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Friday, November 27, 2009

UPPSALA: Whether freezing one’s nuts off a tree, or boiling and sweating like a piggy, it’s good to know there are but a hundred degrees of separation

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

27th November 2009:

Friday: Kindly, the devoted dabchick left me longer – till almost noon – in the cot for some badly-needed, doing the kitchen clean up for me that I normally would have done but have failed to do most days this week, having been thrown out of energy and time kilter with Mum’s hospitalisation and operation.

So due to having less to do, I got to Bob’s about 2.45 p.m., to his, and my, surprise. I even managed to pick The Dear Leader up and drop him back to spend the rest of the day with Janny, as well as a phone call before I left to Andy B., who is trying to see if his company can put together a custom computer system for me, on sister Helena’s recommendation. My first suggestion list he can’t do, due to not dealing with AMD, so it was back to the drawing board for me late last night, googling up the Intel offerings. He was flat stick out on the road today, so we’ll discuss my second system suggestion on Monday.

It was Bob’s birthday yesterday – reaching a mere 56 as it turns out, after telling me for years that he was a year older than he actually was – and as I staggered up to his house groaning under the weight of the chocolate cake Janny made for him, all he wanted to know was where was his birthday cigar? So I handed that over with a card, and it was instantly secreted away in his room somewhere. Then we set off for the city, training from Guildford station.

I’m glad I chose thick jeans, a singlet, and thickish shirt, predicting that by day’s end it was likely to be cooling uncomfortably, and it was; we’d best lap it up, for some hot mothers are surely around the corner. Bob enjoyed our outing, and he suggested a couple of variations to our routine, which is extremely unusual for him, the creature of habit that he’s proved to be these past two decades.

My rarer sorties into the public space these past years make me the more observant of my fellow man, and it is fascinating to behold the ways we behave, attire, and speak; largely far more transparently than most of us realise or would wish. I suspended some of my on train reading to listen to the conversation of two professional men opposite, not to invade their privacy (they were speaking quite audibly after all), but to behold their expressions and concerns; the one asked whether the other’s firm would be “holding a Christmas bash this year?”, and in the answer the other fellow lamented that his office protocol had become to refer to it as an “end of year event” due to political correctness infection, out of naïve concern for the various cultures working there: he has my deepest sympathy.

I left Bob’s with the sun setting, and once home the lovely lady fed me while we three watched Kezza the Great’s out of the weekly routine 7.30 Report: The More O’Kerry (O’Brien) Volume: Mr O’Brien interviewed Saint (Nick) Minchin on screen, followed by an in-studio with Malcolm Turnbull. My only comment, at least for now, is: my how much softer Kezza was on Mr Turnbull tonight than in recent interviews; maybe the fact that he was within strangling distance moderated the legendary ginger-hoary old journo, for surely he would not want to be remembered for killing a guest on his show, and maybe Kezza senses that he might not be interviewing Mr Turnbull as often –or at all – soon.

I took The Dear Leader home after Australian Story, another out of routine scheduling broadcast, and managed on my return to have a catch up chat with the crystallised honeypot, who has had a lot of extra aching joints and muscles, poor teapot, these past several days, plus weariness, before doing some writing, before catching SBS’ news (having missed My Beloved tonight), before that low grade comedy ‘Little Miss Jocelyn’ and its questionably talented comedienne star Jocelyn Jee Esien, before Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: attired in a smart dark jacket with green camisole, tiny earrings and eye shadow to subtly match her camisole, Ms Sales looked most up to the task for the two long interviews tonight, and no guesses needed for the subject matter of one of them, and the other was held over from last night in fact.

Ms Sales’ garb tonight were in fact the same threads she had on for her Canberra interview yesterday with U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, which was a sensible deference to continuity, and she had the pleasure of speaking to this fellow who not only was superbly turned out, with a massive tiny dotted red base tie leaping off his crisp whiter than white shirt, corralled by a dark suit jacket, but his visage was also patriotically set off with a book or cover in the background to his right titled ‘The Constitution of The United States of America’, out of focus but as imposing as any bloke’s mother-in-law nevertheless.

I think this interview was a very good one, and not only for the impressive but always appropriate politeness Ms Sales maintained, but also for the charm that she elicited from Mr Bleich, as well as the fact that she managed to cover some touchy subjects such as Guantanamo Bay, David Hicks, and anti-Americanism, which were the only moments when Ambassador Bleich moved ever so slightly into a very mild discomfort zone.

Although this was an interview that has to be classified as political, it was a refreshing change from the usual combativeness that many political interviews contain; this was more a get to know the person chat, and considering the importance of this man’s role in oiling the bonds at the highest levels between our two nations, and the fact that our respective countries could be served by him for some years, this is well and good.

An issue I would take with the Ambassador on behalf of his President is that of the hidden repercussionals of his glowing reference, viz.: “The reception to his (President Obama’s) Cairo speech, the reception to his speech in Tokyo”; I think Obama doesn’t understand well enough just what the U.S.A.’s multifarious enemies respect, and this crucial omission will thus lead him and that nation (Australia sadly is no different, judging by the pandering our leaders have long been indulging our enemies) as far along a precarious path of strength-letting as they can, before using force to finish the job. Even with those matters that don’t involve militarism or terrorism actions, such as the financial indebtedness to Japan and China (floating around the U.S. $800 billion mark to each) I think vastly more ill-will might lurk behind the smiles from the government officials of these nations than their smiles imply.

Japan is a good case in point: the recent change of government there ended an almost unbroken 54 years of rule of the Liberal Democratic Party, and the now newly ruling Democratic Party of Japan under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama appears to have the interests of the U.S.A., this nation’s unparalled benefactor of the past seven decades, far less at heart; it is looking to reduce its proportion of U.S. currency reserves, thus lending less to them; it is forging an independent foreign policy, even planning to reduce its military assistance as a base for U.S. facilitation of its various endeavours; article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is increasingly being seen as just so much of an unfair constraint to this industrial powerhouse that has the capacity and materials to produce thousands of nuclear weapons within a short stretch of the yea.

As for the Cairo speech: I do think that Obama is to be admired for extending the hand of friendship to the Islamic nations, but he is to be condemned if he doesn’t keep a vice like grip onto a bloody big stick with the other hand at the same time. There are huge numbers of Islamists the world over who would like nothing more than for the demise of the United States of America (and Britain, Australia, …) based on stubborn and fossilised religious ideology, and won’t be satisfied with anything less than the transformation of this rapidly weakening infidel stronghold into an Islamic theocracy, regardless of how many deaths nor how much misery are exacted along this ‘divinely sanctioned’ trajectory. So, beautiful words are good as far as they go, but one must know what one’s enemy respects and, sadly, be prepared to apply it when necessary, just as they surely do.

If I had a personal criticism at this stage of my near zero knowledge of Ambassador Bleich, it would simply be that he waxed a tad too star-struck about Barack Obama; he should honour and respect the President, but not worship him. Ms Sales finished on a lovely note, discussing the Ambassador’s hobby of collecting Elvis memorabilia. Ambassador Bleich obviously was grateful for the top rate treatment he got at Ms Sales’ hands, as his parting remarks evidenced: ‘I'm sure I will and thankyou so much, Leigh, and I look forward to working with you in the future - talking to you. Bye-bye.’ She continues her long established practice of interviewing her interlocutor having done her research well, and it certainly shows.

The earlier interview was with a couple of journo intellectuals, The Financial Review's Laura (Eucalyptus frissonii vr blondus) Tingle, and The Australian's Peter van Onselen, all about the Liberal Party kerfuffle over the leadership, triggered and propelled by the ETS amendments vote-to-come. Ms Tingle, on-screen, looked most business like and dapper, as didn’t Mr van Onselen, who, as an in-studio guest, either cannot afford a tie, or thinks it doesn’t matter not wearing one, pink shirt notwithstanding. It didn’t interfere with his high quality articulation, but such a small visual thing makes a real difference, and he should know this.

These three certainly covered the matter with intelligence, aided by Ms Sales’ questions, but the savvy and cognisance of her two guests certainly produced a high quality discussion that was a pleasure to follow. Yes all this intrigue and drama in Canberra is politically very interesting and stimulating, but philosophically, the individuals hardly matter. Turnbull or Hockey or Abbott, they’re just idiosyncratic humans like most of us, but what does matter is that Australia’s effective Westminster System continue to improve and prosper, giving us stable government upon a foundation of civilised conduct, without the bloodshed that mars so many other parts of this troubled world. And so an effective Opposition is crucial, whoever the dupe or sucker or champion is that has a turn at leading it.

I withdrew to my sanctuary to write and research after midnight, punctuated by a walk about half two, after some struggles with my chronic health problems, but the walk is always worth the effort; the night air was still cool, but I think the heat is not far off arriving, so I am lapping up the comfortable walking conditions for now. I was still writing as the sky lightened with dawn’s arrival and transition into the new day.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UNITED KINGDOM: Natural selection is undeniable, but the origins of speciousness à la Dawkins makes P.L. Inkletter wonder if Professor’s read the book

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

24th November 2009:

Tuesday: Although I had told Mum last night I would be in to see her after her operation today, I had already decided to come in well before, to comfort her. And so, having had maybe four hours of sleep, I got myself presentable and set off by 7.20 a.m., braving the nasty traffic snarls of Perth; the run was reasonably good, for I was early enough to well and truly beat the worst of it, and arrived in Mum’s room about 8.10; she was pleasantly surprised to see me.

A hot day was brewing outside, for it reached about 36 Celsius. The nursing staff intermittently attended to various pre-opterative procedures with Mum, who had not had much sleep at all overnight. Sister Mary arrived, and before long Mum was being wheeled off, about 10.15, the seventh patient, very anxious but sedated, to theatre. I did my best to comfort Mum, and held her hand in silence a fair bit of the time as well, reassuring her that she was in two very good pairs of hands in Doctors Hng and Leung. She had a bit of a cry earlier on while sitting in a chair in her room with me.

Sister Mary returned home, and I braved the furnace outside to fetch a bag of my bits and pieces from the car, then settled in to the waiting lounge on the second floor of Murdoch Hospital, listening to my favourite talking book, but occasionally dropping off into micro sleeps, and also having conversations with our Father of all.

At noon I returned to Mum’s room to watch the ABC’s Midday Report, getting the dirt on the excitement in Canberra over the freshly negotiated Wong-Macfarlane ETS deal that Malcolm Turnbull had presented to his party room.

About 1 p.m. Mum was wheeled back, and I was shocked at how good she looked, for she had just had a hysterectomy for ovarian cancer, having been as a life long and present heavy smoker at 78 years of age, when she was wheeled into theatre, and already a survivor of three separate cancers, including lung cancer, and several strokes, over the previous decade and more. I spoke with her intermittently, for she was drifting in and out of consciousness, but suffering from nausea, almost vomiting several times. Not until about half an hour after the nursing staff added an anti nausea drug to her drip did she settle into longer bouts of sleep. I just held her hand.

Sister Mary came back, having done some washing for Mum that she took from the hospital when she left this morning. I had phoned her, sister Helena, and Aunt Elsie with the news of her safe arrival back from theatre.

I was very tired when I left a little after six in the evening, amazed and grateful at how well Mum had fared.

My quenda queen fed me, and we watched a special Western Australian version of The 7.30 Report, from an obviously enervated and emotionally excited Kerry O’Brien, who can no more keep out of the thick of Australian politics than the quendas can keep away from the Murdoch Hospital’s kitchen (a fellow, who looked like he was probably a doctor) told sister Mary and me yesterday as we were leaving at dusk, but stopping to read the information sign on these lovable little bandicoots, that the closer to the kitchen they are the fatter they are; I saw my second one ever ‘in the wild’ at this time, out on the lawn grooming itself, as fat as butter and as big as a half sized rat; my first sighting was a couple of hours earlier when I brought Mum in and helped admit her to the hospital for today’s surgery; I knew nothing of the quendas or the Murdoch Hospital’s colony at that stage, and told Mum I had just spotted a rat in the gardens near the main entrance; an inspiring start to a modern hospital experience.)

Aunt Elsie rang us at home here about this time, back from an evening visit to Mum her next oldest sister, and told me something utterly amazing: the doctors Leung and Hng both visited Mum while Aunt Elsie was there, and let her know that there was no ovarian cancer present at all! The pain she had been having for some many weeks was from something like a twisted ovary (no doubt we’ve not absorbed that accurately, but that’s what Aunt Elsie remembers). I haven’t met Dr Leung, but I took Mum to Dr Hng the anaesthetist yesterday in Nedlands, and found him to be a gentle, patient, and caring man, who took all the time in the world to answer Mum’s questions, query her regarding her health history, and try to put her at ease. He was most fascinated that 8 years ago she had had, and survived, lung cancer, just from radiotherapy, telling Mum she was “very lucky” (I told him nothing about the natural therapies I got Mum using, and Mum doesn’t even know of the prayers my friends offered on her behalf); he appeared quietly shocked to learn that Mum still smokes, a packet a day, but simply asked her to try to cut down before the operation and for some days after, to lift the oxygen supply in her blood; I think he was processing internally and came to a conclusion that even the mildest of berating was going to be counterproductive, but I think he was a tad torn and somewhat saddened about it all. When we left, as we drove away along a side street we say him walking in the hot sunlight, eyes down and apparently deep in thought, and his face spoke to me of deep concern. I wish that every doctor could be as nice as this fellow. He also told us that he would not be charging anything above what Mum’s fund, HBF, paid him.

I could barely keep my eyes open after this, and so the whip cracker sent me to bed. I had mentally prepared myself to no longer have a living mother by this day’s end, but against the odds Mum came through it all. This time twenty years ago Dad was dying of a massive stroke he suffered after surgery of three weeks earlier, in Charlie Gees, lasting only a bit more than a week longer.


Friday, November 20, 2009

HELSINKI: “Till death do us part and let no man cut the mahogany asunder maybe was not very west of the mark from the start,” suggests P.L. Inkletter.

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

20th November 2009:

Friday: An exhausting day for us, with part of it spent in the roof cavity, of all places, by me, handing down storage items from a thousand years ago not long after we moved in here; thankfully it was a cool day, and fine – I had slid back a number of tiles for light – after yesterday’s beautiful rain. I also managed to mow the front weeds with the sand still moist, minimising dust. However, I was one aching puppy by dusk, even though the actual time spent active might have been only two hours. Janny and I are glad to finally have cleared the roof space of our storage, one step closer to preparing this place for our possibly leaving the city one day; a dream of ours. And I would be very happy never to have to enter the hell hole that is our roof cavity again; it was bad enough when I was a young rippling stallion, but it’s tragic now.

A couple of serendipitous discoveries warmed our hearts, including Baby Inkletter’s footprints we’d done and forgotten about, perfectly preserved, while most else had silverfish and other vermin damage.

We had the salesman from InsulAustralia of Tuesday call back to talk turkey regarding the roof insulation scheme within the the Government’s Energy Efficient Homes Package, which requires a bit more discussion, but likely to be agreed upon early next week; this prompted our tackling the removal of the roof space storage at long last.

I spoke to Mum this morning, and arranged that I’ll see her after her admission to Murdoch Hospital late Monday for her ovarian cancer operation, but she doesn’t know yet that in fact I’ll take her hours earlier to her anaesthetist appointment in Nedlands and take her for the admission process myself; sister Mary and I agreed we’d not let her know of the change of plans (Mary was to have done all this for Mum on Monday, but I’ve offered, and Mary gratefully accepted, to give her a break from the many days of taking Mum to medical appointments of late), for this knowledge would likely throw Mum off balance somewhat, for she wouldn’t want me to hear some of the answers, if truthfully given, regarding her smoking rate to the anaesthetist. This week has been, and next week especially will be, very busy times for we offspring, Helena and Mary by far the most, not to mention the fearfulness of my mother with what she’s facing.

I somehow stayed awake during the early evening, and the shower I had at half eight after an hour and a half of Aunty perked me up enough to take the potential pentathlete for a walk to our local park, our third this week, in the hope of getting her fitness levels trending upwards and her blood sugar levels downwards. It’s a beautiful little park, and a gem to walk in at night. I don’t feel afraid, but the doubtful doll has been apprehensive; I am, after all, the fellow who has walked these backstreets hundreds of times after midnight over the past few years alone; one reason I enjoy it is that there is little traffic to prevent me hearing my talking book, given my hopeless cochlear doodle doo dahs, another is the coolness, and yet another is the total lack of worry about sun damage to skin excessively overexposed in my youth.

We watched That Mitchell and Webb Look, a repeat we’d seen before, and then it was Lateline time: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: the long interview tonight was with a pair of opposite spectrum pollies inhabiting the surreal halls of Canberra, Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton, who I have yet to be convinced isn’t a mere career politician, and Small Business Minister Dr Craig Emerson. All three were smartly and appropriately apparelled, anchor plus ward-heelers, but I’ll have to give special mention to Ms Sales’ radiating eyes, which adds a layer of delightfulness to what can be otherwise depressing affairs with these political stoushes.

Predictably, both men painted ridiculous extremes to represent the doings of the other side – and tonight’s subjects were essentially but two, the ETS impending vote and the asylum seeker issue – yet fortunately there were a few memorable moments among the dross. I was very tickled by Mr Dutton’s calling of Dr Emerson a ‘drama queen’, and so was Ms Sales as well as Dr Emerson; but I was put off by Mr Dutton’s rancorous language, so typical of the Opposition since losing the last election, to describe anything Government, tonight’s main target of his vitriol being Kevin Rudd: terms such as ‘fake’, ‘fraud’, ‘hypocrite’, and ‘phoney’, while indeed coming from a truly muddied Prime Ministerial pool, are, when used so sweepingly, over the top to such an extent that the credibility of the likes of Mr Dutton and his cronies is compromised. Yet I do think Prime Minister Rudd demonstrated embarrassing national leader weakness with the Oceanic Viking matter, and is deserving of criticism for that, and is receiving it in buckets from the deeply embittered Opposition. And yes, Mr Dutton’s observation that Mr Rudd holds those who differ with his opinions regarding climate change with ‘contempt’ also approaches a non-edifying reality.

Ms Sales kept admirable control of these two roosters, overtalking them with power and control a few times when she had to, and she clearly wasn’t in the mood to take too much of their unbridled political spraying of the other side.

Dr Emerson’s gave another of tonight’s gems with his astute descriptor ‘the killing season’, in regard to Tony Abbott’s breaking with Mr Turnbull’s ETS negotiating stance. Later, I think Dr Emerson got his tongue tied with his Oceanic Viking Sri Lankan asylum seeker issue anti-Opposition directed remark “…consistency’s the sign of a small mind…” he must have meant ‘inconsistency’; of course, only robots could never make a mistake in thick of the pressure of interviews. However, he was sadly close to the mark when he used the term ‘hatred’ to describe the machinations of the Opposition; I think this bunch of whingers recently removed from power will in time be judged as behaving in a most small manner across a spectrum of issues over their entire term of Opposition, however long that will be.

Thankfully we had Economics Correspondent Stephen Long’s weekly wind up chat with Ms Sales to look forward to after the predictable bellyaching of the politicians: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: Mr Long spoke about the general state of the U.S. economy one year after the election of Barack Obama, and it certainly sounds fragile, or at least a rather joyless, and jobless, recovery. The United States Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, got a mention, regarding the tenuous looking hold he currently has on his position.

The Government stimulus money apparently is the main cause of the weak recovery in place of continuing recession, but a bearish Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke nevertheless seems to think the recovery will keep rolling along when the stimulus peters out. Mr Long used a lovely word late in his 4 minutes of glory, ‘scupper’, when referring to the distortionate practice of those institutions borrowing at zero per cent in the U.S.A. and investing in growing economies, causing harmful bubbles there: “What one country does in its national interest can scupper other countries…

As always, these few short four minutes listening to Mr Long proved to be at or near the top of the best analysis for the week on matters economic.

I wrote and researched over night, broken with a 3 a.m. walk, and it was very cool, most refreshing. I searched the front yard for the main half of our missing just delivered two parts paper, eventually finding it way down the street; the previous fellow who delivered the papers never failed to lob them in the centre of the yard, rather than on the sloping drive where now they can roll away till gravity gives up.

Margo Reymundo sent me a kind message, and I listened to another masterful employment of her voice as an instrument at her Facebook site, and this rendition not long after cancer treatment. I sent a reply of encouragement for the challenge she is meeting.

It was well after dawn, maybe three hours, when, like a block of ice, I slipped in beside the warm woylie, and she kindly cuddled the warmth back into me, with the occasional protestation when my cold hands were too much, even though they were only holding her arm across my chest, honest.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

LANGFORD GROVE: “Roses are red, the sky is blue, argon light isn’t red, it’s blue too: repeat this rapidly while strutting,” challenges P.L. Inkletter

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

12th November 2009:

Thursday: A very humid day with some very light rain of the late summer kind, continuous for half an hour, and I’m not complaining. When did ‘today’ start? Good question.

I ‘got up’ after ten last night, and went to bed about one in the afternoon ‘today’. Overnight I did a huge kitchen clean up in preparation for The Babies’ visit tonight, and managed also a wee small hours walk. A bit of back yard gardening maintenance before the rain; and did I ever mention the willie wagtails nesting up the back?: they have three chicks out of the nest but not yet flying, just sitting dutifully near the nest, and being admirably fed and protected by their hard working parents.

The hassled honeypie informed The Dear Leader by the dog and bone that she was so tired – true – that she was going to go to bed early afternoon (with me as it turned out), but not before thrashing me to within an inch of my vinegar string, finally flinging me off, as she is want to do, like an empty Mars Bar wrapper, having achieved her satiation and then some. And so we slept…

The carnal caricature only slept for half an hour, but she left me snoozing till half six, when it was flat stick for me to wake up and be alive enough to face the evening’s socialising. We did enjoy the company of The Babies Ink&Peggletter from half seven very much, the dutiful daughter having picked up The Dear Leader some hours earlier, having delivered a meal to the Deelers first, Meg having been finished with her radiotherapy early due to complications from it; they were very appreciative of the kindness.

A highlight of the evening, which tonight unusually did not involve any board games, was the group devouring of a durian, and we all agreed it was a good experience, despite the strange combinations of rotten egg gas smell, peppery flavour, and sweetness, with close to the seed mango stringiness.

I copied a pile of Radio National mp3s to Baby Inkletter’s USB stick, to help promote the continuance of the square genetics inherent in this line of the Inkletter clan; she in fact regularly emails me lists of these mp3s to download for her, and bless Aunty’s woollen socks for providing them.

After the guests left, taking The Dear Leader with them to drop home, I caught the remainder of Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: As usual, Ms Sales looked a sight for sore eyes, wearing a simple black long sleeved blouse, subtle make-up, becoming loose hair styling, and attractive effect long earrings. Her long interview tonight was with Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, looking very smart in a traditional dark suit white shirt combination, jazzed up with a snippy geometric patterned grey blue and black tie, his 19 strands of hair immaculately coiffured as is appropriate for such endangered species, and Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who shone in a dark grey suit and white shirt duo, set of with a maroon boldly striped tie, his curly mop not quite the equal of Stephen Long at his most John the Baptist. So this means also I am presenting another The (Christopher) Pyne O Cleen (Anti) Septic Assessment: (Aunty, you are regularly not putting up the transcripts to these interviews in a timely manner, like simultaneously with you’re putting of the vodcasts to air, like often you do) The boys were boned up to defend their respective sides of politics, and I feel sorry for Mr Tanner having to defend his leader’s pathetic handling of the ongoing Sri Lankan asylum seeker issue: an epitome of weakness writ large to the oppressed as well as the self interested world.

Mr Pyne – and, as much as it pains me to concede it, who could blame him? – laid the boots into the Government’s dealings with the asylum seekers, but as per usual he dodged Ms Sales’ question about a constructive alternative for the current situation. To date I haven’t heard a single member of the Opposition give such for the CURRENT situation since it began, and while Rudd has done some damn weak things, such as use stupid terms like ‘infinite patience’, and while it does not sit comfortably with me to align too often with the following fellow with a number of red neck if not simplistic views, I find Barnaby Joyce’s recent weighing in with his advice – that the asylum seekers needed to be given an ultimatum lasting about 48 hours – would have been better than the mamby pamby nonsense Rudd has been flirting with; protagonists play to the weakest areas in their opponents.

Mr Tanner certainly uses the “I don’t know…” line to his advantage repeatedly in his interviews, and tonight was no exception; I cannot exactly blame a politician finding various ploys to avoid answering things they don’t want to, but it must frustrate the hapless journos who never get their trickier questions answered, and it is always déjà vu for the long suffering politically interested audience.

The most interesting part of the interview was near the end when Mr Tanner and Ms Sales asked Mr Pyne if he was the source of the charge that Nick Minchin is a ‘complete fruit loop… they (the Government) came out behaving like total fwits’, but this fellow, who many have unkindly referred to as an overflowing nightsoil pan, denied it with typical Pynespeak, using a telling term when he said the Opposition’s “…primary responsibility is to remove this rancid Government at the next election…”; this type of rancour from the Opposition truly does not serve them well, but it has been evident in spades in the things their spokesmenandwomen have said publicly countless times in the past couple of years: they are smarting still at losing the election, and bitterly resent that the Australian voting populace gave the other side a go; grow up Opposition, you have long driven home to us that you are sore losers, you’ll get your turn again, and it’ll be even more likely when you behave with greater maturity and decorum. (I am aware of the irony of my frequent use of questionable and less than edifying descriptors for certain folk in the public eye.)

I also find descriptions such as ‘rancid Government the harder to take from dumps-of-ambition-only for Prime Ministership; and the way our world works in these still relatively primitive times, ambition and connivance, when strong enough, often deliver the top job: yes, Prime Minister Pyne is a real possibility; if it transpires, I only hope that he will have improved in his inner world substantially by then – the best leaders are from among those who can take or leave the position, meaning their self element is low.

Mr Tanner made an appropriate cutting remark as an interjection: “I’d hate to see what his behaviour’d be like if he wasn’t a team player!

To her credit, Ms Sales finished the interview with a generous thank you to them both, saying sincerely “Always a pleasure to have the pair of you on…

The perfumed policewoman caught me falling asleep after this interview ended, and ordered me to bed, and I meekly complied, after the usual long-winded ritual of teeth flossing, cleaning, gargling, titivating; this meant I missed out on my walk, my writing, my research… but she was right to force the point, for I was deeply tired.


Friday, November 6, 2009

DETROIT: “Edsel could have any colour toy he wanted, as long as it was black,” says Payton L. Inkletter, “like the many choices given the married man”

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

06th November 2009:

Friday: At last some relief from the heat of the past two days! It was not until about three hours after dawn that I joined the ravishing rodomontader in the cot, and this slumber of mine was fairly deep until she got me up about four in the afternoon, cracking a mean whip, for there was a floor to mop before the Chocsons arrived for a surreptitious din dins with us, ALONE. Given that when I had hit the sack I had slept but an hour in the previous forty eight, I both needed the sleep and looked little better for it.

Before my shower in readiness for our treasured friends, I grappled with the misbehaving Bosch Water Wizard 600 instaneous gas water heater, but did not get it to stop its off again on again burning malfunctions, plunging us into cold water after hot, whenever it feels the urge.

Not long after six the Chocsons arrived, with Reeve’s virus serious of the past three weeks or so very diminished, but poor Chocci was coughing a lot through the evening, at a stage of progression that both of we Inkletter’s recall well. And so began the second delightful evening in a week with a rare pair of the finest of friends; we enjoyed Janny’s culinary creations, from a cauliflower and leek soup through to a pasta and salad second course, later rounded off by a pavlova to, if not kill for, at least to kidnap for. Later we boys had our legendary cocoa that you could step out and walk on, cheered along with an assortment of chocolate, among which were to be found Lindt chilli and Janny’s homemade Locky Load, as well as Cadbury’s Lum ’n’ Laisin and a raspberry number. Our occasions with the Chocsons form a priceless storehouse of lifegiving memories, to reminisce upon as with a feast, to draw strength from past pleasant experiences in times of present challenges.

I missed Lateline, but not to worry, for there’s always iView! After our treasured guests left Janny and I chatted while listening to a John Denver album, and after I put the waning wayfarer to bed I set to to do some writing, and researching, before embarking on a walk at half two, on this still moonlit humid cool night.

Once back home I settled into my desk chair, with six pears and a slab of matured cheddar, and watched Lateline on iView, voraciously devouring a huge slab of my paltry 30 Gb Optus monthly allowance, this sizeable slab (half a gig) due much, I assume, to my constant rewinds of the interviews to catch what my mind and clapped out cochlear doodle doo dahs missed the first time: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: From the outset I was impressed that we the viewers were in for a special Lateline, merely due the overwhelmingly radiant presence of Ms Sales: she positively glowed, and not only because of how femininely delightfully she had turned herself out, (yet also as professional looking as all get out as well – the two in no way are intrinsically at odds), but as well if not largely due to those inimitably smiling eyes; I think a major plus for a television presenter is genuineness, if the person is so blessed, and Ms Sales has it in spades; it is a rarer commodity than it should be, sadly, but in those that have it it is a priceless asset: throw in sincerity, intelligence, and naturalness – that is, spontaneous leakage of the inner person – and you have a contagious benign and exquisite mix on your hands; all this was to be our serving this evening, and her vivacious glow from the outset was indeed a herald of good things to come.

Oh, what of the apparel did I hear you ask?: Ms Sales was enhanced by the most beguiling choice of a green shaded chiffon overblouse with a black camisole, reddened lips, no jewellery but for tiny earrings, subtle effect make-up, and concaving loose hanging hair, with a slight Marilyn Monroe effect near her right eye. The bulletin began with some sad sad and bad bad news, as well as some politics, but the interviews Aunty provides us are always the top of my agenda for interest.

I was not expecting tonight’s long interview, with Matt Weiner, to interest me much, having seen neither ‘The Sopranos’ nor ‘Mad Men’ (well, I did catch snippets of the latter show, to be honest); how wrong I was, for we were treated to a marvellous and relatively profound exploration of the ingredients that have made these series so successful. Ms Sales was the ideal interviewer for this scoop of an interlocution: she clearly has followed the series they discussed, which was transparently illustrated by her pertinent questions and comments. She was also obviously grateful to be the spoilt ABC journo to have scored this interview, and she took full justifiable advantage of the opportunity to connect with Mr Weiner, drawing out gems and jewels from the fellow, and her pleasure at the chance given her was catchingly evident.

I could carry on for ages on the details of the insights and wisdom drawn from Mr Weiner – who dressed uber casually by the way, in what appeared to be a black jumper and open necked striped shirt, but in a rare pardon from me, that was fine – by Ms Sales’ thoughtful negotiation of this almost 18 minutes with the highly talented writer, director, producer, as I said, I could wax long if I had the time; I don’t, more’s the pity. He can only be rather chuffed at the great run he was given in this exchange to share his views and insights, and he expressed his appreciation most directly at interview’s end thus: Leigh Sales: “Matt Weiner it was a pleasure to have you on the program, thank you very much”; Matt Weiner: “Well thanks, thank you, it’s a pleasure to talk to you Leigh, those were great… great questions”: it must have been very satisfying for Ms Sales to have such immediate, direct, and honest validation, and deservedly so – because they were great questions – by her interviewee. Ms Sales, Mr Weiner, it was an exquisite pleasure to be part of your intersection this evening; thank you both so much.

The treats weren’t over yet, for hot on the heels of that sweetmeat was a witty and ambient weekly wind up of things that go clink in the piggy bank, with economics correspondent Stephen Long, whose mother refused to watch tonight, for he’d been shorn of his delightsome curls, but undoubtedly missing the scented soap and brilliantine and smelling like a whore: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: in addition to having endured the clicks of the shears, Mr Long looked spruce and unnicked in a dark jacket, white with grey stripes shirt, and a dazzling tie of a persimmon shading, which, never mind his need of shades for the bright economic future for Australia heralded by Glenn Stevens of the Reserve Bank, this tie was borderline illegal, at least on the street, lest drivers or even airline pilots be momentarily blinded.

Ms Sales introduced Mr Long, with abundant good humour by way of the segue, as a lone madman, and one at that still stalking the grimy and darkened streets of Ultimo at eleven fifteen, killing time till his three minutes of glory under studio lights. He went on to demonstrate why the wise hats at the top of the ABC should cancel all leave of his for the next fifty years, and insist that he give an economics report, if not nightly, then definitely weekly, here on Lateline; the high end of cool and controlled yet catalytic chemistry with Ms Sales is always a revelation and an uplist, so if it’s to be but weekly please make it on Ms Sales’ watch. I for one cannot get enough of his wisdom and astute observations, and tonight was overflowing with them.

The point on which he waxed philosophical this evening that resonated the most for me was his observation and lamentation, upon Ms Sales’ initiation, of the missing real capital, an indisputably valid and commensurate commonwealth, at the end of the last and recent prolonged resources boom, and his hope that after the next one, in addition to the phalanx of new empty holes in the ground, that there’ll be some significant real and lasting Australian commonwealth to show for it across the range from infrastructure, citizen development, and national progress in general; good on him for his charge, in passing, of the wasted vote buying that so much of the nation’s increase was squandered on (are you listening John Howard?); may your forays for information and understanding in the arcane halls of money wallpaper and bullion flooring be long and satisfying Stephen, and not only to the end of keeping us, if not ahead, then abreast of the games our ‘leaders’ play.

I managed, well after dawn, a kitchen clean up, and some research back at the computer about the latest low power AMD CPUs and motherboards to match, for I must act soon if possible on deciding upon a system to replace this computer, a box of silicon and metal that’s struggling along on speed and in an iron lung, and giving me the heebie-jeebies almost every day, if not causing me to actually touch cloth, when it collapses and needs drastic jolts from the paddles to revive it.

My distantly devoted dollface, in the throes of an acute nausea episode the echo of her early days on Byetta, put me to bed about half eleven, morning that is.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

OAK RIDGE: From splitting uranium to splitting headaches, to chasing cancer in search, find, and destroy roles: a mixed blessing, thinks P.L.Inkletter

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

04th November 2009:

Wednesday: Having retired well after dawn, and with the pair of we lovebirds taking ages to settle, the merry mattresstaker eventually settling down – and to my advantage was up at seven to pick up Umple Dais from Wangara, where he is having window tinting put on his new wheels – allowing me from about eight to get maybe four hours reasonable sleep.

And what a hot one I woke up to, not my missus, who was away returning Umple Dais to Wangara to get his finished car, but rather an ovenish day which was well under way this noontime. I moved heaven and earth, relatively speaking for me, and after a kitchen clean up and some watering in the back garden, set off by half two for Guildford to take Bob to Perth city.

A crowded train, an ignorant passenger beside me, listening to his mobile phone’s music (I use the word ‘music’ very loosely) option at a ridiculous volume without earphones, and before we knew it, Bob and I were spilled out onto Perth Central’s platform, ready for Bob to paint the town red. The sky was a treacly pastiche of grey summer storm clowds smeared almost fully below the hidden wide blue welkin.

We did the things that please the fellow, Bobster, and my highlight was our time in Supreme Court Gardens beside the last giant clump of Bambusa balcoa, which has escaped the scorched earth policy of the despicable bamboonazis on the Perth City Council’s payroll, delighting in the scurrying of the willie wagtails after the tiniest of insects, and obviously catching enough to keep doing it, or not – and so needing to keep trying.

We weren’t back till almost seven, and the shock of the heat at Guildford station’s platform reminded us that relief was some time away yet. Fuel and money were two jobs that I attended to on my return, and after massaging the ATM came a wait of ten minutes in a queue of two cars, mine being one of these, at Woolies Petrol in Turana; the fact that there are eight of these queues, with some five and six cars deep, plus the presence of only one overworked cashier, explains the delay.

I missed Kezza the Great, but managed to stay awake, with great weariness setting in, for the next two Aunty offerings, after which I was slipping in and out of delta, the devoted dalliance having fed me. I managed to perk up, and attended to some computer housekeeping, as well as downloading a number of Radio National mp3s for Baby Inkletter, who regularly emails me lists of ABC broadcasts to get for her (the macadamia hasn’t fallen far from the tree with this square predilection for many things Aunty), before Lateline, having already put a very tired marvellous muscatel to bed: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Looking consummately smart in a dark grey jacket and a grey, dark, and light mottled high necked blouse, Ms Sales’ hair style was loose hanging but concaved sufficiently to enhance her natural beauty, which, apart from a slight over-emphasis with her eyeliner, was helped by subtle effect make-up, jewellery being but the smallest of earrings – all in all a visual delight, but more importantly, dressed to interview at the highest level.

And interview at this level she did, with her distinguished interlocutor from New York being former Vice President Al Gore, the author of a follow up book ‘Our Choice’ to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, who looked as double-dyed in his choice of attire and masculine styling as did our Sydney end, going with the almost mandatory dark suit, white shirt, and relieved by a bright blue tie. Before I comment on the detail of their discussion, let me wax a moment on what I’ve said before, will say now, and hope I can often say again: how bracing and elating it is to experience a discussion-interview between two intelligent people, each blessed with a measure of maturity beyond the average; it would matter little what they talked about, for the ambience of the sophisticated meeting of minds is one of its own rewards.

Mr Gore conducted himself admirably, demonstrating his high intelligence and articulation skill effortlessly, aided by the quality of Ms Sales’ approach and the timbre of the questions and comments she offered. I did chuckle at the outset over a pun not intended from Ms Sales: “… the man perhaps more associated with global warming than anybody else, the former United States Vice President Al Gore”; I know he’s talked tirelessly on the subject, but surely his personal verbosal impact has melted little Arctic ice?; Heaven forbid that she was opaquely referring to his flatus volume!

Ms Sales gave Mr Gore every uninterrupted opportunity to delineate his opinions, and this he did so eloquently that one could profitably use this interlocution as a study on fluency and relevance on the fly – no mean feat. I particularly like the fact that Mr Gore endeavoured to solidly answer and meet every question and position Ms Sales put to him. He did not even shirk from a mildly personally challenging question early on regarding Nicholas Stern’s recommendation on mass take up of vegetarianism as a powerful contribution to managing climate change, and his rejoinder to this invitation was as saturated with intelligence as the rest of Mr Gore’s contribution to this engrossing interview. David Letterman’s many jokes at Mr Gore’s expense did come to mind during this question, I confess.

Speaking of Stern, throughout Ms Sales was a frame of sternness, not allowing a shred of levity to invade her deportment, but it mattered not, neither for the overall interview quality, nor did it faze Mr Gore.

I have to admit to not having watched ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, but this interview impressed me with why Mr Gore is such an asset to the climate change activist side. In addition to his quality of exposition, he imparted much technical detail in a very layman user friendly way, even poetically at times.

He was the epitome of politeness from the outset, and he ended the interview, after a most fitting thank you from Ms Sales, with graciousness. My thanks to both Ms Sales and Mr Gore for this quality interview, 17 minutes of enlightenment, now tucked away in my bulging ABC archive.

Foolishly as it transpired, I traded on the revivification that occurred for me mid evening, after falling in and out of sleep earlier, to begin my usual after midnight routine, including going for a very late walk around half two, on this warm overcasted night, moonlight piercing through to shed the occasional moonshadow. My Patsy Clining, the kitchen clean up, and writing I did meant that by the time I tried to go to sleep around three, I was too awake to fall asleep. Try as I did, it didn’t work, and I got maybe an hour if I was lucky of delta.

This had repercussions later in the new day.


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