Thursday, November 29, 2007

Everybody back to Debus

As predicted by so many, Bob Debus was successful in taking the seat of Macquarie. He was the former state member of the Blue Mountains and well known there and in NSW more generally for his ministerial roles. He also benefited from the redrawing of the electoral boundaries and from the general swing to Labor.

And the much loathed PM John Howard looks to have lost his own seat - only the second Prime Minister ever to do so.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bad news bear

Student defends Briton jailed for insulting Islam
Wednesday Nov 28 07:51 AEDT

A 7-year-old Sudanese student on Tuesday defended the British teacher accused of insulting Islam, saying he had chosen to call a teddy bear Mohammad because it was his own name.

Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old teacher at the Unity High School in Khartoum, was arrested on Sunday after complaints from parents that she had insulted Islam's Prophet by allowing the bear to be named Mohammad. She is facing a third night in jail without being formally charged.

"The teacher asked me what I wanted to call the teddy," the boy said shyly, his voice barely rising above a whisper. "I said Mohammad. I named it after my name," he added.

He said he was not thinking of Islam's Prophet when asked to suggest a name, adding most of the class agreed with his choice.

In a writing exercise students were asked to keep a diary of what they did with the teddy bear. "Some people took the teddy home and took it places with them ... like the swimming pool," the child said.

Mohammad said Gibbons was "very nice" and he would be upset if she never came back to teach. He added Gibbons had not discussed religion nor did she mention the Prophet.

"We studied maths and English and spelling," he said, rubbing his mop of short, curly hair.

Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told Reuters formal charges would be levelled once investigations had been completed.

"(The charges) are under the Sudanese penal code ... insulting religion and provoking the feelings of Muslims," he said.

"These are preliminary — after investigation the final charges will be ascertained," he added.

If charged and convicted of insulting Islam, Gibbons could be sentenced to 40 lashes, six months in prison or a fine, lawyers said.

Given that half the male Arab world is named Mohammad (even the "Justice" Minister has a variant of the name), isn't this a bit bloody stupid?

What's wrong with teddy bears anyway? If anything the bear should feel insulted. I can't remember the last time one issued a fatwah on anyone or married a child bride or declared a jihad.

Maybe all the Mohammads/Muhammads/Mohameds could gather around in a circle and whip each other forty times for daring to have the same name as the Prophet. Jesus!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

On our election

If you don't want to be bombarded with election material, it's best not to ever write to your local member. At least that's the lesson I seem to be getting as our local member, Kerry Bartlett, fights for his political life in what is now very much a marginal seat.

Since my response letter to his welcoming me to the electorate ten years ago was overwhelmingly critical of Liberal Party policy, I don't know what he hopes to achieve by sending me enough paper to warrant a pulp mill. I think he's a pretty decent guy but I've hated his government for a long time and nothing would convince me to vote for anyone associated with the current Ministers.

I took the Get Up poll that tells you, based on your responses, which candidate most fits with your preferences and - no surprises - the Green candidate came up trumps, followed by Labor. It was reassuring to know that I was pledging my allegiance to a party that really reflected my core values.

For the rest of you lot: vote Green in the Senate. Or anyone other than the major parties; just grab a brain. the Upper House is supposed to be a house of review. Ensure that it is.

I confess that I've had a history of being a 'swinging voter' but that swinging has been between third parties like the Greens and the old ADs and exercising my anarchistic conscience and not voting for any of them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Onya Ben

Amazingly, to those who know me, I didn't mention the forceful farce that was the APEC summit when it was on but this article came up when googling an acquaintance of mine. (and I think they mean 'flautist')

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Another correspondent dismissed the 'hysteria' on the grounds that they can remember being terribly upset in the Seventies over an impending Ice Age, which never occured. It's fair enough to be concerned at being gyped; especially if you really took it to heart. I have some sympathy with this. But it does not change the fact that, whether for or against, the reality will trammel on. Believing that global warming is a beat-up because global cooling was does not make it so.

Rather than relaxing in front of your energy-hungry appliances and pretending the threat doesn't exist, if you are serious about the issue, you will seek an at least cursory explanation for coral bleaching. Why is the Great Barrier Reef under such threat if not global warming? If there is global warming but it's not the result of manmade CO2 emissions then what does cause it and what can we do about it? That is the only legitimate approach to the whole matter.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A word of explanation

The reason I've singled out Bosun of Mackay for opprobrium is not because we have different political viewpoints. For example, I would not use such immoderate language on a rusted-on Howard voter who believes that Work Choices is a way of increasing employment and that the trade-off in working conditions is worth it. I would disagree, obviously, but I would do so in polite terms.

Bosun of Mackay is a drooping dick because he is doing something that contains no value whatsoever. Even if his argument is that the true cause of global warming is cosmic radiation entering the Earth's atmosphere, being wasteful goes completely against the grain. I was brought up on a farm and our isolation and lack of access to resources meant that we were accutely conscious to use wisely what we had. We would never think of pulling a stunt like he/she did just to make some kind of daft statement.

I guess having to cart your own water and run out in the middle of the night to refill the diesel generator does wonders in bringing you to a direct understanding of how you are using resources; how finite and precious they are.

Don't forget too that this was an area that voted Country Party. We hadn't heard of a Green party and most saw Labor as the enemy. The only time I ever saw farmers protest is when something the government was doing directly affected them. I know there are few vocations where people start to think they are the essential cogs in the machinery but, trust me, no one has a thing on farmers in this regard. And that's largely because they are genuinely self-sufficient for so much.
So this emphatically has nothing to do with being of the Left or being a "greenie".

I've never been to Mackay. I understand it's a larger centre. I'm sure Bosun is an isolated case. Perhaps Midshipman of Mackay has a rainwater tank down the side and First Mate of Mackay has a solar panel on her roof.

The fact is that we do affects not just us and our future generations but everyone everywhere. Leaving on lights in rooms you're not using or turning up the airconditioner when opening a window would have the same effect is as boorish and infantile in its own way as any randomly hostile act and Bosun of Mackay deserves nothing so much as good kick up the arse.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What we're up against

Is it because we don't have so much to worry about in Aus, headless corpses haven't caught on, but there seems to be an aura of pig ignorance that even a cursory glance at the news should dispel. I refer to this comment regarding the Earth Day event, where households were encouraged to turn off their lights in a symbolic nod to the threat of global warming:

On Saturday night we also had our own protest at home - turned on every light in the house and the aircon too for an hour.

I will not be railroaded by zealots into feeling guilty and turning off lights to sit in the dark!

Bosun of Mackay (Reply)

Boy, that's some protest. How brave! How fucking goddamn revolutionary! This was a letter in response to an article from some journalistic lightweight named Andrew Bolt who devotes an inordinate amount of column space to condemning us greenie types for giving a shit (unlike Bosun of Mackay)

Instead of worrying about being 'railroaded by zealots' you inconsiderate cockhead, why don't you invest some time reading a real newspaper instead of the grubsheets you currently sully your, admittedly small, mind with, then you'd read the following:

The most authorative scientific report on the planet's health has found water, land, air, plants, animals and fish stocks are in "inexorable decline" as 2007 became the first year in human history when most of the world's population lived in cities.

The United Nations' Global Environment Outlook-4 report, released in New York, reveals a scale of unprecedented ecological damage, with more than 2 million people possibly dying prematurely of air pollution and close to 2 billion likely to suffer absolute water scarcity by 2025.

Put bluntly, the report warns that the 6.75 billion world population, "has reached a stage where the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available."

And it says climate change, the collapse of fish stocks and the extinction of species "may threaten humanity's very survival".

[Marian Wilkinson, Environment Editor SMH 26/10/07]

But no doubt Bosun of Mackay will be wasting those precious neurons lambasting John Travolta for being a hypocrite and owning all those jets, or Al Gore for having an enviro-unfriendly mansion. Got news for you guy, your point isn't going to stop the polar icecaps melting and isn't going to stop you from appearing to be the selfish cretin you so obviously are.

[blogger's note: I have deliberately used immoderate language here to demonstrate ways in which the Right conduct debates. Insults instead of facts, unreason and reaction instead of thoughtful weighing of the issues, free of cant]

Monday, November 05, 2007

Gone Bush

I confess that I'm not much one for the fine arts. My main interest in poetry is in writing it - which is fine: if it's good enough for a young Leonard Cohen..
I don't understand opera never mind appreciate it. My last attempt at listening to classical music on my iPod shuffle resulted in me being bored; pretty much the same thing as happens when I listen to ABC National or 2MBS for any length of time. And most abstract art looks like rubbish to me.

The theatre is another area where my attendance is not enough to keep thespians in hot dinners, or two-minute noodles for that matter.
But I have this friend who writes plays.

So it was that I and my partner ventured down to Newtown to view the latest play he and his playwright-in-arms had written. I had seen a couple of his previous efforts at Short and Sweet Festivals but they are necessarily constructed differently and only one part of a larger bill. This was their first full-length effort and very good too.

Being from the bush proper, and living in the Blue Mountains, where the play is set, I could vouch for the 'authenticity' (although, being a comedy, this wasn't the primary requirement), McDonald's in Leura aside. The performance were all most animated and it could be reasonably called an entertaining night out.