Bush: A uniter after all ?

George W. Bush’s promise to be “a uniter not a divider” has always seemed like a bad joke. He’s been one of the most polarising Presidents in US history, and this was reflected in opinion polls. As recently as February 2006, Bush managed to score 82 per cent approval among Republicans, while getting nearly 80 per cent disapproval (and mostly strong disapproval) from Democrats.

But the latest Harris poll suggests that Bush might finally be bringing Americans together. His suppport among Republicans has fallen to 67 per cent, and the decline seems to be continuing. A majority (53 per cent) of those who regard themselves as conservative think he is doing a bad job. So maybe Bush can unite us all in agreement on at least one point.

Flying ducks

From Rachel Aspden’s New Statesman review of Alain de Botton’s latest (which I saw republished in the ReView section of the Fin)

None of this [pretentiousess] would matter so much were de Botton not selling the promise of taste. The Architecture of Happiness is being advertised on the Tube with a poster of flying-duck plaques – middle-class shorthand for “naff” – asking: “Is this your idea of good taste?” … If this is happiness, I’ll take the flying ducks any time.

Reading this in the kitchen, I naturally glanced up at the wall, which is adorned by a classic flight of flying ducks. I acquired them in my youth in a spirit of irony, but that has long since transmuted into genuine affection (if indeed, the irony was ever genuine). They used to be accompanied by a koala, masked and caped as a flying supermarsupial, but the wall wasn’t a safe place for such a unique item, and we’ve never found another.

So is it OK to like flying ducks? Or is this the crime against the holy spirit of Good Taste that can never be forgiven?

Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

Bris Science again


*********** We believe the Universe began in a Big Bang, and is expanding around us. How Big and Old is the Universe? What is in the Universe, and how will it End? Brian will describe how we have used exploding stars, known as supernovae, to track the expansion of the Universe back some 10 Billion years into the past to answer these and other questions.

Brian Schmidt, an astronomer and Federation Fellow from the Mount Stromlo Observatory at the Australian National University, uses distant supernovae to study the Universe. He led a group that discovered that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate – a discovery that was named Science Magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year in 1998.

DATE: Monday, May 29

TIME: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (doors open at 6:00pm); complimentary wine, soft drinks, and nibblies follow

VENUE: Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts (420 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley; see http://www.jwcoca.qld.gov.au for a map; parking is available on Berwick St next door)

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