I went to see Paddington this evening.
I realise it must be confusing for readers here, as I have two good friends named Paddington Bear and Sir Poddington. And confusingly, if either of them is more likely to end up with a “sir” in his name, it’d be Paddington, not Sir Pod. But hey, that’s just how it is. I know who they are, and that’s what matters.
Paddington Bear is, as his name suggests, a very proper English gentleman. We used to joke he was the sort of person who should have been born 70 years old, and an arch-conservative and he’s always kind of resented the world for the fact that he wasn’t. Despite being my age, or slightly younger, he is quite high up within the Imperial bureaucracy and Caerulia once described him as the ultimate dinner guest, for he is able to have an intelligent discussion about so many different topics.
This evening, we discussed law, public policy, the recent election, government advertising rules, production standards of British versus American television programs, the concept of “turning points” in battles, wars and history, a theory that girls who grow their hair really long are stuck in their childhoods, how one proves that a ‘gift’ has actually been given and how moving multiple times between Jerusalem & Rome has set me back in many ways. He’s just that sort of person.
And it was kinda nice to hear him tell me that he thinks I’m as interesting to talk to as I find him.
That is what I missed in Jerusalem – intelligent discussion.
Then, on the way home, some dickhead tried to run me off the road several times. I guess it proves that even in Rome, not everyone’s a Knight of the Realm.
Over the last few weeks, while I haven’t been blogging, my average visitor numbers increased. INCREASED! I have no idea how or why. And they’re coming from schools in North America and all over the UK. Again, no idea why.
With regards to the new direction I mentioned yesterday, I will outline it over the next week. But it’s similar to the overall heading that was part of the “Return Home” plan last year.
Mick had a good point. Today, he commented on my last post, asking where I am? And it’s a good point because I haven’t set up a new blog, as promised. I am not even sure I will. At least for now. It was a good idea. Still is. But I stopped writing because I’d lost the direction implied in my title. After a few weeks’ contemplation though, I may have found some once more. Ironically, in a place I never expected to find it. And with the help of some people who could not have realised they were aiding me, because they were trying not to.
I don’t like “the holiday period”. For the last ten years, I haven’t been able to spend Christmas the way I’d like to. Four years ago, my father died. A few years before that, I made a major mistake in going out for a curry with a friend. And in 2005, I was falsely arrested and imprisoned. Never a good period. The only real bright light was in 1998. Because Lucius was born.
In the last week, I have been reassessing some things. The weekend just gone has been especially useful. After it though, I felt like shit going to work for the first full work week in a month.
This is the last post here.
I’m registering a domain name – I’ll come back and edit this post and tell you what it is once I’ve done it – and I’ll sort out full WordPress at the new site. WordPress.com is ok, but has little niggling restrictions, and it’s kind of like typing with one hand behind my back.
So until I see you on the other side…
I’ve just been to Caerulia’s. She’s been quite unwell, and she sent me a text that made me think she was feeling down. So I went over.
When I got there, I found out two things.
- my Lancer which has been dead since the great return has been vandalised and the bonnet will probably need replacing; and
- Caerulia’s car was broken into late last night – they managed to get it down the driveway and onto the street, but failed to get it started. A neighbour called the police, who were powerless to do anything.
Her neighbourhood used to be nice. Now, it’s full of scum.
So we’re putting some extra security in at her place. And I’ll be selling the Barina to get the Lancer working again. More money I don’t have.
INT. LESTER BANGS' BEDROOM -- NIGHT Crazy jazz is playing. Lester Bangs on the phone. LESTER BANGS Aw, man. You made friends with them! See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong. INTERCUT: INT. ROLLING STONE -- NIGHT William in the empty Rolling Stone office. WILLIAM (ruefully) Well, it was fun. LESTER BANGS They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not "cool." WILLIAM I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn't. LESTER BANGS That's because we are uncool! And while women will always be a problem for guys like us, most of the great art in the world is about that very problem. Good-looking people have no spine! Their art never lasts! They get the girls, but we're smarter. WILLIAM I can really see that now. LESTER BANGS Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, they got a big head start. WILLIAM I'm glad you were home. LESTER BANGS I'm always home! I'm uncool! WILLIAM Me too! LESTER BANGS (leveling) The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool.
My favourite Aussie band (of those who are still together and playing gigs) is playing a gig on the 29th at the Hopetoun Hotel. Email or text me if you wanna go.
Oh, Marquis, I crashing at your place for this gig. Hope that’s ok?
Have you ever noticed how Maccas is like casual sex? Well, more like a one-night stand actually.
You see it there, so full of potential. It’s not an every day thing. You recall those days when you were younger and it was a ‘special occasion’ thing, even if now you can have it whenever you want. And it’s enticing. On the posters, it looks so desirable, so delicious.
So you drive thru, and buy your favourite items. And then you indulge.
But afterwards, you can’t help thinking “Meh, why did I bother?”
Ever noticed that?
Nah, me neither.
The last time that the Federal government changed, I was working for it. I was a public servant in the Tax Office. I was also quite an active union delegate. And in that capacity, I was attending protest marches which opposed government policy.
After maybe a year, I realised that I couldn’t work for a government in the morning, and attend a protest against that same government in the afternoon. From then, I made the decision to not work for a government I wouldn’t vote for.
As you can imagine, in a city like Rome, where more than half the economy is centred on the government, that restricted my options over the last decade. That is part of the reason I left and went to Jerusalem.
Last night though, I watched Thank You For Smoking. It’s a crap movie, I wouldn’t recommend it. But in it, there was a line that so many of the world’s evils have been done in the name of paying the mortgage. So much of what we do which we wouldn’t otherwise is done simply in the pursuit of a pay-cheque.
When I returned to Rome, and began looking for work, some employment agencies found it odd that I told them I wouldn’t work for certain government departments. I wouldn’t work for Immigration (the worst of the worst!), Workplace Relations, Defence. Mainly because these organisations – under the Howard regime – were guilty of the worst crimes against the citizenry. Too many Romans though view their work as “I’m doing what I’m told” or “I’m just implementing the government policy”.
Where does collaboration end? And how deep do we have to be in before we can no longer rely on the Nuremberg defence?
Over at 2 Blog or not 2 Blog, Mick’s written recently about the proposed legislation to allow homosexual ‘civil unions’. And he wrote this the same day I had an extensive debate on email with Sioneld about this proposal. THEN, I watched the latest episode of The West Wing that I’d downloaded (S02, Ep07 The Portland Trip) which covered the topic of gay marriage as well. So it’s been everywhere in my world in the last few days.
Despite being a card-carrying member of the party that has introduced this change, I remain unconvinced. Not because I’m anti the idea. But I’ve been asking those I’ve discussed it with whether the change should be supported. Up to now, I’m yet to get a decent explanation why.
In discussion with Sioneld, the topic became about whether gay couples are discriminated against. And since the legislative changes are giving them a status that is similar, but not the same as, the straight community then the law fails. After all, if you’re stopping discrimination by discriminating, that’s just hypocritical (not to mention silly).
Sioneld then justified this discrimination on the basis that the wider community wouldn’t accept the non-discriminating position (gay marriage). But if the community wouldn’t accept it, then the reformers should be setting about changing the public’s position, rather than replacing one grade of discrimination for another. Introducing a law that isn’t supported by the community is bad public policy. One should win the hearts and minds campaign first.
I also think that introducing a law in one small part of the country that will not be recognised in the other 99.5% of the country is not only silly, but it’s bad law.
I put the challenge out to those who say this change is a good thing – show me why it’s good. Show me a need. Show me how this legislation will fix the need. If your argument comes down to “the need is obvious” you’ve lost the debate. If “the need is obvious”, then I wouldn’t be asking the question. If “the need is obvious”, it’ll be a piece of piss for you to demonstrate it. So go on.
I got broadband through work around October 19. Unfortunately, that same day, one of the greatest websites ever, TV Links, stopped working. Don’t bother with the link, it doesn’t work anymore. Its loss though soured the happiness I felt having a new unlimited broadband account.
It forced me though to begin exploring something I hadn’t done up to then, this whole torrenting game. Right now, I’m torrenting all seven seasons of The West Wing. The painful process of how torrenting makes its own mind up as to what order to download the data makes it very difficult to watch episodes in order. So I’m slowly making my way through.
I was watching The Lame Duck Congress tonight (Season 2, Episode 6) and something struck me. Jed Bartlett is a short-arse. And this stops me being able to see him as President.
George Bush is tall. So was his dad. As is Clinton. Reagan was. Ford too. I not sure about Carter and Nixon – does anyone know? Was Kennedy? Johnston was tall. Eisenhower definitely was. As was FDR. Truman may have been short. I not sure. Does America ever elect a short man as President? What does that say about them?
While managing Trouser Trouser (about 8 years ago), I met George. George isn’t a person. George is a band. Prinny had been telling me for a year or two of a great band she loved but in the summer of 2001, they broke on Triple J and suddenly everyone knew who they were, and knew their song “Spawn”. Because I knew Prin, she gave me Tyrone’s email address and I offered him somewhere to stay when George were doing their first national tour. Five of them (plus their sound-engineer/roadie with the lovely name of “Chewie”) crashed in Caerulia’s parents’ spare place for a few days.
That week, when I first met them, I fell in love with every member of the band and later even Paulie, their replacement bass player. They were lovely people. And the time I spent up north reinforced the friendship as Tyrone often invited me out when I first moved up there to check out new bands and he tried back in 2003 to try and get me into the band management scene up there.
This weekend, the prettiest member of George, is visiting town and I’m going to see her perform at Tilley’s. If anyone would like to take my spare ticket, let me know. Olivia was going to come along, but has to go to a wedding. So I’ve got her ticket spare. Everyone else, visit Katie’s site and have a listen to her new material. It’s really good.
The English language is missing a word. Or maybe just my vocabulary is? It’s the word that would be used to describe the joy one experiences when one finds something thought long-lost, or even whose existence was forgotten so long ago, it’s as if one is finding it for the very first time.
I’ve been feeling that a lot today. Because I’ve spent the day backing up hard drives in preparation for a reformat and Windows reinstall. Along the way though, I have found piles and piles of mp3 files I had forgotten.
When under full steam, a ship doesn’t travel in a straight line. Of course, it tries to. But the current of the water means the direction is always slightly altering. So the helmsman is keeping an eye on the destination, where he wants it to go, and adjusts constantly to make sure the lumbering ship maintains something like the desired course.
Aurelius’ ship was mostly on course. Noone suspected the presence of the submarine. Noone saw the trail of bubbles that signalled the approaching torpedo. Noone expected it. But then came the explosion. If the ship sinks or stays afloat will depend very much on what the crew does. And whether the submarine captain has fled after his perfect shot, or hangs around to deliver the coup de grace.
There’s stuff I know about. Because I’ve had such an eclectic range of work and study, it’s hard though to nail down a specialty subject for me. I wrote about it kind of once before. But having said that, one topic I do know a bit about is politics. Not surprising I guess. I’ve studied it at uni, worked for two politicians and one party office, managed a candidate’s campaign in a state election and been politically active for the last fifteen or so years. So I accept that not everyone knows as much about the topic as I do, but in recent weeks, everyone’s had an opinion about it.
For the most part, their opinions fascinate me. Why do they form the opinions they do? I’m interested in the reasons behind them.
Not surprisingly for one interested in such a question, I have left a lot of comments on blogs recently questioning people about their ideas. As I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s my job to sell anyone on any belief. I’m just curious about the logic-steps they go through to get where they get.
So it’s kind of annoying when some bloggers rant their opinions and when questioned, when asked the reasons, they get abusive. Like questioning their opinions is tantamount to insulting them.
Of course, the reason is simple – they haven’t put enough thought into their statements, and so they have no idea how to back up what they say. I just don’t like intellectual laziness. And especially in my specialty subject. It’s kind of like if you were a lawyer, and I met you at a dinner party and proceeded to tell you my half-formed and uneducated ideas about what is wrong with law and justice in the country. It’d just make me look stupid. (I have to admit, I have been guilty of that, but at least when I am, I know I’m not arguing from a position of strength)
When the Costello brothers first came to prominence, I was puzzled. Peter the economic rationalist and Tim the bleeding heart. One became Treasurer in a conservative administration. The other head of a charity. Clearly both able men. But I always wondered what their Christmas dinner conversation would be like.
Later though, when Peter became more established in his role as Treasurer, he’d occasionally give a speech about his vision. And just like his brother or other prominent conservatives in the past – Kennett, Hewson, Fraser – it became obvious that behind all the econocrat language and harsh policy that is required when one is hanging out with a bunch like the Tories, he had a vision for the country. Vision of the likes of Keating. And Keating’s vision was one of the things I loved most.
After my time working at the House, I developed the opinion that with economic credentials and a vision, Peter could be a very formidable opponent. If we thought Emperor John was tough to beat, he’d be a lot harder. Because he’d steal a lot of our vote. Him and his vision.
I put this theory to a couple of staffers from Labor. They scoffed. For they admitted Peter had “the vision thing” in a way John didn’t, but he never had the balls to put it out there. Never had the guts to take on a popular Emperor and take power in order to carry out his vision. “Plenty of vision, No balls” was the assessment. Unlike Keating. When the time came, Keating didn’t shy away. He felt Bob had to go, so he put him to the sword.
Last Saturday night, Peter started speaking about wanting “a nation with ambition as large as the continent on which we stand”, I thought “finally! After all this time, he’s going to start proclaiming his vision. And we’ll either have to have vision as grand as his, or be a one-term government.” At last we can live in a country that desires to be better than “relaxed and comfortable” and a lot better than the petty money-grubbing selfish xenophobic place we’d become in the last decade. We could be a land worthy of ourselves.
Then, Sunday, Peter quit.
As Keating said “Tip, and no iceberg”.
Reichsministers Howard & Brough are gone. Ruddock remains. The fools – Coonan, Andrews, Abbott – remain. But with power stripped from their hands, they’re impotent. And their best hope today announced he’d not take leadership.
I’m sunburnt. Extremely sunburnt & sleep-deprived. I did all day at the polling booth. Then sat up watching the coverage and engaging in SMS conversations. By the end of the night, the only shadows were uncertainty in Bennelong and Swan.
It’s 9 years since my excommunication. And now we’ve won one, I can forgive myself.
I heard something on the radio today. They had a quiz question: “Who was the face on the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine in 1967?
A lady rang up and said “Paul McCartney” and the radio presenter said “Close, he was in the same band as Paul” and she said she didn’t know the names of the other Beatles.
And i began to wonder: do people really exist who can’t name them?
(For those of you who don’t know him – and let’s face it, that’s all of you – this picture reminds me of my cousin Marquis)
I’m stopping. Maybe I want a break. Maybe I want to stop. But until I want to un-stop, stopping is what I feel like doing.
Crab, you were right. They are.
Mick, I’ll come to one of your gigs this weekend.
Everyone else, why not come to one of Mick’s gigs this weekend?
On this video, ABC’s Mediawatch showed how Channel 10 has broken the law running subliminal advertising during the recent Aria Award presentation. Channel 10 has passed the buck and said it’s not subliminal advertising. The advertisers put their hands up and say “nothing to do with us”. The program’s producers say it was Channel 10 who did it.
I’d urge you all to watch the video. And if you think what’s been done is wrong, then do this:
- complain to the TV network (of course, I know none of you will, but I guess it’s an acceptable form of protest);
- highlight this behaviour;
- and most importantly, boycott the companies who pay for this kind of advertising (in this case: KFC, Bigpond, Chupa Chups & Olay).
The only way companies will be discouraged from this kind of deceitful (and illegal) conduct is if it hurts their bottom line. The only way to make corporations behave in a decent and civil manner is if not doing so impacts their profits. So I’d urge you to punish these corporations in the only way they’ll understand.
One aspect of life in Rome that differs from life in the provinces occurs at dinner parties. The kinds of dinner parties Caerulia & I used to have when we were married were interesting affairs. We’d invite 3-4 friends over. Everyone would bring a course, and the food would be shared at our table.
Because Rome is how it is, our guests would be people we knew from all different paths of our lives – old friends from university, work colleagues past and present, friends of friends, colleagues of mine from the Labor Party. And we’d always mix it up – we’d deliberately invite people who didn’t know each other so the social mix would be different each time.
Inevitably, the post-dinner conversation, usually while still at the table and consuming dessert or wine, would shift to solving the problems of the world, or at least our small portion of it. Caerulia had worked for some government departments, as had I. Our guests would have worked for a different mix, and so there was some overlap but generally coverage of a lot of different areas.
As people do in these situations, everyone would chip in with their small piece of the puzzle, but the solutions to most of the issues of the day were clear-cut and simple. In essence, you sit people down at a table from different sides of a problem, and they can solve it.
It always puzzled me therefore why our Imperial leaders make such bad decisions, or why policy differences seem so entrenched. I mustn’t be very bright because it took me a long time to find the answer. It’s politics.
This is highlighted by the current election campaign we’re in. Policies are not written because they are in the best interests of the country. But because they’re aimed at winning the vote in three weeks. And whoever wins, decisions wont be made sanely and sensibly next month either, because after the vote in three weeks, it’ll all be about winning votes in three years. Road funding. Health funding. Education funding. It’s all about winning votes in marginal seats. And that’s just about pandering to the self-interest of the voters who might swing one way or another.
We’re not yet in the same boat as the Americans – where their ruling class governs almost intentionally in the national dis-interest. But we’re not far off.
Last week, I downloaded a copy of Time On Earth, the ‘new’ Crowded House album. I like it, but I still hold to my belief that without Hessie, it’s not the Crowdies. The last few days, I’ve been trawling through my Crowded House CD collection. It’s extensive because they were one of the only bands where I followed them through their whole career and bought singles as well as albums. On YouTube, I started watching their videos as well. And it was there I found this.
I have just watched The Godfather. I’ve never seen it before, and in actuality, I still haven’t. Because the last few minutes on the DVD copy I watched were borked, so I’ve not seen from where they cut to Michael in Sicily.
While watching it though, I began to think about those small characters, the foot-soldiers who spend their whole life working for the big man, and never climbing to the top. No doubt some of them believe they are getting something back for the effort they put in. They’ll make powerful friends and allies, or good money and in exchange, they serve loyally.
But my mind was cast back to maybe two decades to the Timothy Zahn books that picked up the story after Return of the Jedi. While I was reading those books and following the battles between the New Republic and Admiral Thrawn, I thought then about the little guys. (By the way, I shant link to them, because the books are shite. If you need the proof by reading them, ask me, I’d gladly give you my copies). About those henchmen, bodyguards etcetera though who lay down their lives for their employer. Because that’s all he really was – Admiral Thrawn – he was an employer. Just like Don Corleone I suppose.
While many of us would go above and beyond the call of duty for an employer we liked, and we’d be loyal to a leader we respected, would we really go as far as to lose one’s life for them? Even though I have had some bosses I would have – and did – cop a lot for, I doubt I’d go quite that far. But what would I go that far for? A belief? An idea? What would you do it for?
For the record, that NaBloPoMo meme everyone does each November where they all blog every day, or write a novel in an afternoon or whatever – that’s a crock of shit. And you all know I don’t do memes – they’re evidence of a drought of ideas.
But onto what I wanted to say: with the new month, I had decided I would begin a new habit – changing something about my life; kind of a ‘new month’s resolution’. And this month, it was going to be to attend the gym daily. But then Jefferson sms-ed me this morning to see if I’d be in the Movember Challenge with him? See, even though Movember is a fundraising thing for prostate cancer or men’s health or something, Jefferson doesn’t do it as a fund-raiser; he just does it as an excuse to skip shaving for a month and thus irritate his lovely wife. Since I don’t have a lovely wife, I do it just as a way of saying to Jefferson “I can do that too”, and then we swap digital photos along the way. It’s silly, it’s pointless, and so as an activity for this month, it beats anything else we could think of.
So that’s the plan. No shaving for November. Just because.
Despite being a very political creature, and an active member of a political party, I think it’s abhorrent to tell people how they should vote. I also think it’s terrible for people to vote for a party that is not representative of their opinions.
Too often in modern democracies voters choose their political party the way they choose their football team. You know the kind of people – those who think that their full-forward is always in the right, even when he’s done a Tony Lockett and clocked the opposing fullback and broken his nose. So is it with politics – everything my guy says is right, everything your guy says is wrong. I’m the total opposite. I think that as someone who studied politics at uni, worked in the political realm and knows a lot about it, it’s my job not to tell you who to vote for, but to help you decide for yourself.
A few years ago, websites started popping up with “political compasses” on them. I always found them amusing because people who said they loved Party Leader 1 and despised Party B found themselves answering in ways that showed them more aligned to Party B.
Anyway, this election, here’s two political compasses to try. The Political Compass is US-based – it has a results page based on Australian parties though. And The Vote-a-matic is Australian. Neither are perfect, but both are better than deciding who to vote for based on who has the better hair stylist.
(Inspired by Enny)
Mick’s band, The DropBears, are playing next week. Everyone should come along!
I have been reading The Piping Shrike for a few months now. He’s a blogger who writes mainly about politics, but in a way I find refreshing because he’s got his own opinions, they’re very well written and he doesn’t seem to be just ranting a party line, as so many bloggers of a political leaning are prone to do (maybe even me?).
Anyway, the other day, I asked Shrike why he had disabled comments on his blog. His response was to say he didn’t think the world needed another forum for wild political arguments. I guess I agree with him.
But the question of the day therefore is – why have comments? What do they add to a blog? To your blog? To other blogs? Leave feedback, preferably lots of it.
While bored at work the other day, I was browsing the web and came across a number of Galactica-flavoured bumper stickers such as the topic above. Anyway, as I am sometimes prone to do, I made one of them my MSN away message. It said “I’m not a Cylon, but my imaginary girlfriend is”.
This prompted several people to message me asking what a Cylon was. hell-oh! Ever heard of google? Actually, if you don’t know what a Cylon is, where have you been?
I’ve been playing with YouTube, and featuring YouTube Sunday for several months. Of course, in the middle, I had to pause, when I didn’t have broadband access. But I decided now would be a good time to revisit the videos featured so far. So here, we have a summary. Provided for one of my friends. Who I made laugh today.
Enjoy. More next week.
At Monday night’s dinner, I had a surprise. At the time, I thought it was a good thing. Later, I wasn’t so sure.
As I mentioned last week, I used to work for Mr Beazley during his first stint as Leader of the Opposition. While there, I had about a dozen volunteer staff – uni students mostly – working for me. One of them, Karl, appeared at the dinner on Monday. And although Karl was one of my favourite people from the office, it bought up some things I’d prefer not to reflect on too often – namely the circumstances of my departure. And so while it was great seeing Karl again, it had a negative taste I’d probably have had a better week without.
Now it’s a few days later, and I think the solution is to have Karl over for dinner sometime soon. To catch up properly, and make sure we don’t let it be another 9 years between drinks.
I also canceled an evening with Sir Paddington Bear this week. I should remedy that too.
I didn’t name the blog I was criticising here. Although was I really criticising them? Or just saying they’d gone in a direction that I no longer found highly readable? I didn’t name them though.
The reason is that a couple of years ago I read a blogpost by someone who referred to cricket and all the way through the post, he’d give “translations” to foreign readers explaining what he was saying. I wrote a post in response, pretty much saying that I wouldn’t ever do such “translations” because if someone was reading my blog, and didn’t understand something, they could either look it up, assume the meaning from context, or just accept the way I wrote. But I made the mistake of actually referring to the post I disagreed with the style of. Amongst some people, that was some crime on par with killing baby harp seals.
The way I look at it though: if I were writing “I like what this person said here”, then linking to them would be okay. But why is it not okay if I’m disagreeing with them, saying that I would never write like example? Why is positive comment okay, but negative comment not?
I think the only difference is that some people cannot handle criticism. And if that is what they’re like, then really, I don’t have a lot of time for them.
I have a theory that all the Roman female bloggers I read live in Aranda (essept Enny, coz I know she doesn’t)
I dunno why. I just think so. If you have evidence to support or discount this theory, please do not share it.
I find that evidence only upsets my theories. I’m anti-evidence.
There’s a blog I used to read a lot. I really liked it. But then the writer became popular. And lots of blogs were pointing to them, so presumably, they gained a lot of readers.
I’ve mentioned before how I have read a lot about SEO, blogs as marketing tools, monetising blogs etc. So I know the methods that people use when they want to pimp their blog, make cash from their readers.
Anyway, this blog I used to read did all the tricks. Different streams of income; becoming an active part of the blog community; link-swapping; gradual changes to become “slicker”; becoming a recognised authority in their niche.
But ya know what? In the process, they became less interesting. I’ve recently been offline for a few weeks. Since getting back, I’ve been catching up on the blogs I used to read. And the blog I used to look forward to has changed.
I like to tell myself I write this for me, and to an extent that’s true. But like all bloggers, I like – and am a bit flattered by – the existence of an audience. I once said before “Here’s a trend in blogging and shoot me if I ever go down that path” and I gave an example, and was castigated for it. So this time I wont. Give an example I mean. But still shoot me if I take that path.
I didn’t watch it. I find them boring. Yeah, despite being the world’s biggest political junkie, I think they’re dull. But from the commentary today, I am pretty sure I made the right decision. I have though a couple of comments.
First, the Reichsminister for Health said today that the worm was irrelevant because it went negative the moment Emperor John began to speak. Before he’d even *said* anything, people were indicating negativity. Hey Tony, guess what – that means your leader is on the nose, and noone’s listening. That doesn’t mean the people are wrong – it means that, unless something changes fast, you’re on a path to destruction.
Second, and I’ll be brief – because I know noone gives a flying fuck about the election – I heard today that John was stressed and hostile in his demeanor, but Kev was much more amiable. Is it just me who thinks it’s sweetly ironic that after 11 years under Emperor John, it’s Kev who’s feeling relaxed and comfortable?
Tonight, I am going to a dinner. It’s to celebrate the anniversary of something Wellington & I did ten years ago.
When I joined the Labor Party in 1996, at the first meeting following the defeat of Emperor Paul the Great, and the establishment of the evil regime of Emperor John, I found myself in one of the largest branches in the city. There were about 150 people at my first meeting.
After I’d been in the Party a year or so, I began to think that the Aventine – my home area – had different issues to the residents of the Caelian, who made up the majority of the branch. The Aventine was a new district, and issues there were mainly about the need for services and employment. The Caelian had been established for a few generations, and so the issues were completely different. When I began to ask other Aventine members of the Party, I became friends with Wellington. Wellington and I began to look into the question of “How does one split a branch into two?” and since it hadn’t been done for over 30 years, noone knew. But Wellington & I persisted, and eventually we found out what needed to be done. We needed to get 15 Aventine Party members to sign a request, and the wheels could be set in motion. So we did.
A local MLA didn’t want the split to happen for factional reasons – he couldn’t be sure his faction would be able to control the new branch. He was thus pretty miffed when Wellington & I succeeded in forming it anyway. But given that he was the only MLA at subsequent elections who could campaign as being truly “local” for the interests of Aventine voters, he turned out to be a huge beneficiary of what we’d done.
When Wellington & I were going around getting the signatures, we impressed on the membership that the new branch wasn’t going to be run along factional lines – decisions would be done fairly and discussion encouraged. And for the most part, that’s how the branch has operated.
It’s ten years this week since the first meeting of the Aventine Labor Party branch. That’s what the dinner is for. The speaker at dinner will be the City Prefect from back then. In the last ten years, I’ve been in and out of the branch as I’ve left town, and even left the Party for a while. But Wellington’s been there the whole way through, even marrying one of the other members, and fathering a little girl born on Bastille Day a few years ago. (How lefty is that??) Hopefully, it’ll be the beginning of a lot of celebration for our little branch.
One of the most popular destinations in my archives, at least when it comes to Google, is the YouTube Sunday post featuring the Doug Anthony All Stars doing Throw Your Arms Around Me. I miss DAAS. I also find it rather enlightening that there is now a generation growing up who do not remember them. But their legacy lives on in some of this country’s musical comedy acts, especially one featured in today’s YouTube Sunday – Tim Minchin.
He did this song a few weeks ago on Paul McDermott’s Sideshow programme. I became an instant fan. He’s got the oddest ways of rhyming words in the song. But it’s not just the song – his facial expressions are priceless. Especially when he sings about “…you’d agree to adopt…” I wont ruin it by explaining – just take a look.
In 1996, after a year or more of bad poll results, Keating called an election.
In the opening weeks of the campaign, his government received a bounce in the polls, and for a brief moment, it looked winnable.
Then, he was slaughtered.
Last month, I promised I’d tell a story about my time at Duntroon. And since I like telling stories, here goes…
Once upon a time, I was working in the publishing area of the College. My job was to publish documents for the College. Things like exam papers, the little booklets they hand out to visitors at things like the Beating of the Retreat that we went to last month, that kind of thing
While working there, I was the only civilian in the office with 4 military people and the uniformed ones had some issues realising that being a civilian meant I didn’t live under exactly the same rules as they did. I didn’t have to show up at 7am for a run around the oval. I didn’t have to salute. I had set working hours, and when they were done, I was entitled to go home and unpaid overtime was something I could refuse to do.
As a result of this difference in status, there was some friction between me and my boss, Staff Sergeant Jacqui Van Beukering. So when I was told to do a publishing job that wasn’t for the College, but was a menu for a cafe run by the wife of a College staff member, my refusal to do so was taken poorly. We argued. I told her what she was instructing me to do was misuse of College resources, and I refused to carry out her orders.
Those of you who have worked for the Imperial government will know that refusing an instruction can result in disciplinary measures. I fully expected my actions to be examined and I was pretty secure in my position. I was also prepared to argue my case. After all, I was a union delegate at that stage, for all civilian staff in the College, so standing up to the hierarchy wasn’t something that overly concerned me.
Staff Sergeant Van Beukering’s boss, Captain Davis was called in. The issue was discussed. I stood my ground. The Captain instructed me to publish the cafe menu. I refused. So a union official was bought in. The union official backed my position. The soldiers wouldn’t alter their position, neither would I. A circuit breaker was needed. The Captain suggested the issue should be “investigated” and until the matter was resolved, I was sent home on full pay.
This may seem odd to those who have never worked for the government. But I was sent home. I was being paid. But I didn’t have to go to work. I originally thought this situation might last a day or two. I had underestimated the situation.
A few weeks later, while still on paid “leave” (although not actually using up any leave) I was chatting to a mate of mine who worked for the local MP. I told him that I was being paid, but didn’t have to go to work. So, since it was an election year, was there anything the Party could use my time for? He put me in touch with a chap named Justin who worked for Mr Beazley, the Leader of the Party at the time.
I met Justin and began to work a day or two a week in Beazley’s office. I loved the work though, so I expanded the days I was there until I was pretty much full-time. They weren’t paying me, but I was being paid by the College, so I didn’t care.
My role at Parliament House grew and grew until I was administering all the volunteer staff, using them not only for my role with Justin in media monitoring but also lending them out to Shadow Ministers like Faulkner, Latham, Evans, Lee and Kerr for research work – essentially the way a temp agency works. Only my volunteers weren’t paid more than their lunch money – they were just doing it because they loved it. But being uni students who were all passionate about politics, they were living their fantasies since every day they came to work, they were spending time with the Party leaders and MPs.
After several months, the issue of the refusal to follow instructions was resolved and I was advised I was able to return to work at the College. But by that time, I was working 115 hour weeks in Beazley’s office and so when I told Justin I had to go, he offered to add me to the payroll, so I could be paid to do what I previously was doing for the love of it. Naturally, I took up the offer.
So returning to Duntroon last month reminded me of how it was the stepping stone to a path that provided one of my great adventures. It was ten years ago. But I don’t regret leaving there. I guess even the smallest steps can take us places we never expect. We have to be prepared to take that step when it comes though.
There’s an election campaign on, and me, the biggest political junkie you all know is deathly silent. Nevermind, once I get the home broadband sorted (it’s not as sorted as I’d have liked it to be) then you’ll all get sick of my rantings.
My primary housemate – Steve – is ex-army. He’s trained mainly in communications (that means he’s done a lot of electronic work, intercepting other people’s communications I think). He’s also spent a lot of his army time in the special forces. He’s now a civilian, but you can easily tell he’s army to the core.
The other night, he asked me what I did, and what my “speciality” was. Now, I’ve thought about this question a bit. Truth is, I don’t have one. And as Willett said recently “Based on my list of experience I am actually not perfectly suited to anything.”
In the last twenty years, I have (not in order) pumped gas, organised cargo to go to various places, been a radio DJ, operated a printing press, done quite a bit of desktop publishing, been a PA, been a union organiser, a courier, a cab driver, managed rock bands, been a political staffer, ran a volunteer army for a senior politician, sold mobile phones and computers, worked in call centres for tax, accounting, superannuation, mobile phones, salary packaging and internet tech support, hunted down missing people, been a full-time parent, sold radio advertising, catering planning, ran a business doing computer-support house calls, and I am sure a lot more.
But the reality is, I haven’t specialised in anything. I have never considered it to be an impediment to anything. Except maybe if I went on The Einstein Factor, I wouldn’t know what to make my special subject. The closest I have come is the night I won The Challenge with Tony Delroy. But I’ve told that story before.
As most of you would be aware, I now work for a small ISP. As part of the salary package, I get an uncapped broadband account. In this country, “uncapped” and “unlimited” broadband is frequently advertised, but almost never delivered, so this benefit is a pretty cool thing in my opinion.
Having moved house on the weekend, Monday I applied to get ADSL installed. In the last four years, my new housemate – Steve – had asked several times to get ADSL installed, and each time, the Evil Empire said “not yet”.
Then, on Monday, the very day I submitted the order, Steve got a call from Bigpond saying “Hey, we can now give you broadband!”. Obviously, me applying sent the signal to the evil empire, so they tried to hijack the application and steal a potential customer.
In any other industry, this kind of abuse of information would be illegal. In our industry, it’s par for the course.
I found somewhere else to live. I planned to move at end of October. I gave Adam notice. Adam became more difficult. So I checked with the new place about moving sooner? Not possible. So I looked again. I found another new place. I moved yesterday. I’m sorting out net access. New place is divine. No, really. More later…
I knew someone once who would often write blog posts and then delete them. The ones he deleted were the ones that were the most raw – the ones where his soul was on display to his readers. Of course, this was the very reason he’d delete them. Having your soul in the public domain isn’t an easy way to live. I told him “the ones that are the most painful are the best posts”. He interpreted my words as saying that I liked reading about him in pain. I didn’t. I just liked the vividness of his words when he wrote such pieces.
This highlights something that has been on my mind a lot recently – that how words are received is about the reader more than the writer.
In earlier incarnations of my blog, I argued constantly with various readers. I’d write something, they’d put their own spin on it and turn it into something it wasn’t, and then I’d be expected to defend their mis-interpretation. I never realised how much of what I wrote was caught up in this maelstrom. Last week, I was reading the archives of some of my previous blogs. I was surprised how much of a dominant theme it was. And how many times I was ignored when I said “I write, you read” or “Try only abusing me for what I wrote, not for the words that aren’t there”.
I realised though when I was reading the earlier posts (and more particularly some comments that have been left) on the current incarnation. When I wrote this post, I didn’t respond to the comments, and I just remembered the comments as critical of the idea. So I thought I’d put the idea away for a while, and think about it some more. But when I went back recently, I discovered the comments weren’t critical at all. So maybe at the time, I was misreading what the commenters were saying?
The situation with Adam reminds me of what happened with some housemates I had about a year ago. Back then, I had a clash with one of the two girls I lived with in Jerusalem. She locked me out. So when I made plans for somewhere else to live, they found they had a problem. Both of them were quite restricted financially. So me leaving meant they’d have a few weeks when they’d be short of rent money. Their solution – despite my departure being prompted by one of them telling me to leave – was to keep my bond money. The bond money wasn’t looked at as a deposit that was due back to me, except in limited circumstances. They simply saw the money as a solution to their problem, of not being able to afford rent for the next few weeks until they found another housemate.
In this situation – with Adam wanting more money than is fair, or for rates (which are always an owner’s responsibility) is simply a case of him being short of money himself, so looking around for a solution, even if the “solution” is inappropriate.
I was discussing this with Crab the other night, at length.
She says it stems from people’s desire to twist reality to an insane degree simply for the purpose of justifying their own behaviour – to make themselves appear “right”.
We also took the concept to a situation with someone we both used to work for – PJ – who is currently watching his marriage disintegrate. PJ’s wife is conducting a vicious, ugly war against him. She’s accusing him of threatening violence (for telling her mother to stay away from him during one argument) and refusing him access to his kids. Crab & I have both worked in CSA, so we’ve seen how ugly divorce/custody disputes can get. And in most of them, the parents lose perspective. They’re fighting to fight. They’re simply trying to hurt. Why? I’ve never understood the obsession some people have for beating up their exes. What’s it achieve? And more to the point, how can they justify it?
I have made the decision to give Adam notice and find somewhere else to live. The “contract” he made me sign said I’d give 4 weeks notice, so I’ll do it when I’m next at work (I don’t have his email address at home). The plan is to begin looking again in a fortnight, so I’ll either move straight into the new place, or there may be a short period in between. But with Caerulia going into hospital for a week soon, I was going to have to shift to her place to look after Lucius then anyway.
Living here by myself made me dislike the arrangement, but him charging me for the whole last quarter’s bills (when I was only here from 18 August) more or less decided it for me. Oh, and him wanting me to pay a third of the rates bill. Or is Rome so screwy now that tenants pay for rates? Romans? Is it?
(Post contains considerable YouTube linkage. Not that you’d know, to look at it. But it does)
Last night, Caerulia and I took Lucius and his friend Henry to Duntroon for the Beating of the Retreat and the performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The last time I saw this performed was when I was about 14. My father, Decimus, was the artillery captain in Novocastria back then. So for Novocastria’s summer festival, he set up the 105mm howitzers of 113 Field Battery in Kind Edward Park and at the climax of the piece, they were firing off into the ocean. I still have a picture of it.
Last night though, the announcer explained the origins of the piece and tied in the church bells, the Tsarist anthem, the significance of the rising and then fading La Marseillaise. Of course, being 8 years old, Henry & Lucius thought it was fantastic, since artillery has that effect on boys. I get the feeling it may become a regular event for those two.
It was also the first time I’ve spent any time at Duntroon since I worked there ten years ago. The year I spent there was pretty bland, but the circumstances of my departure set me on a path that dominated the next few years. Perhaps, just for the sake of a story, I’ll tell that one tomorrow?