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Friday, December 3, 2010

LATELINE: As one door closes for Leigh Sales, a bigger one opens: Auf wiedersehen Kezza the Great!

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
03rd December 2010

Friday: To avoid a 20 to 30 minute queue later in the day, I stayed up doing various chores so I could drive to the service station with a good price 3 kms down the road; worth it, being on empty and being 13 cents lower than every one else within cooee. And so I hit the sack around 7 this morning.

I arrived at Guildford about 4 p.m., and my first call with Bob was Centrepoint in Midland to buy him his annual birthday cigar, being one week late this time. We then walked the John George Walk Trail, but my mind was racked with a very recent relationship issue, taking some of the tranquillity out of the beautiful walk. We finished with his swim at Swan Aquatic and the obligatory cup of tea at Fish Market Reserve on dark.

Once home I was pleased and surprised to reach Mum on her hospital phone, being close to 9 o'clock. She may come out tomorrow, but we all feel that would be too soon. We acknowledged Dad's passing 21 years ago today.

With Cadbury spread out on my lap, moulting a bit, I settled in to watch Aunty. Janny had returned The Dear Leader to his place a bit before 9.

Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: My 'In other news…' and Abecedarian Project websites went a little mad today, and the searches which brought the flurry of visitors were mainly for 'Leigh Sales'. And this is best explained by tonight's Lateline being her last: Ms Sales moves next year into the big chair being vacated by Kezza the Great this month, who has hosted the 7.30 Report since 1788, when he was a young starry-eyed journalist for the BBC, embedded with the First Fleet. Kerry O'Brien went on to cover many events of world significance, including the Voyage of the Beagle and the Sinking of the Rudd.

Ms Sales was in a buoyant mood, and who could blame her, with a couple of the Chaser's guests, Craig Reucassel and Julian Morrow, to interview for a review on the year in Australian politics in the main, and the inimitable Stephen Long for his opinion on the year to come for the global economy, though she did have a short serious interview beforehand with James Ball, who is working for WikiLeaks. (Mr Ball's archetypical geek appearance softened the cut of the subject matter somewhat, fortunately; he would've made a good companion for Godwin Grech in the cold damp basement of Treasury in Langton Crescent in Canberra, never seeing the sun other than on the desktop artwork.)

What an offer! Leigh Sales committed to put a word in for James Ball with Treasury, to try and get Godwin Grech's old office, 10 floors beneath Langton Crescent, Canberra

Caught out! Julian Morrow underestimated Leigh Sales' mischievousness, losing his hairpiece in a deft piece of handwork by the talented journalist
More story coming…


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'FREEDOM': Jonathan Franzen discusses his novel and the writing process with Leigh Sales on LATELINE

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
30th November 2010

Tuesday: But two hours broken sleep out of four in the cot, unable to sleep without eventually succumbing to my talking book and headphones.

Janny and I got to an appointment at Charlie Gee's by half nine, on this stinking hot day, high thirties Celsius. Before noon we were visiting Baby Inkletter in Adelaide Terrace, to drop of some supplements we'd been storing in our fridge for the last week for her, and we drove her to the Inglewood Library to save her bussing in the scorching conditions.

She finally has completed her assignments and exams for her Diploma of Education, which, assuming she has passed, will be her third degree; she will have to wear a triple deckered black flat cap at graduation.

Back briefly to Charlie Gee's for a prescription after dropping our precious daughter back home in the heart of the city, then finally home. I had to go to bed, and slept maybe another four plus hours till after dark.

Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Thank you Ms Sales for bringing us a superb interview with Jonathan Franzen, celebrated author, who has recently had his latest novel 'Freedom' published.

Mr Franzen was able to open up and give some exceptional insights, under the skillful questioning of Ms Sales, about the novel and about the phenomenon of writing. He wasn't afraid to assess the devaluation flowing from even interviews like the very one he was engaged in with Ms Sales, late in the time allotted: "But there is something about the process – particularly of doing interviews like this, frankly - that it begins to empty you out and you start to feel as if more of the language you speak is going dead on you." Give us more of this type of honesty and integrity any day!

I could not think of a better ABC journalist, a better qualified one, to conduct an interview like this. Being very widely read, intelligent, and with a satisfyingly broadening insight, Ms Sales helped her honoured guest share much of value, and much of unusual but fascinating interest.

For example, Ms Sales asked Mr Franzen whether he missed his characters when he finished writing a book, and he gave a wonderful analysis of what leaving his characters be, when he pens his final lines, means to him.

For this line from Mr Franzen alone, thank you thank you thank you, Ms Sales: "You know, once it's passed a certain hour in the evening it's time to be reading… because I need that time alone to commune with a book."

I imagine interviews like this one are like getting a favourite dessert after a long and punishing diet for the likes of Leigh Sales, who, for her bread and butter must spend mind-numbing hours grilling mediocre politicians who are all mouth and trousers, these connivers, shallow-minded common scoundrels in suits.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday 29th November 2010

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
29th November 2010

Monday: This is not a short story (although it may well become the fodder to write one):
He was running late as usual, as damn usual – ask his Missus – and so to stop for a hitchhiker was not going to help the deadline; his wife wanted to go to her knitting group at Caffissimo's tonight, and he wanted her to go, because it was soul food for the poor thing, overworked, underappreciated, and discounted regularly by certain close ones.

But to make the trip worthwhile, he needed to be back at maybe ten past seven at the latest. That was going to be a challenge, because it was Bob's afternoon out in Perth today, and he liked to make the most of it. Not helped by the party in full swing, with tables groaning under the weight of goodies, at Bob's Guildford house, with more social trainers and their bosses than you could poke a stick at milling about, most of whom he knew, and felt obliged to acknowledge and chat a tad with.

He had even joked as he walked into the main room "How did you know it was my birthday?" He reminisced at length with Maxine, rarely seen these days, as she had been promoted 16 months ago to some arcane position in the mysterious corridors of the DSC. A favourite supervisor of his for years over Bob and all of his outings with said rascal. All the while Bob was finishing his 3 o'clock smoke and having a private cup of tea in front of his TV some metres away. A tonne of food, one of Bob's reasons for living next down the scale from tobacco, and he was determined to have a cup of tea on his own…

And so we left for the train into Perth even later than otherwise, due to the obligatory socialising to be done with colleagues old and new.

What of the hitchhiker, did you ask? Yes, powering along Marshall Road, the wonderful Whiteman Park's four thousand hectares on his left, he may as well have been a thousand miles out of Perth. There on the left, a woman in her forties, under a lone tree a few feet off the tarmac, hand out for a lift. Bloody hot, at least 35 Celsius.

Probably 15 years since he last stopped for a hitchhiker, he felt a sudden twinge of concern for an older woman, alone, in this heat, stuck out here, needing a lift somewhere. Pulled over, after some thinking time, overshooting by a hundred feet, maybe two hundred.

While she was hoofing quickly up to the passenger side, he was hoisting about five bags of things from off the seat and the floor, not quite moving it all by the time she arrived, opening the door, and hopping in as he just got the the last of the paraphernalia onto the back seat.

She had a small bag in her hand and a very low cut blouse, a plain faced woman. As he began asking "Where do you need a lift to?" she said, having just sat in the seat, "I'm a hooker. I'm from Sydney and need money."

This took the man by mild surprise, not shock, likely because he hadn't processed it fully, but he quickly said, with the mildest of irritation well concealed, "I'm running late for work, and I thought you needed a lift somewhere."

Just exactly what was said in the ensuing moments and in what order is a bit jumbled in his mind, but he got to reiterate his need to keep moving, and she got to imply that she didn't need to go to any place in particular but to get money, and it by plying any of the various skills of an ancient trade.

And so she politely vacated the seat, and he wished her well. He genuinely did. Not angry about what she did for a living – he felt sorry for her for that – but now under more pressure time-wise and for no noble outcome, like helping a fellow human being in need of a lift on a hot day.

As he digested what had just happened while he drove on to the controlled riot at Bob's digs, it dawned on him that she likely misunderstood one thing he said in repetition, as she faced him sporting sizeable in-your-face white breasts half covered, "I'm off to take out my intellectually disabled friend, who will be wondering where I am," touching his forehead. She said something he could not recall, but putting the pieces together she likely inferred that he was saying that he himself was intellectually disabled.

No argument from his wife on that one…
And by the way, Bob took his time in the city, we called on Baby Inkletter at her place in Adelaide Terrace (first time in about 14 years or more since they last met), and I did'nt get back home till a quarter to eight. I convinced Janny to go nevertheless to her knitting group, but she refused to let me drive her and wait for her there.

Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Former Prime Minister John Howard should feel grateful at how pleasantly he was treated by a professional Leigh Sales during her long interview tonight. He came across more reasonably than usual, certainly better than his self serving debacle with Tony Jones on Q&A to flog his autobiography Lazarus Rising.

Ms Sales asked a lot of good questions, and didn't tear him to shreds like Kerry O'Brien would likely have. This resulted in a better interview, because we mug public can suss out the pricks whether they're being treated nice or nasty.

One of my main bugbears with John Howard began early on in his prime ministership, when it became apparent that he was as conniving a politician as the rest of them, while having portrayed for ages the illusion that he was a cut above, of a higher calibre concerning integrity and such. It quickly became obvious that he was yet another ordinary polly with whom you had to study the fine print, and that he was set apart mainly by ambition. Common as muck; sorry Howard lovers.

If he had not placed himself on an integrity pedestal, I would not be making such complaints. An ordinary politician is nothing inspiring, but there is something inspiring about an ordinary politician who does not pretend to be extraordinary.

I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' today: a powerful book, well worth the experience, and I adored the last paragraph, laced with insight and anticlimactic.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday 15th November 2010

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
15th November 2010

Monday: How does she keep doing it? Leigh Sales has brought us yet another wonderful interview on Lateline, this time with Lord David Puttnam. It was a total pleasure listening to Lord Puttnam responding to Ms Sales' questions. These interviews are inspiring, and a welcome relief from the run-of-the-mill politicians we have to suffer ad nauseam. More such please Ms Sales. By the way, what a great interview Ms Sales brought us recently with Dr Vandana Shiva.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PLAINSBORO: "Walk her Gordon," PLInkletter called, "or you'll have Elsie in a dizzy spin. You'll do Lobelia! We'll have you milked in but 12 minutes."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
13th November 2010

Saturday: I phoned Luke from Kambo's who we had met on Thursday, and I purchased by phone the 700 litre Westinghouse fridge-freezer we had looked at. Our faithful Kelvinator 390, over twenty years old, is so bursting at the seams all the time with what we need to keep in it, that we've finally said enough is enough, and it will be retired to The Dear Leader, for whom it will be a doubling of size.

Luke treated me very well, for which I am grateful. Delivery will be on Thursday, and I will almost have to dismantle our house to get it through the front door (I am not joking: the bright sparks who designed this house – it's only 24 years old – made a ridiculously narrow front and and back door width, and in their wisdom made sure the front opening was further compromised with a jutting piece of wall, such that anything like a recliner chair has to be magically shrunk to get around the corner into the lounge. I have often fantasised about getting the designer and gently pushing his or her head through a miniature basketball hoop, while giving the genius a twist and a bend.)

Late in the day I dug up some more of my absurdly small potato crop from under the outside sink, and juiced the smallest ones, and, wait for it, drank the couple of mouthfuls of juice; it is not going to take the soft drink market by storm, but it could have been worse. My first ever try of potato juice, and I'm still alive six hours later to write about it.

Meanwhile, the spinning tail was at her annual wind-up Spinning Guild day long meet in Dianella, winning the Christmas hamper, and being told no-one nicer could have won it, as well as having a great time, spoiling the ladies with her home cooking, including the wickedest cranberry and brandy chocolate balls.

Oh, great to see Stephen Long back with Leigh Sales last night on Lateline.

Monday, November 8, 2010

CLAREMORE: "I'm in a singin' rage with a waggly tail." PLInkletter toned, "Pinch me to prove I'm awake, my dreams, my dreams are through. Ay, ay, ay."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
08th November 2010

Monday: I took Bob swimming and walking, having not seen him for a week and a half. Great to see Phoebe the old corgi and her master Peter on our walk along the river. Phoebe is intensely loyal to Peter, now in his 80's, and she went out her door and got a friend walking past to come in and help Peter this very morning, who was quite unwell at the time.

This evening late I began writing my next short story, titled 'Sugar', up to 2500 words, which I hope to submit to a competition closing in December.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

HAMPTON: "Tipsy with the numbers, yet he found the smoking gun," PLInkletter notes, "and no blood money, against death before old age, a living doll."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
28th October 2010

Thursday: What a wonderful day! Way too tired, I forced myself up, having been working on another edit of 'Man's Best Friends' aka 'After the Rain' in the wee smalls, after Baby Peggletter kindly gave me a whole hour and a half of critiquing advice by phone till after midnight last night. I set to and applied the majority of his suggestions, which were really helpful.

Janny had organised the local Mormon elders to wash our car, bless their cotton socks, and so at about ten Elders Tindel and Weber duly arrived and did so. We enjoyed a lunch with them later, and they left with a small mountain of goodies that Janny created in the kitchen. (A huge proportion of the billions of long termer daily visitors to Fool's Paradise – Infinity on a Shoestring could be forgiven for thinking that we or Janny are/is /a Mormon/s, but if so, they'd be mistaken. We simply have no fear of any sincere religionists, while holding no allegiance to any particular flavour. Myself, I am known for being a cherry picker among the orchard that is organised religion, while delighting in hiking among the breathtaking mountains of non-organised religion, feasting upon the abundance within the invisible realm of the spiritual economy.)

Before the elders arrived Baby Inkletter arrived, and spent till mid afternoon with us, which was a blessing.

And shortly after the elders left there was knock on the door, and lo and behold none other than Reeve Chocson, a geek bearing gifts: four potted Herb Robert plants, their bitter little leaves bobbing about in excitement at coming to a new home.

Now to apprehend one Reeve Chocson, alone and free of his little green bag, dear and matchless though she is (like all wives, Chocci keeps Reeve on a shorter leash than he would choose), is an opportunity too good to pass, so we lured him in with a cocoa made the way it should be, Lindt chocolate of two flavours, and several sweet baked offerings from the oven of my irreplaceable affectionate pretty tailed Jayne Coon, the greatest cook in the southern hemisphere. For those wondering, that title for the northern hemisphere is held by one Cumbrian known as Gladys Hobson, not known as 'slick cook-draw McHobson-Graw' for nothing.

Reeve remarked today that he has scientifically proven that he gains about one kilogram after every visit to our place.

The More O’Kerry (O’Brien) Volume: I greatly enjoyed Kerry O'Brien's interview with James Wolfensohn this evening on The 7.30 Report. Both men presented themselves with an excellent sartorial aura – old men can look so damn good! (And I am firmly rooted in the heterosexual camp, mind you.)

Mr Wolfensohn has a wonderful clean and precise manner of expression, and he used this talent as he explained his side of his work as special envoy for Gaza disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East.

He also gave a brief negative but doubtless close to the mark assessment of the current economic woes of the United States. I don't share his "enormous faith" in one of several things he mentioned, namely the "university system", but I won't give up hope in it yet. Throughout the Western World it can turn out experts in narrow fields, but is still failing badly at producing balanced sensible broadscoped global citizens.

I could not stay awake after 8, but of course once in bed it took me ages to fall asleep. And of course, I was awake a few hours later, and back, insomniac that I've become, writing, reading, titivating about, walking, canoodling Cadbury, all after midnight.

My niece Elizabeth's baby Indi May was due yesterday, but is still keeping us all guessing. Oh, and speaking of babies, Reeve and Chocci Chocson became 6 times grandparents two weeks ago with the arrival of Brontë, and 7 times grandparents yesterday with the arrival of Ryder.

Monday, October 25, 2010

BRIDGEPORT: "Tennis for two perhaps, but no nukes for any or all!" noted PL Inkletter. "He strived to rinse the pong from the little boy and fat man."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
25th October 2010

Monday: As I had got to bed so late – dawn – it was a late start for moi. I had a good excuse I think, having reworked overnight my draft of 'After the Rain' aka 'Man's Best Friends', a short story which I have to submit this coming weekend to have it considered for publication.

Convinced it was a swimming day with Bob, when I arrived at his place in Guildford, fashionably late, he informed me it was his city outing day. He is rarely wrong, so I rejigged my arrangements, and we were on the train about four o'clock heading for the Big Smoke.

He had a ball, for he so enjoys his Perth city outings with me. We did the usual things, and while I was sitting reading in the evening sun in Supreme Court Gardens as Bob planted himself on the grass some sixty feet away to eat his goodies, a full blood aboriginal man staggered over to talk with me. To overseas readers of this blog, full blood aboriginal folk in Perth city are rare sights, even in the entire South West, and I dare say, the South East of Australia.

I engaged him, and while his motive was clearly some small change to keep oiling his tonsils, poor fellow, he was soon fascinated by my questions and comments. We covered his blood clan out Warburton way in the desert, the rules and prohibitions of particular marriages, traditional music, bush tucker, Dreaming, and much more, with him giving me several – slurred – sentences in his tribal tongue.

And the intersection of coincidences struck me, for they happen uncannily so often in my life, with the fact that my short story I've been working on features a full blood aboriginal man I've named 'Gnamragan'.

Back home after 8, Janny was still entertaining The Dear Leader. I settled into the Player Recliner with tuck tuck and then had the pleasure of one Maine Coon who goes by the moniker 'Cadbury' going elastic upon my lap as I watched Aunty's lineup. Thus folk will cotton on to why I also now call that scrumptious piece of fluff that is my wife my Jayne Coon (Jayne is her real name).

Q&A was captivating, for Tony Jones had but one guest fronting his in-studio audience, former Prime Minister John Howard, and while it is unkind of those who say it was largely one continuous wank by Mr Howard, I can understand why they would say it. He was undoubtedly a successful Prime Minister, but he was not a great one. The three years out of office have evidently not yet added to his greatness quotient. He was merely successful.

I look for humility, willingness to admit errors, even serious ones, fallibility, exposure of warts within one's makeup, these kind of things as part of the features of a great person. Forgiveness of the hurtful failings of others, not taking oneself too seriously, aspirations higher than the sky grounded by pragmatism and balance, that kind of stuff. Neither for that matter was nor is former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd great: if from no other evidence, his resignation speech. Greatness is a very rare quality in politicians, in anyone for that matter. And I am not great either, far from it, but I recognise greatness when I encounter it.

Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Wow Ms Sales brought us a fabulous interview with Barnaby Joyce tonight!

What an entertaining fellow this politician is. Never should he be let near a ministry, shadow or substantive, because he is a loose cannon who could keep an army of diplomats in overtime for a thousand years, but he is very useful as badly needed yeast in the political bowl.

Ms Sales obviously enjoyed herself, and it appeared she had dosed heavily on a dozen espressos before this interview, because she was on fire and shooting questions like a Gatling gun, but it worked, and Mr Joyce held his own. It's been many an interview since any ABC journalist got so many words in between a politician's ramblings.

To be fair to Mr Joyce, he expressed a great deal of wisdom, smattered as always with his unique brand of whackiness, more so than most politicians are prepared to or are capable of.

Now in my opinion Mr Joyce's analysis of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan's social and economic effects was inspired, especially his example of the repercussions for life-time working pensioners who have fully paid for their houses in those towns, as was his comeback to Ms Sales on the National Broadband Network. His remark "…and I want a Maserati, it's just a case of whether I can afford it. I mean, there's no doubt that people would love, you know, broadband and we want to deliver broadband, but you gotta cut the suit to fit the wearer." Brilliant comeback, regardless of the nitty gritty of the actual affordability for our nation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HILL END: "Two sisters, a similar vein, Star of Hope, aureum buyers, stained glass…" PLInkletter rambled, "just picture it if you can, hi ho, silver!"

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
19th October 2010

Tuesday: I chatted to cousin Vee in Broome today, to catch up with his health outcomes, and there is some encouraging news with a little weight gain.

Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Ms Sales interviewed Prime Minister Julia Gillard, both in Canberra, and it was well worth watching for several reasons, least of all the fact that both women looked fabulous.

Leigh Sales asked, and kept asking, some challenging questions, of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, fragrantly and professionally, on Lateline
As an aside, we might have been witnessing the current Prime Minister being interviewed by a future Prime Minister. I've said it before. Ms Sales would have to summons up some (artificial) Inner Mongrel, because politicians, especially leaders, seem to need a higher IMQ (Inner Mongrel Quotient) than others. So that would be a bit sad, but if anyone could do it and keep her inner beauty, my money's on Ms Sales.

Now my first overall impression is that Ms Sales managed to tread that delicate line of remaining polite and professional, while asking and pursuing some lines that Ms Gillard would doubtless prefer not to have to be examined on in public. Rather than lose all balance and bludgeon the Prime Minister – do a Kerry O'BrienMs Sales achieved the difficult goal of remaining fragrant, helping her honoured interlocutor portray herself well also, while not shying away from Ms Gillard's discomfort zones.

This would not be easy to pull off, and Ms Sales did it very well.

The subject which was threatening the Prime Minister's comfort zones was Australia's military and civil involvement in Afghanistan, the subject being debated in Parliament for the first time today, thanks to the Howard Government's going all the way with GWB almost a decade ago without parliamentary examination first.

I am dismayed that both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott both assiduously avoid, assuming they even understand, some inexorable facts that plague the whole Afghanistan mission. To help illustrate what I mean, let's do a thought experiment:
Australia, all alone, militarily invaded a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan almost a decade ago, to remove that dangerous and barbaric leadership which gave safe haven to Al-Qaeda. The vast bulk of the population welcomed us, and still do. The people crave a liberal democracy, long denied them, wherein equality of the sexes would be the norm, as would freedom of religion.

Although the cost of the military and civil input is large, Australia is so well off that it is just small change, with little of importance back on home soil not being adequately funded for the maintenance and betterment of the nation. No health waiting lists, no-one sleeping on the streets, no environmental issues worsening, everything on the up and up.

And so our military command is running the show, neither answerable to any allies nor dependent upon them. The government of Afghanistan is corruption free, and their military is rapidly training up to world's best discipline and ethical standards, paralleling our own.

Afghanistan's neighbour Pakistan is squeaky clean, and fully cooperating with the effort to eliminate the refuge for violent fundamentalists across the shared mountainous border. No other nation is interested in helping insurgencies or locals to defeat us.

Need I continue the fairy tale?

A quick look now at what the actual case is:
Virtually half the population of Afghanistan consider the other half as inferiors, who have far less right to an education, health care, justice, freedoms of any kind.

Virtually all of the population subscribe to a religion that practices severe intolerance of religious freedom, and insists on the church being the state. Thus our soldiers and civil personnel are considered to be infidel, with the negative connotations that come with that.

The nation of Afghanistan, or should I say that collective of tribes, has no long hard fought and fruitful experience with the institutions of a liberal democracy, has no extensive modern infrastructures to speak of serving the government, health, environmental, energy, agricultural, and justice needs of its people. Might we not have to be there for fifty years, even with their wholehearted cooperation?

The allies running the combination of operations known as Operation Enduring Freedom and International Security Assistance Force are mostly undeclared bankrupts, most especially the USA followed by Britain, no less than the two powers doing the lion's share. The Netherlands has withdrawn, having been largely based in Uruzgan Province; Canada is leaving by July next year, Kandahar Province being their main base.

The amount of things that have to keep working cooperatively to pull the whole show off eventually are myriad.

Imagine that Australia succeeds brilliantly in Uruzgan Province, bringing the region into the 21st century against the odds, taking billions of our dollars to do it, and a lot more lives and health of our soldiers. Then the national government implodes, is taken over by rabid fundamentalists again, the allies dump their commitments throughout the rest of the country… How long will Uruzgan Province last as a bastion of a liberal democracy in the making, doing Australia proud?

All of our efforts, every drop of Australian blood and every cent of Australian money, depend for their lasting success upon the wholehearted commitment from a hotchpotch of lily-livered confused thinking bankrupt nations, rapidly losing the support of their voters. It does not bode well does it?

As awful as it is to consider, it may well be better to cut our losses, and leave a sinking ship before our bodies melt into jelly on the sea floor along with the whole battleship. 21 Australian lives and mission UNaccomplished may be far better than hundreds more Australian lives and mission NEVERaccomplished.

Does it make sense to join with an ally when it does something ill-thought through? John Howard leapt in with Bush and Blair because we are allies. Gillard used the same reasoning tonight under Ms Sales' questioning. Yes we're allies, but no we don't have to be stupid. The peanut gallery in charge of the United States at the time of the 9/11 atrocity demonstrated an appalling grasp of global dynamics, and only made a bad situation far worse. Why keep justifying to ourselves that we haven't been a part of that stupidity?

Faced with two paths, the less stupid and the more stupid, how stupid is it to keep choosing the more stupid?

It was clear to me from Leigh Sales' questions that the journalist is far from convinced of the arguments that the leaderships of the Labor and Coalition parties are mounting for continuing the mission in Afghanistan. Our leaders need to be kept in the frying pan of scrutiny.

Prime Minister Gillard said, in answer to a very clear and simple series of excellent questions from Ms Sales, "Our mission, of course, is to make sure Afghanistan doesn't become a safe haven for terrorists." Well, how impossible, given the mindset of the populace as well as the fundamentalist sewer across the inhospitable and porous border with Pakistan, and even if it was possible, how redundant, given the globalisation of terrorist opportunity, assisted mightily by the internet; how many British have died at the hands of British terrorists this decade?

The PM also highlighted her own lack of understanding or honesty with the Australian citizenry – or was it a flagging of her gullibility? – when in answer to Ms Sales' characteristically precise question: "But to what standard (government provision of services), I guess I'm wanting to know?

"Because in looking to benchmarks you need things that can be measured and there's a big difference between the sort of elections we have here, for example, and the sort of elections you have in Afghanistan.

"So I'm wondering where in that continuum you would think that that's a functional government?"

Julia Gillard: "Leigh, in part this is for the Afghan national people to determine.

"We are not there nation building in that sense. The Afghan people have to do that nation building themselves."
Here is the immense risk: the determination that the 'Afghan national people' reach will be far from satisfactory from our national interest position, nowhere near commensurate with our sacrifices of life, health, and finances, even very harmful to us.

Imagine the advantages we could be leaving in the shape of a trained military and civil infrastructure to the next bunch of fanatics to hold the reins of power in Afghanistan! Even if 'moderates' rule Afghanistan, how much of our hard-earned and hard-sacrificed will assist women, children, civil society, and how much will further hard-line Islam? 

And let me be clear: I would dearly like to be wrong, and see the fruition of the allied efforts with a rapid achievement of a peaceful self-governing society in a stable and developing Afghanistan, with a consequent orderly and soon wind-down of all military engagement by all concerned. The nation would obviously be Islamic flavoured, but how about a moderate flavour? And let it then hold its head high a part of the United Nations of peaceable forward-striving collective of humanity.

A great interview conducted most skillfully by Ms Sales, and most politically astutely by a weasel-worded Ms Gillard. This quality of interview is so valuable, to alert the thinkers among the Australian people of the spin that infects and directs our national policy, and also for posterity when a higher quality of history-motivated citizenry will be able to study just how mealymouthed our politics was.

Friday, October 15, 2010

GOTTHARD PASS: "At last, some light without heat at the middle of the tunnel!" PLInkletter yodeled movingly, "But what is a mountain to faith anyway?"

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
15th October 2010

Friday: What a beautiful balmy spring, nay, yay, October day! A good day for a very short story:
"You've got cancer."

His doctor hadn't sat down yet. Maybe it was his way of avoiding eye contact when he had to tell younger people, well, younger that retirement age people, that serious news. A caring fellow, he actually touched you, the touch of concern beyond and over diagnosis. It must wear, this bad news stuff, delivering it. Take its toll.

Who could blame him for contriving means to deliver it.

The man took a second, maybe a second and a half, to register and process the announcement, more probably because his doctor invariably was seated and looking at him when he first spoke at an appointment, after the niceties at the door that is. A relevant medical statement from the middle of the room from a moving doctor carrying some whatever to the bookshelf, his back to him, all a bit out of the ordinary. And so, the time delay for the cognizance was as much that the medical talk had begun out of place, the man wasn't concentrating.

The doctor always began with a question like "What can I do for you today?"

After the niceties.

The man was quiet for most of the appointment, asking questions sparingly, also on another matter. And there were the mountain of usual prescriptions to have written. Out of most things – it had been likely five months.

Some time into the appointment, was it before the poor line take your chance eventually when it's worsened written referral, or after? the doctor asked "Are you in shock?"

"No," the man said, truthfully, leaving it at that. He'd been mildly surprised, no shock.

When the man got to his car, in the undercover, he was thinking in a different frame than when he went in.

He had considered in the past that he might not tell his wife if he was to get a serious diagnosis one day.

Decision time.

What decided it was, if the tables were turned, what would I want? He immediately resolved to tell her on his return, bury the dysfunction that spawned such ideas. Time might be short, how inconsequential the decades of bullshit, perceived and real, now.

She had left a message on the mobile, he discovered, back in the car, when resetting it back from silent. He rang her to answer the message: he'd forgotten to unload the vegetables, leafy ones, from yesterday's shopping, still under the false floor in the hatch section.

"How's it all going? What were the results?"

"Oh yeah, pretty good, I'll talk more about it when I get back."

(She already knew, 'psychic' should be her middle name.)

Driving home, among his many thoughts, he was delighted to observe himself having no trepidation, utterly none. The countless times he'd thought of this possibility one day, and integrated it with his growing existential level certainties, discussing with himself often the opinion that he had no longer any fear of death, and what do you know, effortlessly, no deep breath and force himself to see the bright side, it has just, unconsciously almost, happened.

The drive gave him much time to feel concern for a wife and adult child; this, if it came to it, would be where the effort would be needed…
Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Little wonder Ms Sales scintillated tonight, for she had an in-studio interview with no less than that living national treasure, David Suzuki.

While Mr Suzuki chose a casual look in his red shaded open necked shirt, Ms Sales kept up her usual professional standard, tonight choosing an ivory jacket with a deep blue camisole, fetching convex flared hair style swept back behind her ears, subtle-effect makeup and tiny pearl earrings.

David Suzuki shared much wisdom under the gentle direction of Leigh Sales in this wonderful LATELINE interview
It was a treat to listen to Mr Suzuki share graciously from his deep well of wisdom under sensitive direction from Ms Sales, who clearly had an affinity with and respect for her honoured guest.

David Suzuki gave his shared wisdom a little emphasis here and there during his LATELINE interview
The topic was mainly the state of the planet and human society's impacts. It was touching and inspirational to listen to Mr Suzuki's account of the month he spent with his father before his death.

I commend Ms Sales' light touch during the whole interview, which allowed Mr Suzuki to shine through. Another interview to treasure from the professionals within our ABC.

Friday, October 8, 2010

BEIJING: "Xia, please give Xiaobo a big hug from the rest of us who value liberal democracy," asks PLInkletter, "and keep hope alive for his release."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
08th October 2010

Friday: To bed this 'morning' at about one this afternoon, and up at five; yes, another day night day blurring.

Before hitting the low thread count polycottons, I found Cadbury killing a dove she'd caught out the back door among the bamboo. I am aware of the irony of loving the natural world and owning a domestic cat that has still got outdoor freedom, and if and when it becomes feasible, I'll set up a large outdoor enclosure that will prevent such sad happenings. I cannot quantify how much joy this little Maine Coon has brought into my life since finding it abandoned early this year as a kitten. And my word the killer instincts of spoiled domestic cats are alive and well.

The delicate dormouse and I drove to Adelaide Terrace and began an evening with The Babies Ink&Peggletter. We got there about seven, and then went to Victoria Park to Chi Restaurant, where we treated them to a meal as a reward for Baby Inkletter getting through her recent ten week horror practical teaching stint, with the mentor teacher from hell.

It is our (we wrinklies) second time there, and we are very impressed with the standards, from the very nice Chinese food to the friendly and professional staff, topped off by the relative inexpensiveness of the cuisine and service.

After this we went for a walk along the Perth foreshore, before dessert and a board game back at The Babies' place. It wasn't till about midnight that we got home, with a fuel stop locally.

I settled in to watch recorded current affairs till almost four a.m., with killer Cadbury on my lap, bless her fat little heart.

Lateline: The Tick(y Fullerton) Check Mark: Ms Fullerton looked lovely in her simple long-sleeved coral red blouse, and subtle-effect makeup, her only jewellery small pearl earrings, her hair appealingly convex flaring and tucked behind her ears:

How nicely Ticky Fullerton sets off her coral red blouse!
She conducted a riveting long interview – 21 minutes no less! – about today's Murray Darling Basin Authority's announced plan, with Water Minister Tony Burke, splendid in his grey jacket white shirt and blue shades striped tie combo, Professor Mike Young, resplendent in a pastel-coloured combo grey jacket white shirt and yellow shaded tie, and Rob Black, who was the most colourfully attired, minus a jacket with a striped light shirt and zingy blue and red striped neck strangler.

Ms Fullerton was the ideal journalist to conduct this discussion, given her personal extensive knowledge of the water challenges facing the Australian nation. I was impressed with the civil contributions of each of the interlocutors, despite some very serious financial consequences for Mr Black's stakeholders, the valid environmental solicitude of Mr Young, and the political concerns of Mr Burke.

Mr Young's contributions stood out; he was a delight to listen to, with a very positive outlook and preparedness to pay praise where praise is due.

Well done all of you, and thank you Ms Fullerton for how tightly you kept your guests on subject.

I went for a walk about half four, and the eastern horizon was lightening on my return.

I spent many hours at the keyboard, with the sun heading to midday before I retired.

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