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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.



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