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Showing posts from 2007

The Silly Season

If you've ever thought The Silly Season was an inappropriate name for this time of year, I'd ask you to reconsider. Sure, there's an increased incidence of depression, alcoholism and suicide, but there's something about this time of year which is causing everyone to go a little nuts. Look at the evidence... Yesterday, a truck with a crane on board hit a pedestrian overpass in the Sydney CBD. Not so much an unusual event you may think, but it takes a special kind of stupid to hit smack in the middle of the "low clearance" sign (if you click on the link - go on, no one's that busy at this time of year - you can see it in the photo). I book a lot of classified ads in newspapers for my job. Yesterday the rep at a particular paper sent me the proof of an ad I requested, and I emailed back saying that it was approved for publication. Her reply? "I'm so glad you like it." Did she think this somehow mattered to me? Maybe her whole self-esteem was

Random Observations of A Semi-Sober Blogger

I can't tell you how often I print an email, and have it run onto another page because of the disclaimer, Please consider the environment before you print this email. Has anyone noticed that McDonalds has suddenly gotten much worse? I know McDonalds was never the place for a culinary experience par excellence . But recently (in Australia at least), instead of having burgers made and ready to go, they've switched to a system of preparing all food "fresh when you order". It sounds nice. What it actually means is that you order your food, then stand around with a lot of hungry, cross people waiting for burgers of haphazard contruction which, a lot of the time, aren't even what you ordered but you'll be goddamed if you're going to wait again. Listen, Maccas, no one visits you for quality food. People go to you because they're in a hurry, and because they want the same thing everytime. (Not - as happened to me yesterday - a Crispy Chicken Deluxe With Bacon

Friday Follies

Whilst there are many, many good things about the election being over, there's one drawback for me: I'm going to have to start thinking of post titles again. I'm not quite ready yet though, so I'll take the easy way out today. Finally, The Australian confesses the truth. The Chaser's suprisingly moving final tribute to John Howard. Crikey presents it's Election Award Winners A friend of mine was terrified upon seeing Therese Rein on TV, but couldn't really say why. Now we know (scroll down to the second picture...) This is what I pretty much expect every time I post (surely the Cheesecake Incident was of international signifcance?)

Election '07 - Disjointed Afterthoughts

It still hasn't fully sunk in yet - John Howard isn't the Prime Minister anymore, and Peter Costello never will be . When you've hoped for, wished for, and in your own small way worked for something this long, there's bound to be a sense of disbelief and perhaps even mild letdown when it actually happens. Being an hopeless (and infuriating) channel surfer, I actually watched the Election coverage on all three channels. Each went for their own little angle, from Channel Nine's shredder to the Footy Show style panel on Seven, and the earnest tone of the ABC. Of all the guests across the networks, I thought Tanya Pilbersek was the most eloquent and inspiring in how she described Labor's readiness for this moment. (And calling Alexander Downer a sook was the soundbite of the night). Contrast her manner with the not-quite-tears of Joe Hockey, sitting right next to her.  Was I the only one who didn't realise that the woman holding hands with Tim Howard during hi

Election '07 - The Wrap Up

Can there be a sweeter moment than this ? How long have we had to wait? How endless did it seem? How we dreamed of the moment when it was all over - the nation was no longer under the Howard regime. And yet how far off it seemed sometimes. To be honest, tonight did come as something of an anti-climax, simply because once the result was known, round about the 8:30pm mark, it was an eternity to wait for the official concession and victory speeches. Also...because I am of a slightly doubtful frame of mind, I couldn't trust in this till the very end. So, I thought Howard sounded like a sore loser, and Rudd less inspiring than he should have been. But I'm too tired for any rational analysis now. It's been an awesome night. And apparently I've been linked to by the Wall Street Journal . Tomorrow, I'll attempt some sensible analysis.

Election '07 - Election Day

11pm Well, we wanted to see him lose , and he has, and watching Howard concede defeat has been a great, great moment. I'll leave it to the Labor MPs to not be sore winners. Because, the hell with it, we've sufferred many defeats and much pain. This vindication could not be any sweeter. Was this better than Rudd's victory speech? Well, I've hated Howard so much longer. As a blogger, I've no duty to toe the morall ine whatsoever. It's been a long night...hopefully we'll hear from Rudd soon. Incidentally...the highest ranking Liberal poltician in the nation is now the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.
8:30pm Almost there. The Government's not conceding, but they can't put it off much longer. Nor can Howard reasonably do so in Bennelong... I wasn't expecting this to happen so soon. No words can explain how I feel right now.
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6:30pm Well, the polls have closed and we're all waiting for the first results to come in. I can relate to how Helen Razer feels - but there's nothing to do now but wait. Voting was pretty uneventful for me; there were no candidates or Chaser team members at the polling place. As I was voting outside of my electorate, I wasn't even given any how-to-vote cards. I have a small confession to make, though... Whilst I intended to vote Greens for the Senate, I wasn't entirely happy with their preferences, so I decided to number every box below the line. It took ages, but as I put an 80 in the box next to the last candidate (Christian Democrats), I felt a small sense of triumph - "There, take that!" Then I saw on the ballot paper the instructions to number the boxes from 1 to 79. Somewhere along the line, I'd lost count. I started counting through the boxes, trying to figure out where I'd lost my way. But when I got to around preference 25, I gave up, rememb

Election '07 - Two Days To Go

In all the discussion of Work Choices, interest rates, working families and the economy, no one seems to have talked about the real issues of the campaign. Not the things which will define the nature of the nation long after any current economic conditions have changed. There's something deeper here - what sort of tone, even morality, we want for the nation. I'm not speaking of hypocritical "Christian" morality used by politicians whenever it suits their purposes, but just the ideas of helping out those worse off than ourselves, tolerance, and a fair go for everyone, including giving extra assistance to those who started from behind. Those finer ideals that Howard has done so much to destroy in the past eleven years. No one seems to be mentioning the things that the Coalition has done over their years in office - from mandatory detention to work for the dole - that have created a national attitude which disdains help for those less fortunate (unless they happen to be

Election '07 - Four Days To Go

We've published far fewer election posts here than I would have expected in the giddy moments of excitement as the campaign kicked off. Some of it has admittedly been due to my heavy work schedule and even a little laziness, but the main reason is that it's just so hard to get excited. Although I do very much want to see the back of Howard, it's hard to see what practical difference it will make, come next Monday morning. It's not that there's anything wrong with Kevin Rudd precisely. But - screaming schoolkids aside - there's nothing to get excited about either. It was all so different three years ago. Mark Latham was different, all right. At the time I had the feeling that, come the Sunday after the Latham victory, a different Australia would form. So when that didn't happen, it was incredibly disappointing (and to more than myself, although how many would admit that now?). This time around, there's no such hope. I had trouble articulating precisely w

Election '07 - Five Days To Go

Overheard on the Election hustings: Two Kevin07 shirt-clad Labor campaign workers were leafleting outside the local supermarket when they were approached by a third person who apparently knew them both. His greeting of, "How's it going?" was met with the response, "We were just discussing whether the term Comrade is gender-specific". I guess Rudd's Labor isn't as New as it would first seem. ~~~ I've really got to get better at speaking my mind. Having noticed posters for the local Liberal candidate around the place, I've wondered, Why is this man bothering? This morning, I had my chance to ask. He was standing outside the train station, handing out leaflets of his own. Given the opportunity to ask why he's wasting his time, when he tried to hand me a leaflet, I replied..."Sorry, no thanks." This was the best I could do? What's likely to be my only chance to express my disatisfaction with what the Liberals have done to this count

Election '07 - 12 Days To Go

An argument against the federal Labor party that's being bandied about lately is, "Look at what a terrible job state Labor are doing in NSW - can they be trusted to do any better federally?" The only possible comeback to this is to acknowledge the failings of the NSW state government, but to point out that the only reason that they were re-elected last March is because the NSW state Liberals are even worse. It's hard to believe that such a thing is possible, but there it is. Last week the Government gave up on the proposed T-Card system, cancelling the contract with the company hired to develop the thing, after spending ten years and $60 million dollars. An integrated ticketing system for buses, trains and ferries; how hard could that be? It certainly sounded easy enough that when the project was first proposed, it was anticipated it would be in use by the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Instead, seven years later, a passenger can go to Circular Quay, which could be a great tr

The Race Australia Should Stop

I've never been a big fan of Melbourne Cup day. This is kind of hard when one works in an office - I refuse to take part in any way, including watching the thing. For this, I'm often chastised for being anti-social - and frequently told, "it's just a bit of fun". I don't get it. I really don't see the fun in watching a defenceless animal being whipped. Even if all the horses happen to be masochists, there's always the risk of horrific injuries, like this . In the story they mention how some observers were in tears; but I wonder how many of these left the track and refused to participate any more in such barbarism. (I'd planned a milder post expressing my general disdain, but the thought of that poor animal staggering towards the finishing line before being put down - well, I'm too upset and angry to be moderate).

Thank You for Smoking

We're endlessly being told that we live in an angry society these days - and it's true. It seems there's no human activity these days that doesn't have its own form of "rage" attached to it. This blog post from Gary Linnell details some of the many incidents of fill-in-the-blank rage that have occurred recently - including, most tragically, a retiree beaten to death on his front lawn in an argument over water restrictions (as it turns out, it was legal for lawns to be watered at the time the man was killed). Why is this happening? Oh sure, we live in a more stressful society these days, and we're all short on time...but I think those excuses rather miss the point. At times of extreme stress, such as during war, communities often pull together with deep solidarity. Of course, people also have developed short tempers and limited patience due to our instant gratification society. But I have another theory - which you sure as hell won't hear from the mai

Election '07 - 25 Days To Go

And the topic of the week will be...climate change! (I'll resist the enormous temptation to make a joke about politicians and hot air). We've got a clear pattern for the campaign. One party launches a theme, the other attempts to trump them, and they slug it out until everyone gets bored and they move on to the next excuse for blather. After tax cuts and interest rates, this week we've arrived at climate change. Labor got the upper hand early on when it was reported that Malcolm Turnbull asked John Howard to ratify the Kyoto Protocol six weeks ago, but Howard refused. I think the real point here isn't that Howard doesn't really understand or care about climate change - we knew that already - but the amusing lack of cabinet solidarity the Liberals are displaying. Still, the reason Howard gives for refusing to sign Kyoto is that the agreement doesn't include the world's major emmitters, China and the U.S. But hang on, the reason that the U.S. isn't inclu

Elecion '07 - 29 Days To Go

As much as those of us who live and/or work in the inner city may like to think we're at the centre of the universe, we actually have little or nothing to do with the practicalities of the election. The seats of the inner cities and suburbs are almost exclusively safe Labor, and the leaders don't come here. It's the outer suburban shopping centres and country towns that become their stomping grounds in the elction campaign; for once, what's happening in the inner cities has no influence over things. For the pollies, campaigning here would be a waste of time, and they know it. ~~~ Follies to come later today, all going well.

The Time Has Come To Talk Of Other Things...Food.

Can I just take a break from Election Blogging today? I meant to post about the Debate this morning, but ran out of time, and all the good bloggers beat me to it. Anyway, recently I've been dining out a lot (thank you...) and have had, frankly, some mixed experiences with the service. These have ranged from the mildly annoying, such as the (ordered) bread arriving with the main courses, to the very annoying, such as being seated for at least twenty minutes before anyone even took our drinks order, through to the debacle on the weekend... In an almost empty restaurant, we were given a table near the entrance to the kitchen; our entree order was completely forgotten, until the main courses were brought out; and when I tried to order dessert, I was informed that, not merely were they were out of what I wanted, but they hadn't actually served it for months, although it was still on the menu. Home made menus, I might add. Also, not specifically poor service, but amusing: the CD play

Election '07 - 35 Days To Go

Oh, dear Lord, the Coalition have had a poll bounce . Sure Labor have been a steady 10 points (at least) ahead all year, but there's nothing like dangling a juicy tax cut in front of people to make them roll over and play dead. Friends have been telling me this would happen, but I wouldn't listen. I couldn't bear the thought of going through all this again. Anyway, I really should have known better - if there's one reason why John Howard would never be turfed out of office, it's because the man never, ever underestimates the stupidity of the general public. Who are these people, returning their wobbly minds to the Coalition? Don't any of them pause to think about where $34 billion of tax cuts are coming from? Heck, does no one watch Clarke and Dawe ? I just hope they are in love, because they're getting screwed . Well, I've said it before , and I'll say it again: compulsory voting must be abolished!

Election '07: 38 Days To Go

As part of the inevitable scare campaign, a figure that the Liberal Party are adoring throwing out there at the moment is that 70% of the Labor front bench are former Trade Union officials. For all I know it's true but does it really matter? After all, think of the generally-held perceptions of the most despised occupation groups. Journalists, used car sales people...and lawyers. What percentage of the Coalition front bench are former lawyers?!? (This isn't a rhetorical question. Does anyone know?) EDIT: The answers are here . So why aren't Labor asking these questions?!? Anyway, also high up on the list of most-despised occupations are politicians. And no matter who we vote for, 100% of the front bench are going to be politicians. ~~~ Last night, watching Rudd's response to the newly announced Coalition tax policy, I thought, "I may be naive, but I’ll admit I was astonished to hear Kevin Rudd say that he will not reveal Labor’s tax policy until he’s has time to s

Election '07: 39 Days To Go

Everyone keeps speaking of how this will be the first Australian election where the internet will have a big imapct on the way people vote. It could be a bigger imapct than anyone even realises. Of course there's You Tube, campaign websites, political blogs, leader's Facebooks, and Lord knows what else out there to inform one on the issues and help decide how to vote. But if that's all too much trouble, just go to one of the helpful tools that will, straight out, tell you how to vote. If you'd like to take this at least semi-seriously, then at OzPolitics they have a fifty question test that will take you through pretty much all the issues, and give you a matrix on how closely your beliefs are aligned to those of all the major parties. But if that's slightly too heavy going (and let's face it, if you're deciding your vote as a result of a quiz, then it probably is) then News Limited has the answer for you, literally, with their election decider . It's go

Bring It On!

Woo-hoo! The Election is called ! Yippee! (Sorry, I've just been breathing into a paper bag). Anyway, the weeks of uncertainty are over. John Howard has finally succumbed to the inevitable, and called the Federal Election. And if you've been waiting for this, you have me to thank. No, seriously, for weeks I've been planning a trip on the Manly ferry, which goes past Kirribilli ; so of course I intended to yell "Call the election!" as we passed. However, various irritating circumstances meant the trip had to be put off until yesterday. As I felt enough time had been wasted, as we passed Kirribilli I hollered my demand with gusto; it caused enormous embarrassment to my company, but I was not to be deterred. I promised them that the election would be called today, and sure enough...(if there's anything else you'd like me to make Howard do, let me know and I'll call it out next time I'm on the Manly ferry). As excited as I am about this, I'm a proc

Hard To Say He's Sorry

Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. Last night, after admitting he's struggled with Aboriginal reconciliation throughout his Prime Ministership, John Howard announced a plan to hold a referendum on including a statement of reconciliation in the preamble to the Constitution. Considering his record on reconciliation issues over the last eleven years, for Howard to announce a move like this with the genuine intention of healing relations between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, seems about as likely as my announcing I'm going to be a grid girl at the Melbourne Grand Prix next March. So has Howard undergone a volte-face in his attitude? Perhaps we can believe this...until we remember there's an election coming up. The chorus from the left is singing, "Of course it's the right thing to do, but why now?". Meanwhile the general response from Aboriginal leaders has ranged from mixed, to poor. Olga Havnen has said, "Given the period of his term of o

Tragedy Always Creates Confusion

"Afghanistan? Is that thing still going on?" - Co-worker on the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan Well, John Howard was looking to pull something out of the bag in the lead-up to the Federal election. Who knows if the death of an Australian soldier as a result of a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan yesterday will be the suprise twist he was after? It's hard to tell at this stage - the news was only confirmed early this morning, and the details are still filtering through. It has the potential though to get the people who think about these things enormously worked up - a reminder that The War On Terror is still a threat, and that we need Howard's safe pair of hands! ...and the whole thing is likely to slide right past the conciousness of the average voter. As the comment from my co-worker shows, Afghanistan is truly the forgotten front in the War On Terror - but for most, it barely registered awareness in the first place. Anyway, I tried to formulate a

Friday Follies - It's All Real!

Congratulations to this year's Ig Nobel Prize Winners (am I the only one who thinks the Gay Bomb is an awesome idea, with hundreds of non-military applications?) Now that is one ecstatic potato A chance to cash in on Sydney's current plague of moths. Crikey's week in one liners (scroll past the ad...) The Eight Most Awful Minorities (It's not who you might think!) When the no-carbs fad is a good idea Thank Follies for The Onion...I'm not sure if this is a joke though... Well, till I post again, Adultswim your LANs down a sewer in hell.

My Keyboard Is Sticky: One Blogger's Guide To The Confessional Memoir

The thought has crossed my mind lately that I should write a confessional memoir. Confessional memoirs are taking over the world. Visit the Biography section of any generalist bookstore, and as many as half of the titles on the shelves will be confessional memoirs. Never having been one to blindly follow trends, I realise that in order to get ahead of things, I should have published my memoir ten years ago; the problem with this being that ten years ago, most of the juicy stuff I'd want to reveal to the public to boost sales reveal my inspiring journey to readers, hadn't happened yet. Nonetheless, if I do decide to bare my venal soul to the reading public, I know exactly how I need to do it. These are the four elements you need to turn your confessional memoir into this year's Must Read Book: 1. An Intriguing Title You need to grab the audience's attention as they stroll through the bookstore, so that they feel a warm inner glow that if they choose your volume, it

Can Anyone Spell Beat Up?

A woman in the ACT is suing her doctor after she gave birth to twins, following him incorrectly impanting her with two embryos during IVF treatment when she specifically said she only wanted to have one child. Oh yes, and the woman in question happens to have a female partner. Here's the headline from ABC News : Mother Sues Doctor Over Twin Birth And from NewsCorp's Finest, Sydney's Daily Terrorgraph : Landmark Lesbian Twin Suit (Be sure to check out the enlightened "reader" comments!) I don't know why the Tele doesn't just change it's name to FoxNews Sydney and be done with it.

As If Monday Mornings Weren't Bad Enough

Watching the Liberals crash and burn is not bringing me the malicious glee you may imagine. I need to somehow become less compassionate - right now, I can't help feeling sorry for them. John Howard is counting on this kind of sympathy, hoping people will be kind enough to re-elect his government. Well, Australians may well feel sorry for them, but from here it seems they'll act on this by putting the Liberals out of their misery. Apparently, the Australian Navy is using Our Tax Dollars - these things must always be presented in such terms - to pay for breast implants for female sailors. What is going on here? When I was in the Army, I was never offered plastic surgery (although my commanding officer did once say he wanted to rearrange my face). O.J., O.J., O.J. What could I possibly add to this ? I admit to having judged Britney harshly in the past. So, I must thank this guy for completely turning me around on her. I promise to count my blessings to be living in the same Un

"Life" Under APEC

It's amazing how quickly you get used to all this nonsense - helicopters buzzing around the office blocks, for instance. Apparently there's some new terrorist threat from middle management. I mean, what the hell do the security services think we're doing up there - preparing pipe bombs along with status reports? (How many of the "security experts" who plan these things have ever had real jobs?) Apart from "The Wall" though, the most obvious sign that there's something going on is that there are police everywhere . There's 1500 police on patrol for APEC, and most of them seem to be around the couple of blocks near my office. Right now, they're just standing around in groups of four and five, looking pretty bored. I can't help but wonder if any of them secretly want something to go wrong, just so they'll have something to do - as well as the possibility of appearing as a hero on international television. I guess we'll have to wa

Bricks In Their Heads

Watching a particular story on 60 Minutes last night made me pretty furious. No, not the one you might think - that made me unspeakably angry too, but I'm not posting about that today. What concerns me was the story about what's shaping up to be a major election issue - mortgages and interest rates . It's terribly sad of course when a family is kicked out of their home for failure to pay the mortgage, but do people often have themselves to blame? Last night we met Frank and Tess, who have a monthly income of $3000 - and mortgage payments of $1600. They also owe thousands of dollars in other debts, and the couple admit they have nothing left to pay the bills and live on credit with no plan for the future. Oh, and they have three primary school age children. So why on Earth are they hanging on? Frank said, "It is an absolute struggle but, I tell you, it is worth it. You know why it's worth it? Because when you come home and you see those kids, you see the smiles on

A Sorry State

If you really want to see how Australia has failed in it's foreign policy in recent years, then just read the interview with Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta of East Timor, in the August issue of The Monthly . Timor-Leste is obviously a nation facing many problems. Australia finally took action in 1999, after 24 years of shameful ignorance, to aid in Timor Leste's fight for independence from Indonesia. Since then, however, we've contributed little to the economic developement of East Timor. They're not looking for wads of unsupervised, unallocated money. As José Ramos-Horta has said, "one of the most disgraceful things about Australia's co-operation with East Timor is that only a handful of positions in Australia are open to East Timorese students." Ramos-Horta says that East Timor would benefit greatly from having large numbers of their young people go to Australia to work or study, then bring what they've learnt back home. But at the moment this is

If God's In The House, Is All Right In The World?

It's Sunday, the Lord's Day, and do you know where our Parilamentary leaders are right now? Sleeping off last night's excesses, did I hear you say? That might be fun, but more likely, they're in church. As Senator Lyn Allison, leader oF the Australian Democrats, recently pointed out , Christians are dramatically over-represented in Federal Parliament. But Federal Parilament isn't exactly representative of Australian society anyway - too old, too male, too white. The Christians though, are a bit of a worry. Back in the days when Australia was a far more religious country, people generally kept their faith private. Now though, they seem compelled to let everyone know all about it. American influence on Australian culture can be a good or a bad thing, but this seems like a decidedly negative development - the pandering by politicians to the evangelical Christian movement. A person's faith or the lack of it is their own business. But it's different for politicia

A Voter's Perogative

Things are getting better for those of us counting the days till the Federal election. Not only is Labor still ahead in the polls (actually posting about that this year seems as useful as posting about the weather - it's just happening and what else can one say?) but it's now getting personal. According to a leaked document from the Coalition's own polling firm, showing many voters now believe Howard is too old and not to be trusted. They see Rudd as "compassionate, human, genuine and likeable", whilst the Coalition is seen as stading for "broken promises and dishonesty". What's suprising is, this is news ? It's been what myself and a lot of other people have been saying for years. Howard isn't doing anything radically different now from what he's done before - he's always been a **** (insert whatever word you like at this stage, adding more letters if necessary). So what has happened to change the average voter's mind? The tagli

Casual Post Day

Casual day is a problem for myself and, I've noticed, a lot of other workers. Sure, you're allowed to wear casual clothes, but they have to be work-appropriate casual clothes. My t-shirts with vaguely obscene slogans won't cut it, so on Fridays I end up dressing in a manner that is not only unbusinesslike, but completely different from how I dress at any other time. I'll be damned if I'm buying special outfits just for Casual Day, so on Friday I end up wearing the few things I do have in my wardrobe that are "appropriate". Still, I'm not the only one who shows up every Friday wearing the same thing. It wouldn't be Friday if the office didn't see me in my blue not-quite-jeans. You sure do see some weird things walking around the City every day. Just the other morning I spotted a guy of at least my age, dressed in a coat and business suit, skateboarding down the middle of a moderately busy street (he was in the street, not on the footpath) in

And Now For Something Pretty Darn Similar

Today I passed a venue purporting to be "Sydney's Oldest Sports Bar - Established 1896". What the hell, I wondered, constituted a sports bar in 1896? I can imagine the advertising signs: "Listen to all the Men's Sculling Action on our wide-speaker wireless! Tuppence drafts of ale before 10p.m.! Minimum dress standard of morning suit applies". I've also noticed that along with security cameras, there are also loudspeakers being mounted on traffic lights around the City. Something to do with APEC I assume - all the world leaders will be safer from attack if potential terrorists can not only be watched, but shouted at as well. (Isn't it odd that the massive security measures are put into place whenever "world leaders" are involved, yet whenever a terroritst plot is uncovered, it's almost always aimed at civillian targets? These world leader types are interestingly paranoid). Anyway, if I was a bored security officer, staring at a survei

Happy Birthday, Mr Prime Minister

So, John Howard turns 68 today . He still looks amazing, like he's in his fifties...the Nineteen Fifties, in fact. There won't be many merry returns for him today though. The Government is facing a landslide defeat, and Howard himself is increasingly desperate, this morning blaming interest rate rises on "Labor government - state Labor governments" (a comment more likely to make your average voter think of clutching at straws than making good points) even as he falls over, forgets names, and is pilloried in the media for being past it. One could almost feel sorry for John Howard. He could have retired at a favourable time in favour of Peter Costello - the tenth anniversary of his government, in March last year, would have been a nice, cute, noteworthy option - and be remembered by history (though not by me) as one of Australia's greatest Prime Ministers. Instead, it seems like he'll be remembered as the man who hung on too long, dragging his party down with hi

Friday Follies Of The Linkless Kind

Everyone's always saying how tough it is for professional sports people to reach "the top". I reckon they have it easy. In her recent Wimbeldon loss to Serena Williams, Alicia Molik scored 48% on first serves (or 48% of something, anyway, I don't understand tennis). imagine if in the course of your work day, you only got it right 48% of the time. You wouldn't get an Uncle Toby's ad contract, you'd be sacked. One thing's for sure, I'm never going to any doctor who used to be a professional sports person. I rather fear what they'd consider to be an acceptable rate of medical negligence. I read somewhere that if the current growth in the number of Elvis impersonators continues, by 2019 a third of the Earth's population will be Elvis impersonators. Just think about that for a minute. Imagine going to the supermarket, and every third person you pass being an Elvis impersonator. Think of attending a meeting with 100 colleagues, 33 of whom respond

The Election X Factor

Watching the news this week, I came across the story reporting that Australia's labour regime is one of the worst in the world . Hearing this, I thought oh come on . Okay, the Howard government IR changes have caused a lot of suffering, but surely there have to be at least 25 countries worse than us? (I can't imagine being a 10 year old working in an Indian rug factory is much fun, and even my experiences in retail can't be as bad as earning 14c an hour making Nike apparel in Indonesia). However, there was a viewer poll asking whether people agreed that Australia was one of the 25 worst Labour regimes, and a significant minority voted yes. Sadly, I had to wonder, did everyone who voted know precisely what they were voting for? Perhaps some thought they were voting not on our labour regime, but on the Labor regime, i.e. whether we have one of the worst Labor parties. (Even thinking being in Opposition is, somehow, a regime). You may not think this is possible, and neither di

Don't Just Stand There, Do Something!

We're approximately at the half-way point between Rudd taking over the Labor leadership last December, and a likely November election, and it seems like a good time to take stock of how things are going. On the face of it, pretty darn well. Even after Costello's "big spending...on everyone we in the Coalition like" budget last week, Labor has "surged ahead" (I love the language of the pundits) in the polls, leading the Coalition 18 points on a two-party preferred basis. Things seem pretty rosy for Rudd and Labor right now, as even Howard admits (though he could just be trying to claim the valuable "underdog status", so beloved of Australian pollies in the lead up to an election). Having been burned so badly by the 2004 Federal election, I can't help but remember that the poll results were looking good for Labor back then too, but as this graph (scroll down) shows, Labor's poll performance now is far ahead of where it was three years ago.

It's Not Just You; However...

I've recently been enjoying the book Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit: The Encyclopedia Of Modern Life . It's an amusing look at all that is wrong in the world today, from cafes that charge an extra $5 for a slice of tomato with your cooked breakfast, to grown-ups who read childrens' books with "adult" covers,in order to escape public scorn. It's a familliar theme though. There's just so much that is whinge-worthy in modern society, and my goodness, do people enjoy whingeing. Just read through the weekend supplements in any major newspaper, and witness the orgy of complaining-about-the-small-stuff being engaged in by columnists. Too worn out by the woes of modern life to read? Not to worry, you can receive your gripes in television form, thanks to the Grumpy Old Women and Men series. And I must admit, I like all this enough to engage in it endlessly myself, as any read through this blog's archives will show you; posting diatribes about manners, mu

They're Kidding...Right?

Sitting on my desk at work is a desk calendar with an "inspirational" quote for each day. They're not funny quotes; it's a company-supplied calendar and it's boring, to match the job. Today's quote however gave me pause for thought, though probably not in the way the manufacturers intended: "The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top." - O.J. Simpson O.J. Simpson on the topic of taking responsibility. I can't help but wonder if it's the work of some menial underling at the calendar company, resentful at being given the task of hunting down 365 meaningful quotations, who slipped it in as a joke and wondered if anyone would notice. Or maybe the whole thing's for real. Are there any other absurd-but-true quotations floating around out there?

"I, Errr...Ahhh...Had A Dream"

Feeling a bit directionless lately? Never fear, our inestimable leader, John W. Howard, has presented his vision for the future of Australia in a speech to the Queensland Press Club. Titled "Australia Rising" (faster than the levels of the seas our land is girt by, we hope) , it's Howard's "sketch" of the world in 2020 - but only, of course, if Australia keeps on voting Liberal. You could read the full transcript , but let me save you some time with the general gist of the thing: As with just about everything for Howard, putting the economy first is a "moral argument". Those morals including a promise to dismantle the welfare state as we know it. According to Howard, "One side – we in the Coalition – aims to build on what’s been achieved over the last decade... The other side wants to tear down this achievement...[which] will see Australia fall behind in the global economy, reducing our capacity to create jobs, to innovate, to care for the si

It's My Special Day

The big news of, well, last week (hey, I've been busy) was Libby Lenton getting married , wearing a lovely white...tent. This she did because she'd signed a deal with a women's magazine to sell the wedding photos for more money than I'll earn in the next two years, and she has to protect the magazine's exclusive, or the deal's off. More and more celebrites are doing this lately, requesting that guests sign confidentiality clauses and not take photos, sometimes even not informing them of the location for the vows until immediatley before the ceremony, all so they can flog the photos of their day of days to Women's Doh or No Idea for perusal in doctor's waiting rooms three years after the fact. And good luck to them say I. In fact, I think they don't go far enough. If I ever get married (and hey, in a world where Condileeza Rice thinks George W. Bush is a genius, anything is at least theoretically possible), I'm going to out do them all. I shall

Thanks For The Memories

Well, the NSW state election has been run and won since I last posted. I've listened to a wide range of opinions on this - 'round where I live, politics is always a popular topic. Although considering I live in the inner west of Sydney, getting any non-left points of view was a bit diffcult (I managed, though!). Nonetheless, the general consensus seemed to be that the election didn't really matter, as the result was never in doubt; however sorry things are in NSW, the Iemma government is better than the possible alternatives. So I pass on the following story to you without further comment... Last Monday, feeling slightly bored at the end of a four-day weekend, I went to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Darling Harbour. The pier was already pretty crowded, and got more and more so as 1:20pm passed, then 1:25pm, with no sign of the 1:15pm ferry. Finally at 1:35pm, a voice announced that the 1:15pm ferry was cancelled, and we'd all have to wait till 1:45pm. Of course, a

The Goodbye Girl (And Boy)

You may have noticed our location recently listed as "the last days of chez nous". And they have been. On Saturday, Xander and Nico are (finally) moving to Sydney. I've only recently told people about this, and the response is often "that seems awfully quick". It isn't; I've just kept it quiet until everything was certain, as I couldn't bear the humiliation of having it fall through (especially after the Great Debacle of '05). In reality, the whole thing has been a nightmare odyssey ever since the day, nearly two months ago, when I discovered that the Xander and Nico house was due to be demolished, and before I knew it I'd agreed to move to Sydney with friends. If I'd had any idea just how difficult it was going to be to find a house, I would never have agreed to this. You might have heard in the media about a "rental crisis" in the market these days. It's no exaggeration. Most Saturdays for the past months, I've been in

In The Interest Of Public Courtesy: On The Bus

In today's busy world, there are many things we could all do to make each other's lives more pleasant. Sadly, these things are often not being done. Through her witty and informative public courtesy rules , blogger Tracey is attempting to redress this problem. There is one aspect of life where a little courtesy for one's fellow citizens goes a long way: when travelling on the bus. Have your ticket and/or money ready when the bus arrives. Don't sit reading or chatting at the bus stop, then hold everyone up by fumbling through your wallet whilst buying a ticket. If the bus driver waits for you because you are late, then walk or run towards the bus as fast as you can, and a "thank you" is in order when you board. I can't believe I have to say this - but school children, give up your seats on the bus for adults, especially the elderly. They are paying. You are not. What do you need to sit down for anyway? You're not tired yet. Unless the bus is empty or ne