Monday, July 30, 2007

The Arts of Islam/Australian of the Year

My wife, Marg, and I nipped in to the Art Gallery of NSW today for the Arts of Islam exhibition. It was an interesting exhibition, nothing particularly stunning.

However, one important observation we made is the extent to which the exhibition demonstrated the multi-cultural facets of the arts. Not surprisingly really, since even Mohammed himself started out as a trader, and the subsequent Islamic empires reach into the sub-continent and Europe.

Marg made the observation that really all civilisations have been "multi-cultural", at least the ones under which there has been progress. Contrast the French uniculture under Louis XIV with the blossoming England in the period 1650 to 1750. (There is a book review I want to write here on a book called "The Last Revolution" - I'll get to it!).

When we sat down for lunch I collected some of those free postcards they distribute at places like that. One was an ad calling for nominations for Australian of the Year. I asked Marg if she could think of anyone worth nominating. While she was thinking I started "But I can't think of anyone who has done something for..." and paused, and Marg completed it by saying "humanity", which is exactly what I'd been thinking.

I'm sure there are lots of Australians worthy of this recognition for their work in delivering on human rights - they just don't seem to make the news. The only name I can come up with is Major Michael Mori - but he's an American!

Suggestions anyone!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Only one week to go

I felt a little sad at about 11:15 this morning, when as I was trudging off Brush Farm Park I realised that there is only one week left of regular season netball.

I'd just finished umpiring the little "modified" netball game that I do in winter. For those of you who don't know modified netball is a junior version with a few rule changers - e.g. defending from four feet not three and not standing out of play at a penalty, oh and shorter goal posts.

I decided to learn to be an umpire when my own kids were of that age (8,9) but in those days they played full rules. I was disappointed for them some weeks when their coaches had to double as umpires - so I decided to learn so that when they got to coach it would never happen to them.

So I learnt, but the club I played for was really good and made me go out and umpire! And after a couple of seasons I earnt my ERNA umpires badge. I mostly umpired C grade matches and was OK.

But then my daughters started to get umpiring qualifications and eventually my older daughter was the club's umpires convenor and I got moved to the modifieds, as she explained to the other convenors, she put her oldest and slowest on the modifieds.

Anyway, I still enjoy it a lot and it is the only local level community activity I do these days. There is a segue here to something political but I'll leave that for another post.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ozpolitics on the net

I've been doing a bit of looking around at Australian politics on the net. I only have two politicians blogs in my blog roll - and I haven't had anyon yet tell me of better ones.

But one of the sites I have found is Oz Politics which is both a blog and as well a web site with a wealth of info. One of the interesting features is the test where the user gets given a series of questions from which an inference is drawn about the respondants position on three dimensions and an assessment of what party best suits you. I encourage you to do it if you haven't already, and if you have or do post a comment about it here.

You can see my results here. Nice to know I belong to the right party! However it is an intriguing result that a lot of ALP respondants are "assigned" to the Dems and Greens by the test - confirming my view that the modern ALP really is a conservative party.

It is a pity therefore that Oz Politics doesn't devote any space to these other parties in its guide section.

Bracks Retires

So Steve Bracks has retired/resigned as Premier of Victoria joining Gallop (WA on health grounds), Bacon (Tas on health grounds), and Carr. It was interesting to note that Steve Bracks' colleagues didn't want him to resign, as well we know Bob Carr's didn't. We also know that Gallop and Bacon's colleagues didn't either, though perhaps they accepted it a little more willingly.

So while John Howard has clung to Kirribilli House - I mean the Prime Ministership - four Premiers have departed voluntarily. And if any of them had used the standard "I will remain Premier so long as my colleagues want me to and it is in the best interests of the Labor Party" they would still be there.

Which just makes you think it is the wrong standard.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

E-mail Joke

Courtesy of Jon Loosli

A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:
"Would you please give your honest opinion about the solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"
The survey was, not surprisingly, a huge failure because:

In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.
In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.
In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.
In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
In the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

When is a Political Party not "the opposition"

Yesterday's Crikey reported that while the Liberal Party recently expelled Michael Danby for campaigning for the Christian Democrat Party, two leading Liberals, Tony Abbott and Greg Smith, will be addressing the party's conference.

Now the party itself says "As we look to the future, CDP is seeking to become a strong grass-roots Political Party. This weekend will motivate and inspire you to go back and serve God in your local community through CDP. We will be looking to conference together about the forthcoming Federal Election, and strategise on how to elect our first CDP NSW Senator, Paul Green, into the Australian Parliament." I wonder if any other Liberals are planning to address the party conference of political parties who are trying to knock Marise Payne out of a Senate seat!

Of course we know that Abbott and Smith are leading members of the LiberaL party - the one with no small l. Interesting to see their strategy once the right was unsuccesful in gaining the third spot on the Senate ticket.

It is interesting to note that while the Liberal and National Parties are in coalition I am not aware of any front bencher from one party ever addressing a conference of the other.

Howard's LiberaLs - curiouser and curiouser.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What constitutes a glass jaw?

Crikey today lists a series of media appearances by the PM for which transcripts do not appear on the PMs website.

Now there is nothing saying he should - but it is a bit rough when in the desperate attemps to find something to criticise Rudd for his supposed "glass jaw" in relation to negative media is one of them.

There is no small "l" in Howard's LiberaL Party

Sad news yesterday that my former colleague Paul Fletcher had lost the pre-selection battle for Cook 82-70.

While I think the Liberal party will suffer because (from personal experience) Paul would make a fantastic MP, the geater loss is the extent of the takeover of the Liberal party by the right.

The winner, Michael Towke, won using what is now a well worn Liberal party technique - the branch stack. But it was the modern "stack with twist". Moderates thought the stack was designed to support the incumbent and were surprised at the end by the nomination of Towke and the fact these votes would support him.

This is now familiar ground and follows what happened in Epping and Hawkesbury at the State election; and what happened with Alex Hawke getting pre-selected in Mitchell.

Howard doesn't know which way to turn. This is the party he has created - or rather this is the end stage of John Howard destroying the party Menzies created. The parallels between the Liberal Party today and the UAP of the 1940s are quite large.

It is not how Howard wanted to be remembered.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Strange Bridge Hand

One of my hobbies is playing Bridge. This hand I got to play in Bridge Baron 14, hands were

N | S 9 8 |H A J 9 7 3 |D K 10 8 3 2 |C 6
E | S K 4 3 |H 10 8 5 4 |D Q 6 4 |C K 8 4
S | S A 6 2 |H K Q 6 2 |D A J 7 |C 7 3 2
W | S Q J 10 7 5 |H - |D 9 5 |C A Q J 10 9 5

Dealer North N/S Vulnerable


P P 1D 3C
3D 3NT Dl P

South leads D7 - and can take 12 tricks for 2000 in penalties - enjoy.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Make Poverty History - ZeroSeven

I was given the opportunity today to represent Senator Lyn Allison at the Make Poverty History Roadtrip today. While there seemed to be some confusion with the RSVP I was allowed in.

The first observation is just how heart-warming it was to see so many young idealistic kids prepared to campaign for somthing as esoteric as Make Poverty Hitory. I just hope they have all enrolled to vote!

It was also fascinating to see the reception they gave to Kevin Rudd when he came on stage. He was his convincing yet - but making his commitment of foreign aid of 0.5% of GNI by 2015 was short of what the crowd wants.

Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja put the Democrat position well. We need to commit to the 0.7% - and sooner not later.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Howard's Inaction

Saturday's SMH had two items, by Alan Ramsey and Michael Duffy, both of which point out that the Howard government had been alerted to the sexual abuse ad violence prblem years before.

What made it noteworhy that these writers are typically bastions of the left and right respectively, but on this point they agree - the Howard government move looks like a cynical stunt of the first order.

In today's Crikey Christian Kerr puts the blame on the PM's excessive reliance on Mark Textor. Textor's success over a number of elections has given him an aura of infalibility. But remember Cosby Textor were not successful in either the UK or New Zealand. It is startng to look like he migh be about to experience that in Australia.