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Very long weekend reflections

December 23rd, 2005

The blog seems to have been running itself very nicely during my summer slowdown, and with a big and lazy four-day weekend coming up it will have to.

Best wishes to all readers and commenters for Christmas and New Year, summer solstice or whatever other feast and holiday you plan to celebrate.

As usual, please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in lengthy contributions suitable for holiday reading.

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  1. December 23rd, 2005 at 09:21 | #1

    Hope you have a good one John. Take it easy.

  2. Terje Petersen
    December 23rd, 2005 at 09:53 | #2

    Merry Christmas to everybody. I hope they have a great holiday with family and friends and that they enjoy some time in the sun.

    Remember that having good will toward all men (and women) is not a government responsibility. Its a grass roots thing. So smile at your neighbours and say g’day to strangers.

    If anybody pisses me off this Christmas I am going to try extra hard to be forgiving. For me forgiveness is the central message of Christianity. Jesus was even forgiving towards tax collectors.
    :)

  3. December 23rd, 2005 at 10:00 | #3

    And a Merry Midsummer to you and yours John … and to all the odd types who comment here.

  4. December 23rd, 2005 at 11:03 | #4

    Happy Christmas, John!

    I do wonder whether holiday celebrations should be rescheduled when the Brisbane weather is going to be 38 degrees from tomorrow through til Monday. We should all stay at home instead with a fan and read a book!

  5. Helen
    December 23rd, 2005 at 12:03 | #5

    We should all stay at home instead with a fan and read a book!

    Mark, that is my dream.

    I guess once the oldies are all dead and the kids have left home, I’ll get to do that, but guess what? I think I’ll miss ‘em!! Life is a funny thing!

    CS, I’m an odd type and proud of it.

    John, have a safe and happy Xmas season, don’t get killed by any idiots on the road, have fun – and thanks for your wonderful blog.

  6. December 23rd, 2005 at 13:44 | #6

    Helen, you have reminded me of a joke that I once passed on to Tim Costello and that he later used in a sermon.

    An octogenarian couple went to a divorce lawyer, and he asked them why they want a divorce at that late stage when they had obviously made a go of marriage over so many years. “Well”, they replied, “we thought we’d wait until the children died”.

  7. December 23rd, 2005 at 16:08 | #7

    P.M.Lawrence,you have reminded me that humour is really needed at this time of the year. Not a bad joke.

    Any gags that incorporate ‘Christmas’ and ‘economist’? Tried to ‘google’ it, but could not come up with a goody.
    Anyway,all,enjoy.

    Cheers, Prof Q and Happy Solstice!

  8. December 23rd, 2005 at 17:08 | #8

    Merry Christmas and a great New Year John. Thanks for all your work throughout 2005.

  9. Ian Gould
    December 23rd, 2005 at 17:26 | #9

    So I’d like to settle a disagreement from the Daylight Saving thread – can anyoen in Brisbane stick their head out of doors at 7.00 or 7.30 and confirm that it’s still light out?

  10. Terje Petersen
    December 23rd, 2005 at 18:05 | #10

    Ian,

    This may help.

    http://www.qtcu.asn.au/webcam/

    Regards,
    Terje.

  11. December 23rd, 2005 at 18:30 | #11

    Ian – I can tell you that it’s still lightish at 7pm this time of year in Brissie – judging by yesterday, which of course as the solstice, was the longest day of the year. The current horrible weather reinforces the argument against daylight saving. Last night it was 27 degrees at 7.30pm. The sooner it gets darker the better. Maximum today was predicted to be 36. You really don’t want too much sun in the late evening when it’s as hot as it is at the moment.

  12. December 23rd, 2005 at 18:56 | #12

    The webcam confirms what I can see out my window – it’s still pretty light!

  13. Terje Petersen
    December 23rd, 2005 at 19:00 | #13

    The webcam clock appears to be about 8-9 minutes fast.

    http://www.worldtimeserver.com/current_time_in_AU-QLD.aspx

  14. December 23rd, 2005 at 19:34 | #14

    Next year will be bigger than ever, John. Take it easy, run a risk, have fun, go for it!

    You are someone special who forces us to care ;-) Keep up the good dissent …

    Two centuries on, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau still provokes and maddens: – Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains …

    CODA: Power to the People: Matthew Cookson uncovers John Lennon’s radical past 25 years after his death – John Lennon was murdered in New York 25 years ago. This year has seen a slew of articles about the former Beatle’s life. One key aspect that few of the media remembrances touch upon is Lennon’s radical politics, but these were integral to his music, particularly in the later Beatles years and after Working Class Hero

  15. Will De Vere
    December 23rd, 2005 at 21:43 | #15

    Yes, let’s all bow our heads to remember the beautiful, almost divine, Liverpool boy, John Lennon. Can he be more perfect and more radical?

    I’ll always remember the Divine John for his reply to the desperately unhappy, suicidal Brian Epstein, when the latter sad that he was writing his autobiography. Lennon said “Why don’t you call it ‘Queer Jew’?’. What a great man.

    John Lennon can go and get F$$$d.

  16. December 23rd, 2005 at 22:32 | #16

    Will, I trust you know that, when I say you’re an idiot, I mean that in the kindest possible way.

  17. observa
    December 24th, 2005 at 04:06 | #17

    Sweet Jesus, it’s Xmas already and I’m up to my tits in family dramas again. I’ve just rescued the old man from respite care and brought him home, most likely to die. He’s soldiered on independently for the last 3 years after mum died, largely with the help of too much red wine and physical good health, but a fall put him in hospital a few weeks ago. No lasting damage, but the fall stirred up his crook back. That wouldn’t have been a problem, if he had rung one of us straight away, instead of laying in bed for 2 and a half days, before the sister called round and found him dehydrated and disoriented. Stubborn old bastard didn’t want to put anyone out. At 86 he’s recovered physically fairly well, but I think he’s decided it’s time to join mum. The sisters are fussing around organising more respite care for him after Xmas, but I reckon he’s got other ideas. I was due to pick him up from respite care on Wed morning and Tues night he rings me just to remind me. When I get there he’s all packed and dressed, sitting up in the chair and when he spots me he starts barrelling off down the corridor for the lifts, before I have to call him back for the usual drugs instructions and formalities.

    At home he’s eating like a sparrow and alternating between his bed and his favourite chair, mostly sleeping the day away. Took him for a big day out at my barbers today, for a haircut and a beard trim and he liked Arturo, particularly the $9 price tag, before having a lie down again. He can shower himself, unlike at respite care with a floor full of women. As he said, he can still dry his own balls and arse, even if he has trouble drying his legs now. The nurses at respite couldn’t understand why he wasn’t keen on showering there. This was a bloke who led survey teams across the Territory, with long range Land Rovers, in tents and swags, for months at a time, shooting roos, buffs and wild cattle for fresh meat, along with the odd threatening rogue croc and now he’s reduced to this. And they wonder why he doesn’t exactly enjoy their hospitality and gets a bit cranky. He keeps reminding me to go through his shed and take his tools and bits and pieces for myself or Master O. Only blokes understand what that really means. The sisters are clueless as usual.

    Anyhow, the old man’s had a good innings and that’s not my problem. The problem as usual is the sheilas. Tonight 18 yr old Miss O drops a bombshell, she’s going in for a nose job in a few weeks time, before starting uni next year. Apparently this has been on her life’s drawing board since she was 15 and she sees this as the ideal window of opportunity She’s had a year off from school working and has $3000 of her savings earmarked for making her a complete bloody person. Yes, I know it’s her money and she is 18, but hold on a minute. You’re talking about a face and nose that’s drop dead gorgeous here and that’s not her old man just saying that. That’s every bloody woman I know saying that, young bloke’s tongues hanging out in the street, as well as a number of impromptu approaches to do modelling work. I’m totally gobsmacked that anyone with a plastic surgeon’s ‘after’ picture-book face, would want anything else. Have I got a Whacko Jacko on my hands here? Relax O meboy, you should just thank your lucky stars she’s not pregnant, got some terminal disease, or shooting up smack?

    As an aside here, I should say I faced this issue with Mrs O in our early days. She inherited a largish bump on her nose which I thought was cute, but she never did and so she sort of understands Miss O’s delusional state here. I sorted that out by offering Mrs O the opportunity for a nose job if she really wanted to, when interstate many years ago. What better time to sneak one in my dear? She chickened out and saw the light, but now she can sort of see the importance for Miss O, although she has my reservations. I suggested Miss O talks it over with various women in the family but she doesn’t want to and doesn’t want me to bring it up with anyone over Xmas. Mum’s the word for dad here. She wants my support to take her to and from the quacks and help with the ice packs, etc afterwards. The best I could think of was to offer to pay for the op if she leaves it until uni is finished, before working again, as the same window of change would present itself again. Perhaps 3 years of Behavioural Science will cure this lunacy, but then again, does the world need another tertiary qualified, female fruitcake?

    There’s another nuance here that I’ll flesh out a bit. A while ago I’m watching some ABC(SBS?) doco on some overstuffed pommy woman flying to New Delhi to get defatted on the cheap in a mod cons international hospital, while juxtaposed to that is some poor local dad getting turned away for the umpteenth time at the overworked cesspit hospital down the road, with his young son with an horrific open bowel wound. The tradeoff was obvious. Now the other night I’m soaking in the tub after a hard day and call Miss O to answer the door, if it’s not too much effort. It’s a charity direct collector and she only has a dollar in change, so rather than give him a note and ask for change,(No I couldn’t do THAAAT dad!) she raids my trousers for another $2. When I get out of the tub and spot the receipt for $3 on my dresser, I asked quizzically if it was my receipt or hers? Well, didn’t I get a serve for discussing a measly $2, when I should be more understanding of the need for charity from all of us these days. Should be appreciative of the executive decision-making process I suppose. Well here’s the rub which appeals to the old RWDB efficiency side of my nature, seeing as how it’s Xmas and all. I’m thinking of offering her a deal. I think the $3000 nose job is a shocking misallocation of self indulgent resources and we all need to be a bit more charitable to be sure. I’ll match two for one, any part of her $3000 dollars set aside for her nose job, she cares to donate to the cranio-facial unit’s voluntary OS patient scheme for real need. That’s up to $9000 to build real faces if you really care Miss Fancypants. Is that being too RWDBeastish on her or not? I’d welcome your thoughts boys and girls.

    Anyway have a good Xmas all. I think I’ll be spending mine in the shed somehow.

  18. morganzola
    December 24th, 2005 at 09:00 | #18

    Excellent rant, Mr O.

    Given that tomorrow is my 50th birthday, I’m comforted in the knowledge that some other old curmudgeon will be treating Xmas Day with the bah-humbuggery that it deserves. However, my plan is to spend as much of the day fishing as possible, rather than in the shed – before my younger offspring arrive on Boxing Day for several weeks of paternal tutelage.

    I suppose I’d better get in some good pub time today, since there’ll be precious little of it for the next few weeks. Fortunately, I’ve arranged to pick up the kilo of fresh (never frozen) king prawns there around lunchtime from the bloke who’s done the run to Brisso and back this morning. Even more fortunately, my sprogs don’t like seafood so my partner and I will have to demolish the prawns and atlantic salmon tomorrow, along with several bottles of the best chilled Granite Belt verdelho and/or chardonnay.

    Yes, it’s going be a tough Xmas this year. May you all do it as hard as me!

  19. phil
    December 24th, 2005 at 13:45 | #19

    Mr O, we face the same sort of thing daily here with a live-in 90 year old who lately has suddenly lost a good deal of his sight. He was already deaf and of limited mobility. He’s (quite rationally) angry and frightened and is lashing out like nothing on earth. I also think he’s trying to shut himself down, but as most of the rest of his metabolism is as strong as an ox it’ll be a long time. But it hardly makes for a relaxed and comfortable xmas. As if! Ha! and it’s too hot in Brissie to go to the shed. Re nose job, I admire your positive / ‘carrot’ approach. I’d be more inclined towards the stick: ‘no new noses in the house’.

  20. December 24th, 2005 at 22:16 | #20

    For Jozef and christmas hug,

    The lyrics of John Lennons, ‘Working Class Hero’,
    by John Lennon.

    “As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
    By giving you no time instead of it all
    Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be

    They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
    They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
    Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be

    When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
    Then they expect you to pick a career
    When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be

    Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
    And you think you’re so clever and class less and free
    But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be

    There’s room at the top they are telling you still
    But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
    If you want to be like the folks on the hill
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be
    If you want to be a hero well just follow me
    If you want to be a hero well just follow me”

  21. December 24th, 2005 at 23:52 | #21

    Bah, humbug. The ultra PC JQ censored my Christmas verse to you last year, so you don’t get one this year.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you anyway, you low lot, whether you like it or not.

  22. December 24th, 2005 at 23:54 | #22

    Hey, your clock is off. Oh, I forgot, you live in the past up there.

  23. December 25th, 2005 at 01:47 | #23

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the US alot. However it’s hypocrisy often bothers me, look at this article from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4557472.stm
    The US fights a war in Iraq to remove a dictator and establish a democracy (whether the war was justified or not is another matter), but they are content for one of their allies, Egypt, to arrest the main opposition leader on trumped up charges of fraud. All the US has done is “voice concern” over the trial. If they trully believe in spreading democracy in the Middle East, why wouldn’t they use their status as a supporter of Egypt to tell Hosni Mubarak that this is simply not on. Politics I suppose.

  24. December 25th, 2005 at 17:55 | #24

    Also because there is a catch 22 here: if the USA tells the Egyptians what to do, that isn’t democracy. Although, of course, it is what is often misdescribed as democracy; it’s just that it’s enjoying a resurgence now, not that it is a new or peculiarly US way of handling client states. It came up in the revolutionary wars, and (particularly in the eastern mediterranean area) throughout the period between the Pelopponesian War and the Dominate phase of the Roman Empire.

  25. Warbo
    December 25th, 2005 at 21:00 | #25

    Still up?

    Don’t know about you lot, but I feel like I’ve run a marathon. My side of the family for lunch yesterday; my wife’s side today. I’m the cook in our household, so days of planning and shopping and hours in the kitchen all come down to … a surprisingly brief sojourn at the table. Family and other social bonds strengthened, I suppose, but the effort that goes into the whole performance seems way out of kilter with the effort that precedes it.

    How churlish.

    Me, that is.

    Anyway, all the best to all the readers and commenters here, and especially to Prof Q, whose blog is a constant source of entertainment, elucidation and enlightenment (but not necessarily in that order). Many thanks.

  26. December 25th, 2005 at 23:25 | #26

    Merry Christmas JQ. Keep up the good work.

    If you’ve skimmed this far and not read observers post above – go back and read it.

  27. December 25th, 2005 at 23:29 | #27

    4 day long weekend eh? The newsagent next door & myself always get a wry laugh from this standard conversation:

    customer: (whilst making purchase DURING the long weekend) “Having any time off over the holidays?”
    merchant: “No”
    customer: “I’m not having any time off either, just the 4 days. Well, cheerio! Enjoy the weekend!”
    merchant: (staring laser beams at the back of departing customer) “You too mate.”

  28. avaroo
    December 27th, 2005 at 05:32 | #28

    “Don’t get me wrong, I like the US alot. However it’s hypocrisy often bothers me, look at this article from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4557472.stm

    Not sure the BBC is able to give an independent view of anything to do with the US.

    “The US fights a war in Iraq to remove a dictator and establish a democracy (whether the war was justified or not is another matter), but they are content for one of their allies, Egypt, to arrest the main opposition leader on trumped up charges of fraud. All the US has done is “voice concernâ€? over the trial. If they trully believe in spreading democracy in the Middle East, why wouldn’t they use their status as a supporter of Egypt to tell Hosni Mubarak that this is simply not on. Politics I suppose. ”

    My guess is that “voice concern” is diplomatic speak for having registered an objection. But telling Mubarak what we think is one thing, sending troops is to remove him is quite another. If we sent troops in everywhere someone did something that didn’t sit well, we’d have troops everywhere. It seems to me that the appropriate action to the arrest of an opposition leader would come from the UN, and be in the form of a resolution. Has the UN stepped in to condemn Egypt’s action and demand, through a binding resolution, that it release the political opponent?

  29. Ian Gould
    December 27th, 2005 at 15:36 | #29

    I must confess to taking Christmas Day off – but that was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t think we’d get any customers.

    Still I COULD have come in and got caught up on the book-keeping so I guess I’m rather letting the small-business-owner side down.

  30. Ian Gould
    December 27th, 2005 at 15:43 | #30

    I’m a little surprised that no-one has commented yet on Kerry Packer’s death.

    Packer was an extraordinary individual – a great man, if not necessarily a good one.

    He was possessed of a first-rate intellect and boundless imagination and drive. He was also known for his exceptional capacity for generosity and his charitable contributions.

    He was also ruthless and unscrupulous in the pursuit and exploitation of wealth and political influence.

    I won’t presume to judge the man, he was too complex and my knowledge of him is limited to what I gather from the distorting mirror of the media.

    I will simply note that in a world where the impact of individual business entrepeneurs is increasingly being eclipsed by the growth of megacorporations and the growing influence of the managers who control those corporations, the independent tycoon in the mold of Packer (and Murdoch) wielding vast personal power seems to be a dying breed.

  31. December 27th, 2005 at 16:23 | #31

    happy xmas. get anything good this year?

  32. December 27th, 2005 at 19:22 | #32

    Ian Gould – well said about Kerry Packer.

  33. Terje Petersen
    December 27th, 2005 at 19:39 | #33

    I am a bit surprised by the demise of Kerry Packer. I thought he might be immortal. Apparently not. Obviously it is a sad day for his family and friends.

    James will now be the third generation to play with this fortune. Few family enterprises make it past three generations. One wonders what forces have shaped the character of James Packer and how this will play out over the next few decades. I suspect that his experience with One.Tel leaves him better prepared.

    The face of media is obviously going to change rapidly whoever the players in the game are. I think that the media content of the future will be much less controlled from the centre.

  34. jquiggin
    December 28th, 2005 at 16:40 | #34

    Hi Mephi, got some good ones: an unfinished Aubrey-Maturin in facsimile from Dan, and an ultra-modern corkscrew from Leigh and Bree.

  35. Geoff Honnor
    December 28th, 2005 at 16:52 | #35

    On Kerry Packer: he was the iconic Aussie bloke – in all his shades and light – writ in superscript; particularly when it came to the punt. Still, I thought the most telling comment was one by (I think) Paul Barry yesterday. It was something along the lines of maybe his greatest achievement being a far better father than Sir Frank ever was. He’d probably have quite liked that, quietly.

  36. December 28th, 2005 at 17:21 | #36

    Kerry took over PBL when he was 37, on the death of Frank at the age of 68. James takes over at the age of 38, on the death of Kerry at 68.

    Lest you think the pattern is a bit eeery, grandpa Robert died at the age of 54, leaving Frank as the heir at the age of 26.

    But Kerry started a family earlier – James was born when he was thirty. James has yet to have a child, so family formation in the third generation is different. One effect of this is that the Packers have no heir, taking us back to the very early years of Frank.

  37. December 29th, 2005 at 23:08 | #37

    Don’t forget that Kerry Packer was not the oldest available son of Frank Packer, it was just that the elder brother didn’t want to get into that game.

  38. Terje
    December 30th, 2005 at 11:48 | #38

    Kerry Packer limited his choice of heirs by having so few kids. The Roman emperors of old increase the available list of candidates by considering nephews etc.

    Bill Gates has said that his kids will be rich but they will not inherit a corporate empire.

  39. December 31st, 2005 at 20:36 | #39

    You might like to have a look at what Andy Carnegie did to his widow and daughters – left them with practically nothing while the money went to generalised philanthropy, much the way he had earlier treated his workforce’s yields. He apparently thought he would be depriving his heirs of valuable experiences if he left them anything substantial.

  40. January 1st, 2006 at 21:13 | #40

    Happy New Year to John and his readers!

    Unfortunately Newman Campbell (or whatever the Lord Mayor’s name is) spoiled it for me and my friends by not having fireworks at Riverside – and so we traipsed up to the park overlooking the Story Bridge for a distant view of the Southbank fireworks obscured by city buildings!

    But a few gin and tonics restored festive spirits!

  41. Will De Vere
    January 2nd, 2006 at 14:35 | #41

    Geoff Honour has said

    ‘On Kerry Packer: he was the iconic Aussie bloke – in all his shades and light – writ in superscript; particularly when it came to the punt.’

    The word ‘iconic’ is long overdue for revision; millions of typical Aussie blokes won’t gamble because their parents squandered etc etc. The most interesting thing I’ve learned about Kerry Packer in the last week is that he never drank. Which makes him untypical.

    Some anonymous Asocial called CS has said, in considered reponse to my remarks about the Divine John Lennon:

    ‘Will, I trust you know that, when I say you’re an idiot, I mean that in the kindest possible way.’

    Thank you for your kind comment, CS. I will never change my opinion that Saint John, like many of the current heroes of 15 year-olds, might actually have been a nasty little shit. To Brian Epstein and other, Lennon was indeed a very nasty little shit.

    In a sense, using the term ‘kindest way’ to demean people was very much the bitchy, John Lennon, method.

  42. Ian Gould
    January 2nd, 2006 at 15:02 | #42

    In trhe course of another discussion, i hapapned across the following:

    http://www.budget.gov.au/2005-06/bp1/image/bst6-11.gif

    Unemployment benefits cost the Federal government around $5 billion. That’s out of a total welfare budget of approximately $85 billion and a total budget of $195 billion.

    The bulk of welfare payments don;t go to the unemployed, they go to the elderly and to families with children. Payments to the unemployed are less than those fro veterans and their dependants and less than half those of to people with disabilities.

    Can we maybe have a stop to whining complaints about how taxes are too high becasue of all those damn dole bludgers?

    Because if we totally eliminated unemployment benefits we might be able to cut taxes by around 2.5% (assuming there was no increase in law enforcement or medical costs as a result.)

  43. Ernestine Gross
    January 2nd, 2006 at 18:21 | #43

    Good point, Ian.

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