Monday, January 31, 2005

Wipeout, or just paddling out for the next set?

Ok, I admit that I don't like it when Tim Dunlop gets all terse (eg. "Two points: Drop. Dead.".... "So get over it.") - its just not his best style, and I thought that he was generally a bit hard on the other Labor leadership noncontenders. I mean geez, they both had to fly home from overseas and sound out their parliamentary party colleagues and in the mean time fend off the press. Maybe not everyone thinks that jumping in to claim the throne an hour after Mark uttered his last is a good look.

And as for this - I suggest that it might be an indication that a functional comments system serves as a sort of moderating influence on Tim.

But I really didn't want him to go away like this for days and days, honest. Hope he's back soon.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Brushtail Possum

She's a regular visitor to our garden where she browses upon the roses, hangs upside down to reach the bird feeder, trims the lime tree of young leaves, flowers and fruit, feasts with friends upon the tomatoes and passionfruit just before they are ready for picking, and once, even ate all the chillies. The old upper jaw injury doesn't seem to stop her - last year she was accompanied by a rapidly growing offspring.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Bevan has togs in his port

"Word Map is mapping Australian regionalisms - words, phrases or expressions used by particular language groups. Add your regionalism or search to see what others have contributed. "

ABC project that attempts to map regional distribution of word use. Not sure how well it will work given that there often seems to be someone willing to declare that they live, for example in Brisbane and have never ever heard of a Bevan (maybe things have changed up there since I was exiled), or that its all rubbish that the use of the word ????? is centered in Sydney because they heard it used in Cooktown once. BTW, the Blogger spell check suggests I replace Bevan with bovine.

I think port would have to be my favourite fairly Briscentric word. My first recollection of the term was in reference to the chunky rectangular cardboard boxes with fake leather shoulder straps issued to me for the first few years of trekking to school (does anyone let their six year olds walk across half a suburb to school anymore by the way?). And yes, the port racks outside the classrooms.

And then there is the you say cantaloupe, I say rockmelon thing. Enough though, I doubt that there is really enough clear regionalisation in Australia to produce anything definitive.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005



Wendy Rule has played in Canberra a couple of times this month - both on her way up, and down, the east coast. The second performance was organised by some kind people who booked a local hall where we were able to hear the music rather than just other patrons (as was the case in the first venue). Her strong, expressive and beautiful voice melds so well with her original, innovative music, much of which is derived from her world view (she describes herself as a musical Witch), and is at times atmospheric, other times quite joyful.

Wendy also has a jazz background, and last year released a cd of jazz standards well worth a listen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


"Obviously I am disappointed with the press coverage over the last fortnight. Despite being on annual leave and recovering from illness, the media have been constantly camped outside our home." ......

"When I was hospitalised in August, for instance, the media frenzy was over the top, with photographers shooting through my hospital window. Accordingly, I have done everything I could to keep subsequent episodes as private as possible.
Unfortunately ever since the recent bout became known, and even though I was on annual leave, the media has been harassing people in our street, forcing our neighbours to call the police on several occasions

Odd that I haven't noticed this part of the speech referred to on any of the news broadcasts I have watched, nor on ABC web site.

He was on annual leave and seriously ill. There were people appointed to do his job while he was on leave and they did it.

Its hard to tell how much of the fuss originated from the media and how much from the party, but really, do these people ever put their knives away? I wonder whether its not so much that a leader is needed for the party, but that the party needs some type of renovation rescue.

Update - It seems Sedgwick is of the view that Mr Latham was himself the subject of a Backyard Blitz team.


Sign of the times.

No water flows for peace in this lonely little patch of park on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


We have eighteen of these flowers blooming at the moment. Their perfume wafted indoors tonight on the warm evening air.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thanks to Gianna and Zoe for the recent links, and of course to the Hon Sedgwick, who has been linking for a while.
15/1/05 - and even more recently, Mick at To Blog or not To Blog

Also, I might mention that if you have ever wondered what the Canberra Summernats were all about, Zoe has prepared a comprehensive guide, for which, as someone who has never been, I'm very grateful.

If you have trouble with the locals
You can call the embassy
We’ll send a navy boat to fetch you
If you’re a solo yachty lost at sea

We’ll endeavour to evacuate our nationals
If there’s foreign strife
And we’ll help to fetch your loved one home
If in a disaster they lose their life

If they have you up on dodgy charges
We’ll make strong representations (most anywhere)
And if you did the crime, we’ll try to arrange for you
to do the time - here, rather than over there

But while we care for each and every one of you
There’s someone we care for more
And for those of you who get between us and them
There can be something different in store

So if you get caught up with the US forces
Don’t bother to give us a call
You might already be in another country
Before we get around to do anything at all

Rest assured though, we’ll have frank discussions
And evaluate their case
But really, is it likely that we’ll believe you
Rather than the States?

We would advise you though, to cooperate
Its always easier, and anyway
you know we don’t like whingers
So chin up and enjoy your stay

Know that you are held by a defender of justice
(some might even apply if you were on their soil)
But apparently there’s only enough for their citizens
And there’s that relationship we don’t want to spoil

And if by oversight they let you go
Don’t look to us for an apology sport
‘cause while you might be one of our citizens
Its clear you never were our sort.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ha Long Bay

A better silhouette?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Dark Hills

Dark Hills - let your eyes adjust.

Update: This is meant to be islands in Ha Long Bay at night. I put it up for the Photo Friday "Silhouette" challenge. On my LCD monitor at home it looks fine (well to me anyway) - black islands silhouetted ever so slightly against a slightly lighter moonlit sky (taken with a handheld camera 6 second exposure on top of a boat by the way). However I had a look at it today on the CRT monitor at work and the islands were pretty much indistinguishable from the backgound, so sorry about wasting the time of all those people clicking over from PhotoFriday. Have a look at the next post up on the main page for a slightly more visible silhouette.

Only Fleeting Glimpses Captured

Yesterday, ferreting around on Flickr, I noticed that someone had just uploaded a photo of Ha Long Bay, a beautiful place in Vietnam that I had spent a few days in last October. Checking out the other photos in the set, I came across a photo of a Hill Tribe woman, from one of the ethnic minorities that live up in the Northern Mountains of Vietnam. My self righteous streak emerged and I put in a comment noting that many of these people don’t like to have their photo taken and wondering what the lady would think of having her photo on the net. The photographer commented in reply that this particular woman had willingly posed for a number of photos.

Fair enough about taking the photo to begin with then. When I was up there, I came across some people who were willing to be photographed, and seem to enjoy then looking at their photos on the back screen of my camera, however there were others who clearly didn’t want to be photographed and some appeared fearful of the prospect. I approached a group of colourfully clothed women at Tam Duong market who all scattered when I showed them my camera. My photos of Ban Hon village of the Lu people looks like shots of a ghost town – even people in the distance ducked around corners when they saw the cameras come out. The Black Mong of Lao Chai were however too busy selling us things to be worried about the cameras, and I have a wonderful photo of six Flower Mong women sitting resting at the edge of Cochy market. In that instance I showed them the camera, a couple nodded, none ran away, and so I took the photo – most of them had a look afterwards and seemed happy.

There is a whole related issue as to whether touring in such relatively remote areas of rather vulnerable ethnic minorities makes the visitor more part of the problem or an acceptable solution to the future of their society. One day we visited a couple of villages which only see tourists about once a week (accompanied by a local guide who was actually a local policeman making sure we weren’t promoting unrest). Their children are taught in Vietnamese rather than their own language and tourists such as myself model western clothing and behaviour and tout english are a new language of commerce. In these villages, the children seemd curious, the adults a little suspicious and weary of us. In areas closer to the central tourist base of Sapa, the children of some villages appeared to spend their spare time trying to sell (in quite good english) handbags and cushion covers. I couldn’t help wondering what would be left of their culture in ten years time and whether there was any alternative.

My concern here though: does taking a photo (a photo of a specific person in the street rather than a streetscape or crowd shot or a performer or other public figure) of another member of the public, even with their permission, entitle me to place that photo on the internet? I suppose an associated question is whether my photography as a private citizen is any different (apart from quality of product) to a photojournalist who might place a similar photo in a newspaper, magazine or on the web. I experienced this outcome myself when, vainly googling my name, I came across a website of a couple who were part of a group I had travelled with a few years back. They had put up many of their holiday snaps, including shots of myself, with my full name. There had been no mention of this, and I hadn’t seen them for ages. It felt rather strange to be published in that way – when I had posed for those photos, if I thought about it at all, I would have assumed the images would be for personal use and for showing friends and family. As a generic middle class westerner this doesn’t impact upon me financially or spiritually, though I wondered whether it did infringe a little upon my privacy. I do wonder what the hill tribe people would think of photos, taken in their equivalent of the local shopping mall, being published for the world to see.

I’d be interested in anyone’s opinion on this. Perhaps you’ll convince me its alright to post that photo of the Flower Mong women.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Sharing in the Effort

From the ABC

The Australian Shareholders Association has expressed disapproval at companies pledging money to the tsunami relief effort in Asia, saying they have no approval for their philanthropy.
Association spokesman Stephen Matthews says firms should not generally give without expecting something in return.
Mr Matthews says that in most circumstances, donations should only be made in situations that are likely to benefit the company through greater market exposure

He was then quoted as going on to say that the exception would be companies that had activities in South Asia.

That would appear to be a narrow minded view of benefit. Even if the money is going to South Asia, Australian companies can still benefit from making donations by publicising the fact in Australia – both immediately via press releases and associations with charities and aid agencies - as well as in the medium term via annual reporting arrangements.

While not a direct cash donation, one example that comes to mind is Grace Removal’s oversubscribed offer to transport donated goods for free from various locations across Western Australia and load them on a boat bound for Medan. I would think that gestures like that have the potential to have a powerful positive influence on a Company’s image in the Australian marketplace. It doesn’t really matter whether anyone in South Asia is a potential customer or ever becomes aware of who transported the goods. While the practical benefit occurs in South Asia, with a bit of associated PR, the company can also benefit back here.

I understand that these days some significant institutional investors consider aspects of a company, such as involvement in the community and environmental performance when making investment decisions – thus donations could raise the profile of a company with such investors.

I’m also bemused at the decision to go public on this issue at this time. While statements like that might impress some of their members, its not going to do much for their broader public image – almost the reverse of the effect that some of companies making donations are likely to benefit from.