Weekly Poll: 2007 in Review

Even though there’s still 3 days of 2007 left, I’m way behind the pace. Most media outlets issued their 2007 in Review pieces well before Christmas. That means they missed such “minor” stories as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Oops.

Still, I’m going to risk further irrelevance and ask what, for you, was the biggest event in Australia for 2007. Was it…?

Or something else? Please go to the website to vote, and add further suggestions in the comments.

Previous results: Yes, more people said Christmas was “too much effort” than any other single answer. However “a glorious celebration of Our Saviour’s birth” did score 24% in a late come-back.

[poll id=”16″]

Review: Watching Brief

Cover photo of Watching BriefJohn Howard, during his time as prime minister, talked a lot about the rule of law. If we are a nation of laws then those laws must, presumably, reflect what we believe about ourselves as a nation. As people. As human beings. As Australians.

Howard, quite correctly, sees a century of the rule of law as one of the great achievements of Australian federation. And yet, under his watch, fundamental legal principles were eroded. Laws made as part of the so-called War on Terror introduced imprisonment without trial, secret evidence, searches without warrant…

With these conflicting thoughts in mind, I opened the pages of Julian Burnside’s book Watching Brief: reflections on human rights, law, and justice while leaving Australia for the first time.

As dusk fell somewhere over the Timor Sea, I imagined the horror of traversing that ocean below in an over-crowded, leaky refugee boat only to be hauled off to a concentration camp a quarter of the world away. Meanwhile, I ordered another brandy and Mr Burnside provided me with a concise, clearly-written explanation of just why I’d been so angry with the Howard government, and so angry with a weak and ineffectual opposition for allowing it to happen.

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Poll Dancing: a first impression

Cover of Poll Dancing by Mungo MacCallum

Having read Mungo MacCallum‘s acidic commentary on the federal election in Crikey, I was eager to read his newly-released “campaign diary” Poll Dancing: the story of the 2007 election. The first sentence tells me I’m in for a great time:

One morning in his tenth year as prime minister, John Winston Howard awoke in the master bedroom of Kirribilli House to realise that he had become not only omnipotent but invincible.

Ah, Mungo! I think I’ll be spending a relaxed Christmas afternoon with you, once I’ve finished reading Judith Brett’s Quarterly Essay, “Exit Right: the unravelling of John Howard”. Yes, I’m making sure I learn the lessons that are to be learned.

One hint to Black Inc Books, though. Please provide an obvious permanent link to your current titles, so the links I’ve just created won’t need to be edited down the track.

St Kevin’s thoughts on religion in politics

Lots of Australian politicians claim to be Christians, but somehow the “What would Jesus do?” bit gets lost in the everyday business of arresting Indian doctors and sending refugees to concentration camps. Our new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he’s a Christian too. What sort?

Two years ago, Chairman Rudd gave a lecture at the University of NSW’s New College on Religion, The State and Politics. Written in the days of WorkChoices and well before Rudd became ALP leader, it begins with the observation that “Christianity began its life as an oppressed minority,” and argues that one of the church’s important roles is to speak out against injustice.

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Unreliable Bangkok 4: Lust

Photograph of Leena Jangjanya election poster

Leena Jangjanya (ลีนา จังจรรจา, pictured above) is the most beautiful, most sexy woman in all of Thailand.

She’s usually just called Leena Jang, and since she’s a candidate in Sunday’s Thai general election her posters are everywhere in Bangkok’s northern suburbs. There’s three versions, including one in her graduation robes (law) and one where she’s looking like a successful businesswoman in white. You can see them both below.

Continue reading “Unreliable Bangkok 4: Lust”

The Golden Age of the Iced Vovo

As I wait for my aircraft to board, I ponder the many, many words which have been written about Kevin Rudd’s victory. I’ve come to a conclusion. When I return to Australia in 10 days I, like so many voters, will expect a Golden Age to have been implemented. Anything less than the following is unacceptable.

  • Global warming to have ceased completely.
  • All oil usage to have ended, forever.
  • A personal solar-powered hovercraft for all Centrelink benefit recipients.
  • A free case of Coopers Ale for everyone adult male.
  • Two packets of Iced VoVo biscuits for every family with children aged 12 or younger.
  • Malcolm Turnbull installed as Leader of the Opposition, with Julie Bishop as his deputy.

What else? What else do we expect from Chairman Rudd?