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

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)