31 December 2007
Anyway it's not often you get to see it proved, but within this post you'll find a pretty convincing argument. Anyway it shows biomedical research as being at the centre of the knonw universe, as least as proven by academic citations.
Whether this is a result of substantial government funding of research in the field or whether this is the centre of the universe just because it is, isn't addressed in the article.
The article was found via here and here, because Fumier thinks that Philip is very funny, not to mention insightful in the nature of government. And who would disagree?
29 December 2007
Well this is a bit of a first for Chateau VVB, as it’s the first post ever constructed offline. As I write, Mrs VVB and I are ensconced just outside the Barrington Tops National Park, which is 20 km outside Dungog, in turn of course the home of Doug Walters. Although, inexcusably, the map of the town doesn’t show his house. Whereas two days ago, in Bowral, all roads led to the Don.
It’s probably also a bit of a come-down for Chateau VVB, a ‘what I did on my holidays’ post rather than the incisive political commentary which we have offered over the last two years. Incisive political commentary cunningly disguised, of course, as two years of obsessive and not particularly original Howard-hating. Anyway, this is a chance to hone and refine, and to rid Chateau VVB of its obsessively chronological writing style. By the time we return to hearth and cat (assuming that the cat has satisfactorily withstood her enforced holiday to the end), we will have been away only a bit over a week but we’ll have been to Foster, Katoomba, Burradoo, Sydney, the Barrington Tops and Armidale.
Rather we will dip, we will linger, and we will observe, all cunningly disguised as witless prejudicial snarking. Bear with us, there may be a morsel amongst the dross.
“Not particularly original Howard hating?” During our stay in Mrs VVB and I took a trip on a Sydney ferry (just around to Balmain and back, the holiday crowds prevented a Manly trip as the queue was about 300 metres long), and as we returned to Circular Quay I asked my long-suffering spouse whether she knew what was the best thing about visiting Sydney? She proferred no response (rolling eyes doesn’t count as a response) and so I pointed across to Kirribilli and said “because that lying little weasel doesn’t live there any more.” Although she hadn’t seen the response coming, she sighed as if she could have guessed. Know what I mean?
Anyway, hearing newsreaders on TV each night introduce a story with “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd” still doesn’t sound quite right and the fact that he went to the cricket, gave us his views on the game and has a suitable jersey to wear on his morning walks (monring walks ffs, I mean I ask you...) all point to the somewhat distressing conclusion that the country has changed rather less than we might have desired.
Back to the holiday, and I’ll warn again that descriptions will be embellished with the usual kind of thoughtless prejudice that has always informed stories from the Chateau.
The first concerns those who drive four wheel drives. These people are all maniacs. Why someone who presumably is reasonably level headed in all other aspects of life would want to endanger his whole family – 3 or 4 of them – by pulling his Landcruiser V8 out in the face of an oncoming semi just so he could arrive at the 80km limit on the edge of the next town about 20 second sooner just defeats me. It may have a big V8, but it’s shaped like a house and weighs three times as much as a whale, it’s not going to accelerate like a Lotus, mate, so just get used to it.
The second concerns the urban spread of Sydney, and particularly the small country-sized suburbs of McMansion land around Baulkham Hills, Kellyville and those other areas in Hillsong territory (ooh, it’s button pressing time folks).
I’d read about it of course, but nothing prepares you for the reality of mile upon mile of identikit two storey boxes, all built within mere centimetres of each other (please forgive mixed imperial and metric measurements, it’s about what resonates you see). But for me the most distressing thing was that, from birth (or house purchase), if you’re in this part of the world you’re in the grip of the oligopilists. The suburbs, the estates, the houses, they're are all the brainchildren of the big developers. The houses, as the ‘McMansion’ pejorative illuminates, are boxes made of ticky-tacky built by the same big builders. But they’re big – enormous – not little, as in the song.
You go to shop, the majors have got you. The names on the billboards are all the same – the Harvey Normans, McDonalds, Video Ezy, Fantastic Furniture, and so on. You’re trapped, no choice, no originality.
No wonder that the brand of religion offered supposedly to compensate for the consumption-based existence is simply more of the same.
I suppose when you build whole regions from scratch, this is what you have to do in these circumstances. The variety you get from organic growth is just a luxury that such rapid increases in population who have to be housed, fed, entertained and furnitured quickly cannot contemplate.
Another observation has to do with ‘luxury’ self-contained holiday accommodation, which is Mrs VVB’s and my preferred type of holiday, with the ‘luxury’ very much in inverted commas – it’s more just good quality and attention to detail that we appreciate. We’ve had really quite luxurious places, very well appointed and with the little touches that make it special such as four different kinds of breakfast cereal. Which is why when we pulled into tonight’s place, we were a little taken aback – it’s rather home-built and rather patchy.
However, the compensations are the wildlife – so far we’ve had a wallaby, some kangaroos including one with a joey in the pouch, a possum, various birdlife and who knows what else, all poking around the balcony. The noises outside are quite amazing, it’ll be an interesting night.
Update after the fact: no, they were just money-grubbing penny-pinchers and it wasn't a good look after people who showed it can be done really well for the same money.
However, the one thing that these two places had in common was some interesting reading. The luxury place had the New Yorker. Somehow – probably passed on to him by relatives – my father used to get the New Yorker when I was in my early teens. I was fascinated to dip into it again some 40 years later to discover that it retains the same ‘look and feel’. The writing is brisk, insightful, and with the same mannered, slightly ironic tone I recall from all those years ago. The cartoons are still very New York although if anything, their quality had dropped a bit I thought, compared to the writing.
When I mentioned my love of the magazine to the proprietor, his eyes lit up and we had a good chat about it.
Whereas here, I find Car magazine. I used to get Car back in the days when the late, the wonderful, the iconoclastic LJK Setright was its main correspondent. Unlike the New Yorker, Car had been updated several times and is now a bit too ‘try-hard’. But it still retains its great section at the back wherein all cars on the UK market are listed, not only by useful statistics but also a great summary under three headings, viz. ‘For’, ‘Against’ and ‘Verdict’. Which leads to some magic commentary.
“Maybach: For – Powertain, equipment. Against: Truly vulgar. Verdict: Shows the difference between taste and money.
Perodua Kenari: For – Plenty of headroom. Against – but people might see you in it. Verdict – upsetting.
And speaking of cars, we came out of Sydney today along the old Parramatta Road (the rule for the trip has been ‘no payments to bloodsucking monopolists who run privatised motorways’). And I was pleased to see that Parramatta Road is still mainly a car alley with lots of new and secondhand purveyors, much as they purveyed when my mates at I would trawl the road in the early 70s looking for our dream cars. Mind you, the massive concentration of ‘big box’ and other retailers around Auburn is new, and also generates a bit of traffic.
Apart from that, our trip out of Sydney was smooth and then we headed north through Windsor and up the old Putty Road. This was, I believe the motoring writers’ test track of choice back in the 60s when car manufacturers used to just give them a car to test and hang the consequences, rather than the more stage-managed efforts that seem to occur nowadays. The road is an appealing mix of very tight, twisty hilly bits with some open touring over the higher country and there was very little traffic, which was utterly different to last year when we got stuck in a 30km traffic jam outside Bulahdelah. As indeed the news reports said was happening again this year.
Although I’m still a car fan, I’ve slowed down a lot and with Mrs VVB observing that unlike me, she has no steering wheel to hang onto, I take it somewhat easier than I used to. So when the local yokels scream up behind in their 4WDs on narrow, bumpy roads, as they do, I’m looking for somewhere to pull over and let them past. No wonder that deaths of young blokes in the country are still disproportionately high as indeed they were when I was growing up in central NSW, and three classmates perished during years 11 and 12.
However I still find sharing the road with the terminally death-wished a little disconcerting. That said, on a suitable piece of back highway today, I still managed to sit on an easy 120 which Mrs VVB noticed but didn't take exception to, as the Saab is quite comfortable on smooth surfaces, but it hates choppy surfaces and suffers from terminal understeer on tighter roads, which mean you carry car speed into corners that then cannot be satisfactorily washed off or compensated (with great dollops of turbo assisted throttle) without undue distress to the passenger(s).
We’ve done a bit of bushwalking but regrettably as neither of us know much botany, we don’t range far as one piece of subtropical rainforest looks much like another I have to admit. But we enjoy the solitude and the restorative properties of nature.
Well that's it, will update (or possibly delete) later.
Update: if anyone really wants me to insert links to explain Doug Walters, Donald Bradman, the Putty Road, LJK Setright or anything else that doesn't immediately strike a chord, let me know. Otherwise, take it as read. I'll post some photos later - most of them are on film, not digital.
We have returned to hearth and cat, the cat is mightily pleased to be home again. And speaking of cat, the best memory of the whole trip was seeing a cat hanging out the window of a car when offpsring no 1 took us for a day trip to the Fitzroy Falls and Kangaroo Valley. It has its tongue hanging out and fur flowing in the breeze, just dogs usually do. It looked wonderful.
23 December 2007
Dinner at the RSL, standard excellent RSL fare (plus 3 schooies).
I used to be able to do Brisbane to Canberra in one high speed hit, especially in the old Pug 405Mi16, and very especially over the great back from road from Molong to Cowra. But no more, the back and neck tense and stiffen up within hours. And the Saab, while far more powerful, is no match for the Pug's superlative roadholding. Not for nothing did the Peugeot have the accolade - in 1989 - as the best handling front wheel drive car in the world.
Anyway. Here we are in coolish - ie quite cold - Katoomba in a beautiful old house. So we go for dinner and the RSL is between us and another 15 minutes' walk to get to the main street, so in we go.
Words do not describe. The waiter got 50% of the entrees wrong and about 70% of the mains, I got a whole deep fried sole curling up on a serving platter, that looked like it had been a nuclear experiment. The two couples at an nearby table pointed and laughed, either at the fish or at my expression. I ate a few scraps. Mrs VVB's fish tasted like soap.
The staff didn't care, and Mrs VVB and I were reminded of our first marital trip - we had booked the Hydro Majestic for our honeymoon. There were 6 people staying there, when we the "maitre d'" ushered us into the dining room and took us to a table, the two old ladies sitting there refused us because it was "their table".
We ended up at a table with a couple of young gay blokes - whose lives couldn't have been too easy in the mid 70s - and it was a riot, thanks to them. All the portions were measured, you couldn't have even some extra milk for your tea or on your cereal, it was just appalling. The blokes tried everyhting, they chatted up the elderly waitresses, they snuck into the kitchen and stole some milk, they begged for an extra desert. They really made the event for us.
Although we had booked for a week, we couldn't stand it after 2 days of starvation and went north to Port Macquarie, ended up in a wonderful motel with orange shag pile carpet.
Anyway there we were tonight with two inedible dishes in front of us and Mrs VVB said, "we don't have much luck in Katoomba, do we?"
Seems like no, but by crikey we have some fun.
17 December 2007
While Steven Stills wrestled with his guitar strap, David Crosby mused that the US should introduce a law which prevented it from possessing nuclear weapons while ever it had a President who couldn't pronounce the word properly. This then led into a bit of by-play between the band members about the need to get rid of the Bush administration, summarised by "throw the bums out." Graham Nash noted that this was what Australia had in fact done, Stills said "throw the bums out" again so Nash had to bring him up to date with our momentous political upheaval (well change of government, anyway).
And then, in introducing the song, David Crosby lamented that some 45 years after the song was written, the world still suffers from military madness.
16 December 2007
The concert itself was an amalgam of powerhouse rock ("For what it's worth" in particular) to the acoustic harmonies that Nash and David Crosby do so well: that said, their voices weren't truly on song until the second half. As a singer, Stills makes a great guitarist and he doesn't look a well man.
But he is a great guitarist and put on a good show, theatrically flipping his hand away from the guitar on the harmonics (and boy were they sweet) and once or twice doing a galumphing hippo walk across the stage - the benefits of wireless guitars and drawbacks of age and size, as he is 62 and a big bloke. And one particularly memorable cross between a gorilla and cormorant - quite bizarre.
But it was a superb night, the sound was great: not too loud and wonderfully clear.
They played all the favourites (as Nash said to the audience at one stage in response to a request, "we'll play all the songs we can fucking remember - all four of them, or two in Crosby's case").
I can't pick out any highlights, it was all highlight.
Hero of the night goes to one of the two blokes next to us. They were fairly pickled by the start time, but each managed an additional four cans of bourbon and coke during the first half. One fellow disappeared, but the other bloke managed a couple more during the second act.
The band got a resounding encore and responded, not surprisingly, first with Teach Your Children and then with Woodstock. Nearly two and half hours - not bad going for a band who've been doing it for 40 years.
14 December 2007
(No, he's not).
But he does know stuff about the industry and he does his analysis and recently, knowing that he has a current obsession with the price of cars in Australia, I drew his attention to this letter in the Sydney Morning Herald:
And in response, my friend wrote this to me:
So Australia is "the most competitive car market in the world" ("Got a brand new
Cadillac", Drive, December 8-9)? Gee, really? Then why do we pay through the nose for cars, especially imports?The subject of the article, the Cadillac CTS V6, is to be priced from about $70,000 when it goes on sale next year in Australia. In the US its price starts at $US32,990 (before sales tax) - about $38,000. That's right, we'll be paying a whopping $32,000 more.Sure, there are additional costs due to freight, import duty, GST and minor equipment differences, but there is no way they add up to anywhere near an 84 per cent increase. Compare the local price of any imported car with what people are paying in the US or Britain and you will find such huge discrepancies.When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is done dealing with the airline industry's price fixing, maybe it can take a look at the local car market.
So, any VVB car fans out there care to give a damn? After all, it's your money we're talking about.
And did you see the pricing for the upcoming Jag XF: Spec: 4.2V8 Price: US - USD49750. Aus - AUD135000. Spec: 4.2 V8, Supercharged Price: US - USD62000. Aus - AUD170000
Do the sums. At AUD1=.USD0.8 and 10%duty, and 10% GST, and even with a little LCT, there is something like $60-80K difference in price, all of which goes straight to margin.
We really have to be the most uneducated car buying public in the 'developed' world. The up-line brands can't pull this sort of stunt any where else, excepting Uganda and Malaysia, maybe. And we keep buying the stuff. And boasting to our respective neighbours that we paid 400% of their Commodore price! We boast about it! We feel good about it. We're better humans!
It's interesting. In the US, the difference between a well-equipped, generally competent GM car and its natural up-line competitor (M-B, BMW etc) is around 100:140-160. In Australia, it is 100:300-400. How is that? Let's stick that on VVB and see what comes from it. I put a not dissimilar entry (regarding BMW 335i pricing) onto the Wheels blog, and while the editor (Chris Kable, a friend of mine), saw and commented favourably on it, as far as the general public goes, not a whisper.
(*) No, I'd never heard of it either.
09 December 2007
But moreso, a couple of the soloists were just outstanding. There was one girl, inexplicably clad in a large, ornge furry animal suit, who had a voice with the phrasing, intonation, range and projection that would put any Idol contestant to shame. She was doing a Queen song, I can't place the name but it has those multi-octave runs that Freddie Mercury lived on and she just nailed them all.
Now it's the Countdown Spectacular or something but I'll need to be off the bed soon as it's a 4.30 departure for all parts west. It seems to be very much a second XI effort after the successful first show.
08 December 2007
Anyway it woulnd't be a VVB post unless I had a quick snark at something obvious, so for tonight it would be the the bloke in the Woolies ad where they sing "I wish you a Merry Christmas" who sings "and a happy noo year." I think he's meant to be a butcher, that's what he's done to our accent.
Yes folks, when all else fails, a little reflexive anti-Americanism always fits the bill.
But seriously, it's an Australian-made ad, couldn't they have re-shot it with someone who hasn't had his brain turned to "awesome sides"? With mayo?
Nope, nothing more serious than that. Must all be OK.
04 December 2007
So it's still philosophy for dumboes here in slightly airless, downtown Rockvegas. Maybe it's all the spare time I have, when I don't have to gather up and process the fallen leaves that characterise the leafy western suburbs and Chateau VVB is particular.
Gets to you though - Pied a Terre VVB has a pool and on Saturday it was all I could do to stop going down to scoop up the 5 or 6 leaves that had fallen in it. That and the fact that I had temporarily misplaced the key to the pool.
Anyway I'm looking forward mightily to seeing and hearing Crosby, Stills (well the guitar more than the voice in Steven's case) and Nash in a week or so's time. I will be disappointed if they are anything less than sublime but I am sure I will not be disappointed.
The Rocky management experience continues to yield daily doses of new experiences and situations with which to wrestle. It's all great experience and I need to make sure I don't forget the high and low spots.
On another tack entirely, it's mightily liberating not to rant about the recently deposed (except he hasn't conceded yet - how typical). It's like other things, addictions in fact, that I have given up. Yes, we're talking about coffee. I went out to Yeppoon at the weekend and can confirm that you can't get a proper flat white, at least at one shop. But I'll be going back to test some of the others as I can't imagine that a place where townhouses on the marina sell for over $2m that you can't get a decent espresso. Although such places undoubtedly have a built in coffee maker in the (European) kitchen.
Anyway that's about it. Hanging about the blogosphere and its neighbouring parts is another addiction that no longer has its scrawny fingers around me...half an hour and I'm done.
Is there anything going on? Drop me a line, c/- pied a terre VVB. I'll be counting leaves in the pool.
Actually, I see that the name of the movie The Golden Compass (tm) is trademarked. For no other reason than petty narrowmindedness on my part, I think this is legalised insanity. I was going to make a remark about parents trademarking a newborn's name, but as I recall reading a little while ago an article about 'branding' a child for future success, I actually wouldn't be surprised.
And I can't figure out how to select text on this machine so I can use my usual font. Bum.
30 November 2007
In here it's a little more airless - one of the next things I'll have to do is buy a fan so I can bring the breezes in without having to put the aircom on. The Everly Borthers are doing Wake up Little Suzie, but it's a guest spot on the Simon and Garfunkel Old Friends DVD. Hot damn but it's great fun, though.
Tomorrow night there is a fireworks show to which the aforementioned balcony will afford good views, so a few of the people from the office are coming around with their families. That will be good.
Because I'm not much one for my own company. Why take the job, then? Well, it's part of the journey of self-examination and doing different things, testing how well I can work in different environments and against new challenges. Of which I have a few.
I reckon a lot of other people do it far more than I am - or have in the past, for sure - but sooner or later the urge comes on you (or you just wake up a bit about how the world works).
Something I've noticed over the last few years is how much blokes my age actually are talking about this sort of thing. I always used to think it wasn't done - to admit you have insecurities was a sign of weakness, if you said you had ambitions or similar, you were a self-promoting wanker. Now it seems we - all us ageing blokes - find ourselves in similar situations, we are not in competition, we really don't have a lot to lose but we have a lot to gain amongst which is the comradeship of shared experiences.
I've had this sort of conversation in different ways twice this week already. Inclduing one bloke who rang me about 15 minutes after we'd finished and he'd left, to give me his biggest insight gained from some recent decisions he had made. That in particular really blew me away, it's a form of honesty and a way of extending support that I don't think I've ever really run across before.
I'm typing this on a laptop while sitting at a kitchen tables, the angles are all wrong and my neck is starting to hurt like crazy so I'll stop now. This has been a far more personal post than usual, but the world has changed in both big and smaller ways and it's only appropriate that Pied a Terre VVB respond in kind.
Take care you all.
25 November 2007
24 November 2007
- Howard was more magnanimous than I would have expected;
- but his voice still makes me want to break things;
- Mrs VVB noticed that Janette was nudging and urging him all the time, whereas Therese Rein just beamed and applauded Kevin;
- Costello looked more human than I have ever seen him;
- Kevin Rudd needs to learn to use the second person more frequently - there is enormous power in using 'you' rather than talking in the third person abstract, particularly in relation to the "great Australian people" and even moreso in relation to your own family, for crying out loud;
- he could also perhaps drop the frequency of the "great Australian people" line - out the back door, perhaps?
- who promised to govern for all Australians in 1996?
- who did in 2007?
- will he?
- we're still under the colonial yoke in Ryan, I must have a word with our neighbour;
- but it's a new dawn.
Afterthought - I should have visited the Canberra Times before now. Geoff Pryor did his analysis and came up with this cracker of a cartoon. Given Mrs VVB's observations on Janette tonight, the panes on the left of the cartoon are spot on. It's only come out lately how much influence she has wielded and it's been of a particularly narrow, pernicous and socially regressive type.
Presumably Therese will simply want to screw workers' entitlements :-)
Also, this will be the last Howardia post.
I would expect.
Can I also just thank certain people who bore with me bravely in a spirited endeavour to get utterly sh&tfaced, thus ensuring a good night's sleep for once.
The last day in the Brisbane office for a while was also remarkable in many ways.
If today goes the way that the sorts of people who hang around Chateau VVB hope, then the nature of VVB will no doubt change. Maybe lose a few of its...preoccupations...over the last nearly two years. Well, let's be honest, one preoccupation.
The internetty access arrangements in Rockvegas may, however, prevent even a modicum of bloggery, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
OK, go for it.
Well, the democratic duty is done. I've probably wrecked my reputation for good by shaking hands and chatting with one of the blue-shirted brigade at the polling booth, but he is my neighbour and he is also going to be useful to me in the Rockvegas job. While I knew very well that he was of conservative disposition, I didn't know he was actually a party member. However, it does explain his visceral loathing for Peter Beattie, easily equal to mine for Howard, whom he used to call the "blond Mugabe".
Earlier, coming back from a couple of hours finishing up stuff at the office a couple of free coffees at the 'other office' - many of you will know where I mean - I was listening to the 1pm news. It seems that Deputy PM and leader of the Nationals, Mark Vaile, said he would go to church to pray for a Coalition victory this evening, before heading to Sydney to join his Coalition colleagues.
If he wants to have a faith, fine. But he's going to pray for God to intervene after everybody has cast their votes? Ah, the Nationals, where would we be without their continuing comedy to enrichen our days?
22 November 2007
Work triumph today. Feels good. Results in short sentences too, evidently...I'm still digesting it all. Isn't it great when a plan just comes together.
Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday night's all right.
Or so it would - hesitatingly - appear.
Bonsoir, mes petits.
21 November 2007
19 November 2007
And she says this about the Aston Martin DB7:
I know that people think I drive an Aston Martin V8 Vantage because I’m a girl
and I think it looks pretty. That’s actually true, it is pretty. But what I like even more than that is the combination of its manual gearbox, the enormous noise it makes and the way it handles.
What a woman! What car-fancying bloke wouldn't give his left...er, ear...to be married to someone who (a) is so into car stuff, chasis dynamics even, and (b) can express it so eloquently.
At this point, before the assembled multitudes of cupro-witches, pantalonses and bwiccans descend to defend the sisterhoodiness can I just say that, after over 30 years of wedded bliss and a couple of years of prior amiable cohabitation, Mrs VVB has at last got it
and wants one of these for her next ride.
The Golf GTi - a really nice piece of kit, some friends have one and it was all I could do not to take it home when I saw it.
So Mrs VVB has proven impermeable to the charms of Triumphs - lots of them - Pugs, various minis and their larger cousins, and the somewhat more reliable jap-crap. But now she's got it and, in the manner of Sellars and Yeatman, it is a Good Thing.
And it would be in place of this Pulsar - small, not particularly notable but it is the SSS version.
(*) By George she's got it.
17 November 2007
Oh, and wasn't Dave Dobbyn fantastic on Rockwiz tonight? I didn't recognise his intro song but he held its final note for so long, not only did the crowd erupt but even the members of the Rockwiz Orchestra were open-mouthed.
Are we ready? Then let us begin:
I only hope that Rudd P.M. will see an end to the small minded mean spirited selfishness that seems to characterise contemporary Australia.
of course this classic: What a slimy, self-regarding, small, repugnant, grub of a man.
All you have to do is take a quick look (please don't linger) at Alexander "Little Lord" Downer's puffy, privileged face to quick-smart understand how depraved and far removed these born-to-rule-forever dandies are from their subjects. Out of touch? The very idea of being in touch makes them cringe with repulsion and contempt.
On television last night the National Security Hotline commercial was on TV. 8 days away from a federal election. Originally badged as “Authorised by the Australian Government Canberra” it is now authorised “M Keelty, Chief Commissioner, Australian Federal Police“. Can there be any more transparently cynical attempt by Howard to get around the election advertising laws to blow the anti-muslim dogwhistle?
In fact, is it actually legal for them to do this? (Emphasis added).
John Howard’s plan is a big step backwards for Australia’s social cohesion. He still, operates — and thrives — on division.
...a picture of ministers keen to approve projects in Coalition electorates regardless of the advice of their officials and so sloppy in the way they went about it that they often didn’t even bother to record the basis of their decisions.
It paints their behaviour as venal, lazy, and verging on unlawful... (emphasis added)
In the comments on the piece (Productivity Coalition style) about the Regional Partnerships (ie 'partnerships with marginal seats') Program: With the nearly late government it is always hard to differentiate between acts of incompetence or mendacity.
John Howard has led a mean-spirited, dishonest, arrogant, intolerant, cynical and unabashedly opportunistic government.
Aaaahh, breathe out. It's not meant to make you feel better, more to just work through the issues. Which are (once more with feeling):
- small minded mean selfishness;
- small repugnant grub of a man;
- depraved and....removed from their subjects;
cynical attempt to get around the...laws;
- operates and thrives on division;
- venal, lazy and verging on unlawful;
- difficult to differentiate between acts of incompetence or mendacity; and
- John Howard has led a mean-spirited, dishonest, intolerant, cynical and unabashedly opportunistic government.
John Howard has led a mean-spirited, dishonest, intolerant, cynical and unabashedly opportunistic government.Fade to black.
1 - As if we needed it, yet more evidence that this shameless pack of fascists seem to think they've been imbued with omnipotent authority. As if even the oft-claimed but usually spurious 'mandate' wasn't enough.
2 - but here's someone who comments on this latest lowest common denominator piece of bastardry far more eloquently than me.
I tell you, we know we've lost a lot over the last 11 years but we'll only find out the full extent of how far good governance has been traduced once we've had sufficient, finely targeted inquiries with full judicial powers. As a country we deserve nothing less.
Listen you dickhead, Australia is a country. Get that? COUNTRY! It's filled with people. Citizens. (And some prohibited non-citizens, of course, so we have something to fear).
You show me the economy and I'll give you a considered opinion about the risk of handing it over to anyone. Just bring it round to the leafy western suburbs, store it in boxes with little yellow tags on every one.
These f**kers have to go. Not so much out of touch, not so much lost the plot, more like just complete.....do you know, I can't come up with an appropriate description? It's a combination of irredeemable stupidity, utter corruption, and overweening arrogance.
Gotta do something about this burning anger.
16 November 2007
It's important to get your message out and, over the last decade or so, it's been important to 'stay on message' - it's all about the branding, folks.
So, what is the state of the Australian economy? Is it:
- going gangbusters?
- finely tuned like a Formula One racing car?
- or is it under threat of a global tsunami?
Well, all this over the space of just a couple of months. That's the thing about globalisation, it just rushes up and bites you on the arse. Things change so flamin' quickly, you can't stay on message.
Now, was this little tidbit the thing I thought ofthis morning about which to blog, or was that something else?
Folks, we'll never know.
15 November 2007
Indeed. A work colleague went past the Labor policy launch the other day and, given it was all kinds of chaos and you couldn't get from A to B easily, was obliged to share some public space with a couple of young blokes, about 18 or so. They asked him what was going on, he said Kevin Rudd was launching the Labor's party's policy. Who's Kevin Rudd, they asked. My mate replied, then said Rudd was running against John Howard. Hadn't heard of him either.
Urban myth or maybe I misheard? Maybe. But if true, even a little bit? Informed voters, hey. Especially if they go to vote and the paper has neither Howard (of course, this is Brisbane) nor Rudd (possible, depends on where they live) on it? Assuming this pair can, read, of course.
Anyway, there's bigger news. Your humble correspondent is off to spend a few months in the regions - Central Queensland, to be preciser. Should be good. More later.
But probably less blogging.
13 November 2007
Rather, that other line from the song, the one that starts it: "Everybody needs a little time away.."
I just have too much stuff going on right now and, like a lot of other people, I have had it up to here with the never-ending election. That said, while plenty have had it up to here, plenty more are still filling the bloggysphere with their opinions. As one will.
Nup, it's just time to hang up the keyboard for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks.
Now written, I believe, "a couple weeks."
Rather like someone apologised for a mistake yesterday with "my bad."
Snark, snark. That'll be the Lewis Carroll version, not the Walt Disney (tm). And snark again.
Maybe come the weekend there'll be something useful to comment on.
My head hurts.
11 November 2007
Anyway, the commenter is obviously doing pretty well to afford his Phaeton, and doesn't mind showing it, but there's just a little hint of tongue in cheek to make you think one and half times before moving on to...what's bad about labour market flexibility, in those instances where it actually results in some benefit for the worker. Can't have too much of that sort of thing going on, can we?
Still and all, there's a better range, not to mention quality, of reading in the Times even if you don't agree with it, than the slovenly smearing of political enemies that passes for 'informed journalism' in this country. Puke.
So here we are on Sunday evening, and all eyes turn to...Australian Idol. Yes, even here in the rarefied intellectual atmosphere of Chateau VVB we love a good dose of warbling as the week slumps to a conclusion. So who will go on the last night before the grand finale - Natalie or Carl?
Then, via Freakonomics, we found Indexed. It's quirky and a bit uneven, but a little bit mesmerising nonetheless. I have nothing but admiration for people who are able to come up with concepts like this and pursue them.
Aaah, on the TV behind me we have a scary ad about how Greg Combet and Julia Gillard who single-handedly brought the wharves to a standstill are going to "take over the economy." Presumably by retracting the Reserve Bank's Independence and reintroducing pattern bargaining. The fact that the wharves are now an effective duopoly - like many industries in Australia - and gouging exporters dry, is a bit beside the point.
And that ad was immediately followed up by one for Ross Vasta in which he pledges to fix the roads, the parks, and so on - all local government responsibilities? What's Can-do Campbell doing, then?
Finally, I went to bottle a batch of ginger beer today for Mrs VVB but the fermentation process had failed - air had got in somehere. Bummer. The advice is always to bottle anyway, but I only bottled half the keg as I didn't want to waste another hour bottling stuff that may have to then be thrown out.
10 November 2007
You ask yourself how this can come about? Fairly simply, as checks and balances are stripped slowly away by a single political view being in power for two long - even when limited to two terms of office, in this case.
Make no mistake, the abrogation of responsible government in the US and its apparent usurpation by malevolent forces, along with somewhat paler imitations elsewhere, is going to reverberate longer and affect our everyday lives more deeply than any real or imagined external threat.
Short of this , of course.
Making that info available to government candidates in marginal electorates? Dodgy. If only for political campaigning purposes? Wrong. Keeping the lists from public view because they don't add to the sum of understanding (after all, they just total up in different ways amounts already in the public domain): despicable.
This country has been turned into a giant kleptocracy and it pains me to have to say that this, at least, is not all Howard's fault. The warning bells were rung a while ago, but of course the messenger got shot.
08 November 2007
We're all the poorer for it, of course, but we stopped living in communities and societies a few decades ago and the new reality that we all have to bow before the economy, wherever we may find it, has lots and lots of momentum.
Individually, we just need to keep the faith with ourselves, our loved ones and our friends.
Why, hello there little girl, is your name Pollyanna?
Please excuse the cheap excuse for a stream of consciousness style, it must be because tomorrow's Friday and I've just come off another 13 hour day. Of circular motion, what fun. I'm sure youse can all fill in the gaps.
(*) Apparently a song by Less than Jake.I can't believe I actually wrote dominant paradigm. I'm so 80s.
07 November 2007
Margaret Thomas asks, rhetorically, "How about improving the [airport] serviceGo Ian.
in return for the punitive and ever-increasing charges" (Letters, November 6). I
suggest she addresses her question to the monopolist spivs who own Sydney
Ian Nicolson Banora Point
The legislature in America flexes its opinions about the executives (yeah, I just said "executives") that run Google:
"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are Pygmies..."
Given the common elements in these two examples, you can perhaps feel a little moral superiority when this sort of thing happens.
As I type, the 7.30 Report on behind me is carefully deconstructing the Coalition's contradictory messages about 'economic management' and who might be 'better' at it. If you elect us your wages will go down and this is a good thing because it will contribute to the strong $1.1trillion economy that only we are capable of managing, but under Labor last time your wages went up which was bad because it led to inflation except that under the Hawke Accord your wages didn't rise as much they did under us over the last 11 years, so that was bad - or good, depending on which part of this sentence you are reading - also. Or possibly notwithstanding.
But how do you get to be king?
Anyway, I am very pleased that Chateau VVB's 24c (there's three of us here in the hacienda) a day towards the ABC is at last contributing to the growth, possibly from adult stems cells, of not only a backbone but also an appreciably latte-sipping, chardonnay-swilling anti-Coalition posture, with suitable questions, snarky comments and the occasional (but devastatingly effective nonetheless) raised eyebrow. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.
Anyway, enough of this frivolity. I hear the siren call of strategic intent, strategic overlays, almost certainly strategic strategies and quite possibly the strategy you have when you're not having a strategy. In other words, several more hours of pain on top of a full workday. Why do we do it? Anyway, there'll be half an hour off for Spicks and Specks.
06 November 2007
MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Behind this fence is the Bagot community.
An Aboriginal enclave only 10 minutes drive from Darwin's CBD. About 400 people
live here. There are many other enclosed housing estates across Darwin, but this
fence so offends Federal indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough that he wants to
l pull it down.
MAL BROUGH, INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS MINISTER: It's appalling
circumstances when a government of any persuasion puts a fence up between one
part of its community and the other and lets what goes on behind it, hide behind
It's appalling all right Mal. "Any persuasion". Indeed So that'd apply to the APEC fence, then?
I imagine that's different. It's not as if a fair proportion of the community wanted to know what utter bureaucratic rubbish was being traded across the table in the rooms behind that wall. A greater proportion than wanted to do harm to the perpetrators.
Pet hate of the week: the phrase 'rolling out'. As in we're rolling out broadband, we're rolling out a new product, we're rolling out services.
Does it have wheels? If not, use the proper word, maybe 'make available', 'extend', 'release'.
Petty rant over.
04 November 2007
But it's not all bad, because the Times always dishes up some really good writing on a host of subjects. This week, f'rinstance, we get:
a semi satirical look at what happens when science gets out of control: Elephants
on Acid. It'd never happen here with the Research Quality Framework and, of course, Ministerial
interferenceinterest in the uses to which public moneys are
an inevitable Britney Spears story - all about the misuse of money, of course (more on this always fascinating subject in a minute). What interested me was in the comments where someone stated that (Spears) "smells nice". One can only assume that the commenter has been within sniffing distance. Bizarre, no?
irate investors send death threats to a market analyst who downgraded their stock. There are so many angles to this story it's difficult to know where to start, so in the time-honoured way of Chateau VVB we'll make do with some off the cuff value judgements. First, it seems the claim that the stock market as the arbiter of all that is pure and influenced by government or any other interference may as well be an elephant on acid. With the undisclosed links between analysts, the firms they analyse and the inevitable imperfections in information between investors), I reckon it's more of a lottery than many people think already.
Second, death threats? What is happening to people? You get a crime committed, may be something perfectly awful, and now we get baying mobs at the courthouse, screaming for a lynching. The veneer of civilisation is wearing pretty damn thin in places. Finally, she married a pro wrestler. And now he drinks beer from a glass. That's restoring the veneer of civilisation, yes?
I wonder why I'll spend so much time perusing the Times online but barely skim the hard copy Weekend Australian that
we still get. Answers on the head of a pin, please.
Just like the recent protests in Burma and the inevitable crackdown by the ruling junta, Pakistan displays a history of feeble attempts at civilian rule interspersed with military dictatorship and suspension of rule of law, and it's just happened again. The British Foreign Secretary said they should embrace democracy, so we can confidently expect that to start on Monday. Simple, really. They say that previous behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour: on this basis any ruler of Pakistan, whether civilian or military, is likely to overlook the needs of the people and do they want, safe in the knowledge that a few deaths is seen as the price.
When we lived there, the daily newspaper always carried an article in which some politician or other always said "we have to find ways and means to solve the problems facing the people." Insightful, really - the focus is on the ways and means, not the people, who are two degrees
removed (with the problems in the middle). So as long as opposing forces bicker and fight about ways and means....
More on the misuses of money. With the regular shitfight erupting in Victoria about the public subsidies going to Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to keep holding the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, I was struck by the telecast of the Bahrain Desert 400, on the TV behind me. A new track, it's enormous and - particularly striking - it's wide, so you can get overtaking moves nearly everywhere, not just some corners as in most
narrow Aussie tracks. The other thing is, just as the V8 Supercar race in China earlier this year, the stands are pretty well empty.
Obviously they have a lot of money to throw at things in Bahrain and, I would imagine, fewer restrictions on government about where it gets thrown.
Private money, on the other hand, always finds the highest and best use, or so we are reminded with infuriating regularity because, as this story shows value, like beauty, is all in the eye of the beholder.
03 November 2007
The PM and spouse are asked about whether they have politics-free times. And the answer, as if you didn't expect it, is "no, never".
Which to my mind tells us why and how Howard has given us the government we had to have. His whole life is politics, we wanted to be PM since he was 10 (what 10 year old has any idea about the job and what he would do with it?) and he sees the whole world through the political lens. He has all the answers about how we should live, and it's only those pesky remnant bits of democracy that prevent him from ramming the whole kit and kaboodle down our throats.
So, when asked about the death of Peter Andren, he makes a point about how well Andren did to be elected to the House of Representatives as an Independent. Not about what Andren represented or what he did. Rudd, after a short period of looking like a rabbit in the spotlights (I can see why people think he's plastic, it was like he was actually searching for what to say), talked about how Andren was a man of principle. Indeed. Such an answer should have come without a second thought, you'd reckon.
And Janette has a bit of whinge about Kirribilli: if a large ship passes too closely, the doors rattle. There's a simple solution for that, m'dear - live in Canberra at the Lodge, where you're supposed to be. It'd also save us taxpayers a few shekels.No Saturday night should be without a decent fright, so to deliver on that we point you to Your New Democracy's short piece of the continuing triumph of faith over reason in the US. You can click through a couple of links and get something like this:
"Boys and girls," Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, "you put your hand up and you say, 'Excuse me, were you there?' Can you remember that?"Fortunately we don't have quite that level of undermining the Reason Project in Australia - not yet anyway.
Here's something sort of different, just to cheer you up after that apocalytic vision - Jeremy Clarkson drives the Peel P50 - no, I hadn't heard of it either. Via The Spectacularly Obtuse Blog, so wonderfully named and to my mind what the intertubes are all about. How or why someone spends time looking for this sort of stuff is utterly bewildering, but I'm very glad they do.
01 November 2007
They're talking about Mexican metal. As we get out of the lift at the lobby-swapping floor, I ask them what Mexican metal is. They look at me a bit askance: after all, I'm in my late 50s, grey, and without any features that might distibguish me as a Mexican metal fan. I'm Don Henley all the way, with everything that this brings. They look at each other, shrug, and the bloke says "Rodrigo y Gabriela".
Then, "the 'e' is spelt 'y'".
"I know," I respond, "it means 'and'".
He looks at me like I'm an idiot - I get this frequently so it all washes off, but maybe one day I'll learn to be a little less patronising - and he says "Gabriela has only one 'l'". "Look them up on Youtube."
So I do, and look what I get - this is bloody fantastic.
Go there and look at some of the others.
And of course you go to wikipedia and find out how recognised they are.
But then at lunchtime I go to JB Hi Fi and buy this. And it's really good, too. Fogerty seems to have gone back to some country roots that weren't all that apparent in Creedence. I'm only halfway through the album, so far it's simple chord structures and some very familiar guitar work. Classic middle aged bloke music: after all the last CD I bought was JJ Cale and Eric Clapton, and it was very familar.
Especially when you can drink along.
Well done VB.
You have my vote.
That's too short for a post, so have a joke to go along with it:
The top 10 Country & Western Titles of all time:
10. I Hate Every Bone In Her Body But Mine
9. I Ain't Never Gone To Bed With an Ugly Woman But I Sure Woke Up With a Few.
8. If The Phone Don't Ring, You'll Know It's Me
7. I've Missed You, But My Aim's Improvin'
6. Wouldn't Take Her To A Dogfight 'Cause I'm Scared She'd Win
5. I'm So Miserable Without You It's Like You're Still Here
4. My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend And I Miss Him
3. She Took My Ring and Gave Me the Finger
2. She's Lookin' Better with Every Beer
1. It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chewed My Ass Out All Day Long
And not only that, but an online thingo to help you do some international comparisons, using a variety of indicators, between various countries over time. There are lots of little tricks to play with - truly absorbing.
31 October 2007
That said, enjoy The Assumption Song, if you've never heard it before it'll challenge them. Your assumptions, that is.
- "disorganised" (as in, if you can't organise to catch a flight, how can you run the health system?);
- "dismissive of the media and democracy."
Enough of "out of touch" thank you, it needs a freshen up.
My services are available, at minimal cost (ie beer).
Everybody touch some wood, now. We wanted to hold a little soiree to mark the election. One couple can't come because of a belief - informed by bitter, bitter experience - that every time they go to an election party, Labor loses. If they stay away, Labor wins. Happened with the NT election that Clare Martin won. Hmmm...maybe if we don't call it a party...
30 October 2007
Beauty, in this case more than in most others, is in the eye of the beholder. Yet the number of blogs would indicate that beauty is relatively easily found.
So, where are we going? Today, Crikey.com.au gives us an unpleasant little peek into the mind of the so-called Attorney-General, a closet nazi by the name of Philip Ruddock. The First Law Officer (incorrect appellation but even if correct, woefully misapplied in his case) is unable to discern the differences between (a) open society and people in gaol and (b) those who are in gaol as a result of a prescribed legal process and those who are picked up in bits of Australia that are, for the purposes of the law, no longer in Australia and thrown into a gaol masquerading as a resettlement centre without the process of law.
He is unable to understand that a young man, incarcerated in such a gaol, may not wish to be separated from his parents and sent to another place whose details haven't been explained.
In Ruddock's own words:
Well, I'm not sure why one would argue that the policy of detention should be reviewed because detainees aren't prepared to observe normal standards of behaviour that we would expect in the Australian community. I mean, that would be like saying that you would close a jail because some people who had been convicted of offences didn't like being detained.
Words utterly, utterly fail me on this one. This man understands absolutely nothing (except perhaps the continued re-election of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, a message he's evidently had belted into him with a piece of 6x4 by the littlest liar).
Even if half true....
Is this another Tampa steaming over the horizon? After all, these people are foreigners...
Finally, via Facebook, a message for the rest of us...
28 October 2007
I hope certain people - particularly people who may live in Jindalee and have some views about how I respond to anonymous comments - take this on board and start spreading the word about how great it is to work with a leader of men. And women. And robots.
The loving', we can leave to another discussion.
Also, it's great to catch up with old friends and workmates and in effect create new interpretations - no, not the correct word but my brain just died - of those relationships. It's all one big long story and when you get an opportunity to start a new chapter it's at the one time both very reassuring and a little bit exciting.
There must be a word for that.
Perhaps in Finnish.
25 October 2007
It has been stunningly successful. Every time you kick out a Labor government, the country's finances are in a mess: inflation, foreign debt, unemployment and so on.
It is not the purpose here to go into the rights and wrongs. Once you dig beneath the figures you get a slightly different story (eg global economic conditions as a major factor behind the recession we had to have). And when you look to actual acts of government (eg the Accord, tariff reduction, a competitive banking sector and the big one, floating the dollar), you get another perspective on which party had the vision and the guts to make the changes that actually affect things.
Rather, it's the power of stories, and this particular story has been very successful.
It seems to us here in Chateau VVB (awaiting a Brisbane storm, bring it on) that there is a similar story that can be told about conservative Australian governments.
It goes a bit like this. When you come to the end of a period of conservative (Liberal, or Coalition if you insist***) government, there is also a pattern of how the situation can be perceived. You usually have sections of the populace doing it hard or actively discriminated against (eg aborigines, pensioners, carers, gays); this has started leading to a fracturing of society; we are in an unpopular or unnecessary war; and overt interference in personal choice is becoming more evident, especially if it involves what you do with your rude bits or which art you prefer.
It's of course a gross simplification and it's only partially true, which makes it a good match for the opposite story. But it could be made into something awfully compelling, couldn't it?
"Remember Vietnam? Remember Iraq? Who got us into those? Do you see a pattern?"
Now, we've said before that Chateau VVB is no political strategist. And it's easy to see why. Certainly you wouldn't run a whole campaign around such a story (oh, that's what Howard is doing now? really? well, let's see what happens then...). But it could conceivably be worked up into one of those narratives that you could usefully drop into a speech or a retort here and there, to some cumulative effect. What do you think?
In the interests of fairness, I must provide the counter argument. Remember last year when Downer tried to run a line about how the Liberals were the party of big, outward looking, international ideas, not Labor? It sank without trace because the dominant narrative has always been the opposite. Even Keating's comment about flying over South East Asia to get to Paris didn't damage that understanding. So, there are evident difficulties in trying to get traction on a new story.
(***) Finally, they have higher interest rates in the bush. Words fail me on the Nationals, they do not have a clue. It's not in Chateau VVB's nature to feel sorry for John Howard, but every time Vaille or one of his intellectually challenged mates opens his mouth, Howard must just cringe.
Finally, finally. It's raining. Send 'er down, Huey.