Newtown Coven

Newtown Coven

Last night this curious little coven of witch’s hats caught my eye.

This photo was taken on Enmore Road, Newtown in Sydney — as usual with my trusty Nokia N80 pimple-cam.

Some time — when I get the time! — I’ll set up the workflow so I can post this sort of thing directly from the phone.

The N80, like the rest of the Nseries, actually has single-timeline video editing software built in, which means I should be able to make video podcasts directly from the phone.

I know it’s “easy”, but it’s still one more thing to do…

John Winston Howard, a new view?

John Winston Howard

Politics has dominated my writing these last few weeks — understandable given the Mohammed Haneef saga and the simple fact that it’s an election year. Last month wasn’t quite so politics-heavy. And a year before that things were much more personal — though I didn’t have time to write much.

But I’m sure the political threads will continue a while, because I’ve just started reading John Winston Howard by Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen.

Three immediate observations:

  • JWH and I share a Methodist background and strict parents — how did we turn out so different?
  • After just one chapter, I’ve already gained a richer view of the man. I still don’t know that I like him, but I can see now why the late Janine Haines slapped me for being overly-critical. Perhaps linking to Anthony Albanese’s vitriolic anti-Howard rant from 9 years ago was a bit tough. (Then again, maybe not.)
  • Reading a book about JWH in Sydney’s inner west means that people give you funny looks. As I explained to one of them, though, “Hey, if I were reading a book about oncology, it wouldn’t mean I wanted to get lung cancer.”

I’ll write a proper review in due course — though I do like the irony of JWH’s childhood home now being a KFC outlet.

Silly Newtown Kiddie-Socialists

Yesterday the Snarky Platypus and I passed the usual gaggle of socialists set up outside the Dendy Cinema on King Street, Newtown. “Sign the petition. Release Dr Haneef,” they cried.

Oh dear. Silly, silly people…

Now you must understand that I’m not playing that right-wing commentators’ game of always prefacing “left” or “socialist” with “loony” or “silly”. That’s just name-calling and a very old propaganda technique indeed. That’s why I think Christian Kerr should grow up and stop using it in Crikey — calling his publication’s commentors shrubhuggers and Stalinists really is childish. After all, would we take a left-wing commentator seriously if they always referred to people anywhere to the right of themselves as Nazis or Fascists?

No, I’m calling these people “silly” because collecting signatures on a petition to release Dr Haneef is politically stupid and a waste of time.

  • What happens to petitions to Parliament? Nothing, really. A functionary announces that a petition on [insert title] has been received with [insert number] of signatures. And then it’s filed away. In nearly every case, that’s the end of the story.
  • The next sitting of federal parliament doesn’t even start until 7 August. It’ll be at least 10 days until your petition is tabled. If you really cared about Dr Haneef being in a cell, how about trying something quicker?
  • The government really doesn’t care what people in Newtown think, because it’s the left-wing heartland. “Good heavens,” John Howard quakes, “folks in Newtown don’t like what we’re doing! We’d better change tack immediately!” Erm, no. Now if you collected signatures in Penrith or Ryde or Parramatta or some other marginal Liberal electorate then maybe they’d care — but I’m guessing that doesn’t have the same appeal as spending a sunny afternoon with your mates on King Street, eh?

But my fourth point is the crunch…

  • Dr Haneef had already been released the previous night, charges dropped! While the Newtown socialists were collecting signatures calling for his release, Dr Haneef was already at home watching TV with family and friends.

Gawd, people! If you’re going to play politics, at least try to stay in touch. Perhaps even use that Internet thing!

Pub plant at dusk

Photograph of palm at Coopers Hotel, King Street, Newtown

As I sat drinking red wine and discussing politics with the Snarky Platypus yesterday, the lighting on this plant at the Coopers Hotel, King Street, Newtown, caught my eye. Anyone know what it’s called?

“Passive Intruder” launches tonight

Images from Passive Intruder: click for details I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug Pong’s exhibition Passive Intruder which opens at Newtown’s Buzzzbar Cafe (with three Zs!) tonight. Of course, you can sneak in during the day and see the pictures before it’s officially launched — so I’m hoping to see a bunch of red dots by the time I arrive…

I popped in to see the exhibition when it was being hung yesterday, and it was great to see the brightly-coloured images printed full size. They work well in the venue, and I have the gut feeling they’ll do quite well.

Plus I should say that the food at Buzzzbar is excellent — there’s a distinctly North African subtlety to the spices — though the proprietor is Greek, so perhaps that’s just my ignorance showing.