Monday, 31 January 2005

Beazley quote

I've been a bit unsure as to whether Beazley is Labour's best shot at winning the election, but this quote from Seven's Sunrise on Australia's relationship with the US is right on the money:

I think that he needs to be a friend that the Americans need, not just the friend that they want.
Of course, it probably didn't last 5 minutes in the media. Still, I reckon its a pretty good grab and, more importantly, a very good line.


If history can be considered to be repeating itself, then does the existence or non-existence of god come down to a question of iteration versus recursion?

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

traditional my arse

I bought a bottle of wine to have with my lasagne tonight, a Cote du Rhone. On the back of the bottle they very proudly tell me that their vineyard was started in 1650, is on 15 hectares and has a lovely outlook, has such-and-such type of soil, that they use a mix of grapes including some even I've heard of (although it sounds to me like they're not sure), and most importantly that they still use traditional techniques. What a wank.

I want to see an Australian bottle of wine that says, "Our vineyard was started 3 years ago as a tax dodge. To cut costs, its on 100 hectares, and production is entirely automated. We don't allow visitors because they tend to be offended by just how ugly the place is. We grow cab sav and shiraz grapes because they sell well. None of this matters a damn; it's just a good wine. Drink now with red meat or a pie, and quit your damn whining about tradition."

A penny for...

"Anyone prepared to sell their thoughts for a penny has probably set a fair price."

- Capitalist motto.

Wednesday, 19 January 2005


I am nerdier than 92% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Ho hum, yet another of these stupid things. Why do I put myself through it?

Tuesday, 18 January 2005

border range panorama

I can't exactly remember the name of the lookout where I took this one, but it was just south of the queensland border, on the way back from my grandmother's place at Mullumbimby just after Christmas. I mucked around with the stitching for a long time with this, and still need advice from someone who knows their stuff on fixing up stuff like the sky tones.

Sunset panorama

One evening after/during a walk with Mum and Dad at Cotswold Hills, we stopped and just looked at the sunset. The colours were different all over the sky, and this shot doesn't really do it justice, since it was a little after the best time, and I still don't have any technique. Still, it stitched pretty well (original is 4045x1781). Comments welcome.

not 80s enough

This was my childhood, but I was absent that day (via Stefan)

very dark for midday

My lack of social activity proved inappropriate for avoiding jetlag. Wednesday and Thursday nights terminated about elevenish Brisbane time, a less than inspiring 2am french time. The sun was less than inclined to play along, remaining hidden for a little more than 7 hours beyond the irreversible end of slumber on the part of my eyes.

same old tricks

A few people now have commented that I've come back noticeably tanned compared to how I left. I confess somewhat reluctantly to be glad, although the little guy on my right shoulder tells me that its just an invitation to skin cancer.

The last to do so was Sophie, upon meeting for a pizza and a movie on Friday night. Thus, after my ill-fated decision to have an anchovy and caper pizza (I miss Schonell pizzas - cheaper and better than Chez Dédé) left me well short of a caram-bar, I made a long-awaited return to my favourite place in Rennes, a dark room with a bright screen.

A year ago, Howl's Moving Castle in original japanese version with french subtitles would have proven challenging, infuriating or impossible. This year, no wucks. As for the film, I don't the plot really charmed me as much as perhaps Chihiro or Mononoke did, but that may just be warm nostalgia. In any case, Miyazaki gives nothing away to anyone or to his previous efforts with sheer eye-candy. The amount of movement and colour in his films is so complete as to almost be thumbing his nose at other animators. The Incredibles might be a better film, but no-one does pretty like manga does.

On Saturday night I went and watched Liz play basketball. I sat with Veronique, her husband, their two kids and one of her husband's mates, although I pretty much only spoke to Veronique. The opponents this week, the evocatively named C.B. d'I.F.S. (according to the programme), were nominally the top team in the division. They didn't play like it. Their motion offense wasn't working, and they lacked the personnel to overcome it; their center was tall, taller even than Liz, but had a free-throw technique reminiscent of Chris Dudley, and a similar success rate. In the end, I'm not sure who did the scoring for Avenir but, based on the 93-44 scoreline, it was probably everyone. The only downside was a calf injury to one of their key starters.

I went for a couple of beers with Liz after the game. She showed me her photos from her Australian holiday back in 2000, and I sighed and wondered why I haven't been sailing in the Whitsundays, 4WDing on Fraser or diving with bronze whalers at Mooloolaba. She said Australia was her favourite place in the whole world, and I scratched my head.

An uneven shade of grey

The extent to which weather plays upon the mood in a four-seasoned climate was reinforced to me last week.

The first couple of days upon my arrival were sunny and crisp, and I was pretty happy on Thursday. I talked to people at work, lying and trying not to sound like 7 degrees was too much of a letdown after 4 weeks of 30-35. I went for a drink with Liz, which was great even if I paid an exorbitant price for, of all things, Fosters. I was pretty happy, all things told.

And on the second day I went to the prefecture. Actually, first I tried to go to the office of medical inspections, forgetting that 9am is not really 9am until about 9:30 or so. In my optimism, i decided to do the prefecture first and return. An hour and a half later, I was served.

They have this new ticketing system, much more electronic and much more fallible than the old. There is now just one progression of numbers between all the different counters, so if your number is called just before someone else's at another counter, your number is only there for a moment and then its gone. You wind up with all these people staring at the roof at these little displays. They were already there looking depressed, carrying crying babies and in-triplicate photocopies of their entire life stories in a vain effort to reduce their prefectural sentence from 6 months to 4. Now they have neck cramp, too.

Anyway, to cut a short story long, i got my probationary residency permit extended yet again (its my 5th), and headed back into town for the medical inspection place. They're open now, but they tell me no, sorry, you can't have an appointment, your file has been deleted, you're going to have to go back to the prefecture and start over. Suffice to say, I'm pretty stoked about that. The average waiting time for an appointment is 4-6 months, I think, which means at least 3 and probably 4 more trips to the prefecture before I can progress to the next, no doubt just as tedious, step in this whole crazy game.

Through all this the sky was a uniform shade of miserable grey, the oh-so-European cobblestones beneath my feet wet in staunch defiance of the apparent lack of precipitation.

Friday, 14 January 2005


A long holiday with lots of non-nerd stuff to do - golf, tennis, cricket, the beach - didn't seem to hold up my reading. I got through almost 4 books, starting on the flight over, and I'll give just brief overviews of each.

I bought The Da Vinci Code at Charles de Gaulle airport (whose terminal 1 is, I'd say, the least pleasant airport I've ever been in), and finished it off a few days after I got back. Its pulp fiction, without a doubt, but I'm a sucker for its pseudo-science (stretching the definition of science a lot to symbology and, I guess, history), so I enjoyed it, and it certainly made waiting in airports more pleasant.

Heading down to Brisbane on the bus, I didn't have anything to read, so Em lent me Lee's copy of Life of Pi, another popular success, this time from a year or so ago. Like Da Vinci Code, its well enough written, very accessible, but its analogy, introduced right at the end, didn't really resonate with me, and at the one significant plot event not described wasn't apparent to me.

I tried getting into Joyce last year using Gutenberg versions on my laptop, but it didn't really work, and my repeated attempts to read Ulysses failed. Anyway, Mum had a couple of his books, from my uncle Mick (who I'm increasingly wishing I'd had a chance to have known), so I got into Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It was more difficult than the pulp stuff I'd read, but that's mainly just because he is so much more descriptive and eloquent than most. Anyway, I really dug it, and can't wait to get back into the paper copy of Ulysses that I brought back with me.

The fourth book, the last 30 or 40 pages of which I finished off last night, was My Brother Jack, by George Johnston. This was also a really good book. I was slow getting into it, but the characters are really well drawn, and very representative superficially of australian archetypes, but deeper down also of the way I think things really are for these people. At times the writing, clearly influenced by Johnston's own life, is a little self-indulgent, but that's OK, because at others, its really, really good. The last couple of scenes, in particular, when he meets Cressida and Turley, have a real sense of euphoria to them, leading to a very authentic series with Jack. I really enjoyed this.

red bridge

This was one of the bridges at the very beautiful japanese gardens in Toowoomba. We spent about a half hour or an hour, perhaps, before the cricket started. There had been a good fall of rain the evening before, so the vegetation was all looking very happy. Subsequent shots of the bridge were more symmetrical, but I shot them too tight, and it felt cramped.


This was a photo that my dad (or perhaps mum or one of my sisters) took just outside toowoomba. Its kind of cheating, since I wasn't there, but I thought it looked good, and serves as some symbolic impression of my holiday. I did go to some bush were there are probably koalas, after all.

Thursday, 13 January 2005


I can't really do a post describing all my holiday without doing injustice to some part of it. I will, however, attempt a brief summary, probably to be annotated by other posts and, hopefully, such images as I have available, in the week that follows.

I split my time pretty much equally in the end, between my parents' place in Toowoomba and friends in Brisvegas, staying at Ian's and Paul/Julz/Danny/Kylie's places. In Toowoomba I caught up with Mum, Dad, Lee and Em, activities including a few rounds of golf with dad, a lot of time on the back verandah looking at their spectacular view, watching various kinds of sport on tele, and a couple of trips to the pool to do laps with Lee. In general it was great - M&D's new house is really nice, and the view is, again, spectacular, particularly after a fall of rain when everything is so green.

Brisbane was also fantastic. It was probably the first time I'd ever been a tourist there, so I had a great time cruising up and down the river on the Citycat, walking along the river at Southbank, and reading a book in the botanic gardens at Garden's Point. I caught up with lots of people and did lots of stuff, including:

  • popping out to DSTC for a couple of afternoons
  • hanging out with Ian and his flatmates on their back porch
  • out drinking with Lach and one of his cricket mates
  • out with Chad and Miri at the Calypso Bar,
  • barbeque housewarming for Paul/Julz/Danny/Kylie's place,
  • New Year's with Miri/Chad/Lach/Olwyn/Bec/Nic/Brett/Craig/Em/etc,
  • tennis with Matt, golf with Chad/Craig/Matt,
  • and lots of hanging out with Paul/Mick/Dan/Julz/Danny/Kylie and others at West End, with commensurate volumes of Indian/Japanese/Vietnamese/Chinese food.

I realized just how set up I was (and still am) for social circles in Brisbane. I have some good friends in Rennes, but in Brisbane I have so many that I can just be out almost any night of the week. In Rennes, I'm lucky if its one or two nights a week. Unlike my sisters, Emily in particular, I much prefer a meal at a restaurant than one at home, but I can't do that without someone with whom I can go.

I realized how cool it is having unemployed or part-time-working friends when you're on holidays.

I realized just how much I love - and just how much I've missed - Asian food. The phrase itself, common in France but ridiculous in Australia, tells you so much. In two weeks in Brisbane I ate Indian from Punjabi Palace, Chinese from the Asian House, Japanese from Ginga, Vietnamese and Chinese from Trang, and Thai from Renu Thai. In Rennes I had Asian food maybe 4 or 5 times, most of which were in the UK. French food rocks, but I'd take a lamb ceylon from Punjabi over gallettes any day of the week.