Wednesday, 30 November 2005

modern liberalism

It seems like its been a while since I blogged about politics. It remains of interest to me, and I still don't quite know where I fit in the Australian political spectrum. I would like to think of myself as a liberal, but not a libertarian, and certainly not a Liberal.

Anyway, so an article about the new terror laws passing the House and about their prospects of being amended in the senate made me think about small 'l' vs big 'L' liberals. So I wandered across to Wikipedia and read about small 'l' liberalism. That lead me to 'classical liberalism' - not really me, I decided. Thus onto 'social liberalism', or 'modern liberalism'. There, I said, that sounds a little like me. So I googled for 'australian modern liberal', and came across the maiden speech of The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Member for North Sydney (NSW). Earlier today, Mr Hockey voted in favour of the terror legislation, including the changes to the sedition laws. I wonder how that decision, along with the general culture of fear, as I see it, that has begun to effect Australian politics. In particular, how do these things relate to his quote of George Reid:

"There is no country in the world where the people are less paralysed by reverence to the past. There are no people in the world who have fewer fears for the future."

And how do they relate to his four tenets of modern liberalism: the rights of the individual, representative parliamentary democracy, reform and equality of opportunity? I'd say that the first has been diminished by a process showing, to date (we can hope that the senate can restore our faith), very little respect for the second.

Friday, 25 November 2005

to the happy tipple

I squeezed out some sentimental words by way of a wedding toast this evening, in a spontaneous role as surrogate speechwriter. Two and a half large jars of Beamish red played a not significant assisting part in the copious corn contained, in a flourish the fruity froth which perhaps only Jesse could fully appreciate. (*sniff* Almost made we want to dance on levels *sniff*) God bless the sauce and the eloquence it engenders, and three cheers for Kev'n'Kel, the happy and unknowing beneficiaries!

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

famous last noises

So apparently Willy got it wrong. It wasn't "Et tu brute"; it was "gurgle gurgle gurgle". Not unlike Harold Holt, that; put it down to the accent.

Monday, 21 November 2005


Avenir played a home game Saturday night - an easy (in the end) win over Brest in an ugly game. Ugly because the umpires were letting far too much go down low, and also because I didn't really like the offense Avenir were running. No post play whatsoever, too much dependence on passes from the top of the key to cuts or seals. Anyway, what do I know. There was a party afterwards, a typical affair filled with beer, kir, rum and worrying conversations, and which I should probably have abandoned early but at which I stayed until I found myself queuing at L'Éspace (a local night club) at 4am. The combination of fatigue, the cold (-2 or -3 I believe) and the prospect of paying 10 euros for an experience I've always hated, woke me up somewhat, and I busted a move and walked home.

Why should I have abandoned early? Well, Sunday was lunch at Tortue's, and I had promised to make a dessert, not my strong point. In the end, amid the thick haze of a hangover and 4 hours' sleep, and after much to-ing and fro-ing over what to make, I did a date and walnut cake thing, which worked OK, although was a little too rich compared to the puddings I was making a couple of years ago. I tried to find a pudding dish thingy like I used to have, but was unable to track one down. Anyway, lunch was good - moules in Pineau for starters, seiche (cuttlefish) for the main, chévre chaud and finally my cake thing.

Thursday, 17 November 2005


The socceroos qualified for the world cup yesterday. I'm a pretty patriotic guy (a scoundrel, if you like), so I was walking around with a grin for a while. I read on Ricky's blog, in various articles on SBS' site, that maybe this will help soccer challenge aussie rules and rugby (he doesn't mention the national sport - cricket) for sporting dominance in Australia. Good god, I can't think of anything worse.

All sports are surrogates for war, but none so much as soccer. Sport as a substitute for partisan emotions, be it for country, club or colours, is a wonderful idea. Every sport in the world keeps this on the pitch. Except soccer, amongst whose fans violence is commonplace. I know a bunch of fans of soccer teams, but very few fans of soccer. Take me. I'll cheer for Australia, but put me in front of a game between two neutrals, and I couldn't give a damn, and am likely to get annoyed by the lack of "courage" and "honesty" in the game. Like war, its an outlet for partisan competition where the competition itself is greatly lacking of aesthetic appeal. That it is the closest thing there is to a "world game" is a sad accident of history that we should not reinforce.

So I'm pretty happy for the socceroos, and hope they go well, but they can stay in Europe as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

craziness in the streets

I bravely walked 15 minutes home from the metro last night. I didn't see any burning cars, but I did see a pair of shiny black shoes on a window sill with a sign saying "Servez vous" (help yourself). The streets just aren't safe.

Monday, 14 November 2005

underground cookery

Tonight I'm testing my culinary bounds.

My favourite dish of all time, or at least the most nostalgiacally cherished in my twisted little memory, is veal parmigiana with ravioli. Between about 9 and 14 I reckon I ordered this dish perhaps 20 times at the Underground Restaurant in Innisfail. By the end, Silvio Mantovani, the chef, didn't even ask me, he just wrote it down. I've found plenty of other places that offer such a dish by name, but they aren't the same thing. I have no idea how they made it, but I'm giving it a shot tonight based on memory and a mishmash of recipes found online.

So, anyway, the basic recipe tonight is that I take a veal escalope (don't know in english). Ideally I beat it with a hammer to within an inch of its life, but I don't have a hammer. Then I coat one side with flour, then an egg/milk/pepper mixture, then breadcrumbs with a little bit of grated parmesan cheese mixed in. I fry this one side, then lay on a slice of prosciutto, followed by a dose of parmesan cheese, then I fold over the veal to seal the prosciutto and parmesan inside, pinching it closed with a toothpick. This then goes into the oven with some tomato sauce and a slice of mozzarella. The ravioli I've bought, since I have even less chance of duplicating their amazing home-made pasta, and none whatsoever of making that into credible ravioli.

I'm going with a gaillac for wine. The bottle doesn't say what grapes it contains, but it comes from the area between Toulouse and Albi, through which I travelled on a train with Chris and Mick a few months back. From what I remember of previous gaillac escapades, I think its likely to be a cab-merlot or something nice like that.

Friday, 4 November 2005

the weeks roll by

... and no blog entries. I'm a slackarse, it's true. You've found me out.

Actually, the truth is that I haven't been doing much. Saturday my new mobile phone and SIM card turned up, so I played a little with that (as much as one can without an activated SIM card).

The plan, meanwhile, was at some point over the weekend to head along to the Salon des Vins et de la Gastronomie (wine and tasty food) with Sophie and Liz. Liz couldn't make it, courtesy of a heinous workload at uni, but Soso and I trotted along Tuesday evening. We tasted a bunch of whites (Rieslings, Sauvignons, Chardonnays and an Anjou or two), I tried a bunch of reds (Grenache - ugh, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chinon, among others), and by the end, a little less sensitive to subtle taste (and gravity), I tried a couple of cognacs. We also bought some jambon from the pays basque, which I hope to get into this weekend.

Great fun, but a pretty slim return for a four-day weekend. Oh, I bought gumboots, too, with a view to going mushroom-hunting, but now that's cancelled. I still have gumboots, though. Whee!