she sells sanctuary

January 31, 2003
By the way, who else thinks we're stuck with John Howard 'til (not long) after the next election? After all, if they let it come down to a contest between Peter "Sharky-smirk" Costello and Simon "Cuddles" Crean, I reckon Cuddly would be a shoo-in. Two questions: when's the PM's birthday again, and when do we get to vote for Mark Latham?
Latham's "democratising capitalism" is the only intelligent way forward. You know, maybe the Libs got it half right: Yes, competition and markets are fantastic. But what's competition without a level playing field? And it is patently obviously that the market can't self-regulate, so small government is a fantasy. The crisis in corporate governance shows that Capitalism is as frought with the potential for corruption as other isms such as Communism.
So am I Left, or am I Right? And is "Centrist" an adequate description for a situation where you agree with certain elements of a paradigm and not others?
Or am I splitting isms?

posted by Gianna 9:38 PM

. . .

I was reading again today about the people who lost their lives in the Bali bombings (see the
Herald website). These beautiful happy people, and their families whose lives have been destroyed. It made me realise that what I have against going to war, for any reason, is that not one more family from any country should be made to grieve the loss of an innocent loved one. Not one.
Is it really so hard to stop killing people?
And to those who will write me off as a raving Leftie: My anti-war stance is not some kind of political reactionism against the 'despised' Liberal administration of this country. Labor's acquiescence in a sanitised, once-removed UN-"endorsed" war doesn't impress me either.
I question whether the UN can sanction military intervention, anyway. An organisation that goes on about human rights can hardly endorse tit-for-tat killing sprees culminating in the victory of the bigger bully, which is what war amounts to. So, I ask, what kind of "action" do the Allies really propose the UN takes? It's bullshit, I'm afraid. Asking the UN to "authorise" the world to go to war is absurd, whatever political party you have a stake in. As a civilised human being, I object to legalised murder--so sue me.
I mean, don't they realise that these kinds of bloody conflicts only result in retaliation and an endless, escalating cycle of violence? Don't these guys ever read any psychology? Because we are all still just cavemen at heart.
Speaking of caves, back at Casa Gianna the black cat is sleeping on a hotpink cushion and the white cat is on an aqua one. They look gorgeous against the lilac of my kitchen wall. We are listening to Sergeant Peppers.
And so I'll get off the soapbox now.

posted by Gianna 8:16 PM

. . .

Can someone please tell me what has happened to Don Arthur, who everyone seems to link to, but who claims to have disappeared in
a hail of dead cats in early December? Am I just not getting something here?

posted by Gianna 8:04 PM

. . .

The cat's miaow
Well, guess who sauntered into my bedroom at exactly three a.m. this morning? One little black cat, looking well-fed and quite pleased with himself, too. I could wring his little neck for the anxiety he gave me this week. So all's well that ends well.

posted by Gianna 10:53 AM

. . .

January 30, 2003

I've decided that some things really are black and white. I'm going to be philosophical tonight about my missing kitten Smooch, who was chased off by a dog on Monday night. It has been four days now.
There are only two outcomes: either he has died of starvation and dehydration, in which case I need to grieve, and get over it. On the other hand he may have been enterprising enough to catch himself some dinner, maybe washed it down with some fermented puddle water from a building site or a bin lid, and found himself a safe place from which to suss out the neighborhood and contemplate his next move.
I've been beside myself, because the timid little creature has been an indoor cat for most of its life, and is not the slightest bit street-wise. For the first eight months of his life, we lived in a high-rise. I couldn't stand the idea of him being alone all day so I got him a buddy from the pound, Fuzz, a sweet-natured, white, rabbity-furred little animal. Now Fuzz is the one who is lonely. In November we moved to a colorful little terrace with a backyard. (I'd been promising them butterflies for months; I had to deliver.) The backyard is enclosed, but they can get out if they think hard enough about it. Usually they're too lazy, but lately they have been thinking about it a lot. Perhaps it is the heat.
But tonight is the first night I won't pace the streets of my town looking for him at three in the morning. Tomorrow, I hope, will be the first day I get through a day of work without being a red-eyed sad sack. It is pathetic: I feel as if I have cried more tears over losing this animal than I have cried over humans, and I have cried over humans. Maybe it's the unconditional love thing.
At work today, a colleague dismissed my melancholy with a vaguely critical comment that I seemed to love my cats more than most people love people. This is the same girl who cried a whole night over a missing handbag. (Miaow!)
Tonight I spent some time with a friend, a clown who tells me he wore stilts in a scene at the end of Mission Impossible, a film that completely passed me by. He cheered me up by telling me that cats will travel in a spiral until they find their scent. "Sez who?" I said. "Sez every study that's ever been done on cats," he said. So I'm going to try and stop worrying.
Therefore, goodnight.

posted by Gianna 10:32 PM

. . .

Did anyone notice today's desk calendar quote? I'm not kidding:
"I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don't always agree with them"
George Bush

posted by Gianna 3:14 PM

. . .

The Road to Surfdom offers up some classic obfuscation from Whitehouse spokesman Ari Fleischer. When asked whether the US might use a few WMD of its own, Fleischer says, “It's well known that the United States' long standing policy about use of nuclear weapons is that we don't rule anything in and we don't rule anything out. And that remains our policy.” The press persisted, “But…why is that appropriate for the United States? If we're trying to get Iraq to disarm, in the interest of nonproliferation, why would the United States be even openly considering that?”. Fleischer stonewalled: “Again, our policy is, we don't rule anything in and we don't rule anything out.”
Except when they are ruling other nations, of course.

Evaluate this
The press asked, “If Saddam Hussein indeed does have chemical and biological weapons, isn't it the case that we helped get him...get these weapons with the policies we had in supporting Saddam Hussein against Iran?”. Which elicited from Fleischer: “I would differ with that; no. I think unless you have a specific allegation or a specific company that you'd like to bring to my attention, the answer is no. If you have a specific, I'd like to evaluate it.”
Unfortunately for Fleischer, the press had the facts at their fingertips (apologies to Joseph Heller):

QThe San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that a number of major American corporations -- including Hewlett-Packard and Bechtel -- helped Saddam Hussein beef up its military in the '80s. And also the Washington Post last month in a front-page article by Michael Dobbs said the United States during the '80s supplied Iraq with cluster bombs, intelligence and chemical and biological agents. In that same article they reported that Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense, went to Baghdad in December '83 and met with Saddam Hussein, and this was at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons almost on a daily basis in defiance of international conventions. So there are some specifics, and the question is, if Iraq is part of the axis of evil, why isn't the United States and these American corporations part of the axis of evil for helping him out during his time of need?

FLEISCHER:As I indicated, I think that you have to make a distinction between chemical and biological. And, clearly, in a previous era, following the fall of the Sha of Iran, when there was a focus on the risks that were underway in the region as a result of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, different administrations, beginning with President Carter, reached different conclusions about the level of military cooperation vis-a-vis Iraq. Obviously, Saddam Hussein since that time has used whatever material he had for the purpose therefore of attacking Kuwait, attacking Saudia Arabia, attacking Israel. And, obviously, as circumstances warrant, we have an approach that requires now the world to focus on the threat that Saddam Hussein presents and that he presents this threat because of his desire to continue to acquire weapons and his willingness to use those weapons against others.

Q So was it a mistake for the U.S. to support Saddam?…You and the President have repeatedly said one of the reasons Saddam is part of the axis of evil is because he's gassed his own people. Well, he gassed his own people with our help. You saw the Washington Post article, didn't you, by Michael Dobbs?

FLEISCHER: I think that statement is not borne out by the facts. I think that he gassed his own people as a result of his decisions to use his weapons to gas his own people. And I think the suggestion that you blame America for Iraq's actions is way beyond the pale.

(my emphasis on his circular reasoning)

posted by Gianna 3:08 PM

. . .

January 27, 2003

Mark Mordue, a non-fiction writer, had a piece in Spectrum this weekend ("Fiction's lost plot", Sydney Morning Herald, 25/1/03) asking if non-fiction was "about to become more important" than fiction. As a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, this subject is close to my heart so I was interested to see
Mordue's spin.

Mordue asked a bunch of publishers, indie and mainstream, about a possible trend towards non-fiction at the expense of fiction. Not surprisingly, indie publishers pointed the finger at gutless distributors and money-hungry mainstream publishers, saying any lack of new fiction being published in Australia was the result of "publishing cowardice" towards books that could be considered risky or marginal. Literary non-fiction journal publishers told him that non-fiction is merely filling a gap in the Australian market and what's more, we actually could use more essay-style non-fiction by big name writers.

I couldn't figure out whether Mordue was arguing that less fiction is being written, or being published, or being read. But I'm pretty sure there are plenty of other hopeful novelists out there slaving over their hot keyboards, hoping Text publisher Michael Heyward is right when he says to Mordue, "Sometimes a great novelist can come out of nowhere." So I don't think less fiction is being written. Maybe less writers are being nurtured, and maybe less publishers are spending the money to spread the word. Mordue doesn't talk about marketing, but it would have to play a major role in enabling new fiction authors to reach a wider audience.

Tony Moore, of Pluto Press, mentions in passing the relation to the rise of the documentary form in our culture. This, to me, is a significant point but one which Mordue doesn't further explore. The popularity of "reality" formats would definitely have a spin-off into books, and non-fiction would be the lucky beneficiary of the interest in all things "real". However, I agree with Sophie Cunningham of Allen & Unwin, whom Mordue quotes as saying, "It's bullshit to say one is more authentic than the other. Good writing creates authenticity--whether it's fiction or non-fiction."

A case history
Looking at my bookcase, I seem to snaffle up every "important" new author: Jonathan Franzen, Nick McDonell, Yann Martel. Naturally enough since I am one of their contemporaries, I am especially fond of young female authors like Julia Leigh, Chloe Hooper, Lucy Lehmann. And then I have to top up my favourites, my Kureishis and Kunderas, my Zadie Smiths, my new release Carvers. And then there's the beautiful hybrids, the Drusilla Modjeskas, the Helen Garners. But I also read McKenzie Wark and Margaret Wertheim and Stephen Jay Gould. Somehow there just seems to be enough space to absorb all the forms of writing.

Anyway, television has been through the same identity crisis. People thought reality TV would cannibalise the viewing market, but audiences still clung to fictitious shows, and in Australia were even rewarded with quality true-to-life fiction series like Love is a Four Letter Word (ABC) or The Secret Life of Us (Ten), despite the love affair with shows like Big Brother and The Osbournes (both Ten).

Perhaps the missing link will be literature verite, when ordinary Joes start publishing their diaries and calling it art. (Don't worry Mum, I threw out all my teenage diaries in a fit of pique five years ago.)

posted by Gianna 5:57 PM

. . .

Good question, Sydney Morning Herald (25/1/03). Why is Kerry Packer allowed to have a Glock? And why do people keep stealing guns and gold bullion from the poor guy's office? He needs to tie them to his desk with string, like banks do with pens.

posted by Gianna 5:12 PM

. . .

I am not going to grizzle about the war anymore.
Margo's right - ridicule from the Left is just as bad as ridicule from the Right. And Tim has a point too, that pith without substance is just, well, pith. Far better to debate about solutions, but I'll leave that to the experts.
My position is the same as Peter Peacenik's, but he says it better. (Anyway, even though I thought "Frogs" fairly harmless and being half-German, wasn't bothered by "Kraut", when China came on board, I realised I couldn't think of an inoffensive nickname for Chinese people. Is there one?)
Oh well, I'm going to try and keep my trap shut about politics, anyway. There are other things to obsess about. But this time I'm going to put my feet where my mouth is. No, wait! I mean I'm going to go to some marches and maybe even make a teeshirt.

posted by Gianna 4:53 PM

. . .

How about the UN simply--unilaterally--decides to keep the weapons inspectors there until further notice? Or will Dubya & Co. still bomb the crap out of Baghdad when there are UN staff as well as ordinary citizens from around the world acting as human shields?

posted by Gianna 4:18 PM

. . .

January 24, 2003

Three leaders are having a think-tank. One leader says, "Well, guys, our economy's not doin' too great right now. I just plain don't know what to do. And I just cain't seem to find that O-sama bin Laden, no matter how many bushels I look under."
The second leader replies, "You think that's bad? My wife's all caught up in a dreadful scandal with a rather unsavoury conman sort of chap, and I just can't get the press orf of the subject. Now if only I could distract them in some way..."
The third leader pipes up. "Mate, you want distraction? We've got bushfires, drought, a fertility crisis. Dude, if we sent troops to WAR right now, I don't reckon anyone'd even notice!"
Then the first leader says, "War, huh? Now there's an idea..."

posted by Gianna 9:04 PM

. . .

January 23, 2003

I've just been watching Kerry grill the PM on the 7:30 Report. It emerges that the PM didn't know about Blair's "whatever it takes" attitude. He didn't know what Blix has been saying about whether or not smoking guns have been found. This is the same Australian Prime Minister who didn't know the "children-overboard" claims were lies. He didn't know about Hollingworth. He didn't know about Heffernan (though, hey, "Woo-hoo!" Heffernan is a mate!).
You have to wonder what he does know, or why he has such a communication problem with his staff.
Kerry said, "Can you rule out Australian involvement if the UN rejects military intervention or if Blix asks for more time?"
The PM said, "I won't let the Government's position be defined by a journalist's question."
Well, how about defining the Government's position yourself, as leader of the Government? But no. I sensed John was struggling not to use the phrase "I won't hypothesise/speculate". Perhaps he has realised that that rhetorical avenue has become dangerous, when he is in the middle of testing out a massive, deadly hypothesis in the Gulf.

Capricious, moi?
The PM says a hypothetical (omigod!) 13-2 vote with a "capricious veto" (ie, from France, Germany or China) would be treated as a wholehearted UN endorsement. Well, what's the bloody point in even having a right to veto, if people can choose to ignore your veto when it's convenient?

Osama who?
John Dubya Howard insisted, "If it wasn't for the US, weapons inspectors wouldn't even BE in Iraq."
Ye-es, but isn't it Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah who we are really interested in right now?
Meanwhile, may I suggest that the Australian PM's advisors apprise him of recent comments by the British PM and the United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector?

posted by Gianna 7:35 PM

. . .

January 22, 2003

Seems the
Krauts are sour about war too.

posted by Gianna 8:46 PM

. . .

A little more conversation, a little less
action, baby. At least the Brits made sure they had bipartisan support before they headed off.

posted by Gianna 4:05 PM

. . .

The Italians are back to their favourite
research topic: love. More particularly, love and food. The upshot of current research being that you don't need chocolate if you're getting some. *wiping chocolate crumbs from face* Tell me something I don't know.

posted by Gianna 11:54 AM

. . .

the Frogs won't march on Iraq and are threatening to block the UN from authorising war, meaning the US is on its own:

"We think that military intervention would be the worst possible solution."
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
(Washington Post)

Go the Frogs. Not that we've forgiven them for what they did in the Pacific, but still.

Honey, I shrunk the war
In response to the Gallic ambush, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "We must not shrink from our duties and our responsibilities when the material comes before us next week". The Washington Post adds, "He used a variation of the phrase "must not shrink" three more times as he addressed the council." Yeah, and he also said "We cannot be shocked into impotence". connect the dots. Maybe they're just after Saddam's stockpiles of Viagra.

Duke Nukem
Meanwhile, Tony Blair isn't ruling out using nuclear weapons on Iraq. Gawd.

posted by Gianna 11:29 AM

. . .

January 21, 2003
Blogger is offline and I’m infatuated with my blog. I feel the need, the need to post. Goddam it, it’s only about three days old and it needs a hit! Cold turkey. It’s not fun. I guess this probably often happens with newbie bloggers (Tim, there’s one for the textbook).
(Addiction. And
crikey! thinks the answer is shaming. I whinge about this in here. Incidentally, Crikey, the Federal Court has made dependency a legally recognied disability.)
I feel like I’ve been gagged. Was it what I said about the French? Posting a blog entitled NOT WARRIORS, RAINBOWS in response to their largesse with their UN veto and the exhilarating fact that hey, maybe, this time, the doves will outfly the hawks?

posted by Gianna 8:48 PM

. . .

The Guardian
reports that the British defence secretary--the appropriately named Geoff Hoon--has with bipartisan support just sent 26,000 troops to the Gulf. Meanwhile, the US is offering immunity(tres Survivor) to Saddam Hussein.

"To avoid a war...I would ... recommend that some provision be made so that the senior leadership in that country [Iraq] and their families could be provided haven in some other country."
Donald Rumsfeld
(quoted in The Guardian)

Aw, gee, that's nice, isn't it? Problem is, if Saddam finds such a haven, said haven may be in line for a nice little pre-emptive strike, since it would then be considered to be harbouring a terrorist.

My, grandma, what a lovely safe haven you have!
Apart from trying to sell Saddam sanctuary, the US is also trying to kill him.

At any rate, there seem to be enough options to deal with all three--or is it four?--Saddams.

posted by Gianna 12:02 PM

. . .

January 19, 2003

Three have been killed, two are fighting for their lives and an unbelievable 400 homes have been lost in suburbs of the nation's capital city, Canberra. On television, footage of fireys wearily driving their trucks through massive tunnels of flames. How do they do it? I am humbled by their selflessness and bravery.

posted by Gianna 9:56 AM

. . .

There's another
Gianna who has the URL I wanted. Looks like she's also a newcomer, with only two posts from last month in her blog. So far, I have discovered that she is 24, an only child, has a boyfriend, seems to work in an office job. She lives away from her girlfriends and muses over the difficulty in maintaining friendships when everyone is changing. I think she lives in America from the talk of sorority houses and rocky-road icecream and midterms but I could be wrong. I also attempted to start a blog with URLs like rehash and detritus and statik. Blogger says "750,000 people have started" a blog, but how many of those blogs are active? Some people's blogs haven't been touched since 2001.

posted by Gianna 9:13 AM

. . .

January 18, 2003

A yellowing clipping I have, torn from The Australian newspaper sometime last year, reads:
"Donatella Marazzitti, Alessandra Rossi, and Giovanni B. Cassano of the University of Pisa and Hagop S. Akiskal ofthe University of California at San Diego [received the
Ig Nobel prize] for their discovery that, biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from having severe obsessive-compulsive disorder"(my hearty emphasis).

Maybe it's healthier to have dalliances based purely on something as passionless as bank balance, viz. adverts from Sydney's free city-worker magazine nine to five [distributed Mondays at train stations]:
"Cashed up Casanovas!"
Want an apartment in the city and a BMW paid for by a wealthy man? Want the excitement of being a mistress? Shop at Versace, dine at Level 41, and shop shop shop at Versace, Gucci, Prada, Dolce Gabbana. Shop til you cannot shop anymore. Do you like being pampered? Do you like being a princess? There is [sic] just not enough hours in the day. Are you happy making $500 a week and having no time for yoursel? Or you could find out what the life of a [ ] lady is like! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Have an affair with a $ millionaire $ sugardaddy! Over 1000 Sydney-wide! Choose your own! From the Many Photos Available.
Rewarding Dating! For Smart Women! Ladies, whether you are looking for your ideal partner or casual partner, we do have wealthy, appreciative and generous men of all nationalities, willing to spoil and look after your every financial need. Wealthy all seeking to spoil and indulge a casual partner. Let a man provide all those little (and big) extras that make life more exciting. Choose your own sugardaddy."

posted by Gianna 10:35 AM

. . .

As a practising atheist, I would like to discuss a little unsolicited leaflet (All Tracts Free As The Lord Provides) that arrived in my mailbox the other day. This is probably blasphemy. Can atheists commit blasphemy?
DID YOU KNOW? YOU are in debt because of your sin?
Damn, how did they get hold of my credit card statements?
DO YOU REALIZE? What the cost of YOUR sin debt will bring in eternity?
Well, I realise my wanton shopping sprees have condemned me to several more years working for the man.
For the wages of sin is death...And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
I'm sure I didn't see that in the fine print.
HAVE YOU HEARD? YOUR sin debt has been "PAID IN FULL"
Phew! That's a relief isn't it?
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
I completely sympathise. Running out of vinegar is especially annoying when you are in the middle of making a salad. I have been known to give up the ghost when this happens too.
The leaflet at least gives me the option of choosing to tick the box next to I choose to reject the payment of Jesus Christ and trust my payment. If I tick this, however, I will receive (in the post?) flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of our power"
(their bizarre emphasis).

posted by Gianna 9:29 AM

. . .

Newspapers report the arrest of the Imam of Australia, Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, on various charges including carrying a protruding load. No doubt the offending 5cm plank of wood was concealing a bomb. The respected Muslim cleric has also been charged with resisting arrest. I would argue that many people, believing themselves to be innocent of any crime, would resist arrest. It's human nature; one would be upset and angry about the indignity and injustice of the situation, and naturally would desire to shake free the hands of those trying to deprive you of your liberty. But maybe it's just me. (See, kids, this is what being "alert" can achieve. I've never managed to figure out how "being alert" translates into actual behaviours. I presume it is something like, "prick up your ears". This, however, sounds kind of kinky and you probably shouldn't try it at home.) On the upside, if Chris Murphy doesn't succeed in getting this one laughed out of court, no-one will.

posted by Gianna 8:35 AM

. . .

January 17, 2003

Thanks to
Tim Dunlop for the inspiration to get blogged.

posted by Gianna 1:49 PM

. . .


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