Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

May 31, 2014

Nominal liberty

Filed under: news of the day,political sniping — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 10:30 am

How do I sum up my freedom from the shackles of paid employment, entering its fifth day as of this morning?

Eh, not that exciting. Basically it’s been one errand after another, crammed with as much writing as I’ve been able to get away with. The closest I’ve come to impersonating a gentleman of leisure was having a longish cafe lunch with Chris, a CSfG writing compadre. (Here’s his website, where I am quoted!).

On the job hunting front I have been cold calling a lot of builders to sound out some apprenticeship prospects. As I suspected, not much is happening on that front, although not quite for the reasons I anticipated. I had thought being in my mid-forties would be the biggest impediment to being offered an apprentice job in a physically demanding field. According to the few meaty conversations I’ve had, that’s not a huge barrier to entry. Instead the main problem appears to be that nobody in town is taking on any apprentices at all. the local building industry has been in a slump for going on eighteen months now, and with massive public service layoffs in the offing, the prospects of a sudden housing boom in the ACT are somewhere between slim and quite-the-opposite-of-boom.

So, I’ll continue to work my leads next week, but preparations to activate Plan B are already well underway. (Plan B basically involves a school-hours office job and the pursuit of a few other goals which I will go into later).

I keep wondering when the fact that I am, for the first time in twenty years, not an employee of the Commonwealth Government will hit me. It’s not that it doesn’t feel real to have walked away from it all – it doesn’t feel like anything. I suppose that means that I really had so little investment in what I’ve been doing over the past few months that I’d already walked away, and the only material change was not having to put on a suit and tie and hang around in an office all day.

One thing I am starting to feel, for which I am grateful, is the receding background sense of simmering fury that comes with being part of a government machine that I feel (strongly) is on the wrong track. I’m specifically talking about the international development program, which I think has taken a badly retrogressive step under the current government. But really, I don’t think they are doing one damn thing that works to the betterment of the Australian people, so to single out their butchery of one particular agency is probably just making it personal. Seriously, fuck those guys.

But, the point is, I’m beginning to enjoy the overwhelming sense of relief of not constantly feeling that I am a part of what I consider to be the active undermining of everything I value about my community. It’s pleasant to not be reminded every moment of the day that things are getting worse. The next step, I suppose, is to find ways to contribute more to making things better.

 

May 3, 2011

Back to the Island 1.16 – Homecoming

Filed under: back to the island,political sniping — lexifab @ 4:51 pm

I totally forgot that yesterday was Monday. I got distracted by all the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, I guess. I don’t have much to say about that, except that I hope it’s the psychological blow to Al-Qaeda’s recruitment prospects that some analysts are suggesting.

I tell you ope thing, though, this whole bin Laden takedown puts Obama’s birth certificate comment from late last week – “We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do” –  in a whole new context. Hell of a straight face on that man, considering the operation must have been well underway at that point.  I’d say Obama’s second term is looking a lot more likely than it did a week ago.

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April 23, 2011

Back to the Island 1.13 – Whatever the Case May Be

Filed under: back to the island,political sniping — lexifab @ 2:03 am

The day doesn’t technically end until you go to bed, right? I hope not, othewise this review is late as well. And I’ve just realised that my bank of pre-written reviews is starting to look a little thin, so I’d better take advantage of the long weekend to get stuck into a few more.

I’ve been sitting on this analysis of the National Broadband Network for a few days. It seems to be a reasonably cogent summary of the scheme’s virtues, and runs into the ground a few of its opponents’ more egregious counter-claims. I’m largely in favour of it. I think one of the things we need government for is to build the vast networks of infrastructure that no sane for-profit business would have a bar of. (The argument that seems to have been bandied about that the private sector could or would want to attempt anything on remotely the same scale just doesn’t make sense to me. So little sense, in fact, that I wonder if I haven’t misunderstood something).

Then again, I am far from convinced that the way the government has gone about developing and selling the scheme has been blameless and above board. My objections are around marketing (which has been the usual colossal public relations bungle that Rudd-Gillard Labor seem determined to make their hallmark), governance (of which I hold dark suspicions) and transparency (which has been patchy). The objectives themselves, and the proposed costs – which will without a shred of doubt blow out – I think are entirely laudable.

I would be fascinated to hear what anyone else thinks about the subject. With the exception of the faintest hint of an outside chance of an infinitessimally trivial improvement to the culture of the defence force, the NBN is the only thing that the government has going at the moment about which I am in the least bit optimistic. And I’m pretty iffy on that defence one.

Here’s the Lost review for this half of the week. Not that I am fishing for comments or anything Clam, but this is the first episode to overtly touch on the metaphysical, inasmuch as one of the subplots centres around an articulation of one character’s faith. It might be something that you have something to say about.

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April 14, 2011

Pertaining to the pokies ‘debate’

Filed under: political sniping,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 10:32 am

Grog’s Gamut has fast become one of my favourite blogs on Australian politics. The author, Greg Jericho, has a standard of analysis and research that puts far too many professional journalists in the shade. If you have a taste for the ridiculous argy-bargy at the centre of the collision between politics, the media and whatever social crisis happens to be splashed with fervent apoplexy across the covers of the Murdoch rags on any given day, I highly recommend adding him to your blog diet.

As a taste, here’s the best piece of analysis I have ever read concerning poker machines.

August 23, 2010

The Monday after the weekend before

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,joey,political sniping,the renovated life — lexifab @ 10:47 pm

NEW BABY

Dear friends Andrew and Veronica have just announced the birth of their beautiful baby girl Jade. Mother and baby both doing well, and father sounding exhausted and smug when I spoke to him this afternoon. I expect there will be an avalanche of photos available on the interwebs shortly.

HOUSE IN RUINS

So late last week we started to notice that there was water appearing on the floor in the kitchen. Naturally everyone – including me – made the reasonable assumption that I was responsible, spilling too much and cleaning up too little when washing up. It soon became apparent that in fact there was something else going on, that the water was seeping up between the seams of the floating floor slats and presumably up through the floorboards themselves. The floating floor boards are just a laminate, so any water that gets into them for any length of time causes them to swell and start to disintegrate. These ones may have had moisture in them for several weeks, which means at least half the boards in the kitchen are probably screwed beyond repair. And while we have some spares set aside for emergencies, we are pretty sure that we don’t have enough to replace the number that have probably been affected by this incident. And we’re damned sure that, with a two year old in the house and another on the way, we can’t face having to seal off the kitchen while we rip the ruined ones up and replace them.

An expedition to the underworld (played this week by the dusty, cat-faeces-choked subfloor crevice) revealed that…something was leaking in the laundry cabinet off to the side of the kitchen. Last night we turned various taps off (not the right ones, as it turned out, but in my defense there was no obvious visible evidence to suggest what was actually causing the leak) and hoped that the problem would start to fix itself overnight. Not so much. When I looked again this morning the drips were, if anything, more frequent than they were yesterday. Calls to the insurance company followed. Looks like they will cover part of the replacement but not all of it – the floorboards cover the dining room and the hallway that leads to the bathroom and study as well, so if we replace anything we more or less have to replace the lot.At the moment we are considering tiles or another form of timber covering (the floorboards themselves were in a pretty ordinary state, which is one of the reasons we covered them with the floating floor in the first place). There is also the possibility that the underlying floorboards and even the beams will have been damaged by the water leakage, so this could get quite expensive in the end. We think that insurance (or “gambling for pessimists”, as I like to think of it) will cover anything serious like that, but we allow room for the company to disappoint us on that score.

SICKENED

I crashed early last night with aches and pains and then spent most of the night awake with horrible wracking muscle spasms. Yet another frigging flu, I presume. That must be the third or fourth minor flu for the season – more than I managed last year, for certain. I daresay the change factor this year is the Joey’s childcare attendance, where he is undoubtedly exposed to every foul pestilence known to man, including the ones he himself is only too happy to share with the violent sneezes he inherited from his father and the occasional lapse in mouth covering discipline, which he also may have picked up from the paternal side. Have gradually recovered during the day, to the point now where I am wide awake and in only mild discomfort. Despite drinking litres of water, i still feel dehydrated, which is going to be just peachy during the night, I’ll warrant.

POLITICS

I was a bit too ill to spend much time to day catching up on the machinations of the independents and the musings of the polly-watchers, but I am quite keen to get back into that as soon as I can. A hung parliament is likely to be an exercise in protracted horror, certainly, but at least it is interesting. A friend cautions me not to get too optimistic about the prospect of general improvement in the conduct of the parliament as a result of the changed balance of power. Nevertheless it looks a lot like independent Rob Oakeshott is going to lead the charge for parliamentary reform and try to get some much needed quality control back into the procedures for the House of Reps. I like his moxie too, in putting his foot down and saying that if the big parties can’t do that, at least, then it’s back to the polls for the lot of you. Myself, I hope a minority government forms and he and the other two to three to four non-party members kick some common decency into the House.

I notice that he has a surprisingly non-annoying web site, for an Australian politician.

August 22, 2010

The Katter in the Hat is Back

Filed under: political sniping — lexifab @ 10:55 am

On further reflection, I may have been unkind to Bob Katter last night. (Though not about being a dim parochial yahoo with a random non sequitur generator attached to his frontal lobe). I now think that in his interview with Kerry O’Brien, which rambled all over the shop and touched on various points about the US and UK political systems, that he was trying (without success) to allude to the poor state of parliamentary debate that has crept into Australian politics over the past few years.

One of the reasons to be slightly optimistic about the otherwise-horrible prospect of a hung parliament is that whoever takes power – and I guess I have to choke on my own vitriol and admit that it’s probably going to be Tony Abbott – will have to change the way they do business. Under Howard and even more so under Rudd, the will and capacity between the big parties to negotiate and compromise in order to enact good laws has eroded to the point where each is incapable of conceding in the other even the slightest virtue. Question time is a pointless joke, senate enquiries are more often than not purposeless witch hunts designed to uncover nonexistent smoking guns, disagreements are vicious more often than they are spirited, and what traces of bipartisan goodwill linger in the body politic smell more than a little off.

Having to get policy through a collection of independents and Greens who do not occupy the political centre-right (as both of the major parties do, give or take a notch or two) means that the new PM and Cabinet will actually have to engage with allies and opponents both and treat them with a measure of respect. I think Gillard is capable of this, and I grudgingly concede that it’s likely that Abbott can step up as well. Rudd and Turnbull, the PMs-most-likely as at the start of the year, are both monomaniacal autocrats who need to be in charge of everything. Both would have found themselves struggling in the heady new environment of today.

If a hung parliament leads to a more humble and inclusive minority government that must debate with integrity and negotiate in good faith, then the certain pain of the next few months will have been worth it. Of course, more likely is that the whole thing will disintegrate in acrimony and recrimination and we’ll be back at the polls before Xmas.

It is possible – likely – that Bob Katter meant nothing of the sort, and that he remains the same deranged Joh loyalist and climate change ignoramus he always was. With the spotlights that will turn on him in the next week or two, we won’t die wondering.

August 21, 2010

Nothing but politics and corned beef

Filed under: political sniping — lexifab @ 10:08 pm

Tonight I am going to liveblog the election coverage. The baby is in bed, the dinner is in preparation and soon I will be tucking into some very delicious corned beef. A classic dish for a traditional, good old fashioned election night session of beer and yelling abuse at the smug gits of the Coalition. It’s still early yet, but I am getting disquieting clues that this is going to be the first night of a very long epoch of darkness and horror. But enough editorialising, let’s go to the blogging:

7:32 Kerry O’Brien is talking to a Lemming, apparently. Lemming is congratulating Tony Abbott for a fantastic campaign. Credits the fishing vote, which is a little strange. Abbott’s marathon man efforts have delivered the seat. Still no idea what seat that was. Daresay that will be the last we hear of the Lemming.

7:34 Steve Smith is looking a bit nervous and is writing stuff down to avoid meeting Kerry and Anthony’s eyes. (Brief editorial note: still can’t stand fucking Nick Minchin, smuggest of all Coalition members).

7:35 Taking a break to carve the corned beef. Back soon.

7:37 Crossing to Tony Jones with George Brandis and Penny Wong. George Brandis = Dick Cheney. To his credit he is not sounding as smug as he might about the Queensland swing away from the ALP. Banner notifies us that porn-moustached war hero Mike Kelly has retained the alleged bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro (right on our doorstop). Wong is putting on a brave face.

7:43 Dinner break!

7:44 Greene is suggesting that it’s a dead heat. I think that this is not going to be resolved tonight, is it? Bizarre news – Warren Entsch has been returned three years after his retirement. Peter Dutton has also retained his seat, despite demonstrable incompetence in every respect for the past – what, six years? Longer? My old home state is a bit of a disappointment, but I really only retain parochial pride in the Qld State of Origin team, so whatever.

7:51 Looks liek a human zygote named Wyatt Roy (WTF) has become the youngest-ever Member of Parliament. Good luck to him. Handsome lad. Pity he’s a Liberal candidate and (being a Young Lib) is probably a horribly face-punchable toad.

7:55 Stopped briefly to sooth my choking heart with some salty corned beef and crumbly broiled taters, smothered in white sauce. Might be my sole consolation for this election night. Current count is ALP 64 to LNP 53. Looks like Maxine McKew has lost Bennelong to the Libs’ star-powered candidate, Some Tennis Guy I Should Remember. Sad that McKew lost her seat, but unsurprising since she hasn’t put in a media appearance since the last election.

7:59 Informal vote rate nearly 6%. “The Latham Effect?” No, more like the “You guys are all the fucking same Effect”.

8:00 Kerry puts Smith on the spot – “looking good for the other side with all those ifs and buts”. Smith not quite ready to concede it yet, which is probably fair enough. Now discussing Hung Parliament possibility. LNP can’t count on the three conservative independents. Would be a sad state of affairs if three independents controlled the lower house and the Greens the upper. That’s a little too anarchic even for my tastes.

8:02 Greene forecasting the increasing possibility of a hung parliament.Somewhat likely that it will come down to the swing against the government in WA. 12 seats crossing from red to blue, with 3 independents in the mix. Someone just said that the Green candidate in Lindsay Tanner’s old seat is looking good. Greens picking up a hefty chunk of the primary swing away from the ALP, rather than the Coalition.

8:05 Food break.

8:08 Now crossing to the seat in Northern Victoria where “Governor” Fran Bailey (recently retired) won last time by 31 votes after the third count. Voting irregularities discussed. Disappointingly this is not “voting boxes set on fire by rabid Green protesters” but “AEC technicality discounts a small handful of votes as invalid”.

8:10 Overwhelming impression is that the Greens have picked up a huge chunk of Labor’s primary vote.

8:15 Child is being annoying about going to sleep, by not doing it.

8:15 Mad bastard Warren Entsch is blaming the Wilderness Society for the persecution of indigenous Australians as a fund raising trick. Or something. Hard to work out what the hell he’s on about, as usual. Rambling on like a very drunk sheep. We’ve missed his kind in Australian politics. Oh no, wait, no we haven’t.

8:18 Vote counting has just started in WA. This is what it all comes down to, of course. Think I need to finish eating and drink some beer.

8:20 Looks like the Green candidate has won Tanner’s old seat of Melbourne. Julia Gillard’s picked up a huge swing in her own seat. “Rah rah Julia,” cheers her electorate, “we don’t care who you stabbed!” Tony Abbott also retains own seat with swing towards him (not as big as Julia’s ha ha!)

8:25 “At what point will senior Labor power brokers admit that getting rid of a Queensland Prime Minister was a mistake, given that Queenslanders are waiting for them with baseball bats?” Tony Jones is a snide genius, but I have to admit that Paul Howes deserves it.

8:30 What have we learned tonight? Small target campaigning overwhelmingly favours the conservatives. ABC election coverage is the only sane option. (Nine’s vomitous coverage is Teh Horrid). Labor screwed themselves getting rid of Kevin Rudd just slightly less than they would have screwed themselves by keeping him. Australia would rather have a hung parliament than elect a ginger or a woman or an atheist or an unmarried PM. And I am not exactly the world’s most exciting election night liveblogger.

Update 1: Hung parliament, possibly favouring the Coalition. Maxine McKew’s interview with Kerry O’Brien pretty much nailed it – Labor wounded themselves when they failed to properly take credit for steering the economy through the GFC, and then committed seppuku by walking away from its commitment to its carbon tax (not that the CPRS was in any way good policy, but it was bad politics to surrender on it. The weak fuckers should have taken the first double dissolution trigger and rolled the Coalition in May).

July 17, 2010

Filed under: political sniping — lexifab @ 2:55 pm

What follows is a long political ramble written as today’s 750 words effort. It’s not edited except for embarrassing spelling, so pretty much straight from the id. I admit I did sneak a quick look at the Liberal Party website to make sure I spelled the names of the people I don’t like correctly. After the cut so that anyone who doesn’t want to know my political bent (and has somehow resisted gleaning it from everyday conversation) can happily skip it.

To those people I say: “Look, a pony!”

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June 24, 2010

What a morning!

Filed under: fitter/happier,news of the day,political sniping — lexifab @ 2:38 pm

Just finished watching a raincoat-wearing Governor General swear Julia Gillard in as Australia’s historical first ginger-nutted Prime Minister*. KRudd was about as gracious in defeat as was probably possible under the circumstances – not contesting the leadership when he was outvoted at least two to one displayed more class than I gave him credit for – and I can’t help feel that if he had actually bothered at any time prior to this point to mention any of the numerous small achievements of his Government that he itemised in his farewell press conference, his popularity might not have died so comprehensively in the past six weeks.

(As I type, the Mad Monk is making the predictable observation that Labor has changed its leader but not its policies. That might come back to bite him – as far as I could tell, it wasn’t primarily Labor’s policies that people have had a problem with, but the fact that Rudd tended to abandon tough jobs. Gillard doesn’t (yet) suffer from association with the failures of character, though there must surely be some collateral damage from the failed policies. To give Abbott some credit though, he’s not visibly shaking with sweat at the news that his shot at the PM’s job just took a sharp left to the teeth.)

(Ooh, for extra credit, Abbott just called Rudd’s dumping as an “ugly assassination”. He’s the expert, I guess. His press conference was pretty churlish overall and he lost his shit when he started blathering about how bad the mining tax is. I boldly predict that the clumsy latter half of his interview will not be lauded on his website as a “carefully scripted remark”.)

After an hour on the treadmill before breakfast this morning – during which time I watched the Socceroos playing a rare decent half of football – I’m feeling pretty good. I’m determined to get back down to a non-lumpy shape by the time of Ev’s wedding in October. Too much lately I’ve lacked focus and concentration, gotten sick a lot, tired easily and yet been unable to sleep. That’s probably down to very ordinary levels of physical fitness, so it’s time that ended.

* Factoid unconfirmed. Hopefully Gillard will turn out to be historic for some other reason as well.

April 18, 2010

Also!

Filed under: geekery,political sniping — lexifab @ 10:55 am

New Doctor Who starts tonight on ABC. Watch it in HD if you have the opportunity – it’s beautiful. Also, Matt Smith’s first full episode is, for me, the quickest transition from “This is the new actor” to “This is the Doctor” ever. The food scene is amusing (and such a classic piece of Steven Moffat scripting) but the scene with a glass tumbler a minute or two later is all Smith, and he owns it. Just magic. Karen Gillan as the new companion also makes a brilliant first impression. I’ll blather about this one more once it’s actually screened.

In other news today, Goldman Sachs and Co lost $13 billion yesterday after the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged them with fraud. My heart conspicuously fails to bleed. To quote too-overqualified-for-Fox-News political commentator Nelson Muntz: “Ha! Ha!”

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