31 January 2008

human league

I like listening to radio when you hear someone mention "the human condition." It's a sure sign you're tuned to Radio National. A process check, if you like.

Anyway we got that this morning en route from the mildly poo-infested suburbs of Rocky to the stridently industrial surrounds of beautiful downtown Gladstone. I was glad to be tuned to the graceful cadences of Ramona Koval, which were very much in sync with the small undulations of that piece of road, sitting on a very steady 100 kph, the song of the mighty Toyota Camry motor wheezing in the background. It was an interview with some US writer whose name escapes me, but the book is called Pontoon and if you Amazon (there's a nice neologism for you) I'm sure you'll find it.

Like all the very earnest people whose graceful tones emanate from Radio Communism, Ramona was at pains to elicit some discussion on the human condition and with a cooperative subject, whose name still escapes me, it was actually a nice piece of work. Death, angels, fundamentalism, people's hidden lives and the pretences or faces that we show to the world.

In fact it formed a useful framework in which I could digest my experience yesterday, which was a last minute dash to Emerald to (allegedly) help out with our organisation's efforts there. I haven't been exposed to people who have been through disaster and its associated trauma before, and this was a real eye-opener.

The situation of the small claims holders, the miners who live out in the gem fields around Anakie and so on, was quite dire but their reactions even more pronounced, for these are people to whom their house literally is their castle, because their mining lease is their livving and their life. So to lose everything and have to contemplate strangers on your territory is anathema, leading to some very strong emotions.

What mainly got me thinking - and it was evident that to people who do or experience this sort of thing more regularly it wasn't a surprise - was how country people react. How people who are by nature very independent, resourceful and proud, cope with needing assistance.

Which in turn got me thinking about how the west - sorry, the bush - got settled, for want of a better term, in the first place. I never did history as a separate subject in high school, only did Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson and the Human Hovell in primary school. Names, dates, routes. No causes, reasons, analysis or stories attached that I can recall. And nothing about the settlers.

Without any sort of knowledge from which to work, then, I guess I simply left it as an open question - what were the factors, the things that drove establishment of settlements, towns and villages. Gold, sheep, and so on with railways as an early link and forming the critical mass - sorry about that - in certain places where routes intersected.

And somehow out of all that we got some sense of Australianness, a country of country dwellers who react in certain ways, hold certain things dear and so on. So when a (probably) typical urban blight like looting hits a place like Emerald, it hits deeper and the reaction is stronger, more vehement. Wouldn't like to be those families, eh?

So with Ramona and whatisname prattling in the background, the hills sliding by, I thought about this great brown land of ours and the people in it. I didn't come to any blinding insights as you probably guessed about 3 paragraphs ago or, in the case of regular readers of this blog, at about the second line of my first posting.

Doesn't matter, mate. We all just need, I think, to occasionally sit back in the fabulously proportioned armchairs of a Toyota Camry, a packet of Minties (how come some Minties are nice and hard and other packets are all gooey? whatever happened to quality control?) on the passenger's seat, the road rolling underneath our wheels, and think about Australia.

You bloody beauty.

So up the old red rooster and sink more piss.

No idea where that came from.

As if.

Back to work, then.

27 January 2008

charlie big potato

Via here, we discover that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato. Yes folks, it's the United Nations again, off on another zany escapade with your money.

I am sure that all our lives are enriched immeasurably by this fact. And, as I was discussing with someone only a few days ago, if Pauline Hanson had better understood the insane lengths that the UN goes to in pursuit of pointlessly wasting other people's money, her invective would have been off the scale. Anyone who'd ever feared the UN as the stalking horse for 'one world government' evidently hasn't ventured far into the labyrinthine weirdness that characterises much of the UN outside of the Security Council. In fact regardless of the Security Council's stunning powerlessness, the rest of the UN is likely to make you feel quite insecure.

For example, the FAO. It's on the job, vis-a-vis all thing potato.

Here's the official
website of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, one of the specialised agencies of the UN and indeed it is chocka with facts you never knew about potatoes. Strangely, there is no Irish language version of the site, although they are working on a Russian version. That in itself is pretty spooky, yes?

The international year of the potato appears to have commenced in 2007 (and at least it was in Idaho where potatoes can be picked from the ground with sour cream and chives already in place) and does not conclude until 22-25 March 2009 at the
7th World Potato Congress in Christchurch, New Zullund.

Quite apart from raising the perfectly reasonable question of how you can fill in three days talking about potatoes - oh I forgot, it is in New Zealand, say no more - it is also another perfect demonstration of the UN's incompetence. Because it's not a year, is it? It's more than a year. Quite a bit more, really.

Anyway, for those of you with even more time on your hands than me, here's
more about potatoes. "Breaking News! President Parker (hmm... not Spiderman, surely? is he moonlighting for the International Potato Conspiracy?) announced the Congress in Christchurch."

Book my tickets, Miss Jones, I feel the need to get
Up-To-Date with Nicola Nooksack.

Fo' shizzle.

26 January 2008

Courtesy of the ever-reliable Geoff Pryor at the Canberra Times - Canberra being a picturesque public servant farm just outside of Goulburn - there is a picture-worth-a-thousand-words explanation about how international investment works.


24 January 2008

mondo rock

Actually, in this case Mondeo Rocks.

I was in the supermarket carpark yesterday when one of the new Ford Mondeos pulled in. Must say, they are very pretty piece of kit - nicely proportioned and all.

The bloke gets out and I ask him what he thinks of it. He's wearing a t-shirt with a company logo on it, it didn't register with me - not a logo I knew.

He says it's a bloody great car, etc etc, then reveals that he's a salesman at a Ford dealership. I then notice that the logo on the shirt matches one on the car.

Then he gets excited - a prospective sale! - and goes into full-on salesman mode.

I can confirm that the Mondeo does indeed have astonishing boot capacity.

OK then.

Outside my window, the Fitzroy is flowing faster and faster.

If I wasn't going home to celebrate Australia Day in the traditional way - by inviting friends around for a lamb chop and a beer or 27 - I'd be perfectly happy to sit on the balcony here and watch the river rise. Like watching paint dry, but quicker.

22 January 2008

rock and roll

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled...

As 7.30 Report reminded us tonight, it's been a long time since Led Zeppelin performed at Sydney Showground in 1972. They interviewed all sorts of people who were there, who all agreed that it was most special, the high point of Led Zep's career, the high point of their lives, nirvana in a bottle (to mix a few musical metaphors). Only a select few were there and they remember.

I remember. I was there. I was there with a young lady whose acquaintance I had made some months earlier at wonderful Jewish wedding of friends of the family.

I should point out at this juncture that this was some years before the young lady now referred to as Mrs VVB appeared on the scene.

To be frank, folks, I stuffed it up big time. We were in the stands, the band started (Immigrant Song), thousands rushed onto the ground. I was too scared because I thought we'd get arrested. Even after several hours I hadn't moved. Talk about strait-laced, incapable of any lateral thought or even...I don't know what.

It was the end of a beautiful friendship before it began.

I heard later she'd run away from home and was living at Byron or somewhere with several/several dozen/several dozen families of hippies (mother was always prone to exaggeration when it came to behaviour unbecoming).

The sound in the stands was appalling and we were several miles from the stage so we couldn't see anything. My could-have-been friend must have been utterly desolate - I'm surprised she didn't just go off and join the crowd.

I do have some good photos somewhere, as I had a 300mm lens on the old Spotmatic.

Regrets, I've had a few...

And this was one of them, it sounded like it must have been a great concert.


Here at pied a terre VVB we are full of sorrow, because we watched Anthony Albanese demonstrate his early familiarity with the dark arts of being interviewed by sticking stupidly to a stupid set of talking points, ritually ignoring the intent of each question. I’ve got a wind-up toy from about 1955, a monkey that bounces on its backside and claps a pair of cymbals: it gives a more convincing performance.

Full marks to the bimbette who gave him a free ride. I Iike to see that my 8 cents a day buys a Labor-compliant ABC, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, yes?

It would have been nice, albeit quite hopeless, to expect that the new government might conduct itself in different ways.

But no, we have 5 point plans, highly structured regional listening tours and all the other hallmarks of the Blair which? Project, now in its terminal decline phase back in old Blighty. So of course we now have 5 years of the same here.

Oh well, at least they’re better than the alternative. By the way, it’d be fascinating to see the feedback forms from attendees at those conferences where our revered former (former! yes! he’s gone!) PM is a keynote speaker on globalisation and leadership. Yes, two issues that he studiously avoided in both word and deed for all 11 years of his dictatorship. Would you feel dudded once you’ve had 30, or 45, or 3,250 million minutes of that piercing whinge insinuating your brain?

I know I would. You know, I think I miss him…

No, not really. Gotcha.

Meanwhile there was the entertainment of Top Gear last night, the first half of which I missed because I was out throwing up over the balcony as a result of Minister Albanese’s polished efforts. Anyway, part of tonight’s show was a three way contest between the Mazda RX8, the Audi TT (2 litre version) and the Alfa Brera, each supported in the usual highly structured fashion by one of the team of Jeremy, Hammond and James May. The track test was undertaken by the Stig and as the Audi (Jeremy’s pick) eased off the start line, Hammond called out ““there he goes, off to the hairdresser.”

And the celebrity track star was Hugh Grant who told an absorbing story about how his testicles got sore in a Bentley Continental GT he once owned. It’s amazing what you can get away with on prime time TV nowadays.

19 January 2008

my chemical romance

It must be the drugs that brought on this vision (thanks Geoff Pryor, yet again).


me and my shadow

It's a bit rich for an obscure indie blogger with no economic cred to say "I told you so", but there was a little schadenfreude in the air as I read Denis Atkins' column in today's Courier-Mail. Atkins surveyed the unveiling trail of wreckage the sub-prime crisis is creating. Two of his points really struck me:

1) "It is the hidden black holes that analysts fear most." Well, der, as they say. My point exactly. This is precisely what deregulation facilitates (that's bureaucratese for "makes happen.") Human ingenuity, which of course reaches its apogee in the financial sector - with a little help from the legal fraternity - will find ways to profit from any regulated environment. So, when you deregulate in the expectation that money will find its highest and best use, don't be surprised when all sorts of arcane practices become the norm, and no-one outside the immediate players can figure out what's gone on. And they ain't telling.

2) But what I really liked was the example given of how a couple of the mega-investment houses, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, had their credit-worthiness down graded from AAA to CCC, as rated by Standard and Poors and Moodys.

Somewhere many posts ago, I seem to remember that I ranted about these so-called independent rating agencies. How could their analysis have been so far off the mark that they downgrade such impeccable companies overnight? Are they so incompetent?

Of course not. They are not independent. They are as independent as those other egregious examples of the untrammelled benefits of extreme wealth, the remuneration consultants. You'll never find one of these firms recommending a lower salary, and you won't find a ratings agency downgrading a client.

These are the arrangements, the systems of governance, that will have to be unwound before any sense of fairness, of decency, can start to inform our economic system. You may well argue that economic systems are not meant to deliver either fairness or decency and you may be right. But if so, there will be costs and eventually they won't be pretty. A little regulation may, unlike knowledge, actually be a good thing.

Anyway, economic growth has its benefits which were demonstrated today when I spent a little time in downtown Rocky while out doing the grocery shopping. One, there are several good coffee places. There are a couple of good antiques shops. And a magic music shop (Green Bros) where I picked up a capo for the Aria. They are indeed brothers - well they all look awfully alike) and a couple of them were knocking out some mighty fine jazz standards on piano and trumpet. This is living!

17 January 2008

the music goes round and round

Two or so decades of liberalisation and deregulation at national and international levels created the environment for ever more complex financing models, derivatives, hedge funds and the several thousand others that I can't name.

So when, eventually, something goes a little pear-shaped, or a lot, no-one really knows how to fix it because it's a complex, living system beyond rational comprehension.

Anyway, I know bugger-all about it so that's how it appears to me.

For once I'll forgo the soapbox, but surely there would be some value in a little backroom/skunk works effort between consenting countries to start to get some governance in place that is obvious to the partially interested bystander, rather than what I imagine happens now, which is taxpayer-funded jaunts to tax havens (sorry, international financing centres) to discuss not much at all.

There's an awful lot of short term profits being made and there is presumably a measure of economic/industry activity, both public and private, that gets done purely because these arcane financial instruments exist.

You've got banks or non-bank lenders in the US making home loans to people who blind freddy can see will never be able to repay, even as the value of their homes goes into freefall. Then try to imagine what's going on in the commercial rather than domestic lending market, where the complexity is exponentially greater, not to mention the actual sums at stake.

So who pays the piper? Not to mention the ferryman?

14 January 2008

on the road again

Great episode of Top gear tonight, the return of the Hamster. I was most taken with the motivational speeches.

And because Mrs VVB hates Jaguars with an entirely unreasonable passion, she agreed with my assessment that when the Lotto comes in, we'll be getting an Aston Martin DB7 Vantage. Oh yes.

And they're casting for a team to host an Australian Top Gear franchise.

How about three blokes in their fifties who talk loudly in restaurants about cars, to the extent that someone at the next table comes over to ask them questions about the Australian motor industry? One of them can drive, one knows what he's talking about and the other is the token village idiot. Well, Kim and Derf, what about it?

what a feeling (flashdance)

What a feeling (flash!dance!)

Post title comes because we will shortly be talking about Toyotas.

Before then, though, a quick update. We’re back safely ensconced in pied a terre VVB (although being on the fifth floor it’s not really a terre I suppose). For a while the ‘safely’ aspect was in a little doubt as we came back into Rocky through a storm including a quite severe storm cell. Because the plane’s relatively small - a Dash 8 400 series, twin turboprop) - you tend to get thrown about quite a bit.

There was an awful lot of the sound of breaths being sucked in and a few screams trying to get out – it really was quite a savage little ride as you try to estimate how many metres the plane is being bucked up and thrown down in a short space of time. And while you wonder what stresses the plane is capable of withstanding, there’s not much you can do about it. I’ve seen what remains of passengers after a plane has had an unscheduled encounter with terra firma: you’re not going to walk away so you may as well close your eyes and trust in pilot training and technology. It does concentrate the mind wonderfully, though.

It took a day to get back into the swing of work: still being relatively new in the job, I’d forgotten what I was meant to be doing. Ha ha, sort of. But by week’s end we were right back in the swing and the high quality suburban infrastructure of the lovely southern highlands was but a distant memory.

The new job brings a few new management challenges with it which have been a character-building exercise to overcome, or perhaps duck around, much the way the pilot ducked around the rest of the worst of the storm after we’d been through the savage cell.

And this week for some unfathomable reason the new job also brought a new car, I’ve somehow swapped the Falcon, which was uniformly awful, for a Toyota Camry Grande. Yes folks, that’s Grande with an ‘e,’ which makes it grander than grand.

It’s a bloody barge to drive, you can’t see where the bonnet and boot end and although it has every bell and whistle known to man and car designer, it doesn’t have the one thing I’d really like, which is park assist, which in a proper English-speaking world would have been known as parking assistance, in other words the machine that goes beep beep beep when you’re about to reverse into something.

But was it does have – along with a sunroof (yeah! got one again at last!) rain-sensitive wipers and sat nav – is an extremely comfortable seat and excellent seating position. And that to my mind is something that Toyota has done very well for quite a while. Even my old AE86 (ie 1988 model) Corolla had a comfy seat, albeit without electric positioning, lumbar support and (oh yes) leather.

But the Camry has a steering column adjustable for both height and reach which means you can get the seating position exactly right for legs and arms. I like the steering wheel to be down low and I’ve gradually grown out of the straight-arm steering position, which is tiring on the arms and physically unsound because you can’t get maximum leverage, so it’s great to be able to get the wheel close enough while still being able to stretch the legs. But I have to say that the Grande is quite a nice place to be provided you’re not too particular about knowing which direction the front wheels are pointed. Good lord, what am I saying? A Toyota? I must be going soft in the head. Please ignore this post.

I wasn’t going to write about the US elections and then, as if by some sort of telepathy, a friend sent me a very funny, rather obvious but savagely cruel joke about Republicans. Which I won’t reproduce here ‘cos I said I wasn’t going to write about it.

So, what else? I was reading Kathleen Noonan in Saturday’s Courier Mail; it’s a kind of general reflections on life column which, probably more often than not, provokes a little useful thought. But today’s column got me thinking mainly about the posts and comments from a week or so ago about why (and how) I keep VVB going when it doesn’t usually have anything of any immense import to say.

I think it’s partly that blogging itself is still very much in an evolutionary stage. I’ve certainly found through the two years (aaargh! really?) of VVB that my relation to the blog has not only waxed and waned but also matured (well I think so). And it’d be reasonable to expect that experience replicated across the blogosphere, particularly with the small, more personal blogs like VVB. Maybe the bigger, more ‘sophisticated’ blogs have been able to set out a rationale and stick to it – certainly in the case of group blogs with a predetermined raison d’etre or philosophical/ideological position – but for all of us who simply caught the wave and are still precariously hanging on, it’s a day by day existence as we continually wrestle with the whole point of it all, not to mention the effort of churning something out.

Deep, eh? And yet, I don’t feel at all ashamed of stating the bleedin’ obvious in this case because I can’t recall having the read the bleedin’ obvious anywhere else.

More to the point, the additional comments that the conversation provoked indicated to me that this is an issue (oh yes, we all got ‘issues’) that many of those who frequent the little circle of VVB are probably wrestling with either personally or by virtue of searching for some value in small, independent blogs.

I’d kind of also like to rant a bit about Australian sporting prowess, the win-at-all-costs mentality, the impact of commercialism on sport, and the decline of civility not to mention everyday manners. So now you can guess where I stand. I’ve had the Hewitts and the Pontings and Brett bloody Lees up to here. I think all competitive sportspeople should first have to play competitive bowls, darts or snooker to learn a bit of self bloody restraint. Then they can get on with their chosen profession. Oh, golf too. Self bloody restraint is an admirable thing. Hmm, all individual sports, although you do get team bowls (up to 4). I think there’s a lesson in that. Isn’t individualism and self-reliance meant to be a good thing?


08 January 2008

now we're getting somewhere

Where we have got to is Rockhampton. But as the office has to cop the cost of my after hours computer usage if I am online, I don't think it's sustainable or right to spend hours on line on non-job stuff.

So VVB will go into a short hiatus, cunningly disguised as oblivion, until I am again in the bosom of the family or get meself to a net cafe or library.


04 January 2008

it's scientific (*)

Using up all my available desktop pooter time until again removed to the wilds of Rockhampton and the concomitant need to blog on a laptop, whose controls I do not understand, at a coffee table, which makes my neck ache, I learn that one of my favourite lines from one of my favourite songs is a reference to William Yeats with (possibly, it was David Byrne after all) a passing glance at African literature.

Larvatus Prodeo has a lot to answer for, but who would have thought that this would be amongst it? Note: this is a hat tip, even if delivered in a grudging, curmudgeonly fashion. LP has great posts but often the commentary gets out of control. However, to acknowledge where it is due, they actually do have commentary and quite a lot. We can but dream.

To coin another cliche: "will this do, John?"

(I was sure that is a song title but be blowed if I can find a reference...anyone?)

Speaking of music, here is a picture of some being made (Halfway at the Powerhouse, Brisbane).

(*) Do doot, doot, do de doo doo doo doo etc etc..."things fall apaaaaaart, it's scientific..."


If once owning a Toyota Corolla (oh yes, and a Crown as well, I had one of those too!) doesn't qualify you to blog authentically, I don't know what does.

Actually, yes I do. Boag's Draught. It's been coming from the same slab but tonight it somehow feels stronger, you know, tonight. It feels kind of liberating.

Which brings us neatly to libertarianism, would you believe.

Actually, you have to believe or if you don't, you have to believe in something else.

This person, for example, is evidently not a believer in libertarianism but the thought of a prospective visit to the post office, of all things, brings on such thoughts.

I get similar thoughts because various representatives of the IPA keep getting valuable column inches (centimetres, all right) in the mainstream media and they'd only get that if they were right, right?

There you go, John. James Joyce, eat your heart out. Shit, I've run out of Boag's.

mr writer (*)

Well in his comments on "wherever I lay my hat", Gerry has taken the fight up to me - why do I blog here at VVB?

I suppose originally I did it because it was a 'coming thing', 'everybody was doing it' and so on. Did I really think I had something original and useful to say?

(a) Unlikely;
(b) Of course, we all think we do.

Let's go (b), at least we'll score some points for authenticity (not that being authentic is a competition, of course).

As I've mentioned before, the availability of a soapbox and the seemingly unending ubiquity of the former Prime Minister (former! previous! no longer there! whacko!) inevitably led to a considerable amount of vitriolic and not particularly original Howard hating. This was extremely comforting for a while but eventually even it started to pall - I ran out of vitriol. And now he's no longer there! Has anyone noticed? I have! It's really, really, really good. Did I mention?

So now I'm a bit lost for content. I'm not going to buy into the US election as many, including like-minded (ooh, 'leftist', look out, heterodoxy under every bed!) blogs are. Yes, the orientation and ability of any US administration is of immense importance to Australia. But there are thousands of blogs and sources out there that actually know what they're talking about, there are several million more of a VVB-esque-ish type which just help to avoid a vacuum ocurring and, finally and quite frankly, Bush-bashing is even less rewarding than Howard-hating.

(a pause of some several hours occurred at this point)

I'm avoiding the question, aren't I?

Well, I'd certainly like to improve my writing skills although I must say that composing and posting 'live' is not a good way to hone your style when you don't have a good, flowing style to start with.

I do like recounting things that happen that I find interesting - for example I haven't told the stories about giving two sets of people a lift on the one day during our holidays - and drawing some conclusions from the behaviours I see about me. Even simplistic, fatuous conclusions, I must admit.

Interestingly, via
Oz Politics and the excellent Joshua Gans' Core Econ, earlier today I saw an article in which a number of economists were polled about why they blog. And blow me down, the reasons are similar to why you'd expect people to blog.

There were a series of questions asking respondents to rate factors according to their importance as motivations for blogging on a scale of 1 to 5. “Fun or entertainment”, “To raise my profile”, “Contribute to policy/political debates”, “To educate the public or disseminate research”, and “As a way of recording thoughts or ideas” were rated highest, all with a median score of 4. “Contribute to academic debates” had a median of 3, “To get reader feedback from comments” and “To improve writing skills” both scored 2, while “Actual or potential direct income” and “Actual or potential indirect income” both had a median of 1.

Who would have thought that economists were like everybody else?

So, Gerry and everybody, I'm just on a journey like everybody else and I have enough hide to think that some of it might be interesting to my devoted 4 or 5 readers (at this point I took a detour to look at my most recent stats - I am in fact getting about a dozen unique visitors a day with about 3 returning visitors per day). Hardly the stuff of a new career (I already have one of those, thanks to the current appointment in Rockhampton) but maybe enough reassurance to keep it going, to try in every day and every way to get a little bit better?

But what will I write about tomorrow? Who knows. In the meantime, here's a picture of some excellent neighbourhood infrastructure in Burradoo - between Bowral and Moss Vale. Pretty and quite high quality, yes?
(*) By Stereophonics, I am informed by Google.

03 January 2008

one on left is on right (*)

Anyway so I'm thinking about what comes next and while I'm doing this I'm scanning the excerpts in the Oz Politics feeds and it looks like "leftists" are proliferating - multiplying even, although I can't imagine that they're all that good at the hard subjects like mathematics - if the number of posts accusing leftists of everything that's ever gone wrong in the world are any indication.

And that got me thinking about how non-leftist-thinking people are always simplistic, black or white, with us or against us people, whereas leftists always see the complexity in issues and so find it more difficult to devise appropriate solutions.

And are more willing to be critical: witness the number of 'leftist' posters having a go at Stephen Conroy over the net-filtering proposal.

Then I discover that it's all in the perception - where you stand depends on where you sit, or something.

Of course it's also probably a factor that the views you get in personal blogs, from no matter which standpoint, are most likely simplified and exaggerated and that's the type of view mainly picked up in the Oz Politics feeds. Certainly here in the Chateau that's the way it usually pans out.

A moment's reflection should by rights have led to the same conclusion as that explained in the Edge article, but why disturb that poor sleeping brain cell?

Seriously though, you scan through the excerpts and mainly decide not to click through because the introductory paragraphs are so unappealing.

Rather, here is a picture to soothe the brain cell to sleep.

And if you're interested in the song title, it turns out to be quite fitting.

02 January 2008

wherever I lay my hat

In parts chuffed, amazed and distressed by the revelation that at least one reader has Chateau VVB on an RSS feed (really! get a fucking television if you need entertainment, for crying out loud!), my private (until now) reflections about what to do with the Chateau were brought to a head today.

I have no Howard to hate and I suspect that the new government will take at least one term to learn its ropes. With a new government, I am always reminded of the old man's exclamation shortly after Hawke's ascension in 1983: "this is the best Liberal government we've ever had." He was prescient in that observation, at least.

Rudd and co. do not inspire in quite the same way, but we can always be amazed if they do better than expected. However, it's not the stuff of daily blogging, certainly not the superficial off-the-cuffisms so typical of so-called analysis here in the Chateau.

I said it would be about politics, economics (ha! let's ensure that dog never wakes up), cars and music. I've still got a few of the car stories to do and really, I must get a round tuit one of these days. But they are hardly the stuff of general interest so comprehensively displayed by all of VVB's 4 or 5 readers (sorry John!). And I'm going to run out of models soon, which will mean the end of the stories.

Music? I yam what I yam. But I know bugger all compared to others (yeah I know, it's not a competition). But I'm not sure I could contribute anything likely to start some interesting conversation: but then, neither has much I've written on anything else, as yet ;-)

Chateau VVB is
not alone in its current state of self-examination, and even the ups and downs in Propensity to Blog (P2B) that we've experienced here in the Chateau over the past two years have indicated that blogging is very much an evolutionary activity at both individual and aggregated levels.

There's always the role of finding out interesting/useful/useless stuff and passing it on but again, even though it's not a competition, there are
others who do this awfully well, for which you could read 'so much better.'

Although, the title of this post was brought to mind by
this article. This British innovation (eh?) sounds just like the Countdown Australian live tour with a few additional restrictions on the performers. Incidentally, I picked up the linked review rather than the official website - which I assume exists somewhere - but this is a very nicely weighted, well written audience reflection well worth a read, along with the comments including one from Ross Wilson of Mondo Rock.

Reading the Guardian article, I was reminded of buying our one Rick Astley CD. We were living in Burma at the time so retail therapy was carried out in a very concentrated fashion during leave trips to Singapore. It was quite cathartic (hmm? maybe) to walk in to a store and walk out with 20 CDs at a time, but this was offset by having to ask the shop assistant what was 'hot' or 'new', as we had no way of knowing. And on one of these visits, in one of the these stores, on being asked this particular question, the assistant pointed to a Rick Astley CD and played a bit of it. "What a voice" I thought, along with "and it sounds so incongruous coming from such a dorky looking person."

So I bought it, took it back to Rangoon, played it once and put it away - a very unrewarding purchase. Whereas Belinda Carlisle got played over and over.

Well, there's a few minutes of your life you won't get back, and I won't go into how long it took me to type.

Back to the navel lint, there must be more to life than this.

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