (courtesy of a wine tasting course), I stood at the sink, the cat yowling for food, beloved already eating dinner and ignoring me, trying to organise myself and 5 things at once.

My focus skewed off like a superball thrown into a cupboard, bouncing from one task to another to another. I stuck a plastic container in the bin. It jumped back out again. I gave it a good hard shove. The bin snapped off its little hinge (its attached to a cupboard door) with a splintering crack and rolled on the floor.

I swore.

Beloved, who has impeccable timing, decided it was time to give me a good lecture.

I swore some more.

I fed the cat. Cat was grateful, purring loudly, and this helped me collect myself.
I'm feeling a bit of stress. It pulses constantly in my neck and above my eyebrows.

The new position is interesting, but hard work. I'm learning the delights of writing a 10 page paper on complex points of law and policy and receiving it back again, and again, and again, with red pen marks all over it. I particularly relish people who don't write any better than me imposing personal style to the point that they are crossing each other's corrections out. And their own previous corrections!

Our wedding, we've just discovered, will play out to the tune of incompetent, stupid, lazy, pathetic people working on a certain Melbourne train station that's running 6 months behind schedule. Specifically to the tune of those people using a jackhammer the size of a tractor that sounds like an anti-aircraft gun.

A sweet family friend who I used to babysit when I was a kid, who's now in her 20s, has discovered that years of operations she received in Darwin for her cleft palate and hearing problems have been badly botched. She may go deaf as a result.

And my registration on my old school's web portal has come through, opening up the possibility of contacting or being contacted by people from a school that occupied the darkest period of my life. One I've almost buried, and semi-deliberately cut myself off from, but not put behind me. I think it would be good to contact people I was friends with, find out what they've been doing, maybe even re-start a friendship or two, just so that entire episode has some positive consequences in my life.

I'm steeling myself. Thinking about those days makes me dark and stirs something angry in the pit of my stomach.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Armaniac has been slapping the credit card around and made some acquisitions:

Wedding suit- black, long cut, with a dash of matrix. No waistcoat. To be worn shirt open with loose cravat underneath. Armaniac is a big fan of cravats worn loose underneath. Raw silk cravats, rubbing against the neck- it's slightly arousing.

Wedding Band- to be made by hand, white gold, original design by moi, that's all I'm saying.

Runners- ASICS, unfunky looking, but best for bouncing up the hill and leaping over small aggressive dogs.

Trainers (runners for having coffee in)- All Stars. Grey with pin-stripes, so I don't look too much like I'm trying to be 18. Though I am. Funkier looking than they sound, I promise.

Work Shoes- Florsheims, black leather but comfy with bits of trainer (see above) incorporated into the design. Also good for having coffee in. Will be road-tested at Salsa class shortly.

Pooh Bah- Very Irresistible by Givenchy, tones of mocha and spices but freshened by a minty cusp.

Ear Balm (digital)- Albums by Bloc Party and Starsailor. Have not been able to remove Starsailor from the CD player in my head. Keep humming the depressing line
"don't you know you got your daddy's eyes, and daddy was an alcoholic"
to the point where I need a good G&T and an hour with Kylie's Greatest Hits.

Bring it on, I'm ready for Spring. Wherever you are.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Democrat Twitches

Stott Despoja is a wasted talent; good to see she's still finding and fighting good fights. On gene privacy. Here's where we're going:
Earlier this month a German governmental council recommended a new law to prevent employers discriminating against employees with unhealthy genes. The move came after a teacher was denied a permanent job because her father had Huntington's disease. She had to go through the courts to reverse the decision.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Disaster Relief Arrives

Deleted, on reflection.

Not that I don't enjoy bad-taste humour, and I think it has a place in trying to make sense of the absurdity of something like the New Orleans tragedy. But the pic I'd slapped up, with Michael* Hasselhoff in his Baywatch gear ready to dive in, also featured a couple of people being washed along who, when I gave it some thought, probably died a few moments after the pic was taken.

I'll find some more funnies soon.

UPDATE: Good offensive lefty joke here...

(*see comments)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tim Roth's killer cravats

I'm losing my meme virginity. Not being one of the important bloggers I've been left out of this meming thing until now, when the Lady of Spray sent one my way. For those who accidentally landed in blogland while searching for new furniture, memes are a sort of chain letter by blog post where you get asked to list your favourite..., answer question ..., or similar. For this one I'm
to pick the actor who'd play me in a movie.

UPDATE - TAGGING: Currency Lad, Mallrat, Trix and Ruth.

I'm several screwballs rolled into one, so the answer's plural.

Childhood me: no-one else could play childhood me. I had so much blond hair, and big blue saucer-like eyes, and smiled constantly. I jumped around, sang, acted the fool, and loved life. It would be a boring movie. You'd probably go in my head to all the adventures I played out there; as a spy, as a caveman, as someone who could travel time, exploring space. A lot changed between childhood and adolescence...

Adolescence: I'd want the unhappy loner to have his redemption in spectacular fashion. Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid is getting there, but something darker that doesn't aspire to jockhood would be better again. The anger was flaring by now, the realisation that everything is nothing, the existential questions and bleak answers.

Christian Slater in Heathers comes to mind. That was one of my all-time favourite depictions of fucked-up adolescence, and hell, he got the cool gothy chick as well.

Now? Bald, complex and with a dark side; there's my favourite attributes in a male lead. I think my own dark side is well pacified these days, but I think heroes and happy chappies are boring, so I'd want to be written into a political thriller or borderline psychotic episode. I've had the you-look-a-bit-like thing with Billy Zane, Billy Corgan and Hugo Weaving, and they're all edgy which is good, but if you shaved his skull I'd probably rope in Tim Roth because I think he's the dog's bollocks of male anti-leads.

Tim Roth as a postmodern self-employed hitman knocking off reality TV producers, while running a cravat shop on the side. THAT'S a movie!

'Scuse the self indulgence.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Is this dodgy?

Teltra's new boss is talking down its value, causing a share slump. He has performance bonuses linked to share price. They kick off next month. Smell any rats? The Oz is suspicious...

Marbles and Jazz

My birth mother is in Melbourne.

I'm in a very complex place when we meet. It's not bad, just strange. A room full of assorted lifetime bric-a-brac. Birthday photos that were never taken at birthday parties never held. Wardrobes and chests full of other lives that weren't. A sense that we are both still trying to find a sure footing, as if the floor is covered in marbles.

Down the far end of the room, it gets darker. There's an open door, beyond it's black. I don't know what's out there, whether it's bad, whether it even leads anywhere. Perhaps it's a black wall. Perhaps it's a vast unending purgatory full of screaming voices and unresolvable illogic that would throw my switch and leave me gibbering in a padded cell somewhere.

I'm not strong enough to peer through yet. Still balancing, arms out wide.

Tonight I'll take her to see jazz.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No good News Orleans

Tell me 10,000 dead is just one of those press overshots. It defies belief. Katrina's wrath is going to out-slaughter September 11.

And Guardian's Gary Younge reminds us that looters ain't looters: Iraqis who stole after the fall of Saddam were just swept up in the excitement of freedom, according to Rumsfeld.

Nic White's joined the Right to say we shouldn't be using this as an excuse to go after Bush before the waters clear. Maybe he's correct:
"These troops are battle-tested. They have M-16s and are locked and loaded," said the Democrat governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and I expect they will."
Le Blanco shoots le negres, that's something for the party of JFK to ponder.

Barista has collated a striking collection of photos from the disaster zone.

Hot bump 'n' grind on the sly

No, this isn't where I turn Nikki Gemmel. As of yesterday, beloved visits this site (and I'm still engaged, and still alive!). Just a hypothetical from a raging discussion held over a fine plate of Coopers-beer-battered Whiting and chips in a pub at the cusp of an Adelaide Hill.

"Which is the greater betrayal? "

A theory goes, and it is only a (biological determinist) theory...

Men, if they fool around, are driven to share their genes as widely as possible. In the tribal groups and pre-agrarian societies where these instincts were being honed there was no DNA testing or child support, so man's investment in the consequences of his actions was limited. Sex with a woman other than his partner had few risks. While he might choose the more attractive woman if facing a choice, he is not too discriminating. He can copulate with multiple women of varying degrees of attractiveness, and each act potentially furthers his genes. The instinctive residue of this is men today being, relative to women, indiscriminate and up for it.

Women, if they fool around, are driven to get the best genes possible. Until the incredibly liberating advent of the pill and control over their own bodies, a woman could get pregnant during any romp. Her fun could be heavy with long-term consequences. With no obstetricians birth itself is a mortal risk. So while women enjoy sex just as much, perhaps more, than men, they are highly discriminating. This carries into the present, where modern women who have no 'moral' problem with cutting loose and enjoying casual sex, and who are on the pill and have a bag full of condoms, still go about selecting partners in a much more cautious manner than males.

OK, it's generalisation, there are exceptions. And it's theory strongly opposed by the blank-slate school.

But a question flowing from this got a few of us arguing vehemently, and the split was precise along gender lines: if betrayed by your partner (obviously not good to begin with),
would it be worse that they did it with someone they don't find any more appealing than yourself, in a random act of opportunism, or if they did it with someone better looking or smarter or more successful than yourself because of the fact that the person is better looking or smarter or more successful than yourself?
Females felt that if you were betrayed because your partner couldn't resist a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be with a Johnny Depp, Gael Garcia or equivalent like Jolie or Longoria, that would be much easier to take than if it was with someone friendly you met in a bar one time. Men disagreed.

Thoughts? Experiences to share?

Monday, September 05, 2005

The man who would be king

Taking a moment out from his war on women:
Hours after John Brogden tried to take his own life, Tony Abbott said a particular health proposal "would be as dead as Mr Brogden's political prospects".

Friday, September 02, 2005

Animal Day

This is beyond belief:
Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as hurricane-flooded New Orleans descended into anarchy...Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon...looting, carjackings and gunfire...rescuers themselves came under attack...the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter.
Would we do this? Is it Lord of the Flies in action; human nature tearing away civilisation? Or is this what happens if your society is based so absolutely on power, guns and privilege?

The world's police have woefully dropped the ball as tens of thousands starve and rot in one of their greatest cities:
Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement...

Terry Ebbert, head of the city's emergency operations, warned that the slow evacuation at the Superdome had become an "incredibly explosive situation," and he bitterly complained that FEMA was not offering enough help. "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," he said. "FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control."
Dubya's helping though, with posturing and rhetoric:
President George Bush will tour the devastated Gulf Coast region tomorrow...

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this - whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud," Bush said.
Oh good, just so we're clear on what evil is; raping and robbery and, um making false claims against Bush's insurance buddies.

C'mon Orleanos, you've give the world so much, you can pull through this.

Heavy boots for the Orleanos. Heavy boots for the poor Iraqis caught in the stampede. I think both stories managed to squeeze onto the commercial news last night, albeit somewhere below a bomb-scare-that-wasn't and an e-taking model. Glad we aren't inured to the pain of others, hey?!

UPDATE: More 'let them die' from the US Right, this time on FOX:
..people who move into such areas should assume the risk themselves rather than expect help..
(via Jarvis commenting on Surfdom).