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Winner - Best Personal Blog - 2003 Netguide Web Awards

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Sitting on the dock of the bay | Jun 30, 2004 14:42

Wolloomoloo Wharf is the place to be in Sydney. It's "A-list" paradise, just close enough to the city to be accessible but far enough away and right on the water for a bit of discretion.

Yesterday you would have found talkback jock John Laws at his usual spot in Otto's, which he partly owns. You would have seen New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden passing by, with the satisfied look of a man who knows he has the government on the ropes, and if you were a local and knew who the right people were, you'd have probably seen many more.

I'm still not a local, but on a crystalline Sydney winter's day, with temperatures heading up into the twenties, the sun streaming down and the water lapping along the edge of the wharf as some great Te Mata Sauvignon was consumed, I could almost see myself becoming one. Almost.

The buses were out on strike this morning. The teachers were out a couple of weeks ago. The trains can't run on time and keep breaking down. The hospitals keep giving people the wrong medication and chopping off the wrong bits. If there was an election today, Carr would be history.

At the Federal level, Latham's honeymoon is over and it's going to be a really tight election. Too close to call, but I think there is time for him to rally and he hasn't revealed a lot of policy so far, so he has ammunition. And there is some weird demographic stuff to consider: a bunch of corporate dropouts going to live along the coast. Nobody knows how these people will vote and in one electorate alone there are 13,000 of the buggers since the last election.

We were at Manta Ray, just along from Otto's and seemingly not quite as fashionable. The food was, however, exceptional and the service attentive. As to the price? Who cares? I wasn't paying.

Another bottle of Te Mata? "That will do nicely, thank you," I reply. "Better make it two."

It really is hard to believe it's winter.

Iraq is sovereign, well, as sovereign as any country with 130,000 foreign troops in residence. Democracy is a while off yet. They have a shot at it and that's something, for sure. I find myself in disagreement with Latham over his plan to withdraw troops. Sorry dude, Australia was part of the invasion and that brings with it a responsibility that can't be ditched easily.

Dr Allawi, the new Iraqi leader, however, is a terrorist. Or is that a former terrorist? Or is that a freedom fighter? Or is that a CIA stooge? I thought this was supposed to be black and white… Some people believe that once you are a terrorist you are always a terrorist, but for some reason they seem to suspend that view when they talk about Allawi.

Rightist celebration of a drastic reduction in terrorist activity since Bush's hard-line were premature - the figures have had to be amended and still don't include any attacks in Iraq. The people give their verdict here with Bush sinking in the polls.

The great news is the US Supreme Court has disagreed with the cranks and upheld the right to a day in court for both American and foreign detainees on US soil and in US jurisdiction at Guantanamo. At last, some much needed push-back, a direct gift from the genius of America's founders. These decisions weren't even close from a right-leaning bench.

Here's a list of stories Chalabi's crew claims to have planted in the western media. There are a few Australian references in there and clearly they were playing hard on the refugee issue, implying they were terrorist threat. The New York Times recently apologised for running similar stuff.

But to finish on a funny, check out the progress of Gordon King's petition to bring Fox News to Sky. He has the support of "Hugh G Rection" and "I Love the Fox Blondes", anyway…

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Loser, baby | Jun 22, 2004 17:15

The Girlie is deep in the middle of her HSC preparation exams, you know, the practice exams that are always twice as hard as the real thing. So I guess she's been a bit stressed. That's my explanation, at least, for why she keeps calling me a "loser".

She would say it's because I keep coming home late and there's no food in the house, but when the Girlie talks about food she means stuff you can pick out of the fridge and eat. Anything involving two or more ingredients that have to be mixed or cooked in any way is just too much.

I suppose I can be thankful she doesn't do that teenie finger and thumb "L" sign on her forehead like her sister does.

I've been feeling like a capital "L" loser recently. Having just watched the first episode of de Botton's Status Anxiety programme I find myself wondering why I don't care about any of the stuff he talks about. Why don't I care that I have an old car? No property? I don't care about clothes. I don't care about money - as long as I have enough. And I'm never jealous of other people's success.

Some of my friends started saving for their retirement as soon as they left high school. I haven't started yet and it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, somewhere in the middle of all the savings messaging I can't help feeling there's some rip-off social engineering going on.

I must be a loser.

I asked myself what I wanted out of life the other day and it was really pretty simple: a small flat, a room full of books, a PC and internet connection.

Time. Much more time.



Anybody would think these things are gold they're so hard to get your hands on. When someone I know lands a great job these days all I think, unfairly I hope, is "you poor bastard".

Now let's assume I'm not alone - and I know I'm not because whether you look at my fellow Public Addressers or across the ideological divide at NZ Pundit, you see people with unorthodox attitudes to work. I hate the term but the media here is always talking about "downshifters" or corporate dropouts. Add to that the fact that by 2008 the working population (at least here in Aussie) will start to decline as the peak of the boomers passes and you get signs of a profound change on the way.

What does it mean? Buggered if I know.

I've always had the attitude you should never close doors on yourself. As you grow you tend to do this. With every decision you make you close one other option at least and eventually things close in on you and you end up with just a few options left. James Joyce wrote in Ulysses: "We are bound and fettered and lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities we have ousted", which more or less expresses the theory.

So I've always been a generalist, with no desire to specialize in anything too much. But now I find that while I'm not really restricted in what I do by education or experience, I am restricted by attitude.

I just can't be fucked.

Go figure.

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Fame | Jun 03, 2004 12:34

Girlie's big sister is in town. I don't know what it is about her but when she's around odd things happen. On Sunday she was down on the waterfront after visiting Luna Park with her sister and Che, her beau. They were watching a busker, a very good busker apparently, when a fire broke out in the "Toaster".

The Toaster is the controversial apartment building between the Opera House and Circular Quay. There were loads of protests about it a couple of years ago as an eyesore and for disrupting a view of the Botanical Gardens. Personally I quite like it. Anyway, smoke started billowing from an apartment and it all got quite exciting for a time.

Luna Park is back up and running. The revitalized fun-park, which many don't realize was originally set up in Parnell and then exported, like Pavlova, across the ditch, is still stirring people up. One ride isn't operating because local residents say it's too noisy. (That's what you get when you move into apartments next to a funpark, guys! Doh!) Plans for another apartment block on the grounds are being opposed by the same local residents. Mega-bucks have been spent on restoration but the job still isn't up to scratch.

Then last night, after the kids had spent the day at the zoo, we went for a quiet beer at my local. The Oxford in Drummoyne is a good rugby pub with a bit of a kiwi flavour, despite half-baked attempts to cash in on faux Irish pub fashion. Twenty per cent of the population around here are kiwis, according to the last census.

We were upstairs and Che was giving me a rematch on the pool table after beating me when I was last over in NZ. As we were playing a girl came up and asked if we'd come downstairs to fill up the public bar. They were filming a movie and needed some free extras.


So once I'd slaughtered Che we trooped down to appear in the opening scene of a new Aussie crime flick called "Three the Hard Way". The scene involves a cop entering a bar. He's followed in a long tracking shot up the bar to where he takes a seat. He talks to some guy there and then the camera tracks to the left where a couple of drunk dudes are talking. They get a bit loud and the cop moves across to throw them out. They get up, lurching arm-in-arm through the bar and out, again in a long tracking shot.

All of this had to be done in one take so they had to do it several times to get it right. As the "extras" were really just a bunch of piss-heads things got more and more unruly. Some got the giggles and couldn't keep quiet. One old local, with a huge alcoholic's nose, kept saying "Rhubarb" very loudly. This guy had obviously spent a lot of time in pubs, far too much to be healthy. The toll of years of self-abuse was engraved around the bright purple bulb of his nose for all to see in twinkling blue eyes and a permanent and immovable smile. Such are the wages of sin.

Every time a take was completed there'd be cheers and clapping and these got louder and longer as the evening wore on.

It was all really unbelievably cool. Whenever I see film crews in Auckland you get the impression they are pretty stuck up and self-important types - and if you look pretentious in Auckland you must be really pretentious! Anyway, this was all totally laid back and fun and the result was pretty damn good too. As the film is being shot on high definition video, we all gathered to get a preview before closing time.

As the cop comes in you can see me, Che and Girlie Major in the bar. Then while the characters are talking at the bar I walk past in the background twice and so does Che. As the drunks lurch out, wait for it, we get Girlie Major's big moment: one of the drunks en passant takes the opportunity to give her a good ad-lib slap on the arse!

Anyway, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law are at it again, selling freedom down the river in the cause of freedom. Some of the questions the US Supreme Court has to answer over the next few months are possibly the most important it has ever deliberated over. It is a conservative court and anything could happen, but if some limitations are not upheld on the ability of the executive to detain people without trial, without access to lawyers, without charge, in isolation, with continual interrogation and maybe "mistreatment" than you would have to conclude that the worst fears of the founding fathers are about to be realized: that the US has become a corrupt republic and that the safeguards and checks and balances of their brilliant labours will be undermined.

But conservative is not a bad thing. I'm really beginning to like some of the so-called paleo-conservatives. In this day and age maybe there is nothing wrong with the old values…

I'm hopeful. These conservatives could prove themselves to be lovers of law and of process as well as of security. Fingers crossed.

Oh yeah, coming soonish: Being Gordon King

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