Monday, July 31, 2006

Of junks, history and big bucks

Wow. This looks interesting: ABC TV's Four Corners episode tonight will examine the publishing phenomenon, 1421, a book purporting to reveal the histroical facts of a massive Chinese armada led by Admiral Zheng He that supposedly "circumnavigated the world , discovering Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, and Antarctica".

This is from the blurb on the Four Corners website:
"So was '1421' an eccentric and fluky publishing success? Well no. 'Junk History' tells how Menzies, his agent, his PR company and publisher set out to milk a public thirsty for revisionist history. Menzies hired professional spin-doctors to create hype about a half formed idea. Transworld, which also publishes Dan Brown’s 'Da Vinci Code', paid Menzies, an untested first time writer, a half million pound advance. The book was finished by a team of editors and a ghost writer. Revisionism is big business."
The book sold a million copies. I haven't read it, so I wonder if I'll bother to after tonight. Four Corners is on at 8.30 pm (Mondays), on ABC TV.


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Saturday, July 29, 2006

A feast for readers and writers

The programme for the 2OO6 Melbourne Writers Festival is now out with this morning's Age newspaper. It will run from 25 August to 3 September. The programme is also online here.

At first glance, these are the stand-outs: Tim Flannery (The Weather Makers) will give the keynote address on global warming, Helen Caldicot on nuclear weapons, Dava Sobel (Longitude etc) on the stories behind science, and music and musicians at the Festival!

I really hope to attend as much of the Festival as I can, and post live reports here where possible! Stay tuned.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Seeing what we're talking about

Ranger Uranium Mine
HHSchueller has kindly allowed me to post his photographs of Ranger Uranium Mine here (thanks!).

It makes and excellent follow up to my post on Beazley's backflip on uranium mining in Australia.

I think it is very revealing to see what it is we are talking about. Yes, it is a bloody big hole in the ground!
Ranger Uranium Mine
It's more revealing when I consider how some people discuss mining activities – this small exchange on two peas, no pod is very revealing – with very little sense of how real, immense and damaging they are. Especially when we pull something as toxic and radioative as uranium.

Paul's (of two peas no pod) full post on the G8 summit and energy is worth reading too.

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Some days I feel like this

This website has some amazing images of statues from across the world – especially some pretty whacky and out-there ones.

The one above is my favourite.

There are some of the usual suspects from Melbourne, but comparing them with the other statues, I'd say that the state of public art in Melbourne is pretty poor comparatively.

[Link via BoingBoing]

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Shocking language

As a wordsmith for hire, I agree that it's about the words you use. But two days for the UN Security Council to haggle out its statement over Israel's killing of Peacekepers in Lebanon? That's extreme. They couldn't agree if it were a condemnation or just a concern. They finally settled for the watered-down "deeply shocked an distressed" at Israel's missile hitting the UN observation post.

At least it has a nice resonance with Bush's 'shock and awe' in Iraq. Not much consolation for families of the killed UN soldiers, though. Neither is this post.

The ABC has the story here.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cotton – pulling the threads together (Part I)

It's official: cotton is one of the thirstiest crops in Australia – and that is something we can ill afford in drought stricken Australia.

The latest ABS statistics on water use by Australian farmers found that while farmers of other crops had reduced their water use in 2004–2005, that same year cotton farmers had increased their water irrigation use by 570 gigalitres from the previous year.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, "both the area irrigated and volume used [for cotton] increased by 46% on the previous year."

While rice farming remains the most water-intensive crop on average, rice farmers managed to cut their irrigation use, while cotton irrigation increased.

Why my preoccupation with cotton? I love cotton: I like wearing clothes made of cotton, preferring them over synthetic textiles most of the time. But, I'm bothered by the way cotton is grown, where it is processed and the cheap clothes manufactured with it. A shopping expedition these days reveals it is hard to find decent, good quality cotton clothing, or that isn't made by underpaid, highly repressed labour in China.

More significantly, I hate that cotton is the biggest genetically modified crop in Australia, making a lie out of some Australian states' claim to being free of GM-crops. And GM cotton allows a genetically modified food crop to enter our food-chain through a back door: GM cottonseed.

It is hard to imagine cotton as a food crop, but the seed is fed to cattle to supplement their diet. Meanwhile, when so much attention went to GM soy and canola in the debates of recent years, our fast-food outlets, supermarkets and other food processors had long been selling food cooked in GM cottonseed oil!

Not only is this highly industrialised, extremely thirsty, GM crop grown in Australia, it is grown in states – drought stricken New South Wales and Queensland – that I believe can ill-afford the water use. Queensland is in crisis, as its South-east has now reached Level 3 water restrictions, and the citizens of Toowoomba Shire are voting on whether to allow treated sewerage water to be pumped into their damns for domestic use.

In the next part of what will be a series on cotton, I will look at its history in economic and political terms, and start to think about organic cotton. If you have ideas on this or future parts, I welcome feedback.

[Image of by Tatum Shaw]

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Digging into nuclear power's myths

Helen Caldicott, a veteran anti-nuclear campaigner, has dug deeper into the myths of nuclear power's benefits for a New Matilda article.
Thousands of tons of solid radioactive waste are presently accumulating in the cooling pools beside the operating nuclear plants in the United States and hundreds of others elsewhere throughout the world. This waste contains extremely toxic elements that will inevitably pollute the environment and human food chains, a legacy that will lead to epidemics of cancer, leukemia, and genetic disease in populations living near nuclear power plants or radioactive waste facilities for many generations to come.
It is worth noting that Caldicott has many years experience and expertise in nuclear issues, with extensive links and understanding of the issue in the US and here in Australia.
Wall Street is deeply reluctant to re-involve itself in any nuclear investment, despite the … US$13 billion in [US Congress] subsidies to revive a moribund nuclear power industry.
… the global supplies of usable uranium fuel are finite. If the entire world’s electricity production were replaced today by nuclear energy, there would be less than nine more years of accessible uranium available.
It makes fascinating reading to see an old pro like her make a meal of nuclear myths and the pro-nukes lobby. It is particularly revealing considering the Australian miners' current fantasy to roll-around in silos of uranium money. And the determination of by world leaders at the G8 summit to increase their nuclear power capacities to tackly fossil fuel shortages and rising oil prices.

[Image from a photo by Sprol of the
imploding cooling tower during the decommissioning of the Trojan nuclear power plant in US]

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Leave it in the ground

nuclear winter badge
I guess it wasn't long in coming: Opposition leader Kim Beazley has announced he wants to overturn the ALP's three mines policy – which limits uranium mining to the three existing mines – and allow a uranium mining free-for-all.

ABC Radio National this morning took the line that he is positioning himself in relation to PM Howard's uranium/nuclear inquiry and push to expand Australia's nuclear industry. There is some possibility to that, but I wonder how much it has to do with Beazely being a WA man – home to huge chunks of Australia's mining industry and uranium interests (you can check figures on deposits on this uranium lobby website).

One thing's for sure: the ALP is in for a fight between its environmentalist types, such as its Shadow Environment spokesperson Anthony Albanese, and those pushing the 'more uranium mining is economic sense' barrow.
Responding to arguments that uranium mining is too big an economic bonanza to ignore, anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott says:
"We're like heroin pushers - we say look the guy down the street is selling heroin, I've got to get in and sell mine first," she said. "You don't do immoral things to make money."
Greenpeace is also highly critical of Beazley's moves, and argues that despite his protestations that he will not support uranium enrichment or nuclear power, they say that is where he's ultimately heading. Greenpeace campaign manager Danny Kennedy says:
"Nuclear power is not a solution to climate change - it's not a good business to be in and certainly you can't divorce nuclear power from the nuclear weapons industry."
There more on the ABC website here. We should not be expanding uranium mining – for reasons I've already outlined. The news there has been a further radiation accident at the Beverley mine, however, strengthens my convictions against increasing mining. The Australian Conservation Foundation reports:
Late last week [around mid July ] around 100 workers were exposed to uranium contaminated drinking water at the site in northern South Australia. In a similar incident in 2004 workers and the wider community were exposed to uranium levels 400 times greater than the legal safety standard at ERA / Rio Tinto's Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu.

A detailed 2003 Senate Inquiry into uranium mining found "a pattern of underperformance and non-compliance" at mine sites and concluded that urgent changes were necessary in order to protect people and the environment from "serious or irreversible damage."
If we can't manage to keep uranium mining safe now, what makes us believe that we can make it safe tomorrow?

There are some stunning – in all
senses – images of Ranger Uranium mine on this flickr site that I would love to post here if I get permission.

The image above is a badge version of my anti-nuke agit-prop. You are welcome to use under the terms of my Creative Commons license.

[Update: ALP critics of Beazley's back-flip are getting louder; meanwhile, here come the Labor Premiers on the tail of this debate: Northern Territory Chief Minister Claire Martin declares her support for Beazley and increased Uranium mining, WA digs its heels in against new mines, while Queensland's Peter Beattie maintains his "I'm not convinced" of uranium's benefits" stance. I sincerely hope he stays that way, or is convinced that it is a very bad idea! Updated 25 July, 5:20 pm]


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Monday, July 24, 2006

Almond croissants

Do you have that 'thing' that you do or have with your kids that when you have it without them, you feel guilty about it or think you should save some for them when you see them. Those things that are special because its something you do regularly together, or it marks a special outing or treat you have together.

One of mine is where Jacob and I have almond croissants at Victoria Market after doing the shopping on Saturdays.

I'm having one now at work – without him. Should I save some, should I eat it all? Tastes good. But it's just not the same.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Life in a bag

When I wondered aloud whether the Feds' tardiness (and sloppiness, it turns out) in evacuating Lebanese-Australians from the war zone in Lebanon was motivated by a distrust of their being Arabic, their being non-Anglo, I certainly did not imagine anyone would openly suggest that these Australians stuck in Lebanon did not deserve Australian help in evacuation because they were not true Australians.

Apparently, right-wing culture-assassin Piers Ackerman dares do just that. He drags out that old "dual-citizenship holders aren't loyal - if you are really Australian, why live in Lebanon" crap.

Barista takes on that pretty scarry stuff very well. He also links to this amazing blogger in Lebanon, Mazen (Kerblog), who posts observations, lovely drawings and more as the siege continues. He has also posted 'Starry night', an mp3 of his trumpet improvisation to the sound of shelling in Beirut. It's excellent – and hair-raising. [Mp3 link]

In a post called 'My life in a bag', Mazen says:
each time i leave my flat, i take with me:
my passport and evan's one
a mini-disc recorder + microphone
2 t-shirts
2 underwear
2 pairs of socks
a notebook and pens
my trumpet
a book
a small camera
a lighter
a usb key
a toothbrush
4 batteries
I imagine that means if he were to return to a bombed out flat, or need to flee for safety while on the street, he will be prepared. My mind boggles. I can't imagine having to be so prepared each time I leave my home, not knowing what may happen when I walk out the door.

His son, evan, is 5 years old – the same as my eldest boy. It nearly breaks my heart to read this
evan is 5 years old and didn't live any war.
"we play karate?"
I know what he means, but I hope that I never have to know what he means.

[Update: I've fixed the main link to Mazen's blog, Kerblog. He also reports that he has helped set up a blog for another Lebanese artist/poet,
Laure Ghorayeb, who lived and created art through previous wars, and who is also his mum! Her work is amazing. Check out Witnessing (again). Updated 5 pm, Sunday 23 July.]

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It's still magic

It was Carlos Santana's birthday yesterday. He turns 59. Cool. I think he is one of the most distinctive and magical guitarists ever. Ciao, Carlos! Happy birthday!

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Tragedy demands of us grief. But when it is tragedy that affects people so far away, and where we have become so immune to the images of war and natural disaster on our televisions, it is often difficult to summon the courage and the mindfulness to grieve for people who are killed so tragically.

Antipopper’s post on panic in this matter allows me to reflect on how we tend to imagine that only people like ‘ourselves’ panic, worry or grieve for loved-ones caught in war zones. His analysis is compelling: not only as a critique of Anglo-Australia’s narcissism – that white people only imagine themselves to have concern for their loved-ones – but also as an insight into how each of us tends to only imagine ‘people like me/us’. Antipopper speaks of:
“a narcissism that implicitly precluded the possibility that when horrible things happen outside of the Anglophone world, say in the Middle East, people there might also undergo a similar panic, and be frantically trying to reach relatives and friends”
I remind myself that people are panicking for their loved-ones’ safety wherever there is danger, whoever or whatever they are: be they Lebanese/Arab, or Javanese/Indonesian.

People are hunting for their loved-ones in tidal-wave-hit Java: they may be one of the nearly 400 dead, the nearly 200 missing, or one of the 54,000 displaced and homeless.

Yet, Australia’s media broadcasters can only allow us a small slice of this pain. They bulk out our breakfast news serves of this horror with reports of how ‘people like us’ experience this tragedy. Hence, radio interviews with Australian expatriates in the area are
considered more articulate than those of Indonesian emergency relief workers. We don’t hear from the grieving parents who’ve found their child in the morgue. Our experience of this tragedy is mediated via white eyes, whose job is to make the pain ‘real’ for us.

The media can’t help but serve us a meal of how Australians have been caught up in war-torn Lebanon – thought I sense a disquiet about the fact that they are Arabs – mainly Australians of Lebanese descent – and in an Arab nation. What were they doing there? Why the Middle East? Why couldn’t they just holiday in Bali or Thailand like real Aussies do?

What hints at this is that their tragedy is played out in greater detail and panic, to convince us that they are real Australia’s whose panic and grief is real and deserving our sympathy.

Yet, I couldn’t help wonder: if they were white Australians holidaying in Thailand, Indonesia, Spain or Fiji when so
me tragedy or other violence struck, would the Howard government have mobilised evacuation plans much sooner?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the Australian media doesn’t report on these tragedies (though whether they do so sufficiently is another thing). However, the sometimes horrifically graphic depictions of Iraqi mothers wailing in grief over their children killed in US bombings, or sectarian violence, or images of horrified Lebanese seeking their family members, etc. are so frequently played out on our television sets that we become impervious to their grief. (On the issue of images of innocence and horror, I recommend Barista's take on this.)

But I find myself asking: how did we come to learn that the quietly raging grief of American mothers whose sons were killed in Iraq, and the images of army boots spread on a field to symbolise the killed servicemen, are somehow closer to ‘us’ as part of the Anglo-world – are somehow more meaningful and powerful – than the visceral, heart rending grief of Arab women?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Australian literature vs Australian publishing - what about the writing?

It's not supposed to, but it amazes me when so many blogs converge on the same topic, and almost take the same angles. There's been a flurry of blog interest over The Weekend Australian's stunt to show up Australian publishing.
The paper sent the third chapter from Patrick White's novel
Eye of the Storm to 12 publishing houses and literary agents (with the title changed, characters' names altered, under a false name that was an anagram of 'Patrick White') as a sample chapter for a manuscript to be published. 10 rejected the sample chapter – some rudely – and two hadn't been heard from after over two months.

I found out about it on the ABC's arts blog Articulate, then found
a piece by Tim Stern on one of my recent favourite group blogs on Australian culture, Sarsaparilla, while Sarsaparilla regular and author Kerryn Goldsworthy posted a piece on her blog, and it cropped up on Larvatus Prodeo, and Overland reviews editor Jeff Sparrow wrote on it for a lefty group blog Leftwrites. That's five blogs, and only the tip of the iceberg, I imagine!

What's common amongst these blog writers is their conclusion that the publishers' and agents' rejection decisions were overwhelmingly commercial – they couldn't sell such a manuscript today. For instance, Kerryn Goldsworthy decries:
"the unambiguously, unashamedly and exclusively commercial agenda behind some of the rejections."
Whilst most noticed that commercial interest was a major motivation behind this – and most other – publishing decisions in Australia, their responses to this reality differed. They ranged from the 'what do you expect, publishing is a business' to the 'how terrible, this is why Australian literature is in the doldrums' type responses. Jeff Sparrow notes:
"Publishers are not guardians of literary quality. They are businesses – and, in that sense, the White hoax shows what happens if you reduce culture to market forces."
Notwithstanding discussions of changing tastes and styles in literature over 40-odd years, and whether established authors will get their books published despite the condition of their manuscript (JK Rowling's later work in her Harry Potter enterprise is a good case in point), there was also close attention on how some publishing figures rejected the manuscript because they thought it poorly written or needed signficant development.

The 'author' was urged to develop their writing skills. One even suggested the 'author' join a writers' centre to get help with polishing their manuscript before sending it off for publishing. This is about publishers out-sourcing their editorial development, but not paying for it: authors are expected to work with their colleagues or pay their own editors to get their manuscripts to publishable level.

While this reflects the cost-shifting, cost-cutting, commercial nature of multinational and independent publishing in Australia, it is easily forgotten in our responses to current publishing. They will no longer pay for editors to work with authors to get a book idea or manuscript to the publication stage. Unless they are publishing a celebrity of course – where they provide a ghost-writer/editor, but what the publisher is selling here is the name, not the book.

So, the thing I'm learning is, if I were a half-literate Australian cricketer, I would get a book published, but if I were someone who had been working on a novel or work of literary non-fiction for over a year, then I should join a writers' centre and don't call a publisher till I were famous. Or dead. (Oh, hang on. Patrick White is dead. Scratch that.)

No wonder so many authors are now writing for blogs.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Photographer urges no-photo day

BBC NEWS reports that a photographer from Brighton, Southern England, has called for a non-photography day – today – 17 July. Under the catchcry of 'Celebrate the Moment, Don't Document it,' Becca Bland is urging everyone to not take photographs today. She says:
'put your camera down and appreciate the moment you are in'.
'Experience life in an unmediated fashion, without anything in front of your eyes. Live in the moment.'
Bland has a website set up to support her call. Can you resist the click? Ironically, I found out about this on the Flickr blog. Will the flickrati resist the click? Will this catch on the way 'Buy Nothing Day' has? Don't know. Stay tuned for the 'photo set' tomorrow...

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Not too early to grieve for our media

Following up from my post last Thursday, I strongly recommend Barista's excellent analysis of the new media laws the Howard cabinet approved last week. Read it and weep.
We can see the dreary future. Our media outlets can become profitable branch offices of transnational corporations, and the power, excitement and creativity goes somewhere else. …
A piece of the social brain could be lobotomised.


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The rodent makes preferred PM

rodentAccording to the latest poll (who actually answers these things? Do you know anyone who was ever polled?), Voters believe Costello but prefer Howard as PM.

In other words Australians admit, 'we know Howard's a liar, but we prefer him as the better Prime Minister'. Who is being self-serving here?


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Thursday, July 13, 2006

I can't help wonder

I know the tragedy is horrific, and the pain real, but I can't help but wonder if anyone has asked whether the terrorist bombings on Mumbai's commuter trains were in any way related or connected to India's testing of a nuclear capable ballistic missile. Has anyone asked that aloud?

And, is the Howard government's resolve to change cross-media ownership laws surely the thin end of the wedge that will condemn our already over-concentrated media to blandness, crass cross-promotion and self-serving commercialism? Is this bye-bye to decent journalism and creative, original content?


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Happy Birthday Shelley

Yesterday was my beloved partner's birthday. We had a really nice day. Happy birthday Shelley! I love you.


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Stock-up on floaties and learn to swim

If you didn't already know, scientists are saying the Antarctic ice shelf is melting at a rate faster than expected as the earth warms – in the next few centuries, ice sheets in western Antarctica will be most vulnerable, causing sea-levels to rise six to sevens meters!

Yes, this is caused by global warming. No arguments.
"The cause is the burning of fossil fuels, we need to find alternative energies, we need to lower our footprint," [New Zealand Antarctic Research Centre's Professor Peter Barrett] said.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Make the pain less

Genevieve of You Cried for Night has posted this link to some excellent tips for web-writers. As a writer and editor, I learned these tips (or are they rules?) for web writing a little while ago, but it's always worth being reminded of them, and why they're important. Especially when so well put:
"the main point is simple: reading from a screen is a pain, and writers and editors should do everything they can to make the pain less. This involves using shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs, providing ample left and right margins and off-white plain backgrounds (never patterned backgrounds, please!), dark type, clear page navigation systems, easy-to-grasp contents pages, and so forth."
That is from the editorial style guide at Jacket, a free literary magazine. Its style guide includes lots of other excellent guidelines for writers and editors, especially for web-writing. Now I want to read the actual magazine!

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Monday, July 10, 2006

India tests ballistic missile – and our anti-nuclear resolve

India has tested a new ballistic missile that is designed to carry a nuclear warhead. And this is the country that John Howard was so eagerly toying with the ideas of selling uranium to?

Even if his hopes were thwarted because India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferatino Treaty, he wants to go ahead and sell uranium to China. Who is India's long-range missile designed to reach? China!

Howard's made assurances that Australian uranium exports to China will meet all sort of restrictions and safeguards to prevent China from using it for military purposes. But I cannot trust either Howard's promises, or China's assurances – especially in light of China being on the receiving end of a potential nuclear ballistic missile from India.

This is a recipe for nuclear weapons proliferation. Is Australian uranium going to be in the mix?

All the attention and diplomatic posturing has been on North Korea's recent long-range missile test, so this may go unremarked. Also, Australia and the other Western powers will want to keep on China's good side so that they can enlist China's aid in pressuring N. Korea to back down from their weapons testing and nuclear programme.

Because of this, I feel there is a strong likelihood that the Western and Australian governments will turn the other cheek if China starts ramping up its nuclear programme in response to India's nuclear weapon ambitions.

And so on, ad infinitum. That's why it's called nuclear proliferation.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Burning Brands

More on the thread of consumption, I came across this fascinating blog, Bonfire of the Brands, on brands and brand obsession by Neil Boorman, who plans to burn every branded object he owns and publish a book on it:
Bonfire Of The Brands is a book by Neil Boorman to be published in 2007 by Canongate. A label-obsessed journalist and music promoter, Neil is going to burn all his branded goods in an attempt to re-evaluate his lifestyle. The burning date has been set for 26.08.06. This blog is a diary of his journey towards a brand-free lifestyle.
Check out his interesting observations about the pervasiveness of brands and brand consciousness in his consumption habits, and shopping and retail generally. He also has media reports on the ugly side of brand-products: the workers who make the things many of us love (to buy), and the deplorable condiditons they work under, such as this Daily Mirror report on the conditions of workers who make Apple's iPods in China.

[Photo by David Coates, from Pictures of Walls; both links via July is not friendly society newsletter]

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Two months

Two months
Originally uploaded by Mark Lawrence.
Our baby is two months old! I've just realised that while I promised (when he was born) to come back with news of the name we chose, I hadn't delivered!

Well, let me introduce you to Jamie.

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On writing, blogging and 'authors'

Kerryn Goldsworthy has this fascinating thing to say about the 'author' of fiction:
"The notion of the 'implied author' is a useful one: it's what might be called the writer's best self, her wisest, her most adult, her most knowing and self-knowing self. In fiction or poetry the 'person who is speaking' just is not the same as that flawed being who ignores the dishes, fobs off her editors and creditors, loses patience with her elderly father, and swears at the person ringing from the call centre in Mumbai. None of this stuff makes its way to the pristine page: the implied author is a construct, a sort of distillation of all the best (and only the best) stuff that the writer has to say."
I wondered how much this would be true for bloggers and blogging. Not much, if we take the grumpy whingeing of some bloggers at face value, or believe utterly the kiss-and-tell-all revelations of others, or cop the opinionated political posturing of others (like yours truly).

But then again, I suspect that all these ways of expressing our selves through blogs are not far from that idea of the 'blogger as fiction' – to be the most outrageous, explicit, banal, insightful, etc etc. Anything to convince our readers that we are worth reading, and to keep coming back?

[Link via Barista]

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Mechanical wonders

Mechanical mermaid Last Friday I took my eldest son, Jacob, to the International Puppet Carnival at Federation Square. It was one of those "last-day-of-school-holidays, let's make the best of it" things.

Besides the lovely puppet show about a tadpole in search of its self, we saw an amazing display of mechanical artwork by David Archer. This mechanical mermaid was my favourite – as you wound the little handle on the side of the glass-fronted case, the shell would open to reveal the mermaid enjoying her fish-and-chips lunch.

Besides the tongue-in-cheek ribaldry, it was the attention to detail that won me. It is an ascending Venus for our age!

Belly-dancerMy other favourite was this risque belly-dancer, whose hips would gyrate and swivell as you wound the lever. The armpit hair was an interesting inclusion!

Jacob got a kick out of looking through the little viewers and peep-holes of the other pieces on display, turning handles and watching what oddity popped out or moved. There were some macabre pieces involving skulls and skeletons, but he didn't seem too fazed by them.

I was amazed to learn that these were no museum pieces from pre-TV carnival days, but new works by the
Adelaide-based artist.

It's a pity that the Carnival finished yesterday, and it will take some other amazing festival or carnival to bring these artworks back to Melbourne. I'm looking forward to this Puppet Carnival becoming an annual event.

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