Monday, 17 September 2007

passing thyme

A couple of things that have happened in my life since starting work:

I had a nice trip down to Canberra for work a few weeks ago. I flew down Monday night, was picked up by Lee, and stayed at her place after a nice dinner, which gave a good few hours for chatting and catching up. She has a really nice apartment down there. She dropped in to my workshop at ANU the next day, and when it finished early I had the opportunity to walk over to Liz & Mike's place, a few blocks away. It was really good to chat with Mike and Tom, although I had to leave before getting a chance to say more than "Hello/Goodbye" to Liz.

There have been a few good nights spent with Mick/Paul/Julz/Celia/Nené/Andy and that general crowd. One was Mick's birthday dinner at Garuva, after which we went back to Wynnum Rd and had white & black russians on the back deck. Another was Celia's birthday, for which we headed up to Keperra for some paintball, which was hella fun, and well worth the bruises that we all carried (and still carry, in my case) out of it.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

new digs

About 3 weeks ago I moved into an apartment in Teneriffe. Its a one-bedroom place, but its pretty big with a nice balcony, and its in a pretty expensive suburb (the most expensive in Brisbane, I was told at the Capalaba Sports Club last week).

Over those three weeks I've slowly been going about filling it with stuff. Twice in the last 4 years I've been reasonably flush with furniture, appliances, and the sorts of things that one needs to feel at home in a place (as opposed to just camping there). Twice I've sold all that gear to move overseas, so I find myself once again looking at buying a fridge, washer, bed, table, couch, TV, etc. I'm going OK so far, having acquired a fridge and washer, paid for a bed and table/chairs for which I'll take delivery reasonably soon, and just about filled my kitchen with some nice gear (pots, pans, knives, etc). Thanks to a mission to Dan Murphy's with Lee, I also have a reasonably well-stocked cave. Nonetheless, until I get my few remaining items, I still feel a little bit temporary.

no news is ... ?

It hasn't been through any express decision or desire, but I seem to have stopped updating here about what I've been doing. On the off-chance that I still have anyone reading this blog, would you prefer to find here more regular accounts of what I've been doing, occasional flawed insights into politics and the way the world works, or a combination of both?

Monday, 10 September 2007

Tongue Lashing

Either Alexander Downer has a very dry wit, or he is under grave misapprehensions about what one learns from a 2-month course in French conducted in Australia, and how French compares to Mandarin as a language.

This is the email I just sent him.

Monsieur Downer,

Vous êtes vraiment un gros nul.

Ce n'est vraiment pas normal qu'un ministre des affaires étrangères ne

reconnaisse pas que apprendre le francais et apprendre le mandarin ne
sont pas la même chose.

De plus, c'est évident que M. Rudd parle couramment mandarin.

Peut-être que vous êtes un prodige en langues étrangéres, mais
personellement, ayant appris le français (en france), je trouve
difficile à croire que vous parlez aussi bien français (que M. Rudd
parle mandarin) grâce à deux mois de cours en australie.

Finalement, je trouve honteux, dans une culture où l'étude des langues

et moins en moins valorisée, qu'un ministre des affaires étrangères
dénigre quelqu'un qui a clairement fait l'effort de bien apprendre la
langue de notre plus grande partenaire de commerce.

En essayant de rester quand méme poli, veuillez agréer, Monsieur, mes

sentiment les plus distingués.

For the benefit of those that don't understand that (a number which I personally suspect will include Mr Downer):

Mr Downer,

You really are a moron.

Its outrageous that a foreign minister not acknowledge that learning French and learning Mandarin are not the same thing.

Additionally, it is clear that Mr Rudd speaks Mandarin well. Perhaps you are a foreign language prodigy, but personally, having learnt French (in France), I find it difficult to believe that you speak french comparably well after two months of courses in Australia.

Finally, I find it shameful that, in a culture where the study of languages is less and less valued, a foreign minister belittles someone who has clearly made the effort to learn the language of our largest trading partner.

I noticed a bunch more letters in the Australian, including from the head of Asian studies at ANU. Rightly so.