29 September 2007


The Heritage Institute, that bastion of free market ideology, says Burma is 88.3% free from government. The Heritage Institute also says the following about Burma:

As an autocratic state, Burma imposes severe restrictions on many areas of its economy. Investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, and corruption are weak. The almost complete lack of a judicial system means that domestic and foreign companies must negotiate directly with the government to resolve disputes. Foreign investment is adjudicated in each instance, with no clear guidelines for investors. Heavy restrictions in the financial sector and labor market inflexibility are serious economic problems.


Burma is a repressive military dictatorship. The country gained its independence from Britain in 1948 and has been ruled by a military junta since 1962. The current
political incarnation of martial rule is the State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC). The SPDC offers its "roadmap for democracy" and National Convention to
rewrite the constitution as examples of reform, but little real change has been
forthcoming. Though Burma has significant national resources, restrictive economic policies and international sanctions have impeded economic development. In addition, foreign aid plummeted during the 1990s in response to the government's harsh anti-democratic repression.

As you can see from that excerpt, that conclusion is based on government expenditures which are of course very low as the State Peace and Development Council - the ruling junta- mainly only spends its money on armaments. About 40% of its budget, we believe.

And tax is low - mainly because there is no properly functioning government in the sense that we would understand it - which spends most of its time in repressing its people rather than collecting taxes from legitimate private enterprises.

Lies, damned lies and statistics.

And, in this case, sheer blind stupidity. You will notice that the Heritage Institute, true to its mission, is all about what might happen to your capital should you seek to invest (hey - opium is a good cash crop) rather than should you hope to just stay alive as a citizen of the investment target country.

Here's some freedom from government that the Heritage Foundation might like to get its head around, if it could only bring itself to realise that there's more to life than low government expenditures and tax rates.

I hope that Japanese corprations are reviewing their investment in the the country as long as its civilian press are getting slaughtered there.

Don't forget, Heritage and its friends are the people who think they have the simple, incontrovertible, correct answer for how we should organise our lives.

Should I be making cheap accusations against an organisation with which I have ideological 'problem' when Burmese are dying in the streets? Probably not, but knowledge is power and if you read the Heritage's web page on Burma, what conclusions would you draw? Hmm, yes, big investment risk.

People are dying. They were in 1964, they were in 1974, they were in 1998.

everybody needs a little time away

The actions of the police in Canberra against the protesters at the Burmese Embassy got me very angry and I guess that showed in how I wrote the post last night. Didn't anyone think for two seconds about how such aggressive actions would look against people who, particularly as they are Buddhists, are usually pretty passive in their protesting? And how it sits against what those people were actually protesting about?

In the absence of other suggestions or ideas - and believe me we know here at Chateau VVB how resistant the junta in Burma is to any sort of pressure - I'm increasingly drawn the need for a widespread boycott of the Olympics in Beijing as a way of pressuring China to pressure Burma. No-on else has the leverage (yeah, that word just wrote itself, I meant " ability to influence') on Burma that China does. Any change that we can exert on Burma will have to be done at one degree of separation.

Anyway, we cannot live by anger alone so, while keeping up the pressure, let me tell you about how I was leaving the Gold Coast during the week when I, and a number of other cars got overtaken, undertaken and generally blown into the weeds by a highly enthusiastically driven
Aston Martin roadster. The driver had his pedal to the metal and this thing just really got up and boogied as he wove around a few cars to get to clear road. So: I want one. And although it's my birthday today, the fambly didn't quite rise to the occasion, in Aston Martin terms.

And I just discovered Blogger Play, which will give you a running slideshow of recently uploaded photos to blogger blogs. It really is addictive but even moreso because I had Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell from Pulse on as the background - no, foreground - music. Just magic.

Just back to Burma, it's on the news behind me. Even though the junta has shut down communications - a typical response - this time, unlike 1988 when we were there, the world has been given an insight into how Burma operates. Just remember, though, this sort of stuff happens daily there. There is a pervasive secret police operation and paid informers network, so ordinary Burmese people have to be ultra careful abouyt what they say to whom.

Oh, and now the news is having a big go at the government about the level of advertising (one of their number, didn't turn around to hear which one) reckoned people would be focusing on the football. Quite so, but the extent -and cost - of the the onslaught is being increasingly registered.

28 September 2007

no words suitable

This is how we support the protesters supporting their families and friends back in Burma? Utterly disgusting. When did these kinds of actions suddenly become commonplace in Australia? I've just seen TV coverage of similar protests in London, there didn't seem to be any need for concerted police action to barge people off the street there.

The PM says there's little we can do. I would have thought the first thing would be to allow relatives and friends of Burmese people to demonstrate. This is a free country isn't it? WELL?

i've just got to get a message to you

I've just sent the PM one, 'cos I'm not listening to his. Apparently I'm not the only citizen (subject? target demographic?) who's a bit fed up with the taxpayer funded media blitz aimed at getting the little liar and his ideological fellow-travellers back onto the Treasury benches.
I really, really hope it backfires on them the way it seems to be.
Update: oops, forgot to put the tags in - again. Just like forgetting to take the camera to the Noosa car show.
Anyway, while we're updating, I've just been belting this out upstairs, but in a very acoustic way rather than this somewhat souped-up version (hmm, the timing's a bit, er, variable, is it not? exciting, but). Anonymous Chris probably thinks it's crap, I love it. Silk Degrees was - is - a great album, I just couldn't see it when it came out. I remember going to a disco - called Silvers if I recall correctly - in Melbourne with some friends. One bloke was a big Boz Scaggs fan, he was already married (unlike the rest of us), his wife turned up with face glitter and all. Those were the days.

27 September 2007

i like java

Oh indeed I do.

The commentary: "She’s had enough, I think. Enough coffee ice cream. Enough coffee-toffee topping. Enough coffee. She's looking at that coffee-flavored ice cream as if she can't decide which orifice to jam it into. In a year she'll be shooting Folger's crystals betweeen her toes.When your pupils are as wide as the saucer beneath your cup, you’ve had enough."


From here. Via Hoydenish.

The fortunate many who share my corner table at the
other office will no doubt substantiate.
And don't forget to add your voice to the many supporting the Burmese people, whether at
Avaaz or elsewhere.

26 September 2007

you took the words right out of my mouth

David Jones in the CBD has its Christmas decorations and Yuletidey stuff on sale.

It's September for crying out loud.

Wrong wrong wrong.

25 September 2007

the road to mandalay

Nineteen years ago, more or less there, were protesters on the streets of Rangoon. We were there at the time and sneaking around the place trying to find out what exactly was going on, as the State-owned media simply printed warnings to the populace to go home and forget about democracy.

That hasn't changed:

State media has explicitly ordered the monks to stay out of politics, and accused foreign media of fuelling the protests that have become the biggest challenge to the regime in nearly 20 years.
"All the members of the Sangha (clergy) residing in the Union of Burma are directed to avoid getting involved in party politics and instigation," the official New Light of Burma newspaper said.
"Some foreign media telecasting the protests aim to cause unrest in Burma," the paper said.

After the 1998 protests, subsequent reports said maybe 10 or 20 thousand people may been killed as the army put the protest down. The lack of factual data was why we were sneaking around trying to get a handle on what was going on.
The military then held elections, the wrong people won and all of a sudden we had the State Law and Order Restoration Commission (SLORC), superseded - once everybody was suitably cowed again - by the State Peace and Development Commission. Both of course were simply front organisations for the army which refused to accept that Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has won, and put her under house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi is of course the daughter of Burma's original leader of decolonisation from Britain, Bogyoke Aung San.

After returning to Australia, whenever people asked me about Burma I'd say that it will take a lot of bloodshed before the country will ever get close to its peoples' hopes for a bit of freedom. Regrettable as it may seem, I still think that's the case. The army is not going to give up its privileged position and the rent it extracts from the country's people and resources.

The pathetic bleating we hear from the West, including our own excuse for a
Foreign Minister ("there's little we can do"), are as ineffectual as you could imagine. If we invaded Iraq to free the populace, why not in Burma? It's got oil, it's got gas. Why are we collectively reduced to begging?

Hmmmm. It seems even the Chinese, traditionally cosy with the regime in Burma, are sniffing the wind, informed no doubt by their self-interest. But that's what drives foreign relations

24 September 2007


Although only on the very periphery of political blogging in Oz, Chateau VVB would like to offer a reflection on the current situation...no, maybe the vibe...of the non-campaign campaign at the moment.

We've detected a certain ennui - much more than as reflected by the letters to the editor and blog comments saying "come on John, let's just have the damn thing and get it over with."

No, this is more along the lines of utter disenchantment with the whole political landscape. The country has been politicised well beyond its previous somewhat lackadaisical 'live and let live' approach to politicians and their tricks. 1975 aside, perhaps.

As a card-carrying Howard-hater I feel obliged to sheet home the blame to him and his perpetual campaigning. That is no doubt a factor, but the role of the media has been well to the fore, beating up stories beyond their natural life and inventing new crises whenever public attention started to drift.

And even beyond that, I feel that Ozplogistan has started to tire in its search for the new line, the new twist. With the honourable exceptions of those who do the numbers, Possums Polytics, Mumble etc.

So, is it just Chateau VVB that feels this way? And is it a retrievable situation? I guess for every blogger still consumed by the daily goings-on there are some that feel similarly to me, and for all them there are hundreds of thousands of Aussies who don't give a fig. Good on 'em, I am inclined to think, provided they do a little mental arithmetic before casting their votes. But Aussies as a whole don't see their world through a political lens, so I hope the attempt fails to insert that lens into our national landscape.

Well we're back from the weekend and it went almost as forecast in the previous post. The first house we saw was by far the most suitable, particularly if we were to move tomorrow. It wasn't outrageously expensive, though, so we were wrong on that one. Trying to imagine ourselves in ten years' time, either retired or (more likely) semi-retired but doing different work, proved to be the major factor in identifying what we might want in a house. Or, to be more accurate, in identifying where we might be living such as either still here in the leafy western suburbs or somewhere else. And if somewhere else, where?

No wonder we have ennui.

Unfortunately we didn't take the digital camera to the Noosa Beach Classic Car Show or we could have inserted some nice piccies of Aston Martins (the featured marque this year, I utterly fell in love with a green DB9) along with all the sorts of cars we'd love to have for a toy: Triumph TR6, big Healeys, MG TC and TF. But we forgot the camera.

20 September 2007

out on the weekend

There will be no blogging this weekend either as Mrs VVB and I are off to the Sunshine Coast to look for the next Chateau VVB. Predictably, we will find something at about twice what we can afford, which in turn will be about 4 times what we are prepared to pay. It will be just right for what we would need were we to move on Monday, and totally unsuitable for when we are in our 70s and our joints have all seized up.

Will there be the sort of infrastructure we might might need by then (stroke centres, paid dementia carers on every street corner, a choice of good latte mongerers)?

We don't want a house that's too big because (a) it will be hard to clean and (b) the offspring will never leave home or will keep returning. It has to be a quiet, safe street so we can safely get another Abyssinian kitten when Top Cat is no longer with us. Close to the shops, though.

With good views, of course.

And with one room that can be made soundproof so I can set up a little studio and go crazee with the guitars and my rusty voice. And sufficient garages to store a few toys: a Healey Sprite or perhaps an MG TC, a Fiat Bambino, a Moke, and a Maserati Quattroporte for weekday work.

So we shall see, but it will be a weekend away at least. We'll stay away from the news so we don't get the hysterical sneering and smearing that characterises current broadcasts, but will have to watch Wockwiz on Saturday night of course.

Boomers utterly rule, don't we?

18 September 2007

running jumping standing still

This is by way of a placemarker post just to say that:

  • House of VVB still exists;

  • it's still unconscionably tired all the time, presumably from last week's lurgy;

  • many people at work are similarly still tired, sick, all those things;

  • there is absolutely no point in going into some irrelevant rant about anything political until the election is called;

  • and it won't be yet;

  • because there's a quite a lot of your taxes still to splurge on advertising;

  • but I've fallen into a bloghole and there is currently no suitable provocation for climbing out.
Some semblance of normal activity will return at some unspecified time in the future, maybe another car story. In the meantime, rant amongst yourselves.

15 September 2007

in like a shot from my gun

David Barnett is, by this byline, "a Canberra writer." That is being a little disingenuous, as he is probably better known for this and other crimes against good taste. For someone so immersed in and proud of the conservative political tradition in Australia, you'd think he'd be a bit more open about his credentials.

He's gone a bit far this time though. He thinks the Chaser fellows should have been shot. Well, that's what he wrote. Letters to the editor of the Canberra Times didn't seem to support him, I wonder why? Because it's a Labor town, I suppose. Only Labor supporters wouldn't support shooting people on sight, even if they were dressed as bin Laden. In downtown Sydney. At a time of high alert. Right where you'd expect undisguised Islamic terrorists to be. Out in the open.

Anybody who doesn't think thereisn't a fascist fringe in this country needs to read Barnett's obnoxious tripe again and have a rethink. They're not all out in the scrub, evidently. I wonder what senior Government Ministers - the Attorney-General, perhaps - think about Barnett advocating the use of summary executions?

I didn't think that as soon as the so-called Coalition gained control of the Senate we would automatically lose the rule of law, but that seems to have been the message that had been received by the self-appointed defenders of democracy, freedom and liberty (as redefined from time to time).

You know, it's distressingly easy to get angry and pump out bile like this. It's made Chateau VVB the blog it is today (inconsequential, perhaps).

But surely we have to keep pointing out what utter bastards these other types are? Don't we? It's our country too.

14 September 2007


The real-life angst and heartache and general intermarital naughtiness that formed the backdrop to Fleetwood Mac's stunningly successful Rumours album was a mere whisper on the breeze compared to the almighty brou-ha-ha that enveloped the political desperates of this fair country this week following the Lying Little Man's request to his ever-faithful Foreign Minister to 'do the numbers.'

This Alex did -
smoking a cigar if reports are to be believed, can you even imagine that? - the Littlest Liar stared 'em down again, the country let out a combined 'wha?' and we all moved on.

The blogosphere went into a massive orgy of reporting on itself, the mainstream media played multiple roles (well, they do get funded for this of course) and everybody else, the sensible ones, let it pass by.

In a parallel world, the flu hit my work team with a vengeance and Chateau VVB has been well below par all week, and still not well.

Which is a fairly longhanded way of saying we won't be adding to the week's frenzy now that it's over, but this rumour in today's Tips and Rumours in Crikey.com.au really struck us as likely to be true. And - he said, having two bob each way - even if not true, it's too delicious a piece of rumour-mongering to be confirmed to Crikey, so Chateau VVB gleefully reproduces it here:

An illustration of the vanity of John Howard and his urge for self glorification
is the fact that, unlike his Labor predecessors, all Cabinet Documents
(Submissions and Decisions) during his reign have been prefixed with a "JH". I
am not aware whether any Government prior to Howard's did this.

Enjoy, mes petits.

11 September 2007


I'll stay as long as the party needs me but just listen, the party discussed that last year and doesn't need to do it again.

There must be a word for that. Hubris and arrogance suggest themselves, delusional is a different one. There must be more. Forever minutely twisting the truth, rewriting history, introducing just enough doubt that he couldn't be immediately accused of lying. A small man with a small lawyer's mind. No wonder we don't know what the direction is.

Oh yes we do - it's Dolly on the 7.30 report reading from the Crosby Textor hymn book: "the right direction", "right direction", "trade union officials", "John Howard has massive energy", "John Howard is the right answer for Australia's future", "the public feel that Australia is heading in the right direction."

Just call me 'talking points Alex'. Don't expect it to make sense, just tell the plebs what they need to believe. Just fuck off already.

I am so angry that we have collectively let this pack of amoral hyenas feed off the wealth of this country for so long. They have no scruples, no vision and no brains beyond self-interested rat cunning and bastardry.

10 September 2007

baby you can drive my car pt (n+1)

The story of the Triumph Dolomite. You'll need to go back to this post to see where the Dolly came in the parade of VVB-mobiles. It was the third car we owned for the time we were in Singapore. The first was a Datsun 1200, the second a Mercedes 200 which I bought because I figured that an old, smoke-infested 200 would be the only Merc I would ever own.

It was mistake in many ways and so I eventually sold it for its scrap value (the Preferential Additional Registration Fee or PARF, which was Singapore's bureaucratically complex but effective way of getting old cars off the road).

The Dolly was a non-Parf car so while its purchase price was relatively low, the risk was that I wouldn't be able to sell it easily when we came to leave. However...

While only a standard 1850cc single overhead cam model, not the hot Sprint version (a bloke in the office had one of those), this thing really honked. It had been the personal car of the Managing Director of the local Leyland distributors and I suspect had been "breathed" on a bit. I had previously driven a standard Dolly while uncle still had the garage in Dubbo, and it was as arthritic a piece of automotive uselessness as I'd pretty much ever encountered. However, even though mine was an auto didn't slow it all that much.

Like all Trumps, it was comfortable and with an excellent, high driving position. It had an aircon which did dent the performance a bit was but essential in Singapore.

We took it up through Malaysia once, up the west coast through Port Dickson and then across to KL and up to the Genting Highlands, then to Kuantan on the east coast. On the night we came home I was really making good time: although it only had a short wheelbase and so could be prone to bucking about a bit on rough roads, it handled the run back down the east coast, actually a pretty good road even in those days, really well. And leaving Johore Bahru and coming back home to Singapore across the Causeway was always a buzz.

About 9.30pm we were just turning off Dunearn Rd and only about 1km from home, and the timing chain snapped. With two young babies aboad it was still a business to get home, but far better there than if it had happened at 100km/hr (approximately) on a deserted road in Malaysia.

Coming time to leave Singapore and with the aforementioned fears about unsaleability swirling around my head, I advertised it but also mentioned it to a few people I knew. So a fellow from the Hash House Harriers, an institution which had provided me with many enjoyable Monday evenings and as many hungover Tuesday mornings, showed some interest in it as a second car that his wife would use. But he brought it back and said it was "too powerful." Fortunately, we did find a loving home for it.

Here's a picture of offspring no 1 helping with some routine brake maintenance. Now he knows where he gets it from.

08 September 2007

morning theft

Saturday night is a good time to trawl the overseas papers and the bastion of leftish thinking in the UK, the Guardian, serves up a couple of thought teasers tonight.

the Tories are lurching right again after several years of pretending to be in the middle.

You'd reckon people would wake up when a political party has to reassure the populace that they will be "compassionate", wouldn't you? Remember Bush, the "compassionate conservative?" What happened there? Shouldn't the need for such an admission - or 'clarification', perhaps - be seen as an admission that, by nature, your party and its members are not, and never have been, compassionate?

Colour me stupid, I can't get my head around this. If you are genuinely hard right, then be proud of it and drop the sham. People know what they're going to get from you, you may as well be honest.

On the other hand, if you believe that society needs some compassion, then drop the other rubbish because you know what it's going to do to society.

Provided you believe in societies of course, rather than the all-conquering economies that we have all lived in since the 1980s.

In this vein, Naomi Klein continues her assault on TINA with some analysis of the extra factor that Milton Friedman and his followers use to impose their pure model of how economies should work: disasters as the pretext for unilateral imposition of extreme free market ideology.

No doubt this new work from Klein will attract a fair bit of comment. She's got form, of course, but the slow emergence of the inevitable consequences of extreme free market economics - increasingly inequality, less concern for others and the sucking up of wealth to the top .1% - is now becoming more widely recognised. Popular disgust at CEO salaries is probably the easiest example to identify.

When the US deposed Saddam, their first acts were to topple the statue, secure the oil ministry and then attempt to privatise the entire economy. I wondered at the time how they would do it, and it seems they failed. I can't think of any more disgusting act to foist on a country you've just invaded under the pretext of liberation than to expropriate their resources and goods. It's truly medieval stuff.

The price signal is a very powerful mechanism for an efficient economy and allocation of resources. But theft is not capitalism.

say my name

Peter Martin at the Canberra Times lovingly chronicles yet another HMAS Born-to-rule's stuff-ups, the not-a-universal-access-card.

For a party that is always rabbitting on about Labor being the party of social engineering, the "nanny state", the Libs (let's leave the agrarian socialists out of this as their influence is minimal) do a pretty good job of working their nasty little way into Australians' lives to make them far less 'liberal' and enjoyable.

There's no doubt that they are absolutely certain that they're right on everything, and that should send up masses of alarm flares. I guess sometime in the past, governments would make somewhat more of an effort to make projects actually work while still keeping them aligning with the relevant ideology, but maybe not?

Not with this lot. A PM who wanted to be PM since he was ten, a
petulant, thin-skinned idiot son of the aristocracy, Captain Smirk and a band of useful idiots, they reckon they have the only answer on everything. TINA, remember that?

Utter bullshit.

They are, I suspect, about to find out that enough people have tumbled to them. In the words of Muhammad Ali and the memorable Mr T, I wish them lots of pain.

Update: mind you, everybody does it nowadays.

07 September 2007

i started a joke

In lieu of the reams of garbage that I could write today on the APEC/Bush ("OPEC", "Austrian", etc etc etc)/Howard/Chaser/Hu Rudd/etc etc etc) circus, I give you a short joke sent to me today by a good mate - the John Howard stamp joke.


Australia Post created a stamp with a picture of John Howard to honour his
achievements. Unfortunately, the stamp was not sticking to envelopes. This
enraged our Prime Minister, who demanded a full investigation into the matter.
After a month of testing, the investigation revealed three
1. The stamp is in perfect order.
2. There is nothing wrong with the applied adhesive.
3. People are spitting on the wrong side.

06 September 2007

a quick one

On the first day of a four-day visit to Australia for the APEC summit, the American President heaped praise on Mr Howard for his "vision" on the Iraq war, his "leadership" on climate change and nuclear power, and for his economic management.

See my previous comments on "leadership."

I guess that it's always been the case that politicians have made statements that are so demonstrably disconnected from what everyone else understands to be the case that people just sigh and move on.

But really, Bush's comment is either quite, quite delusional or an outright lie. Or of course, the usual disclaimer - he was badly 'advised' by his advisers about what the Coalition has actually done on climate change, so it's not actually a lie.

I said last night that State Department people are very good at their jobs, so I can't imagine that they have misreported the Federal Government's very recent conversion to belief in climate change.


It's utter shit.
Update: oh, and what about these AEC ads about the election being called "very soon?" If it's that soon, surely there must be a date?
You know, my bile is really rising. This country has been bastardised, pillaged, diminished, f*cked over,....geez, what word do you use to signify how much we've lost through the machinations, lies, depredations, sheer hubris combined with stupidity?....aaaagggh, lost for words again. I hope there is the biggest clearout of all time...

05 September 2007

get over it

Chateau VVB will again demonstrate its reflexive anti-Americanism by giving you this short post about the visit of George W Bush.

What is it about American presidents that gets everyone, the media in particular, in a state of such breathless excitement.

The TV was on in the background last night as all the happenings happened. The President arrived, was driven in a car and, presumably, breathed in and out for the whole time. This was relayed in a mood of utter incomprehension that such a wonderful person was amongst our poor, formerly colonial and obviously second-rate, midst.

Then , tonight, we get "the leader of the free world." No. Maybe the president of the world's most influential country, by virtue of military and economy. But that economy is hanging on a thread and the military stressed to the limit.

Now before we go any further, I don't want to appear absolutely ridiculous on America's influence - it is, and has been for some time, the foremost power in the world. But not to the extent that its similarly powerful cultural export agency, Hollywood, has liked to depict it. And the mechanisms by which the US wields its influence are not all open and benign. The links between its political, commercial and military power are immense. Its power over supposedly multilateral insitutions, many of which it helped to establish in the post WW2 period when America was seen almost universally as a force for good, is now malign, if declining somewhat.

Bush is a president whose election was at best question questionable and at worst fraudulent. We have seen plenty of hints as to the lengths that the powers behind him will go to ensure their particular world view attains dominance. But we didn't vote for him and he certainly doesn't "lead" Australia in any sense of the word.

In fact, equating what Bush does with "leadership" is a more interesting exercise than one might think. You might think that leadership means laying out a desirable vision and then explaining how you're going to get there. With Bush, it's "freedom, liberty and democracy" all OK, but that's the end of it. Every action he endorses, whether authorising the deaths of Texans while Governor, embarking on a pre-emptive invasion despite the facts and (at least some) advice and reducing the capacity of swathes of his citizens to enjoy the fruits of democracy, is at odds with the rhetoric. He is, in sum, not authentic. And it's authenticity a leader needs to be seen as a leader.

Bush isn't even a manager. Try
this: you'd think a God-fearing conservative would be all for saving. But no: those dang Chinese can't buy enough American crap because they save for a rainy day.

Spare me. Now, the inevitable disclaimer: this is about Bush, not America, and it's not reflexive anti-Americanism. I've known lots of Americans and have benefited directly from their generosity and ability. State Department consuls and other reps are first class.

Just spare me the breathless media coverage (this explains why I watched no news tonight).

Update: Oh yeah, I got one of those e-mail newsletters from a bunch of solicitors today. Quoting some work done by another, similar, firm, the newsletter said:

Work Choices
Getting the basics right
On 27
March 2006, the Work Choices amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996
(‘Act’) became operative. Work Choices made wide-ranging changes to Australia’s industrial relations system. These changes deliver significant opportunities
to employers. However, employers need to firstly understand the extent to which
Work Choices affects their employment arrangements

The article then went on to explain some of the legal background and instruct employers what their minimum requirements are. But that one sentence stands out, doesn't it:

These changes deliver significant opportunities to employers.

The 'choice' is only one way, as people keep on pointing out. Bombast and threats won't work any more. Suck it up, Mr Hendy.


04 September 2007

lady in red

If you were going to have a fabulous model car on your mantelpiece (or some other suitable spot, maybe in Dad's 'den'), wouldn't you plump for this?

The Lancia Fulvia was just a gorgeous piece of design.

This one is priced at about 90 Euros, not including postage. I'd even be inclined to look for it here in Oz, it'd make a good Christmas present (he said, to any fambly members who may be reading). Not a hint. Not at all.

In any case, it doesn't meet the current criteria for models:
a) it's 1/18, not 1/43;
b) I never owned one (damn! damn!); and
c) it's not an historically significant Australian car.

Not really a good hint, was it? In fact Mrs VVB even asked the question, having arranged the new cats she got for herbirthday on the mantelpiece alongside the old cats, whether one could have too many cats. Looks like she may be in need of a new theme, or some product extension, too.

Meanwhile in Sydney, otherwise law-abiding Australians are shut out of their own city. $400m it cost? Is that not absolutely obscene? You know, I really don't know what we do about this. I have no idea whether it was Australia's turn to host, if it wasn't well it's the job of Australian diplomats to lobby and get it, particularly so JWH and Hyacinth can grandstand. Shame about Laura (not). And shame that most people (Kevin07's "ordinary" people) just don't get international boondoggles conferences and certainly don't get the benefits of trade liberalisation. Nor do they get why you can do this on environmental concerns but not that.

Anyway, whinge whinge whinge. Where's my latte?

It's raining and, having just gone up to check the mesh guard on the gutter, the water is going into the tank from whence, all things being equal, we can direct it into the pool so that we can run the pump so that the man can come and detect where our leaks are. Leaking.

03 September 2007

money for nothing

Today was a relatively low-productivity day as well - the hangover after the hangover. Driving up and down the Gold Coast looking for a hotel that the online directory placed about 15 km away from its actual location didn't help. But I've just had one of those moments. I opened the guitar case to get the Aria out for a bit of practice and there was some money in the case.

It took a minute for the penny to drop. While the partygoers had been waiting for the bus to collect us from Southbank, where we had watched Riverfire in a non carbon-neutral way, and take us back to Party Central, I'd got the axe out to play a few songs.

We were on the footpath, and one of our group had placed my guitar case out where all the passers-by were passing. By.

So I have earned my first money from busking, a whole $5.30. Including, would you believe, a $5 note. Money for nothing!

I'd been getting into the entertaining so hard and so quickly that I hadn't even noticed.

Stardom, here we come!

Meanwhile, the PM thinks that anybody who disagrees with the way he sees the world to work is

Where have we heard this before?

Ah yes,
There Is No Alternative. But he's got a point: it takes a lot of preparation to properly cement international relations.

And, where the bloody hell are you?
Down at the police station.

Oh, and here's a useful site for looking up the meanings of phrases.

02 September 2007

father's day

For father's day I gave myself an industrial grade hangover, therefore, last night's party must have been pretty damn good. I believe it was, from those bits I can recall. Preparations for guitar playing were put at risk when I sliced into my left thumb while cutting some meat for lunch. I was thinking at the time, "be careful", unfortunately I wasn't listening.

In other excellent news, the Broncos got slaughtered by the Eels, so no doubt tomorrow's letters to the editor of the local fishwrapper will be full of excuses and cries of "we wuz robbed." I'll never be a true Queenslander, not while the Broncos are treated like some pack of deities whose every move is as a gift from heaven. Makes one-eyed people look positively binocular.

And in even better news, there's going to be a Eurovision Dance Contest. Can't wait.

Anyway the effects of last night are still with me and as I've just realised I'll have to go past the office tomorrow morning to get a suit coat for a work thing on down the Gold Coast tomorrow morning, I'm going to take my poor old bod to bed.

Finally, some snark: didn't Peter McGauran look uncomfortable on TV as he commented on the PM's (*) announcement of the inquiry into the equine flu outbreak? I guess we see what we want to see.

* insert usual descriptive elements here

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