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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Maxine/ You're not the only one...

.. who's been shot from that particular direction. However, in other cases - if the culprit is a teenage boy with a camera-cellphone, or a middle-aged businessman - he can get sued or prosecuted, or at least shamed. If it's the Canberra Times, then, it's a freedom of the press issue. Sorry. Grin and bear.

"The Omega Man"

In preparation for the impending release of Will Smith's I Am Legend, I watched the original Charlton Heston version of The Omega Man on DVD last week.

(I'm assuming studio executives vetoed some original plan by Mr Smith to title his remake "Tha Omega M###aF####a".)

There's something about those late 60s/ early 70s (post Forbidden Planet but pre-Star Wars) SF films that just can't be replicated. Whether the tight polyester clothes, the long slabs of speechifying, the low-budget special effects, or the loud, anthemic organ music... (you can hear a sample on YouTube here, if you have a good connection).

The DVD has extra material including a portentous mini-documentary, made at the time (1970s) where Heston interviews anthropologist Professor Ashley Montagu about the sociology and psychology of Robert Neville. Great stuff.

I kept expecting Heston to say "Damn you all to hell!" and "Get your damn paws off me, you dirty vampire!" I see now why he likes guns so much.

I also liked Anthony Zerbe's Matthias - a sort of Kent Brockman figure who morphs into Ward Churchill as played by Jim Steinman.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Authority knows if you've been bad or good

Voiceover from the trailer, on a darkened background:

" Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Sinterklass, Kris Kringle, Joulupukki - those were all names he gave himself. He was never the one who left the Micronaut Hornetroid in the stocking at the end of your bed between 7:43 pm on the 24th and 5:18 am on the 25th of December 1979. He was a human like ourselves - one equipped with a flying red speeder bike, true, with awesomely wicked grunt, but he breathes and farts just as we do, and Farting is only a name for what happens when someone emits flatus of no particular value primarily for the sake of expressing and relieving some pressure that's been bugging them for a long time, rather than for bringing about constructive solutions by respectful dialogue..."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Democrats vs demographics

Australian Democrats. They're pro-choice and they vote. And so do all their surviving children.

In theory, the ranks of Don's Party should by now be bursting with the millions of small-L moderates driven out of the Liberal Party by the far Right wing's harsh, unrepresentative social conservatism. In practice, though, I know of exactly one - Greg Barns, formerly a Howard Government Ministerial staffer (I still have the letter, signed by him, from ten years ago assuring me that my opposition to the privatisation of Telstra was groundless), who quit the Libs and deed-polled his name to Don John Woodchipp. Without those reinforcements, the number of dreadfully earnest, well-meaning schoolteachers who deeply believe that [1] "the Coalition is too patriarchal but Labor is too blokey", and [2] using the words "toys" and "boys" in the same sentence is only problematic if the word "war" is in there too, just ain't sufficient to reach the Senate quota.

Admittedly, at the same election the Greens' vote held up, although that's doubtless because the Greens are more consistently pro-choice in defending the reproductive autonomy of the individual.

Lexx (no, not Cathar Lexx)

I had never heard of the TV series Lexx before until I came across this article (a review of Battlestar Galactica) which described it (Lexx, that is) as "a sort of R-rated HR Pufnstuf". Intrigued, I consulted Google, and ended up renting episode 1 on DVD. Someone at IMDB described it as "The American Red Dwarf ... Made By Canadians and Germans", but having now watched the pilot episode, I'm not sure that's quite right either. So what would be a better description? Well, I'm torn between "Blake's Seven crossed with Babylon Five out of Brazil" on the one hand, and "Farscape meets The Fifth Element, with a touch of Firefly" (although dragonfly would be more apt) on the other, or even "Dune meets Delicatessen" (by which I mean the fairly weird 2000 Euro-Dune, not the even weirder "Hmmm, melange pie" 1984 Lynch-ed version: although Lexx has so much more Euro-weird that it makes M John Harrison seem as standard Hollywood as Michael Bay by contrast). Contrast, eg, the two leading men. I'm also wavering as to whether to order Disk Two. It's either brilliant or it's absolutely insane.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Tu es vox"

Or arguably "Tu es ille vox" - it matters not. The following shall (on pain of such penalties as the local Ordinary shall judge it meet to impose) be sung (loudly) to the tune of John "Whispering Jack" Farnham's 1968 classic "Sadie - The Cleaning Lady" - and inspired by every Pope Eugene who ever got elected by 5 votes to 3 of his own private conclave in backwoods Idaho or suburban Neufchatel. Dedicated to Gerry Matatics, who was originally a Calvinist of some stripe who then converted to Catholicism, but is now a Sedevacantist: he decided, in other words, that new Priest was but old Presbyter writ large...

The Sedes - is clearly vacant
Since the latest Pope but one was kissing Korans
Saying "sorry" to the Jews
Wobbly on the Right to Choose
And forgetting that Eius transitum tota orans

So lock the doors, light the straws, hold the conclave
Let each member of the Remnant, mark his parchment
With no Supreme Inerrant Head
the Christian Faith would soon be dead,
Any idiot could claim his Private Judgment

But quick! The Sedes - is clearly vacant
It's unthinkable Our Lord would want such chaos
Leave His children in the lurch
With no Father o'er the Church
You'd get self-appointed leaders from the laos

So lock the doors, light the straws, hold the Conclave
Let each member of the Remnant, mark his parchment
With no Supreme Inerrant Head
The Christian Faith would soon be dead,
Any idiot could claim his Private Judgment

We knew the Sedes - is clearly vacant
Since 1958 (or '63, at latest)
I don't care who did the deed
All I know is that you need
promptly to elect me Gregory the Greatest

So lock the doors, light the straws, hold the Conclave
Let each member of the Remnant, mark his parchment
With no Supreme Inerrant Head
The Christian Faith would soon be dead,
Any idiot could claim his Private Judgment

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cubiculum obtenete!

'Robert Mellors Primary School on the outskirts of Nottingham, England, is a long way from the verdant lawns and haunted forests of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the main setting of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books. But by borrowing elements from that fantastic realm, this once-failing school has turned itself around as if by magic dust...'

- Alex Altman, "Harry Potter Works Magic at School," Time (16 November 2007)
"Mellors..." Hmmm. Let's hope in the name of Sean Bean this school's enactment of classics of English literature goes no further than Harry Potter, what?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Neither Christian, nor democratic, nor much of a party

"Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country..." - Leviticus 24:22
Couldn't quite believe my ears last night, around 9.30 and then around 10 PM. Watching Red Eye on TV, savoring Cillian Murphy's enjoyably hooded-eyed, creepy persona, but thinking "Hmm. He's curiously whitebread for a Hollywood terrorist/ assassin villain. Not even Russian Mafiya or European neo-Nazi links, let alone... you know what."

But you-know-what was not lacking from my TV diet last night, because at the aforementioned times were screened election advertisements spoken and authorized by Paul Green, the Christian Democratic Party's lead Senate candidate for New South Wales, listing the party's policies, with Article I being "a halt to Islamic immigration and a ten-year moratorium".

Nice work, CDP. In theory, this week should have been a good one for the ChrisDems, with Fred Nile at last getting his chance to publicly grieve over the senseless deaths of unborn babies without being vilified as a [W]oman-hater. But this silly idea has thrown away their moral advantage, for three big reasons.

[1] Administrative problem with "a moratorium on Islamic immigration": How do you enforce it? Do you lock would-be migrants in a room with closed-circuit TV and see if you can catch them praying towards Mecca? Do you make them spit on a Quran as part of the visa application process? Or do you cap the quota of visas from any country with green and Arabic lettering on its flag, or that's a member of "The Organization of the [sic] Islamic Conference"?

[2] Constitutional problem with "a moratorium on Islamic immigration": The Federal Government, which exclusively controls immigration, is constitutionally barred from discriminating on the basis of religion. That's in Section 116 of our strong Constitution, Fred and co (right after the clause that says how the Queen is descended from King David and is therefore God's anointed). Yes, the Feds do have pretty much unlimited legislative power to discriminate on the basis of race - but they have no power to discriminate on the basis of religion. (If you were going to Constitutionally permit one but not the other, religious discrimination is less completely irrational - "prohibiting the free exercise of any race" is a logical contradiction, since race is wholly involuntary while religion is only largely involuntary - but Australian voters, in their wisdom, voting in 1900 and 1967, chose the opposite combo: live with it.)

[3] Practical problem with "a moratorium on Islamic immigration": It does nothing about Muslim criminals or terrorists who were born in Australia. Deportation is the easy way out: it requires less proof from the government (despite Justice Spender's stirling efforts to impose some rationality on the Haneef debacle) because - in theory - it's "non-punitive". But deportation won't work on naturalized citizens, or radical fundamentalist Muslims who are native-born - as were most of the 2005 London bombers. Sorry, government, you actually need to get off your backside and start prosecuting the guilty individuals, as individuals.

Floating (no pun intended) this proposal barely a month after the untimely death of one of Australia's most valued and productive Muslim migrants, Mustapha "Crazy John" Ilhan, is tasteless.

[Disclosure: one of my siblings has an Indonesian Muslim spouse. So no, I'm not well-disposed to knee-jerk proposals that would make their visa applications harder. Allow for my bias as you will. I still think this is a dumb proposal].

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Workchoices: Rather too pro-choice for my liking

Maybe the intercession of the Blessed Che and the Holy Martyrs of Tolpuddle is called for after all. Can there be anything more un-Australian than sacking someone for having a beer or two over lunch?

'... the Industrial Relations Commission upheld the sacking of a supermarket manager for having two beers at lunchtime... violating the "zero tolerance" policy on drinking in working hours enforced by Woolworths, which owns Safeway.

Mr [Tony] Selak, 36, admitted having two glasses of beer over lunch in May, but argued that the policy should not apply to managers, who did not operate equipment or machinery. He said he was drinking only to help create a more relaxed environment in which he could convince a valuable employee, who was thinking of resigning, to stay with the company.

But Commissioner Gareth Grainger found Woolworths's decision to sack Mr Selak, who had worked for the company for 18 years, was "not harsh, unjust or unreasonable"...'
- Andrew West, " Eat, drink and risk getting the sack after lunch," Sydney Morning Herald (13 November 2007)
If that's this Gareth Grainger, then such newfound zeal for upholding dismissal at will - for treating every breach of the employment contract, however trivial, as a potential "hanging offence" - sits very oddly with his known support for other not-terribly-productive connossieurs of alcohol holding down well-remunerated jobs for life.

GK Chesterton, phone your office! I call on Tim Blair and Mark Steyn to take a break from eulogising George Jones and George Jonas to condemn this creeping Sharia-fication of the Aussie working lunch.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pro Nobis

"... [The] Adoration as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God..."

- The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England (1562), item #32

White dove to descend on Crowe

"What we do here today, echoes in eternity!"

Russell Crowe is planning to be baptised at the chapel on his Nana Glen property in northern NSW.
"I'd like to do it this year," the 43-year-old actor told Men's Journal magazine [December 2007].  "My mum and dad decided to let my brother and me make our own decisions about God when we got to the right age. I started thinking recently, 'If I believe it is important to baptise my kids, why not me?'"

Crowe says the baptism will take place in the Byzantine chapel he built at his property near Coffs Harbour for his wedding to Danielle Spencer in 2003.... "It is consecrated and everything," Crowe says....

Crowe - who has a reputation for throwing temper tantrums - is more spiritual than people may think. "I do believe there are more important things than what is in the mind of a man," he says. "There is something much bigger that drives us all. I'm willing to take that leap of faith"...
- " Crowe to be baptised with his son," National Nine News (8 November 2007)

Friday, November 02, 2007


'It is the military version of Harry Potter's invisible cloak. British researchers have unveiled new technology that renders army tanks invisible to observers in the battle field, a British newspaper reports. At top secret trials last week the Ministry of Defence demonstrated how the clever use of cameras and projectors can beam images of the surrounding landscape onto a tank.
'Observers at the trial said the vehicle completely disappeared into the surrounding countryside.   One soldier described the optical camouflage as "incredible". "If I hadn't been present I wouldn't have believed it," he told the Daily Mail. "I looked across the fields and just saw grass and trees - but in reality I was staring down the barrel of a tank gun." The British Army predicted that invisible tanks would be in use by 2012, although how it works in combat is very sensitive.  The Army is also believed to be testing the technology on military jackets for its soldiers....'

- NineMSN News, " Invisible cloak for army tanks" (Friday 2 November 2007)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Honour among thieves (or at at least some quality control)

'A hoon driver who performed a "burn-out" inside a convenience store after driving through the front door made the task of tracking him down easy for police: he left a registration plate behind. Police said the store attendant had to jump for his life as the car crashed through the front of the store in Warrigal Road, Oakleigh, when the driver lost control during a tyre-smoking "burn-out" in the car park just before 9pm yesterday.

[Police] said the man then drove further into the store, damaging equipment and threatening the attendant. "Not satisfied with the level of stupidity he had displayed to this point, he did another burn-out inside the store, narrowly missing the attendant," [police] said. [... A]s the driver reversed out of the store, "he conveniently left his front bumper bar inside" with the registration plate attached...'

- " Number's up for clueless hoon," Melbourne Age (Friday 19 October 2007)

"A thief caught shoplifting a packet of cheese from a supermarket in Germany tried to make his getaway in a cement mixer, but he was quickly nabbed by police.... When a shop detective in the town of Limbach-Oberfrohna caught the man stealing a 2.79 euro ($3.98) packet of processed cheese, the 55-year-old broke free and leaped into his cement mixing truck outside... The shop alerted police, who arrested the man when he stopped his getaway vehicle at a red light a few hundred yards away.'

- " Thief fails to grasp concept of getaway", Reuters "Oddly Enough" (Friday 19 October 2007)

"Deuwd! I, like, teautally left my car plate behind!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Won't always have Paris

... but may keep Elaan for a change, this time:

Australian actor Eric Bana is to star as a villain in the latest film adaptation of hit science fiction television series Star Trek. The 39-year-old star of Munich and The [sic] Hulk, will play the character Nero in the movie, which is being directed by JJ Abrams, the man behind hit television shows Lost and Alias, Daily Variety reported today. Details about plot and characters in the new film are being kept under blanket security. Bana joins a cast that already includes Leonard Nimoy, although it is not clear if the veteran actor from the television series will be reprising his famous role as Mr Spock. The actor who will play USS Enterprise captain James T Kirk had not yet been decided, Variety reported. The new film is the 11th to be based on the series, which began in 1966 and became one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood, extending to 726 episodes.

- AFP, " Bana to play Star Trek baddie", Sydney Morning Herald (Thursday 11 October 2007)

Answers: Yes, Nimoy does play Spock. But so too does Zachary Quinto. As as for Kirk... In 40 Terrestrial years, Trek has come full circle from being captained by Christopher Pike to being captained by Christopher Pine. (No, not that one.)

Strange intentions

"Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon's divorce from actor Ryan Philippe has been confirmed, nearly one year after the couple's separation, court documents revealed today.... Witherspoon, 31, filed for divorce from Philippe, 33, in November 2006 after a seven-year relationship which began when the duo met on the set of Cruel Intentions. The couple have two children, Ava, 8 and Deacon, 3..."

- " Reese, Ryan divorced," Sydney Morning Herald (Thursday 11 October 2007)

Huh? 7 - 8 = ... -1 (plus nine months)?

UPDATE: Some more funny numbers in the news...

"At stake... were five of the 10 non-permanent seats on the 15-nation council... Unlike the five permanent members, ... the non-permanent members have no individual veto. But an alliance of seven of them can stop a resolution even if the big powers want it."

- "Libya elected to UN Security Council," ABC News (Wednesday 17 October 2007)

Seven out of fifteen can pass a motion, with... hmmm... (15 - 7 =...) eight voting against? Maybe they use a weighted voting system,like this one:

"Australia opposes the death penalty. It is an article of faith for both the Government and the Opposition... The 2004 Australian Election Survey found support for the death penalty stood at 51.1 per cent, with opposition at 32.7 per cent and 16.2 per cent undecided."

- Sian Powell, "Double standard on death: Labor foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland's remarks on capital punishment put bipartisanship under scrutiny," Weekend Australian (13-14 October 2007),25197,22576191-28737,00.html

Yep. The pro-DP Australians only outnumber the anti-DP Australians by a mere 1:59 to one. That's a pretty clear and convincing margin by which "Australia" opposes the death penalty, innit.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"I, the Jury" meets "We, the Living"

"Tomorrow, October 12, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged...
In his 1989 memoir, Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden recalls that Rand once enjoyed a literary friendship with another popular and controversial author - Mickey Spillane. Branden recalls that when Rand first met Spillane she found the tough-guy novelist crying in his soup. "They sure hate us, don't they?" he told her, lamenting all those harsh reviews. "Some literary guy," Spillane added, had recently approached him at a dinner party and said, "it's disgraceful that of the ten bestselling novels of all time, seven were written by you." "You're lucky," Spillane replied, "that I've only written seven books."
Spillane was right to think he deserved a bit more critical praise. When he was bad, he was very bad: gratuitously violent and crude. But the author of I, The Jury and My Gun Is Quick had certain talents too: a clean and vivid style, a sly wit, and a distinctive narrative voice that hints throughout of self-parody. Moreover, Spillane was, by most accounts, a sociable and likable fellow, and seems to have largely avoided the urge to take himself too seriously. Ayn Rand took herself very seriously indeed..."

- Brian Murray, "Who Is John Galt? And Does Anyone Care Anymore?" First Things "On the Square" blog (Thursday 11 October 2007)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shoulda known/ We'd never get far

One Eighties icon hopes to succeed in bringing peace to the Middle East where others have failed...

Bryan Adams has announced he will headline two peace concerts [on] October 18, calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of the New York-based OneVoice Movement. The organization seeks to create a grassroots movement to bring about a two-state solution to end decades of strife. The Canadian rocker will begin his epic day in a soccer stadium in the ancient West Bank town of Jericho in the Palestinian Authority, then cap the day with a set at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel. The simultaneous festivals, which will also include Israeli and Palestinian artists on the bill, will be beamed by satellite to audiences in Washington DC, Boston, London, Ottawa and other cities in the US and Europe that will be holding their own "echo events." ...

- Josh Grossberg, " Bryan Adams' Mideast Peace Plan," NineMSN News (9 October 2007)
Reports that Mr Adams plans to dedicate his live accoustic of "Cuts Like a Knife" to Daniel Pearl and Kenneth Bingley could not, at time of writing, be verified.

Monday, October 08, 2007

What part of "no graven image" don't... oh, forget it

Taliban First Commandment jurisprudence, 1997:

"... the Taliban is perhaps the most militantly religious militia on earth. At checkpoints around the city [of Kabul], its fighters were searching cars for magazines and cassettes. I saw videotapes and audiotapes festooning a tree near one such checkpoint, and assumed they were pornographic, or rock and roll, or some kind of anti-Taliban propaganda. But I learned that the objective of the fighters is in fact much wider. They are searching for anything that depicts the human face or any of God's creatures. In no other Islamic society have the new revolutionary authorities gone so far."
- Michael Ignatieff, The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience (1998), pp 150-51.

Taliban First Commandment jurisprudence, 2007:

Osama Bin Laden plans to emerge from the shadows to taunt the United States again in a video message marking the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, US-based monitoring services said on Thursday. The video from the world's most wanted man would be the first such appearance by the Saudi extremist since October 2004, when he threatened new attacks against the United States just days before a US election. "The SITE Intelligence Group has learned that a new video message is forthcoming from the head of Al-Qaeda" on the 9/11 anniversary, said the group, which monitors extremist websites and publications. The Al-Qaeda network's media arm announced the video in a notice posted on jihadist forums... The video of the soft-spoken Al-Qaeda leader who has claimed credit for the 9/11 attacks will be closely watched with every word and visual detail analyzed and dissected by intelligence agencies in Washington and around the world... Al-Qaeda now promotes itself in numerous videos and web postings but Bin Laden retains a low-profile, staying out of sight while issuing only occasional statements. Thursday's online notice included a photo of Bin Laden in which his black beard did not have the usual streaks of gray. He was also not wearing a camouflage jacket as in previous appearances..."

- AFP, " Bin Laden to taunt US again in video marking 9- 11" (7 September 2007)
Maybe the Taliban have concluded that Osama's visual depictions were actually made by angelic, not human, hands.

"'Fenris Ulf' means no more and no less than 'Maugrim'..."

UPDATE: And finally... Hal E Potter and the Potentially Lethal Season's Greetings.

Harry Potter fever is sweeping with the impending release of JK Rowling's much-anticipated sixth book in the heptalogy, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Following well-established publishing precedent, the title will be extraordinarily rendered to make it comprehensible to US children. Just as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as both a book and a film title, was translated into Americanese as Hal E Potter and the Sorceror's Stone -- and just as Books 2 to 5, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- were likewise translated into the True Speech of Webster and Clay (as Hal E Potter and the Room Full of Secrets, Hal E Potter and the Jailbird from Wizardprison, Hal E Potter and the Jewelled Cup Full of Fire, and Hal E Potter and the Sorority of the Burning Bird -- so, too, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will need to be made comprehensible for the MTV and zee-for-zed generation. My money's on Hal E Potter and the Full-Blood Kennedy Nephew, but I invite your contributions.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Evening, Mrs Vader... Darth is over there"

" Evening, Mrs Vader... Darth is over there"

Reutos "Oddly Enough" (Monday, April 23rd, 2007)

[via "When vogue goes rogue..." blog]

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

John Ralston, Saul

The backlash continues. White, light-haired North American males are being given iconic science fictional roles that used to belong to persons of colour - Black and Asian. First, Ged of Earthsea was filmed as a bland whiteboy. Then, Colonel Tigh (played by Terry Carter, black) was turned into Colonel Saul Tigh (played by Michael Hogan, white). Both bad. Two smacks for Sci-Fi Channel.

But now it gets complicated. In Sci-Fi's new re-imagining of Flash Gordon, Emperor Ming is now played by a white Canadian actor, John Ralston. I'm guessing, just guessing, that Pam Noles won't be as pissed off about this particular de-pigmentation as she is about Danny Glover's role in Earthsea and Ron Glass's role in Firefly.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fashion Nazis

UPDATE: "Danish-Norwegian artist Nina Maria Kleivan dressed her baby as various 20th-century dictators. Left, Adolf Hitler, top right, Mao Zedong, bottom right, Idi Amin." - National Post [Canada] (16 March 2010)

"Anne Geddes Starting To Lose It"- The Onion, Issue 37.25 (25 July 2001)

"Fashion chain Zara withdraws swastika handbag"- "Oddly Enough", Reuters (21 September 2007)

Spanish fashion chain Zara has withdrawn a handbag from its stores after a customer in Britain complained swastikas were embroidered on it. Zara, owned by the world's second largest fashion retailer Inditex, said it did not know the 39 pound ($78) handbag had green swastikas on its corners. The bags were made by a supplier in India and inspired by commonly used Hindu symbols, which include the swastika. The original design approved by Zara did not have swastikas on it, Inditex said. "After the return of one bag we decided to withdraw the whole range," said a spokesman for Inditex, which has more than 3,330 stores in 66 countries.

Zara pulled the bags after 19-year-old Rachel Hatton told Britain's Daily Mail she asked for a refund when she spotted swastikas on her bag. "The shop assistants were quite shocked as well to find out this symbol was on there," she told BBC radio. A British anti-fascism group said the bags were an attempt to legitimize fascism and the Daily Star tabloid newspaper ran a picture of Adolf Hitler next to its story headlined, "Fury over Nazi Fashion Bags."

The swastika is an ancient religious symbol for Hindus and Buddhists, and has represented the sun, strength and good luck to many groups around the world. Since its adoption by the Nazi Party in 1920, people in the West have associated the swastika with Nazi dictator Hitler.

UPDATE: Thank you, come again!

INDIA'S small Jewish community is up in arms over a new line of Indian home furnishings which includes a bedspread named "NAZI" and uses the swastika in its promotional brochures.The furnishings dealer says the word "NAZI" stands for New Arrival Zone of India, but local Jewish leaders say the name rings of [sic] Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic regime.[...] The NAZI-named bedspread is being sold at stores in India's financial capital Mumbai.The new product is promoted with a brochure that displays two red swastikas against a black background.The brochure reads "Bed and Beyond presents the NAZI collection" with the expanded form of the word written in a very small font. The cover has a picture of two red cushions and a red bedspread. "The name has nothing to do with Hitler," said the dealer, Kapil Kumar Todi, denying he had chosen the name for free publicity. "It's just an abbreviation."But Indian Jews – only about 5000 remain after most migrated to Israel and the West over the years – say they are outraged by the gimmick.[...] Holocaust awareness in India is limited and Hitler is regarded by many as just another historical figure. [...]

- Krittivas Mukherjee (Reuters), "Bed and Beyond presents 'NAZI' collection," Herald Sun (30 September 2007)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Das Siebensjahreitschgesetz; Or, Pauli-Wahl - nuts

'In a few years, no doubt, marriage licenses will be sold like dog licenses, good for a period of twelve months, with no law against changing dogs or keeping more than one animal at a time.' - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932), Foreword.

Yet another "Gabriel[l][e] vs conservative politicians" news item for this week. When, oh when, will right-of-centre political parties learn that it's a bad idea to endorse twice-divorced 50-something redheads who subsequently come out with embarrassing public pronouncements, who pose for kitschy photos, who engage in tasteless media stunts, and whose names contain the letters P, A, U, L and I...?

A conservative German politician has proposed making marriage contracts expire after seven years, with the option to renew for those not feeling the proverbial itch. "I propose that marriages lapse after seven years," Gabriele Pauli told reporters in Munich, the capital of the largely Catholic southern state of Bavaria. "This would mean that one will only commit for a fixed period and will actively have to renew your [sic] vows if you still want to continue."

Ms Pauli, 50, has been divorced twice. The proposal is part of her manifesto as she prepares to contest the leadership of Bavaria's governing party, the ultra-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), next week. The CSU is the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and the leadership is being vacated by a strategic ally of the chancellor, Edmund Stoiber, who has also been premier of Bavaria for more than a decade. Mr Stoiber in January agreed to step down at the end of September after a party rebellion led by Ms Pauli. Shortly afterward he announced his decision, Ms Pauli caused a stir by posing for magazine pictures as a dominatrix wearing long latex gloves. - AFP, "Politician proposes seven-year limit on marriages," Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News (20 September 2007)

For those who aren't au fait with Germanic politics, the Bavarian CSU is roughly the German equivalent of the Queensland National Party (down to having its own version of the failed " Joh For PM" campaign). So this would be like, say, Fiona Simpson supporting no-fault divorce (as an alternative to judicially amputating a finger or two from the at-fault spouse).

Given Ms Pauli's rather disconcerting resemblance in certain respects to Helen Buday in Alexandra's Project, dissolving her marriages every seven years might come as something of a relief to the menschvolk of Germany.

PS (1): India Knight gives her views on the proposed Pauli-ine Privilege.

Not as clums[ii] or random as...

"Finally the lightsabre comes to the Wii"

Players will wield the Jedi weapon of choice using Nintendo's motion-sensitive 'Wiimote' controller
By Rhys Blakely

Times Online (Wednesday 19 September 2007)

A new weapon will soon join Nintendo's armoury: a lightsabre. Internet gaming sites across the web today cheered news of a new Star Wars game for the hit Wii console in which players will wield the Jedi weapon of choice using Nintendo's motion sensitive "Wiimote" controller...

[From the Journal of the Whiiiills]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Crossing Jordan on the Yarra

"A new body established by the [Victorian] State Government will address family-friendly employment practices and issues... Jill Hennessy will become the inaugural chairwoman of the State Government's Working Families Council..."
- David Wilson, " Council to help workers get a life," Melbourne Age (25 August 2007).
Calm down, Crossing Jordan fans - not that Jill Hennessy. This one's a Victorian barristrix (and a former ALP State President, as it happens. Gosh, what a lucky coincidence that she happened to be the best-suited applicant for the job in an open selection process!). The ALP's already had one J. Cavanagh and he was quite enough.

Such disappointment as has not been seen since Iraqis learned it was a different J. Garner whom Dubya was appointing as his prefect plenipotentiary to reign over them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nation-al reunification, or, alternative history

According to the IMDB, Gareth "Roj Blake" Thomas and Tom "Fourth Doctor" Baker:

"... always wanted to do a cross-over between Doctor Who and Blake's 7 but this was vetoed by producers of both series. Indeed, the invasion from Andromeda at the end of the second season was originally going to be [an] invasion by Doctor Who's Daleks, also created by Terry Nation."
Oh, what might have been. Two of the most awesome Late Seventies Curly Perms seen on TV, after that of Ron on Alexander Bunyip's Billabong, together on screen at last... Terry's children, returning home again for a Tom vs Thomas crossover...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Not from "The Onion"

"Concerns over cage-fighting approval"

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) [Sat 15 Sept 2007]

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is concerned the Western
Australian Government has approved an event in Perth next month that
will see competitors fight in a cage.

The Government's Professional Combat Sports Commission has issued a
permit to the promoters of the King of the Cage mixed martial arts contest.

The commission's executive officer Darren von Bergheim believes
granting the permit will allow the event to be staged in a way that
ensures the participants' safety.

Permit conditions include that contestants have medical clearance,
and that a medical practitioner is on hand at all times.

But the AMA's president in WA, Geoff Dobb, says any event which
encourages participants to beat their opponents senseless should not
be condoned.

"Cage fighting is really a naked demonstration of violence, and I
think there is no place for an exhibition such as this in the 21st
century," he said.

You need less money, more common sense

On the other hand, not all Liberal Leader/ Gabriel interactions are so cordial. In this case, orange cordial. ...Twelve?!

Now, if you need a break from British tabloids fretting about Maddie, you can turn to Australian tabloids fretting about Maddi:

Greg Stolz, "Maddison Gabriel causes fashion storm", Brisbane Courier-Mail (Friday 14 September 2007)

The 12-year-old girl chosen as the face of a Gold Coast fashion event
says she fits into women's clothes, so she should be allowed to model them.

O-kayyy... That's a novel interpretation of "theology of the body": that it can't be wrong if you're physically capable of doing it.

This is no so much Thomistic as Emma Tom-istic reasoning ("I've personally some really cool people who engage in X, so how can X possibly be wrong?") .
Prime Minister John Howard has led a chorus of criticism of the choice of Maddison Gabriel, who turns 13 on Sunday, as the face of the inaugural Gold Coast Fashion Week.
"Just because something may not be technically illegal, doesn't mean it's morally right", Mr Howard grimaced . "I, urr, make no apologies, Kerry, for having stood steadfastly by that principle throughout my political career."

The Hillcrest Christian College Year 8 student told Channel Seven that she was the right model for the job.
What's the bet that school bans Harry Potter books?

UPDATE: Okay - thirteen now. Now that it's been established that making light of child abuse won't disqualify you from political leadership (at least if you're not Alexander Downer), maybe Peter Hollingworth could re-apply for the GG-ship now?

UPDATE 2: "Model's mum seeks apology from PM", Melbourne Age (Sunday 16 September 2007)

Seeking an apology from John Howard. Now there's a productive use of one's vocal cords.

UPDATE 2: A National/ Liberal united front, as supermodel Kristy Hinze agrees with Howard:

"I think that's awful," Hinze said. "Gee, I was a baby at 15 when I started, but 12? That's taking it to a whole new level. I don't care what she looks like... It is an adults['] world and adult products she is selling ... that is quite sick actually."

Good to see the House of Hinze still upholding its family tradition of staunchly opposing all attempts to commodify or cheapen the Gold Coast.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What, ALL of his wives?!

'"Who played the father in the movie Kramer versus Kramer?" That's one of the 50 questions Japanese men could face in a "daddy exam," meant to raise awareness about fatherhood in a country where men tend to work long hours and leave their wives in charge of childcare and household chores...'

- " Daddy exam quizzes men on potties, parenting," Reuters "Oddly Enough" (14 September 2007)

"Banks must try different methods of suckering in the impressionable... Eg, send them emails beginning with 'Honourable Sir!'..."

"Nigerian banks must stop using attractive women to persuade customers to open accounts, Senate President David Mark was quoted as saying in Thursday's newspapers..."

- Reuters, "Hey, big boy! Any interest?" (14 September 2007)

Still on the side of the angels

(1) Heckler to Sir Robert Menzies in Williamstown, Victoria (1954): "I wouldn't vote for you, even if you were the Archangel Gabriel!"

Menzies: "Even if I were the Archangel Gabriel, madam, I'm afraid you would not be in my constituency."


(2) "The federal Labor Party has called on the Prime Minister to disendorse Jesus Diaz's [Liberal] candidacy for the federal seat of Chifley because of [his immigration licence] suspension."

"Liberals stand by candidate over migration agent," ABC News (6
September 2007) []

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

While playing "Sister Christian" on HIS tapes, with HIS music, in the order HE liked the songs

"An alleged drug kingpin was captured in his underwear Monday, hiding in a bush outside a house in western Colombia, government officials said in Bogota..."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Michael Leunig, call your [O]ffice

Yep. Israel. 'Coz, like, that's exactly where you'd choose to live if you wanted to form a six-member neo-Nazi cell group... ie, a country where the majority of the populace are five million Jews, many of them Holocaust survivors; whose young folk all do military service and carry their Uzis with them on the bus and to the cafe; and who are constantly alert for terrorist attacks. Brilliant strategy by the master race there...

"Israeli cops bust 'neo-Nazi' cell" ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Monday 10 September 2007 Immigrants from the former Soviet Union formed a neo-Nazi cell in Israel that assaulted religious Jews and foreign workers and daubed swastikas in synagogues, police say. A photograph of six young men raising their arms in a Nazi salute was featured on the front page of the Jewish state's most popular newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. "Unbelievable", a headline read. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said eight suspects were arrested in all. At a court hearing, they denied involvement in any neo-Nazi activity. He said none of the suspects was born to a Jewish mother, the Orthodox definition of a Jew, but qualified for citizenship in Israel under civil law because each had at least one Jewish grandparent. "The cell members adopted Hitler's ideology and created their own unique language which includes music, video clips, insignia, graffiti, and tattoos all depicting Nazi ideology," a police statement said. "Members of the group would document attacks in which they beat innocent and helpless people who belonged to different minorities," the statement said. Foreign workers, homosexuals, Orthodox Jews and drug addicts were the main victims in attacks in the Tel Aviv area over the past year. Cell members also painted swastikas in several synagogues, along with "Death to the Jews" - with misspellings in Hebrew - on a building near one of the houses of worship, the statement said. Police said the group had "strong ties and connections to other neo-Nazi cells active in Germany and elsewhere overseas". Mr Rosenfeld said the suspects would be charged with "causing bodily harm to individuals and sabotage to synagogues". Amos Hermon, an official in the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental group in Israel that helps organise immigration, said neo-Nazism in the Jewish state was a "minor phenomenon". He said it was likely the alleged cell members were suffering from "immigration shock" and vented their frustrations by expressing "some of the most hurtful sentiments towards the Jewish people" and emulating behaviour they may have witnessed in the former Soviet Union. - Reuters

Thursday, September 06, 2007

... And also for starring in "American Psycho" and "Batman Begins"

"Truth stranger than fiction as Polish author jailed"

ABC News (Thursday 6 September 2007)

Polish author Krystian Bala has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a businessman after he published a novel which contained details of a similar killing. The body of the businessman was found near the Polish city of Wroclaw seven years ago. Prosecutors say Bala had humiliated, tortured, starved and later killed his victim, who had a love affair with the writer's wife. Bala told authorities that he had taken details of the case from press reports and made up other aspects of the story. (BBC)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

After everything Glen A's done for you?!

Rick Springfield says he still battles with the depression that briefly ended his musical career in the 1980s - despite being lusted after at nearly 58... When he's not "getting possessed and burning up a sweat on stage," as he puts it, he's enjoying meditation nights with rock pal Richard Page, from the 1980s band Mr Mister. And if you thought that was lame for a rocker, Springfield also reveals he's a sci-fi geek. "I'm a toy freak. I've got about 10 toy guns, and I've just bought three ray guns. I've also got some really rare Star Wars stuff, action figures and Japanese tin robots. I collect weird s***. It must be a part of me that still lives in my mother's basement" ...

- Emma Pryer, "Rocker Rick battles blues - But his fans still go wild," Sunday Telegraph [Sydney] (19 August 2007), p 27.

Star Wars figures?!!! With that sort of ingratitude, the Sacred Scrolls foretell that Rick's chances of being cast in a cameo role on CSI Caprica ("Jeff Athanasius, complaining passenger on luxury starliner") are diminishing.

Well, I suppose you gotta love somebody. And take heart, Rick, at least you're doted on by Jennifer Garner, if not Leia Organa.

To be fair, gratitude goes both ways. Given that Ronmor and crew are lifting Jimi Hendrix tunes now, and given that "Jesse's Girl" has been used in other films (most memorably, in Boogie Nights), that tune would have made fitting background music to Zak and Kara creating their own private Tropic of Caprica in the episode "Act of Contrition".

Monday, August 20, 2007

Portman, Kidman, Pullman

[1] "Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen have topped a poll of the most unconvincing on-screen chemistry for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones."

[2] "Film not anti-Catholic: Kidman"

Nine.MSN News (Sunday 19 August 2007)

Nicole Kidman has been forced to deny her latest film is anti-[C]hurch and [to] reaffirm her own faith as a religious controversy threatens to brew in the United States.

Kidman stars in the fantasy film The Golden Compass, an adaptation of a book that has been labelled 'anti-Catholic' in the US.
[Well, that's not really fair. Pullers has a swipe at "every religion" in his books. Yes, that does include even Bahais and Hollywood Buddhists, I presume - he did say "every".]

The film also stars Daniel Craig and recent Bond-girl Eva Green.
[As opposed to ancient Hitler girl Eva Braun...?]

''I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic,'' Kidman told Entertainment Weekly magazine.

''I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence.''
[What, not merely one of her accidents?]

The film's screenplay is based on Philip Pullman's book Northern Lights, which has reportedly gained attention in the US for its perceived anti-Catholic rhetoric.

Kidman, who is currently midway through production of the Baz Luhrmann period epic Australia, told the US magazine that the screenplay had been altered.

''It has been watered down a little,'' she said.
[Yeah, well... up to a point, Lord Summerisle. In the film version, the corrupted priests of "Pope John Calvin" only eat the babies raw; they don't burn them alive first, like in the books.]

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On spoilers

Why is ther an insatiable desire for spoilers? Or is it an uncontested drive by media outlets to publish and be damned? Or is knowing the spolier the lazy person' guide to everything? Or a vicious desire to see those who do not want to be spoiled be dismayed on the revelation?

I spent months trying to avoid spoilers for The Phantom Menance, back in 1999, and the final result wasn't worth the effort.

Trying to avoid Harry Potter 7 (7! This kids has done more rounds than Rocky) spoilers was a little easier - it's a book, not yet a fil, so just avoid all print, tv and internet, but KFC an McDonald's kids toys are safe.

What is the big deal. Three points of view:

J.K. Rowling:

A couple of weeks ago (April 28th, if you want to go and search the archive) the Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron posted an editorial on potential spoilers for "Deathly Hallows". It made me laugh, but I was also incredibly moved and grateful.

We're a little under three months away, now, and the first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon. The Leaky Cauldron's early mission statement on spoilers (ie, don't, and we're not putting them up if you do) is deeply appreciated by yours truly.

I add my own plea to Melissa's for one reason, and one only: I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going.

Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity, that spoilers are part of hype, and that I am trying to protect sales rather than my readership. However, spoilers won't stop people buying the book, they never have - all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book.

There will always be sad individuals who get their kicks from ruining other people's fun, but while sites like Leaky take such an active stance against them, we may yet win. Even if the biggest secret gets out - even if somebody discovers the Giant Squid is actually the world's largest Animagus, which rises from the lake at the eleventh hour, transforms into Godric Gryffindor and... well, I wouldn't like to spoil it.

Josh Wheedon:

AVC: Is there a conscious philosophy to avoiding spoilers rather than seeking them out? There are fanatics on both sides of that divide.

JW: You know, I had older brothers, and I don't think there's anything worse than an older brother. They pretty much told me the end of everything they got to see before I did. It occurred to me very early on, "This would have been a lot more fun if I hadn't known everything that was going to happen before it happened." I got a little neurotic about it, and people were like, "What up?" So I sat down and I really thought about it, and realized that there is a philosophy behind it, one that I've talked about before, and I won't bore you with. It's the idea of surprise being the point of storytelling, and the most honest emotion, because it's truly humbling. Surprise means you have to reassess what you thought. It means that you were wrong about the way things were structured, and that's exciting, and really important. It also makes for a good story. I mean, The Sixth Sense is fine the second time around, but honestly, the first time around, it's dazzling. When it matters, when it makes a difference, letting a story happen to you, letting a narrative take place instead of just waiting for placeholders is a better experience, and it feeds you. We need narrative, it feeds us in a particular way, and deconstructing it completely before you've actually experienced it, I think it leaves us unfed.

And some tongue in cheek from Slate (warning! Contains HP7 spoilers for spoiler purist, and some basic themes for those who don't care as much)

So, it's not crazy to posit that peekers and page-by-pagers may represent two opposing personality types. Maybe the tenacious tots who read Harry Potter all the way through will show great self-restraint, competence, and resourcefulness later in life. And maybe when the peekers come of age they'll whine, sulk, fidget, and try to get ahead by taking shortcuts. To date, I've only heard one convincing reason to flip to the back, from another famous Harry. In When Harry Met Sally..., Harry says "I always read the last page first. That way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Presidential Tag Clouds

A tag cloud (or weighted list in visual design) is a visual depiction of content tags used on a website.

An interesting tag cloud:

State of the Union clouds - words used in U.S. presidential addresses through history

- note the change in content over time, yet the word "economic" persists

"Don't keep the Lego Man waiting!"

Oop ja, het is verij kuuriooslijk indeed. Did anyone check whether Nicholas Cage/ Edward Woodward was trapped inside, perhaps with a SIM card melted to him? Was the harvest especially bad in any small, isolated islands in the Zuidersee?

A giant, smiling Lego man has been fished out of the sea in the Dutch resort of Zandvoort. Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 2.5-metre tall model, which had a yellow head and blue torso. "We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water," said a stall worker. "It was a life-sized Lego toy." A woman nearby added: "I saw the Lego toy floating towards the beach from the direction of England." The toy was later placed in front of the drinks stall.

"Giant Lego man washed up on Dutch beach," Reuters (Wed 8 August 2007)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Blue Murder in the Cathedral

"Church apologises "

A racist outburst by a leading member of the Catholic Church has been caught on camera and posted on video website YouTube.

The clip shows the Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, the Reverend Geoffrey Baron, confronting a group of youths riding skateboards on the church property.

He tells them to leave, but as they taunt him, his demands become more abusive.

Joe Tucci from the Australian Childhood Foundation says the remarks were offensive and the Church should arrange anger management and counselling.

Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Monsignor Les Tomlinson has apologised unreservedly for the remarks made by the priest.

I can understand FGB being provoked and angry under these cirucmstances. However, his response was disproportionate. In today's climate, there is a certain percentage of the population among whom you automatically forfeit all moral legitimacy if you make a negative racial/ ethnic statement. Doing that is a deal-breaker, one that automatically makes you more sinning than sinned against, regardless of what the other person (or group) was doing to you.

Anyway, these skateheads should be thankful that Guilfuss never got hisself ordained (apparently he declined all attempts to recruit him the clergy by maintaining steadfastly that he wanted to pursue a career where he could produce some visible results). Had he been corporeally present thereat, the Lunar Love God would'a flogged 'em with rosary beads, as the corrupted priest who was protagonist of Anthony Burgess' novel Earthly Powers did to a Nazi war criminal.

Heck, I'd even settle for Fr Bob Maguire (of John Safran fame) giving these bogues the sharp edge of his tongue, as long as it could be captured on ThouTube.

UPDATE: Well, my desire to have Fr Bob putting the boot into theological opponents via online video has been partly met, now that NINEMSN has posted this video expose , with him using his acerbic tongue on Hillsong. FBMG is particularly steadfast in upholding the Catholic Church's 1,700-year-old [T]radition abhorring the use of religion as a means of accumulating wealth. Channel Nine, too, is shocked! - shocked! - at the idea that people would do things to make huge amounts of money. Kerry Packer could not be reached for comment, even by Fr Bob.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Not from The Onion...

NATO's answer to civilian death toll: smaller bombs

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the alliance will use smaller bombs in its campaign against Islamist Taliban rebels in Afghanistan to try to limit rising civilian casualties....

as well as waiting for favourable days of the week to conduct its campaigns...

"We realise that, if we cannot neutralise our enemy today without harming civilians, our enemy will give us the opportunity tomorrow," he told the business daily.

"If that means going after a Taliban not on Wednesday but on Thursday, we will get him then."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Halton, thou should'st be comboxing at this hour

Me china plate John H over at Conf. Ev. has closed his comments boxes for fear someone will
leak Harry Potter spoilers. (No, JB, NOT that "Hawkeye dies after the
Norkoms sign the armistice".)

In order that his parade be well and truly peed on, I hereby announce
the whole world that not only does Harry die at the end of "Deathly
Hallows", but he finds out that Malfoy is his sister, that Hermione
is really a man, that The Preacher really is Dumbledore, and that the
planet Earth he found has a giant, crumbling Statue of Liberty.

I'd say JK really wrapped it up well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Abrahamic Monotheism Religions of the Book Ecumenicism Award...

... for last year, went to Irene Khan, of Bangladesh, world secretary-general of Amnesty International:

'The Khan girls went to a private convent school run by Irish nuns. "You know, middle-class Muslims would send their daughters to convents because they trusted the nuns to bring the girls up with proper moral values. But you would get middle-class Hindus and middle-class Christians too; it was more of a mix than you get in a state school. So you earned English and you learned about tolerance and diversity".'

- Stephanie Bunbury, "Faith, hope and Amnesty," Sydney Morning Herald (14 October 2006), "Good Weekend," p 41.

But that's been topped by this year's entrant, one Ms Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan:

"It would be so nice to have the luxury just to laze. So nice to not have to always get up and get dressed for some occasion. Always having to move from here to there, where everything is scheduled and even having lunch with my kids on their Easter break has to be slotted in. Maybe one day..."

--  Ginny Dougary, "Destiny's child," Sydney Morning Herald (7 July 2007), "Good Weekend", p 21.

Easter break? In Muslim Pakistan?... To commemorate the day when "they slew [H]im not, nor did they crucify [H]im"?!

"Come in, brother, and we'll 'rap' about your 'hassles'" (Rev Lovejoy)

Mr Rudd went on to clarify that he considered drugs "a bad trip, man" and that he had always considered that it was "not groovy" to "get high" because then he might "drop out" from the Australian National University and end up as a "beatnik" or "hippie" of some kind.

"Dope was 'never my scene' - Rudd"

The Australian (Wednesday 11 July 2007),20867,22054782-1702,00.html

LABOR MP Peter Garrett smoked it when he was in his 20s and former US president Bill Clinton said he "did not inhale", but for Labor leader Kevin Rudd marijuana has never been part of his scene.

Former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett came under the spotlight this week after Silverchair singer Daniel Johns said he had smoked joints with the MP and U2 rocker Bono. Johns later retracted the comment, saying it was a joke and Mr Garrett released a statement admitting he smoked marijuana when he was in his 20s.

When asked today if he had ever smoked marijuana, Mr Rudd said it has never been part of his scene.

"Never, never, never, not a part of my scene,'' Mr Rudd said.

"I've always had a very tough line on this stuff, really, really hard line.

"I'm in John Howard's camp on this one, we have a unity ticket.''

UPDATE: "Yeah, it was that Johns I meant - sorry Danny boyah", Bono clarified.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What Prots miss out on by not having a Magisterium

Now, normally when anyone named Miller starts writing about Vatican pronouncements on Catholic Social Teaching, I reach for my revolver and pop a few rounds of Guilfussian Priest Chasers through my monitor screen, like Elvis with his TV set. This particular posting, however, is amusing and worth reading (and savouring) in full.

That's in no way to deny, of course, that Protestant synods are capable of generating equally bad or worse sludge - one imagines the Unitingarians producing some dreadfully earnest "Year of Listening Communique", or suchlike, which exhorts all Christians to use one less sheet of toilet paper a day, and to make sure they leave the dunny seat up. But at least the Prot versions don't end with anathemata being thundered against whomsoever should take away the least jot or tittle from the document. You can disregard these decrease without going to Hell or some intermediate version thereof.

Next: "We therefore, in the most authentic exercise of our teaching Magisterium, entrusted to the Apostle Peter by Our Lord Jesus Christ, do pronounce it objectively necessary, and the dereliction thereof to be gravely illicit, that you - shall Wear Sunscreen."

"The Ten Commandments of... What?"

By Robert T Miller

Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 6:26 AM

I present to you a document of some forty pages entitled "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road <" prepared by a Vatican office known as the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, which is under the supervision of Cardinal Renato Martino. "The outcome of a great endeavor entailing listening, reflection and insight," the document begins with a fascinatingly uninformative reflection on "The Phenomenon of Human Mobility":

"Moving from place to place, and transporting goods using different means, have characterised human behaviour since the beginning of history...

"The transportation of goods and people is increasing at a dizzy pace, sometimes taking place under difficult conditions and even putting life at risk...

"A modern phenomenon, full of consequences, which is part of this mobility, and the progress that derives from it, is traffic in general, and especially road traffic. Traffic has gradually increased...

"We only need to consider the many uneven roads travelled on by unsafe and overloaded means of transport, which constitute a grave danger for everyone, especially at night...

"Undoubtedly, road vehicles give us many advantages. They provide a rapid means of transport for people (getting to places of work and study, weekend outings with the family, going away on holiday, meetings with friends and relatives)... Means of transport are particularly useful when they enable sick and injured people to be rescued..."

So the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People informs us in writing that people drive in cars in order to go to work, that there's a lot of traffic nowadays, that goods are transported from place to place over the roads, that driving is more dangerous at night than during the day, and that it's really good that sick and injured people can be transported over the roads to hospital. Try, if you can, to write down five or six sentences as fatuously banal as each of these, and you'll find it's not easy. [...]

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Article II. All legislative Powers herein Grant'd shall be Vest'd in ye House of Representatives; ye Senate being hereby dissolv'd"

"Article VI: Ye Jurisdiction, of these United States, shall not Extend unto ye Lands beyond where ye Light shall Touch."

'The voice of Darth Vader will be the voice of the Declaration of Independence. James Earl Jones, whose rich baritone gave life to the sinister villain of the Star Wars movies, will be in Philadelphia on Tuesday to help open an exhibit featuring the Magna Carta at the National Constitution Center. The Broadway and movie actor who also was behind King Mufasa in The Lion King - as well as countless Verizon commercials - will recite the Declaration of Independence at the "Magna Carta: Foundation of Freedom" exhibit one day before the Fourth of July holiday....'
-- "'Darth Vader' to read declaration speech" (Monday 2 July 2007),

'Further discussions will be held this week over compensation for trainers who will be forced off [Sydney's] Randwick Racecourse when the Papal mass takes place next year. But trainer Anthony Cummings fears the effects will last 10 years and not just the 10 weeks the course will be closed for racing. Cummings is president of the Randwick Trainers Association which met with World Youth Day (WYD) organisers last week to try to explain their plight. "A lot of people depend on Randwick for a living and it's hard to estimate the cost because we don't know where it stops," Cummings said. "The horses will have to move off Randwick to be trained elsewhere. But the thing is that once they go, they don't all return. If we lose 20 per cent of the spring carnival horses, then it will be a pretty ordinary carnival. Betting turnover will drop and it could take five to ten years to recover....'

-- "Papal visit to affect Randwick for years" (Monday 2 July 2007)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blog Update

Updated the template today.

Anyone wishing to see the old template, check out the Internet Archive of us from October 2003
Weren't we just so avante-garde, back in the day?

No Jacket Required

The following news report from ninemsn leaves us, well, you know...

Cruise is a Satanist, says radical Christian leader

Tuesday Jun 26 06:00 AEST

By ninemsn staff

A controversial Christian group has slammed Tom Cruise and Scientology in a public bid to help people learn the truth about what they say is a Satanic cult.

“Yes, Tom Cruise worships Satan," said Mark Dice, the founder of apocalyptic US Christian organisation The Resistance.

"I don’t say this as an insult, or as an ad hominem attack. I seriously and literally mean he worships Satan, although most occultists, call him Lucifer the light bearer."

Dice, also an author and commentator, has made several controversial public claims in recent years — including that the World Trade Centre attacks were a CIA plot.

Now he says he is worried celebrities like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are enticing people to join the Scientology.

"In the Garden of Eden, Satan said if Man took the forbidden fruit that he would become just like god, actually becoming equal to God, and that is what occultists people believe."

"They believe they themselves, are gods," Mark Dice claims, before turning his comments directly to the Top Gun star.

"If you want a real religion, try going to a Christian Church, Tom, it's free."

Dice, who wrote the book The Resistance Manifesto under the Terminator-inspired alias John Connor, was in the news just a few weeks ago when he announced plans to hold a series of anti-Paris Hilton demonstrations outside Hilton hotels in the US.

On his MySpace website Dice is pictured smiling and holding a gun, with the caption: "Heard of the 2nd amendment?".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"This is not a Fleet! It's a gang!" - Wait, sorry, wrong screenplay.

... Today, I am at Riverfront Stages... just north of LA, for the filming of Inalienable, and independent sci-fi film that culminates in a hearing in federal district court. The script was written by Walter Koenig, who played Chekov on the original Star Trek. On his website, he lists the principal actors and describes the plot:
"Still guilt-ridden over the accident that took his family's lives, Eric Norris discovers that his body is host to a parasite from another world. Except, it is more than a parasite: it carries his DNA. Is this his new son or -- as the government believes -- a threat to mankind?"

I will be playing an assistant prosecutor sitting at counsel table with main prosecutor played by Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: [The] Next Generation. As I am live blogging this, the crew is setting up a shot for a scene between Walter Koenig and Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica....

Randy Barnett, 'On the Set of "Inalienable"' (15 June 2007),

Hatch, Koenig, Sirtis... But where's Michelle Forbes? If they go ahead and film this without a role for the Forbester, then "Inalienable" is unconstitutional. Or in violation of the Hatch Act.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do Heroes Have to Die?

Just been reading an interesting comparison of Harry Potter and Tony Soparno over at The Bulletin's Newsweek page.

Will Potter die in the end of Harry POtter and the Deathly Hallows??

Will Tony Soprano?

Over at Fox News, there are reports of fans and stars alike expressing their opinions over the ambiguous ending of The Sopranos (spoiler alert).

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Potter in the films, has a sneaking suspicion that the character that has made him famous will turn up his toes in the last Potter tome.

Only time will tell.

But do our heroes have to die in the end?

Neither Frodo nor Bilbo burnt out, although they did fade away.

And the Narnia children all bought the farm at the end of CS Lewis' The Last Battle.

Is this some kind of Christ analogy that resonates within Christianised Western culture? (although JC did "come good in a couple of days", as I have heard it said).

Perhaps something deeper: a highly individualised Gotterdammerung in true Wagnerian style, compressed to the size of the one.

Luke Skywalker doesn't cark it at the end of ROTJ - but Darth Vader does. If the "death of the hero" literary trope holds, this would be further proof that the "hero" of the Star Wars" sagas is in fact Skywalker Senior, not Junior.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Calvinists and Cylons. One lot are [fill in the blank], while the other...

"... an upcoming conference on Southern Baptists and Calvinism at
Ridgecrest Conference Center in NC in November 26 - 28. (That is, I
believe. T[hanks]giving weekend!). It's also 2 hours from my house,
so I will plan to be there. I expect to see several bloggers in the
SE there...maybe Steve "Cary Grant" Hays will grace us with his
physical presence. I'm beginning to think he's one of the Final Five
Cylons, a disembodied AI living on an ethereal plane, with a plan."

-- GeneMBridges at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Australian's worst mass murderer should be allowed to die following several attempts to kill himself in his prison cell, euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke says. Martin Bryant is serving 35 life sentences for the 1996 killings of 35 people at Tasmania's historic Port Arthur penal settlement, in the world's worst mass murder by a lone gunman. Bryant has made at least five suicide attempts in Tasmania's Risdon Prison and has been treated at hospital twice this year after slashing himself with disposable razor blades. [...]
"Mr Nitschke has been in Hobart to address a University of Tasmania bio-ethics forum.
He was the guiding force behind right-to-die legislation introduced by the Northern Territory in 1996. It was overturned by federal legislation the following year. Mr Nitschke said the state had no interest in rehabilitating Bryant. "The sole goal of his (Bryant's) imprisonment is punishment and punishment without hope of release is tantamount to torture," Dr Nitschke said. "As a society we should admit we are sanctioning torture here and in those circumstances we should allow him to die or provide him with the means to obtain a peaceful death."
"He said that giving Bryant an opportunity to end his life would quickly determine if he wants to kill himself. "Some people claim his attempts at suicide are merely attention seeking gestures, which is possible, but providing him with the means of reliably ending his life would soon make this clear. As a society we go to great lengths to prevent him from being able to harm himself but in my opinion putting him in a safe stainless steel box with no hope of escape is nothing more than torture. As a society we should admit this is what we are doing."
-- NineMSN News, "Let murderer take his life: Nitschke" (Monday 11 June 2007)

The number of people who support both the death penalty and voluntary euthanasia (legally-endorsed suicide) must be vanishingly small. While there are a few who oppose both -- mainly moderately traditionalist Catholics, now that recent Popes have discovered that capital punishment has always been contrary to the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints -- most of humankind falls into either or two mutually exclusive categories:

(a)     utilitarians, who support suicide because it makes people happy, but oppose capital punishment because it makes people unhappy; and

(b)     desert-based moralists, who support capital punishment because convicted murderers deserve to die for their crimes, but oppose suicide because terminally ill people haven't committed any crime for which they deserve to die (at which point they deserve to die, for having murdered themselves...?  Must... take... aspirin...)

The upshot of all this is that, of the two causes Dr Philip Nitschke has recently espoused, probably 98% of readers will agree that one is an intrinsically wicked abomination and the other is a straightforward matter of simple justice. Furious disagreement would arise at the next stage, of course, over which one is which.