Sunday, May 15, 2005

Project SafeCom

Okay, I'm still not calmed down after my angry rant however I just read the story of Jack Smit and his battles against Australia's immigration department and the continuing erosion of Australian's (and non-Australian's) civil rites. After his disgust at the Tampa incident in 2001, he set up Project SafeCom. If you feel, as I do, disgusted by the behaviour of John Howard and his neo-con buddies, then go an have a look at the Project SafeCom website, it might not make you feel better but you may come away with some things to think about.

I'm not a fan of Australia's immigration department

Rant mode on

I just read a very depressing article by Mike Carlton on some of the many horrific debacles that the Australian immigration department have instigated. I'm not going to begin to explain some of the junk that has surfaced this week with regard to an Australian woman who was wrongfully deported four years ago or any of the stories about Cornelia Rau, another Australian woman wrongfully detained for nine months - it's all over the media and the webdiary has hundreds of posts on this issue. These are just two stories of many that are out there.

This department has been locking people up and kicking them out of our country for years, and they answer to almost nobody. Immigration minister Amanda Vanstone, and before her Phillip Ruddock, should be thoroughly ashamed of the way in which the immigration department has operated in the last five or so years. They will never be held accountable though, as John Howard is refusing to launch any inquiry into the immigration department that has any legal authority to compel people to give evidence or to prosecute officials for illegal behaviour.

What the hell is wrong with these people!!!! Don't they have hearts!!!

Rant mode off

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New semi-regular article: What's awesome on my ipod this week

Okay, this is an experiment that I'm sure I'll get sick of soon. I'm going to start posting a bit more about music. For those of you that know me, I'm pretty into my music. Anyone who's been dumb enough to give me access to their stereo with my ipod have copped many-a-sermon about the virtues of "The Clash" and that eternal question, "Why doesn't John Butler write more short songs?".
Anyway, on my trip to the big smoke on the weekend I bought the "Bob Marley and the Wailers" compliplation, "Legend". It's damned good. So, this week on my ipod I'm featuring:
Redemption Song - by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Redemption Song - the cover by No Use for a Name.
Both versions are awesome. Joe Strummer (one of the leads in The Clash) was a big fan of Bob Marley. So, I'm also featuring an awesome track:
Junco Partner - by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.
The track is recorded live and appears on the Hellcat Records compilations "Give em the boot IV". Damn, I wish I could have seen Joe Strummer play live...

Monday, May 09, 2005

One of the may reasons why I'm an idiot

I successfully navigated the German rail system (the Deutsch Bahn) all the way to Duesseldorf and back. Well, successful in that I made it and didn't miss any trains.

I won't mention the little mistake I made by accidently sitting in a 1st class seat for an hour or so on one train. It wasn't intentional, I swear, I'm not smart enough to take advantage of the system like that. Thankfully the ticket guy who busted me realised this pretty quickly after he asked, "Where's your 1st class ticket?". To which I replied, "Why would I need one, this is a 2nd class carriage?".

Apparently I can't tell the difference between the numbers 26 and 27.

Anyone who's played frisbee with me wouldn't be surprised by this too much. I'm normally the guy screaming on the sideline, "We only have 6 on the line!".... (a bit of silence) This is normally followed by, "Dude, how can you do physics if you can't count to 7.".
Oh yea, it rained and hailed and the mercury didn't ever get much above 0, but it was still a really fun weekend.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm off to Deutschland this afternoon

This afternoon I'm catching the train to Duesseldorf to visit my girlfriend for the weekend. Yes, I realize it's a Wednesday, tomorrow is a public holiday and, well, I'm taking a day off on Friday. It's going to be really interesting to see what Germany is like, this is the first time that I'm visiting my girlfriends home. I finally get to put faces to so many names that I've heard so much about.
Travelling to Duesseldorf should be interesting. I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to trains, I always find train stations very confusing objects. They are kinda like airports, except with a lot less security and a lot less organisation. Anyway, I'm travelling Innsbruck to Munich, Munich to Cologne, and Cologne to Duesseldorf - total travel time is just a tad over 8 hours...
There are a whole lot of stories about famous theoretical physics results that were derived on similar train journeys, I'm beginning to realize why. I have a stack of papers to read on the train and a whole lot of math to work through. I will be stuck in the one place for 8 hours or so - this will pretty much guarantee that I will finally put pen to paper and try to solve some of the problems that have be floating around in my head for a few weeks now. Oh yea, there is also no internet and no meetings, so distractions should be at a minimum!
And yes I did just mention physics in my blog, I am actually a physicist - not just some frisbee playing politics guy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

And now the gloves come off...

Wow, Australia's (evil) health minister has just demonstrated that the gloves are absolutely off in the leadership dispute between Prime Minister (the lying rodent) Howard and his deputy, treasurer Peter Costello. OK for those of you who don't follow Australian politics closely, let me give you a quick refresher course.


Costello is deputy leader of the Liberal party, he steps aside to let Howard have a clean bid at the leadership of their party in the leadup to the federal election - which Howard then wins. Apparently they make an agreement that Howard will stand down after a term or two and give him the leadership.

1996 - 2004:

Costello proves he's a pretty good treasurer, he keeps Australia's economy going strong through the Asian economic crash of the late 90s. He is a dedicated economic rationalist that is anti-union and very pro "user pays" arguments for everything. I don't like him, but plenty of people on his side of politics do. Howard is a pretty popular Prime Minister, he's shrewd and power-hungry. He appeals to neo-con crazies and those that wish Australia was still in the 1950s (somehow not letting any side of the conservative bandwagon believe that their various philosophies contradict each other in many ways). While this is happening, Tony Abbott gains a reputation as Howard's chief head-kicker. He's the guy who does the dirty work that Howard wants done but doesn't want associated with him. Abbott is a neo-con. He's a relatively young fundamentalist Catholic renowned for his ruthlessness. Again, the right loves him (and so does Howard).

2004 - 2005:

The Howard and Costello team wipe the floor with the Labor party in an election in late 2004. They get control of both houses of parliament. All of a sudden, they can do anything they want. Their party has a hell of a lot of idealists, economic rationalists, neo-cons, and just plain cons. It gradually becomes apparent that a lot of tension has been simmering for a long time between these factions, this tension has never really created any problems before because they have all known that they can't implement idealist policies without control of both houses. Now they have it and they are realizing that their various ideologies contradict each other in several crucial ways. This is now beginning to show publicly.


Costello is the king of the economic rationalists. He feels he is owed the Prime Minister's job after being loyal for years, and, well, he was promised it and it's time for Howard to deliver. Howard is realizing that he could just hold on to his job, he's damned popular and he likes the idea of finally being able to do what he wants. Abbott now has a lot of support from the Howard camp, a lot of people on the crazy-con side of their party like him a lot more than Costello, as does Howard. Anyway, on the weekend Howard dropped a bombshell on Costello - he said that he wouldn't mind having a go at the next election in three years time. He says this a week before the budget is to be delivered by Costello, now Howard has hijacked the press cycle in the lead-up to the budget.

People have been debating for days now as to whether this was a mistake (very rare for Howard) or intentional. My guess is it's intentional. Why do I think this? Today Tony Abbott said this:

"I don't always get my own way, not even the Prime Minister even gets his own way, it's part of being a team," he said.

"Now sometimes different members of the team would prefer to do things one way rather than the other way, in the end it all gets worked out and people support the decision."

Basically, he's very publicly trying to suggest that, Costello, the ultimate team player who has always stuck by Howard, isn't a good team player. He's forcing his hand. He's publicly attacking him in order to see what he does. It's the political equivalent of walking up to someone in a bar and shouting "What are you looking at!". It tells me that Howard's comments are planned. Howard wants Costello to have a go at the top job because he still has the numbers. Costello will probably lose, and probably be disgraced in the eyes of the party. He will have to stand down as deputy and Abbott will get the job. It's the classic "put up or shut up" political play. If Costello does nothing, he's admitting that he's been acting like a spoilt brat who has designs on the top job but without the heart to put anything on the line to take it. If he acts, he loses. Howard wants to get rid of him and his faction of the party. It's going to be an interesting few weeks...