Panda Insights

Last week, I had an email conversation which showed me some of my friends have an ability to see deep into my inner workings, and almost know me better than I know myself.

(Remember that my avatar in Facebook, Twitter etc is quite often a panda)

Hun: How goes pandaville?

Me: Pandaville is as good as it can be, considering

Hun: considering?

Me: “Considering” means……..
There’s certain topics I don’t talk about
And one of them is raising its head
And of slight concern

Hun: my slight? or your slight?
i have learned these are vastly different terms

Me: How do they differ?

Hun: my slight is I’ve done all i can but there’s a small (5%-ish) chance something bad might happen
your slight is the sky is falling and it might hit me and i might die, but that probably wont be until after this thing i want to do so…… *shrug* ill just sit here and do my thing and worry about it later. it may have fixed itself by then, and if not, well, we all have to die sometime….. *chew some bamboo*

Me: *stares blankly while chewing bamboo*


Getting Shit Done (and not)

Part of what’s been unsettling me is my lack of a proper work area.

I ditched my desk during the last move. It never would have been able to get into my current room. It was a satisfying ditching – off a cliff-like precipice at the tip – but it left me without a desk. Today though, I went desk-shopping and while I didn’t buy one, I chose one. Which I’ll get when I work out how much money I’ll have after getting the brakes fixed on my car next week.

I then spent the afternoon watching Newcastle Central play Cardiff in the Black Diamond footy. An interesting game, with the ambulance called once in the second quarter, loud thunder claps and rain bursts interrupting most of the second half, and a tiny crowd watching.


Settling Being Unsettled

I’ve been unsettled recently. Especially around the question of whether I stay here, in the House of Fun, or find a place more sedate. I’ve decided though to stay where I am, and resolve issues here rather than move again. After so many moves in the last 12 months, I need to sit for a while.

Dirty Old Town

Ours is a social house. Social gatherings are common here, and more by chance than design, at each, there’s usually a majority I already know, and a few new faces. I like it this way, as I don’t like socialising with new people.

One such gathering happened last night. “Anzac Eve” I think it got referred to when planning on social media.

A highlight of the evening was when most the adults were out the back, playing Johnny Cash or Nirvana on banjo and ukelele, and as I walked through the house, one guest had found a stray harmonica and was working out the tune for ‘Dirty Old Town’.


I have worked 19 of the last 20 days (including today). And the only day I had off was because an oversight by the office manager meant I didn’t have a report I needed to do more work. Otherwise, I’d have worked last Sunday as well. I’m working the next seven.

At least then, I will get 10 days off.

I should say though, I like my job.

I’ve had jobs I’ve hated. I’ve had jobs where going to the toilet to get a few minutes of peace, and to be a few minutes closer to the end of the day when I emerged. I’ve had jobs which made me want to drive into oncoming traffic during my commute. I’ve had jobs where I would spend my time notifying regulatory agencies of illegal things my employer was doing, just for the excitement of watching him get in trouble.

I’d never have worked 19/20 days for employers like that.

Mind the Gap

Having spent a week in Penshurst, almost completely in my own company, I’ve decided I shouldn’t spend too much time in my own company. I’ve had lots of time to think, to faff about online, to watch downloaded TV shows, and to eat too much junk food. But tomorrow Ec returns and a day or two after that, I go back home. And I can’t help feel I’m missing out on something, letting opportunity pass me by.

Sure, this fortnight was about hiding. But the plan was for constructive hiding. That’s not what it’s been though. It’s not been destructive hiding (and for that I guess I should be grateful) but I feel I’ve achieved almost nothing.


I was asked today about the podcasts I listen to regularly. So here are the most essential ones, and some of the better examples of them.

First, I discovered podcasts thanks to the brilliance of Brian Ibbott and the Coverville podcast. Brian records these two or three episodes a week, and their focus is cover music. My favourites are when he picks an artist, and then bookends the show with covers by that artist, and fills out the remaining slots with covers of the artist’s songs. If you’re new to Coverville, check out his shows on Johnny Cash and Elvis – I didn’t like either of those artists when I first heard these episodes, but I loved both episodes and they illustrate Brian’s brilliance.

Next, I moved onto Conversations with Richard Fidler. While Brian’s Coverville introduced me to podcasts, Fidler made them compulsory listening. Of particular note recently is Fidler’s interview with Len Notaras and the description of the Newcastle earthquake Len gave. Also worth listening to are Michael Palin, Bill Bryson, and Tim Bowden. The Tim Bowden interview in fact contains some material which I think everyone should listen to, to gain a better understanding of a small chapter of Australian history.

I also really enjoy Three Moves Ahead, from a bunch of strategy game reviewers in the US – Rob Zacny, Troy Goodfellow, Julian Murdoch and friends. Sometimes the guys will review a new game such as Fallen Enchantress or X-COM. And sometimes they’ll talk about gaming in general. But every episode is worth listening to, even if I never play the game they talk about.

I’ll leave it there (or as Brian Ibbott would say “That about covers it”) but I get the feeling this will be one of those entries I return to later and add more to. It’s just that kind of list.


This is the data for Queensland and Australian unemployment. The blue vertical line represents when Queensland held an election and Campbell Newman’s LNP came to power.

When they came to power, they said no front-line public sector workers would be lost. Since then, they have broken that promise thousands of times. I used to work in an office where we organised the maintenance on public housing properties. Two thirds of the tradesmen in that office – sparkies, plumbers, chippies – have been made redundant. Their mistake was believing they were ‘front-line staff’. I’m not sure how much more front-line one gets when the department one works for fixes broken stuff, and your spend your day going around the government’s properties actually fixing broken stuff.

Maybe You Meant Austria?

There’s a bunch of Americans on Twitter complaining about the result and saying they’re going to move to Australia.

Someone made this comeback poster which I thought was amusing:

The highlight though of the whole topic though was when young Kristen Neel stepped up to the plate. She tweeted:

Despite the ignorance which enabled Kristen to make so many mistakes in less than 140 characters, I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and check if maybe she meant Austria (a common mistake for Americans). So I checked. Austria *does* have a President, so I checked him out on Wikipedia. Sorry Kristen, President Heinz Fischer is not Christian. And you’re unlikely to approve of his socialist politics. Oh, and his party voted in favour of the Anschluss with Germany in 1938.

Can I suggest maybe you try Canada? They’re not a republic, but at least if it’s not to your satisfaction, you can walk home.

Wonkery Day

The results haven’t started to come in yet. But I am trusting that Nate Silver‘s right.

I often tell people I think it’s inappropriate for foreigners to tell voters in any country how they should vote, and I wont tell Americans. I am curious though how those who would vote opposite to me have convinced themselves of their beliefs. In the American example, I wonder how anyone thinks they can vote for a politician who basically says he’ll do something which defies economic credibility, but wont give details. That smells to me far too much like someone who has no intention of delivering on their promise. I am though curious rather than hostile. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to be hostile to someone for their political choices.

I am an Obama supporter. I don’t agree with 100% of what he’s done, and I think his administration might have done better. But I admire his conviction-style politics, and the charisma he displays when interviewed – he comes across as a friendly guy, not a spin-monster, and someone who believes in what he says. I sincerely wish our own politicians were like that. And I am kind of disappointed I can’t vote for Obama, or a politician like him.

It’s 90 minutes until the results start to roll in, and I am likely to spend much of the day watching results. After following the race so closely this year, it’s equivalent to watching every Swans game of the season and then being glued to the grand final come September. Which I almost did. Well, I watched maybe half the Swans games this year, but I was absolutely glued to everything in the second half of the season.

I certainly know I am looking forward to today probably as much as I would Christmas as a kid. I hate Christmas now. Maybe one day, I’ll be the same about election day? :)

New Test Leper

There’s an R.E.M. song I’ve always quite liked which opens with the lyric:

I can’t say that I love Jesus
That would be a hollow claim
He did make some observations
And I’m quoting them today
“Judge not lest ye be judged”
What a beautiful refrain
The studio audience disagrees
Have his lambs all gone astray?

I’ve kinda always liked this because it seems to be saying that even though the singer isn’t Christian, he quite respects the attitudes espoused by Jesus.
I’ve been thinking about this since listening to Richard Holloway interviewed by Richard Fidler recently. Fidler described Holloway (who is a former Anglican bishop of Edinburgh) as “believing in the teachings of Jesus, but [Holloway] is uncertain as regards Jesus’ divinity”. This caught my attention as I’ve been wondering for a while whether someone can be Christian – as in believing what Jesus said – without believing in the supernatural parts of the story – virgin birth, rising from the dead, the existence of a deity that gives a shit about mankind etc.

Tied in with this is the increased chatter in many channels from the mad fringe of the US ‘Christian’ sector – you know the ones, those who think events like Hurricane Sandy are God’s signal to the world he disapproves of gays, or candy, or black men in the White House or whatever they’re complaining about this week. The US Christians seem to be very much of the Baptist-like “God will smite you for all your evil blah blah blah” kind of Christians. But if one actually reads the Bible (as I’m sure they would tell sinners like me to do), the New Testament (which, after all, tells all about their guru and saviour, right?) isn’t about a smiting God filled with hatred and anger, but the complete opposite. And all the smiting and “God hates this” and “God hates that” nonsense is actually the Old Testament. In other words – the Jewish book. Not the Christian book at all.

So if one is a Christian, one follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, the carpenter and preacher from the outskirts of the Roman Empire, right?

Except he never spoke about abortion, or gay marriage (or gay anythings), or hating non-believers, or any such thing. He spoke of not judging others. He spoke of loving everyone and He spoke of caring for the poor and less fortunate.

Given that’s what he spoke about, it’s almost nauseating to watch the astounding hypocrisy of almost everyone in the American political class claiming to be Christian while seeming not to understand what their guru said.

But hey, maybe I just don’t get it?

[Kind of triggered as well by reading this post over at Reading Upside Down]

Wyee Fire

I got a call to do a temp gig Friday-Monday so had to jump a train back to Newcastle this evening. The Shitkansen had barely left Central though – we weren’t even to Stanmore – when I found out via Twitter the rail line was cut by bushfires.

The train stopped in Gosford for the crew to be told the new arrangements – a fifteen minute break. The train then went to Wyong. From there, buses went to Morisset and then back on the train to Newcastle.

The bushfire itself was in Wyee. In the small town, several streets had grass fires burning, and there were RFS trucks in every street. Maybe 10 trucks all up. It was all quite calm and seemingly organised. As the bus passed through the town though, six police cars went through Wyee, at about 120-130, with lights and sirens going. I’m not quite sure why, since the firies weren’t displaying any signs of panicking or urgency. But clearly the cops thought something was worth rushing to.

Banana Revival

I’ve been wondering about the direction of my blog. I’ve used it for a variety of purposes over the years, in its various incarnations. I’ve been wanting to revive it lately, and actually I revived it several times this year, and kept setting the posts to ‘private’. Or deleting them. Or coming back to them after a few days and deciding they expressed sentiments I no longer felt.

The reality is 2012 has been a shit year. A fucking shit year. And even though it’s less shit now, it’s October. So whatever happens in the next two and a half months, I’m pretty sure 2012 will go on record as a shit year just on balance. The Swans winning the grand final on Saturday – and a bloody good game it was too – addresses the balance slightly.
But only slightly.

I’m reviving it though.

It might contain some of my ranty old self. About the usual issues. It might contain random thoughts. It might just be a place where I re-post stuff I find interesting from elsewhere. But whatever it contains, I need it.

Oh, and hello to anyone still tuning in. I can’t imagine there are many.

Silent Witness

Last night, I saw a man arrested.

I was on the platform at the railway station and two police spoke to a man as he entered via the stairs. They asked him for a ticket, and he at first ignored them, but then admitted he didn’t have one. Sure, it’s fine for them to ask. But until he actually got onto a train (which as it turns out he never did) he hadn’t done anything wrong.

When the man admitted he had no ticket, the police began questioning him, asking for his identification etc. They obviously radioed in to check him out because I soon heard them telling him he was in breach of his bail conditions and so they’d arrest him. He began to query that, and it tuns out he has bail conditions which mean he’s not to be out after 9pm. But the police had stopped him about 8.40pm, and even when they told him he was arrested, it was still several minutes before 9.

As the senior of the two police said, he was unlikely to have gotten home before 9pm, especially without a ticket, so they’d be taking him to the police station.

I have a problem with this. I know it’s not the worst behaviour of police in recent times, but it’s one I witnessed.

Regardless of whether the man was likely to have gotten home before 9, and thus complied with his bail, the man was not in breach when he was arrested at around 8.56pm. In addition, their detaining him before that could reasonably be considered a hindrance to him complying with the bail conditions. It’s hardly fair to detain someone who is in the process of returning home only to then arrest them for failing to return home.

I almost stepped in and spoke up for him. On reflection, I wish I had. Whatever the man was on bail for, these two police were significant players in causing the man to breach his bail, yet they were lining him up to be punished for it.