You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Monday, August 30, 2004


Just in from Matthias Media (actually a little while ago as i haven't opend the e-mail until just now) - article on CATHOLICS IN CRISIS of interest in the free edition of this month's Briefing

This is actually a review of A Long Way From Rome: Why The Australian Catholic Church Is In Crisis, Chris McGillion (ed)

As an ex-Catholic with deep concerns for my friends and family who are still in the Catholic Church, I read this book wanting to find a glilmmer of hope for them within its pages. I was disappointed.

Download the August copy of St Matthias Briefing - free! (1.4mb, pdf format)

Visit now

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Recently i had the opportunity to visit HMAS Ballarat the latest ANZAC-class frigate in the Australian Navy. Very nice, but just a little too squeezy for my liking. The last time I was on a Naval vessel was in 1992 on the HMAS Brisbane. The Brisbane is now being prepared to be sunk as a diving wreck off the coast of Queensland. Ironically, at the time of my recent visit, HMAS Brisbane was moored alongside HMAS Ballarat - the old with the new. Quite a contrast.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Caroline Cox

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Baroness Caroline Cox speak at a local gathering about her work with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (an interview with her on ABC's Religion Report can be found here).

I spoke with her briefly after the event, mentioning that I had looked her up on the internet before coming, to which she responded that there were a number of unfavorable things said about her by the Sudanese Government. I re-read these for myself, and after hearing her speak for myself and meeting her personally (albeit briefly), she didn't really strike me as the kind of person described in - she is put in the same boat as the CIA! About is affliliated with some paranoid totalitarian mob called "Executive Intelligence Review" and boast that all monies collected beyond operating costs goes to "charities" (and after September 11, we all know what that means, don't we?).

A quote from their site gives it all up:

But, just as the Lady is, indeed, no lady, so the CSI is anything but
Christian. Beneath the veneer of humanitarian concern for the oppressed, is one
of the most important tools of British Intelligence. Its actual function, as the
documented record shows, is to implement a policy dubbed the "Clash of
Civilizations" by another operative of British Intelligence, Bernard Lewis, and
popularized by yet another of their stripe, Samuel Huntington. Through political
operations, which often include intelligence and military activities, CSI has
been in the forefront of efforts to foment conflict between Christians and
non-Christians, most specifically, Muslims. The war in Sudan is a case in point,
and perhaps a showcase of CSI methods.

No punches are pulled here. Obviously, some Sudanese sympathisers don't like anything Bristish very much, as they were the former colonial power in the region. I suppose they might feel the same about Australia. Old Aussie had its say in that way back in the late 1800's when we sent a contingent to the Sudan, and we struck a medal and awarded it to veterans to commemorate it (along with our other pre-Federation forays to South Africa to put a stop to those damn Boers and to China to quell the Boxer Rebellion on behalf of Queen and Empire).

Who or what is driving this diatribe? Read more deeply into About, and come up with three countries with regularity - Iraq, Iran and - surprise surprise - Saudi Arabia, including the oil and construction firm of the Bin Laden's. What a nice place. And Caroline Cox is planning to go back, even though the Khartoum government had given her a "5-year sentence in absentia". She is hardly a spy - she is one brave woman. And if the current Sudanese government have anything to do with it, she is more like a potential martyr to the cause of human rights.

BTW I wrote to the government of Sudan to have a whinge about their human rights record using a letter supplied by Amnesty international (yes, AI think there's something rotten in Khartoum too). But the Sudanese Government aren't really up with the times, and don't really have great access to the WWW yet. The e-mail bounced (I sent it to the Canadian Embassy, as there is no Sudanese representation in Australia) but I have found what looks like a more reliable address and I will try again.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Interesting site I just browsed into. Having read the book and seen the movie "We were soldiers once and young", I was obviously attracted. Of especially interest is the opportunity to download some actual combat camera footage.

WRT the book / film - I read the book in order to understand the film better, as Col. Hal Moore in the DVD special features claimed this was "a soldier's movie - as it was".

Well, it must have been damn confusing, because the film didn't make a whole lot of sense at times! It was a Mel Gibson effort after all, so enthusiasm sometimes gets in the way of accuracy (witness The Passion), but I still was interested enough to explore further.

The film only tells half the story - after LZ XRay the yanks went onto to LZ Albany and got slaughtered in a classic ambush, and only superior firepower saved the day. This is left out of the film (as it would make it twice as long) but is probably the better lesson.

Reminds me of the battle of the Teutoburger Wald, inspiring the famous cry by Emperor Augustus, "Varus, give me back my legions"

(by the way the traitor was a turncoat general named "Arminius". Hmmm.)


Been playing with the templates lately - like this one?

It mean all my polls, counters, gifs, jpegs etc dies away, but it should make the site easier to laod - and easier to change!

Now, if i can only fill it with worthwhile content. Hmm...

Have done some updates . . .
1. Google search removed - Blogger supplies now
2. Picture for Merchandise removed - speed
3. Terror Alert Status removed - speed
4. Tagboard removed - generates popups

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Yes .. now online, and inspired by this article in The Onion



It's sport, it's extreme, it's... ironing!
Possibly the most bizarre extreme sport on Earth celebrates its first ever world championships next month.
Extreme Ironing devotees like nothing more than removing creases from their clothes halfway up cliffs, on top of mountains or in busy city streets. Its creator Phil Shaw, of Leicester, says it "combines the thrill of an extreme sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt".


Googles' cached article about Australian enthusiasts from The Age here

Australia Chapter at

Sunday, August 15, 2004

YES!!! There's nothing like vindication - better than revenge! Ian Thorpe WINS Olympic Gold in the Men's 400m final.

For all those knockers out there who now stand up and say, "I knew he could do it" let me say I WAS WITH HIM ALL ALONG!!!

Where were YOU in the hard times, in the dark times, in the times when Australia turned its back and said , "Shame"?

NOWHERE then, and NOWHERE now.

Read it and weep.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Check out the CNN article - why do the lawyers get to have all the fun?

...The flash animation movie swirling around the Internet with President George Bush and Senator John Kerry singing to the tune of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."

Bush: "You're a liberal sissy!"
Kerry: "You're a right wing nut job!"
Both: "This land will surely vote for me!"

The bit is hilarious. Unless you are The Richmond Organization, a music publisher that owns the copyright to Guthrie's tune through its Ludlow Music unit.

"This puts a completely different spin on the song," said Kathryn Ostien, director of copyright licensing for the publisher. "The damage to the song is huge."

Visit to see what I mean. And yes it is funny. But by describing Bush as an idiot with no brain who likes to war monger, the song does more for Bush than Michael Moore could ever hope to damage him with those same words. Americans seem to like a President who is, like their popular culture, sports and approach to foreign policy, a no-brainer.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Ok, I have now seen the globally renowned flick "Fahrenheit 9/11" and now feel qualified to add my two cents to the equation.

I suppose I shall muse on this more, but my initial impressions upon leaving the cinema were:

1. Americans are stupid, dumb, thick, ignorant - does MM really hate his own countrymen that much? And are two little old ladies in a nursing home really qualified to speak with any authority on anything except whether dinner should be at 4 o'clock or 4:30?
2. Americans are fat - really fat. Unless you are a Marine. But even one of those recruiter guys was pretty portly. Even the politicians are fat, stupid or both (but not neither).
3. No so much that hundreds if not thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians were killed, but that Americans debased themselves by killing them "immorally"
4. Very "lite-on" about Weapons of Mass Destruction
5. ONE image / mention of Bush-poodle Tony Blair, and none of Bush-lap-dog John Howard. C'mon, didn't we make a bigger impression than that? Some stock B & W footage of a man boxing a kangaroo is not enough. If Australia is not important enough to feature more prominently in a Michael Moroe documentary, we should withdraw from Iraq, the UN and ANZUS immediately!
6. America is one big weird messed-up place
7. Michael Moore has an uncontrolled bias - not towards the Democrats or against Republicans per se, but towards the little guy, the small man, the mom and pop store, small town America, all those other cliches. If you are small, you are good. If you are big, you are bad. Well, how about YOU Michael?
8. Iraqi grandmothers would kill you as soon as look at you if they had a smoking AK-47 to hand and you were an unarmed American
9. The number of tenuous links you can make between the President of the United States of America and Terrorists is equal to, but not greater than, the connection between you and anyone else on the planet (aka "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon")
10. When government is run like a business, business ends up running government.

Saturday, August 07, 2004


From Star Wars .com

In developing the look of Kashyyyk, the Art Department first turned to the much-maligned 1978 television special to see what had come before. "We watched that on a loop about four or five times, avoided suicide, and went back to work," laughs Church. Though produced on a variety show scale, the Holiday Special's Wookiee world (then called Kazhyyyk -- pronounced, oddly, as 'Kazook') did have an establishing shot of a Wookiee domicile rendered as a painting by Ralph McQuarrie. The set built for the show -- the inside of Chewbacca's home -- was a mix of flashy sci-fi tech and carved-from-wood naturalism

Any one who has ever sat through the Star Wars holiday special will know what they mean. I only ever recall seeing about half of this way back in the late 1970's or early 1980's as a kid when it was shown on TV. My vague recollection also includes a comic book style cartoon starring Boba Fett and that Chewie had a family and lived up in the treetops. A lot like Ewoks on steriods. For a crack-up review see

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

STAND-UP, STAND-UP FOR JESUS... Interesting piece in The New Yorker about "edgy" Christian comedian Brad Stine:

"He aimed most of his barbs at liberals and unbelievers, but Christians took flak, too. He did an impression of a Protestant, whining, “Satan made me lose my job!” (“No—your incompetence made you lose your job!”), and made fun of churches that organize “Harry Potter” book burnings (“Here’s a good rule of thumb: If Hitler tried it—maybe go the other way”)."

If you count Mark Steyn as a Christian -- which he apparently is, even though his columns are light on the God talk -- that makes two.

Monday, August 02, 2004


To answer my co-blogger's question, I saw Chronicles of Riddick on the weekend. Verdict: 7 out of 10. Imagine, say, if Stargate (the 1995 movie) had been filmed by Tim Burton, and you've got the general idea. Like Stargate itself, not awful, in many areas quite intriguing and thought-provoking, but could overall have been done better. Also bits of Starship Troopers, Judge Dredd and, indeed, most of the other not-awful-but-also-sub-LotR/ Gladiator level science fiction/ fantasy/ sword-n-sandals stuff served up over the past 12 years (ie, since film spec-fi reached its absolute nadir in 1992 [*])... And also very large chunks of Alien-3 (and Alien Resurrection). Not surprising, seeing as David Twohy scripted both. Stephen King once told an interviewer that, if he were a "serious" author, the critics would rave that "King is now re-visiting themes that are integral to his work". But since he was Stephen King, all they'd write was "King is starting to eat himself".

The most interesting element (excuse pun) of Riddick is its bad guys -- a Nazified warrior death-cult called the Necromongers, who sweep across the galaxy on a jihad crusade to convert or kill entire worlds' populations. These guys are about six-tenths the Borg, three-tenths the Harkonnens and/or the Sardaukar from David Lynch's 1984 "Hmm, melange pie" version of Dune, and the remaining one-tenth the aliens from Dark City.

The least interesting element of Riddick is what the producers, and I assume Vin Diesel (the film's star and driving force), seem to have considered the most interesting: the punch-ups and knife-fights. They go to the trouble of postulating an intriguing future interstellar civilisation, and an intriguing bunch of enemies whose alien religion and eldritch powers threaten it... but they don't pay it too much attention. In the end, Riddick wins because simply he's a tougher, meaner, head-kicking badass than even these death-cult super-Sardaukars who're in his way. He wins, basically, by dragging himself across a sun-scorched rockscape and by killing someone in a knife fight. He doesn't win by turning his enemies' powers and strengths against them [**]. The Necromongers might as well be Cylon Centurions or Spielbergian Nazis for all the difference they make to the plot.

Oh, and don't put too much stock in what mainstream film reviewers write about science fiction/ fantasy movies. I don't think I've ever seen one get a positive review from David Stratton or Evan Whitton (other than LotR of course). What the fans find interesting -- bizarre new ideas and exciting plots -- is a turn-off to mainstream reviewers who are more interested in the exploration of character (read: neurotic teenager lies on bed watching fan rotate for 25 minutes).

As Isaac Asimov once noted, SF can't afford to focus too much on character because that would detract from the changed world in the background: "Gulliver is an ordinary man and Alice is an ordinary girl. To have strange people in strange worlds would be one strangeness too many".

That's not to deny that written SF would benefit greatly from losing some of the pulpy cliches ("The twin suns rose early that morning. They shone hotly upon the towers of the planet of Cesarion Prime, which had just been conquered by the Zargvorod Imperion. Faulchok watched the suns rise with barely concealed anger in his three eyes. He hated the Zargvorods because they had killed his father three years before...") so beloved by its more successful practitioners. But as writers as diverse as CS Lewis and Philip Pullman have shown (now there's two names I never thought I'd use in the same list), it's entirely possible to competently depict the characters in the foreground while focusing primarily on the big vistas of the universe in the background.

[*] 1992: Freejack. The Lawnmower Man. Highlander II: The Quickening. And Alien 3. The prosecution rests.

[**] Unlike, say, the much-maligned Last Trek, Nemesis, where (warning: spoilers) it was Shinzon's earlier use of his telepathic powers to mind-peep on Deanna Troi that later allows Picard to locate and strike his cloaked starship.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

I have not seen this movie but I am now very intrigued and keen to do so after watching David Stratton review it on ABC's "At The Movies".

DAVID: ... I sat there through, what, nearly two hours of this being utterly bemused by how incomprehensible it is. Partly because it's so dark.....You want to shine a torch on it to see what on earth is going on. But I think this is a worthy successor. Not so much to 'Pitch Black'.... more like 'Battlefield Earth'.

MARGARET: Oh, dear.

Puny man-animals! What are you thinking? We will destroy you! Mwoa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha harrr!