Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fanning the fire

It is enlightening to see where the ACT government's priorities truly lie. Compare this quote (in The Age):
"The most important thing is the flame was never in danger, from start to finish, and that's an enormous credit to our federal police," [ACT government spokesman] Mr Lasek told Sky News.
With this (from the same news report):

"This gang of thugs rolled right through us and we had kids with us. My daughter was still shaking an hour later and is very quiet even now.

"I don't normally get angry but I am so angry right now."

I don't normally subscribe to the tendency to call protesters 'thugs' or like the media beat-up of any protest where altercations or scuffles occur, let alone where young children get harassed, but I can clearly understand where this father is coming from.

As the commotion grows over the behaviour of pro-China supporters rallying in support of the Olympic torch relay, and the inevitable comparisons are made with Tibetan and pro-Tibet rights protesters, I just want to point out that the ACT government and the Federal and ACT police apparently made their priority the safety of the Olympic flame, rather than the people who attended the relay, or who protested against China's human rights record in Tibet and in the Peoples Republic, or who came to rally in support of China's prestige and honour.

Apparently, as reported in that same news item,
A "relieved but elated" ACT government spokesman Jeremy Lasek said despite the arrests, the relay had been a "raging success".
I cannot accept a law-an-order approach that puts a higher priority on a bloody flame – however imbued with symbolism and spun with a web of political propaganda as it is – over people.

As far as I'm concerned, no fire is more sacred than the fire in children. I'd like to think that some of those in our state, territory and federal governments would appreciate that.

Oh, by the way, another observation. Just as not all Chinese protesters behaved like this, and not all people in China are like this, not all Tibetans are the Dalai Lama (just as not all Catholics are the Pope, surprisingly). Some Tibetans (and their supporters) want to take action, including direct action, to highlight and protest the injustices in their homeland, such as stand in the path of an Olympic torch bearer, heckle, protest loudly, or stand silently carrying a protest banner.

The father in the incident said that he just wanted to show his daughter 'the meaning of peaceful demonstration'.
"We were just a small group of people basically exercising our right, our responsibility to say 'We don't think this is correct'," he said.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

A nail-biting, edge of your seat, razor close game

Jacob and I went to the footy on Saturday – a night game: Collingwood (Pies) v North Melbourne (Roos). We met up with a friend and his boys and caught the train in together. It was my first ever live footy match, and I enjoyed myself despite neither of the teams playing being mine.

It was a very close game – Collingwood made a good come-back to lead at the end of the second quarter, and at one stage leading by 3 goals in the third, which pleased Jacob tremendously. But North Melbourne made a strong surge in the last quarter and with a quick succession of goals stole the lead – by 3 goals!

We had to leave before the final minutes to beat the rush to the train, but we heard that while Collingwood scored a few more goals, North still beat them by 7 points.

The close games are the most exciting ones, but it has done nothing for my results or ranking in the office footy-tipping.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

My first live footy match: Pies v Roos

Just a quick 3rd quarter post to say that I'm enjoying myself. Surprisingly so.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Have you been paying attention to this 2020 thing?

I have been trying to pay attention to Rudd's 2020 Summit, but the flood of media coverage is hard to keep up with it. I've had to keep abreast of some – small – part of the issues for work, but even that is hard.

From what I can gauge, it appears that there are at least a couple of camps on it (probably many more).
One camp seems to think it is a waste of time because it is either a spin-fest by Rudd's Labor government and lacks substance, or because it is just a talk-fest and nothing concrete will emerge from it.

Another camp thinks it is a great opportunity for people with good ideas, ranging from specialists to generalists, to openly discuss what could work best to put Australia on a good track for the next 20 years and beyond – whether that's in tackling global warming, social inequality, Indigenous disadvantage, or making machines that go ping more efficiently.

A significant number of commentators are straddled somewhere between the two responses - and I haven't made up my mind over whether this is fence sitting, or just the nature of critical thinking in an
time and ethos suspicious of political spin. Or maybe because I'm somewhere in the middle on this too.

What about you?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Typeface bingo

I'm not a 'designer' by a long shot, but I do a lot of desktop publishing for my living and have tried to keep up my knowledge of typefaces as a matter of course. Inspired by jebni's twitter update, I decided to take up the typeface challenge at Rather Difficult Font Game.

The idea is to identify 34 randomly selected typefaces. It is difficult. Thankfully it is multiple choice, so a lot of intelligent guesswork was involved. My score (25) was within the average score of 24 out of 34, out of 4418 attempts worldwide to date.

Fed [ ] TypeThe lesson of this little diversion is that I need to expand my use and familiarity with typefaces a little further, as it is so easy to get bogged down in using the same old fonts over and over again.

Have a go at the game, and tell me what you score.

[Image of artwork at Federation Square is mine.]

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


It is my birthday today. See what my beloved was up at 5.30 this morning making for me:

We had birthday cake – with singing and candles – after breakfast. A first for me, but there is always room for new tricks, even when you're getting old(er).

It's orange cake, by the way. It was so yummy, and it was still warm and fresh. And Jacob (my older son) arranged the candles – not bad for seven!

I've been having a great day, so far – despite being busy at work. Thank you, Shelley, thank you, kids. You made my day.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Hand me the crowbar

Charlton Heston is dead. He was 84. Now his gun can be prised from his cold dead hands. I wonder if Michael Moore will take up his offer.

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After the storm

We were lucky. The almighty storm that ripped through Melbourne last Wednesday spared us the damage and inconvenience that so many have experienced in its wake. The gale-force winds ripped off roofs, tore limbs from trees, cut off electricity to thousands across the city – some for many days – and blew down brick walls and construction scaffolding. In the last two instances, two people were killed.

In the aftermath, an electricty company linesman was killed while trying to make repairs to the line down in the Mornington Peninsular.
Now, some papers are attributing the death of an elderly woman in a house fire to the prolonged electricity outage caused by the storm – the house is thought to have caught fire from a candle used for lighting.

Compared to that, the troubles at our house were minimal. We lost electricity for most of the afternoon of the storm and had debris strewn around our backyard. I was at work while my partner had the kids at home. She returned from an early afternoon trip to the shop to find the picnic sun canopy we'd erected to shade the kids in the backyard was nearly blowing away, but she was able to disassemble it single-handedly!

Besides witnessing the eerie orange glow in the sky in the early afternoon, which turned out to be a massive dust storm, and watching tree branches tear across the street below my office window (1 floor up), and hearing ominous sounds from our building's roof, the worse I got while at work was getting dust in my eyes at lunch time and getting wet in the rain dashing for my tram home.
I managed to squeeze myself on a very crowded tram. It must have been quite delayed through a very congested city – the sodden state of some passengers was a testament to their long wait for the tram.

In this context, it's strange to re-read my comment on about the escalating and increasingly dangerous changes of global warming in my previous post about weather forecasting.

Kid's mural in North FitzroyI took the photo above of a mural that appeared on the back fence of a house backing on to a park in North Fitzroy. I'm sure it was a kids' project for the school holidays. When I first saw this mural from the tram heading home from work, I was struck by the cheery scene on that wet evening – a couple of days before the storm. There was also a real rainbow in the sky, and for just a moment the real and painted rainbows were visible together. I hope it cheers up those who have suffered damage in the storm, or damage and in inconvenience from the power outage.

And let's spare a thought for the men and women – many of them volunteers – who worked very hard to clean up the damage and help those injured or endangered by the storm, and the power company workers who are working
long hours in dangerous conditions to get the power back on. I hope there are rainbows where you are to cheer you up.

You can find a lot of photos of the storm and its aftermath on flickr here.

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