Daily Archives: October 24, 2008

Milestone: visitor #275,000

That is by Sitemeter count and refers to all the sites and blogs, mostly these Floating Life blogs, that I have applied this meter to since July 2001.


To see how things were 275,000 visits ago: Found — a whole stack of my old entries! 🙂



On despising Turnbull and the Opposition again…

Truly the situation is beyond mere mortals such as I confess I am, not only here but in the world at large. I mean we have had Greenspan in the USA admitting that the whole system is flawed — a late discovery from one who followed, so Jon Taplin has informed us, the batty beliefs of Ayn Rand in the past. That’s a bit like taking your science from Paracelsus isn’t it?

I do commend Jim Belshaw’s post on these matters: Ken Henry, Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian Government’s bank deposit guarantee – issues arising. Jim is better informed than I, and not uncritical of the Rudd government’s style. However, on one key matter Jim notes:

My point on media and opposition comments about problems with the guarantee package probably seems obscure. My point is that for a period those comments actually encouraged a run on other financial institutions.

Does this mean that the comments should not have been made? I suspect that, so far as the opposition is concerned, the answer is yes.

Now we have an ongoing development: Swan’s Centrelink suggestion criticised. That does sound as if Wayne has been foot-in-mouth, but I heartily agree with a comment on that ABC story:

Both parties are right on the issue, but both are wrong at the same time. A middle ground needs to be found soon and both sides need to eat some humble pie so that this issue doesn’t get any worse. Rudd was wrong in not being forthright about the advice, or not seeking enough advice. Although he did need to act soon to prevent a lot of the smaller players from going under sue to a run on the banks….doubt Banks like Suncorp or BOD would have lasted more than a few more weeks if they kept going the way they had. Turnbull should have brought this issue to a head before they agreed to pass it. Although I can appreciate they ran the risk of delaying something that needed to be put in and I think they did ask these questions and got no answers/belittled…

And with this:

I think Turnbull must hose down his rhetoric. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything but make a bad situation worse.

Amen to that!

It is a shame that we play politics the way we do, especially given such a serious situation. If only the Opposition could get over big-noting and point-scoring, and also if only the government did not feel they have to react accordingly and had been a bit better organised up front… Then perhaps we would have had the genuine criticisms that have emerged amidst the muck flying around addressed. Can we ever have a system where an Opposition party can couch its critique of such matters in a respectful manner? Can we ever have both sides agreeing on the basic action to be taken and genuinely scrutinising that action for flaws and dangers, and then agreeing on it?

Or am I dreaming?

I am so over the resemblance between our parliamentary discussions and the worst aspects of school-age debating… I can’t help feeling they are letting the country down by taking that approach, and this is, repeat, this really is serious stuff.


You know something? (As Kevin Rudd might say.) I am beginning seriously to think it’s time they turned off the TV cameras in Parliament. The bastards perform to them… I really think this has contributed to our parliamentary histrionics over recent years… Let’s just hear them droning on on radio, or read Hansard.

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Posted by on October 24, 2008 in Australia, Political, politics


One of 2008’s top reads: Tom Perrotta “The Abstinence Teacher”

abstinence_teacher_jacket I borrowed Tom Perrotta, The Abstinence Teacher (NY St Martin’s Press 2007) on spec from Surry Hills Library and have found it a delight, but more than that – aside from perhaps being a bit didactic. It is comedy of manners 21st century suburban US style rather than satire. It isn’t cruel enough to be satire. (I have in mind there, for example, Evelyn Waugh’s classic The Loved One, which really is rather bitter and supercilious, though laugh-out-loud funny.) There are very funny moments in The Abstinence Teacher, but the humour is more often wry and kindly. Even so, the novel exposes utterly the mindlessness that is fundamentalist moral thinking, especially but not only in the area of sexuality. It is also quite a frightening expose of the curriculum programs proposed by the Religious Right, showing that to regard such programs as “education” is a travesty.

On his own site Tom Perrotta describes the novel:

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. It’s got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. It’s the kind of place where parents are involved in their children’s lives, where no opportunity for enrichment goes unexplored.

Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school. She believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Ruth’s younger daughter’s soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Tim belongs to The Tabernacle, an evangelical Christian church that doesn’t approve of Ruth’s style of teaching. And Ruth in turn doesn’t applaud The Tabernacle’s mission to take its message outside its doors.

Adversaries in a small-town culture war, Ruth and Tim instinctively mistrust each other. But when a controversy on the soccer field pushes the two of them to actually talk to each other, they are forced to take each other at something other than face value.

The Abstinence Teacher exposes the powerful emotions that run beneath the surface of modern American family life and explores the complex spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.

Yes there are soccer moms (and dads), and a wonderfully drawn gay couple… I would seriously suggest Christians read this one; they may think again afterwards – at least I hope so. The book just may prove subversive in the benign way good literature often is. If you are not a religious person you will enjoy it anyway, so long as you don’t mind a book that is really quite suburban, but better and more believable than soap opera; many of your fears about the Religious Right in America will be confirmed as you read, but you may find yourself empathising more with people you might not otherwise consider… That can’t be bad.

This is a very wise, and often funny, novel.

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Posted by on October 24, 2008 in America, Best read of 2008, book reviews, Christianity, culture wars, education, faith, faith and philosophy, fundamentalism and extremism, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, pluralism, reading, religion, right wing politics, Top read, USA