From Fremantle Where Sunflowers Grow!

After reading and listening to everyone sharing their favorite music tracks I wondered if it might be fun to share some of our favorite pictures –  images of anything or any scene,  whether at home or on holidays, or anywhere at all for that matter.   I’ve recently been struck by the sunflowers growing wild on our street verge as I leave the house for my morning walk with Tacker.

As I cross the street at the corner there are more of them growing up from the pavement.

They seem to be everywhere – on nature strips, alongside stone walls and fences  and in quite a few gardens too where some people are happy to leave them wherever they’ve sprung up.   Back home,  I grab the secateurs and cut some so that I can enjoy them indoors,  just as Van Gogh did so famously more than a century ago.    Sorry,  I haven’t got the right jug or background  to really recapture his mood!   And I don’t yet  know how to cut out the extraneous bits!    Still,  being very new to a digital camera and transferring these pictures to my computer I am beside myself with amazement at what I see before me!

Inevitably though a poem emerged.   So,  in my own small way,  I too have been inspired to create by sunflowers.

Was it just over a month ago

Fremantle for me was all aglow

With brave red poppies on the street?

Now everywhere I go I meet

Sunflowers, big leaved and tall,

Bold yellow against sky and wall.

From whence they came who can tell?

Untended and not watered well,

Under the glaring sun they stand,

Smiling, proclaiming,  “Ain’t life grand!”

For You

It’s Christmas and a time for love.  As promised, here is a thread where we can send our hearts to our loved ones through songs.  For them.

Here is one, for you.

Groundhog Day

Christmas Day might as well be Groundhog Day in my extended families, past and present.  For as long as I can remember, Christmas Day has been a ritual of watching greedy little kids open soon-to-be discarded presents, adults eating a drinking like a swarm of locusts, consuming all within its path, and sleeping off the feeding frenzy in the late afternoon.  Those who wake up early hit the bottle again, ‘because it’s Christmas’.

Sound familiar?

Maybe I’m getting old and grumpy but this year I’d just like to have the afternoon nap.

I’ll be taking a nap from posting for a week or so also.  I’ll have this thread open (as well as a music thread) where we can send all our Christmas cheers and divulge our Christmas activities, whatever they may be.

Perhaps on this thread we could divulge other thoughts as well, such as our thoughts of 2010; what stood out for us, our highlights or lowlights, what we could have done better if given the chance again, our wrap-up of the year, and even our aspirations or predictions for 2011.

I have a prediction that we should see a change in leadership, if not in 2011 then 2012, involving Mr Abbott.  Leaders of the opposition rarely survive a full term and I can’t see how Mr Abbott could do so either.  And how long will we have to wait until his first gaffe?

Personally, 2010 has been a year of many peaks and troughs (which are irrelevant at this point) but would make juicy gossip over the coming days.  Poke me if you must.

BTW, merry Christmas everyone.

It’s Christmas time at the Café – time for fun & good cheer

It’s been one heckuva year at the Café…our first, most definitely not the last. Our posters & contributors have offered up plenty of opinion & ideas to chew over…and more than a few blunt comments that got me chuckling. Blogs can see some hairy debate & discussion…and are all the better for it.

But every once in awhile we need those times where we can turn the brain cells’ sparking mode down to “less intense“…let the neck & shoulder muscles relax…grab a special drink and have some high-spirited fun & enjoyment with our fellow contributors.

This is one of those times. And let’s not forget, choice of Christmas/Xmas music is all about “different strokes for different folks”. I intend to play & enjoy each & every one of yer picks.

This offering should motivate the eggnog making & brandy pouring (well, at least knockin’ the top off a festive beer):

John Prine – Silver Bells

Let the merriment begin…and have a safe as can be…two thumbs up holiday season.

N’

Seriously, WTF!

Too many of Australia’s political reporters fail the nation, according to an unknown journalist at The Australian.  He/she is indeed right.  They fail miserably, and he/she should know; our observant little friend works for the biggest culprit of them all.  However, the article starts off well:

After a testing year in national affairs, many voters feel detached from a political class that is failing to address the real challenges that threaten Australia’s prosperity. The Weekend Australian shares their disappointment at the inadequate performance of politicians of all stripes, but we believe it is time to turn the searchlight on our own profession and ask whether the media is doing its job of objectively reporting politics. The answer, sadly, must be no. Indeed there is a crisis in political journalism that mirrors the crisis in the political class.

At this point it is easy to assume that journalists at The Australian have been lining up at the confession box.  But the opening sentences of the following paragraph provide the first jaw-dropping WTFs that litter the remainder of the article.

The failure of many highly paid and prominent journalists to question the dysfunctional administration of Kevin Rudd was a serious concern. Such failure is bad for public debate, bad for the nation and particularly bad for Labor. It is not just a question of press gallery journalists leaning to the Left. That guilty little secret has been known for decades: Labor has been happy to exploit this bias, the Coalition has learned to live with it.

It gets worse:

 There is a deeper malaise . . . born of the tendency for journalists to come increasingly from a tertiary-educated elite with a “disdain for the vulgarity, ignorance and prejudices of working families and their suburbs”. This mind-set dominates the ABC and Fairfax press, generating a false narrative of politics.

Again, WTF!  Has this journalist tried listening to the ABC over the past 18 months?  Please read on.

The Weekend Australian, too, must always seek to improve its coverage. While we have led the debate in many areas, we recognise there is more we could have done. Yet the promise made to readers in our first edition, on July 15, 1964, that we would be tied to no party, provides a solid framework for our reporting. We have well-developed ideas about what Australia needs and it is against that vision that we assess policies and tactics. This contrasts with most of the gallery, which is obsessed with whether Labor or the Coalition has won the daily battle of tactics rather than asking whether the government has an overall strategy. This is like settling for the “hit and giggle” of Twenty20 over Test cricket. It is made worse by the unequal contest between often-inexperienced reporters and a slick government PR machine.

Labor may feel that this lack of scrutiny makes governing a doddle but it reinforces bad habits, lazy policy and government by press release. Wayne Swan’s vacuous banking package shows how good public policy can be lost when a government is made complacent by journalists out of touch with voters. The gallery’s values are a poor indication of where the centre ground lies. Its dominant mind-set drives an agenda, notably on climate change and asylum-seekers, that is different from the views of middle Australia.

Could they ever think they could print such an article and expect its readership to nod their collective heads in agreement?  The most biased, morally corrupt Murdochracy in the country stands on the pedestal shouting they are the only journal in the country that has not only got it right, but is in touch with the aspirations of every Australian.  Yes, their collective readership does not its head in agreement, but those people are no better than the journalistic scum that this paper employ.

Christopher Joye, in his Aussie Macro Moments blog challenges The Australian’s mindset in his wonderful blog, The Australian’s war on everything.  From the outset Christopher goes on the attack:

Yes, The Australian seems intent on imitating a non-comedic version of The Chaser, with its ‘war on everything’. This weekend it returns to its war on the Press Gallery. A few quick observations.

First, The Australian appears to spend more time defending its own actions in pushing specific agendas and ideological narratives than any other serious media forum on earth (and I don’t include the Global Times in the serious media camp!). This is revealing. It betrays a sense of insecurity. The Australian is clearly not comfortable in its own skin if it has to dedicate so many column inches to rationalising its own decisions. One might ask why…

Second, The Australian’s crusade today is littered with logical inconsistencies. The editorial runs a familiar line, criticising both the Government and the Press Gallery for being out of touch with popular mainstream views on climate change and asylum-seekers. Yet in literally the same breath, The Australian assaults the Government (and the Press Gallery) for its ‘vacuous’ reaction to extraordinarily strong public views on the equity of our banking system. Sorry, but I am confused. You punish the government for listening to the vast majority of consumers on the question of fairness in a taxpayer-backed banking system, but concurrently punish them for ignoring a far less clear majority (minority?) on global warming and asylum-seekers. These are terribly weak intellectual foundations on which to base criticisms of others, and on which to justify your own behaviour.

It’s a good read with much wit.

But seriously, WTF are the people at The Australian thinking?

Flickrit: The King’s Speech

Film Review: The King’s Speech

David Seidler’s screenplay of The King’s Speech follows the conventional wisdom of the unlikely, unwilling king-in-waiting and stutterer who finds his voice during the crisis of war. The key speech and climax is Bertie’s (King George VI) first radio broadcast following the war declaration in 1939.

…The young Elizabeth of the movie has lived to see her sister and children divorced, her ‘uncle’ assassinated by the IRA, the death of her ex-daughter-in-law Diana with the royal controversy that followed, and her son and heir’s marriage to a divorcée . The constitutional crisis surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII seems small beer with hindsight. Marry a divorced woman. Never!

…Director Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech is a very effective weaving of the personal and the political. Expect some Oscars from this period piece.

More

Open forum: is there a solution?

Usually the Friday thread develops into a discussion on the most newsworthy topics of the day, so today I thought I might nominate a popular topic straight up.  It’s fair to say that ‘boat people’ dominate the current news (as they have on and off since John Howard popularised the topic in 2001).  We can talk about them, but I would encourage we look beyond the media hype and the political games that are blazoned across every tabloid and electronic news media in the country.

Please cast your political loyalties aside.  It is evident that Labor or the Coalition cannot come up with a workable policy that will stop boat people from coming to Australia.  I have no issue with people wanting to flee to our country, but I do have issues with these people being used as political tools and I certainly don’t want to see these people die in their endeavours to reach our shores.  I am particularly sickened by the extreme right wing media who have tried to gain political mileage for their chosen ones out of the recent deaths on Christmas Island.  In my opinion it demonstrates the the worst of the Australian character.

But I digress.

Perhaps we can come up with a solution.  I have one, however I’m no legal ninja so I don’t quite know if it would ever be employable, but it is simple.

Why not process these refugees in Indonesia?  The $10,000 each that Neil says the refugees pay to people smugglers would be better spent in our country than given to the ruthless profiteers.  This would also put a gag on the shrill cries of the media that these people are queue jumpers, which always incites hatred (as well as incite the opposition).

Another option is to introduce some law that criminalises the people smugglers and one that carries a harsh, deterring penalty, such as a lengthy jail term.  The law as it stands, to the best of my knowledge, imposes no penalty on the people smugglers.  (Please correct me if I’m wrong).  But surely it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a law that – for example – criminalises the entry into Australian waters of vessels found to be unseaworthy.  Or for risking the lives of people in Australian waters.

We throw the book at those caught illegally fishing in our waters, but silly me; I place the lives of those poor souls who died on Christmas Island above that of a Patagonian Tooth Fish.

Do you have a solution?

Come Monday

Last Monday’s post, SPINsiders was based on the best blog I found while travelling around the sites listed at Australian Blog Sites (ABSites).  It turned out to be a very popular post so I thought I’d also base today’s post on this week’s best blogs found at ABSites.  And what an extremely tough task it was to find this week’s top pick.  As you could imagine, most blogs talked about Wikileaks and the best of these can be found at Bartlett’s Blog, eGov AU and The Conscience Vote, as well as Nasking’s excellent blog here at the Café.  I particularly liked the discussion at eGov AU around the likely policy implications of this episode.  Blog master Craig Thomler writes:

It is my view that we’re past the point where government agencies and politicians have the luxury to choose where and how they form their policy. They can no longer fall back on government-controlled due process.

The crowd is now in command. Australians have many ways to make their views known, and are doing so on the matters of most concern to them.

Government agencies ignore active discussions at their own and at their ministers’ peril. If they don’t consider the views being expressed through social media channels – even when they are not being expressed through a government social media channel – there is the potential for them to damage their own credibility and reputation and even to call the APS and Government into disrepute.

The most recent example has been the Australian Government’s approach to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Regardless of whether people support the actions of Wikileaks, there’s been enormous public support for Australia to treat him ‘fairly’, providing appropriate consular support for him whilst under arrest in the UK.

For those wishing to indulge themselves in something different than Wikileaks I highly recommend The Piping Shrike article, Ozileaks which puts some reality towards the accusations made against Mark Arbib over the last couple of weeks.  The blog article begins with:

Surely the important revelation about Arbib is not that he is a spy for the Americans, but that he is a clairvoyant. How else could he possibly have known nine months before, that Rudd’s popularity would collapse to an election-losing level and force a reluctant Gillard to take the leadership? Magic! Clearly though, the crystal ball must have gone dark when it came to the disastrous election that followed and the malaise that the government now finds itself in.

It seems, though, that Arbib was not the only one to have a crystal ball. Dennis saw it coming as well. Shanahan has used the leak to have a go at Barrie Cassidy.  Cassidy has been a sucker for the Labor faction bosses myth that the June coup was a last minute thought. Shanahan derides “self serving” analysts who claim that Rudd’s problems only happened in the last few months by pointing out that it was back in October when the rot set in during the Oceanic Viking fiasco. From then the public became disenchanted with the Rudd government, with Labor’s 2PP lead falling from 18% in October to 6% in February.

You can read the full article at The Piping Shrike via the link provided above.

What have you been listenin’ to?

The Aussie Music Thread is racin’ along…and so it should, plenty of great bands & artists in this country.

Thought it time to put up another general music thread too.

As the cafe moves into a more relaxed mode with the Christmas holidays on the horizon, we’re interested in what you’ve been listenin’ to of late.

Could range from chamber music to blues. Maybe hiphop or folk/Neo-folk…jungle, soul…industrial, country, jazz/fusion jazz/latin jazz…gong-chime…Irish Rebel…Merseybeat…medieval…ska, mariachi, swamp rock…thrash metal…gospel…new weird America…slo-core…pop mop (Mongolian pop music)…ragtime, opera…music that reflects yer cultural heritage…or  just hits the right place.

Plenty of different styles & genres that make for an interestin’ world.

I’ve really been diggin’ this band of late (the vid will take ya back):

Over to you…enjoy yerselves. You deserve it…it’s been one heckuva year

N’

By nasking Posted in Music