Monday, May 26, 2008

The Talk


Hey blog,

So yeah, been a while, hasn't it? You're looking - well. Don't say that, you don't look exactly the same as a month ago at all! You're ... taller, I'm sure.

Oh, the lily? I just remembered you like them ... I know they're my favourite, but you like them too, don't you? Really? You never told me that when we were ... fine.

Look, I know this is awkward. We haven't really communicated for so long, and even when we were it just wasn't like old days.

Remember that song by Carole King, It's Too Late? 'And it's too late, baby, now, it's too late - though we really did try to make it. Something inside has died, and I can't hide, and I just can't fake it?' That's kinda been playing in my head a lot lately. I don't know what's changed between us or why, I just know something has.

The thing is, it's not that I don't want to keep posting to you, blog. I do. I still have thoughts and opinions on what's going on in the world and you know you're always the first friend I tell them to. Stimulus, response, blog post. Stimulus, reponse, blog post. You understand me so well.

I don't know why we've lost touch. It really isn't you, it's me. There was a time when I would've raced to you first to share exciting news and developments as they filter into my consciousness. I could tell you all about my Europe trip, or Dima, the new boy I have a big crush on, or how Mel and Kochie's knock-off of 4 Minutes has got me seriously questioning why I actually bothered to return to Australia if this is what was waiting, all that stuff. But ... I dunno. I just don't feel that buzz anymore, y'know?

I know I've probably taken you for granted too long blog - and I don't like to think of my future without you in it in some capacity. I just think it's better if we stay friends for now. And you know, the best thing about quality friendships is you can let the channels of communication slide for days, months, even years - but that moment you finally get around to catching up, it feels like only yesterday that you were hanging out together. Quality time over quantity time and all that.

Please don't take it personally - I promise you we're not the only couple going through this. It happens to the best of bloggers/blogs. There's Dave & House - I think they're pretty much over now, and you know how tight they were once. Sam's pretty much dumped Culture for Junior (I don't see myself doing that with you though - I'm a one-blog guy). And the munkey and non-turtle have gone pretty quiet too. On the plus side, Ms C's back, and I know you've missed her, haven't you? Yeah, me too.

I just don't feel I can keep up anymore. It's like you want me to be a Jeremy or Jacob and just keep bashing them out to you, but you know deep down I've never really been that disciplined.

Oh, don't bring Facebook into this, this has nothing to do with him. Our relationship was cooling long before I met Face. I'm not dumping you for Face, we're just good friends, OK?

Look, I don't want to break up with you altogether, blog. I just need some space. I really hope you'll allow me to come visit sometimes as I know I'll get lonely and want your company. If that's too much like one-sided dependency for your liking, I understand and respect that.

See you soon blog, I hope. Miss you.

QP xx

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Summarily summarising the Summit

Amusing: ABC2's live ongoing coverage of the 2020 Summit, interspersed with 'expert commentary', as though it were the Olympics ('well we might leave governance there for the moment and cross to the arts now, where local hope Claudia Karvan is in with a real chance of winning the gold ... en opportunity to speak about acting in schools' etc).

Tragical: That I actually watched ABC2's coverage to know this was the case.

Thoughts: The gist of the Summit as I saw it was, 'blah blah blah, lots of ideas from diverse range of people, blah blah blah, condense into one or two key messages to report back to wider gathering of delegates, blah blah blah aren't we wonderful and isn't Hugh Jackman just delightful with his roaming mike and witty impros, blah blah blah'.

So here are my three takeaways:

1. Pad see ew with steamed rice K-Rudd's a bit damned either way. The critics were already lining up to label the Summit a useless lefty gabfest before the first gabber had even opened their gab. It strikes me when I think about it for a bit that of course conservatives would be opposed to a brainstorming of ideas for the future, since by definition they're mostly about preserving the status quo - living in the present but desperately wishing they could reconstruct and live in the past. It's almost like the future is anathema to them.

Having said that, I did hear a truckload of wank emanating from the many lefty-oriented folk speaking that the Summit. Buzzwords and tokenism abounded and the initial report does somewhat conjur up Monty Python's solution to the Meaning of Life:

M-hmm. Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

And, finally, here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which, it seems, is the only way, these days, to get the jaded, video-sated public off their fucking arses and back in the sodding cinema. Family entertainment? Bollocks. What they want is filth: people doing things to each other with chainsaws during tupperware parties, babysitters being stabbed with knitting needles by gay presidential candidates, vigilante groups strangling chickens, armed bands of theatre critics exterminating mutant goats. Where's the fun in pictures? Oh, well, there we are. Here's the theme music. Goodnight.

(The second paragraph is not really relevant - I've just always found it piss funny.)

All very nice and cuddly, just not sure how this will translate into reality. Then again, I think that's the problem inherent within such a forum - it's meant to be lofty, dreamy ideas, not pragmatic, short-term funded solutions, bouncing off each other. Maybe we should give the Rudd government a few months to see how it actually translates all this feedback into proposed legislation and policy. We may yet be pleasantly surprised. Or not.

And it is nice to see a PM making at least a pretence of long-term vision for the nation instead of focusing solely on personal short-term survival. After a decade of Howard and a couple of years of Iemma, this is ... distinctive, to say the least.

2. Becoming a republic, abolishing the third level of government (most likely the middle one, goodbye states) and enshrining a bill of rights are all admirable goals, and will probably all eventually happen, even in Australia. I'm just not sure the impetus for all these reforms will arise from a talkfest. If anything, it kinda gives neocons further ammo with which to argue that such concerns are the terrain of the Deadly Elite ('only Rudd-loving lefty summit gabbers support elitist ideas like a bill of rights' etc).

Such reforms must germinate at the grass-roots level, and then be adopted and driven by both a federal government and PM showing true leadership and enthusiasm, ideally with bipartisan support. Convincing Victorians that in a two-tier federation, they'll be for all intents and purposes Tasmanian, will be no easy task - or indeed, convincing all non-Queenslanders that they'll be Queenslanders (shudder). Doing away with a monarchical constitution that has generally served the country well for over a hundred years won't happen just because a bunch of luvvies say at a summit that it's a nice thing to do. All these reforms will require overwhelming 'yes' votes at referenda to have any mandate. I'm not sure the Summit much assisted this long-term goal.

3. Look, I love Cate Blanchett, I do. I mean, what's not to love? She's gorgeous, articulate, insanely talented and essentially personifies Sydney on the international stage in a classy, glamorous and highly marketable manner.

But FFS Australian media, when it comes to Cate Blanchett do you reckon you could just get your hand off it for five minutes?! The Summit and media coverage thereof focused WAY too much on La Blanchett and her recently expunged spawn, to the point where the sulky critics whinging that it was too much of a Rudd/A-list love-in have some cred.

I know she was one of its head-honchos, and an attractive face of the thing to present, but I'm pretty sure you couldn't trawl through all the 2008 issues of every major Oz newspaper without finding one report somewhere on what Cate's up to. The Smuh's Stay In Touch column could easily be re-tuned to 'Stay In Cate'. She's lovely. WE GET IT.


That's probably about it for a while, kidlets. Heading to Euro on Thursday and not sure I'll have the time and/or enthusiasm to blog on it as comprehensively as i did in '05. Fark, has it really been nearly 3 years already? Who'd've thunk.

Anyways, there'll be Facebook shots, no doubt. Toodles.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Happy snap

Unfortunately, I was one of the three Sydney residents who weren't invited to Clarkey and Bingey's engagement bash at Luna Park.

Thankfully however, an insider emailed me this rather sweet image of Lara's family assembling on the lawn just by the harbour shore:


The tall grey one is Nanna Bingle. She's quite a character, as you can see.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

In which QP brings his inner stone-hearted bastard

Did anybody else catch Four Corners last night? If not, the feature story, 'Debtland', was on the out-of-control household debt crisis - the greedy lenders who dole out loans to, among others, barely-arrived Sudanese migrants who can scarcely speak English, and the Poor Ozzie BattlersTM getting foreclosed on left, right and centre. In many ways, it was Aunty's glossier, classier take on a Today Tonight/ACA standard (with a much more comprehensive analysis of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis).

Did I sympathise with certain subjects, such as the family above or the disabled pensioner who was somehow granted a $200,000 loan based on her walfare cheque and tiny part-time wage alone, who is now (d'uh) in penury? Of course. But did I sympathise with Dianne, teary with child in arm as her Kellyville McMansion was repossessed and passed in at almost half of what they originally paid for it? Hell no.

Dianne's explanation for why she allowed herself to take out not one, but two mortgages, at 10% and 20% respectively? 'Because they kept giving them to us.'


Sorry, but the heart gets stony around those who choose to mortgage themselves up to their eyeballs, way beyond their means, then whinge when - gasp - they discover repayments are unsustainable. It is their choice to opt for a Kellyville palatial nightmare - and of course, the full Buy Now, Pay Later Freedom/Harvey Norman furnishings that must necessarily accompany - instead of finding a long-term financially sustainable alternative. If they're too stupid not to sit down beforehand and do some elementary budgeting - if they're so uselessly passive they cannot say no to a cheery lender throwing lots of money at them, believing there's no catch - they deserve whatever they get.

I say this as someone who managed to get himself into around 10k of CC debt, so I'm hardly Captain Sensible Budgeter myself. But even I could recognise at that point the best option was to deny myself any further credit cards or limit increases on the existing ones. It's a debt into which I shouldn't have fallen so deeply but at least I'm not allowing it to get any worse.

I also say this as someone who recently entered the Sydney rental bear pit and knows the plight of the renter is every bit as treacherous as the buyer's. My partner and I were forced to leave a lovely place we'd occupied for nearly two years, and whose rental value in that time alone increased by about 35%. With a Dianne mentality, we could've chosen to commit ourselves to paying a few extra hundred dollars a month so we could stay in the apartment block of the neighbourhood to which we had become accustomed. Instead, we found a place within our current, feasible level of rent payment - and bang went the good neighbourhood and harbour views, hello major traffic noise and a couple of extra kilometres for daily commuting.

Not that the place we found is bad - it's just not exactly what we wanted or as good as what we've been used to and able to afford in the past. That's the point - at some periods in some markets you can't just expect to have everything you want. If you can't afford the Kellyville Mansion boulevards, opt instead for the significantly cheaper suburbs literally on the other side of the main road. That way you don't get repossessed, and the rest of us don't have to suffer the inevitably increased interest rates to curb your profligate spending. Everybody wins.

It's not that the story didn't raise valid points about the avarice of major banks and credit lenders. It seems to me a simple reform the Rudd government could undertake to address this poisonous baiting is to compel all lenders to specify in monthly/quarterly statements not just the amount a borrower must pay to cover the interest, but how much they must pay to complete the amount within the interest-free period. Of course it's not in the lenders' interests to do this so let's legally enforce them to instead.

But living beyond your means is a lifestyle choice, and a poor one at that. If you're genuinely too dim not to realise that nice shiny houses, furniture, cars etc don't just magically appear without some significant pain later down the track in the absence of some basic forward planning, you have absolutely no right to seek sympathy once the pain invariably kicks in. Take some personal responsibility, peeps.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008


Henry VIII in Reality World:


Henry VIII in Postmodern World:



And they say* postmodernism is evil. Stupid they.

(*They being ... well ... Miranda Devine.)

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


So in Hollywoodworldland, they'd have us believe boys who look like




would spend their time beating up on each other.

Oh don't get me wrong - I have no doubt that in Real World Land there'd be plenty of sweating, pounding, possibly cuts and bruising and near-nakedness involved between the two. However...

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Friday, March 14, 2008


My column this week was on Oklahoma Rep Sally Kern, a Grand Old Party basher straight out of the fire 'n' brimstone cauldron. She was caught out delivering a speech on the evils of homosexuality to what she assumed was a small, captive audience, but which instead got picked up and earned a star in the YouTube universe. You can read more about her speech here (including the speech itself, if you can stomach it), but choice cuts include:

The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation...

Studies show, that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it's the death knell of this country.

They're going after our young children, as young as two years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is the acceptable lifestyle.

I honestly think it's the biggest threat even, that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat.

Pretty charming stuff, to be sure. The reason I've highlighted the last quote is because it is this particularly deranged raving which has inspired this remarkable rebuttal from an 18yo - straight - Oklahoman man whose mother died in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. I almost got a little teary reading this, and as people who know me will tell you, I'm not a teary sort of person - unless ET and/or Mahler are involved.

Tucker's letter demands a reading in its entirety, but here are some of the more powerful, gut-wrenching insights from this young man:

On April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City, a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. Nineteen children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

That terrorist was neither a homosexual nor was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.

As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worse than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you...

As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong. You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?...

The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.

Quite astonishing. Something tells me, however, that even Tucker can't teach Sally Kern the error of her ways. I think she's just a *tad* too far gone. You know, from reality.

(For a lighter pwning of Kern, check out Ellen as well.)

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