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Showing posts from March, 2008

It Should Have Been Me!

We all know the difficult situation...the first time you see your ex with their new partner. It triggers a rush of emotions; "Oh my God, it really is over", "What do they have that I don't have?" "Are the two of them doing all the special things that we used to do?". You end up feeling humiliated and rejected, and it's never pleasant. So I think we can all empathise with John Howard right now as he sees Kevin Rudd with George W. Bush. It's been a slightly surreal experience even for me, like seeing a good friend laughing with your worst enemy. The whole thing seemed relatively uncontroversial. God to love that Republican positive spin on things - Australia pulling troops out of Iraq is a good thing, as it means Kevin Rudd is sticking to his word. Who said Conservatives are always negative? ("Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple"). Anyway, not for the first time, I wonder what would have been if Mark Latham had won the 2004 e

Tuesday Musings

Last week, the third item on Channel Nine's Melbourne Monday evening news bulletin was the "shocking expose" of two sisters, forced to wear tracksuits to their sister's wedding when their bridesmaid dresses didn't arrive in time. What I find amusing here is not so much the dumbing down of the news, but the fact that, when the dresses weren't delivered, the next best outfit the women could come up with was a tracksuit . What do these people wear to job interviews? On dates? Perhaps it's best we don't know. I'm often hearing about people who go for long walks "to think". I wish I had this ability. Whenever I go for a walk, all my mental energy goes into remaining vertical. Yesterday I walked for hours around the Botanic Gardens and Opera House, and I must have looked like a woman having a big think about things, but my only coherent thoughts were: 1. eels are incredibly ugly; 2. I'd love to actually eat at Guillaume some time; 3. go

Iraq? Is That Thing Still Going On?

Here's a thought. When George W. Bush gave the ultimatum for Saddam, Uday and Qusay Hussein to leave Iraq, when Egypt offered them amnesty - what if Saddam had rung Hosni Mubarak and said "I'm just going to throw a few things in a bag; put some beers on ice and I'll see you soon"? Would the invasion have gone ahead anyway? When Bush gave his "Saddam and his sons have 48 hours to leave Iraq..." speech five years ago, we all watched gathered around the TV in the office (it was ab out 1pm in Australia), and everyone turned to me, the office's 23-year-old international relations expert, for my opinion. "It's not going to happen," I said of the Husseins leaving Iraq, "and even if it did...we're going to war no matter what. And it will go on forever." It's one of those times in life when I wish I'd been wrong. Five years after the invasion, that thing is still going on. Where do you even start, saying what's wrong wi

St Patrick's Day

Well, today marks one year since I moved to Sydney. I know, I can hardly believe it either. It all seems very strange when I look back on that weekend now. Before we left Charlestown, Xander ran away, for the first and only time in his life, and stayed lost for hours (a friend suggested he was just saying goodbye to our house). He finally turned up, as I was facing the possibility of having to send my stuff to Sydney without me, but then there was further horror in the car, as I at one stage thought he may have died in the heat. The next day was in some ways worse. I went out for breakfast with my new flatmates but was so tired I had to leave, and on the way home I managed to get lost, then lock myself out. I was profoundly, deeply disoriented, and wondered "what have I done?" None of this seemed like a good omen. And they weren't. It's fair to say I got off to a very rocky start in Sydney. There were so many things I'd looked forward to doing when I first got her

The Case Against Democracy

You won't often hear me make a case against democracy, but there is one example I can give as proof that democracy just doesn't work . I refer to the Newcastle to Sydney train line. The point is often made by some wag that the Newcastle-Sydney train journey is slower now than in the 1930s when the trains were powered by steam. It's even worse than that: the train journey is actually slower than the Eurostar journey from London to Paris, which is three times the distance. What have we done to deserve being lumbered with such crappy trains? Well, it's the Government's fault, of course. Not just this Government, all NSW State Governments over the last half century. Every sucessive government promises a high-speed rail service, to be built at some indeterminate point in the future, when they know they won't have to pay for it. They then get voted out, a new government comes in and announces they can't afford to rebuild the train line (because of the debts left

Old Frank: One Year On

On the evening of March 12, 2007, a few days before I left Newcastle, some friends and I were driving to a quiet farewell dinner when we passed Frank's Ham and Beef, on Union Street. It was a completely unexpected scene - several squad cars and paddy wagons parked outside, the area sealed off with crime scene tape, a couple of reporters. We speculated on what may have happened - surely a robbery wouldn't merit all that fuss? Well, a simple robbery wouldn't, but an armed robbery might. But why would anyone attempt an armed hold up of that small "corner" store? We didn't know, and confess didn't think any more of it, until the next day when we heard the news. Frank Newbery had run his small grocery store in Cooks Hill since 1949, after serving in World War II. At the time he set up shop, there were around fifty such stores in the local area; by 2007, his was the only one left. Even at the age of 87, he would deliver groceries to elderly residents himself, as

The Triptych Post

Serious Stuff Last night's Four Corners was worrying - a story about the alienation felt by many young Muslim Australians from the rest of Australian society, and the possibility of it leading to "home grown" terrorism. It's an important issue, one I hope the Government takes seriously; the consequences of neglect could be dire. But...all of the disaffected youth who appeared last night were males. What about the women? Although the males must have a hard time, the young women are dealing with alientation and also the cultural restrictions their families and communities may impose on them. Don't they ever get angry? For that matter, most of the racsim from the white Australians shown on the program involved young, white Australian males as well. It's as though culturally, whatever happens to a community only happens to the males in that community; anything that involves females is a "women's issue". Less Serious Stuff In a bookshop window this m

High Times

Australia has been rocked this week by Federal treasurer Wayne Swan, along with Queensland premier Anna Bligh, admitting they smoked marijuana in their respective youths (although Kevin Rudd claims he never did so , and I believe him). Well, perhaps "rocked" isn't the right term...considering no one seems to much care. This generation of politicians grew up in the Seventies, and it seems to be accpeted that they did a few crazy things back then (have you seen the haircuts on some of these people in the old photos?). Moral standards are becoming increasingly relaxed. What will happen by the time my generation are running things - a confession by the Finance Minister that he was done in 2002 for selling Es, which everyone will then shrug off? Whilst in some cases I think the slipping of standards has gone too far, I'm pleased to see the end of moral puritanism ( hypocrisy , in many cases) when it comes to drugs. I don't take drugs myself anymore; I've had some

March TV Reviews

Goodness me, but there's a lot of great television on at the moment; I can hardly keep up with it all. I have no idea how other people find time for marriages and children. Everyone's raving about Underbelly at the moment, so I'm going to jump right on the bandwagon. How much do I like Underbelly? Let me put it this way: tomorrow night, there's a going-away party for a colleague of mine who's off to London for a year, and who I'm really going to miss; and we are going bowling, which I love. And still, I am considering not going because I'll miss Underbelly, even though, having read the book, I know how it ends ( not with them all sitting on the beach, watching the sunset and reflecting on life's lessons learned, apparently). Underbelly is a voracious pleasure though, watching a universe most of us know nothing about (unless you happen to a a hitman, in which case, thanks so much for dropping by, and I think you've lost weight). For the really good

Sydney: Nice Place To Visit; Wouldn't Want To Live Here

According to the compilers of the Anholt City Brands Index, Sydney has been named the world's best City , owing to the climate, employment and business opportunites. A great place to live, you'd think, but not that the compilers of the Index do. They're visitors. Among Sydneysiders themselves, twenty percent want to move to another city , one of whom is me (the percentages are even higher among the young). The reasons cited include traffic, the high cost of living and job opportunities elsewhere. Having lived here for a year, I'll also add run-down infrastructure, lack of proper planning, and (of course) insane housing costs. But I'm throwing open the floor here. Please leave your comments - if you live in Sydney, what do you like and dislike? Are you planning on leaving? And if you've chosen to live elsewhere, what's put you off Sydney? I'm keen to see what people think.