Saturday, January 27, 2007

Australia Day reminisced

We spent our Australia Day gadding about the Bass Coast, out between Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory.

Soon after midday, we turned off the South Gippsland Highway bound for Tarwin Lower. Just a hundred meters or so up the road we spotted an injured rosella leaping flightlessly, piteously across the road and up an embankment.

The rosella appeared to have a broken wing, so considering it was all but fox meat, we captured the poor creature, wrapping it in a towel, with a view to rescuing it. The only question was: How?

In desperation, we intercepted a parked police vehicle at the Meeniyan police station, just as the officer was about to drive out on some official errand. Paul patiently and kindly teed up a rendezvous for us at Fish Creek with a volunteer wildlife-rescue lady by the name of Rose. This wonderful, heroic lady took the bird into her expert care and we were able to resume our itinerary.

Scooted around to Walkerville South, then to the lighthouse at Cape Liptrap. In the carpark at the Cape, a red Ford ute sported a sticker with the slogan “War Is Terror”, beneath which the author was identified in smaller print.

Scooted across to Venus Bay, where the hungries hit us, so we had a late lunch at the (Something) Ba, a cafe place. Ordered burgers, in which the beef patties were virtually jumbo-sized meat balls.

Live entertainment was provided by a young man with yellow hair beneath a feathered hat, soloing with guitar and mini-Marshall stack, doing a tolerable job of singing standards, interspersed with some of his own compositions. The latter were mainly little anthems on peace and understanding. Nice!

Then he introduced another of his compositions, saying, “Here’s a song for Invasion Day.”

I waited for the teeming streetlife to fall silent and stop dead in its tracks, whether in outrage or sympathy. But no-one really seemed to be paying attention.

At this, the unheard voice-in-the-wilderness launched into a blistering musical critique of the colonisation and conquest by the British of our great, flat, brown land, throughout which was the consistent contrapuntal theme of the noble, wise and eco-friendly Aboriginal people.

I turned to look behind us at the local real estate agent – open for business on Australia Day, as no doubt it would be for the entire holiday weekend – noting that there was nothing in the window under around 160 thousand, median around 250 thou’, with premium holiday properties 350 thou’ and astronomically beyond.

Laughed and thought, “This is Australia.”

all images by jacob

Friday, January 26, 2007

Goat Friday

image source nasa

The above image is of a group of galaxies catalogued as HCG 87, lying about 400 million light years away in the constellation Capricornus (the Goat, folks).

These can be seen today pretty much exactly as they were on 26 January 1788.

Sadly, that’s about the extent of the thematic link to our Australia Day holiday of this week’s Goat Friday post. I mean, I’m sorry, folks, but I just couldn’t find a worthwhile goat-related image that would do honour to our National Day.

And in goat-related news, the outlook is even worse. Google News Search just seems to regularly throw up this sort of thing. I shudder to report yet another sorry tale of goat abuse.

In the Republic of Malawi, a ‘boy’ of 19 has been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment with hard labour for “sleeping” with a she-goat.

Leaving aside the sordid details of the case — and let’s please do — it’s notable that such an offence in Malawi carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. And moreover...

During the hearing of the case Prosecutor Patrick Chipote told the court that offences of such nature were rampant despite the fact that animals are not given a chance to complain anywhere...

Despite the fact? Despite???

Well anway, clearly the Malawian Government must immediately establish a complaints mechanism for the victims of such crimes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tell him he’s dreaming

Many will have heard of the case of Mr Nicael Holt of Wollongong, who is selling his life on eBay.

It’s reported here that “he will accept an English offer of 7,500 pounds ($A18,751) if the bid is genuine.” It looks like a documentary of the, er, transaction may also be on the cards.

But now, here’s the thing that gets me. Mr Holt says in the item description that he has not one, but two nemeses.

And someone’s going to pay 7,500 pounds sterling for a life with two nemeses?

Hackles raised

The signs have been ominous.

The points of differentiation between the two political behemoths have waned inexorably.

The vying for Aussie valyooz points reached fever pitch over the flag burning ‘banning’ at the Sydney Big Day Out event.

The Federal Government ups the ante by rebadging the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, now to be known as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Sorry, folks, but no more snappy one liners about “DIMA and dimmer”; however, even Howard Huggers are smirking about who’s going to be the new “DIC head”. Tee hee.

The Prime Minister has declared that the change of name “expresses the desire and the aspiration, and that is that people who come to this country, who emigrate, immigrants, become Australians.”

Get it? Capite? Verstehen?

We await the Government’s impending announcement that migrant/guest workers will no longer be welcome in Australia. Or alternatively, that they and all visitors from abroad will be expected to register for Australian Citizenship before they go home.

The Muftim of Blair predictably trumpets jubilantly that multiculturalism is dead.

Senator Andrew Bartlett predictably complains bitterly that HoWARd is “imposing a mono-cultural vision on the reality of a modern multicultural Australia.”

Yep. It’s going to be that kind of election.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Evangel cautioned against

The Australian yesterday reprinted an article by John Kay of the UK’s Financial Times (also available here) on environmentalism as religion.

What can one say about this effort? Seemingly a companion piece to The Australian’s editorial on Friday, this piece continues an apparently concerted effort by the paper to trivialise and marginalise legitimate public concerns.

Caricature, hyperbole and specious equivalence abound to produce a heady mix that’s sure to be well received by ... er, the choir to whom Kay is preaching. Kay works up a nice little alarmist line about “environmental evangelists”, but of course fails to identify any individuals who exemplify this new bogey.

It’d be nice to have the time to critique Kay’s tract line by line, but just for a taste, consider the following:

Environmentalism embraces a myth of the Fall: the loss of harmony between man and nature caused by our materialistic society. ... This lost Eden never existed. Humans have burned and eaten the environment since time immemorial.

Oh sure. Except that humans are now “burning and eating the environment” in exponentially increasing numbers, which hasn’t obtained until the last 100 years or so, a mere blink of an eye in human history. This is one of a host of empirical facts that inform widespread environmental and existential concerns.

It’s the sort of public concern that has, in the last 40 years or so, spurred many initiatives that have widely succeeded in improving the environment, particularly the urban environment in Western cities. Kay makes much of the “manifest fact” of such improvements, but fails to consider that these may be attributable to past environmental “evangelism”.

Kay’s article is rather a slick, but ultimately worthless, piece of work, unless one needs a laugh. It pretends to be an objective and erudite exposition, but – with, for instance, the assertion that “Business should treat the environmental movement as it treats other forms of religious belief,” – it becomes clear that it is written with a business audience in mind.

Or perhaps I should have said, a business-as-usual audience.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Feral feline dream cuisine

photoshoppery by jacob

Pictured above is a mock-up of a product I’d like to see on the shelves of our local supermarket. Okay, let me explain...

Several years ago our much-loved family dog passed away. (And Honey, we miss you; and we’re being goo-oo-ood...)

Sometime after, our freshly canine-free backyard was colonised by a stray cat. A fearful, fearsome, feral bitch of an animal, it seemed to live on mice, carrion, and particularly the cockroaches and crickets it hunted with lethal efficiency.

Fatefully, we felt sorry for the poor animal, and introduced it to more conventional, commercially-available fare. But however sated with the modern nutritional products of a consumer civilisation, the Bitch was still partial to the entymological pickings out in the backyard.

At first, it refused to allow us near it. Then, after a month or two of laying on the free chow, it allowed us near enough for it to lash out at us with its vicious, retractile claws.

I began to suspect that this was the little savage’s perverse way of acknowledging us as fellow beings. After receiving a few deft but harmless swats in return, the Bitch somehow seemed to get the idea that such expressions of fellowship were not appreciated.

By a year or so later, the Bitch surprised us – and perhaps itself – by allowing us to stroke it. Perhaps something like tenderness visited the Bitch’s universe for the first time since kittenhood.

Now, going on eight years after it chanced into our lives, the Bitch remains queen of its almost exclusive dominion, our backyard, often to be seen preying on hapless cockroaches and crickets, to this day a prized delicacy.

I should point out that the Bitch is not, and never will be, a house cat. Because of my tolerance and occasional indulgence, I’ve been very inaccurately and unfairly labeled a cat person; however, I’ve steadfastly refused to have the Bitch in the house.

Readers will perhaps be pleased to note also that this animal does not prey on birds. It’s not uncommon to see the Bitch sprawled out in the back lawn, with native doves, blackbirds, and other fowl of the air gamboling unconcernedly and unregarded nearby.

I suspect the idiot has relegated our feathered friends to the too-hard basket (in part, because it seems to be half blind). And indeed – why bother? – when the delights of phylum Arthropoda are such ready and easy prey for this seasoned insectivore.

Whiskas® is a registered trademark of Masterfoods Australia New Zealand. No adverse reflection on the content or nutritional characteristics of Masterfoods Australia New Zealand pet and other food products is implied or intended by the author. The accompanying graphic content is reproduced under fair use provisions of applicable copyright laws and is just a joke, folks. The author further acknowledges that the Whiskas Colour Purple is a trademark.