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Monthly Archives: May 2008

One year on

Hard to believe…

Final Lord Malcolm reports: Malcolm Gordon Gleeson, died 1 June 2007

 

See the special page in Malcolm’s honour.

Monday 28 May

His beloved Swannies won at the weekend at least. I told Sirdan I would check in this afternoon and Lord M was less cyanosed: the blue lips were more or less back to normal. His half-brother in Tassie has been in touch and a last bit of organising Lord M is doing as far as he can is to enable his half-brother to come to Sydney for the funeral. Lord M was on the phone about that this afternoon. He told the friend he was talking to to come in ASAP as every minute now was that much nearer the end. “If I can stay alive overnight — and that’s the hard bit — I’ll fix that tomorrow,” Lord M said. “Then I can go peacefully.”

I said as I left, “See you again, if the gods permit.” I put a smile on his face by telling a story about my mother. Years ago we were seeing the Picton great-uncles off the planet at rather regular two year intervals. One was left. My mother, slightly the better for sherry at the time, said, “OK, Uncle. See you in two years.” “You might see me girl, but I won’t be seeing you,” he replied with a bit of a twinkle in the old eye. My mother was a touch embarrassed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 31, 2008 in events, HIV/AIDS, memory, personal

 

You may as well protest about photosynthesis…

That’s what a caller to BBC said last night our time — I heard it on ABC News Radio — in response to the latest round of fuel price protests in Europe. Then on Lateline last night economics correspondent Stephen Long had this to say:

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: FuelWatch or ‘FoolWatch’? It’s dominated politics this week, but does the petrol price scheme make economic sense and does it really matter?
With his take, I’m joined by Economics Correspondent Stephen Long.
Stephen, what do you reckon?
STEPHEN LONG, ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT: Leigh. I reckon it’s amazing that so much time and effort has been devoted to such a second order issue, really. “Much ado about nothing” you could call it or if you wanted to change Shakespearean analogies, “a tale told by idiots full of sound and fury signifying nothing” or not much at all because really this won’t make much difference to prices one way or another. We’ve seen a 400 per cent increase in the price of crude oil since the war in Iraq. The economist John Quiggin has calculated that if a carbon tax is introduced, it’ll add 25 cents a litre to the price of petrol and we’re talking at best, what, one or two cents off the price of the bowser? Small beer. That said, Leigh, there is an economic logic to FuelWatch and logic and common sense as well. And so, it’s not a bad thing. I just don’t see why it’s such a big political deal other than the populist politics.
LEIGH SALES: We say it’s not a bad thing and God knows I don’t like to contradict a man who can analyse economics and quote Shakespeare at will, but four government departments seem to disagree with your assessment of FuelWatch not being a bad thing. How do you explain that?
STEPHEN LONG: Well, I could say to be glib that the finance department never wants to spend public money and there will be big public administration costs with this, and Treasury never wants to intervene in markets. What I would say is, they have legitimate concerns and the ACCC raised similar concerns before it investigated it further. Now, what’s the logic of it? Well, the logic of FuelWatch is that at the moment, basically, the sellers of petrol have all the information. They subscribe to their service informed sources which gives them real time information about what their competitors are charging. So, all the pricing power and information is with the buyers. That’s a basic issue in economics. It’s called information asymmetry that undermines competition. So, FuelWatch is designed to give the information to – sorry, the information’s with the sellers. FuelWatch is designed to give information to the buyers. And, it will work basically as a tender system. So, you have to bid your prices the day before and the logic is that in a market where clearly consumers are very price sensitive, if you bid too high, you’re gonna be out of the market. So, the logic is there: it makes economic sense. The modelling as I’ve seen it from the ACCC in this second round modelling makes it look reasonably convincing, but, as I said, it’s small beer in the scheme of things one way or another.

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Australian poem 2008 series #15 — John Shaw Neilson "The Orange Tree"

Perhaps recent events have brought this poem to mind…

John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) is one of the most delightful figures in Australian poetry.

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Posted by on May 30, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, creativity, OzLit, poets and poetry

 

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People who don’t speak Muslim and Q&A last night

The class act last night on Tony, Tanya and Bob was the guy in the audience who said “I’m married to a Muslim, so I speak Muslim; welcome to my world, and a good place it is too!” Not such a class act was Tony Abbott’s “throw-away line” — actually a deep insight into what passes for a brain inside the Abbott skull — saying the NSW Department of Education was the “atheist school system” — harking back to all those furphies that passed for fact under the Howard government about state schools being “value-free zones”, something I ranted about at the time. Tony was however defending the equal right of Muslim parents to establish Islamic schools if they so desired, as have Catholics and others, and that aspect of his message at least was some kind of contribution, in line of course with Cardinal Pell’s recent call for a fair go for Muslims.

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Posted by on May 30, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, current affairs, education, Islam, Multicultural, multicultural Australia, multiculturalism, pluralism, Tony Abbott, TV

 

GWB’s song and dance man changes tune

We all remember him, don’t we? There was a time when we saw his face even more often than we saw George W Bush’s:

He looked decidedly uncomfortable in that one; and now we know why:
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Posted by on May 29, 2008 in America, current affairs, Iraq, Political, politics, terrorism, USA

 

Miranda versus the arts community

Miranda Devine has her say on the Bill Henson controversy in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: Artistic crowd the real philistines. She has all guns blazing.

…Blanchett and another 43 members of the “creative stream” of the 2020 Summit released an open letter on Tuesday calling on the Prime Minister to retract his statement that the Bill Henson photographs of naked 12- and 13-year-olds briefly on display at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Paddington were “absolutely revolting”.

So artists want the freedom to exploit budding pubescents as nude models, but they don’t want the Prime Minister to freely express his thoughts?

If the arts community is so creative and “edgy”, why do they all travel in lockstep on such things? Their single voice suggests not originality and boundary-pushing, but a suffocating conformity.

Who in the arts community – whether creator, curator or critic – has come out and said: “This is wrong,” not just “provocative” or “controversial”? They say they are happy to have the debate but they have never had the debate, perhaps for fear of being seen as prudish or out of touch with the in-crowd.

This deficit of moral courage was most stark last week in people who have since told friends they felt “uncomfortable” about the image on the invitation from Roslyn Oxley9 promoting Henson’s show, but kept their feelings to themselves…

You don’t have to regard Henson’s work as pedophile pornography to hear, in the elaborate defences of his work concocted in the past week, echoes of the justifications the pedophiles Philip Bell and Robert “Dolly” Dunn made in their talk of the ancient Greek tradition of man-boy love, as if they were simply misunderstood by philistines.

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Playing politics

Honestly, I am disappointed and angry. Here we are, I believe, confronting a crisis of monumental and lasting scope. Consider these stories from AlterNet:

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Posted by on May 28, 2008 in Australia, Brendan Nelson, challenge, current affairs, Kevin Rudd, Political, politics