October 31, 2003
Rolling, rolling, rolling
I've been meaning to update my blogroll for a while, as several people have changed their addresses (eg. Scott Wickstein and Angela Bell) and there's a few newcomers I like, but I can't for the life of me remember my Blogrolling password. Anyway, have you met whimsicality? Jas is very spanky. Trust me.
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October 30, 2003
Tin Man gets a heart
Hmmm...this tastes like an early election sweetener to me...
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There was a piece of paper wedged in the front door yesterday, so from a distance it looked like someone had left me a note. But when I got to the door I found it was just a stray receipt from Ariel Booksellers where someone had spent $25 on a book called Extraordinary Chickens.
It made me think of my mum’s extraordinary chickens. When my dad was in town the other day, he kindly brought another dozen eggs for me. They’re enormous, like goose eggs, and the yolk is a brilliant yellow-orange. They taste different, too. Better. Because my mum’s chickens are treated like pets, they enjoy the kind of life that battery chooks can only dream of, running free around the forest, eating a whole ecosystem’s worth of bugs.
My mother never went to university because she was busy with four kids and working as a typist, but she has a very scientific mind, and she’ll theorise and hypothesise as she observes all her chickens. She would have made an excellent researcher in the field of animal psychology. There’s a definite chicken society, which often has quite complex dynamics. Sometimes my parents have up to three roosters ruling the joint at once, which can get interesting. (This is accidental--a result of mistakes made when buying baby chooks.)
I start to get paranoid that maybe this latest dozen is actually goose eggs. See, my parents know that I have this thing about goose eggs and will always decline to eat them. They say I have an irrational vorurteil (prejudice) about them. I don’t know what it is—perhaps just their alien size and color—but the idea of eating goose eggs makes me shudder. So it wouldn’t surprise me if my father was enjoying watching me happily tuck into these eggs in the belief they are chicken eggs.
But perhaps I'm being unfair. I’m just remembering times from childhood when I refused to eat liver or tongue or tripe, or all these other weird European fetish foods. And I would sit at the table until late at night with my father, not allowed to leave the table until I had at least tried a mouthful. We would play game after game of chess until one of us would give in. Which is probably why chess is one of my favorite games. I was always impressed that the queen is more powerful than even the king. Talk about a female action-hero. She's always rushing around saving the entire kingdom while the king stands helpless, pathetically limited to making one step at a time. I remember playing a hundred game tournament with my brother when we were backpacking together years ago. We were neck and neck all the way, and I even think that in the end, we tied. Fifty games all. I haven’t played in years, but occasionally at lunchtime I’ll go and watch the migrants playing with those lifesize pieces in Hyde Park. Anyway, I’m looking forward to playing chess with my dad again when I move up north. And looking forward to teaching the little fella one day. Although he might just want to play Nintendo....(noooo!).
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October 29, 2003
Let it grow
What a great idea. Wonder what they'll think of planting next?
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October 28, 2003
The year of blogging dangerously
Boynton's just celebrated her blog's first birthday, which got me thinking about the fact that I've been blogging for nearly a year myself. Yes, this humble blog will be coming up to a year in January. What a year it has been....
I think I actually started blogging a bit earlier, in August or September, when I messed around with a crude prototype called homespun. (Note: I've only put part of it up again, because my account name has since changed and I can't be buggered changing all the links--the navigation was a bit too clever by half. Also, the hit counter has been reset.)
I grandiosely dreamed of a Salon-style magazine site, with long essays and short commentary structured around my various interest areas rather than being purely chronological. The similarity to blogging, I guess, was that I started adding links to news stories on almost a daily basis...and soon realised it was going to be much too time-consuming to update manually. Then one day I happened to notice Tim Dunlop's and Jozef Imrich's blogs while reading Webdiary and that was it. I was sold.
Anyway, a year feels like forever, doesn't it, Miss Boynton?
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Not fade away
Wonder when Christopher Sheil's going to burst on the scene with his new blog--he's been very quiet since leaving Troppo Armadillo recently. The suspense is killing me...
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Our heartless Tin Man
You are a disgrace, John Howard:
"I don't know if I wasn't invited because I have been a thorn in Mr Howard's side, but if so, I hope he can live with himself after denying me and my daughter an opportunity to be part of something we would have remembered forever. No apology will bring that back."--Kylie Russell, widow of Sergeant Andrew Russell (killed in Afghanistan) after the PM "neglected to invite her to a wreath-laying by US President George Bush in her husband's honour."
I guess our
Man of Steel Tin Man was too busy resting on his laurels and shielding Bush from potential dissent to worry about a war widow's feelings.
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October 27, 2003
Set me free, why doncha babe?
American Idol for Russian prisoners. Prize: freedom.
In a grotesque, totally po-mo spin on reality talent shows like "American Idol," Russian prison officials organized a contest in which prisoners sing their way out of jail. Six convicts pleased judges enough to win pardons.
Well, the truth is that the winners happened to be due for parole anyway, but anyway, you gotta laugh.
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October 26, 2003
Roll the double feature
The American authorities are being accused of racism because of their differential treatment of Iraq war veterans Specialist Shoshana Johnston and Private Jessica Lynch. Apparently Johnston has now turned to Rev. Jesse Jackson to help publicise her case. The difference in compensation does seem weird, given both women came from the same ambushed unit and went through similar trauma. If anything, I reckon Johnston's experience was probably worse--remember seeing her terrified face on that footage released by the Iraqis? She was clearly conscious through the ordeal, whereas Private Lynch was apparently mostly knocked out in a hospital bed. Johnston also endured another 11 days in captivity before being rescued after Lynch.
Anyway, when Hollywood gets around to making the film of Private Lynch's rescue from Iraq, I wonder if an equal amount of storytime will be spent on Specialist Johnston's story.
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October 24, 2003
Play it again, Uncle Sam
I love the reframe on the leaked comment about 'a long, hard slog':
Mr. Rumsfeld, primarily addressing the memo, made an effort today to defuse the criticism with humor. He cited a definition of "slog" that emphasized hitting an enemy hard. Asked about a more traditional definition that emphasized slow and messy going, he smiled and said, "I read the one I liked."
I think maybe Rummy's thinking of slug. as in 'to slug someone'.
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Too funny to be left in the comment boxes: Following on from my posts below, readers have nominated as alternative contenders for 'Worst Album Cover of All Time' the following:
- the Swedes (thanks Anthony, that is hilarious. I like the blue velvet suits on Musikantera, and hey, isn't that Rolf Harris on the right of the Kjell Brooz Orkester?);
- Emerson Lake & Palmer's Love Beach (thanks James).
Anyone got any more? If so, keep 'em coming...
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October 23, 2003
Circus leaves town
Well, so that was the John & George Show. It was all over pretty quickly. The American president wouldn't even face the Australian people. Maybe we make him nervous. After all, a lot of us haven't forgotten being misled into going to war. Anyway, onya, Bob and Kerry.
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October 22, 2003
I’ve been listening to a Kraftwerk special that I taped off Triple J a few years ago. It’s got all their classics plus a lot of bootlegs and some great interviews with completely fanatical collectors, including one guy with a gorgeous Scottish accent who I never tire of listening to, even though I’ve heard the interview about a thousand times.
I liked Kraftwerk a lot when I was a kid. My siblings and I used to hang out with a girl who had very particular tastes in music--Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Mi-Sex, the Sunnyboys, the Models, Bowie. She was a few years older than me and dressed like a Goth, and I remember her as being quite gloomy and depressive. I liked going over there though, because she had stacks of Lego and also a trampoline, and her mother, a youthful blonde sporty type, always left scones and lime cordial out for us. My brother was dating the mother at the time. Of course, the official story was that he was giving her windsurfing lessons...
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Walking by myself
Someone got mugged right outside my front door a few weeks ago, at about six thirty in the evening. I'd only just got home myself when I heard all this squealing. I ran to the front door, thinking, shit, someone's pitbull is attacking my cat. A man in a tracksuit sprinted past; I assumed he was chasing his dog. But then I noticed a woman standing on the road, looking confused. She yelped, "I've been mugged, I've been mugged!". A passerby took off after the mugger, who had headed straight up to King Street. Someone else took the woman down to the police station. Me, I was relieved my cats were OK.
In the paper a little while ago I read about another young woman who was mugged walking through Victoria Park, the same park I always used to cut through. This girl was pushing a pram, and it was only about five in the afternoon, when there's so many university students around. A mum with a baby. How low can you go?
So I guess it's good I'm too lazy to walk home through the city these days. Man, I don't get how some women go to the gym or even jog (!) through their pregnancy, when even walking feels like hard work. I mean, even just putting shoes on is getting hard.
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October 21, 2003
Worst album covers of all time
I think we all need some cheap laughs. In the spirit of the ARIAs, how about these that someone emailed me today:
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No muse is bad news
By the way, just because I'm not blogging about my love life doesn't mean I actually have one. It's a bit sad, really, because I think I am one of those people who is much more creative when they are in love. Love is so inspiring. Provided it's reciprocated, that is. Unrequited love does nothing for me, creatively speaking.
Of course, I'm not exactly expecting to find true lerve when I'm almost six months pregnant (though oddly enough, it hasn't stopped the convenience store guys hitting on me. Thank god for small mercies, I guess. At least someone finds a heffalump attractive!)
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I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus's garden...
I can understand why some people were up in arms about the Piss Christ artwork from a few years back, but bomb threats to a Melbourne art gallery for displaying a rather cartoonish reproduction of an 1815 artwork of an octopus giving (ahem) oral pleasure to a fisherman's wife?
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More Mr Nice Guy
"Wars arise from a failure to understand one another's humanness. Instead of summit meetings, why not have families meet for a picnic and get to know each other while the children play together?"
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 1981 (via beliefnet)
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October 20, 2003
Cold hard reality
Speaking of alternate careers, here's an idea. (Helpful of the online sub to lop off the crucial link at the end, but nothing a bit of Googling won't solve, I hope.)
update: Good one, Rupert. The deadline was back in September. Never mind, I was trumped by Mark Burnett anyway.
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Slack and slacker
I gave notice at work on Friday, which means that trudging off to the day job this morning is just a little bit easier, knowing I've only got two months to go...and counting. Actually I'm looking at my impending motherhood as a promotion and I can't wait to get started in the new job. Despite all the horror stories I've heard about adjusting to new babies, I'm feeling really optimistic, not least about the idea that I can stay in pyjamas all day if I so choose--baby sure isn't going to give a damn. Not having a husband or partner at this point will probably be a blessing as well as a disadvantage, because I won't be spending portions of the day worrying about looking sexy and fixing dinner and 'being there' for someone who's put in a hard day at the office.
Although I've put in for the year of maternity leave that I'm entitled to, I am going to try my darnedest to come up with other ideas during that year, so that hopefully I won't have to come back to this kind of work, which I fell into to support myself while at uni and, being your typical slacker, never managed to leave again.
You can tell I love my job, right? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the company of the people I work with, but the work itself is incredibly mundane. And now that I'm paranoid about using the internet (due to the various warnings I've received in the past year), it is that much more tedious. Could be worse, I guess. Could work in a factory like a good friend of mine who recently lost her business after a split with her longtime partner.
Anyway, let's hope I can get through the next two months without getting the sack...
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October 18, 2003
I'm just a jealous guy
Meet Wendy, new blogger over at Troppo Armadillo and sometime commenter here.
She has my life. Well, the life I wish I had. Listen to her bloody bio, will you? Writer here, published there, book editing here, Masters this, PhD that. Happily married, four kids and a dog (okay, hold the dog) and all at only 36. Oh, yeah, and she resembles Juliette Binoche. Geez, I feel old and magnificently underachieving all of a sudden (at the age of
thirtyseven thirtytwo, she realised she'd never...)
Anyway, Wen's already posted some fiction here, so I'm off to read and weep. And then go do my homework (ie. watch the Beatles video).
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This was still a time of wonderment on both sides of the equation. The world couldn't believe this magnificent four-headed creation could continue to be so delightfully entertaining and impudent and the creature couldn't believe the world could be so nice...They couldn't help it; it was a form of real love.
That's from the blurb for The Beatles Anthology. I'm about to settle in and watch part 3, February '64 to July '64. My mother was a big fan of John Lennon so I grew up singing along to Beatles songs, but my knowledge of Beatles history is pretty sketchy. So my friend Cabbage, being something of a Beatles expert, is putting me through a crash course with this eight part documentary series.
Every time he drops off the next instalment in the series, I say hopefully, "So are we up to the psychedelic stuff yet?", because my favorite Beatles music is from the later years. But no, we're still in '64...Oh well. This time, however, I will actually sit and watch the whole video, rather than just have it playing in the background while I mosey about the house like I did with the first two parts. I'm getting a bit nervous that Cabbage, a former high school history teacher, might eventually quiz me on comprehension, and find out that I've really only been listening to the music....
And by the way, to return to the Beatles v Stones debate, one thing Lennon had over Mick Jagger was that Lennon had soul. I mean, he wanted to change the world. He was such an idealist (and I really have a soft spot for idealists).
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October 17, 2003
More, more, more!
Aah, a great way to start the morning (both via Boynton): the orgasm simulator + the anonymous 18th century German love poem. Speaking of my roots, am checking out newcomer (to me, that is) Gweed who has a very interesting blog and an Italian page. Beat that.
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October 15, 2003
Then & Now
Now that I know I'm leaving Sydney, I can allow myself to get a little sentimental about it. Check this out. It's about some of the streets of my town, with photos from the 1800s and 1900s.
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Nearly 23 weeks and I don't feel like I've got that mythical 'glow' yet. I do feel enormous though. A (male) friend kindly said, "And don't worry about putting on a lot of weight, all pregnant women are beautiful." Oh.
(Have you noticed how practically everything comes in white chocolate these days? Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen white hot chocolate though. Hmm...)
But the same friend also gave me a good pep talk, reminding me of why I wanted to move north in the first place--because I'd been getting cold feet about the old seachange recently. I feel a lot better now that I've committed to a decision. I also realised that it doesn't have to be permanent. If we hate it after a year, we'll come back. The city is only ever four hours away. But I don't think we'll hate it.
Tonight my sister (the one who's single) had me round for tea, let me go through a mountain of baby and kids clothes that a friend had given her for me. I was rejecting some things I didn't much like and she'd put them back in the pile and say, "Listen, you're going to be living on the poverty line! It doesn't matter whether you like it or not."
I don't reckon it's going to be all that tragic. The cost of living is far less up north. The rent is cheaper, the air is cleaner, the beach is five minutes away, we can grow vegies, and Junior can grow up knowing his Oma and Opa. I think we'll love it.
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Objects of desire?
I have a confession to make. I've never read The Female Eunuch. I guess I'm a post-feminist who takes for granted the gains that Germaine Greer and her generation of radical feminists won for us. I am, of course, aware of her reputation as 'the high priestess of feminism'. So I've been struggling to figure out what my reaction is towards her ideas about beautiful boys, rehashed in Spectrum last weekend (smh, no direct link) as she spruiks her latest book. I've been annoyed to find that my position is uncomfortably close to Miranda Devine's.
The gist of Greer's argument is that feminism hasn't gone far enough in reclaiming the male as a sex object. Only she doesn't mean grown men, she means boys. Says Greer: "Somewhere along the line we got hooked on the female form and lost our ability to delight in the fleeting beauty of the boy." Or perhaps somewhere along the line Germaine lost the plot.
It is easy to react like Devine and dismiss Greer as an eccentric academic hidden away in the English countryside, courting controversy and playing peek-a-taboo in an effort to regain attention--or perhaps even just rationalising her new relationship with a male half (or is it a quarter?) her age. But then I think, no, this is a highly intelligent woman; sure she's teasing, but she's teasing to get us to think about and talk about this; to push the boundaries, test our limits, etc. Right? Unfortunately, however, I just find her argument irrational.
OK, I'm prepared to go along with her about male beauty and the right to appreciate and acknowledge it. I can understand aesthetics. Boys can indeed be beautiful. But Greer is not talking about beauty but sexiness. Her 'male beauty' is strictly limited to young boys and is erotic rather than aesthetic. How young, you ask? Well, "he has to be old enough to be capable of sexual response but not yet old enough to shave." So we're talking, what, 11 to 16 year olds? Younger?
She goes on, "This window of opportunity is not only narrow, it is mostly illegal. The male human is beautiful when his cheeks are still smooth, his body hairless, his head full-maned, his eyes clear, his manner shy and his belly flat."
Personally, I prefer men--rugged, bearded cavemen types especially. Not prepubescent boys. Indeed, Greer acknowledges that's my biological imperative: "Girls and grandmothers are both susceptible to the short-lived charm of boys, women who are looking for a father for their children less so."
She gives examples of art and statues through history where the erotic beauty of the boy has been celebrated, or at least acknowledged, and laments the fact that modern women don't even notice the many naked statues of boys available for their viewing pleasure. But wait a minute...hasn't she just argued that it's only girls and older women who are naturally interested in "appreciating" boys, and not adult women generally? So why foist these proclivities onto the wider female population? And I'm just not convinced that the admiring gaze at a boy has to be erotic. We don't like it when little girls are prematurely sexualised; what's different for boys?
Anyway, as Greer admits, adult women do like to look at adult men in an erotic way. She cites crowd teasers like Elvis, Tom Jones, Jimi Hendrix and John Travolta, though she claims they are 'boyish' in looks (which is surely debatable). She says, "Bands such as the Doors, Led Zeppelin and T Rex were all masters of male display, and in every case the result is not manly, but boyish." Well, they certainly come across as older than 11-16 to me.
So I'm left thinking her chief complaint seems to be that "the erotic interests of girls and older women are seldom acknowledged by the mainstream culture." And yet, if we accept or even celebrate these erotic interests, then logic requires us to do the same if the genders were reversed: So Greer seems to be arguing that we should encourage old men to view girls aged 11 to 16 in an erotic, sexual way. What the...? On Denton recently, she explains this away, saying geez, we can't expect old men to wear blindfolds if a beautiful girl walks past. The problem, however, remains that she seems to advocate more than just looking, describing for example the young male's ability to 'recharge' quickly after orgasm as being one of the great benefits of having sex with him. Maybe she's just teasing. But I mean, doesn't feminism have more important things to worry about than this? Sorry, Germaine, I don't buy it.
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October 14, 2003
What I've been watching...11'09''01 September 11: "11 short films, 11 minutes, 9 seconds, one frame; 11 different directors from 11 different cultures" (a collection of mesmerising and strangely uplifting short films from directors like Ken Loach, Sean Penn and Mira Nair)...How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (romantic comedy with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey)...The Piano Teacher (bleak French film about sexual taboo [aren't they all?--Ed], starring Isabelle Huppert, directed by Michael Haneke, who directed the equally depressing but equally gripping Funny Games). And now I have square eyes. Goodnight.
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If Simon Crean participates in any fawning celebration of George Bush as liberating hero next week, I will be disgusted. A standing ovation, my ass.
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October 12, 2003
Here's one of former Communications Minister Richard Alston's complaints against the ABC which was upheld (as detailed in the Weekend Australian--no free link):
"Well in northern Iraq another American attack on their own (troops) has marred the Coalition's apparent progress." -Linda Mottram, AM, April 7
Alston's complaint: "Is it seriously suggested that by this time actual and major coalition progress had not been established?"
ICRP finding: Complaint upheld - serious. There is no justification to use the word 'apparent' at this late stage of the war, especially by a presenter who has been following it closely and commenting on it daily.
But what's so biased about the use of the word 'apparent' here? So far, it appears like progress. Sometimes. Seems to me like reasonable caution on the part of the journalist.
But if Alston's so keen on sniffing out bias, even now that he's retired, how about he take a look at the commercial media too? How about this, from the Murdoch press, where clearly pro-Government journalist Misha Roberts "reports" about the medical indemnity crisis (Weekend Australian, 11 October, no free link):
"Doctors are some of the most individualistic, wilful and self-interested professionals in the country, who sugarcoat their ruthless industrial demands with professed concern about the welfare of patients."
'Professed' concern, Mr Alston? 'Ruthless'? A bit emotive, don't you think?
This one, though, was just vintage CNNNNN: a commercial TV news presenter reporting the Bali bombing remembrance services today: 'On this day, tears have no nationality...'
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she sells sanctuary SOLD
Back by popular demand, haha, my Pay-Pal donate button (you'll find it somewhere down the right hand column of this page). Don't all rush to use it at once, eh, or it might crash.
Ah, hell, you gotta be in it to win it.
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October 10, 2003
My mate Cabbage's album is reviewed in today's Metro section in the Herald. There's no direct link to the review but here's what the reviewer wrote (giving the disc three stars, or 'worth a listen'):
Post, Late Mail (Cabbage/Laughing Outlaw)
Three quarters of this Sydney band formed three quarters of Australian Beatles tribute band the Beatels at various times. For this record, Steve 'Paul' Shipley, Marcus 'George' Phelan and Neil 'Ringo' Rankin teamed up with Chris O'Leary, who used to front a David Bowie tribute band. The combination explains the Bowie-esque Kaleidoscopic and Bowie-meets-Roxy Music on Post's album. This tribute-band supergroup give us a full album of well-played, whimsical originals. Their love of melody and classic pop is well-informed by their time spent playing at being pop legends. - Kelsey Munro.
Cabbage, as well as playing Ringo, also spent many years playing John Densmore in the Australian Doors Show (along with me old mate Biggles, who 'was' Jim). He's a bloody great drummer, and also sings on Late Mail and wrote some of the songs. I'm obviously biased but I think it's a pretty amazing album (my favourite tune is Someday, which I can play over and over and over...). Well done, boys.
(BTW the album can be bought here.)
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October 09, 2003
Fair dinkum, Rob's latest post is ace. Deadset.
(Confused? This may help.)
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October 08, 2003
Who gives Affleck?
So it's on again. Ahhh...ain't love grand.
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The garden of e-dens
Blogging is a bit like gardening. You plant seeds, water the seedlings, do a bit of weeding, watch your blog grow. If you're lucky, people will even come along and fertilise your blog for you. But if you stop watering it for too long, it will die. Over at surfdom, Tim takes up the subject of blog neglect and gives lazy bloggers a bit of a serve. Hey, ease up, Tim...we can't all be as brilliant and prolific as you, you know! But he's right, blog neglect is a sad thing. We can probably all think of a favourite blogger who has gone very quiet for long periods of time, pleading overwhelming personal or work commitments or some other nonsense (memo to absent bloggers: having a life is no excuse! 'Course, I'm just as guilty of trying this excuse myself...).
In recent months my own blogging has been slowed down partly by the fact that my work recently imposed a ban on me blogging (and visiting blogs), virtually forcing me to blog from home in the evenings. And when you sit in front of a computer all day, sometimes you just can't be buggered turning on the 'puter again in the evening. While my work's electronic use policy is silent on blogging, the HR department decided that blogs fell into the gambit of 'chatrooms', which are banned. A dubious claim, if you ask me. Or as Prof. John Quiggin put it: "Obviously a blog isn't a chatroom, and the presence of a comments facility doesn't make it so."
Still, I suspect that many companies will be busily redrafting their electronic use policies, since a good proportion of internet users (and therefore potential bloggers) log on from work computers. According to USA Today (via Online Journalism Review) :
“An explosion in online diaries by workers is creating headaches, and opportunities, for employers. There are an estimated 1.2 million blogs, or Web logs — Web pages that function as personal publishing forums. But few companies have blog policies, and they run a risk should their employee divulge confidential company information or make statements that compromise it financially or legally.”
Luckily, in the nine or so months that I've been blogging, I have never been tempted to blog about company matters despite the fact that I work on many controversial and high profile legal matters, some of which have ocassionally been discussed in the blogosphere. On the other hand, it has been difficult at times to bite my tongue about co-workers--and the USA Today story carries the cautionary tale of an American blogger who was fired for describing a colleague as "stupid". Oh-oh...
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In the flesh
There's not one, not two, but three blogger gatherings scheduled to take place in October/November (well okay, the third is actually just a private meet-up). Should be fun and hopefully as many Sydney bloggers as possible will turn up to the first two meets. (I'll be the one sitting there in a muu-muu sipping a Virgin Mary.) Big Tim may have stood up the groupies on his recent Sydney visit, but if Scott does talk little tim into turning up to his soiree, I hope the bouncers manage to keep out the adoring hordes of Right Wing Death Beasts, or it won't be pretty...
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October 04, 2003
My little escape this weekend was supposed to involve a break from all things technological, but I forgot that I was actually coming to stay at one of the most electronic cottages I can imagine. And, dammit, can't fight the urge to catch up on everyone's blogging. Oh well, it's raining anyway. Tomorrow I'll go to the beach.
I'm sitting in my dad's office, surrounded by huge sliding doors looking out onto the verandah and beyond to the masses of bougainvillea. In the garden I can see the geese and the fluffy yellow gosling (so damn cute), about thirty assorted chickens and one interloper, a bush turkey. On the verandah I can see our old bikes and windsurfers and a couple of old saddles. But there's only one old horse, Bobby, snoozing over at the fence--his mate Joker died a few years ago. Bobby must be over 30 years old now. And in here everywhere the evidence of my dad's career as a computer journalist, and his three thousand computers. (How can I not blog?)
My mum's cooking something that is sizzling and I'm thinking of my cats who probably haven't yet noticed that I've gone. Jen is housesitting for me and I've loaded her up with all their favourite fish dishes, so she gets in the good books.
My dad shows me his stash of 500-odd foreign and arthouse films he has hoarded over the years and I immediately start fantasising about a year-long personal film festival....
Ah, my folks are clever. This is all slick advertising for the seachange which I had recently almost decided against.
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October 02, 2003
Ahhhh, gotta love October long weekend....I'm heading for the coast, so I'll see you soon.
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Great piece in Webdiary today by Antony Loewenstein : 'The truth tramplers: media war spin on trial'.
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Apparently Al Gore is trying to buy his own cable channel so he can set up a liberal news network to rival the conservative Fox News Channel. Go, Al.
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October 01, 2003
The war we had to have
On Saturday, Paul Sheehan had an article in the Herald entitled ‘Why we're all the way with the USA’, on why we declared war on Iraq and why John Howard is apparently coated in political teflon despite the ‘anarchy’ in Iraq.
Reinforcing the idea that our PM had committed to war long before the ‘last minute’ decision was made in March–something most had already concluded at the time–Sheehan writes:
In January, long before the diplomatic dramas that would play out at the United Nations, the Howard Government began to deploy Australian forces to the Persian Gulf. In February, when the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was bombarded with complaints that the US would be isolated if it invaded Iraq, he responded, "Oh, I don't think we'll be going it alone." He already knew Australian and British forces were committed and in place.
Sheehan’s rationale for Howard’s war is that “we need a great and muscular ally if the satay hits the fan.” We had to go along with Bush no questions asked, says Sheehan, in case Indonesia ever falls apart and attack us. Oh, and we did it out of the goodness of our little hearts, too.
Why would a nation so far from harm be so willing to fight? Two basic reasons. Australia is an altruistic nation. It stands for something. With allies, it is willing to fight expansive tyrannies. As for the other reason, when Howard committed Australia to the American cause in Iraq, he did so for the same reason five of his predecessors went to war: the need to be aligned with a superpower that can stop an invasion from Asia, and did stop an invasion from Asia.
Sheehan should probably qualify that to say that Australia is altruistic when and if it suits us, just like America. Which is kind of the opposite of altruism, but anyway. What's so altruistic about imposing regime change somewhere because you are paranoid a leader will attack you? But what gets to me most is this idea that Australia can never challenge the wisdom of any of America’s foreign policy decisions just because we are friends. If we fear that America won’t help us if we are ever attacked unless we blindly go along with everything without expressing doubt, then something is very wrong with the relationship.
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According to Online Journalism:
From the New York Times: Visitors to the U.S. Central Command's Web site may have trouble finding once-prominent casualty reports. Press releases like "Two Soldiers Killed, One Wounded in Attack and 1AD Soldier Killed in Helicopter Accident" used to be found at the top of the Central Command home page alongside other news, like updates on public safety and water services. Now, casualty reports are accessed through a small link at the bottom of the home page. Central command's intention was not to bury the body counts, military spokesman Michel Escudie said, but to help reporters by differentiating between different types of stories.
Yeah, right. How hard can it have been for reporters to distinguish between stories on public safety, water services and body counts?
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