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Friday, March 26, 2010

OXFORD: “Watch me make 69 reasons to extend one fistic phenotype into Richard Dawkins’ improbable ego!” says a blindly delusional Payton L. Inkletter.

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
26th March 2010

Friday: My plans to work with Bob today were scuttled by my state of health, specifically weariness that would have made driving unsafe; so I slept till well into the afternoon, but still felt I had a long way to go towards feeling well rested when I finally surfaced.

We had something very nice to look forward to, namely, the Chocsons were joining us and The Dear Leader for dinner. They arrived towards half six, and didn't leave till after one a.m., giving us all, as is always the case, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. They are rolled gold friends. As well as Janny's delicious meal, copious quantities of chocolate and cocoa drinks went west, predominantly courtesy of the best efforts of we two younger bucks, oiling the conviviality of the occasion most effectively.

Back from the future update 1: I had the foresight to record Lateline with Windows Media Center on the computer, and late Saturday evening got to watch it: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Looking a tad nautical with a horizontally dark striped white camisole under a dark jacket, Ms Sales' appearance was faultless, bedecked with minimalist jewellery, subtle-effect make-up, and becoming hairstyle. She had for the regular Friday night fight club interview Liberal Senator George Brandis and Labor backbencher Maxine McKew, the male gendered polly bedecked smartly and conservatively in a dark striped suit, lightly mauve shaded or grey shirt, and maroon with white dots tie, the female gendered polly and former legendary Lateline host and Prime Minister killer bedecked simply as well also smartly in a dark jacket and white high necked blouse, subtle effect make-up and loose flaring hair style finishing the decorations.

As mostly per usual with these sparring pairings, the polarised positions of the pollies was as predictable as the behaviour of a Methodist parson at a parishioner's Sunday roast, but let me note that Ms McKew has lost none of her articulateness honed over many years on this very program, and Mr Brandis kept a professionally controlled delivery, even if the content was unbelievable in places.

For example, he said "… I thought Tony Abbott won the debate hands down" referring to last Monday's health debate with the Prime Minister; I couldn't agree with that, nor did most; Mr Abbott lost it as far as I was concerned when he let rip with that over the top triple harmony laugh.

I would not like to have to defend the behaviour of Barnaby Joyce in a ministerial position, shadow or otherwise, as Mr Brandis chose to do after Ms Sales' raising of the matter of his removal as Finance spokesman in Mr Abbott's shadow cabinet reshuffle of yesterday. Loose cannons like Mr Joyce would be better suited to such positions in developing and illiterate nations' governments, but in Australia's case, keep him away from official portfolio podiums; his opinions, some of which are rather valuable and insightful, are better left to stir up the pot behind the scenes, not in front of the prime time sound byte seeking cameras. Mr Abbott's judgment is worth questioning regarding his placing Mr Joyce in such high public profile positions.

Ms Sales did not have to work very hard to keep these two pollies behaving themselves, for they kept themselves well in check, to their credit.

Thank heavens Stephen Long was next! The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: My word, top marks to Mr Long's hairstylist off camera for taming his freshly tousled curls that his mother insists on messing up every chance she gets, as well as to his own snazzy dress sense tonight, looking expensive in a dark suit and blue shaded striped shirt combo, set off with a glossy and textured light pink tie.

His first subject that Ms Sales tossed to him was Barack Obama's next big economics move, a plan to restructure finance for myriads of beleaguered home owners, followed by Germany's dictation, within the EU, of the terms of Greece's bailout.

As always, it was a pleasure to listen to Mr Long's opinions and analysis.

Back from the future update 2: I learnt 'tomorrow' – Saturday – that my Aunt Pat, 83, died yesterday, in Bayswater, not too far from here. She has been widowed many years now to my maternal blood uncle, Ernest, or 'Snow'. Had I been well today, I had been planning, since Monday, when Mum told me she was home to die from a long stay in hospital, to visit her on the way to Bob's to take him swimming. Such is the nature of the march of mortality: time seals things, and waits for no man.

Monday, March 22, 2010

PERTH: "Big storm bin come up!" Payton L. Inkletter exclaimed, shaking his fur dry, after experiencing the breaking of the longest dry spell on record

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
22nd March 2010

Monday: Soooo tired, but up we dragged ourselves, to get ready to visit Mum and take her to her doctor. I hit the sack last night after three, but took ages to fall asleep, and was fighting a headache inhabiting the shadows, refusing to show itself and fight against some white comforters (I was too exhausted to get up to engage in some chemical warfare).

Getting ourselves ready, from our mid-morning get up onwards, the humidity and heat were stifling, and it was a harbinger for what was to come as a result of the sauna and inferno like conditions late in the day…

We arrived towards one at Mum's in Melville, then found ourselves on time at her doctor's surgery at half one in Booragoon, but the doctor was running an hour late. A long wait ensued.

Finally, in the Garden City shopping centre nearby, Mum treated her favourite child, moi, to a Miss Maud's savoury spinach roll and a Goulbourn Valley apples and guava juice, Missus Inkletter, her favourite daughter-in-law, settling just for a juice, due to her strict Byetta inspired diet. Then began our shopping in Coles, and while in there the heavens broke…

For ages we heard hail thundering down on the roof, and later on our way back to our car in the basement near Myers we passed a huge section of the mall covered in water. The car park had a lake in it.

We drove to the Myaree Shopping Centre in steady rain and a spectacular lightning show, and Mum got some things in the newsagency there, with the lightning outside and above us intensifying. About five o'clock, when we stepped out of the newsagency, the rain began sheeting in horizontally, and even though we were six feet back from the roof drip line and against the wall, we were soaked.

The newsagency closed its doors, and we were stuck for ten minutes as one of the most intense rain storms I've experienced in Perth drenched me while I sheltered Mum in a nook, my back from my neck down to my shoes being soaked to my skin, and all the while six feet in from the edge of the low roof line. Mum began to shake from shock, fear, and wetness, poor thing, the lightning immediately above continuously splitting the suburban sky, prematurely dark. I eventually shepherded her into the nearby chemist, where they let me get a chair for her, and I held her to comfort her. Mum kept saying she would fall ill from getting wet, and I kept assuring her that due to the heat this would not happen: this rain was warm, and the air was warm, the storm brought much latent heat from the heavens. I got her into the car some twenty minutes after this explosion of water, blinding light, and electricity from the skies, even though it was still raining, but the extra wetness we copped from this short excursion was of little import – we were already drenched, Mum less than than me, fortunately.

Missus Inkletter had remained in the car, and it was so dark she saw none of our plight, even though we were but twenty feet from her. Even she was scared by the buffeting the Suzuki sustained during the storm. We carefully drove the few kms back to Mum's unit at Melville, negotiating gloom, huge puddles, and chaotic traffic, and got Mum to her front door, where who should we find standing there but sister Helena, one of my two loving sisters, who was up from Broomehill this afternoon, some ten thousand miles southeast in the wheatbelt. So joy it was to see and hug her.

We ushered Mum inside, and she quickly dried herself and changed into her night garments, and even though I was drenched, I sat on a plastic bag on Mum's couch and with Missus Inkletter, the four of us chinwagged for well over an hour. I shared my wild idea with Helena, the one that I had back two or so weeks ago, and which we told Mum about shortly thereafter. So the the seeds are planted, as unlikely as it is truly to ripen in the form we've described. If anyone can catalyse an idea that has a shred of possibility, Helena can.

When we set off home, it was after 7, and naively I entered the Kwinana Freeway from Canning Highway heading north, only to find quickly it was a mistake, for the traffic was crawling all the way to the city centre. The huge puddles we encountered all the way to our home in the northern suburbs were testament to the fact that the city's drainage system is designed only for averages. Trees were down, and rubbish strewn everywhere. But wow, Perth's longest dry spell has broken, hallelujah!

Cadbury the tabby stray kitten spent half the evening till after midnight alternating between our laps while we watched our regular Aunty programs, including Four Corners, Q&A, Lateline, Lateline Business, and then Letterman on Ten. Just when I sat on the throne to do a poo, Missus Inkletter having retired an hour earlier with the door closed and the fans on, thus insulating the bedroom from noise, the mobile phone rang (our landline off the hook as per the usual procedure overnight in the interests of an undisturbed night's sleep), but I was at such a delicate stage of the evacuation procedure, that I had to let it ring out; when I finally was cleaned up and able to, I checked it, fearful it was The Dear Leader phoning in distress (as has happened dozens of times over the years), the whole reason we are forbidden ever to be away from this infernal mobble, but it was Baby Inkletter. I was worried also that she might be in distress, as has happened before, so I phoned her back to learn that she was unaware that it was so late! We had a chat about the day's wild storm, Cadbury, and an email joke we are playing on each other at the moment.

Back to Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: I couldn't believe it when I beheld Ms Sales interview David Letterman's mother! Or at least an amazing dead ringer in the form of the Brookings Institution's senior fellow in governance studies, Dr Thomas E. Mann! Ms Sales was turned out in a smart dark striped jacket contrasting with a white camisole, no jewellery but for tiny pearl earrings, subtle-effect make-up, and a most becoming slight variation of her hairstyle of late, loose and flaring, while Mrs Letterman, er… Mr Mann was smartly presented in a grey suit white shirt combo, a spotted maroon tie, and a blue rinse hair-do.

Their topic was the US health-care-reform bill which has just passed the House of Representative, and the discussion they had was informed helpfully for me by Ms Sales' brief discussion with Stephen Long just last Friday night about the bill. I enjoyed this interview, and Mr Mann is obviously close to the heartbeat of what's going on in the U.S.A. Government, and Ms Sales' questions were those of someone also following things there rather well. Frankly, keeping to a Letterman theme, I wouldn't give the U.S.A.'s problems to a monkey on a rock.

I got an email reply today from the Perth Observatory to my questions about the strange markings I saw crossing the crescent moon Friday evening:

From: Payton L. Inkletter [mailto: paytonlinkletter@gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, 20 March 2010 1:09 AM
To: Observatory, Perth
Subject: Moon markings Friday evening 19th March

Hello friends
Between about 7.40 p.m. and 7.50 p.m. yesterday evening, Friday 19th, whilst driving west along Marshall and Beach Roads near Whiteman Park I witnessed some very dark geometrical and other shapes moving across the crescent moon, low on the western horizon.

I have never seen anything like this before, and I am certain it was not caused by clouds. Has anyone else asked you about this?

Was I imagining things?

Kindest regards ... Payton L. Inkletter

----- Original Message -----
From: Williams, Andrew
To: paytonlinkletter@gmail.com
Cc: Observatory, Perth
Sent: Monday, March 22, 2010 12:22 PM
Subject: RE: Moon markings Friday evening 19th March

The moving patterns you saw were almost certainly clouds, but very distant ones. The moon set at 8:04pm that night, so between the times you mentioned, any clouds in front of the moon would have been 10-20km away, much further than you would be able to see clouds normally unless they were fairly thick. Thin, wispy high level clouds at that distance would have been invisible, except as they passed in front of the moon.


----- Original Message -----
From: Payton L. Inkletter [mailto: paytonlinkletter@gmail.com]
To: Williams, Andrew
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 2:37 AM
Subject: Re: Moon markings Friday evening 19th March

Hello Andrew
I appreciate you taking the trouble to reply to me, and given that an alternative to your reasonable explanation is that I was witnessing an alien space craft invasion of the moon and earth, I think it makes by far the better sense to accept your high cloud explanation!

It was certainly a fascinating sight the likes of which I've never experienced before in my 53 years, so if it was clouds, more power to them!

Kindest regards ... Payton L. Inkletter

Friday, March 19, 2010

GINGDUCK: "The Big Coathanger made crossing Sydney Harbour a sight easier, but who knows it breathes, up to 7 inches up and down?" asks P.L. Inkletter

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

Friday: Warm and dry, it never ends…

I got myself ready for taking Bob swimming, making it the third time I will have seen him this week – a very rare occurrence, given my state of health and energy levels. I did get some bamboo watering done before leaving, and I'm heartened that at long last I've got a couple of giant shoots of the Bambusa oldhamii coming up, very late in the season, but the sight of them has done wonders for my horticulturally despairing soul, even if the impending coolness of autumn around the corner will cut short their quest for the heavens.

Bob enjoyed his time in the water at a busy Swan Aquatic, and at his insistence he stayed in the water half an hour longer than I planned for. We finished at dusk to dark at Fish Market Reserve, with a walk and cup of tea for the Bobster, a hot water for the moi.

On my drive home I saw something I cannot explain: it was between 7.40 to 7.50 p.m., and I first noticed something strange with the crescent moon hanging not far above the western horizon as I was travelling along from the eastern end of Marshall Road, Whiteman Park. Dark marks were slowly making their way across the face of the crescent moon, and between the trees and later the buildings in Malaga's industrial area I saw several more of the most unusual shapes, all dark or black, moving across the moon. One appeared to be a circle with circumferential cut outs near the edge. There were no clouds at all in the sky, or at least the western horizon area where I saw all this.

Maybe there is a simple explanation for what I saw, but I'd like to know what it is. On Monday, along the same stretch of Malaga, late in the day, I saw a little patch of cloud low on the western horizon, close to the sun which hadn't yet set, which had a smudge of rainbow colours in it; again, I have never seen anything like this before; it was all wrong to be a rainbow effect, for such would have to have been behind me on the eastern horizon, and an arch not a smudge.

Anyway, I emailed the Perth Observatory later in the evening about the moon effects, hoping they might have an explanation for me, or have heard from someone else. And no, I wasn't on anything.

The worn-out worsted yarn was too tired to walk, so I remained in front of the box, catching yet again Hitler's Bodyguard on SBS, and after Moving Wallpaper on Aunty it was time for Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Ms Sales' appearance was gorgeous, if that's not too politically incorrect, from her loose flaring hairstyle which so suits her, to her subtle effect make-up and tiny earrings being the beginning and end of her jewellery, while her two federal level political sparring partners for tonight's Friday night fight club, ex-President of the Victorian Liberal Party Michael Kroger, as conservatively dressed as possible with his multiple variations upon dark shades, from his charcoal grey suit and dark blue tie to his light bluish-mauve shaded striped white shirt, and, known for his relative naiveté, National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, bedecked in a dark grey pinstriped suit, white shirt, and an impressive strongly tightly black on white striped tie.

Their topics of contention – and as predictable as all get out these boys were in their slants – were the federal health care debate and the elections in South Australia and Tasmania tomorrow, in which encumbent Labor governments have to face the music. I often find myself observing idiosyncrasies more than content when it gets boring, and this is no reflection upon Ms Sales, for she has little control over the pseudo-neuronal activity of the politically motivated puppets she has to interview as part of her job description. And so, what a revelation it was to behold a Mount Rushmore - like visage descend from the granite and join us from Melbourne: I'm speaking of the marvellously igneous features of Michael Kroger, for which I'm certain Gutzon Borglum would gladly resurrect to carve as a fifth stern and silent sentinel to sit beside George, Abraham, and the others. All the more starkly silhouetted against Paul Howes' Johnson & Johnson baby face soft features.

Now I have to say that a slip up from Paul Howes takes the cake tonight, when he said "bungee smuggling" in regard to Tony Abbott, when he meant 'budgie' (don't rely on the transcript on the ABC website, but listen to the vodcast); I think he paid an unintended compliment to the Opposition Leader there, for imagine (as a red-blooded bull koala I find it excruciating, by the way) a bungee rope stuffed down Mr Abbott's bathers!

Mr Kroger flirted with the possibility of Kevin Rudd's government being the first federal one in 80 years of being a one termer, and went on to relate that Rudd has no friends in the Labor Party, due to his unpleasant ways, which he earlier described thus: "The real Kevin Rudd is abusive, he swears at his staff, treats his ministers with contempt, is abusive of union leaders, abusive of his colleagues…"; it appears to me that Kroger's assessment is sadly closer to the truth than the starry-eyed Howes' adoration of his Dear Leader.

I give this interview to Mr Kroger, who spoke with more directness, pragmatism, and honesty than Mr Howes; on just a couple of points to illustrate this, his remarks around the paid parental leave scheme of Abbott demonstrated he is unafraid to put his own slightly contrary slant on it, and his comment "If you wanted to vote for what you thought were the party which would best deliver services you voted for state Labor…" concerning the Howard Government years.

Ms Sales handled the boys well; she is getting better at refereeing these boisterous encounters of antipathetic politically saturated organisms of the social undergrowth, giving them room for some rough and tumble but keeping them on short leashes when required.

Thankfully next it was Stephen Long: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: tonight a smartly presented Mr Long, resplendent in his dark suit and white shirt combo set on fire with a burnt orange tie and freshly frowzled curly hair by his mum in the wings, turned his economic wisdom upon President Obama's healthcare reform package, at the invitation of a glowing Ms Sales.

Now what an indictment Mr Long gave on both the present healthcare system in the U.S.A., and Obama's reform! He highlighted one of the main structural problems as the vulturous private health insurers, who will remain at the core of the new system, if it passes into law. Mr Long's recommendation to focus more on preventative health measures based upon an Australian health system model made a lot of sense, as the man most always does.

I haven't yet revealed that this past week we have been sharing a goodly part of our evenings with a little stray guest, a tabby kitten we've named 'Cadbury', who appeared on our carport a couple of weeks ago, and which we began to feed. Baby Inkletter, who is a cat whisperer, managed to pick it up a few days back while offering it food in her hand, and now she – it's gender established by The Babe – comes to us in a mad rush just by calling out to her. She stretches out on our laps while we watch telly, and sleeps, purrs, plays, and generally behaves as though we are her pets.

Baby Inkletter began a Facebook page offering Cadbury to a good home, but independently a friend of hers, Jessi, has put her hand up to take her in a week or so. So while we'll miss the little creature, it is comforting to know she'll be going to a loving home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

MOUNT CENIS: "I couldn't imagine a more boring activity, germane to turning one into a most uncivil engineer," P.L. Inkletter summarily drilled again.

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

Monday: Was it warm today? Well yes it was, but a damn sight better than Friday's roaster. I took Bob swimming again at Swan Aquatic, arriving considerably earlier than usual, but for a reason: so that I could join with Missus Inkletter and take out The Babies Ink&Peggletter to dinner for a celebration of her double graduation from UWA last week.

And so, spruced up to the 8s, we set off about seven p.m., and got to Leederville half an hour later, and we had to park in the council's usuriously expensive car park near the end of Oxford Street, for the street itself was packed out. Being of exceptionally modest means, we could not afford the top end of town, settling for Siena's upon Baby Inkletter's advice, and we ended up being so glad we did for this very rare type of outing for us.

The two and half hours we spent there were not only a treat due the conversation and fun banter we enjoyed with our darling daughter and her partner, but we supped on the tastiest Italian dishes imaginable, with the pasta sauces second to none, the pizza top quality, and the desserts rather wicked and delightful, all of us choosing varieties of gelati based creations. And to top it all off, the prices were very reasonable indeed.

We left there a little before ten, thanking the staff for their professional service and the tasty food, and we wrinklies joined The Babies nearby for a night time walk around the entire Lake Monger, and the fact that my darling wife made it with her foot drop and health problems was to her credit. We encountered several individuals and groups in the darkest section strangely enough, among the tunnelled overgrowth along the Mitchell Freeway side of the lake, some of whom looked like they might live in the lake during daylight hours. The temperature was balmy, and love was in the air, on the water with the nocturnal ornithological creatures, and on dry land with the Homo sapiens.

It was a special end to a special evening, and a lovely way to remember our daughter's quite outstanding achievement, all things considered, in earning her double degree, the ceremony for the awarding of which we attended last week.

I had recorded Lateline, and was able to watch it when we returned: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Ms Sales had on a most entertaining and endearing guest, Professor Simon Schama, surely more camp that Gaddafi's tent!

Professor Schama was casually attired, and come to think of it, Ms Sales' attire was on the casual side as well, but as always she shone. They discussed the Obama Presidency for the majority of the interview, in a historical context. I have to admit that while much of the content of what they discussed was significant, I was spellbound by what appeared to be Graham Norton presenting a historian's analysis of the subject. You could turn the volume off and be spellbound by Professor Schama's gesticulations, his head movements, his elastic neck.

What was especially cute was the mimicking that began to occur by Ms Sales, whose own gesticulating when presenting her points and asking her questions began to increase in compass. Her questions were definitely informed, which made the payload for the thinking cohort of the audience high value, and gave the Professor ample opportunity to let his intellectual light shine. Few current affairs journalists put the hard yards into the research required to mine such guests to everyone's advantage as does Ms Sales.

Towards the end of their discussion, prompted by Ms Sales' suggestion that Professor Schama might be invited to write the history component of the new national curriculum if there is a change of government in Britain, the animated Professor became more alive, if that was possible, and the most charming exchanges occurred between them. Professor Schama asks Ms Sales if History is called 'Social Studies' here, and if you get the chance, watch the immediate next section of the vodcast at the ABC Lateline website, about 17 minutes and 40 seconds in, and see if you don't agree that Ms Sales' matchless smile comes not only from her mouth but also her eyes. Be sharp, for it's a grab about a mere two seconds long, but it will knock any red-blooded bull koala out of his gum tree.

All said and done, they clearly both thoroughly enjoyed themselves, with Ms Sales' legendary sparkling eyes and winning smile betraying her joy, and Professor Schama got to demonstrate his wit and wisdom most articulately, punctuated by his beaming countenance. Another treasured ABC current affairs interview now stored in my archive. Thank you Ms Sales, thank you Professor Schama, you gave us a treat and them some. And then there was their PRIVATE interview…

Friday, March 12, 2010

PINETOWN: "Always give more than you promise," advises Payton L. Inkletter, as he cranked his Big Six Sheriff, hoping to dodge a future piercing arrow

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
12th March 2010

Friday: The big heat, the big dry, on it rolls, there are four month old babies born in Perth who haven't run around in the rain yet…

Anyway, a mere 41 celsius was clocked up today, and the legendary toughness of Australia's flora is really being tested, and here and there I notice a newly dead eucalypt, and that's a concern.

A happy find was in our letterbox: 'Seduction by Design' had arrived, the second of Gladys Hobson's 'Awakening Love' trilogy.

I prepared for taking Bob swimming, and after taking the usual several hours to get to feeling capable of leaving, I set off for and got to Guildford not long after 3, which Bob, bless his soiled jocks, considered early. We arrived at a moderately busy Swan Aquatic, and although the humidity was low outside, the oven like heat made the indoor pool area like a giant sauna. We finished our time together down at Fish Market Reserve, with a walk along the river bank near dark followed by a cup of tea for Bob, and a cold cup of water for me, due to not being able to face the trauma of drinking anything hot. I was impressed with Bob's self control tonight, for he suggested he leave the crisps I bought him from the vending machine to eat later at home. The river bank had far more people lolling about, fishing, drinking, relaxing, recovering from the oppressive heat of the day past but not yet over.

It was after 8 when I made it home, and The Dear Leader and Missus Inkletter were fed and watered, watching Aunty's 'Sleuth 101'. The devoted Devonshire cream lovingly fed me, and then took The Dear Leader home. We watched 'Hitler's Bodyguard' on SBS, and instead of going for a walk with the shrinking violent, I watched the news on SBS, for the cautious cauldron had been told by her brother, Umple Dais, that he'd heard a police request that locals not walk at night for a while due to two knife point hold ups of local perambulators, within about a half and a whole kilometre of our house in the last couple of nights. I will encourage my wife to resume walking with me at night from tomorrow, for the sake of her health, and play down the problem; typical of all anti-social behaviour, it unduly punishes the majority. In my several years of walking alone after midnight locally I have had perhaps but three or four anxious moments, but a few dozen encounters where confidence carried the day such that anxiety did not arise.

I have a soft spot for Moving Wallpaper, despite its regular moments of over the top crudity, so Aunty won my next half hour, and in fact the half hour after that, and the half hour after that too: The Graham Norton Show had that iconic comedienne talent, Catherine Tate on board for his riotous brand of light relief, but that was after Lateline:

The (Leigh) Sales Graph: I say, that blue and white striped shirt that Ms Sales wore tonight, while being less formal than I think the program calls for, looked so good it more than made up for the rebelliousness it represented. She can look excellent with the most simple and minimalist effects, and tonight's combination, including as it did, (or didn't) but tiny earrings, subtle-effect make-up, and loose flaring hairstyle, was a fine piece of evidence. Her Friday night fight club was with a pair of federalis who front up fairly often, God bless their hair shirts, none less than Lindsay Tanner and Scott Morrison, both crisp, dark suited and white shirted, Mr Morrison going for a light grey tie, Mr Tanner opting for a gold model, his 19 strands of hair meticulously groomed to maximum effect. For the record, Mr Morrison doesn't look so well this year; maybe he is simply overtired.

Although, as mostly is usual, this interview had the pollies as predictable as all get out, nevertheless I enjoyed this stoush, in which Ms Sales gave them each enough rope to hang themselves several times. I'm glad Ms Sales got the boys to speak about Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme, which I think is an atrocious policy for several reasons, but I'm not against paid parental leave as such. Good on her for quoting Laura Tingle's assessment of the scheme: 'one of the most profoundly stupid, expensive, badly designed, philosophically incoherent policies recently inflicted on the public'.

And double good on her for tackling Mr Morrison with this rejoinder after one of his defenses of the reasonableness of the impost on big businesses: "OK, well, then if you follow that through logically, well, why don't we get these same big businesses to pay unemployment benefits in a time of economic downturn? Where does the buck stop for making big business carry the can?"

Mr Tanner had the easier task being on the anti side of the Opposition's parental leave scheme, and despite Mr Morrison's valiant attempts to put lipstick on the pig, his efforts failed miserably. The best he could do was call the scheme "fair dinkum", sounding so Sarah Palin.

Anyway, this interview had a few gems of wit, with Mr Morrison generating most of them: 'tiddler taxes'; 'it's a bit like a boa constrictor trying to digest the donkey'; 'everyone's keeping to their lines with the feigned looks of tension' – that one takes the cake tonight: thank you Mr Morrison, it was a corker; 'I hear the Prime Minister today squealing'; 'the Liberal Party's completely gone nuts'; 'this is just madness'.

Anyway, it was a breath of oxygen rich air when finally Stephen Long came on for his brief three minutes of economics glory: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: as ever, Mr Long was immaculately presented, in a dark blue pinstriped suit, white shirt, and a tiny rectangular motifed ghostly gold tie, his hair quickly retamed after his mother tousled it in the make-up chamber. His wisdom tonight was lavished upon the report of the Examiner Anton R. Valukas, the Chairman of Jenner & Block, in Lehman Brothers Holdings bankruptcy.

What a sad tale it all is, and the problems that this over US$38 million report (which reviewed about 10 million pages) uncovered tragically are not unique by any means to this firm.

Ms Sales was so impressed with her professional soul mate's analysis that she declared that she thinks there could be a movie in all of this, and that Mr Long should write the script and make his fortune. I couldn't agree more. I have to wait another whole week to see the best pairing of journalists share their wit, wisdom, and chemistry: I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BOSTON: "Mr Watson, answer the ferkin phone!!! You can stick your ferkin 'press one' for 'paying your account'… give me a person before I shove the…"

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
10th March 2010

Wednesday: Back into the legendary heat of Perth, but with the silver lining of a touch of March gladness: the days are shorter, the nights are longer, the sun is a tad weaker (you'll fry in three minutes rather than one), and the heat is often a tad drier.

The dame of my life and I dragged ourselves up – as usual feeling like death whiffing in a poorly insulated thermos, loose screw top lid, a week after the chicken soup was poured in – not long before midday, to prepare ourselves for a major highlight in our entire lives coming up this evening.

Although the forecast was a mere 34 Celsius, it still meant I had quite a bit of hand watering to attend to of the bamboos, lawn, and such, to safely leave it all, given the patchy and infrequent waterings I've been giving the garden for weeks. Before we knew where we were, it was off to the University of Western Australia a trifle after 4, in better traffic than we dared hope for, in our finery. Despite the heat, I was wearing a tie, and a suit, although the jacket was not going to be donned until it had to be, in the interests of it not becoming an efficient funeral garb for the then turn of events centre of attention: moi.

So to our pleasant surprise, we arrived at carpark one at UWA before The Babies Ink&Peggletter, who shortly thereafter phoned us from the nearby Crawley riverfront and gave us directions on how to walk there to find them. Then we began a half hour of taking photos of Baby Inkletter in her robes with every known permutation of the three of us, until we were certain that the 'antechambral' glory of the occasion to come was captured to our satisfaction.

However, in this recently new age of affordable quality digital cameras, we began the whole process over again in the shadow of the beautiful and grand Winthrop Hall at the entrance to UWA, among hundreds of others doing the same with their golden boys and girls. And eventually, well into the gloaming, the oven-like conditions mercifully moderating by now, came the call for the undergraduates et alia to make their way into Winthrop Hall, twenty minutes ahead of we hoi polloi milling around in a tastefully restrained celebratory mood.

Our call came, and in we assembled, to find, thank God, that the huge cathedrally proportioned Winthrop Hall was airconditioned, but there was to be no concern for frostbite by a very long shot; a thousand or so people in a cavernous building like that on a hot early autumn's evening definitely would have Western Power's executives purring over their café lattes and lobster hors d'oeuvres.

And so began a long but fascinating ceremony of graduation for so many hundreds of former students of the university, rich with pomp, circumstance, tradition, colour, abstrusity, and 'esotericity', and having run out of impressive sounding words, I'll enlighten the billions of my edge-of-their-seat readers now in hopefully simpler 'linguisticons' of the what, the how, and the why of tonight's proceedings as it relates to the Inkletters.

We began our marriage dirt poor, and to be blunt, this has never changed. Baby Inkletter arrived cradled in a nappy slung from a kindly and wise stork's beak a tad after two years of marriage, and we had hopes and visions for her life to come as noble as any parents' dreams. At seven years of age, we with considerable difficulty began contributing to a scholarship fund designed to mature at Baby Inkletter's commencement of tertiary education, but forfeitable if she did not embark on such.

She was keen on the idea from her early primary school years, and of course the parental encouragement element at this stage would be the driver, but she excelled in both primary school and high school, and finished her year 12 with the qualifications and unequivocal desire to attend UWA.

She began her first year at the university in 2002, and she was able to buy books with her scholarship redemption, but of course racked up a substantial Higher Education Contribution Scheme debt to pay her fees. Her choice of study was a double degree in Economics and Arts.

She completed her Arts Degree first, and complex life circumstances meant time off from finishing the Economics Degree, but she finally completed this part time last year.

And so, it was a most meaningful experience for Missus Inkletter and me, with Baby Peggletter beside us, to watch Baby Inkletter, bedecked in an academic gown hired courtesy of her grandfather's generosity, walk to receive her double degree from Chancellor Dr Michael Chaney, this auspicious evening.

It was the culmination of a relatively tremendous effort by our daughter, given the ill health she fought against throughout her school lifetime, missing perhaps a quarter to a third of her school time, and the economic struggle we all had, causing more strain for her having to wrest a great deal academically from the smell of an oily rag. Family circumstances were also far from ideal, and this latter fact multiplied the stresses very considerably.

And so as we witnessed her taking her turn in a very long line to accept her degrees, the scale of her achievement compared with many of her coevals was not lost on us; Western Australia's top university is host to thousands of very economically well assisted students who would want for little of anything that would assist their success.

The significance of the event for us is compounded exponentially for more personal reasons: it would not be overstating the case to us the qualifier 'terrible' to describe fractures which occurred in our family life during the decade and more from about our daughter's 12th or 13th year to her 22nd or 23rd year or so, and I had resigned myself to never being a part of any such celebrations the likes of which I took part in tonight. The pain to me of these years mounted to an excruciating and oppressive burden, and to be honest, has left deep painful wounds. And very simplistically explained, all this hurt could be put down to misunderstandings; so much of human misery arises from such, and so we would all do well to examine, and help one another in this process, the multifarious drivers for misunderstanding.

So to witness our daughter's graduation was a salve for my soul.

Delving for a moment into a politically incorrect realm, which regulars to this blog will have noticed I do from time to time, a few things of concern struck me from this event. We were informed that the university's annual budget is about $750 million, and this fact will help inform some of my following observations.

Firstly, the business degrees handed out were a massive proportion of the total. Not that I have anything against having people trained well in the science of business, in fact I'm all for it; the proportion is my concern. For example, the degrees given tonight for anything resembling a humanitarian endeavour could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I not sure that there was a single purely science degree among tonight's batch, but then perhaps they are handed out in their hundreds at other ceremonies during the year? [Back from the future update: As a celebration for having graduated, Missus Inkletter and I took Baby Inkletter and Baby Peggletter out to dinner on Monday evening the 15th March at Siena's in Leederville – inexpensive beautiful tasting food and very nice service by the way, and we warmly recommend it to anyone – and during our chat Baby Inkletter informed me that this ceremony was one of but 14 or so this year for UWA, and these were just for Economics and Arts. My concern at the very high business proportion still remains, but is rather lessened now that I'm in possession of some pertinent facts: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.]

Secondly, the non-Australian percentage of the graduands was huge. Do I have anything against other nationalities? No, not at all. However, the fact is not lost on me that full fee paying students from overseas are taking positions that poorer Australians, who could be being educated at UWA due to their merit, are missing out due to their inability to pay and/or their unwillingness to take on the HECS debt required, not to mention the many potential students whose life circumstances militated heavily against them even developing their talents to the point of meeting university entrance requirements. I would be surprised to learn of any academics and administrators high up the UWA echelons complaining of the full-fee paying overseas students, given the virile and surging power of the ruddy vapours of filthy lucre.

Thirdly, the doctorates awarded had us privy to a collection including some rather precious sounding theses; this just reminded me of the arguably decadent or limply insular state of so much of academia nowadays.

We joined the crowd after the ceremony for refreshments on the courtyard in front of Winthrop Hall after 9 p.m., and the temperature now was pure balm, and not a ripple from a single leaf, the air was so still. This catered event was beautiful, and of high quality, and better still, the self control of the participants was of a high standard. We eventually parted company with The Babies, and headed the short distance down to the Nedlands foreshore for a walk along the river about half ten, armed with nothing more lethal than our goodwill. We parked near JoJo's Café, situated as it is on a jetty over the river, and walked hand in hand along the riverfront through Beaton Park, on this dark night, so still you could hear the blades of grass calling out for water during this driest ever summer in Perth.

It was a magic time, the lights of the suburbs across the river along Canning Highway reflecting off an almost glass smooth river surface, warm and tired water, waiting for an influx pushed by welcome winter rains from the hinterland. We sat and soaked up the ambience, aware of a boat with fishermen some few hundred metres out, no lights, their muffled voices travelling further than they probably realised, maybe they didn't care.

In half an hour we saw but one human being, a very keen and overweight fellow, who gave us a friendly humorous greeting, jogging by and possibly flirting with death. How wonderful, really, that you can live in a city of two million people, and find solitude along the river front but stone throws from the crowded suburban streets of the well-heeled, at but half ten in the evening.

Reluctantly we headed for home after our stroll back to the car, and chatted about this wonderful day when we shared our daughter's graduation from our State's top university. And thank you to Baby Peggletter, her wonderful partner, who strongly encouraged her to partake in the ceremony, for she was planning not to. We all got to take part in an evening we'll all treasure.

Better late than never, a day late in fact, I have a bit I want to say regarding last night's Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Ms Sales went super simple and casual, with a dark shirt-blouse being the beginning and end of it all, her hair style and minimalist jewellery complementing her subtle-effect make-up. Her interview was with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who looked immaculate in a dark suit white shirt combo with a broadly and vividly striped tie, which flirted dangerously with the camera.

The subject matter was varied, but began with our relationship with Indonesia. My observations however simply will focus on the manner of the interview which Ms Sales conducted: it is obvious that she doesn't like Mr Smith, and this considerable dislike is not hard to notice if one observes attentively.

Mr Smith, to his credit, displays more warmth by far towards Ms Sales in each of his encounters on air with her than is returned. I happen to like the manner of Mr Smith, having pointed out here before that a sober and measured Foreign Minister is considerably more preferable than a rock star type, a Gareth Gareth Evans, or a prima donna type like Alexander Downer.

As the interview progressed the winter easterly coldness emanating from Ms Sales increased, revealed in both the conduct of the questions and interjections, and the detail in them.

This issue of personal likes and dislikes of our journalists towards their interlocutors is nowhere better illustrated by the bad blood displayed by Kerry O'Brien towards the likes of John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull. It would be very difficult to conceal it, and I'm sure I would likely be unable to do it, but what a superlative professional we'd be treated to who could interview people who he or she had a unambiguous veridical dislike for, yet left the audience none the wiser regarding such professional relationship foibles.

Monday, March 8, 2010

THE GALAXY: "BBC Radio 4 unleashed a peculiar madness, and we can be grateful they did," opines Payton L. Inkletter, hitching a lift in a Ford Prefect

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

Monday: We struggled to get ready for our planned things to do today on time, but somehow we did, zipping over to do a surreptitious Benara Fresh fruit and vegetable shop as a mere pair, and then it was off to Melville to take Mum to the doctor.

The weather was kind enough, the Celsiuses dabbling in the very low thirties. The doctor's appointment ended up taking a very long time, with a wound dressing for Mum thrown in, for a badly infected cut on her lower leg from a rose thorn three weeks ago.

And then it was into the Booragoon Garden City shopping centre with a gentle vengeance, first attacking some tasty morsels at Miss Maud's, courtesy of Mum! My favourite – well, it's very hard to have a favourite at the Swedish lady's eateries – being the sweet potato and pumpkin roll, was helped down by my other favourite – but this one not a Miss Maud's creation – cloudy apple juice.

We two middle aged love birds were very tired when we got home about 7, all from doing very little, really.

I settled in to watch Aunty most of the night, and found Tony Jones' Q&A interesting as usual, and in particular because one of his guests, Richard Dawkins was on; he is right to highlight the many absurdities of contemporary institutionalised religions, but he keeps making a fool of himself as well, even if most folk miss it: he made, and repeated, the most silly claim this evening, that the existence or not of God is a scientific matter; he makes the same collossal blunder in his 'God Delusion'. If only he could understand the difference between the, by definition, measurable, and the, by definition, nonmeasurable, and then he would have a handle on the realm of the scientific and the realm of the non-scientific; his hang up is that he is convinced there exists only the scientific; weigh love, measure hope, analyse infinity, Richard. What he would do better to say is that while the existence of God is not a scientific matter, if God exists, then science would be exploring the finite material realm caused by that God, and hints of such ancestry would be bound to be scattered throughout that realm, none of which could ever prove that God's existence. For that matter, science cannot ever disprove God's existence either. It's just that Richard Dawkins is so blinded by his faith, not at all unlike the blind faith of naïve religionists, that he cannot see the blindingly obvious limitations of science in this regard.

Next was Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: To Ms Sales' credit couture-wise, she was superbly turned out tonight, and her contrasts were beyond reproach, which is not always the case: a dark red camisole left no confusion against her skin, beneath a dark jacket, and her hair style was just right, her make-up subtle effect, and minimalist jewellery – tiny earrings only in fact.

Her political on-screen interview guest tonight was an equally superbly turned out Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whose conservative dark suit white shirt combo was set on fire with a bold pink striped tie. That was where the merit ended for Mr Abbott, due to one of the major topics they discussed, highlighting what an abomination of a paid maternity leave policy Mr Abbott has announced.

Typical of the conservative side of politics in Australia, this scheme moves disproportionately large amounts of scarce funds to the wealthier members of our society. In a nutshell, unless I'm missing something, a family's primary carer will be paid their full salary weekly rate for up to 6 months, capped at $150,000 annually, to care for a newborn.

So what this means is that those couples with the greatest means to save in preparation for having a baby will be given the greatest assistance to do this. Contrast this with the much more equitable Labor policy of paying the primary care giver the minimum wage for up to 18 weeks. I would not oppose extending the duration, but the same rate for all is the crucial factor which makes it far fairer than the Coalition's policy, and the lower amount overall makes it far more affordable for the nation.

You know, how should a poor and struggling low paid couple look upon a well off couple, who would be paid up to $3000 a week for the 6 months, who each year budget for an overseas holiday, attendance at opera and theatre performances, driving luxury motor vehicles, eating out often at fine restaurants, and so on? The $3000 a week helps them to keep up this lifestyle. The struggling couple might get only $543 a week, and both couples have the same challenge: affording the care of a new baby.

While Ms Sales probed Mr Abbott about many aspects of his policy very well, I wish she had addressed this equity issue, and grilled him on it; perhaps she will on another occasion – I hope so.

Friday, March 5, 2010

ROME: "Thinking is dangerous, if it leads to crazy ideas such as the earth going around the sun," notes P.L. Inkletter, "or that Sunday is but a day."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
05th March 2010

Friday: Yet another night has passed when I was too weary to contemplate a walk, even though the exercise is badly needed. Nor even could Janny manage a smaller walk, as has become our habit, earlier in the evening for her health's sake. This past couple of weeks we've been greater wrecks than usual, and that, sadly, is saying something.

But this entry is about today! A wild idea occurred to me early on, while I left the slumbering zedlogger to her beauty sleep, not being able to sleep more than about five hours myself for some reason. When she arose later in the morning I put the wild idea to her, and it resonated. We would put the odds of it coming to fruition as very remote, but if it did, it would constitute a major life course change as big as our marriage was for we two then individuals. This initiated much discussion as we went about our indoor duties and routines, and doubtless will keep us busy with ideas for talking about for a long while to come.

Now wouldn't you guess it, the lascivious lusciouszite cornered me and demanded a deeply satisfying consummation, and I meekly complied, knowing the consequences of refusal, and it was after this, when she flung me off like a cherry ripe wrapper, that we got ready to do a surreptitious trip to the local shopping centre, ALONE TOGETHER, to buy a stick blender, to replace the one that gave up its ghost the other night when I dropped it on the floor in the laundry, together with too much's worth of a cocoa drink I'd just been blending; the photographic evidence is currently on the three blogs of mine which host the keenly followed – by a huge proportion of the billions of daily visitors – 'the art formerly known as ‘Header’ prints…' photographic widget.

And buy a stick blender we did, from Kmart as it turned out, first checking the offerings at Big W, which has been our preferred place to shop for such items for a couple and more decades. Big W had only one model, Kmart three; we took a cheap and nasty $39 unit, twice the cost of the fellow I killed, but not before it had given us a couple or more years of service, blending several million mugs of cocoa for me and for Reeve Chocson when he visits, among its other kitchen tasks.

A quick dash to the local Dewsons, and then, after dropping the most beautiful Celt in the world home, I set off mid afternoon for Bob's. Who was keen to set off for the pool at Swan Aquatic. He was as happy as Larry for a couple of hours in the water, and we finished in the evening at dusk with a very long walk from the picnic area at Ray Marshall Park up to what would have to be Viveash on the riverside, and it was a very enjoyable walk indeed, with Bob quite gushing about the feat.

I got home late, after 8, and Missus Inkletter kindly immediately drove a meal to Pa pree aka The Dear Leader, before rejoining me. I ate my vittles, and got 'tireder' and 'tireder', but did manage to watch Hitler's Bodyguard on SBS; I wonder how many hours of film Hitler has caused to be made?

I struggled against sleep, but revived to catch Lateline, expecting to be treated to Stephen Long's weekly economic analysis, but alas, 'twasn't to be: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: a simply but smartly dressed Ms Sales graced the screen for tonight's program, having chosen a very dark double pocketed shirt, with what could have been a gold ingot as a necklace – the simple slim rectangle of gold working very well as the decoration on her sparsely exposed decolletage – and the slightly flaring loose hanging hairstyle that suits her so well. Her polly Friday night fight club line-up, in person, consisted of Julie Bishop, Deputy Liberal Leader and Shadow Foreign Minister, dressed very nicely in a cream striped jacket with black modesty panel, and Senator Mark Arbib, Employment Participation Minister, looking as lettuce crisp and shiny as he always does, in a dark suit, white shirt, and boldly striped dark tie.

In the general, as with almost all of these polarity interviews, it was utterly predictable, with Mr Arbib painting all of the Labor Government's various doings of recent days as perfection unlimited, and Ms Bishop reciprocating in the negative, painting the same Government's doings as each ineptitude incarnate.

I liked the point Ms Sales confronted Ms Bishop with: "…Isn't the Opposition undermining its credibility and authority by simply opposing everything that the Government does all the time?...

"But don't there have to be sometimes things that you agree with?...

"But why would anyone trust the Opposition when you are negative about absolutely everything?" I have long complained at how boringly predictably negative this Opposition has been; The Liberals strategy boffins must assume it's a vote winner, and it certainly cranked up under Malcolm Turnbull, and is continuing under Tony Abbott; it doesn't work for me, however, I'd like to know if credible research shows that the attack and be damned approach is working.

Ms Sales handled the rough and tumble that spilled about during this contest well, and managed to keep the vibe positive, despite the robustness of some of the contentious issues. She is getting better at this, her abilities and confidence is growing, and only experience can deliver such.

My view of Mark Arbib: my jury is still out, but I will say that he is probably an asset to Labor in that he is a pretty face for the cameras, and verbally stumbles along with a friendly enthusiasm naturally enough to win more friends than enemies.

My view of Julie Bishop: she has improved, for I have been quite prepared to call her Julie skin-too-thin-for-politics Bishop before, based on some performances I've witnessed on the telly. She conducted herself rather well tonight.

Weariness had now set in so much that I canned all plans to walk, but did watch The Graham Norton Show; he would have to be one of the most vibrant presenters going; and no, I'm not turning.

An 'early' night, about 3 a.m., as I struggled to attend to some work on the computer.

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