Monday, October 31, 2005

Kim wants to Tampa with terror laws

Has Kim changed even one iota since Tampa?

"Me too, and burn the books while you're at it" he cries, while actual left wing to moderate members of the party look on in stunned disbelief:
Senior ALP figures were also exasperated by Mr Beazley's decision to announce his own vilification laws yesterday, saying he was "mangling the message".
Mangling. Not the first time either.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The deadlock clunks into place

Until about a week ago I was floating across the wedding experience. Anger and stress came in waves, reactive, responding to particular aggravations.

My gut was relaxed and open, I woke with a sense of peace each morning. Beloved entered a state of stress a while back, so I've been a foil to that, the trainer in the corner with a hot towel and massage on tap.

Then I felt the lock clamp in my gut. It's on, and it won't release until well into the evening of the 12th of November. About 5 vintage chandons if you want a precise measurement of time. I wake and my abs are tense. I feel nausea come on with no good reason. I try to distract myself writing songs or thinking up ideas for that novel but the logic-panic axis of my brain overrides more subtle creative impulses like an iron bar across the throat of a wren.

No, it's not rational.

Most things are organised, but still... got to burn a good hour and a half worth of mix CD. Don't even know how you go about doing that, let alone on what equipment. Got to check over and finalise vows. Got to pick a couple of nice poems.

Does anyone have suggestions for a wedding-appropriate, quality love poem?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

At a snip - Helmets fend off AIDS

Another layer of the male circumcision debate is peeled back after a probing report suggests a clean snip helps prevent HIV (and presumably other STD) infection. The thrust of the report is that exposing one's bishop can cut in half the chance of infection, with potential reasons including:
keratinisation of the glans when not protected by the foreskin, drying after sexual contact, reducing the life expectancy of HIV on the penis after sexual contact with an HIV-positive partner, reduction of the total surface of the skin of the penis, and reduction of target cells, which are numerous on the foreskin.
A complex debate so it's worth getting a firm grip on the issues.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How to hang a young man until he's dead

You might not even be reading this post if the subject looked like

or even this

Unfortunately if you're born with this mug

Australia cares less Asian Boy!!

The impending death by hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van, 25 year old Aussie, has of course attracted the same press attention as the Corby and Bali 9 cases. You all remember the day he was sentenced, don't you?

OK, in fairness there's been some cross-party movement in the past few days, and it's probably true that a longer-and-stronger campaign driven by the kind of public pressure someone blonde and titty would have aroused would not have changed Singapore's mind.

But the striking difference in the way "Australia" has reacted speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, on the gory details, there's a blunt piece in The Australian that will fill you in on the noble art of hanging a human until they're dead. Here's the executor's summary:

Once the prisoner is collected from his cell shortly before 6am, speed is of the essence. The longer it takes, the greater the opportunity for panic and struggle.

A hood is placed over the prisoner's head and his hands are pinioned behind his back, usually with handcuffs. His legs are bound together with wire to prevent him kicking out and catching them against the sides of the trapdoor.

The rope, attached to a concealed beam, is positioned around the neck and the trapdoor lever on the execution platform is pulled. The clunk of the wooden doors echoes around the chamber.

If everything goes to plan, the strike force of the noose will dislocate the neck at the second and third cervical vertebrae, the classic hangman's fracture.

The prisoner will enter complete neurogenic shock, unable to process pain, although electrical activity may continue in the brain for several minutes after the spinal cord is cut.

Those damn humans, trying to hang onto life down to the last living organ.
In Singapore the issue is rarely debated, the country's low crime rate being seen as sufficient justification for capital punishment. Abolition, it is said, would send the wrong message to criminals who may interpret it as an indication that the Government is going soft on crime.

Of course anything short of breaking someone's neck would be seen as "soft".

By a homocidal maniac.


I was pushing it to try another blog at this time, and it hasn't set the world on fire, so Press Gallery is once again available if anyone's looking for a URL.

It'd be nice to be funny, but I might leave it to the pros for the time being!

Thanks Brownie and Gianna for giving it nascent linkages...

Now, back to Mr Serious. *glowers*

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Howard pays for class warfare

Did I not predict on this site that Howard would pay for turning on his battlers with his class driven take-from-poor-give-to-rich industrial legislation?

You played with fire, now you burn. Et Tu Peter.

If only Labor was capitalising and showing leadership at this crucial time.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Booker winner changes name and chases the dosh?

Via Sterny, this is fascinating...
John Banville, the veteran Irish author who confounded pundits and bookies to scoop this year's £50,000 Booker prize ... is to abandon the melancholy, stylistic register that bagged him the Booker to try his hand at thrillers. Set in 1950s Dublin, his new novel, Quirke, tells the story of its eponymous hero, a pathologist who in the course of his professional activities uncovers what The Bookseller describes as "a murderous plot at the heart of the Catholic establishment of Dublin and Boston". Due out in the autumn of 2006, the novel - intended as the first in a series - will appear under the pen name Benjamin Black.
I guess it's a hard road living off literary grants, though his publisher could conceivably be telling the truth when he says
He doesn't want people reading Quirke and looking for the same things they do in a Banville novel. With this, his main intent is to entertain.
For money or love? Apparently he's in good company:
The heavily garlanded Joyce Carol Oates turned to the pseudonym Rosamund Smith to escape the baggage of her success and wrote eight "short, cinematic suspense novels", all of which featured twins. Kingsley Amis adopted the name Robert Markham to produce a new James Bond novel, Colonel Sun, after the death of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, in 1964. Gore Vidal, meanwhile, briefly rechristened himself Edgar Box in the 1950s to write three detective novels, while Banville's fellow Booker nominee, Julian Barnes, has brought out a number of thrillers under the name of his alter ego, Dan Kavanagh.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Spanking the plank

I have a new guitar.

It's a bit of an indulgence, but I don't care. I wrote a new song, it doesn't have words but is just a chirpy catchy and rather corny little ditty that I can't stop humming. About the same time I decided I'm not going to sit around any longer without a band.

So I went down to Brunnie Street, tried out 4 el cheapo steel strings with pickups and chose a nice Martinez with a satin finished neck.

I texted two members of my last band. I told one he's going to play lead guitar. I told the other that seeing as he's both an excellent drummer and melodic singer, he'll do both. Sort of like that guy in the Hard Ons. Except I'm going to sing too, not because I'm good but because I want to and I'll try hard and at least I can stay in tune.
I am skin and bones, I am pointy nose.... but it motherfucking makes me try!
(Ain't no right, Jane's Addiction)
I'll tune the Martinez pretty deeply and cover the bottom end. We may get a bass player once we're famous. Songs will be built around harmonies and call-and-response, sparse and semi-accoustic but interlaced with my friend's excellent lead licks. Think Day Tripper meets Alice in Chains unplugged.

Still haven't written words to the new song. Beloved says it sounds like Dawson's Creek, but I'm sure Beethoven copped similar jibes when he was working on the 9th Symphony:
Hey, that smaltz sounds like Mozart.
With apologies to Mozart. And Beethoven. And Dawson's Creek!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

20 things about Armaniac, a meme

Thanks to a nice outspoken female, who I have imbibed with, I am memed. I'll try to make these interesting...

1) I was almost expelled from a Catholic primary school (St Mary's Darwin) for writing a horror story about werewolves.

2) I was almost expelled from the same school for making a joke about balls.

3) I was on a dark road just outside Darwin with friends when 2 armed cops pulled over, trying to pick a fight so they could do us over. None of us rose to the bait and they left after 10 minutes, but you never forget.

4) My fiance was the first woman in 8 years of serious dating who I went out with for over 3 months. I knew I was in love with her within days of us getting it together. We tie the knot in just over 3 weeks.

5) I went to the same school as Tony Abbott and Nick Greiner, but it made me revolt and take up heavy metal guitar and anarchism.

6) When I was 3 I fell into the Moorehead River, deep in the Papuan jungle close to the Irian Jayan border, and almost drowned. I still remember clearly the smell and taste of the water, the sensation of floundering, the way the light dappled green through the water, the image of every crocodile I'd ever seen flashing through my mind, then the explosive crash and the feeling of my mum grabbing my hair and dragging me to the surface.

7) I started arguing with teachers about politics in year 9, as a right winger.

8) When Joe ran for PM, I wrote "Joe for PM" on the blackboard.

9) My father only hit me once in my entire life. My mum made him do it, and I could tell this made him extremely upset.

10) I didn't go out with, date, or kiss a girl until I was 16.

11) My cat can play fetch. If he brings you something and you ignore it, he hits you on the foot and points with his head.

12) In cadets I was the best in our platoon at sneaking up on people on my belly- I could move across leaves and broken branches without making a sound.

13) It took me 22 years to become happy with my appearance. That was also the year I realised I was going bald.

14) I failed year 12. Twice.

15) From 1996 to 1998 I had more trysts with women who had husbands or boyfriends than with singles.

16) Are we there yet?

17) I was in Dili (pre Independence) when Archbishop Belo returned after winning his Nobel Peace Prize, mingling with the crowd at the cathedral, and an Indonesian spy was killed in the grounds and carried right past me.

18) At the Catholic boarding school I attended in year 8 (St John's College Darwin), we had a paedophile Brother who would insist on rubbing scrot-rot ointment into the sweating crotches of the older boys. Thankfully I was still pre-pubescent.

19) I was brought up in Kakadu and was an obsessive fisherman. My largest was a bull shark about 8 foot long. It was in a tiny creek that flowed into King River, 40km from the sea, in Arnhem Land. When it felt my hooks bite it charged towards the mouth of the creek but there was a fallen tree partially blocking its exit so it leapt out of the water, over the tangle of branches, and belly-flopped on the other side. It is one of the most spectacular and awe inspiring things I've ever seen. When it eventually tired I was determined not to kill it so I refused to even lift its head out of the water for photos. I made my dad reach into the murky water with a pair of pliars and release it.

20) I once caught typhoid in Indonesia and got over it on bottles of water and about 3 packets of Panadol.

I tag anyone who reads this site, consider yourself memed!

Empty sick feeling

I don't like fighting. I don't think I want to be a litigator, fighting seems to come naturally to me, but I don't like it. Neither do I want a job where I get so pissed off that I get angry at my family or friends over things that are inconsequential.

I don't like having assumptions made about my time. I don't consider the fact that I was in Melbourne and had some free time good reason to be angry that I didn't go out and do some shopping.

I don't think the inconvenience of having the milk run out is worth being angry over. This is what makes people become bitter at each other. It's unimportant, unless you think making a point about it is worth hours or days of unhappiness.

They say depression makes people turn to comedy. I've started a little offshoot on an impulse today, to play with a satirical moment or three- the Press Gallery.*

Pop across from time to time and get the latest off-the-record briefings from my mystery sources in the nation's capital. I don't know about you, but I need a smile...

*UPDATE: No, that didn't help, and I know I don't have time to devote to any more projects, so I'm deleting it before I pick up any momentum. If anyone wants a damn fine URL for some political satire, register pressgallery.blogspot and post away.

I've turned to Iced Coffee and a Meatball Sub for comfort.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who's yer party??

Another one of those Politics Tests. Try your luck. Via Guy.

Interestingly it matches you to Australian Political Parties as well as scaling you left-right on key areas.

I'm left-wing on social policy and traditional values, I'm centre left on economic policy. Not too surprising. My match with various parties (the higher the better match) is allegedly:

One Nation - 45.4%
Family First - 45.3%
National Party - 26.3%
Liberal Party - 31.8%
Labor Party - 82.6%
Australian Democrats - 84.6%
The Greens - 90.4%

Odd in some respects. I would have thought the Liberals were my best match on the right. I think the Greens have been treated as more 'moderate' than they are, I'm definitely to their right (relatively speaking) on most policies.

But perhaps this reflects

1) How right wing much of Labor's policy has become; and
2) The fact that I support Labor, not a more left wing party, because I believe that compromise is part of being in a large, diverse democracy.

Have a try, see what you think...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wesleyan Mission

So I front up a few minutes after 8, dodgy Thai t-shirt and leather jacket to let people know who I am (of course, that'll make me stand out in a bar full of muso-bohos!), thinking 'you could have planned this better', and there's the Governor General and Brownie. Brownie gives me a great hug and tells me I look nothing like Steve Vizard. Dear Brownie, what did I do to create such a fearsome image?

First mouthful of Mountain Goat slides down well. I say to the bartender:
Oh I'm just holding a meeting of bloggers, so if anyone asks you where the bloggers are, that's me, ok?
She looks at me like I just beat a nun to death with a cricket bat in the middle of Federation Square.

Others arrive, Rex, Outspoken Female, CFSMTB and a NON-BLOGGER (he was ok though, it's fine...), Tony Teach, Boynton, Cast Iron... did I miss anyone?

So we're missing Mallrat and Ladycracker from the rsveepees. I know what ratty looks like, never met Ms Cracker, so I walk up to these couple of potentially literary looking young ladies near the door and say:
Hi, I'm hosting a drinkfest of bloggers, um internet writer types, and I was just well looking for someone who isn't here who I haven't even met before and so wondered, are you ladycracker? Either of you? Could you be?
After consulting with police about a restraining order, one actually came over a few minutes later and chatted with us, even taking down all our URLs on the back of a drink coaster and promising to investigate this strange cult.

If you've popped in, hi, welcome to our strange corner of blogopia.

To the crew, thanks for coming, more drinks soon is my request as I pass the mantle...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Tonight, a Moon over Rucker's Hill

Northcote awaits friendly and thirsty bloggers. Your host, moi, will be wearing jeans, a leather jacket, and some sort of tee shirt. 33, Bald, you'll work me out. I'll let the bar staff know so if in doubt just ask who the bloggers are.

Time: 8pm. Will go for a while, though we may move on later in the evening. If this happens peer into Terra Firma, Northcote Social Club and 303, all of which are within 200m of the venue...

Venue: The Wesley Anne, 250 High Street, Northcote Tel. 9482 1333

See you there!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day of the robber barons

Australia is now, officially, legislatively, no longer an egalitarian nation. The process of building workers' rights and collective empowerment was one of the great civilising projects of the 20th century, and now, in this playground of the select and powerful, it has been torn back decades in a single stroke of the legislative pen.

The arrogance of power can cause the megalomaniacal to overreach. Hitler decided he wanted Russia and England, and ended up with neither. Only unwritten history will tell if this ferocious attack on the people who've given them power will be the undoing of the Liberals. Fielding has it in a nutshell:
Mr Howard has put his ideological prejudice ahead of the long-term interests of the 'battlers' who have put their faith in him.
Kicked them in the balls, hard enough to crack them open is how I'd put it.

Greedy robber barons are as safe a Liberal preference vote as green hippies are for Labor. That's why Labor can't point all its policies into the far left. This attack on workers is being welcomed with glee by people who wouldn't vote Labor even if Labor had a thousand magic geese that would lay golden eggs in every pocket of the economy.

It's a present to the hard right, the ideologues, at the expense of the people who've actually given the snivelling rats power. Well, we will see if such a gobsmacking act of arrogance goes unnoticed by the battlers...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Drinks Friday week?

So, who's up for a beer?

UPDATE: It's looking definite for Friday week then, unless I get a surge of support for the Saturday. There are several takers, so the night is definitely on.

Parsing a fork in the road

I'm trained in law, I find it interesting, but am also a bit of a political junky. I pushed my employer for ages to give me some experience in policy, and now that's what I'm doing.

These are pretty nice people. I'm the only lawyer. My boss chats to me about wine, my nearest co-worker updates me on her pregnancy, which is at that late 'he's playing drums on my belly again' sort of stage. The pay's more than adequate. In the past couple of months I've already added a plethora of experiences to my CV: I've written part of a speech, drafted bits of legislation, written explanatory memoranda and ministerial documents, and spoken at meetings as the legal guy.

It's law, but definitely leading me in the direction of policy, law reform, and ultimately politics. A new direction, one I find very attractive.

Opportunities have suddenly brewed elsewhere. Specifically advocacy- running litigation in Court. There are a couple of these potential opportunities, and they would be ideal for building a career as a courtroom lawyer, something I have aspired to for years. They are in very interesting and sought after areas of law, blending criminal law with complex white collar issues. Long term this path would also lead to a lot more money. Exponentially more.

I could be making a decision that will be almost irreversible, and will shape my future for decades. Both of which lead to things that I've wanted to do, both are interesting.

Having good options can be more stressful than picking the best from a bad bunch, because the potential to squander a fantastic opportunity is so strong.

Sorry to be so navel gazing. After reading my blog, would you point me in either direction, or toss a coin?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Turkey the Auslanders

Turkey and the EU are to commence membership negotiations
overcoming strident objections from Austria.
Good old Austria and her fine frothing beer, delightful orchestras, magical winter playgrounds and undercurrent of Nazism.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Grogblog with 'gnac

Anyone want to join me for a drink?

The weekend of 14/15 October was suddenly looking pretty vacant, and I thought I'd see if anyone who passes through here is up for a low-key grogblog at one or more of my favourite haunts.

I'm thinking Friday the 14th, from about 8pm, at possibly my favourite Melbourne bar the Wesley Anne in Northcote.

Details on the Wesley Anne here:
250 High Street, Northcote Tel. 9482 1333 ...unique atmosphere reminiscent of an old-style gothic church... decor is very dim and prediminantly lit with candles and large open fire places... unusual and appealing drawing plenty of unfussy young locals in their casual gear.
It's got character and an interesting bohemian crowd, but is usually chilled enough for good conversation. It's also within a scrape and a jump of 3 other great bars, Terra Firma, Northcote Social Club and 303, as well as some good feeding spots. My thinking is- let people eat first then come. Meeting new people at a dinner where you can't move around is hard work, which is why I missed the last blog gathering.

If you can't make Friday but Saturday would be fine, speak now or forever hold your peace. I'm not expecting a huge crowd given my Beta-blogger status, but I can confirm that at least a couple of interesting personalities will be there.