Enmore

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Barry O’Farrell, I’ve got my eye on you. It’s one thing to start sorting out the mess left after a decade and half of NSW Labor government that was incompetent to the point of, I suspect, corruption. I’m sure we can all provide a list of folks whose bank and phone records we’d like to see pulled by ICAC. But that’s very different from threatening with sacking a local government body whose actions happen not to coincide with the interests of your mates in the pro-Israel cheer squad.

Yes, Marrickville Council decided to boycott Israel over that whole Palestine thing. So what? What business is that of yours as NSW Premier? None.

As an individual, I have the right to hold whatever political views I like. Freedom of thought and freedom of political expression are amongst the very few human rights we’ve properly protected here in Australia. Should I decide that some individual, group, business, organisation or nation holds views so repugnant that I’d rather not support them, then it’s my right not to do business with them.

As a proper, legally-constituted, legitimately-elected local government body — as a legal “person” — the Marrickville Council also has that basic legal right to choose who it does business with.

Now as it happens, I reckon Marrickville’s decision wasn’t terribly well thought through. As my colleague Josh Taylor over at ZDNet Australia points out, boycotting everything that comes out of Israel denies you access to the latest computing technology from Intel, amongst other things. The very fact that Marrickville Council didn’t respond to his questions but instead waved him off to a prepared statement at their website proves, in my opinion, that they don’t have the intellectual integrity or moral backbone to discuss and stand by their decision. By all means criticise them for that.

But until very recently I’d spent most of a decade as a citizen of Marrickville. Yes, there’s a certain idealistic leftism suffusing the place, if I may resort to that tediously tired old left-right classification. But from a resident’s perspective they got on with the job of delivering services with far fewer allegations of dodgy behaviour than certain Labor-dominated local councils I could name. Or Liberal-dominated councils, for that matter. Why isn’t your attention focussed on them?

So, Mr O’Farrell, unless you’ve got some prima facie evidence of corruption or misconduct on the part of Marrickville Council, piss off out of it. It’s up to the citizens of Marrickville to decide whether they do or don’t support their Council’s actions, no-one else’s.

You’ve got enough on your plate to be getting on with as it is, Mr O’Farrell. Get on with it.

I don’t often write about personal stuff. Not truly personal stuff. But as the year clocks over into 2011 I am thoroughly, deeply, personally stressed and afraid. And I’m not handling it very well.

I have to find a new home in the next four weeks.

At the end of November the property manager did that thing they’re allowed to do in New South Wales: cancel a continuing lease with no stated reason giving just 60 days notice. In this case I think it’s just so they can bump up the rent more than they could get away with through an incremental increase on our continuing lease.

There’s a distinct shortage of affordable rental property in Sydney, and the timing is lousy. Freelancers like me don’t earn any money across the holidays, so January is the worst time of the year to need extra money — and before you ask, no, I don’t have any cash reserves or any available credit. Long story, but the short version is that I’m actually quite poor.

So there’s a very real risk that I won’t be able to find anything appropriate for me and the cats. Or, more importantly, I won’t have the cashflow to do anything about it in the first place.

And that means, potentially, some really dreadful temporary accommodation that I hate, with the cats in boarding and my stuff in storage and a fairly swift descent into depression. I’ve been there before and it’s not pleasant.

I’m going to see if I can move the date back another four weeks, which should create time for the January income to arrive. If not, well, I’m screwed.

If you happen to know someone in Sydney with a suitable property, do let me know. I’m hoping to stay in Sydney’s inner west, and ideally in Enmore or an adjacent suburb.

And no, I don’t think I should be sharing house with anyone. I’m not sure that I’m a particularly good person to live with.

There’s other things on my mind too. I’ve decided that my working life is spread across too many different kinds of things at the moment, and I need to simplify. And I’ve only really just started to get used to ’Pong not being here, given that he departed for Bangkok only last month even though we actually broke up a year ago. But I’ll get to them in further posts.

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets, for those suffering from early-onset dementia.

Articles

  • Is Brisbane’s sewer broadband a crock of …?, for Crikey. Believing that the National Broadband Network will take too long to solve Brisbane’s internet problems, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has signed a deal with the i3 Group to run fibre through the city’s sewers. As you do.
  • Cloud security? Better get a lawyer, Son!, a 2000-word feature for ZDNet.com.au. As the intro says, “Moving your data into the cloud creates a raft of security challenges, but according to information security specialists, those challenges are less about hackers and more about data availability and signing the right contracts.”

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 61, “Microsoft exposes the botnet threat”. My guest is Microsoft Australia’s chief security advisor, Stuart Strathdee.
  • A Series of Tubes episode 117. Richard Chirgwin’s podcast returns after a bit of a break. Apart from my usual natter about stuff, we hear from i3 Group’s CEO Elfed Thomas about that Brisbane sewer-based fibre project.

Media Appearances

  • Again it’s not strictly “media”, but on Tuesday I took part in a lunchtime discussion about the future of book publishing, hosted by Blurb. I haven’t had time to write it up yet, but here’s Ross Dawson’s summary.

Geekery

  • Wait for it…

Corporate Largesse

  • Blurb paid for Tuesday’s lunch at History House on Macquarie Street. And very pleasant it was.
  • I was invited to a few other things this week, but I was a tad crook and didn’t go. Ethics are restored, or something.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Staff of The Duke, Enmore, dress up for The Village People concert at the Enmore Theatre. I won't link to a higher-resolution version. We have suffered enough.]

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets, once again done fortnightly because I forgot to do it last weekend. Suffer.

Articles

  • Nile’s porn excuse doesn’t hold water, for Crikey. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph alleged that various NSW politicians had been using their parliamentary computers to access pornography, and that anti-sex-industry campaigner and Christian Democrats leader Reverend Fred Nile was the worst culprit. He denied it, but as the story stood on 2 September 2010 I didn’t believe him.
  • NSW Parliament’s flawed porn hunt, for Crikey. By the following day, it was clear that the “audit” of parliamentary web browsing was deeply flawed.
  • What the NBN will deliver to Windsor’s mob, for Crikey. Independent MP Tony Windsor said that the National Broadband Network was a major factor in him choosing to support Labor over the Liberal-National Coalition.
  • ACMA and Nine demonstrate Australia’s institutionalised racism, for ABC Unleashed. Sam Newman’s continued low-brow bigotry on The AFL Footy Show gets “punished” with a slap on the wrist. Again. It took only six comments before someone accused me of political correctness gone mad and compared Australian with North Korea. And another commenter said that I “looked like a potato that had been boiled too far”. The standard of discussion at ABC Online isn’t all that flash.

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 55, “BYO computers: cloud security risk?”.
  • Patch Monday episode 56, “Parliament’s poor porn probe exposed”. If ZDNet allowed longer headlines and more robust language in their stories, I’d have entitled this podcast “Pollies’ piss poor Parly porn probe exposed”. Poetry.

Media Appearances

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos eventually appear on Flickr.

[Photo: Enmore Village on a Spring evening, taken from one of my favourite afternoon working spots at the Warren View Hotel, corner of Stanmore and Enmore Roads. Compare it with the photo in this post, My village really is home.]

Sure, the Sydney dust storm was ages ago. But I’m setting up a Posterous account and playing with its ability to post automatically to Flickr, Twitter and my WordPress website.

This photo was taken on Enmore Road, Enmore at about 7.30am on 23 September 2009. It’s a frame grab from my HD video camera.

I hate doing live experiments like this, because I care about how material is presented on my website. Perhaps that’s old-fashioned, but I don’t like things turning ugly. Presentation counts. OK, you’ve seen my dress sense? Sorry.

Posted via email from Stilgherrian’s Stream

[Update: I'll leave the formatting of this post as-is. If you look at the code, you'll see that Posterous has its own somewhat shitty ideas about HTML. It also scaled the photo to Posterous' 500-pixel width rather than my layout's 600-pixel width. Bother. I have, however, changed the category from "Uncategorised" (ugh!) to stuff that fits my taxonomy. I've also added tags. The tags I'd added for Posterous didn't make it through to WordPress.]

Photograph of young man with long grey fake-fur tailLook, I know it was Halloween yesterday, but it’s no excuse.

The Snarky Platypus and I were intending to enjoy a quiet drink at one of our local hostelries when we were confronted with the sight of a young man sporting a long — nay, very long — fake fur tail. In public.

In daylight!

This, Young Man, is the Town Hall Hotel! A reputable establishment. We do not need your bizarre sexual proclivities to be displayed so prominently. We do not need your bizarre sexual proclivities to be displayed at all.

Look, I’m pretty broad-minded, and generally I’m OK if you stay within the order Mammalia. But fake fur? Really?

Just where do you draw the line?

Photograph of pied currawong eating spare cat food

I know we shouldn’t feed the pied currawongs, but they actually came looking for food today. There wasn’t any. But when I put some out, this chap returned a few minutes later — scoffing a few while keeping a wary eye for the cats dozing only a few metres away, then taking a few spare nuggets back for the juveniles in their tree.

Photograph of jet aircraft approaching Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport has responded to my email about interference with our Wi-Fi and Next G reception. In standard corporate style, they begin by reminding me that “aviation safety — both in the air and on the ground — is paramount”. It gives some useful information — but passes the buck firmly to Airservices Australia.

The full text is over the jump.

Yes, the email arrived a day later than their 3-day stated turnaround time, but that’s OK considering I did say this would all be published.

Airservices Australia runs stuff like air traffic control so, yes, this does perhaps belong in their court. As they’ve been suffering some problems themselves, it’ll be interesting to see their response.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photograph of jet aircraft on landing approach for Sydney Airport runway 16R

Our home in Enmore is under the approach path to Runway 16R at Sydney Airport. We can cope (just) with the noise, but the electronic interference annoys the shit out of us. Time to fix that. Here’s an email I just entered into their website contact form.

Dear Sydney Airport,

We live in Enmore. When you turn on your electronic stuff to help the heavy jets land on Runway 16R, it often knocks out our Wi-Fi network. (It also overloads the pre-amp of our digital TV receiver, but since we’ve pretty much given up on broadcast TV this is less of a concern.) We can even predict the imminent arrival of a heavy because the network goes down about 15 or 20 seconds before we hear the approaching aircraft.

This happens on two different 801.11g 802.11g frequencies, two different brand wireless access points, and on whichever computers we’re using. Your comms or navaids, or maybe the aircraft themselves, can also interrupt a Telstra Next G data connection, so even switching to our alternate data link is problematic.

I understand that, for obvious practical reasons, we can’t shut down the airport. So I assume you’ll be sending someone around to resolve this interference with our legitimate use of the radio spectrum?

The disruption has of course been more frequent since the work on the cross runway has increased the daytime traffic over our home. Again, I understand that this work needs to be done.

However, like someone doing noisy renovations or holding a noisy but perfectly legitimate party, the polite, neighbourly thing would be something a bit better than sending us generic corporate propaganda. The polite, neighbourly thing would be to make good somehow. Give us the keys to your holiday shack while work’s in progress. Invite us over to see the new family room once it’s done. Send around a slab of beer and some grilled chicken breast fillets.

Or, just fix the problems you’re causing.

I look forward to your response. Like this email, it’ll be posted at stilgherrian.com. If it’s a bunch of legal or PR jargon which fails to acknowledge that the problem even exists, we’ll laugh.

Regards,

Stilgherrian

I’ll keep you posted if and when they respond.

Photograph of juvenile currawong

A family of pied currawongs lives next door. Beautiful, smart birds. Recently we’ve been leaving food out for them, and they’re happy to steal a few bites while keeping a wary eye for the cats.

Today one of the parents brought two of the juveniles with it. While I didn’t get the camera in time to snap the family portrait, I did sneak this picture of one of the juveniles on the neighbour’s fence.

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