August 31, 2013

Character is destiny

He loves to run, and swim and bicycle, and he loves to volunteer, in the bushfire brigade, in the surf life-savers, in Aboriginal communities, in raising money for charity. He has been doing all this for 20 or 30 years. There are things people dislike about Abbot, but he is always the same man. In a decade as a minister and four years as opposition leader, there are no stories of mistreating staff, no stewardesses in tears.

There is one episode in Abbott's life I witnessed but don't often recount because my own role was so utterly unheroic. In 1977, Abbott and I were lying on the sand at a surf beach some distance out of Melbourne. The surf was way too rough for either of us to go in. Suddenly a woman came up to us screaming. Her son had been pulled out by a rip and was in bad trouble.

I was a weak swimmer and had I dived in someone would very soon have had to rescue me. Abbott was a strong swimmer and pretty much without hesitation jumped in, swam out to the kid, took hold of him, dragged him down the coastline a bit to get past the rip, and brought him safely to shore. He was not a bit interested in the mother's thanks, rather a bit disgusted the kid had gone out in such treacherous surf.

That was 36 years ago. I've got no doubt if the incident happened today Abbott's response would be the same.

Publicly and privately, he's the same bloke. His personality may be unreconstructed, but also, it's not a construct.


A contest between constructed man and unreconstructed man - Greg Sheridan

Syria UN Human Rights Committee frowns a little bit

The UN Human Rights Committee and the EU have "expressed serious concerns" about events in Syria. 

Then they had cucumber sandwiches and took an afternoon stroll.

Tally over four years:

- 100,000 dead

- four million refugees.

How to avoid ending up in front of a firing squad in North Korea

The road to Damascus

Understanding the Syrian civil war in 10 easy steps from the comfort of your safe little home -

Simple points to help you understand the Syria conflict.




August 30, 2013

August 28, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter

August 23, 2013

August 22, 2013

As with Howard, so goes Rudd

With just over two weeks remaining, and the entire country fed up with our feeble federal politicians, it's starting to look as though the good people in the electorate of Griffith will serve the country in the only way they can - by voting Kev Rudd, current Prime Minister, out of office.

The voters of Griffith - not Gillard, not Shorten, not Abbott, not the collective of voters - will finally put a stake in the heart of Rudd's overweening ambition.

So you see, federal political life is still closely resembling a box of chocolates.

Polling suggests PM Kevin Rudd could lose his own seat

August 21, 2013

Rock and hard place

Consider the equation before voters. On one side is a two-term government racked by spectacular hatreds, dragged low by broken promises on carbon and the surplus, various program failures, and a worsening economy. It campaigns for ''a new way'' but offers a recycled leader once dumped and then viciously traduced by his own side. This gaffer-taped operation is asking voters for three more years.
On the other side is an opposition famed for its negativity and woefully small-horizon thinking, yet uncannily united and consistent. Its leader, while prone to the odd verbal gaffe - his female candidates have ''sex appeal'' - enjoys unqualified support internally.

Little wonder, then, that in a choice between Labor's incendiary internal chaos, which might or might not be behind it, and the Coalition's ground-dwelling but unified ordinariness, the latter is appealing to more voters.
While the 2010 federal election campaign was chaotic and absurd (can anyone ever forget the unveiling of the 'real Julia', who was awfully busy moving everything forward?), come 2013, things are tied, ugly and enervating.  Nonetheless, on September 8, we will all wake up to a new government.  We will get one or the other, and neither one or the other is anywhere near as good as we deserve.

Ground control to major Kev, sorry you're a goner

Wednesday Wisdom

There is another world but it is in this one.

Paul Éluard

August 16, 2013

August 14, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. 

F.Scott.Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

August 9, 2013

August 7, 2013

Fiscal Fantasy

The Age, Illustration: John Shakespeare

 Both parties peddle a fiscal fairytale - sure do!  Thanks Mr Henry, but we already knew that, and the problems created by Labor, and the problems being created by both the ALP and the LNP are much, much, much, much bigger than mere inter-generational equity and the cost of healthcare.  If only! 

The joint is being run by blithering idiots with an overflowing basket of vacuous sound bites and cooing noises. 

It's not going to change any time soon.

Wednesday Wisdom

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it.  Impossible is not a fact.  It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration.  It's a dare.  Impossible is potential.  Impossible is temporary.  Impossible is nothing.  

Muhammad Ali

August 2, 2013