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Friday, April 30, 2010

FÜHRERBUNKER: Of the abundance of hate, delusions of grandeur, fantasy, cruelty, inhumanity, and madness inhabiting me, I bequeath to any who want it…

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

Friday: I forced myself up about half eleven, having bunkered down about five, having spent hours fruitlessly trying to repair The Dear Leader's Win XP system overnight; this would be the tenth session I suppose over the this month when I have tried all the usual things, and last night's efforts finally had me get to the blue system repair screen using the six floppy disks method, only to be told after untold hours that the partition is too damaged to repair. Damn, the very scenario I have been working to avoid is now the only scenario: a complete reinstall, with its necessity of reinstallation of dozens of programs and tweaks, none of which The Dear Leader can do.

And so I was most weary when I set to to prepare for taking Bob swimming; getting the kitchen cleaned up somewhat for Missus Inkletter in the meantime, who is spending the day with Meg and Murrah Deeler, Meg recovering from her second year of aggressive cancer therapy.

A balmy day, and this found Bob in good spirits ready to go when I arrived at Guildford afore three, despite his beloved cigarettes going up by two bucks a packet from midnight last night (he was aware of this, mentioning it, but almost certainly not understanding the financial consequences to himself). The Swan Aquatic pool was quiet to start with, until the after school crowd stormed in, with the usual controlled riot ensuing.

Bob was keen to take a long walk afterwards, so we embarked from Ray Marshall Park in Woodbridge to Reg Bond Reserve in Viveash, by which time it was close to dark; the walk back was very pleasant, but having night vision would have been useful (I had a torch, thankfully). About a quarter of the walk has had a lot of work done on the pathway near Viveash since last we walked it, but a week or two back, making it a lot easier to hoof it. This particular walk along the Swan is most delightful, and I hesitate to recommend it lest millions come and spoil it.

It was towards 8 when I got home, and the poor parakeet had an icepack on her head, suffering a migraine. We discussed what might have brought it on, but couldn't pin it down to anything; she didn't have anything out of the ordinary to eat or drink when out today with the Deelers, other than a decaf coffee at a coffee shop, and so it is a matter of hope that they got that right, given the ill-effects too much caffeine can have on her.

I delivered vittles to The Dear Leader, and we watched The Collectors while I ate my vittles, excepting that the drowsy drop dead fell asleep, and I didn't even stir her to guess the Mystery Object, sensing that she needed the sleep more than the bragging rights for guessing the object.

I watched the umpteenth 'Hitler's Bodyguard', caught up with the day's bad news on SBS, and before I knew where I was, the wonderful 'Ladies of Letters' was on, followed by Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: How quickly the Friday night fight club comes around! Ms Sales was dressed in an outfit that she's made the mistake with before, a black jacket that while it is nice enough, it better suits a woman in her sixties, and the large pink six petalled embroidered floral material brooch was both too big and too low – three inches higher on her right shoulder and a couple to her right would make a good difference. The brooch was in the identical position to the last time I saw her wear it, suggesting it might be sewn on, if so, unpick it please and move it up; better still, don't wear this outfit. Maybe it's the collar style, but it ages her. Otherwise, she looked great! No, seriously she did, with tiny earrings, subtle-effect makeup and loose falling but all importantly flaring hair.

The sparring bucks tonight had last appeared together back in mid March, although it seems like only a couple of weeks ago: Michael (Mount Rushmore) Kroger, the former President of the Victorian Liberals, was on-screen from Melbourne, plutonicly resplendent in a dark suit with lines and white shirt, starkly set off with a dark blue patterned tie, and Paul (Johnson & Johnson) Howes, the National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union was in-studio in Ultimo, also wearing a dark suit with lines and white shirt, but settling for a forces-of-light white tie with mid depth stripes.

The main issue that Ms Sales tried to get the boys to discuss intelligently was the postponing by Kevin Rudd of the ETS legislation, but try as she might, she got plenty of reaction but a dearth of intelligence out of them. I have to hand them all credit for how relatively politely they all behaved, but I was constantly pinching myself to be reminded that these two men are not sitting members of Parliament, because they might as well have been.

Cutting through Mr Howes' constant use of the phrase 'the reality is', could there be any doubt the he will run for pre-selection for Labor one day? His efforts tonight were those of a total apologist for the Government, while his day job is rooting for his union.

However, Mr Howes' lovestruck support for the Government paled into insignificance compared to Mr Kroger's attack upon Prime Minister Rudd, causing me to wonder was Mr Kroger denied some badly desired Vartamurn Lurv by his missus last night or this morning?

Here are most of his disparaging statements about Kevin Rudd: "this disastrous Prime Minister who is the worst prime minister I've ever seen in this country in my lifetime - the worst and getting worse."; "This man believes in nothing. Absolutely nothing. He's a fraud as a prime minister."; "this is a man without beliefs, without a narrative. What does he stand for? Nothing. Nothing."; "a prime minister with no views, no values, no principles and no philosophy. He just picks up the latest fad, runs with it."; "Everything Kevin Rudd touches turns to disaster."; "he's gonna keep the focus entirely on health because everything else he's touched has been a disaster."; "he's made a total hash of everything he's touched."; "Listen, Kevin, you are a public policy disaster zone. Do not touch the tax system between now and the election or you'll make a mess of that too like you've made a mess of everything": "This man has almost no achievements"; "the people who watch politics are aghast with Rudd's performance."

Now the foregoing list will achieve one thing for certain: any reasonable listener will have to discount Mr Kroger's 'insight' substantially, because, while no-one's perfect, least of all Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister is nowhere as bad as Mr Kroger's invective explicitly paints. A psychologist could have a field day analysing his state of mind from tonight's venomous and ludicrous output; Kevin Rudd has definitely got under Mr Kroger's skin, and if Mr Kroger wants to see him removed from office he'd be well advised to focus his energies into becoming a voice of moderate reason and give believable grounds for the electorate to oust him. (He could do well to model himself, regarding a moderate and intelligent approach, upon a guest Ms Sales interviewed recently, David Frum.)

How can Mr Kroger expect to be taken seriously if he clocks up interviews like tonights?

However, Mr Kroger's hyperbole is based upon some reality: Prime Minister Rudd is the most plastic prime minister I can remember, obsessed with political correctness, and apparently, based on reliable sources, a nasty piece of work in private, and as expert a media manipulator as they come. Nevertheless, he does have worthwhile leadership qualities as well, and has made progress and achievements that have and will benefit our nation. Turkeys like Mr Kroger tend to blab themselves into decreasing relevance with performances like his tonight, and we can be grateful for the amount of rope Ms Sales gave him so that he could hang himself, because it is valuable to know the weaknesses of the movers and shakers in our society.

Forgive me for criticising little the performance of Mr Howes, but don't take that to mean that I approve of most of what he says, but I do hand him the belt for winning tonight's duel, simply because he was the more balanced and moderate; having said that, Mr Howes could have thrown a tantrum for the duration of the interview and he would still have won on these grounds tonight, due to Mr Kroger's over the top puerile behaviour.

Like the Fremantle Doctor on a forty plus day, Stephen Long blew in for his minuscule few minutes of glory, restoring my faith in humanity: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: My word how spiffy Mr Long looked! A strong blue tie with subsersive motifs set off his faintest shade of blue shirt surrounded by a solid dark blue jacket, his closely cropped curls lacquered down, much to his Mum's dismay.

That disaster that just won't go away, the Greek sovereign debt crisis, was yet again the topic for discussion, a whole greedy three minutes of it. I don't think Mr Long smiled once, as he delineated the dire situation and the black future for Greece, and the risk of financial defaults spreading to the other vulnerable EU nations. And it is good that he told it like it is. The fairy tales do us no good.

I wonder how much extra influence Germany will wrest out of all of this mess, and how long it will take that thorough and patient, if often deluded, nation?

Monday, April 26, 2010

HAMILTON: "If the earth didn't just move for you Honey, we'd better get out of here fast!" P. L. Inkletter frantically tells his Missus with magnitude

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

Monday: Again I blurred day and night, 'retiring' for the 'night' towards midday from the day of Sunday; if you can make sense of that, well done.

I wanted to speak to Janny before she set off for the 250 km drive north from Balingup with her serious bruises on both legs and an arm, and she felt confident she would do the drive okay, with several stops. That chat was at about 9 this morning, and the next several hours involved some gardening and research online for writing matters, and I couldn't consider sleep till I'd made some progress with this and a related phone call.

In my stupor during the afternoon, having left the bedroom door open, I heard Janny and The Dear Leader arrive home, and my darling wife spoke to me before closing the door to let me sleep on; I saw her bruised legs, and they were a sight not to see! Nor was her left arm. Massive bruises, and she is very lucky not to have broken anything or knocked her head last Thursday when the trip-over happened. I let my gratitude be known to the higher world that she fared so well, all things considered.

I surfaced by arrangement around half six, feeling profoundly tired and nowhere ready to rise; however, things needed attending to, including giving a lift home for The Dear Leader, and unloading his luggage from the six days away.

As always, Q&A was worth watching, despite Germaine Greer's attempts to be her usual 'Germary Germary quite contrary', and before I knew where I was, it was Lateline time: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Ms Sales, attired very pleasantly and smartly in a light grey jacket over a white longsleeved blouse, complimented with subtle-effect makeup and loose falling flared hair, and her only jewellery being gold stubbed small pearl earrings, interviewed David Frum on-screen from Washington, looking very acceptable in a dark grey suit and lilac shade shirt, set off with an olive green sheen patterned tie, and an impressively manicured, fertilized, and watered artificial turf defining his upper forehead line (making me wonder if Mr Frum had acted on the observation by Danielle Crittenden, "...most women, given a choice, will prefer a tall man to a short one, a thick-haired one to a bald one..." in her book 'What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us…').

Ms Sales used the opportunity represented by Mr Frum's willingness to discuss very well, and this articulate, intelligent, and moderate conservative waxed analytical while actually answering Ms Sales' questions: doesn't it translate to a far more informative experience when the interlocutor is not facing an electorate's vote!

It became evident why some prominent folk in the Republican movement are unhappy with this fellow, because his neck hardly displayed any sunburn at all. God forbid that observations of reality actually be fearlessly stated by notables within any party, even if these observations don't appear to support the party's electability.

One of the wonderfully astute things Mr Frum said was "…we also always have to remember we are connected to the right. We are not hostile to them, we are in a continuum with them, but we have to be a coalition and it can't always be true that the loudest and most extreme voice gets to make every decision." What piqued and impressed me here was his use of the underused concept 'continuum', and the fact that he used it perfectly.

Having admitted I found him refreshingly astute and a balanced voice of relative moderation in many ways, I don't agree with his opinion in everything; of course, this should be less a surprise than would be finding a person who agrees with everything someone else believes in.

Back to some more of his wisdom: his comment "…we are in this very sick relationship with China where they lend us too much money too cheaply. That creates a lot of debt opportunities for American households..." was most accurate; he called it a "sick dynamic", and rightly so. However, the consumer credit mentality of the American (Australian, British, …) citizen is more the problem than the opportunity to borrow.

Mr Frum's assertion "the first job of an economic leader is wealth creation" is a qualified truth as far as I'm concerned; wealth creation is essential of course, but it also needs wise attention to ensure the egalitarian opportunities to do this and benefit from it; I'm not sure to what extent he was isolating the President's role to being an 'economic leader' by his choice of words, but anyway, I don't accept that a President's (or Prime Minister's) role is solely that of economic leadership, and some of the other roles, if properly fulfilled, will attenuate, at times, financial wealth creation.

His description of the likely demise of the cap and trade scheme legislation due to the threatened withdrawal of support by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as a "mercy killing" from the Democrat's point of view was funny but savvy.

Ms Sales pursued Mr Frum on his point in passing that Sarah Palin will never be President, and he gave insightful reasons based on research; when I first heard her and considered her statements during the 2008 campaign I decided that if the U.S.A. even elected John McCain with her as his running mate, then they had gone more completely mad than I thought they were, based on the simple fact that she would have been the emergency President-in-waiting beside an elderly man. I was staggered by McCain's poor judgment on that one. Not because she is a woman, but because of the substance, or lack thereof.

He made a quick reference to strong national defence: I think Obama needs to be very careful in his watering down of his nation's defence, and he needs to understand what his nation's enemies respect.

Ms Sales explored Mr Frum's resignation from the conservative think tank The American Enterprise Institute, and he shone, in my opinion, in his remarks about it. And after he gave a lucid rejoinder he added "I see myself as a strongly committed Republican, but I'd like to navigate by the facts and not by my wishes, and there is a lot of fanciful thinking inside the Republican Party these days."

He sensibly noted that Obama's health care plan is here to stay; he even noted the benefits within it. He then said "So you don't build your politics on fantasies … I'm telling us bad news for sake of generating success in the future." Here is one very persuasive man, flavouring what he says with intelligence and insight.

When Ms Sales raised the article "Unpatriotic Conservatives" which Mr Frum wrote in 2003, he interrupted – politely, despite being animated and flustered by the attribution she applied to it – and vigorously defended what he claims he actually said, not what people think he said, and while I haven't read it, I would not be the least bit surprised, judging by the man's acumen in this interview, if his defence is right. Ms Sales said she had read it, and I have no doubt she had, for she is one journalist who puts in the hard yards, from my observations, to be well researched and informed, before interviewing her subjects.

Mr Frum finished with "My mission in my politics has been consistent over the past decade, which is to build a party that stands for free enterprise, stands for a strong national defence, but is connected with the broad centre of American public opinion." He isn't perfect, and probably would admit this, but I wish we had a lot of politicians and politically involved folk in Australia of his calibre; and this despite there being in all likelihood much political philosophy I could take issue with him on. High quality on both sides of the political divide is good for a nation's advancement.

In terms of cogent analysis and opinion per minute, overlaid with the fragrance of decency, this interview is right up there, and I thank Ms Sales and Mr Frum for bringing it about.

Friday, April 23, 2010

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON: "An absolute tiger hearted John Servant? A conceited beautifully feathered upstart crow? Bombastic verse maker?"…"A genius rare."

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
23rd April 2010

Friday: Another one of those blurred day-night-days was my entrance to this new day of opportunity and challenge, being 'still up' till about two on this afternoon, celebrating my circadian chaotic rhythm, having managed to wrest some writing time on Venty Still out of the strained hours, as well as watering the bamboos and feeding the worm farms, among other things, including a 4 a.m. walk which took in feeding The Dear Leader's cat and putting his green wheelie bin down while he's away with Janny.

Our Cadury the former stray Celestial Kitty – 'Cadbers' – got a lot of cuddles upon my lap last night and playing with me out in the back garden this morning, and I finally got to speak to Janny in Balingup late morning, after her distressing phone call last night informing me of a bad fall she suffered at our friends' home in Bridgetown yesterday, landing heavily on her knees and onto her left arm, which might now have a torn muscle, given the size of an ugly lump that has grown in the upper arm area. Given her back surgery of many years ago any fall the poor thing has had since – and there have been several – fills us with a degree of dread. So much for my several times forbidding her ever to fall over again.

Her friends and her host back in BalingupMargie Kismikkin – showered her with a range of homeopathic remedies, and she is fortunately mobile today, against the odds, but in considerable pain despite some juicy strength white comforters.

So from the foregoing, several hundreds of millions at least out of my daily billions of readers will have gathered that my wife has left me.

She intends to come back to me – if she can still drive – on Monday.

Today was another of those matchless April days in Perth, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Everything perfect, right down to the patterns in the clouds.

When I dragged myself up a tad afore seven, it was in time for My Beloved, then Stateline, then The Collectors, a fine Aunty lineup if ever there was one; and may anyone who ever moves The Collectors from this time slot again –  as happened recently – live in interesting times…

Cadbers spent much time on my lap, as I sat in the yawning chasm of this empty house; actually, I am joking, lest anyone think it's hard on me: is there anything nicer sometimes than a few days of solitude? My wife is well known for her legendary ability to talk the back leg off a Border Leicester, and she does heartily approve of full attention when doing so, and so it's a rare occasion like this that gives my poor eardrums a badly need bit of rest and recreation, with only the contented rumbly purring of Cadbury to soothe my cauliflowers.

I tackled the dishes and kitchen bedlam after this Aunty indulgence, having put the kitten back outside for some rest and poocreation of its own, to try to be looking neat and tidy for the day long visit for VolksyBug work by The Babies Ink&Peggletter tomorrow, and got it half done by the time the next Aunty treat came on, 'Ladies of Letters'. Cadbury was back on my lap, and she remained there snoozing away while I watched Lateline and The Graham Norton Show, on which, in my humble opinion, the highly talented Ricky Gervais was too fired up, a bit too 'my chum Stephen Merchant is with me and I'm chuffed, feeling both invincible and obliged to show off'; however, I forgive him on several bases, not the least being the man's impressive self deprecating television output. Good on Stephen Merchant for buckling to the undue pressure from audience and peers and doing the 'cartwheel' he really did not want to do; it's a good thing his legs stayed low, for he would have taken out a million pounds of BBC studio lights (I'm guessing that it's filmed there?).

Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Simply attired in a dark blue satin long-sleeved blouse, ZERO jewellery and effortlessly getting away with it, loose falling flared hair, Ms Sales looked fresh and piquant, but a slightly lighter shade of eye liner and eye shadow would have been a case where less is more – those gorgeous eyes shine with very little assistance. Her two interlocutors for tonight's long interview, in the true combative spirit of the Friday night fight club were Parliamentary Secretary to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Senator Cory Bernardi, on-screen with a stony face that made Stalin look like his little known slapstick comedic twin brother, showing off a very groomed if vapid combination of grey suit and white shirt with a dull maroon tie evidencing the early stages of chicken pox, due to its sparsely arranged square spots, and Parliamentary Secretary for Employment, Jason Clare, in-studio, whose attire was almost identically flavoured, but saved by a jazzy densely dotted ruby red tie, one that he'd have to do cold war battle with Mr Bernardi to keep, had they both been in-studio.

These two bucks were so utterly predictable tonight it was painful, although the hyperbole trophy goes to Mr Bernardi. I would be the first to agree that Kevin Rudd's Labor Government has performed badly in some important areas, but if Mr Bernardi is to be believed from his explications and his implications, everything without exception that they have so much as glanced at let alone touched has resulted in unmitigated disaster for Australia: "Everything they have touched has turned to failure." He seems to think that he is pitching to an unsophisticated electorate of pre-World War II mentality, and this excessively negative approach has been the hallmark of this smarting Opposition since they were turfed out almost three years ago. I seriously doubt that such blanket canning of the Government is in their best interests.

The Opposition needs to calm down, accept gracefully that they lost the last election, and relax, because they will rule again one day, possibly later this very year. They could well use their time off the reins of power learning maturity.

They are taking the implication in their title, the 'Opposition', too much to heart, spurred on by their leader Tony Abbott, but he is only carrying the torch as high as Malcolm Turnbull, who led from the front a most negative group of parliamentarians. Perhaps they should consider their title to be the 'Alternative' Government, and drop this oppose and fight till the last breath mentality. And if for no other reason than to stop presenting themselves as idiots, or at best, feeble minded, if their words are to be illustrative of their minds.

Take interest rates as a prime example: it took Mr Clare to correct Mr Bernardi's repetition of his party's spin that every time the Reserve Bank raises rates it's entirely due to the overspending of the Government; it means nothing to the Opposition that the Reserve Bank has been trumpeting continuously that the rates will be returned to neutral levels as soon as possible, and we are still below that level.

Mr Clare got no comeback from Mr Bernardi specifically to this point he made: "…the cash rate at the moment is 4.25 per cent. That's the lowest that it ever got to under John Howard. So under John Howard, 4.25 per cent was apparently terrific and under us, apparently it's terrible." To be fair, Ms Sales did push on to another topic, but it would have been entertaining to hear the Senator's attempt at addressing that one. Mr Bernardi would do himself and his party some credit to state the truth that the Labor Government's spending is but one factor contributing to the rising rates and the speed at which this is occurring. Why fear the facts?

Mr Bernardi did deliver a solid punch however with his rejoinder: "You want to know the difference between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party? The Liberal Party always end up repaying Labor's debts." The hypocrisy of another of his remarks was lost on himself though: "…the Rudd Government … only knows that it needs to throw money around in order to buy themselves an election victory." The great John Howard will be remembered for doing exactly this several times, and including the worst of wastes, Government advertising, to the tune back then of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Further on the subject of hypocrisy, another piece of drivel from Mr Bernardi: "I understand Jason is dutifully trotting out their (the Government's) lines". Well if he understands that, which is true, then he can understand that he was being equally a puppet for his mob.

Mr Clare did a fair job of trying to match Mr Bernardi's excoriation of everything Labor by sugar coating and highlighting the good in all his side is doing, but he at least did admit to failures: "We don't get everything right. We've made mistakes, no doubt about it. And some of the things that you're alluding to there are situations where we've made mistakes. The important thing is to fess up to it and get on and fix it."

I think that Mr Bernardi did have some integrity behind his attack on the home insulation tragicomedy, however.

Was Mr Clare letting a cat out of the bag with his remark "We're only a couple of months away from an election and the Liberal Party are all negativity"?

Ms Sales' job was easy – and she did it well, given that she kept the banter moving and covered a lot of ground – with these two boys, because they didn't overtalk each other to any extent, in fact, they behaved with dignity even though some of the things said almost reached up into the lower realms of stupidity, thanks to Senator Bernardi.

By now I was badly in need of a dose of Stephen Long: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: Mr Long chose a dark suit this evening, set off with a pale lilac finely striped shirt, and a rich purple maroon and cream spotted tie with a more advanced case of chicken pox than Senator Bernardi's, and a set of closely cropped curls, which must have been a disappointment to his Mum, who I have it on good authority doesn't speak to him for a couple of days when he has a hair cut.

The main subject Ms Sales invited Mr Long to wax economical upon, was Greece's dire sovereign debt problem escalating to the decision to take the EU and IMF loan package. Stressful times for the Greeks in the years ahead.

Mr Long outlined the pain the citizenry can expect, the problems exacerbating it – "they have virtually no tax base; they have very few exports" – and the risks nevertheless of a default yet to come. The real issue, Mr Long informed us, and I have no doubt he's right, is to attempt to quarantine the contagion of sovereign debt, to protect the wider world.

They went on next to discuss briefly the atrocious behaviour of Goldman Sachs in the lead up to the GFC, when Ms Sales asked "What's your take on this deal that Goldman’s did that the regulators see as fraud?" Mr Long's take was like a ray of sunshine breaking through into a mouldy cellar: "I don't know whether it's illegal, but you think about it… (brief and excellent description of particulars followed) but whether it amounts to something that should be considered fraud, I'd say yes…"

During Mr Long's 3¾ minutes of glory we were treated to two memorable smiles: the first from Ms Sales, in response to Mr Long's observation that Prime Minister George Papandreou made the announcement "in wonderful Greek style" from a holiday resort that the Greek Government was enacting the emergency loans, and the second from Mr Long at chat's end, when he gave us one of his legendary Rottweiler puppy dog bared teeth smiles as good as any he's ever given.

Believe it or not, Mr Ripley, I went to bed about 1 a.m., for two reasons, the first being the most sensible: I could hardly keep my eyes open, the second: The Babies Ink&Peggletter were coming in the morning to spend the day working on the Bug in preparation for selling it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

BLAENAVON: "If only he was tougher he'd not have rusted!" Payton L. Inkletter sadly noted whilst stirring the Bessemer pot soup, spooning off the slag

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
16th April 2010

Friday: I must sound like a broken record, starting so many of these entries with comment that I had way too little sleep; DITTO.

I went flat stick, if you attenuate that concept with the fact that it's me we're talking about, and, having got up at midday (do the figuring re: my opening remarks), I was ready to leave for Bob's at Guildford not long after two. He checked with me several times regarding the next few outings and what we'd be doing; there was method to his solicitousness: his carers phoned me on Wednesday, asking me to cancel the planned city outing – his big treat after every third swimming outing – due to a high level of violent misbehaviour since Monday. I then suggested that instead of Perth today, that we make it another swim, thus postponing a Perth outing, to try to drive home the consequences of his actions. He was questioning me lest he had to do six swims before his next city treat, but no, I'm a kindly old soul, or at least I like to think I am, and one extra swim is more than enough punishment, and I'd be happy to make it only two swims after his next city outing before another, thus meaning he'd not have any less city treats – I hope his staff are of similar generous bent when I put it to them.

And so the swim went well at a moderately busy Swan Aquatic, and we finished with a cup of tea and a walk along the Swan at Fish Market Reserve. I was back home with The Dear Leader – having picked him up – soon after half six, to be in time for our dinner guests: the Chocsons, being Reeve and Chocci, and The Babies Ink&Peggletter.

As is always the case whenever the Chocsons are involved, we had a wonderful evening, with Missus Inkletter having cooked up a delicious storm in honour of Chocci's 49th next week, when The Dear Leader and Missus Inkletter will be away gallivanting down at Balingup for five or so days; thus the early celebration. Chocci says she will only be having 49th's from now on, and by the look in her eye she means it!

It was about half eleven by the time our guests had all left, and consequently I missed my usual Aunty programs live: but not all is lost, courtesy of the wonders of modern technology, namely recording: Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: the long interview tonight was with a pair of journos, Niki Savva and David Penberthy, and they tackled, very sedately, several topical matters, from Monday's scheduled Council Of Australian Governments meeting and its hospital funding reform agenda, asylum seekers and immigration policy, Prime Minister Rudd's popularity among his own department, Tony Abbott's progress as Opposition Leader, and more. However, I jump ahead of my usual commencement routine:

Ms Sales was excellently attired in a dark grey striped jacket with a red underbodice, making for an ideal contrast, subtle effect make-up, loose falling and flared hair that so suits her face, and her jewellery, whilst still minimalist, numbered two sets, her diminutive earrings being supplemented by a diminutive necklace, both ideally feminine and resembling, from the TV viewers' compromised distance, pearls. Niki Savva looked lovely, most Greek, and apart from her trademark Cleopatra hairstyle, she had a comely cerise woolen top, complete with epaulettes and pockets, a barely visible thin gold chain necklace, and only faint pink lipstick and a little eyeliner – more credit to her for going easy on the make-up. David Penberthy was flamboyantly outfitted with a dark pinstriped suit and crosslined light shirt, toned down by a dark blue textured tie, suitably off centre to hint at a possibility of one of the lads being present; I decided from this visual that those who suggest David Penberthy has more than a passing resemblance to Yogi Bear, sans hat and after a black rinse, have a moot point.

Ms Savva was a font of moderate analysis, and Mr Penberthy was not afraid to stick his neck out a bit. They both felt Mr Rudd has got to do a lot worse to lose the next election. Ms Sales got a cute if predictable sobriquet from Penbers when he referred to her as 'Salesy', on the matter of Lateline's popularity on a Friday night.

It was interesting to note the difference between Mr Penberthy and Ms Savva regarding the significance of Mr Rudd's high rate of staff turnover; Ms Savva's view was more convincing to me, and that it does matter a lot for any minister to have healthy relationships with those who work for him or her. How we treat all people, no matter what position we hold, is telling of character and it is always best to strive to be worthy of respect, admiration, loyalty, and love, even in the fraught sphere of politics.

The gem of this interlocution came from Ms Sales tonight, when she might have been heading for a Germaine Greer moment, but she put all concern out of my mind when she finished the point she started with a wonderful expression of humility: I'd best first explain the Germaine Greer moment: was it a couple of years or so back? that she made a remark, to the best of my memory along these lines, on Jennifer Byrne's First Tuesday Book Club: "…you understand Henry [not the actual name of some academic or whatever], and I understand, but the average viewer out there doesn't understand…". This was a condescending remark. Ms Sales began: "People like the three of us aren't remotely representative of the average voter, in large part because we all read four newspapers a day; we're immersed in this stuff to a level of detail that just 98 per cent of the public are not. How do you, David Penberthy, keep in touch with what average Australians might be thinking about the political issues rather than getting bogged into sort of that insider group think, I suppose?" She expressed that so well without pumping herself nor her guests up in any way, with her statement '[we are] bogged into sort of that insider group think' which had not a hint of superiority about it – rather the opposite; actually, I need not have had my anxiety rise when Ms Sales began her statement, for she has repeatedly demonstrated a humbleness on this program that is admirable.

This was an easy job for Ms Sales tonight; no arguing politicians, no egos struggling to squeeze into the studio, no need at all to crack her Hussy label whip, which she keeps just out of camera sight velcroed onto her side of the desk's lip (I've minuscule doubt she's used it with Stephen Long, however, with his full cooperation, when she wants some more economic analysis – I refuse to lower the tone of this review by saying 'wants to see his stimulus package'…).

Speaking of the devil, what a treat when Mr Long appeared for his 3¾ minutes of glory: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: The subject Ms Sales wanted Mr Long to wax economical on tonight was executive pay rules changes recommended by the Productivity Commission. Mr Long sported a light grey jacket, light shirt with lines, and dark shiny grey tie. His hair came through well from its recent tousling from his mum, and he was ready to serve it to the bastards…

What do I mean? Well, I have to admit that while I find good reason to dote on almost everything that Mr Long says in this weekly segment, he resonated even more than usual with me on tonight's topic. From the outset he all but said 'SFA' in answer to Ms Sales' query as to what difference would these proposed changes make to executive pay; only in extreme cases would it make any difference, in his considered opinion.

Mr Long noted that the Productivity Commission was bound to recommend a light touch approach, and intimated that the Government knew that it would, and he justifiably cynically dismissed the furphy that our executives have to be paid so well as rewards for performance, and to protect talent. Mr Long knows it's bullshit, most Australians know it's bullshit; if it looks like bullshit, comes from the back end of a bull, and smells and tastes like bullshit, then you don't even need Occam's Razor to conclude that it's bullshit.

The gems flowed from Mr Long's lips, and I was cheering louder the longer he talked: "it was designed from day one basically to do very little, and they [the Government] are doing very little"; "the company directors and executives are pretty lucky"; "very flimsy evidence"; "[when] you set the trigger points low"; "the bigger the slush fund, the more money they get"; "we had an interesting and robust discussion on it [with Gary Banks on whether talent is being rewarded]"; and I had my shirt off and was swinging it above my head when he finished with:

"Well, again, where's the evidence? Where are all the Australian executives who are leading companies overseas? If there's this brain drain that we potentially face so we have to pay big money, well, Jacques Nasser who stuffed up Ford, that's one you can think of; and the other way, well we got Sol Trujillo, look what he did to Telstra. I just don't think the evidence is there to support that idea other than at the margins." Bloody brilliant Stephen, because you're so damn right, sadly.

I've written here somewhere long back that I'd support a limit on executive pay to no more than 7 times the average pay in the company, excluding their level, and recently I've warmed to the further idea that a seventh of whatever remuneration they get be in the form of shares, with restrictions upon when they can be divested. Such strictures would give incentive to these bloodsuckers to lift the payscales for everyone who works in the company, and to plan for the long term success of the company.

Should we be surprised that executives the world over, having been given control over their own pay levels and rises, have rewarded themselves to the ugly extreme, compared to the wealth producers' backs upon whom they ride? Not until the average human's ethics have advanced enormously could such an arrangement be safe and reasonable. The more these bastards squeal, the more we know we are right to enforce the constraints which they haven't demonstrated as a class that they should have done voluntarily, decently, fairly.

Ms Sales got a great deal of wisdom from Mr Long tonight, and it cheered me enormously. Stephen Long for Prime Minister!

Monday, April 12, 2010

NEW YORK: "Put your glad rags on and join me Hun, er, Missus Inkletter, we're gonna rock around the clock tonight, we'll yell for more; one two three"

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

Monday: After precious little sleep I dragged myself up at midday, and went flat stick (for moi) to get ready to take Bob swimming. I had high hopes of getting to him quite 'early', having done the kitchen clean-up in the wee small hours that I normally leave till the following daylight hours. I am being driven overnight most nights now to write some for Venty Still, and I also spent several frustrating hours trying to repair the Win XP OS on my old disk, in preparation for doing the same for The Dear Leader, whose system is refusing to work. If there's anything I dislike more than wrestling with Bill Gates' operating systems and programs, it doesn't come to mind right now.

However, the best laid plans… No, nothing dramatic, only the usual slow pace upon which I couldn't improve, and an unplanned dropping off to The Dear Leader's place an ironing board the delinquents had bought on an Op Shopping spree for this purpose while I was messing about messing about trying to get myself ready, being too heavy for them to get into The Dear Leader's house, and a return trip to our place due to Janny's zapper dapper (Acu Plus unit) being left in the car.

So I was just a tad 'early' in the end. Bob, after I put a sticking plaster on his slowly healing nose, got serious with his walking laps at a quiet Swan Aquatic, and towards dark and in very light rain we had a cup of tea at Fish Market Reserve (note to the tea fairy: since last July or so, 'cup of tea' with Bob means tea for him, hot water for me, lest you fly to Reeve Chocson and report me).

Once back home towards 8, and after having got shopping for the dear dilettante from the local Dewsons, I delivered vittles to The Dear Leader. Back quickly to home, the nicest wife this side of the rabbit proof fence kindly then fed me a lovely hot meal of vegetables and silverside smothered in white sauce, while she got her way with the TV and we watched 'The Big Bang Theory', in which I am Sheldon, only not quite so bad.

She then got her further way by watching a movie in the lounge, so I retreated to the computer to watch Four Corners on the computer with the TV card. Now does anyone know if the ABC has insurance to cover injuries to its viewers who hurt themselves, physically or psychologically, while watching a program? I was so tired that I fell asleep half way through and almost fell off my office chair, sustaining a fright, and almost touching cloth.

This was a reasonable indicator that I had better get to bed, and so I was tucked up within ten minutes, soon after 9, utterly unheard of for me.

Well, the downsides of being blissfully married with a spouse one shares one's bedchamber with: when the dainty damsel-ex came to bed about half twelve, I awoke, and try as I might, sleep would not return. I took an hour and a half to convince myself that I wasn't going to return to Madame Nodette's embrace, and reentered the world of the upright at about two in the morning, having missed all of my Aunty evening lineup.

Thus ensued Venty Still writing, a 4 a.m. walk, and after daylight some back garden jobs, as well as cuddle sessions with Cadbury the Celestial Kitty, and it was almost one in the afternoon when I finally got back to bed, on Tuesday.

And so, I here present a look at Aunty's Lateline, watched a day after its broadcast, recorded on the computer: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: I only watched the interview, and it was wonderful; I am getting ahead of myself: Ms Sales' couture, coiffure, and deportment were simple but flawless, looking fabulous, with her hair falling and flared, tiny earrings being her only resort to jewellery, a dark jacket over a green blouse, and subtle-effect make-up. Her guest, from London, was Lord Robert Winston, who looked like he was actually in Heaven, his light suit, shirt, and tie radiating with an ethereal glow, even if his head looked like it had just had a roll in the back garden.

The topic for their discussion was prompted by the publication of Lord Winston's recent book, 'Bad Ideas: An Arresting History of Our Inventions', and Ms Sales' informed questions and comments let loose his stimulating and refined analysis of various technologies, starting with stone, and covering lasers and the internet.

He sensibly began, at Ms Sales' prompting, with giving language its rightful place at the pinnacle of inventiveness, or at the foundation, whichever way you wish to view it.

The first time I felt like kissing Lord Winston during this interview was when he stated his opinion that most science output should be available to the public, given that it is largely paid for by the public, and the second time was when he intimated that too many scientists are arrogant, that science is only a version of the truth, that more modesty is called for; Wow! I wish his countryman Professor Richard Dawkins had this fragrant degree of wisdom!

Ms Sales' questions really cleared the path for this master science communicator to expound his illuminations. One tiny technical point I'd like to throw in is Lord Winston's selection on the run, at Ms Sales' instigation, of farming as the likely greatest technological advance that changed humans the most, if you ruled out fire, given that, in his words, '…fire, of course, predates homosapiens': strictly, so does farming, because ants farm aphis and grow fungus underground. But enough of my quibbling.

Lord Winston was sent on his heavenly way with a smile to die for from Ms Sales and her trademark courtesies; this was an interview saturated with intelligence, wisdom, refinement, and charm, and I'm glad Ms Sales scooped this one; it was either her or Ticky Fullerton in my opinion: the blokes couldn't have quite lit that cool flame of spirit that set the good Lord on controlled fire. Yet another treasured interview in my swelling archive.

Friday, April 9, 2010

NEW YORK: "Fellas, we can all point our percy at the porcelain, but who among us can powder milk?" Payton L. Inkletter asks plain. +paytontedwithlove+

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
09th April 2010

Friday: How hard it was to arise late this morning, Mistress Nodette having a firm grip on my leg, but I had to pull free.

In less than an hour and a half, record breaking threshold territory for me, I was driving to Hillarys for my doctor's appointment. The day was one of those balmy April days for which the Southwest of Western Australia is famous for, and why God, if he left Paradise, would come here to live.

Dr Barry was as pleasant as ever, but made an unpleasant sounding recommendation, and wrote the referral for me to attend to in six months time: a fine needle aspiration upon a growth on my thyroid; "No, it won't hurt" – what else can a doctor say? It certainly won't hurt him!

From here I pointed Suzi towards the hills, and took the Hepburn Avenue route to Alexander Drive, stopping at Benara Fresh for boxes of frooette and a bag of Royal Blue spuds, and finally arrived at Guildford 'early' to take Bob swimming. Paul the social trainer sprayed plastic skin on Bob's scabbed nose, hoping that it won't bleed in the pool this time, which caused us to leave early on Wednesday. (It worked a charm.)

After leaving the pool at Midvale Bob wanted to repeat the marathon walk we took on Wednesday from Ray Marshall Park at Midland to Reg Bond Reserve in Viveash along the Swan River, but I convinced him that half way was wiser, given the approach of dark. He was fun today.

And I was weary when I got home to my beautiful devoted wife, who put food in front of me immediately, then she delivered vittles to The Dear Leader (this week I mainly have been eating... – thank you Paul Whitehouse). She was back soon, and we watched one of our favourites on Aunty, The Collectors.

I fell asleep for much of Hitler's Bodyguard on SBS, with Cadbury the kitten on my lap. I finally revived for the SBS news, and watched my first 'Ladies of Letters' starring Anne Reid and Maureen Lipman on Aunty, which I found funny and witty.

The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Next it was Lateline time, with a prettily attired Ms Sales, sporting a tangerine bolero atop a black underbodice, and her political interlocutors for tonight's Friday night fight club were Christopher Pyne, looking most prime ministerial aspirant in a grey suit and white shirt theme, set off with a black and white dotted effect tie not unlike an exotic lizard's skin, and Chris Bowen, snappily dressed similar to Mr Pyne, except for a jazzy metalic purple tie, mainly discussing the just announced changes to the processing of asylum seeker claims of Sri Lankan and Afghanis,

No surprises from Mr Pyne tonight: just the usual 'oppose everything the Government is doing, has done, or ever will do' approach, but having said that, regarding the asylum seekers/unauthorised arrivals issue overall, the Opposition has shown a strength that the Government hasn't, since it boiled over last year.

I cringed last year when Prime Minister Rudd uttered words to the effect, regarding the Oceanic Viking's on-board asylum seeking Sri Lankans refusing to disembark in Indonesia, of having 'infinite patience' over these people's intentions. He couldn't have broadcast an apparent weaker stance to the world if he tried.

However, Mr Pyne's hyperbole, frankly, paints him as a fool, and sadly, his hysterics are typical of his side; we know he isn't a fool, just a bottom feeding political animal, with more ambition than John Winston Howard ever had, if that's possible. Mr Bowen was a model of moderation on the asylum seeker matter, even if he has to toe the often somewhat mamby pamby Rudd-Labor line.

Ms Sales was clearly in charge during this interview, yet gave the lads plenty of rope. She got my vote for letting Mr Pyne know directly: "That has nothing to do with the question that I just asked you" when he went off on a politician's moment, that is, a non sequitur. She good humoredly attempted again to get the unctuous politician to answer her population target question.

Thank God that Stephen Long came on next, and while I think it's a bit unfair of some to claim that an unpleasant odour leaves their living rooms when Christopher Pyne finishes his on-screen appearances, I understand their sentiment: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: Dapperer than dapper, Mr Long's attire suffered only from having too pastel a shaded tie, and how cool of him to grease his hair (my bet: Californian Poppy)! What we don't know yet is whether it was a vain attempt to dissuade his Mum from tousling his gorgeous curls, or to align somewhat with the subject he discussed with Ms Sales in their "our regular Friday night rendezvous" (Ms Sales' words – woo-ooh!), this subject being the sovereign debt crisis reeling from bad to worse for Greece.

I was tickled by Mr Long's description of certain financial sector workers: "I've been getting feedback from the poor saps in the banks that are underwriting the Greek bond issues and next week have to sell 1.2 billion Euros worth of Greek bonds..."

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but Ms Sales gave Mr Long an eternal 3½ minutes tonight, for he's usually lucky to get 3! I'd put him on every night and give him half an hour with Leigh!

I took to the soothing quietness of the deserted suburban streets for my half hour constitutional at about four a.m., and my how nice it is to walk in the cool of autumn at long last.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DEEPWATER: "Mucking about with refrigerant gases can be a slippery slope," warns Payton L. Inkletter, sticking to his eggs over easy without butterfat

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
06th April 2010

Tuesday: Today lived up to the legendary paradisiacal April weather Perth is famous for: balmy, sunny, faint breezes if any.

I took my mother shopping for the afternoon at Garden City Booragoon, and she forced me to eat treats at Miss Maud's before we hit the shops. It is 15 days since I was last there, when the big storm hit and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, and put my mother into shock when she and I were drenched by the rain.

So the calm and balm was a nice contrast. We don't know where the time went, but at least we got a few things done that had been waiting on Mum's list for a while, the sorts of things that take the time that no-one else's patience extends to.

Janny couldn't come with me today, given her deadline to take The Dear Leader to Balingup next week for his keenly anticipated holiday, and the fact that several extended family members pile the pressure on her to do a million things she has neither the energy nor time to do.

I enjoy my time with my mother, but it is hard to witness how frail she is becoming, how vulnerable, how she is losing so much of the confidence and ability youth takes for granted.

I was very weary when I finally got home, not long before My Beloved time after dark. During the evening several times I had Cadbury the formerly stray kitten on my lap, demonstrating to me that she is the most cutest cat in the Antipodes.

My mind is much occupied with ideas for my novel 'Venty Still', which I returned to writing almost a week ago, after almost a year's sabbatical from it. Baby Inkletter set me off on the project almost two years ago when she emailed me a page of a story she quirkily titled 'Venty Still', asking me to continue it, as a progressive story. Now that page has become the prologue for my new novel project. The time off will prove good, for my ideas are radically evolving from the original plans. I wish I could write for hours a day, instead of the few a week I might be able to scratch together. The writing process is most vivifying, though hard work; I am continually fascinated by where it takes me, how the project takes over me, developing where it insists.

I caught Lateline as it was broadcast for we Westerners, while cuddling a purring Cadbury on a pillow in my lap: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: A resplendent – having chosen a crazy patterned white on dark blue shirt and white modesty panel, and very becoming hair style and subtle-effect make-up – Ms Sales' in-studio guest this evening was Shadow Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison, himself smartly attired if a little pastelled and bland with regard to his only means of rebelliousness with dress, his tie, which was a pale blue.

This interview showed that Mr Morrison was the equal of Ms Sales, and that Ms Sales was the equal of Mr Morrison, if that is not too odd a way of expressing my pleasure with this tight and fast moving discussion. Mr Morrison demonstrated his grasp of the principles of Australia's migration statistics and population imperatives, and I could hardly fault what he said on the matter, despite Ms Sales' best attempts to goad him, using, frankly, deliberately fallacious arguments (often a legitimate technique), into displaying red neck attitudes; he held his ground, and credit to him for so eloquently expressing the intelligent and utterly valid point, in his words:
"...my argument is and the Coalition's argument is natural increase is where you start and the migration program is there to supplement.

"It's (migration) not the starting point, it is there in addition to. Now, natural increase we've always encouraged.

"As a result of good strong natural increase, we will be less reliant on a migration program to fulfil our population growth targets.

He made the incontrovertible point also that temporary stayers consume resources and use our infrastructure, and thus need to be factored into the management equation; this is in order to sensibly match Australia's real time carrying capacity to the population load.

Ms Sales was rightfully playful and knowing when she tried, valiantly yet unsuccessfully, to get Mr Morrison to personally comment on Malcolm Turnbull's decision to not stand for re-election this year. Overly strong tact won the day as it usually does in politics when pollies of the same flavour are invited to comment upon each other. Ms Sales' remark, regarding the ideal candidate to stand in Mr Turnbull's stead for the seat of Wentworth come election time, was inspired: "So you might need somebody economically conservative, yet socially liberal - a bit like Malcolm Turnbull."

I am grateful to Ms Sales and Mr Morrison for this intelligent discussion, even if the Labor side would be uncomfortable with some of it. Tonight demonstrated that getting the highly accessible Mr Morrison on his own, rather than putting him into a combative role against his colleagues on the other side of the Parliament, brings out a rare articulateness combined with nous from a politician.

A 3 a.m. walk in the dead still night listening to my favourite talking book was a tonic for me, and on my return Janny was up not being able to sleep well, so I googled up some recipes for her to give her ideas for Thursday when The Babies Ink&Peggletter will join us for din dins. Where would we be without the internet?

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