March 30, 2003
Great, now I have to worry about my brother Marco, who flies around Asia on business all week, catching SARS, as well as his family (hi Nathalie and Rocco!) being vulnerable to terrorists at 'home' in their hotel in Malaysia. (Marco, when are you guys coming home? The sooner the better, imho...)
. . .
Put a candle in the window
I was inspired recently by John Quiggin's rumour of Jason Soon's "blog-related romance" (do tell, Jason!) and thought of a possible blog love story I could write: During wartime, two bloggers from different continents meet over their blogs and fall in love. They dream of a time when they might meet in the flesh. They figure they won't even have to speak, they'll just lie around and read each other's blogs and make love a lot. But just when it looks like they might finally get a chance to meet, their countries declare war on each other, and our star-crossed lovers never hear from each other again.
Well, what do you expect from someone raised to the tune of deeply depressing German folk songs--a happy ending? My dad, who use to love walking around our place singing--a snatch of opera, a little haunting Portuguese lovesong, a bit of Bob Dylan--only had to start singing the first few lines of one German folksong in particular, if ever he wanted to make us girls cry:
es waren zwei koenigskinder
sie hatten einander so lieb
sie koennten zusammen nicht kommen
das wasser war viel zu tief
das wasser war viel zu tief...
My dad can't remember the rest either, but the upshot was that the princess would put a candle in her window every night and the prince would swim over to see her. One night, the evil king blew out the candle and the prince swam out and was smashed to pieces on the rocks. We girls used to howl, it was so sad. [Bogus Trumper would've loved it, John Irving...].
Maybe I should just stop procrastinating and work on my Vogel.
. . .
March 29, 2003
Love is blind
Did you see that Monica Lewinsky is to host Rupert Murdoch's new reality TV show called "Mr Personality"? It should be called "Boyz in da hood" really, because that's all we'll get to see of the male contestants. The show's premise is that female contestants are supposed to pick the guy with the most appealing personality. Interesting--substance over style for a change. But the hood thing sounds a bit creepy to me. Why don't they just call it "Mr Gimp"? And surely Monica's an odd choice for a show about relationships and--ultimately--marriage. I guess old Rupert knows there's no such thing as bad publicity.
. . .
Stop making sense
Tim Dunlop finds the censors working overtime, while Thomas Schmitt emails me some signs of dissent. (It takes a while to load, but is worth it. I especially like the "Mathematicians Against Unbalanced Equations".)
. . .
March 27, 2003
Waiting in vain
I feel like I've had a stay of execution. As Tim Blair predicted, the 7:30 Report didn't air the story tonight. Watch out next week, I guess. I was pacing the kitchen, talking on the mobile to my older sister Cristina. Do you know, I've almost converted Cristina to setting up a blog of her own? This is my sister who writes letters to the editor. Good news indeed, because I reckon she's a pretty funny writer. Told her I'll get over to her place and help her establish a presence in the blogosphere at the weekend.
It's going to be a pretty full-on weekend, because my folks are coming down to babysit while Giulia and Isaac have a rare night out; I'm going to head to Giulia's tomorrow night to see them all and my darling nephew Raph. Saturday I am due to meet with some girlfriends for a sanity check or two. Then Sunday I'm catching up with Steve (he of the interview about God, below).
Steve and I have this thing. We've been friends since about 1991, and every couple of years we lose contact completely, off on our own tangents, and then just completely accidentally bump into each other again. It's the weirdest thing. Just now, he's been in the UK for the past year and then one day, I'm at the local supemarket in Newtown stocking up on the only flavour of catfood my cats deign to eat--the very expensive "White flake tuna with whole shrimps"-- and there's Steve and his wife Christine. They've just got back from London and are living in an old chocolate factory in Petersham.
So I'll probably be off-line for a bit, but hope to see you soon. (At least, before I'm revealed to be a complete bluffer on national television next week!).
. . .
March 26, 2003
If you’re new to the blogosphere, you’ve got to check out Salam Pax. He’s just an ordinary young man blogging out of Baghdad. His blog is a sharp reminder of the shallowness of cultural differences, and the simple humanity we all share. The following is a post from his friend who goes by the name of riverbend. She's just a girl like me, only she's being bombed right now:
”Be careful with the gasoline, Salam, a whole family burned to death the other day because their gasoline storing facilities weren't adequate (is that considered 'friendly fire'?)- hope you’ve got it stored in a safe place.[Salam:yeah we saw that on TV, pretty nasty, my mother freaked ofcourse] We’ve stocked up on candles (dozens of ‘em) but my mother is starting to eye my collection of scented candles anyway. So you can anticipate the scene- hundreds of bombs flying overhead, the deafening sound of planes, blended with murmured prayers, in a semi-dark room smelling faintly of… lavender.”
Baghdad's backyard blitz
Salam has been offline since Monday 24 March, so I linked to him a bit late. Many people are worried about his safety but it could just be that the phone lines in Baghdad have now been destroyed. But you can still read his archives in the meantime.
. . .
Girls and boys on film
I had the 7:30 Report around to my joint this morning to talk about blogging. Perhaps it was because I referred to Kerry O'Brien as "the thinking girls' crumpet" the other day... Anyway, I'll be interested to see what the other blogsubjects, John Quiggin, Gaz Parker and James Morrow have to say. (If I make the cut, just remember I was having a bad hair day, ok? And I was only just warming to the subject when they yelled "cut!".)
But I enjoyed the morning with cameraman Danny and sound dude David, even if I made them probably the worst cup of coffee they've ever had. Due to a sudden shortage of percolator coffee I was forced to pry open an ancient tin of International Roast, which David politely referred to as 'dingo dust'. It has to be the worst instant coffee ever invented. It tastes like charred bones, or worse, ash. They were very nice about it though. Hey, they even put Vaseline on the lens for me...or so they assured me.
The worst part of the interview was what the boys described as their "Doogie Howser" shot, where they film the blogsubjects tapping away at their keyboards. Not great cinema, so to liven things up a little they got you to read something out as you typed it. Now, I don't know about you, but I've never in my life talked aloud while blogging. So I'm hoping you will forgive the dorky shot if they decide to use it.
But enough about me, and back to the war.
. . .
March 24, 2003
She keeps no secrets from you
Megan, please don't stop drinking, you're too funny.
"As a response to all this war bullshit, I have come up with the following pick-up line....Baby, you have 48 hours to stop being so sexy or I will be forced to invade your pants.......I think if we all spent our time coming up with pick-up lines, the world would be a better place."
Amen to that one.
. . .
More like oogle
Weirdest Google--and probably the most inappropriate-to my site yet: "horny+Iraqi+women". I don't think I've even used the word "horny" before (though I wouldn't put it past me). Think I'll say it again a few times--horny, horny, horny--just for the search engines.
. . .
March 23, 2003
Alive and kicking
I did a bunch of interviews in 1999, vox pops with people of varying degrees of intimacy and notoriety. I had the pre-millennial blues and thought it might help me make sense of everything. Well, we did flirt with the idea that the world was going to end in an apocalyptic Y2K meltdown! I’m putting these interviews up mainly for the benefit of the people who took part--don't say you haven't been warned. But it has been interesting for me to read them again, given the way religion still runs the world (even for recalcitrant atheists).
First cab off the rank is Steve.
. . .
NO PLACE 4 POETRY?
For anyone who’s interested, I've updated my little waffle about poetry. By the way, I was only stirring the purists. I’m not an absolute relativist (there are no absolutes!) Think of me as relatively relativist...
. . .
March 22, 2003
You took the words right out of my mouth
Sample of this week's rapier's wit from Jonathan Biggins ("Burden of reproof", SMH):
"I was waiting in the taxi queue at the airport - and it felt as if I was still waiting three days later."
Excuse me while I stop rolling in the aisles. Biggins claims "public wit has rotted from the head down". Maybe he could start by being funny himself. I reckon he just doesn't read enough blogs--plenty of invective coming from all those "instant experts" he disses. He says Australians no longer know how to give good insult, but I'd like to direct his attention to Alan Ramsey's column in the same paper ("Truth and fairness stuffed down the shredder"). Ramsey describes John Howard's Address to the Nation as "scungy and unctuous (no other words will do)". LOL, Alan.
. . .
Donald ducks and shreds
In his press conference earlier, Donald Rumsfeld named "defence of America" as the primary reason for the attack, before regime change and liberation of the Iraqi people. He doesn't mention Australia or anyone else. Asked about Saddam's regime, Rumsfeld impatiently said something like, "I get shreds of information. And when I get enough shreds to put together a picture, I will let you know."
Yesterday, he gave us this shred:
Q. Mr. Secretary, what evidence do you have that it's actually working, that there are actually Iraqis who are heeding this call to --
Rumsfeld: We have evidence.
Q: And what sort of evidence is that?
Rumsfeld: Good evidence.
Standing on the outside looking in
Excellent...Kevin Drum kicks off Friday catblogging, with a guest (whose owner looks a lot like Rene Rivkin).
. . .
March 21, 2003
"I like the bits about you," said Hugo, an old workmate, after I reluctantly let him read my blog. I don't really like giving the link to people I know, because inevitably they'll see you in a slightly different light, because they're kind of getting inside your head, in a way. Blogging's both exhibitionistic and voyeuristic.
I love to read blogs where every now and then people talk about their day-to-day lives, what they're up to. Helps you get a sense of who they are. It's "Little Brother", if you will. Reality TV democratised celebrity and now blogging democratises reality TV! I guess there's a fine line we all tread, sort of like--you don't want to shower naked on your blog. (Now there's two people at work with my link. I'll have to watch what I say...just kidding.)
Hell, I need a break from the war. I think I've got war fatigue, and it's only day two. It seems probable that everyone will just get on the bandwagon once it looks like America et al is going to win. But I can't hear the words 'bunkerbusting bomb' again. People being shredded and tongues being ripped out. Therefore this weekend is about fiction. Not surprisingly I'm probably not going to win the Vogel this year after all. I think I'll just set myself the ultimate deadline, May 2006. In the meantime I could put some shreds, vignettes, samples up, just for the hell of it. Notice how in the past few months, my novel has shrunk to being short stories, soon followed by vignettes, and now it is fragments. Pretty soon it will be specks, at which point I'll probably feel comfortable enough to put them up.(Oh yeah, and I blame John Howard for that too. If I didn't have to blog about the bloody war all the time...)
UPDATE after my post above: If shreds are good enough for Rumsfeld...
. . .
I've added links to various official war-related sites on my blogroll (lifted from a crikey.com.au email). This whole thing is surreal. Yesterday, it took me two hours to make the half hour trip home, because of the protests. A lady opposite me whined the entire way ("it's absolutely ridiculous!") and I sat there thinking "Lady, just be glad you're not sitting on a bus in downtown Baghdad right now, worried about a bomb falling on your head courtesy of Australia. Sure, this may be an inconvenience, but blame John Howard, not the protesters." Then a bunch of students got on the bus at Central, loud and excited after taking part in the march, and a small cheer went up on the bus.
PS 'ken oath, look at what the Agonist is doing! Ultimate respect!
. . .
March 20, 2003
ABC-TV's breaking news was that Iraq has fired scuds at Kuwait, but I can't find a link for it yet. Elsewhere, we've already had civilian casualties in Iraq. John Howard says we're not more of a target because of the war, but a hell of a lot of others disagree, including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. America's worried enough to issue a global alert. So's the UK. We're still not alarmed yet.
PS. This is not a Chaser headline: "Bush Orders Start of War on Iraq; Missiles Apparently Miss Hussein".
. . .
The Shorter John Howard
Address to the Nation, ABC-TV, 7:30pm.
"Terrorists might get their hands on weapons that Iraq might have.
We need Uncle Sam.
This war is not making us a target.
Our values are making us a target.
Vent at me not the troops.
Truth, liberty and the Australian way."
All with the camera slowly pulling in tighter and tighter, until finally, we have front row seats to his eyebrows.
. . .
There's a bit of debate going on about blog interactivity here, here and here.
In light of all this, I'm pre-emptively slapping a one-week ban on myself from commenting at the Road to Surfdom, not because I'm abusive or obstroperous or anything, far from it, but I think I sometimes forget that he does have another--what was it, Tim?--11,000 or so daily readers who might like to get a word in edgewise. I will try and restrain myself, anyway.
. . .
March 19, 2003
Into my arms
Kerry O'Brien came out swinging at Simon Crean on the 7:30 Report tonight. I don't know why everyone writes Crean off; I find him quite credible and even a bit charismatic. What is it, has he stopped wearing cardigans or something? I can’t put my finger on it.
He sailed through the grilling (forgive the mixed metaphor, but I'm a little freaked out about the possible consequences of being at war right now).
When Kerry asked how Crean will react if Australian troops are later deemed to have broken international law, he said that Kerry was confusing the issues—the legality of the invasion itself, and the actions of the troops once fighting begins. Kerry pressed the point but Crean was firm: If Australian soldiers commit war crimes in Iraq, they will face the consequences of their actions regardless of whether the invasion itself is found to be illegal.
As Crean says, these 2000 Australian people are out there doing their job and following orders. I wish them a safe return.
Even though I don't think I'm very representative of young(ish) Australian women generally, my gut feeling is that Crean probably appeals to quite a few female voters. Why? Because he's a SNAG.
. . .
Take the liberty
My least favourite Tim tells us we can try emailing the PM.
No matter what you say, though, the response will always be:
"Thank you for writing to me via e-mail. I appreciate the comments you have made. Although there will be no further correspondence via e-mail you may receive a reply via Australia Post if you have supplied a postal address. My office may also take the liberty to forward your correspondence to other government ministers for their consideration. Once again, thank you for your email.
Hmmm, I want to believe I'm having some kind of dialogue with the guy, but I suspect it's wishful thinking.
. . .
March 18, 2003
And she didn't give him the diet pills either
Well, you gotta laugh. What else are you gonna do? Be alert? Yeah, that's really working.
. . .
The operative words
From my desk I see that someone has painted the words "NO WAR" in red paint on top of the Opera House......
. . .
March 17, 2003
The time to hesitate is through
George Bush Jnr reckons its a game of cards and explains how, since France has trumped him, he is somehow entitled to shoot up the game. He promises us a Moment of Truth. I'd like a minute, an hour, maybe even a week of Truth. But you can't always get what you want--I've learnt that the hard way. And who does John Howard think he is fooling? As if Cabinet has a mind of its own. This is the same guy who said:
"You always anguish over something like this [going to war], but I have never thought of changing my position. Never."
Never ever, or just never, John? What can Cabinet possibly do to change his mind now? And you can't help wondering about the timing. As Bob Brown says, the whole thing is deeply humiliating for Australia. Meanwhile, in the background, the the real war on terror seems to be going great guns.
Calpundit says a little information is a dangerous thing but a lot is worse, giving comfort to us "instant expert" bloggers. As does the Guardian. Not that I think bloggers themselves think they are experts. It's just a compulsion.
I've had a busy day so will leave it to the real experts:
Another one for those predisposed to a little more poetry and lot less war (subscription or view a short ad to access the story)....Plenty of great stories, as usual, and all of them free, at OLO...Ken Parish has a very interesting one up too.
A sad day in history. Rest in peace, Rachel Corrie, you courageous soul.
. . .
March 16, 2003
Waiting for the curtain to rise on Act III
I'm jealous of what John Quiggin has on his bedside table...The Baboon gently grooms Treasurer Peter Costello (sounds quite crowded inside the Treasurer!)...Tim Dunlop gives us more poetry but not yet his tantalising "theory of Australian male wistfulness"...Meanwhile, another wistful Australian male makes the case for No War....If you love words (that's all of us, right?) you might like to read this, from Wayne Wood visiting over at Ken Parish's. (Reminds me I really need to update my post about poetry.)....and, finally, it seems Ashcroft thinks tabby cats are signs of the devil (via Stew). Ashcroft, the cats want me to pass on that the feeling is mutual.
update: A hawk in dove's clothing. I stand corrected.
. . .
March 15, 2003
Like wow, wipeout
Seems like Comments are working (touch wood) so from now on, please feel free to wax as lyrical as you like.
Incidentally, the posts about my dad below are just because I don't think I tell him often enough how much I love him, how proud of him I am, and how grateful I am for everything he's done for me these 32 odd years. (See Dad, it isn't just about me.)
. . .
March 14, 2003
The adventurous type
I grew up playing Adventure, a purely text-based computer game. I wonder if anyone remembers it. You had to figure out clues and use words to navigate to different levels of the game. Every now and then you'd try typing in a swear word, out of frustration or sheer mischief, and you'd get exchanges like:
Computer: ...said the King, and 40,000 loyal subjects squatted and strained, for in those days the word of the King was law.
It was a very clever game; no graphics, totally conceptual. Mind you, in our family we also got off on writing loops in M-BASIC...(but do you think I can get comments to work???)
. . .
Now you know who to blame for the puns
My dad writes:
“Nothing ever gets chucked out”, said Bianca. Only recently, after she’d made me dig the foundations for a shed and draft plans for a rather large, solid building with a trussed roof, did I begin to see the light.
“This will accommodate all the junk in your office and in our living room,” quoth she, ever-so-sweetly, apparently referring to everything from the vast array of power tools, the old IBM terminal, the venerable Prentice Star acoustic coupler, give or take a decade of old Byte mags and, seemingly, every computer programming book ever published.
So I’m beginning to mend my ways: the other day, faced with a tiny Panasonic AM/FM radio ruined by leaking batteries, I only briefly considered hoarding it for parts, pondered just momentarily the possibility of at least salvaging the antenna – before I courageously threw the whole thing in the bin.
This may be the start of something wonderful. Look Ma, no possessions!
. . .
March 13, 2003
c8to suggested I get a comments feature happening so I'll try enetation. I have no idea if that's a good or bad choice, but we'll just play it by ear.
update:. Not quite there yet...How come everyone makes this comments business look so easy, anyway?
update2: OK, keep calm, keep CALM......Step away from the computer...
update3: ...Please note that due to technical difficulties, we are unable to cross live to my comments box at the present time. Please postpone any commenting until further notice. Thank you.
. . .
DR STRANGELOVE JNR
Right-wing radio personality at Melbourne's 3AW Neil Mitchell just took part in a live interview about the war on Sunrise (breakfast news show). Is he for real? When you listen to the warmongers you almost cringe at the childishness of their reasoning. Their main argument for disarming Saddam is that he's a bad guy. Well, the world is justified in questioning Bush's motives because there's a helluva lot of bad guys out there who we're not looking at invading. And the person who is pushing the world to the brink of violence right now is not Saddam Hussein but George Bush. He's the reason my nephews were born into wartime. He's the reason we have the anxiety of this deadly deadline for our troops and ordinary Iraqi families.
And here we have a Prime Minister, John Howard, who has consistently refused to hypothesise or speculate whenever a journo's questions get a bit too tough for him. Yet, the whole war on Iraq is a hypothesis. Listen to the rhetoric: Saddam might get us, weapons might fall in the hands of terrorists, Saddam might be in cahoots with Osama.
I get the sense it's about personalities. I reckon George Bush imagines himself as some kind of latter day JFK, you know, having a modicum of charisma, but even his neo-Camelot pedigree is not enough to make Old Europe like him. And they just don't like him.
To me, it comes to this: The Hawks can't guarantee there won't be collateral damage. And if they feel taking innocent lives is OK, so long as it's for their own greater good, in my opinion they are giving comfort to terrorists because they are legitimising their methods.
You know, go ahead and install a permanent police presence in Iraq. But leave innocent civilians out of it.
It's not the moral high ground, it's the sane high ground.
. . .
March 12, 2003
Felines for the man
Ah, I do like a catlover. Calpundit introduces Jasmine and Inkblot.
Well, I'd like you to meet Smooch.
(Fuzz is a bit shy.)
. . .
Everybody loves vraimont...not.
"Freedom fries"? "Freedom toast"? "Freedom kissing"? Angry Bear has the context.
All the Hawks are achieving is making the word "French" synonymous and interchangeable with "freedom". C'est bon, really. Liberte and all that.
The "freedom fries" brouhaha was one of the top stories on the television news Down Under. It's looking like the start of some kind of bizarre cultural war. I wonder how the French will retaliate, boycott McDonalds maybe? Do the French even eat McDonalds? Don't they take their food so seriously that they commit suicide if they're downgraded a hat or two? I've never thought toast and hot chips particularly French, anyway. No great loss to anyone.
update: A colleague's friend emails him arguing that since the Germans are against the war too, the word "hamburgers" is probably next on the list. She proposed the new name "regime change patties".
PS. This is cute (thanks Jay).
. . .
So, you think you can tell heaven from hell?
I like this, from my daily Buddhist messages from Beliefnet (who tuned into the aforementioned Biggins column too, obviously):
"But what makes these 'experts' preach their opinion and call it truth?" asked the inquirer. "Is it an inheritance of humankind to do this, or is it merely something they gain satisfaction from?" "Apart from consciousness," answered the Buddha, "no absolute truths exist. False reasoning declares one view to be true and another view wrong. It is delight in their dearly held opinions that makes them assert that anyone who disagrees is bound to come to a bad end. But no true seeker becomes embroiled in all this. Pass by peacefully and go a stainless way, free from theories, lusts and dogmas."
No theory, no dogma--they're very postmodern, those Buddhists. And like the postmodernists they suffer the same fate: not even Buddhism can lay claim to being the 'absolute truth'. Only Zen really gets beyond that by reconciling the opposites; everything and nothing, good and evil, you and not-you, your truth and mine. Like other forms of Buddhism, Zen gets accused to being nihilistic by saying there's no deity (or it's more like everything is divine) and there's no meaning. Still, I like a lot of the basic Buddhist ideas: put more love out in the world, you know, practice "loving kindness" and all that. But free of lust? Big call...
. . .
March 11, 2003
There was an article called "Why Terrorism Works" in last weekend's Australian (no free link), an excerpt from a new book by American Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz admits that "we are reaping what we sowed" and "it is we who must change our failed approach", but argues that root causes like repression and desperation are not to blame because "the vast majority of repressed and desperate people do not resort to the wilful targeting of vulnerable civilians."
That's right, the vast majority doesn't. We're talking about bad apples here, not the whole applecart. It's the radical, rogue element that trades on misery (hence the link to poverty) but has extremely self-centred motives.
Dershowitz claims "the real root cause of terrorism is that it is successful." That is, it works because it works; concessions gained are positive reinforcement for the terrorists.
But Dershowitz's solution--bigger and better weapons--is a bit hard on the vast majority of repressed and desperate people, isn't it?
"We can borrow from our successful experience in World War II by recruiting the US's--indeed the world's--smartest and most experienced scientists, technicians, weapon experts and others to develop longer-range approaches to dealing with global terrorism...After Pearl Harbour, the US brought together some of the world's most distinguished scientists for the Manhattan Project, which culminated in the development of the atomic bomb..."
-- Alan Dershowitz, "Why Terrorism Works"
I don't get it. I thought the point was to be ridding the world of WMD. On the upside, the story alerted me to this:
"The US has supported, financed and trained groups widely regarded as terrorist, such as the Contras in Nicaragua, the mujahideen in Afghanistan and UNITA in Angola." .
. . .
Annie, get your gasmask
"Australia's top intelligence agent Andrew Wilkie has just resigned in protest at the Federal Government's stance on Iraq", according to SBS World News tonight.
Top brass resigning, foreign diplomats being expelled, Europe not rolling over for Bush, the Americans holding two kids prisoner because of the sins of the father...what's going on??
One thing is certain: Bombing Iraq will create more refugees, some of whom will seek asylum in Australia, be refused and in all likelihood marooned on tiny islands where everyone can pretend they don't exist while someone slowly tries to figure out what to do with them.
The upshot is: as Gareth Evans, Indonesia, Malaysia et al have said, if Australia goes it war, it automatically becomes someone's enemy.
. . .
An American perspective on Australian music, via virulent memes. And g'day cobbers has a good joke.
. . .
Lust for words
I really shouldn't post at three in the morning when I'm half asleep.
They say sex sells
But unless you're sleeping with a redneck, what's the point of this? Making more sense are these women who are "rooting for spiritual issues".
UPDATE: Evolutionary Psychology 101. Not that C8to reveals to which group he belongs, though odds are that he's a red male...
. . .
March 10, 2003
It just occurred to me that no-one's stopping me just putting up vignettes, as opposed to finished stories. Stay tuned...
Too Biggins for his boots
If Jonathan Biggins isn't begging for a fisking, I don't know who is. I'm disappointed in Biggins, who I used to find quite amusing. Biggins is a writer who rambles on wittily about nothing in particular on the back page of the Good Weekend every week. But last weekend, he had a massive fisk of the vox pop debating fields: newspapers, buses, radio and--if you extrapolate--bloggers. He whines about "the Instant Expert. They're everywhere these days, blathering on about anything from bushfire hazard reduction to birth rates to the historiography of Aboriginal displacement". His term? "Know-it-all-ism".
OK, so when he talks about shock-jocks I agree; but when he talks about "self-appointed oracles...thousands of idiots who bang on for nothing with all the self-assurance of the Collage of Cardinals" I start to get bolshy. Is Biggins saying the blogosphere should just dismantle itself entirely; everyone should get a back page of a mass media publication and proceed to chuckle merrily at the really, really, really trivial aspects of life; to avoid offending anyone with their ignorant pursuit of knowledge?
He questions how lay-people could possibly have an opinion on, for example, Michael Jackson's mental state. Well, Biggins, psychologists are not gods, you know? It's just about observation of human behaviour. You don't have to be a psychologist to appreciate that there's something very peculiar about the gloved one.
Biggins writes about "the large stagnant pool of self-interested comment that purports to be debate. When do these people sleep?"
Well, for someone who craps on about nothing every week to crap on about people who crap on about something is, to me, just crap.
Consider yourself fisked, Biggins. And don't let it happen again.
. . .
It's forgiving Third World debt, Bono,
but not as we know it
Interesting how the Third World has the First World over a barrel right now. America is currently courting temporary UN Security Council members Cameroon, Mexico, Guinea, Angola and Pakistan. (Let's hope the Angolans forget that America threw money at UNITA.) Good luck to them. Wonder if "Old Europe" will throw them a bigger bone than Dubya?
. . .
March 09, 2003
Whereas I am a fool
Bush has just denied that his war has anything to do with avenging the attempt on his father's life. Might I just remind Bush of his First Resolution, which included:
"WHEREAS the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward and willingness to attack the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush..."
. . .
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is one of my all-time favourite books, so I'm ecstatic that Dave Eggers has crossed over to fiction with You Shall Know Our Velocity.
. . .
The tools of disruption
If I had money, I'd be dangerous. Because then, I'd buy a scanner, and make teeshirts.
. . .
Home away from home for the brave
Braver than I could ever be. The two Australian women still guarding a food warehouse north of Baghdad are:
Donna Mulhearn, a former press officer for the NSW Government, and Ruth Russell, a local government councillor from Adelaide. You go, girls!
. . .
DRIVING ME WYLD
Stuck in traffiic the other day, I looked out the bus window and was confronted by a gigantic headline on one of those moving billboard vans: "HOMO ERECTUS!" (There may also have been a spunky semi-naked male with a forked tail on the billboard, but I'm not sure I'm a reliable witness; as I said, I have a hyperactive imagination.)
Soon after, I read that the Greens' candidate Ian Cohen works at the company that makes Horny Goatweed, the subject of the moving billboard. Actually I'm surprised the Conservatives haven't seized upon this as proof of his lax morals and being a general danger to the kiddies.
I'm enjoying how the major parties feel so threatened by the Greens. It would be very gratifying if we saw a swing to the Left to counteract the swing to the Right we had several years ago.
PS. Is it just me, or does Cohen very closely resemble singer/poet Paul Kelly??
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March 07, 2003
Always cold inside the White House
Democracy has an image problem. The Tribune says it tastes like chicken. Salon says it tastes like porkies.
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CAN'T HELP MYSELF
I know I've just missed a great opportunity to shut up (excuse the French), but there is a War on after all.
It was the flowers
(Warning Dad: voyeuristic post.)
The debate reignites...
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March 05, 2003
America would have us believe it still hopes the Second Resolution will be passed, but elsewhere today I read it has announced it will go to war whether or not the UN likes it. Obviously America would prefer it if the UN gave its rubbery stamp of approval. The question is, what will Australia be doing. I'd love to know what our position is. It doesn't seem like a difficult question: Does Cabinet's decision to commit to America's war depend on the outcome of the Second Resolution? If we are not waiting for UN backing, the decision must already have been made.
Ah, who cares about the stupid war. In other news, Australian bloggers haven't been shy about coming forward, god love 'em. Even ueberblogger Tim shows his face.
All in the mind
I have to go offline for a bit as I'm not getting any "real" work done (not to mention real play). I need to stop taking things so personally--it's really not about me, is it?--and put my overactive imagination to use with my fiction. Meanwhile, love your blogs, people! See you soon. (As if I'll be able to stay away...)
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March 04, 2003
DIGGING THE DIRT
I wonder how many Mardi Gras revellers at Sunday morning recovery parties had their hopes cruelly dashed by the Sunday Telegraph headline, ECSTASY OVER THE COUNTER. (Where? Where!?)
Sure, the Greens could have been a bit more moderate with their drugs policy--after all, extreme policies elicit extreme reactions.
But it's a beatup, and Margo says it all, really. I'll still be voting Green.
Speaking of digging dirt, Tim Blair tries to ruffle Polly Bush's feathers but just winds up looking nasty (see the very bottom of his blog). Blair--we've all got a past. Let's hope yours is squeaky clean.
Feeling the heat
This probably isn't strictly what John Howard had in mind when he talked about ‘corporate giving’ in his interview with The Australian newspaper on the weekend (“Seven year pitch”, 1/3/03; no link available):
“It’s talked about, company annual reports talk about it. It’s really taken off. Corporate giving has improved. The philanthropic thing is now factored in.”
Yeah, but who have they been giving to--departing executives? Still, the winds of change are blowing: Yesterday, the AMP's Stan Wallis was reported as having refused his $1.6m payout. Guess he wants to take up crikey's offer (in their email newsletter) of a free subscription to executives who knock back ridiculous payouts.
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A fisking by proxy
Haha. Mediawatch fisked me last night. Well, they fisked James Bone's story on 'the Childhood Wounds of the Butcher of Baghdad'. I have to concede the humour in it. But I stand by my views on political psychology. If we accept there is a need for psychiatrists and psychologists for ordinary people, we can hardly deny that people in positions of extreme power might also have some mental health issues.
UPDATE: Blame it on priming -- I'm stumbling across psychological perspectives everywhere now. For example, Gary on junk psychology or Psychology Today's War zone: Learning from social psychology.
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Can a more experienced Blogspotter offer any advice as to how I can archive without Blogger taking it upon itself to suddenly add an ugly line between my columns (like it does on my archive index page)? I've inspected the template before and after and there doesn't seem to be any unusual HTML. What gives?! Cheers.
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March 02, 2003
A kangaroo loose in the top paddock
Hell hath no fury like a Pauline scorned. So look out, Mr and Mrs Oldfield--Pauline Hanson’s in town. With no policies but plenty of clever slogans --“I’ll never know, unless I have a go” and “the vote belongs to the voter”--political popstar Pauline is back to recapture the disaffected vote (and make the most of the cult of personality).
And she’s still as mad as hell.
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The writing’s on the wall, virtually
Raimond Gaita wrote an excellent article for Spectrum on the 'relative sanctity of life' in the Herald last week, which I would love to link you to, but Fairfax expects me to pay $1.65 to access the story online. I find this kind of pricing model absurd. For a single story, why should we pay more than half of what we pay to get the entire weekend newspaper?
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Fisk me, baby
I’m sure I’ve misplaced an apostrophe somewhere, said something stupid, or made some logic-defying leap of thought along the way, so I think I’m ripe for a fisking. But no matter how often I provoke him, Tim Blair will never fisk me--he’s not about to give me a piece of his pie:
“A FEW people have e-mailed asking about hits at this site. Here are the latest numbers:
The past day: 7,010
The past week: 48,866
The past month: 211,900
The past six months: 1,033,786
Since December 2001: 1,621,402
posted by Tim Blair”
Humph. It's about quality, not quantity, anyway.
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A diagnosis, but no prescription yet
Coincidentally, James Bone wrote about political psychology this weekend:
Dr Post, a psychiatrist and professor at George Washington University, pioneered the field of ‘political psychology’ during a 21 year career at the CIA.
(James Bone, “Childhood wounds of the Butcher of Baghdad”, The Weekend Australian, 1/3/03)
I love the description of Saddam Hussein as “grandiosity sitting astride deep insecurity” and suffering from “malignant narcissism” and “narcissistic rage”. So what's the treatment, apart from 'handle with care'?
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March 01, 2003
Flirting with truth
One of the things I remember from psychology is that the more you repeat your attitudes, the more strongly you end up believing them. This appears to be true for blogging; for me, anyway. The process of articulating a position on something seems to crystallise my thinking. It would be interesting to know if anyone has ever changed their position based on reading a Left, Right or indifferent blog. I doubt that reading Tim Blair or Ann Coulter would ever cause me to embrace the Right.
But it’s also true that that reading some blogs gives you new information and new angles, which could lead to a refining of your position. Maybe that’s the beauty of it, the endless layers of information and interpretation.
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Papa can't bear it
Turns out I was right, reading my blog embarrasses my dad.
“It’s too voyeuristic”, he complained.
“What do you expect; it’s personal journalism,” I countered.
“Journalism!” My dad laughed almost as hard as the day I rang him and told him I was working as an “advertorial journalist”. (I wrote advertising features at The West Australian for a year or so—100% glowing reviews of furniture stores and beauty therapists.)
“It’s like reading your diary,” he shuddered.
“Look, I’ve taken out most of the personal junk,” I said.
“Gianna, your mother and I stopped reading your blog when we got to the bit where you wrote you were led astray. And some of what you write is factually incorrect. For example, I remember you often took holidays to Southwest Rocks with your friends—“
“Red Rock. No: I was never allowed.”
“Of course you were”, etc. There followed some further revisionism of our shared history.
Come on Emily, Jodie, please set the record straight. I wasn’t allowed up to Red Rock once, was I?
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Oh, for Pierre’s sake
It’s still OK to like the French!
It’s all so Asterix, though, isn’t it? “Against the Holy Roman Empire, one small village of indomitable Gauls still held out…” Paraphrased because I don’t have an Asterix handy. Or, I do have one, but it’s translated into Bavarian dialect. (It’s very funny actually, for those who’ve spent any time with Bavarians: "Ganz Gallien? Naa, net ganz! Oa dorf mit de schneidigsten vo alle schneidign Gallier spreizt si ei, lass si net unterkriagn und macht de Roemischn besatsungssoldatn as lebn sauschwaar!")
Come to my arms, Obelix.
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