January 26, 2014

What I saw on Australia Day at Government House and LaTrobe's Cottage

The tale end, literally, of the Roulettes fly-by.  They were too fast for me to catch at the front end.

Government House, Melbourne, which I only managed to find with help from a nice man in a green vest.
The ballroom at Government House.
The balcony at the other end of the ballroom.
Vegemite jar made from Lego.
Government House made from Lego.
Special chair for special people in the ballroom at Government House.
Refreshments anyone?  Well, no as it happens.  But this the serving area at the side of the ballroom.
It was surprisingly cool loitering near the fountain.  Welcome relief on a hot day.
The old kitchen kitchen, tucked away out the back of Government House.
Still in the old kitchen, from where I bought my Victorian Women's Association scone with jam & cream and a cup of coffee.
A ring-in horse, just for the day.  Someone must have thought the public wouldn't understand the concept of 'the old horse stables' unless actual horses were occupying a couple of the stables.
This might be where you'd make small talk and sip your champagne if invited to a social event at Government House.
There were people and queues everywhere, as far as the eye could see.  Government House is evidently an extremely popular place for families on Australia Day.  Waiting at the gate takes an age, then at least an hour in a queue to do the house tour. 
Government House has a nice little front yard, with enough room for a few friends.
A reenactment of some sort, but I don't know what, because this was at LaTrobe's cottage, and I didn't think he was a military man.  Might have been an excuse to get dressed up, but it would have been awfully hot in those uniforms.
And there was lots of smoke after the explosion.  The gun fire later was loud and startling.

Inside LaTrobe's cottage - the bedroom.
The front of the cottage.
Another view of the bedroom.
The sitting room.  Yes, tiny.  How did the women in their enormous dresses get around a room like this?  Very carefully, I expect, and only one or two at a time, not a gaggle of them.
The dining room.
A bit blurry and a bit glarey, but this is the kitchen, housed in a separate building, as they were back then, so that if the kitchen caught fire the main house would, they hoped, be spared the flames.
The wife had her companion (and the companion's child) shipped out to Australia too, for which she and the child were rewarded with this tiny room to sleep, next to the kitchen.
Yes, it's a little, little room, and the littlest bed I've ever seen.
  That was my Australia Day 2014.
(Plus some pistachio and lemon gelato on the way home.)

January 24, 2014

Duck Friday

Duck farm - not free range.

January 22, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom

Man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

January 16, 2014

China catching up fast with modern era

The three best known Western names in China are, allegedly, Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon.

January 12, 2014

Bob Carr hobnobbing, back in the day: the freedom of powerful men to pee wherever they like

Bob Carr has left the stage, but by gosh he had fun at our expense when he was relevant, didn't he?
Bob Carr was thrilled when Henry Kissinger invited him to join a camping trip in the woods last year. And not just any old camping trip. It was part of the weirdest ritual in American elite politics, the Bohemian Grove festival held annually since 1872.

About 2700 of America's rich and powerful camp under mighty Californian redwood trees in a forest north of San Francisco for the last two weeks of July. It's been described as ''midsummer frolics of the titans of the military-industrial complex''.

In a famous 1989 account for Spy magazine, Philip Weiss wrote: ''You know you are inside the Bohemian Grove when you come down a trail in the woods and hear piano music from amid a group of tents and then round a bend to see a man with a beer in one hand and his penis in the other, urinating into the bushes.

''This is the most gloried-in ritual of the encampment, the freedom of powerful men to pee wherever they like.''

There are talks on all manner of topics, artistic performances and 7am gin fizzes. Cameras are banned. So are women.

Carr shared one of the rustic wood cabins with Stephen Bechtel, the 87-year-old co-owner of the Bechtel Corporation, a $30 billion-a-year construction and engineering behemoth.

Carr, steeped in American Civil War history, stepped out onto the balcony of his cabin one evening. He fancied himself to be in a scene from the Civil War era with fires burning, music playing and people cavorting, he said later.
Carr spent three days at Bohemian Grove. As socio-political tourism, it was a brilliant experience. But Carr would have been wiser to spend no days there. As diplomacy, it was foolish.

While Bohemian Grove is not exclusively a Republican crowd, it's overwhelmingly one. Notoriously so. Bill Clinton described it as the event where ''all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees''.
Carr's tourism costly to diplomacy

January 10, 2014

January 9, 2014

Important news

Henceforth, Duck Friday and Wednesday Wisdom will make only sporadic guest appearances. 

January 8, 2014

January 7, 2014

Bit of a polar vortex - hundreds of snide people injured

Britain, Porthcawl harbour. - January 2014

 Polar Vortex Causes Hundreds of Injuries as People Making Snide Remarks About Climate Change Are Punched in Face

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—The so-called polar vortex caused hundreds of injuries across the Midwest today, as people who said “so much for global warming” and similar comments were punched in the face.

Authorities in several states said that residents who had made ignorant comments erroneously citing the brutally cold temperatures as proof that climate change did not exist were reporting a sharp increase in injuries to the face and head regions.

In an emergency room in St. Paul, Harland Dorrinson, forty-one, was waiting to be treated for bruising to the facial area after he made a crack about how the below-freezing temperatures meant that climate-change activists were full of shit.

“I’d just finished saying it and boom, out of nowhere someone punched me in the face,” he said. “This polar vortex is really dangerous.”

The meteorology professor Davis Logsdon, of the University of Minnesota, issued a safety warning to residents of the states hammered by the historic low temperatures: “If you are living within the range of the polar vortex and you have something idiotic to say about climate change, do not leave your house.” 
 Photo's - wild weather from US to Europe

US braces for record deep freeze as polar vortex pushes temperatures down to -50C

January 3, 2014

Depraved dictatorship

Blind drunk with power, and blindly insane - Kim Jong-Un is a dispcable person, a depraved and sick man. 

I continue to be dumb-founded that this man (more a lunatic boy, and many decades ahead of him, unfortunately) is the leader of a country with a larger population than Australia. 

Try to imagine being one of the 24 million people held captive - for that's what they are - in North Korea. 

How Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle with starving dogs

Be warned: f-word is intellectual property of Starbucks

Who knew that Starbucks owned the F-word?!  Bit of a surprise, hey?

And who knew that Starbucks customers might not notice the difference between a glass of cold frothy beer and a hot frothy coffee? 

Exit 6 brewery serves up $6 cheque to Starbucks for using the f-word

What's not to be skeptical about?

Here's some news to put a great big smile on your face: apparently, Arctic sea ice volume is up by 50 per cent. Have you cracked open the champagne yet? Did you ring all your mates? Me neither. In fact, to be honest, I couldn't care less whether it's up 50 per cent or down 50 per cent. It's just weather doing what weather does - changing all the time. 
But you wouldn't guess this from the way it is reported in the media. Sceptical websites are presenting it as a vindication of their longstanding claim that all the fuss about catastrophic, man-made global warming has been greatly overdone. Warmist news outlets ("a rare piece of good news", declared the BBC) are greeting it as a sign of hope that maybe there is time left for us to save the planet from the Greatest Threat It Has Ever Known.
Growing evidence of great climate change scams

End corporate welfare

There are a lot of really smart and wealthy people in Australia desperate to not learn and desperate to reduce the incomes of other Australians.

Why?  To increase competition, of course.  We must compete at the lowest levels, on the assumption that we have an uneducated and unskilled workforce - and if they're not now, they will be in the future; damn it, we can make it happen!

Someone awfully important in local public life recently noted, with much negative judgement, that Australia's minimum wage is double the minimum wage in America.  No acknowledgement from this man that he was comparing apples and camels, and no critique from those reporting his sage observation.

A few weeks back, a minor debate was started by one newspaper, quoting a few hospitality workers, who believe that Australia should step up and start tipping rather more ... more in the American way of things (you know, where the minimum wage is less than $8 an hour, and gratuities literally mean the difference between eating and paying the rent, or not).  No compelling reason was offered, other than 'because' ... because large percentage-based tipping is the norm in other countries.  These hospitality workers didn't bemoan low incomes, didn't claim they couldn't afford to live:  they just wanted more tips, for no particular reason.

Perhaps we'll all be more amenable to lowering wages in this country when state and federal governments stop the flow of corporate welfare, which runs to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year - enough to instantly wipe out the federal deficit, and then some, which would instantly put the budget back into surplus.  The continued privatisation of profits and socialisation of business losses is a sad and tired joke, isn't it. 

Imagine if negative gearing were added to the cut & burn list - whammo! - a surplus so big that some really useful and economically stimulating cross-generaltional infrastructure projects could instantly go ahead. 

But no, we limp along, firmly fixed in the twentieth century, our pollies and business leaders clinging to dated economic models that should be discarded for evidence based decision making, and best bang for the buck for the maximum number of people.  Won't see that happening any time soon. 

Not long ago, McDonald's offered advice to their staff in America about how to manage on their minimum wage:  get a second job, basically, was the take out, and use food stamps.  

End corporate welfare for McDonald's; better yet raise the minimum wage

McDonald's shuts down employee website that warned about dangers of fast food

Duck Friday

January 1, 2014