January 31, 2013

Perfectly in control one day, totally fucked the next

It's again about conveying the impression of strong leadership, saying that she is in charge, making the big decisions, seizing the initiatives. She tried this a week ago on a more minor scale when she dumped Senator Trish Crossin for high-profile Aboriginal candidate Nova Peris, although that didn't go too smoothly.

It's notable that Gillard uses the personal pronoun more than most leaders, stressing the ''I'' rather than talking about ''we'' or even ''the government''.
Twenty four hours later:

Australian Labor Party federal MP Craig Thomson: "declined an offer to surrender himself before he was was arrested at his electorate office and charged with 150 fraud offences, police say."
Tim Mathieson, he of the politically incorrect nervous jocularity, is suddenly looking like the smartest and most in-control person in the room.

Don't forget to vote: only 226 days to go.

 

January 30, 2013

Only a fool


Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday known as the Day of Atonement. Many Jewish people in Australia spend the day fasting and praying.   In 2013, the Day of Atonement is on Saturday, September 14.

September 14 is also smack bang in the middle of the footy finals, it's the pointy end of the season for all codes of the game, a time during which many people in Australia spend their weekends eating, drinking and praying.

On Wednesday 30 January 2013, Julia Gillard, Prime Minister, announced that the next federal election will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2013.

Yesterday,  Tim Mathieson, the fun-time partner of the Prime Minister, who has quietly undertaken a full time workload of good works during his time in The Lodge, made a nervous, ill-thought, yet funny remark about the anal finger probing procedure that forms part of a standard prostate-health check up.  The Prime Minister was not amused.  Today, the Prime Minister stuck the finger up everyone.

The nearly eight month election campaign is already being touted as clever, much in the way people praise a dog that figures out how to sit or roll over.  What a clever, clever girl.

It's not clever.  

P.S.  This is the reason we urgently need fixed four year terms in federal politics.  No more idiotic stunts.  No more interminable speculations on when the next election will or won't be held - and with Gillard as PM, we have had non-stop speculation, two years and four months of it.  Enough of this shit.

Wednesday Wisdom

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

January 28, 2013

Just desserts?

The moral psychology of medicine is so old school.  It's distasteful.  It should have been blown away with Sontag's Illness as Metaphor, which took tuberculosis as the disease of moral culpability.  Years later she followed up with an analysis of HIV/AIDS, which was the obvious modern illness comparable to those of earlier times, but more broadly, and more likely to affect the average punter, cancer carries the burden of personal deficiency, blame, or credit.  Even the dead are congratulated for fighting the good fight, to the last breath.  Pity help those who aren't seen to fight, or don't live long enough to demonstrate their grim determination to live on, no matter what, or those who don't have an endless supply of platitudes and thinning smiles.  

There's this whole ugly area of responsibility, punishment and reward.  The human body is the object of moral judgement, just as the state of the planet is used in the same manner against all of human kind.

It's the path that leads directly to calls for charging more to obese patients needing medical care, or to smokers or alcoholics or anyone not eating their broccoli.  It's the exact same path upon which resides the debate around who does and doesn't "deserve" spare body parts. 

Organ transplants, in my view, are no-one's "right", therefore, no-one deserves an organ, period.  Certainly there is no-one, of any age, who deserves an organ transplant more than any other person.  

Given that organs are available, and given there are people in want of an organ, or several, the only grounds for decision making should be medical.  Unfortunately, medicine isn't practiced  in a neat void separated from cultural time and place and doctors are as inept at making moral decisions as politicians - yet both groups persist in doing so.

Questions about who deserves scarce organs will continue, more so as populations continues to age and as the young are increasingly temporarily saved from physical failures.   

The question of who should receive organs should not be a moral decision-making matrix, but increasingly, as with so many areas of medicine, it is.  This recent NYTs article is laden with just desserts analysis.  And that's the problem.

January 26, 2013

Someone to vote for!

Are there enough pirates in Australia to stand for all seats? 

I'm hoping so.

For those at a loss as to whom to allocate their precious vote, for those who deem voting to be a serious and precious civic duty, the Pirate Party has arrived - none too soon - to alleviate the angst of putting blunted lead pencil to voting slip at the 2013 federal election.

Pirate Party Australia is pleased to announce that its application for registration as a federal political party passed all tests by the Australian Electoral Commission and is now on the register of political parties.

So far, so legal. 

Can't wait to hear about their policies, and to see their costumes.


Close callers out already!

Jeez Louise!

As if Easter eggs appearing on January 2 each year and Christmas decorations being wheeled out for public irrition by around September isn't bad enough, the fooking close-callers have already been spotted!

Yes, it's not even the end of January - at least eight months out from the federal election (more likely ten months) - and the close-callers have been sited on Mumble.

Yeah.  Sure.  So.  Close.  Too close too call.  Close enough to now, in January, call it as a close call.

Sticking their necks out.  Daring soothsayers.

Tips for youse close-callers:  you've peaked too soon; calling a close-call isn't brave, it's a non-prediction, it's fence sitting, it's wishy-washy, it's lazy.

I'll make it easy, for the entirety of 2013, this is how it's going to pan-out:  the Liberal coalition will win the federal election this year, decisively, unambiguously, with a big whopping majority in the House of Reps.

No matter if they, or the ALP, change leaders;

no matter if interest rates go up or down;

no matter if employment or the CPI goes up, down or round-about;

no matter if Rudd crosses the horizon to 10 million Twitter followers;

no matter if Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper or some other douche-bag does anything illegal or despicable;

no matter if Abbott declares himself a hipster and grows a beard;

no matter Gillard parachutes rolled-gold celebrities into every lower house seat (hands up anyone who cares who's in the upper house?);

no matter if a tree falls in the forest and everyone hears;

no matter if Tim and Julia announce a wedding date;

no matter if Abbott buckles, folds, concedes or capitulates on the carbon tax;

no matter if hell freezes over of the Pope is not a Catholic;

no matter if the Gillard government passes a law to prevent people from saying nice things about the opposition;

no matter if there are inexplicable flying objects across the entire planet;

no matter if Joe Hocking loses another 20 kilos;

no matter the results of any opinion poll published during the year (ignore them);

no matter if Turnball and Rudd join hands to create their own party
 
- there is nothing that can happen that will prevent a convincing defeat of the Labor Party.  Nothing.

I'm not sticking my neck out.  It's just what it is.

The game is already over, but we'll still be obliged to sit through the shenanigans, euphemisms, vindictive sound bites, kowtowing to every public whim and promises from all and sundry to throw money around like drunken union officials at a brothel.  Painful days ahead.  It's just what it is.  


Welcome to election year 2013!

January 25, 2013

January 24, 2013

Swan Song

It's a swan song lasting longer than John Farnham's or Dame Nellie Melba's, but there truly is an end in sight for Wayne Swan MP.

Last time around Swan won his Queensland on preferences. In 2013, voters in his electorate will prefer, by a healthy majority, to send him on his way. 

At least that's one less by-election to be funded in the post-federal election ALP rush to the exit ... by those still holding onto a parliamentary position from which to exit.


January 23, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

Such is the life of a man.  The long childhood of joy is obliterated by unforgettable grief and sorrow.  But there is no need to tell the children so. 

Marcel Pagnol (My Mother's Castle)

 

January 21, 2013

Mum knows best

In the autumn of 1993, Greg LeMond and his wife, Kathy, were sitting at home in the suburbs of Minneapolis, when they received a visit from Linda Mooneyham, the three-times Tour de France winner has recalled. Her 21-year-old son, Lance Armstrong, had just become the world champion and she had travelled from her home in Texas for advice.

"What does he do now?" she asked. "What does he do with his money?"

"Well, let him find an agent – a good one with an attorney," LeMond replied. "And one word of advice – just be his mom."

They sat on the porch for a while and then moved inside to the kitchen. Linda had something else on her mind: "How do I make him less of an asshole. He doesn't care about anyone."
 A convincing 39 seconds, then back to the old Lance Armstrong

January 18, 2013

January 16, 2013

Thought we were safe

"With this new novel, I am excited to take readers on a journey deep into this mysterious realm ... a landscape of codes, symbols, and more than a few secret passageways" 
Sound familiar?!

Yes.  Oh hell.  Oh hell.

Dan Brown is coming back, with Inferno, as in Dante's, not disco's. 

Long clouds of cash and glory forecast.

Da Vinci Code Author Enters Mysterious Realm for New Book

Wednesday Wisdom

A vision without execution is just a hallucination.

Malcolm Turnbull  
 Q&A 19 Nov 2012 
(Kev Rudd didn't smile)

January 15, 2013

That's it: I'm coming out

If Jodie Foster can come out of the closet a squillion times - and still be accused of fudging it, of being too opaque - then, damn it, I should come out at least once, right?  Hell, anything that Jodie does, the rest of us should do at least once, because she's awesome.

So here we go:  I'm heterosexual. 

There.  I've said it.   

Kar-rist that feels good.

I've never announced my hetero-normative sexual inclinations to anyone until right now.  Not to my family, not to my closest friends, not to my doctor.  No one.  Thankfully, no one has ever outed me either. 

Some day, in a far away place and time, I hope that gays, lesbians, transsexuals, asexuals, bisexuals and indifferent-sexuals, and so on and so forths will no longer be political play things, blugeoned into announcing anything about themeselves, other than if they're running for parliament or president.

Really, it's tacky, isn't it? 

The only thing worse than gays and lesbians being made to feel guilty for not annoucing their sexual proclavities to the world at large - whose business it isn't - is being outed (exactly like someone dobbing on someone for criminal or immoral activities) by another person.  Quite dispicable.

But back to the unnaturally talented, smart , lovely and classy Jodie Foster.  We have all known Foster was gay, at least since the sperm donor thing (she has two sons), the female partner thing, the thanking her female partner thing when Foster won another award years ago (at the time, that was headlined as "Jodie comes out" too), and then the bitter break up with her partner thing (not long after that award thing), and then the rumours of the new girlfriend thing, which may or may not have contributed to the break up thing. 

Today's headlines, and the praise and criticism of Foster's speech at the Golden Globes, are tiresome and insulting.  She's not a Kardashian, she's Jodie Foster!  She should be treated with large dollops of respect, not because or despite being a lesbian, but because she has earned it - on her own terms.


Jodie Foster sort of comes out for sort of the third or fourth of fifth time

January 14, 2013

Say what?

The IMF ... solemnly advised the nations of Europe coming out of the financial crisis to raise taxes and wind back government spending. Its commandments had weight. Yes, it had failed to foresee the crisis in the first place, but it was the lender of last resort. They might need it.

And it had modelled what would happen if they did what it said. For every dollar they cut their budgets, their economic growth would suffer just 50¢. Its forecasts said so.

On Friday, in its first working paper of the year, it revealed the full horror of what did happen. Personally authored by the fund's chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, the paper said that for every dollar those nations cut their budgets their economies crumpled something more like $1.50.

Rather than suffering far less than the savings they made on their budgets, the economies suffered far more. As mistaken advice it's monstrous - like going to see a doctor who tells you the medicine won't hurt much and finding it lays you low for years.

Economic multiplier effects (and minus-effects?) are taught in about week one of economics 0.5 in high school, aren't they?
 
Numerous posts addressing this very point, mostly within the Australian context of state and federal governments cutting jobs, cutting spending, not investing in serious infrastructure projects with multi-generational benefits, and then being astonished that the future has not been catered for and tax revenues are plummeting, with the latter leading to more cuts.  

This is so simple you don’t need to know anything about economics, don’t even need to know how to spell the word, never need to have read a book or an article or seen the film.   


Unfortunately for us, the flip side of our economic management, is the ever-grander sums of money being tossed about - oh yes, quite contrary to the breast-beating and belt-tightening - but one needs to understand that a dollar cut here and five dollars spent over there do not have the same multipliers.  This too requires no diagram or PowerPoint slide or economics degree. 

And hey:  hasn't that super tax on super mining profits been absolutely super?  

Six months in and not one dollar collected by the federal government, and mining investments shrinking as fast as a perfectly decent penis on a Canberra winter morning.

When a guess is as good as a forecast

Bureaucrat-speak

The Victorian government is thinking of turning some prime real estate - currently built upon for public housing - into rivers of gold.  It's probably a good idea, as the high rise will, in due course, be too expensive to maintain, and will either need to be imploded or at least thoroughly renovated.  Logistically a bit of a nightmare, since in Richmond, for example, 3000 people would be in need of a little place to call home before, during and after demolition.  Fortunately there are no shortages of bridges to live under.

Two things about this proposal jumped out, neither relating to the imagined rivers of gold or the imagined maintenance cost-savings (for the intended new housing, not the old), although it's worth noting that PPPs* notoriously bleed money from tax payers - always and forever.
Car parking spaces could be limited to reduce car ownership and encourage residents to use public transport.
Because mostly poor people and mostly women use public transport, therefore public transport is inconvenient, unreliable, over-crowded, inflexible and starved of funds.  As the recent RMIT study suggests:  men drive cars and ride bicycles at much greater rates than women, which finally explains why money disproportionately goes into roads and bike paths.  Yes:  transport is a feminist (and poor person's) issue. Besides, removing car parking means more space to build private housing for those who own cars.
Councillors have previously raised concerns about a lack of consultation with the state government. Yarra Council chief executive Vijaya Vaidyanath wrote to Department of Human Services secretary Gill Callister on December 17 to raise concerns about a lack of consultation with councillors.

She said the community was ''largely unaware, or confused, of the state's intentions regarding the estates and that is creating a certain degree of anxiety''**.
Don't we all sit around largely unaware, or confused, and therefore suffering a degree of anxiety?


And that, folks, is why you don't let your kids grow up to be  bureaucrats.




Plan to turn estates into property gold


* That would be public-private partnerships.
** And I still have no idea what DHS would have made of this unaware and confusing raising of concerns.

January 12, 2013

Rolicking laughs

''The study shows the Howard government clearly missed opportunities to effectively use the mining boom and strong global economic conditions to invest in Australia's future, and it debunks the myth spouted by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey that the Howard government exercised spending restraint,'' Ms Wong said.

''Rather than investing in key infrastructure projects like the National Broadband Network, which this government is rolling out . . . the Howard government made spending decisions that made the budget unsustainable''.
ROFLMAO.  Seriously.

I also read, during the week, a rant by a federal pollie from the other side of the comedic divide, who crawled up a small hill to find a moral high-ground upon which to lecture a guy who wiped hundreds of millions of dollars from the value of a local publically listed company by sitting at a computer tapping out a fake announcement from the ANZ bank.  Cue: shock horror.  Economic vandalism, acccused the guy from the Liberals.

Sure buddy, sure.

Because politicians aren't ever economic vandals.  The financial sector doesn't commit economic vandalism every time it steps out of bed.  And any uncomfortable hunch that the entire share market is just a big crap shoot, as beautifully illustrated by the fall out from the fake bank letter, should be quickly swept under the plush carpets.

BTW:  only 14 federal budget surpluses were delivered during the last four decades, 10 of which were bought down by Peter Costello, three by Paul Keating, one by Malcolm Fraser. 

Twenty six deficits? Demonstrates that Labor and Liberal federal governments are both excellent when it comes to profligacy with our money.

Howard rejects IMFs big spender tag

January 11, 2013

Short cut economy

If you had to flip a coin over whether the US Congress will raise the country's debt ceiling, here's the ultimate one - a freshly minted trillion-dollar platinum coin.

A formal petition has been started asking the White House to create such a coin in order to avoid another high-stakes fiscal battle to raise the debt ceiling.

The Treasury secretary has the authority to mint platinum coins in the denomination of his choosing. Meant for commemorative products, US law grants Treasury permission to "mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins", which would allow the Treasury to get around legal limits on printing money to pay the bills.

Depositing it would technically pay down US debt, buying time before the country reached the limit on it (the "debt ceiling") again.

It's an idea that's been discussed favourably (albeit cautiously) by everyone from Democrat Representative Jerry Nadler to economist Paul Krugman, who calls it a gimmick but says "there’s a pretty good case for using whatever gimmicks come to hand".
Because if it's economics - or the share market - it's all about gimmicks.

Can we pay our politicians here the say way (although in smaller denominations)?  At least until the bunch of them start acting like leaders, not a collective of douche-bags.  

US 1 trillion dollar coin debt solution gains currency

The pension defence

Peter Slipper, an allegedly independent member in the federal House of Representatives, has an awfully attractive pension at stake:  risk a court case, for using and abusing his parliamentary expenses, or preempt ugly outcomes of the legal process to protect his retirement fund.

I know what I'd do.

Only one journalist seems to have noticed that Julia Gillard's government will lose a vote from the House of Reps during 2013, plus will stumble through a bi-election - in Queensland

Slipper's case heads to court in February. 

Tick tock, tick tock.

Slipper faces pension dilemma

Duck Friday


January 10, 2013

Voting

Nooooooo, not that election, silly!  Don't get trigger happy, our time will come my precious ones.

It's the time of the year when those who didn't indulge too much during the festive season put on their thinking beanie to vote for the 2012 Word of the Year, as yearly brought to you by the Macquarie Dictionary.

You'll especially notice that our official lexical gate keepers are again confused about the nature of "a word". 

"Wine flu", for example, is not a word, ditto "over-the-top TV" or "phantom vibration syndrome".  There many not-words in the voting list.

The official keepers of our language have also fallen hard for the lazy trash mag / pop culture habit of creating combo words, or nonsense words (believing that doing such is dreadfully clever), thus we can vote on the merits of "damality" and "jorts" and "diabesity" and "Mauzzie".

Can't say I'm excited with the voting list compiled by our lexicographers for 2012, much as I'm not going to be too thrilled with the voting list I'll be presented with for our 2013 federal election. 

Word of the Year 2012 Voting Form

January 9, 2013

Chill out guys

It's good to know the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is already prepared for the greenhouse effect/global warming/climate change/extreme weather events, even if they are a tad trigger happy.

Yesterday the big boys added a lovely purple to the color palette, for signifying the extent of extreme hotness across our great brown island.  

Today they backed the truck-up to put purple back into storage.

But they're prepared, damn it!  

For bureaucrats, that's something. 

Wednesday Wisdom

Work expands to match the number of bureaucrats assigned to it.

wisdom passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of time

January 4, 2013

January 2, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

Should auld acquaintance be forgot 
And never brought to mind? 

Robert Burns 1788

January 1, 2013

New year's advice to live by

Ignore the government health guidelines on almost everything. Instead, buy smaller wine glasses, and lay off alcohol for a good few days a week. Ban juice and sweet drinks in the house - including for his four kids ("poor little buggers"). Avoid desserts and snacks ("That, I am finding profoundly difficult"). And take a lot of active screen breaks.

It sounds aspirational to my ears, but doable. Almost, dare I say, like a good piece of advice?

Ignore the government?

Sure can.

So, did you wake up hung-over today? 

Federal Government off to flying start

Oh dear, it's going to be one of those years (again), politically speaking:

A person living on the dole receives $246 a week.

As a Cabinet Minister, Ms Macklin earns $6321 a week.
-----
Families Minister Jenny Macklin has said she could live on the dole of just $35 a day, but her answer has been omitted from the transcript of a press conference issued by her office.

Asked this morning whether she could live on the Newstart allowance of $246 a week, Ms Macklin told reporters ‘‘I could.’’


But when Ms Macklin’s office later issued a transcript of the press conference, held at a hospital in the Minister’s Melbourne electorate, both the question and answer were recorded ‘‘inaudible.’’
The great vanishing act, Maklin's dole comment disappears 

Year Begins