31 October 2007

treat me gentle

Only one set of trick or treaters tonight, they got an "oh shit, go away" and to their immense credit they read my response and expression correctly, and ausgefuckened pdq. Then I shut the front gates.

That said, enjoy The Assumption Song, if you've never heard it before it'll challenge them. Your assumptions, that is.

it's my party

Jeez politicians who stay on message to the extent of just repeating the same words all the time give me the shits. Hence, Nicola Roxon could have really scored big time over Abbott when he failed to show up on time for the 'debate' at the National Press Club. Instead, we got "this shows how out of touch the government is." If you're halfway decent as a pollie, surely you can come up with some alternatives while still staying true to the point the party machine and/or leader wishes you to make? In this case, how about:
- "arrogant";
- "disorganised" (as in, if you can't organise to catch a flight, how can you run the health system?);
- "useless";
- "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

bad to the bone

So, this blogging thing is mainly about regurgitating with or without 'value adding', also known by its more common appellation, 'smartarse commentary'. Here at Chateau VVB we say that we came, we saw, and we thought it was worth said regurgitation.

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 was a lover a leader of men

Well I took the test and this is what I got.

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

one story town

The Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party has been extremely successful in creating a credible story about the Labor Party and economic management. Only a few days ago Costello artlessly dropped the "recession" word into an interview. No factual basis for it, of course, but it reinforced the automatic association between Labor and "recession we had to have" and, by extension, Labor's record of economic stewardship more generally. $96 billion: ring a bell or three?

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.

24 October 2007

heart of gold

Via the inimitable JT, a quiz to determine how you'd fit into a sci-fi crew. The only problem with doing this for me is that while I recognise some of the names, I am not intimately informed about the minutiae of roles, rationales, the 'big picture' or point of the story, and so on for most of them. Anyway, I feel relatively relieved to end up in the Hitchhiker's Guide, it sounds about right. Although shamefacedly I admit I've never read it, but various friends are intimately knowledgable and have sort of filled me in.

Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in with?

You scored as a Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
You are a light and humorous person. No one can help but to smile to your wit. Now if only the improbability drive would stop turning you into weird stuff.
Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker\'s Guide to the Galaxy)

Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) -->
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

Millennium Falcon (Star Wars) -->
Serenity (Firefly)

Serenity (Firefly) -->
FBI\'s X-Files Division (The X-Files)

FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files) -->
Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica) -->
SG-1 (Stargate)

SG-1 (Stargate) -->
Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)

Bebop (Cowboy Bebop) -->
Moya (Farscape)

Moya (Farscape) -->
Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5) -->
Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)

Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix) -->
Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)

Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda) -->
Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek) -->
Enterprise D (Star Trek)

Enterprise D (Star Trek) -->


Mark Lawrence tagged me to do an 'animeme'. I had to look it up on Wikipedia (no, not really, but my first thought was that is was something associated with manga :-)

Preface, disclaimer, namby-pamby obfuscation of a relatively simple issue.

In this context, the word "interesting" shall be taken whatever I want it to mean. If I rate an animal as interesting but you disagree, kindly don't complain, just mumble to yourselves.

An interesting animal I had

Here he is: 'Pup'. What an exceptionally inventive name, I must have been such a dull child - the other extant toy from those days is 'Ted'. Pup would be about 50 years old by now I guess, I got him before I got my memory. Now I'm losing my memory, but I still have Pup. Offspring number one got a few years' companionship from him and now he awaits the possible grandchildren.

That's another story.

An interesting animal I ate

One of our neighbours is a distinguished zoologist. Some years ago he and his wife hosted an Australia Day barbeque where at least some of the meat had been relabelled - at least we think they had renamed it. Along with the beef and lamb we had possum, emu, kangaroo, wombat, echidna, crocodile, lizard and....koala!

A wonderful night with wines to suit. Actually no, the wines were unrelabelled.

An interesting animal in the museum

Not that long ago I wrote that the song Cicada that Ate Five Dock had popped into my head, but at the time I couldn't remember how and why. Now I recall (there's that memory thing again). Prior to visiting the Sydney motor show the other weekend, a mate and I went to spend a couple of fascinating hours at the Museum of Natural History and, of course, that's where I saw the cicada. So talk all you like about word association, and the differences that unite us all in our individual idiosyncrasies, but the first thing I thought on seeing the cicadas mounted on the board was that song by Outline. Eee Eee Ee Eee.

It makes perfect sense, nicht war?

An interesting animal I did something with or to

I've probably written a couple of times about the two Abyssinian kittens we had, both of whom succumbed to fatal meetings with cars on our busy street. They both brought immense joy into our lives, even for the brief time we had them. Here's the first, Baxter, preventing me from floating away while I scan the newspaper. Abbies like to get up high and Baxter was the expert. Often we'd be washing dishes at the sink and get the feeling we were being watched, and there would be a kitten on the fluorescent light fitting above us.

An interesting animal in its natural habitat

A...well you tell me what it is, a lorikeet? or whatever - do I look like an ornithologist? - in the garden of a place we stayed up at Mount Tambourine a couple of years ago. Very tranquil, cool, refreshing and obviously a source of the restorative feelings one gets in a natural environment. Mrs VVB was out taking the air and snapped this multicoloured birdicule. Some kind of parrot.

Here's another animal in its natural environment (ha ha).

Now the way it works is I have to tag someone. So I tags Pants, Anne O'Dyne and Armaniac. 'Cos I think we'll get three very individual responses. In the fullness of time.

23 October 2007

say my name

Via Ampersand Duck, here is the Peculiar Aristocratic Title for your humble author.

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Lord Phil the Sonorous of Kesslington under Ox
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

I'm a bit worried about this Reverend bit. As has become screamingly obvious, Chateau VVB (containing both Mr and Mrs) is not in favour of organised religions. The only religions I subscribe to are cat worship and fast cars. Isn't that enough?

However, there are plenty who'd agree with the Sonorous bit.

light my fire

A quick one. Mrs VVB and I just saw the 6.30 shock! horror! show (Today Tonight) which included a piece about the Catch the Fire Ministries holding some kind of service in Parliament House. There was waving and fainting and someone blowing some kind of horn and lots of people earnestly proclaiming that Australia needs to bow to Jesus and the particular God that they associate with Jesus. A theocracy, in other words.

How the fuck do our taxes go to making Parliament House available for any religious service, let alone this pack of extremists?

Even allowing for the shock! horror! element that characterises these programs, and that we don't have all the facts (what facts do we need, I wonder?) this is wrong on so many levels it defies description.

Who authorises this kind of thing? And who (cue sinister Twilight Zone type music) gives an implicit nod and wink? Given that Danny Nalliah has had private 'audiences' (presumably in reverse, at least based on how audiences with the Pope work) with the
"PM and Treasurer, but the Uniting Church can't get a look-in (read that somewhere the other day, can't find a reference now), what degree of influence is being peddled. In, as Howard is so fond of saying, "our name".

This, as Mrs VVB so perceptively pointed out, is extremely bad for Australia. She's always right, is Mrs VVB, but she's especially right on this.
Not in our name.

21 October 2007


I was at the car wash this morning. You know, I never thought I'd see the day when I would pay someone to wash my car. The old man must be revolving in his grave at the thought. But the introduction of really savage water restrictions coupled with, of course, a strong $1.1 trillion dollar economy of which I got my share man, I've been everywhere, I've been to stalagtite, sodomite, Corangamite....oh, sorry, I mean if I want the car to be clean, I have to pay someone to make it that way. And so, we end up at the car wash, which is staffed for the most part by a revolving band of scrofulous teenagers whom you'd no more likely let loose behind your steering wheel than invite in to meet your female relatives.

So today, there was a Bentley Continental GT getting the treatment. When they came to move it outside to chamois it down, I was looking for the owner. Surely he wouldn't let one of these young vandals actually move it? But no, the head girl (who'd been barking orders at all the others but who still seemed to be only about 18 and, for what it's worth, looked vaguely Sudanese), jumped in and confidently moved it around to the vacuuming bay.

And my god did it sound great.

And then, all of a sudden (just like in Enid Blyton books I would imagine), the owner materialised out of somewhere, maybe a wicker basket or a cocktail shaker, and started applying the final polishing touches with a fine cashmere rag. I kid you not.

Then, he tries to open the boot. It obviously has an electrically-controlled mechanism for opening it, but he presses the button and - nothing. He presses again, similar result. A third time. He looks around and I silently go "yeah baby! schadenfreude!" and he leans against the boot like he's just pretending to stretch. Nothing! So he has to go into the cabin to press the inside button.

Schadenfreude is a despicable notion but by golly it feels good in the moment.

Anyway, what a car. Just have a gander at this red beauty. Wouldn't you look pretty damn flash taking one of these to Woolies for the weekend shopping?

Anyway, it's the same today with Jeremy Clarkson who has had a Jaguar revival and reckons it feels good. The man certainly has a way with words, such as
I sometimes think that if you stole a Lexus, you’d be able to drive it around for a year or two before the owner remembered that he had one, and that it was missing.

The reference to Thia teenagers is way off, though, no wonder he attracts the attention of the half of the world who don't think like him.

This afternoon we had music at the Powerhouse, for now we have visions of Bentleys.

Tonight we have debate. I think we'll be watching Idol. Yes really. I couldn't take the cringe factor of the young pretender and the old foxrodent. It'll be yuckworthy to the max.

19 October 2007

dancing in the dark

I think I've stumbled on to the reason that Howard instigated the nonstop campaign earlier this year/decade/century, or possibly even last century. It means that by the time the 'official' campaign started, we'd all be so bored by politics that we'd switch off and vote for him just to make it stop. Because even if we voted the other lot in, you could bet he'd still be there, popping up in advertisements, at any sporting contest, funerals, anything that didn't really need a comment from him, reminding us that we should have voted for him.

Nefarious, no?

Fortunately , the inventive Fairfax Press have brought you

Anyway, Chateau VVB doesn't have cable TV so at least we'll be spared the frightful debate we had to have on Sunday.

Something I've banged on about a few times is the marketisation of everyday life. My favourite example is the white pages online, which has 'business' rather than 'residential' as the default setting. There may well be a legitimate reason - maybe the research showed that everybody had their most commonly dialled residential numbers programmed into their home phones and mobiles and the next most frequent usage was for business numbers. Maybe all elements of life have been outsourced so that even calling your sister-in-law (for example, not mine...) becomes a business transaction.

Whatever, it's a pain. And people are slowly waking up to the realities of gloabalisation, what unrelenting competition means to daily lives. So we are increasingly hearing "I live in a society, not an economy."

Jobs and wages have always been a central figure of budgets, along with what we used to get ("beer up, cigs up"). But current ads referring to "Australia's $1.1 trillion economy" actually sound pretty bizarre. Gee, that's a big number, isn't it? I feel proud about our $1.1 trillion economy.

"How big was the economy when you were a boy, grandad?"
"Oh, back then we just paid more for beer and cigs."
"What's a cig, grandad?"

Except I was at a lunchtime talk by the Chief Scientist, Jim Peacock, who quoted the amount that the US government is devoting to stimulating research and development in that country. I'm sure I heard $43 billion. Peacock then went on to list the depressingly familiar list of things that Australia ought to do to improve productivity. Invest in education, infrastructure, innovation. It must be galling to have to trot out the same stuff over and over again, especially to an audience of true believers (regardless of political persuasion, I mean, not light on the hill types but just people who understand that there is a genuine role for government in doing these things). Finland does it, Peacock told us. Even the Productivity Commission, whose main purpose in life is to do the Treasurer's job for him by coming up with any suitable argument against government intervention, was conditionally supportive of more investment in these areas.

Anyway, the economy probably became central in our lives around the same time that we started becoming Human Resources. Insidious, isn't it?

Look, I'm sorry if this little rant is just a rehash. The main problem is that the interesting stuff that I run across to comment on usually happens in the morning and by the time I get to blogging time, it's gone.

So, I could have sworn I saw something interesting in the paper this morning, but evidently not. I did, however, run across
this, which I found highly reassuring. You can never have too much social coffee.

Finally, a little Springsteen cover love for youse.

18 October 2007

throwing copper

In lieu of blubbering about election related things or ranting about the gross inequities that John Howard has perpetrated upon our fair country*, allow me to post a deeply offensive rascist joke that I got today.

A London lawyer runs a stop sign and gets pulled over by a Glasgow copper. He thinks that he is smarter than the cop because he is a lawyer from London and is certain that he has a better education then any Jock cop. He decides to prove this to himself and have some fun at the Glasgow cop's expense.

Glasgow cop says," Licence and registration, please."
London Lawyer says, "What for?"
Glasgow cop says, "Ye didnae come to a complete stop at the stop sign."
London Lawyer says, "I slowed down, and no one was coming."
Glasgow cop says, "Ye still didnae come to a complete stop. Licence and registration, please."
London Lawyer says, "What's the difference?"
Glasgow cop says, "The difference is, ye huvte to come to complete stop, that's the law, Licence and registration, please!"
London Lawyer says, "If you can show me the legal difference between slow down and stop, I'll give you my licence and registration; and you give me the ticket. If not, you let me go and don't give me the ticket."

Glasgow cop says, "Sounds fair. Exit your vehicle, sir."
The London Lawyer exits his vehicle. The Glasgow cop takes out his baton and starts beating the cr*p out of the lawyer and says, "Dae ye want me to stop, or just slow down?"

*Why should I do it when others do it so much better?

17 October 2007

any old iron

Irony, actually.

Out walking at lunchtime I saw a business's utility truck being attended to by the RACQ - a new battery, perhaps. The name of the company? Programmed Maintenance Services.

Caveat emptor, I would advise.

paperback writer

With the latter day rise of the blogosphere and other various new age variants on the broadcasting if not sharing of the news, the spotlight has fallen on the quality of the mainstream media. In p0articular, and this was a discussion I had with offspring no 2 only last night, any notion of investigative journalism seems to have died, possibly with the Y2K bug if not the end of the Cold War.

As for analysis, it's not so much a cesspit as a vacuum. For every Akerman there's an Adams (well, not exactly, the right is everywhere on the opinion pages) but there are few opinion columns you'd read without knowing, in pretty fair detail, what it was going to say. As a case in point, let's look at Joshua Frydenburg today. It's not so much the tilt of his column that's annoying as the lazy dot-point interpretations he puts on his 'facts'. The link is
here but if you have a sensitive stomach, don't bother visiting, simply understand that it's all about how Peter Costello will make a wonderful PM - at the appointed time, of course.

Costello is the undisputed architect of Australia's $1 trillion economy, having
overseen its growth by more than 50 per cent since 1996. In that period he has
safely steered Australia through challenging times, including the Asian economic
crisis, the dot-com boom and bust, the post-September 11 fallout and, most
recently, an extended devastating drought.

So, what exactly did he do to "safely steer" us through the challenging times. What were the policy levers (so beloved of Keating, of course) that he pulled? '

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has praised
Australia's commitment to structural reform as "a model for other OECD countries"; leading economist Paul Krugman labelled Australia the "miracle economy"; and most recently America's distinguished former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, referred to Costello in his memoirs as someone who is "unusually perceptive on global issues".
So, we're cleaving to the TINA/Washington Consensus approach, then. What a surprise that turned out to be, have to rustlethrough a lot of rubbish bins to find that out? Yes, we adhere to the OECD model, more than other countries, and come what may. That, to my mind, makes us seem rather inflexible.

And, once Costello has been unusually perceptive, what precisely does he do with his perceptions?

Indeed, should Labor continue to focus on Costello's ascension to the leadership, it will offer the Government an important opportunity to showcase the Treasurer's breadth of experience and expertise beyond economic matters. Having previously referred to himself as a "Burkean-type liberal", Costello has made the primacy of the individual the centrepiece of his political thinking.

From the time of his maiden speech to Parliament in 1990, he has emphasised the subservience of government to the citizen, warned against the danger of ideology and made it clear that his allegiance is to the individual over monopoly control.

Anyone accusing the other side of being more ideological than the current band of Libs in Cabinet should take a long hard second look at the words and deeds. Ideology writ large, none more so than on IR.

Like Howard, Costello has also shown a willingness to take the hard decisions to
advance the national interest, irrespective of their popularity. Witness his commitment to the GST, industrial relations reform and the strict fiscal discipline required to bring the budget back to surplus.
He has an ideology that he finds easy to maintain is more likely the interpretation. How about comparing this list (and actually, he's never been the minister for employment so whatever his view on IR, the "plaudits" should go elsewhere, if we were being honest) to the major decisions of the Hawke and Keating governments. In fact if you plot the rise in GDP over time you'll see that floating the dollar in 1983 has had the single biggest impact on economic growth (at it did last time I looked a year or so ago).

So too on the international stage, Costello has completed more than a
traditional apprenticeship. As a proponent of Australia's engagement with Asia
and a longstanding advocate of our alliance with the US, he has been a regular
visitor abroad.

So he's a bit ahead than George Bush was, then, on travel before assuming office. Not a strong argument, one would have thought. All those APEC Ministers meetings.

But it was at last November's G20 meeting in Melbourne that Costello assumed a pivotal role. His chairmanship of this international gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors from economies representing two-thirds of the world's population was the scene of some substantive discussions on the pressing issues of energy security, aid and debt relief, and demographic change.
And the substantive discussions resulted in what, exactly? Doesn't the chair normally sum up the arguments and gain agreement on actions? What were the actions?

Top piece of non-analysis, Joshua. Why didn't you save yourself the 30 minutes and just post the media release?

15 October 2007

cicada that ate five dock

That song, linked on youtube here, has nothing to do with today's post but somehow while in Sydney I was reminded of it, and hence the link to make your day. I always reckoned it was magic, it's still good.

Today two pieces of campaign material oozed into the letterbox. Kevin07 has a "plan" for "Australia's Future", possibly to follow the pointless trend to capitalising all Nouns until we could almost be Germans. A Trend which, if continued, will Surely Result in an even More insidious Attack of our traditional Grasp of Grammar.

Kevin07's pamphlet is a single folded A4 sheet which is the colour of (badly) recycled paper but makes no claims to be so. It just looks Cheap. It doesn't say Much and it repeats that he has a Plan three times. The local candidate, Ross Daniels, gets 1/6th of the pamphlet. We're going to maintain our national security, possibly by keeping the Iranians out of the Leafy Western Suburbs. It's deeply unimpressive.

Michael Johnson's pamphlet is multicoloured in blue and green hues, not traditional Liberal colours I would have thought, but that's because it's all about how only the Howard Government can "responsibly manage the challenges of climate change while protecting Australia's economy and protecting local jobs." That'll be all the Jim's Mowing franchises, I imagine, because everybody else works in town or at the Univeristy of Queensland.

In a first for any Michael Johnson promotional material, no photos appear of Michael with the PM, although Howard does get a quote and his signature reproduced. The rest of it is about what you can do about climate change. Ask not what your country can do for you, indeed.

So first round points to Michael, I guess.

And the national campaign? Tax breaks? Looks like any investment in any class of infrastructure is off the agenda for another few years.

14 October 2007

back in the ussr

Well we're back safe 'n sound. The forecast hangovers indeed eventuated, particularly after 8 schooies of Reschs at the Fortune O'War.

But we had two fabulous breakfasts at one of the many coffee shops on King Street, Newtown and last night the three amigos also had a top fang at a Chinese place in Chinatown. Salt and pepper prawns, yeah baby. And a crispy skin chicken that was also superb.

I have thirty zillion photos of the motor show with which I won't bore you, except this one because of all the loverly things that were there, this Maserati Qauttroporte was without doubt the prettiest.

So while we were away the PM called the election and tonight we have an advertisement that has Rudd ands Swan with L-plates and Julia Gillard as the plaything of the union bosses and she's never had a proper job.

It's going to be a long 6 weeks, fortunately I have lots of work to distract me.

Finally, having spent several hours at the airport this arvo, a comment on the announcements they make. "Unsullied Airways is making an urgent call for Balderstone Longbottom, a passenger on our wonderful flight to Oodnagalarbie. Our flight is fully boarded and we are awaiting your immediate arrival for its departure."

So, if Mr Longbottom is not on the plane, it isn't really fully boarded, is it? And we await your arrival for our departure. Yeah, we know what you mean but your construction could be more felicitous, could it not?

09 October 2007

son of a preacher man

We have to admit to kind of, you know, like, sort of bogan tastes here at chateau VVB, particularly in relation to TV. Although well out of the target demographic by virtue of our advancing ages, Mrs VVB and I are constant Ch 10 watchers so there's a fair bit of Australian Idol watched.

Apologies to those who'd picked us as ABC TV and Radio National types. And SBS, although SBS is just another mainstream TV channel nowadays.

Anyway we got mightily excited about the accusations that Australian Idol was in the pocket of the Hillsong crew. Not just voting, we mean in the pocket.

Well after the token efforts on Sunday and Monday at "addressing" (really?) the issue on the show, we immediately came to the conclusion that yes, the show is in the pocket.

What this means is another thing. There's a fair bit of angst around about the increasing influence of religion, particularly the more 'fundamentalist' type of religion, on public life. In reality, any influence on a bogan TV show shouldn't be of concern. But in any contest for hearts and minds, any hill you take is hard won ground and accordingly Mrs VVB and I are less than happy should the religiously obsessive be getting their sticky fingers in where they ain't needed.

Gospel is fine - in fact, I luurrve gospel. Subliminal conditioning - nup. Proselytising - definitely not. Overreaction? Maybe. But chateau VVB is trying desperately to see all sides whenever we're looking at anything apparently monolateral. Is that a word? Who knows? I certainly don't mean unilateral, I think. Have we lost the plot? Yup, again.

Anyway, we're - actually I'm - off to Sydney for the motor show and annual boys' weekend away this weekend. Annoyingly, I have a work thing on Friday morning (which I could have sworn was originally on Wednesday) to show up at first, before a mad dash to the airport.

This is of course just an excuse for one beer too many in a decreasingly convincing attempt to kid ourselves that the three of us are still 20. The following morning/s will be the test, and I can guarantee we will be found wanting, if not utterly dehydrated.

Still, the aim is to be
here at 5pm on Friday for the first of a refreshingly lumpy Reschs, served damn cold. After that, it will be all downhill.

Also, how much bloody advertising are we going to get once the election campaign actually starts? If Kevin07 tells me one more time that he's an economic conservative, the TV will not be safe. There will be more than swearing. As for the other bloke - eeeugh. You know it.

08 October 2007


I have alluded in the past to an increasing habit of shouting at the television whenever certain heads appear and/or certain whiny, hectoring voices seep from the speakers and insinuate themselves into your brain..."born to rule, born to rule, listen to me, we were born to rule."

Anyway this insidious habit has really got a hold on me (hmm, there's a great line for a song..) and so I find myself doing it without thinking.

Or, to be more accurate, Mrs VVB finds me doing and reminds me of how much it annoys her. Which is a lot, a real big lot.

So, Sunday, there we are watching the leadup to the Great Race (tm used to be Ch10, now tm Ch7) and bugger me dead, there's Mark fucking Vaile and Brendan fucking Nelson! Where on earth did they come from? Can I recall a pollie ever being at Bathurst before? Well, they may well have been (don't think it was Keating though, your average Louis XIV clock can't measure thousandths of a second) but I certainly can't recall any.

So, of course, I started 'commenting'. Without listening to whatever rubbish they were spouting. So Mrs VVB starts at me. Not without provocation, I have to admit. So I turn the sound off (both me and the TV).

Thrilling end to the race, but.

Anyway I keep checking the ABC news online for details of the governing that the PM claims he is still doing, but all I find are references to pissing money up against the nearest (marginal) wall.

This is not governing.

It's not much of a blogpost either, but I checked the stats the other day - not something I do all that regularly - and it seems about 20 deluded souls pass this way every day. If it's the same souls, they are indeed deluded.

Nonetheless, I feel some sort of obligation to give youse something to read and, today, this has been your
bloomin' lot.

Not quite. Here's another Burma story from today's SMH. What you have to realise is that the 'authorities' - the junta, the State Peace and Development Council - do this sort of stuff every day and have been since 1988 (yes, when they were the State Law and Order Restoration Council).

07 October 2007

more on Burma

This report from the Guardian rings very true. How do you like the junta's description of "systematic control"?

It is very hard for people in free country such as Australia to actually comprehend what it feels like to live under total repression, where the army is used to subdue the populace, not guard against external threats. Secret police are the same everywhere they exist, of course.

Anyway it's comforting that, despite the junta's continuing effort s to shut down scrutiny, that Burma remains on the world's agenda. It's the least we can do.

05 October 2007

mountains of Burma

There was a small rally for Burma today at Queens Park in Brisbane. Not checking the the PA equipment was working was a bit of a mistake - most of the speakers were inaudible above the 100 odd people there.

I said g'day to Senator Andrew Bartlett and would agree with his assessment that direct action is problematic but showing support is simple and utterly necessary.

I'd taken a photo album of some of our time in Rangoon to work and people are very interested to see what the place looks like. Unfortunately the photos don't show things like your phone being (extremely obviously) tapped, the 'secret' police hanging around suburban corners and so on.

But this issue can't be allowed to slide under the carpet under the
State Peace and Development Council's intranisgence and game-playing. Even Lee Kuan Yew (Senior Mentor? I love it, there's a role for Gough!) thinks the situation remains untenable over the longer term.

04 October 2007

strange days indeed

Weird, man.

Found via Stereogum.

blogday for Burma

Late in the day, but nonetheless:

Free Burma!

western union man

Offspring no 2 and I were going into town today and outside the Brisbane City Council's colourful new offices we saw one of their vehicles, adorned euphemistically with the explanation "Business Logistics Solutions."

We looked through the rear window at what was inside, summed up the driver and translated this as "delivery man".

They should have put the word 'strategic' in the title.

We got a different delivery in the postbox - Michael Johnson and John Howard: A Strong Team For Ryan.

The election must have been called.

Mr Johnson says we must invest for "safer roads, cracking down on local crime and improved education standards", the PM says we can only do this in strong economic times 'cos there'll be none of the Keynesian counter-cyclical nonsense around here, thank you very much.

03 October 2007

real life

The Olympics Blogger left a comment a couple of postsd ago saying s/he doesn't support boycotting the Olympics. I tried to leave a comment but got a rejection message and as I don't comment at blogs that require registration, f.w.i.w. my rebuttal ran along these lines:
- the Burmese people chose a popular government in 1990 but the military refused to acknowledge the result, put the legitimate winner under house arrest in 1990 and continued to rule. So an argument that the Burmese have the government they're happy with is egregiously untenable.
- The military has continued to rule by force and repression, which does not permit armed or unarmed resistance without intolerable consequences (as was also proved in 1988).
- Yes it would be preferable that the Olympics not be politicised, except that understanding was abrogated in 1936 and in 1980.
- The Burmese military can only be induced to change - or something similar - at one degree of separation, in this case through putting pressure on China.

Interestingly, I had lunch today with a long time friend who had visited Burma earlier this year. He pointed out, quite rightly, that even if Aung San Suu Kyi was released and some accommodation with the junta was found, she is of an age that is a generation now stepping down, yet she is without experience in government. Burma needs a new generation of leaders, but no identifiable leader has emerged because of the faith still put in AASK.

He had been impressed by the hospitality of the Burmese people (true) but also the amount of economic freedom (ie small business) allowed.

I'm still sceptical as you have to live there to appreciate the extent and pervasiveness of political control through the 'secret' police, who are everywhere.

..at this stage there was a short break while I watched
Spicks and Specks with Lloyd Cole set up to sink a putt against a lookalike Alice Cooper, complete with rubber chicken in his mouth - it seems that Lloyd has the same golf handicap as Cooper...

meanwhile back in the real world...

and in the other real world with which we are more familair, some questions arise about the Government's hospitals plan...

...while some people have simple, neat answers.

Unfortunately, they're not alone:

Market method only way to fix problems in health

It has been appalling to see recent news items showing people suffering and dying in hospital waiting rooms, in hospital toilets, and in waiting ambulances. Doctors threatening to resign and some very sick people even advised to go home.
Every politician from former Queensland premier Peter Beattie to Federal Health Minister Tony Abbot and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd have said they will fix the hospital system.

The administrative problems from which people suffer can never be fixed
while medical care and hospitals are run by the bureaucracy. Senior officials have admitted this. There are only two ways of rationing economic goods: By competitive price the market method. By queues the socialist method. In the socialist method, the queues will get so long and the service so poor that the value of the "service" falls to its direct cost to the recipient zero.

The real cost, to the suffering taxpayer, will keep rising forever. When
and where permitted to do so by the state, the market system produces all items.
Entrepreneurs emerge and supply the market with what it wants at competitive
prices, whether it be health services, water supply, educational facilities,
welfare services or any other good.
Ronald Kitching, Frenchville, Qld

This bloke needs to learn about why the private sector won't supply goods and services from it can't exact a commercial return - known as spillover effects. The poor can't afford health care at any price, that's why we pay taxes to ensure an equitable availability of such goods and services. If we want the law of the jungle, let's make it obvious and have a referenddum question rather than an election.

They should also remember that answers that are simple and neat are usually bracketed with 'wrong'.

02 October 2007

free four

(1) The situation in Burma remains...what, exactly? It's still getting some media attention, there is plenty of talk of boycotting companies with links to Burma and also the Beijing Olympics, this last being the only currently identifiable way of putting pressure on Burma's main support. India's interests and the role it is playing remain a bit murkier.

Recent news of
widespread murders of protesting monks isn't surprising. Anyone with any understanding of the military junta in Burma would know that such a massive reaction is entirely consistent with how they 'govern'.

Collective action will be needed to keep the spotlight on Burma - if news and, most importantly, pictures and video dry up, it'll be harder to maintain the level of scrutiny- even if the junta is resistant.

The Guardian runs a
write-in competition to have people nominate a President of the World. Read the responses: by turns hilarious and depressing. Being the Guardian you get the usual far-left favourites (Hugo Chavez, but also Nelson Mandela who at least meets most criteria you could think of), then there's the people who try to take it seriously and say why it's such a bad idea which segues neatly into the usual pro and anti America rants after some American says they'll be ruled by outsiders over their cold, dead body. But the stupid suggestions are the best. My favourites? "My landlord's dog." "Daffy Duck. " "Pinocchio." "John Lydon."

Some blooper jokes just to cheer you up.

These sentences (with all the bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

  • The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
  • The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."
  • Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
  • Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
  • Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
  • Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  • A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
  • At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  • Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
  • The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
  • Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
  • The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
  • This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in t he park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
  • Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
  • The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
  • Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
  • The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  • Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
  • The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."


A new Howard Government ad on the teev tonight, all about the evils of marijuana. They're onto something here, but I reckon you actually need a couple of decent spliffs to stomach the other ads, particularly the two extraordinarily well-informed blokes in the pub who are such happy beneficiaries of SerfChoices. Bartender, another number please.

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