November 5, 2008
(politics) ... and exhale.America: thanks.
November 4, 2008
(politics) A plea...Please America, do the right thing. Vote for the right guy. For you, your country and for the rest of us.
September 13, 2007
(politics) Howard's goneIn recent weeks I've realised that I dearly wanted Howard to contest the next election and lose. That is, I wanted his party to lose government and I wanted him to suffer the personal defeat of his own seat. I couldn't conjure any sympathy for him, he's caused enough pain and anguish over the last years that I can't see he deserves any. For a while I thought that my wish would come true, but now, with Rudd riding high in the polls, it appears I won't get my wish.
July 10, 2005
(food) Finding sushi heaven (again)When I first moved to Melbourne in 2000, I stumbled across the delights of Jamon Sushi quite accidentally. I then made it a personal rule to eat at Jamon before enjoying a gig at the legendary Continental, a short distance up the street. Then the Continental closed. Then Jamon moved to Richmond. When I finally got around to visiting the new Jamon, it was closed. Then it vanished again. Last week I did some digging around the internet again and found new references to it in South Yarra. A quick check of the White Pages indicated that yes, now it existed again. Hurrah! My Saturday night dining plans needed no further organising.
So what's so good about Jamon? His name is Charles. He's the one behind the bar preparing all of the food as you look on. He's the one who'll ask you if you've tried a particular delicacy, and when you say no, he'll place a sampler in front of you. He has a menu but you don't feel like you need to see it because he'll soon figure out what you like and prepare exactly what you want. On this visit, he left me flabbergasted: he not only remembered that I had once brought my parents in to sample his food, he even remembered my name, despite not having seen me for almost 3 years. This is a guy who cares about his customers almost as much as he cares about sushi.
So if you're in Melbourne and craving some good sushi, make your way to Jamon in Murphy St, South Yarra. You won't be disappointed.
January 21, 2004
(politics) Howard teaches Wedge Politics 101There's been much hoo-ha in the media over the last couple of days after Howard said this:
Some schools think you offend people by having nativity plays. I think that it's a reflection of the extent to which political correctness overtook this country, particularly through the teaching unions, which I think are a bit out of step.
People are looking increasingly to send their kids to independent schools for a combination of reasons. For some of them, it's to do with the values-driven thing; they feel that government schools have become too politically correct and too values-neutral.
So why has Howard said this? He has shown no evidence for what he's saying and he won't explain it further. If he was hoping to achieve some sort of change in the schools, he can't do that without explaining himself and perhaps offering some solutions.
The only conclusion I can some to is that Howard is playing wedge politics (again). What's the message he's trying to send? He wants to remind everyone that he espouses traditional christian values. Using the dog-whistle technique, he has not explicitly said this but in mentioning 'nativity plays' (again, no specific examples) he's made it clear that religion is a factor.
I've no problem with Howard claiming to be a devout christian (each to their own) but I do have a problem with schools or governments teaching that christianity is the superior religion. I prefer the popularly accepted concept that everyone should be considered equal and treated equally. Maybe schools should teach children about the Bible, but that means they should also teach children about the Koran and the teachings of Buddha and the other major world religions. Howard has said in the past that he believes that whole 'equality' concept so he shouldn't disagree with this.
But then we get this sort of garbage from Tony Abbott on AM:
TONY ABBOTT: There's no doubt that many parents are opting for private schools
over public schools. There is an established trend, it's been going on now for a
couple of decades
MATT BROWN: Is that because of political correctness, though?
TONY ABBOTT: Certainly, I think that there is a tendency in some schools to ignore what might be described as traditional values, to pretend that all value systems are equal, and I just don't think that's true and I don't think the Australian people think it's true.
MATT BROWN: What's the proof of that? What's the proof of that happening in our public schools?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, it's interesting that whenever issues like this come up, the only value that politically correct educators can come up with is that they really supported tolerance, and
MATT BROWN: That's a pretty good value, isn't it?
TONY ABBOTT: It is a good value, but sometimes I think that in modern Australia we end up tolerating the intolerable.
But then, maybe it has a use. It is an election year and Howard won the last election by victimising asylum seekers and adopting certain One Nation policies so maybe this is more of the same. Initially I thought it was Howard being careless with his words but with other members of the government lining up to agree with him, it seems clear that this is more than an off-the-cuff comment. To me it looks like he's using (implied) racist statements to again drive a wedge through the Labor constituency and win another 3 years in power. Now that's what I really call intolerable.
January 20, 2004
(random) Dreadful tragedy or dreadful overreaction?This appeared in The Age today:
The cricket fraternity throughout Australia expressed shock yesterday at the
death of David Hookes. In a nation without aristocracy, Hookes was one of those
rarities, a prince among men.
To follow up the tragic incident, the Victorian Govt has announced they'll make some changes to the law:
A spokesman for Victoria's Police Minister Andre Haermeyer said new legislation
would significantly update the Private Security Agents Act which regulated the
crowd controllers industry.
Would they be rushing around to do this if this had not been a sportsman? When so many people die across the country every day from all manner of causes, why does this one require changes to the law above all others? Shouldn't we be prioritising according to what changes to the law are likely to have the greatest impact on the wider community?
The loss of David Hookes is indeed a tragedy for his family and the cricket community but from what I've read the last couple of days, I think even David would be embarrassed by the unbridled hysteria his death has provoked.
January 14, 2004
(politics) National security stupidityFrom all reports, the Australian government is pretty keen on buying missile defence technology from the US. There's been a lot of media coverage of it but there's one question I haven't seen answered yet: why do we need it? Is there a risk of some country attacking us anytime soon? Our participation in the Iraq war perhaps makes us more likely to cop a terrorist attack (thanks John!) but I don't think this US system is meant to prevent someone firing a rocket launched missile at an aircraft as it takes off.
The other really crazy thing about us buying into this technology is the basic question of whether it works: I've heard of plenty of trials of it but only one success. Even if someone could say the technology now worked reliably, how many would we need to buy to protect the whole country? Would we need to know about the attack in advance so that the system could be ready to shoot down the missile when it's launched? Aren't these common sense questions? If so why isn't anyone asking them?
Today there's been some criticism of the e-visa system, saying it doesn't do enough to verify the identities of those applying for visas. As usual, the criticism has come from someone respected in their field (ie. a non-political academic) and as usual, the government has dismissed criticism. Ruddocks arguments are curious:
"And to ask every tourist who is seeking to come to Australia during the course
of a year to apply for a paper-based visa where you see them face-to-face would
essentially bring it to halt."
Of course, even if you verify their identity, that doesn't stop terrorism. Ruddock makes that point:
"If he'd been applying for a paper-based visa and wasn't on the alert system,
what would you have known about him?" Mr Ruddock asked.
"He would have got a visa unless there was something that drew attention to the fact that he was a person of concern."
January 6, 2004
(politics) Fed Govt tells public: pay for your own childcareHere's proof it's the political silly season:
"I think for a lot of Australians, they might have to pay a bit more to
acknowledge that child-care workers are looking after the most precious resource
we have," he [Larry Anthony, Children and Youth Affairs Minister] told The Age.
"(Parents) are quite happy to pay $70 an hour to a plumber, but not so keen on paying a couple of dollars an hour for child care."
(see full article)
Much was made of the govts 'baby bonus' scheme in the runup to the last election but I read something the other day that said very few families were able to take advantage of it because of the complicated rules associated with claiming it. Then the govt declined the opportunity to embrace paid maternity leave. Why does this government have such a problem with families having children?