06 June 2008

our house

For the last few weeks Chateau VVB has served up morsels from the Times of London. But tonight we go to the Guardian, various readers will feel more at ease I guess.

First the serious: an
opinion piece on the recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) talks, particularly in relation to biofuels. It's not a bad article but wow!, the comments. Surely we get some comments of insight and substance (and not just at the Guardian either, I should point out) that are really a level above.

Having, at one stage, been the 'desk officer' for the FAO within a bit of the Australian bureaucracy (later followed by similar roles for other UN organisations), I'm not in the least surprised by the outcome as well as the process of getting there. "Watered down language" is another way of saying 'compromise', with the added slant that it's not win-win, it's lose-lose. The conference has an end date and time and there has to be a communique, regardless of what it says.

One commenter talks about the increasing inability of the UN to produce outcomes, much as the League of Nations before it.

I'm torn on this - having seen the workings up close, you'd be demoralised to hear how bad it is. But what's the alternative? A commenter talks about delegates being beholden to their protectors who nominate them: in many cases yes, in others (such as Australia where the nomination process is reasonably transparent, within bureaucratic norms), no. Systems within systems, it's a complex world and you can't control all the consistent bits. But the big picture stuff - the objectives and arrangements between nations - should be reviewed. Should we just rebalance the power structure within the UN? Just a useful first step?

second article is meant to cheer you up - what's happening with Big Brother's ninth season in the UK. There are a number of really classic comments in the article, you should just read it as I can't ad anything.

So, here we are in pied a terre VVB with a long weekend coming up when I won't be back in the bosom of the family back at the Chateau in the leafy western suburbs. We have signed the contract for the new Chateau and in a couple of months we'll be in it. However, it's not really a chateau - it's a bit more flat and funky - so it'll need a new name.

Suggestions, on the back of a large bank cheque, to "the new owners, VVB-by-the sea."

Hmmm, that's not bad, actually.

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