May 12, 2004
I know I'm supposed to "sleep when the baby sleeps" but I still resist going to bed at 7pm. And regret it in the morning when I've only had the 11pm-3am sleep. Instead, I have just spent an evening stuffing around with a totally new blog because I discovered by accident that Blogger has relaunched with all these excellent changes like integrated comments, recent posts etc. (I normally just enter Blogger via a shortcut, bypassing its front page, so I've completely been in the dark.)
Anyway, from now on I'll be blogging from here so please adjust bookmarks.
I'm still working on it though. Somehow I managed to get the header to be solid yellow with white type on this blog, but it won't work on the new one. Sigh. Can any techheads help? Thanks.
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May 11, 2004
Operation Desert Ostrich
Why doesn't this surprise me:
THE Australian Government was told at least two months ago that prisoners in Iraq were being tortured by US soldiers, human rights groups have revealed.
Prime Minister John Howard did not respond to a question yesterday about when he first learned of torture claims against Australia's coalition allies.
What's the bet his carefully formulated response today will be: "I know nothing!" And then we'll hear that some underling at the intelligence agencies neglected to pass it on. Oops.
Geez, if this is true Howard's as bad as Rumsfeld. Did they think this stuff would just quietly go away?
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May 10, 2004
After all we've done for you...
The Foreign Minister is accusing East Timor of trying to bite the hand that
feeds it is trying to steal from it:
East Timor's existence is under threat because of Australia's claims over the poor nation's natural resources, President Xanana Gusmao claims. In a Four Corners report to be aired tonight, Mr Gusmao said Australia was defying international law with its claims over oil and natural gas deposits in the Timor Sea. Australia and East Timor are at loggerheads over the boundary that separates the two nations. At stake are key energy deposits which, when developed, will be worth billions in tax revenues to the respective countries.
But Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said Australia had done nothing wrong in its negotiations over the disputed maritime boundary. He said East Timor was wrong if it believed it could win support for its claims by attacking Australia.
"I think they've made a very big mistake thinking that the best way to handle this negotiation is trying to shame Australia, is mounting abuse on our country, accusing us of being bullying and rich and so on when you consider all we've done for East Timor," he said.
Gee, Australia wouldn't defy international law, would it?
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Salam Pax at Sydney Writers Festival
Anyone going to see famed Baghdad blogger Salam Pax talk at this year's Sydney Writers Festival (also via swanker)?
"Salam Pax’s web-log during the Iraq war resulted in him being cited as the Anne Frank of the war. He has only recently been able to show his true identity and he’ll talk to audiences at about blogging, the war and Iraq today. Thurs 20 May, 6.30pm, Parramatta Riverside Theatre, free, no bookings required."
Shame to miss him, but maybe someone will go along and blog about it. Good to see blogging being showcased at the Fest, eh.
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According to a (self-described) Sydney wanker:
"The Catholic Club in Sydney's CBD has poker machines. When I was in there the other day, I noted a decrepit old man seated on a stool, staring mindlessly at a fruit machine screen, entirely motionless except for the periodic twitch of his finger to lay a bet. It was a sad sight. Nowhere is out of bounds for these bloody things, it seems, even a Catholic Club. The Catholic Church shouldn't be encouraging gambling...It smacks of hypocrisy to be countenancing social justice whilst at the same time operating poker machines."
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ABC News reports:
Labor claims a leaked Cabinet document shows the Government is considering spending $16 million on an advertising campaign to promote a range of work and family policies expected to be announced in tomorrow night's Budget. Peter Costello is not confirming that, but says such advertising is normal. "I'm just saying if you're going to pay pensions to people you have to advertise how to get a pension," he said.
If it's not political advertising, but just about informing the public about new policies, then isn't that something the news media does for free?
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May 09, 2004
A fraction too little fiction
I guess I'm not going to win the Vogel again this year--it closes May 31. Only two more years before I'm too old to enter the competition. I'm thinking of doing some formal study in creative writing next year though, which may force me to produce something. I think I need to be whipped sometimes.* Of course, I said the same thing last year...
If you've been a regular reader of my blog you'll have noticed I've been writing vignettes about my life now and then. It's basically just a form of writing practice. I find it quite hard, actually, because under my self-imposed 'rules', I can't embellish, even when it seems pretty banal. And I can't write up the more interesting material because ultimately people could be identified. For example there was a rather sinister encounter at a local shop the other day that I can't write about. Well, I can--but I'd have to pretend it was fiction!
A writer told me recently he needs the distance fiction provides. I know what he means, the problem is I plagiarise my own life to use in fiction anyway, so I reckon if I ever get published people in my life will still recognise themselves or situations from life that have been reworked as 'fiction'. Sometimes I feel bad becuse I know it's cheating. I should be able to come up with entirely original fictitious material just from my imagination, right? But then, reality-writing is kind of cheating too, in the sense that I feel insulated from any criticism: If a vignette's boring, it's not my fault; that's just what happened. It's a bit gutless, really. Anyway, Vogel 2005, here I come...
(*cs, don't get any ideas...)
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Rummy the dummy
Rumsfeld on Abu Ghraib:
"I failed to recognize how important it was to elevate a matter of such gravity to the highest levels, including the president and the members of Congress."
How stupid can you get.
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May 08, 2004
My last visitor has left. She had come up for a few days on her way up to a seven-week Buddhist retreat in the bush near Casino in northern New South Wales. She studies the dharma.
When she meets Harley she bursts into tears, but she's grinning. He can't seem to stop smiling either. We go for long walks each day she is here, checking out the streets on the other side of the lake which I haven't yet explored. At the top of one hill we pause in front of an ugly house with Greek columns everywhere and behind it, there is the most glorious billion-dollar view: Two bodies of water, the lake and the ocean, separated by a narrow strip of white sand, framed by trees and sky.
On the second day she gets a call telling her the retreat has been cancelled as the ripochet (guru) has suddenly taken ill and is in hospital. It turns out he has heart disease and needs a bypass. I wonder how someone who spends their life meditating and eating lentils can get heart disease. I joke that he probably secretly pigs out on McDonalds.
It's some sickie though. My friend, and the other hundred people who were about to do the retreat, have put their lives on hold-- taken two months' leave from work, rented out their apartments, arranged for neighbours to feeds pets and plants. My friend says it's like she has been given two months off her life. She isn't sure what she will do now. She gets out the treats she had packed to share around at the end of the retreat, cream wafers and salty crackers in neon foil packages that she got from a supermarket in Chinatown before she caught the train up from Central.
"Maybe I'll go to India again," she muses as we eat.
"Stay. Live with me for a few months," I say. I'd love her company; she's my oldest friend, we've known each other since we were five. We sit looking at Harley in the Babygap pyjamas that my brother sent over from the US. The pants are printed with small cars all over, and the top has a large felt car appliqued on the front. She traces the car with a finger.
"I could go on a road trip," she says.
"We could go on a road trip!" I say, typically impulsive. This has been my standard response throughout our lives whenever she has mentioned taking off around Australia: I want to come with you. It's my little fantasy, Thelma & Louise crossed with Jack Kerouac. Maybe we'll do it one day. Then I think, for once, I don't want to go anywhere. I am so happy right now. I've never been so happy.
Anyway, more blogging later, hopefully. We need to get to the general store early as they only ever carry a few copies of the weekend papers, and this weekend someone else can miss out.
Oh yeah, and congratulations to my brother and his wife on the safe arrival of their new baby girl, my first niece! But wait, there's more...Harley will be getting yet another new cousin, to my sister, in a few weeks. Joyous times.
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May 04, 2004
It's gotta be...
The label on one of the baby's Bonds Wondersuits says "Assembled in China from Bonds Australian Fabric". Interesting...thought they'd be made in Australia for sure.
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May 03, 2004
Enter the dragonfly
Noticed some rather hysterical reactions at the weekend to the news that filming of a Hollywood movie has been banned from a wilderness area of Australia, particularly from the Daily-Telegraph's David Penberthy and the Sun-Herald's Miranda Devine. Neither of them seem to understand the concept of a fragile ecosystem, where a tiny change in the habitat of one small species can have repercussions a long way up the food chain, ultimately affecting us through environmental changes. Instead, both are braying that our entire film industry is now under threat. Penberthy is sarcastic:
"In a major win for the larvae of the giant native dragonfly, the filming of Stealth has...been stopped for good in the Grose Wilderness Area...Joining the fledgling insects in celebration are some 100 largely poncho-clad people from the Blue Mountains who have now antagonised Hollywood, which will retaliate..."
If the environment wasn't at risk, why, as Penberthy notes, did they even follow practices such as, "after each take, actors had to remain immobile while the threatened species officer checked for any damage, such as "compressed" footprints, and decided whether the next take should occur somewhere else"? Anyway, the tiny segment of the film which is affected involves "a sequence in which [actor] Biel, an elite pilot tracking a rogue homicidal robot pilot, parachutes behind enemy lines in North Korea and runs through a forest, evading gunfire." You're telling me they can't film this anywhere else in Australia?
"Because of the remote possibility a few dragonfly larvas in the Blue Mountains might be disturbed, green groups have managed to shut down filming of the big-budget Hollywood blockbuster Stealth and jeopardise the state's $4 billion film industry."
So, the only films we can hope to attract to Australia are action films filmed in wilderness areas? That's ridiculous.
I suppose Penberthy and Devine would've been in favour of letting Baywatch move in and take over Avalon a few years ago. Anything not to upset Hollywood, eh.
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The Shorter Cardinal Pell
The Cardinal George Pell says the Howard Government's legislation against gays marrying each other is an "important measure to buttress marriage", because:
Marriage is about children (sorry, all you childless married people). Children should be raised by a set of biological parents (sorry, adoptive parents, foster parents, step-parents). Gays can't make children together, so they can't get married to each other (sorry, gays). Because otherwise, straight people might think marriage isn't about children and then they might get married less.
Same tired old illogical argument, identical to the Howard one. Is this the best they can come up with?
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