Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some more Holga shots

Got some more lovely Holga films back today. These are both from Mallacoota.

This one was actually taken with slide film but the saturation was so intense and the colour cast so wrong, it looks much better in black and white.

This one's cross-processed Agfa RSX II, processed C41 and pushed two stops (for the technically minded). High saturation and nutty colour cast, but that was rather the point, and in this case it's worked.

Love me Holga, I do.

Friday, January 30, 2009


We were promised the week from hell, or rather the week in hell, by the weatherfolk, and Lord, have they delivered. Another day way in excess of 40 c (that's 104 in old money, for those of you over 140 years old) and standing in the shade doesn't seem to help. Roads are melting, tempers are fraying and you can see who has air conditioning and who of us don't - we have rings under our eyes.

Late night drives to get Will to sleep have been the norm, if only because the car's got air conditioning. We've visited Footscray, Essendon, Moonee Ponds and other places west of Myers. Hot? Oh yes...

...and that was at 10.00pm. It didn't get a whole lot cooler.

Tonight a few of us from work had dinner in Hardware Lane, gently stewing in our own juices sitting under the stars, or at least under the fug.

Clockwise from me: me, Lis, Vanessa, Kristy and Brett. All clever; all great company. Malcolm had left by this stage, as had Sue. Salmon Nicoise and fizz. Mmmmmmm....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The weather folk have promised us the hottest week in more than a hundred years. Today, and the next few days will all be over 40c. And it's my first week back at work after a couple of very relaxed weeks. But the last two days at work have been strangely energized. Things seem to be going pretty well at work, and Andrew, who runs our Economics team, and who filled in for me while I was away was perfectly suited to the challenges that came up.

Andrew is a true gentleman. Superficially we're very different - I consider myself an introvert, but he's much more reserved; there's at least a decade between us; and he's much more risk-averse than I am. It's not so obvious that our academic backgrounds are different - he's an economist; my background is in philosophy.

Is that so different? Not so much. I consider myself a belated child of the enlightenment and that Adam Smith is just a quantitative utilitarianist. I can never totally accept the utilitarian vision, being tempered by both Rawls and a belief in some values (like equity) that aren't easy to nail in a utilitarianst sense.

Even putting aside the obvious, Melbourne similarities we share (especially a shared love of Carlton Football Club), we've got a fair bit in common. Andrew is passionate about the rights of refugees (sisn't see that coming) and about the people in his team.

F was waving her new camera about last night, and encouraged me to pretend the camera wasn't there as I wailed about some misfortune at work. The result?

But today had its highlights. A conspiracy-theory enriched journalist we deal with all too often made the mistake, while interviewing a colleague, of narrowly avoiding the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy, but still drawing an analogy between something my colleague had done with the Holocaust. Colleague, who is deeply passionate about making the world a better place through his work, was staggered. Phone calls to editors etc later, and today journo makes abject apology, which is only as it should be.

Give me children to deal with before some journalists - at least they're either honest, or their dishonesty is so humorously self-serving ("I gave you the big slice") that they might as well be.

This particular journo thinks that if he's found out a fact, it must be a dread secret that is the edge of a deep, dark conspiracy. If other people find it, it was probably deliberately leaked to them by somebody perpetrating the conspiracy. A few people have suggested that this is the result of said conspiracy theorist being an only child, but I have no point of reference here. I don't know whether I even know any only children.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Almost a week in Mallacoota

Last week was spent in the beautiful eastern corner of the state at Mallacoota. The only problem with Mallacoota is that it's a bloody long way away, and after seven hours in the car we arrived, tired and extremely grumpy. Mum and dad, Anita, Roger and kiddiwinks were already there.

I got some pathetic exercise in with a few vigorous strides into town and back and much walking, leaping and frolicking on Betka Beach. We pootled mightily, with multiple family trips to beaches (both Betka and Bastion Point), celebrated with major sunburn (E), with Al and Will in supporting roles, and significant lounging about.

Thursday saw a drive to Eden in southern New South Wales. Roger had opined that Mallacoota was like Barwon Heads 30 years ago. Eden was pretty much in the same decade -below par fish and chips, a time capsule whale museum and judging by the populace, Heaven's waiting room.

Beach cricket was played; Emmy was a mermaid, extracted from the water only with the aid of explosives, and Al got up on a surfboard. Lovely. Just bloody lovely.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jesus-based spirituality place

A what?

I think this is what used to be called, rather quaintly, a "church". No point disguising it, we can see what you're up to here. From a sign outside a church, sorry, SoulSPACE, in Station St, Fairfield.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smoke Machine

Alex has a smoke machine. Sometime after Christmas we tested it. A family affair, in which I include Helen.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Off air for a few days, not that I've been vigilant about frequent postings. We're driving to Mallacoota tomorrow for a few days on the beach. Busy backson.


At the cricket, Boxing Day test at the MCG, late December 2007. A Holga photo.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Return of Auntie Holga

Taken with some Fuji slide film, either Provia or Astia (and definitely not the luscious Velvia). Normal processing and scanning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The American Future

I'm halfway through Simon Schama's The American Future, a Christmas present. The second section is largely about the role of religion in American political life and the ongoing tension between the Jeffersonian view of separation of church and state and those who have attempted (and attempt) to make religion a state mandate.

What I'm enjoying most about the book is the way the narrative takes debates fought from the early years of the nation, gives them life through the stories of individuals and then leads you gently to those same debates, playing themselves out in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the relationship between church and politics and in race relations.

Schama argues that:
"...the Founding Fathers believed ... that religious truth would best be served by keeping the state out of the business of its propagation; that the power of religious engagement would not just survive freedom of conscience, but be its noblest consequence. It was a daring bet: that faith and freedom were mutually nourishing. But it paid off and it has made America uniquely qualified to fight the only battle that matters... the war of toleration against conformity; the war of a faith that commands obedience against the faith the promises liberty. That, actually, turns out to be the big American story."
But most interesting for me was the role of the evangelicals in the end of slavery in America.
"The fervour of the abolitionist evangelicals complicates the way we might fee about the 'wall of separation' erected by the Virginia Statue and the First Amendment between morality and politics. Of course it was entirely possible to arrive at an abhorrence for slavery from rationally derived ethics; the degradation of man to commodity; the violation of natural rights to sovereignty over person, and so on. Historically, though, both in the early nineteenth century, and again in the 1960's, the force of shame directed at slave-holders and segregationists was religious.....

The abolitionist argument that some enormities were so vicious that they had to be made accountable to the principles of the gospel, even if that meant breaching the establishment clause of the First Amendment in the interests of a higher good, is not altogether different from the way Right to Life evangelicals argue today. History sets such snares to make us think harder."
Of course, just because organised religion did a Good Thing in relation to slavery does not mean that those who believe in ceiling cat (and other gods) and who take up the abortion cause are doing a Good Thing. For every virtuous defense of the last six commandments by believers, there is a history of punishment for those who have transgressed the first (disposable) four. That slavery doesn't appear in the commandments isn't a surprise - not only is it rife through Testament One - The Original, it also gets an endorsement in The Sequel:
"Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)"
Perhaps what this demonstrates most of all is that the "pick and choose" approach to which bits of the Bible are still relevant today (the prohibition of homosexuality) and which bits aren't (stoning adulterers) means that someone is making this choice, and it ain't God. This becomes even more clear when things that were clearly OK in the Bible, like slavery, stopped being OK at some later point. "Treat others as you would be treated" is a fine ethic, but it's hardly exclusive to Christianity, and it's hardly consistent with slaves giving their masters full respect.

Our own last Prime Minister would often tell the traditional churches to stay out of politics, at least in relation to indigenous issues, but had no problem courting the more evangelical and earthly churches, who generally render unto Caesar only matters on which a conservative government can be trusted. That our new Prime Minister refers to the invisible sky-captain as often as he does doesn't fill me confidence, but at least he will always be a technocrat first and foremost.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One look, one feel

I'm familiar enough with marketing and branding principles to know (and have used) the expression "look and feel", as in "a consistent look and feel".

Full points, however, go to F, who in a meeting at work, when told their new organizational branding strategy was called "One look; One feel", promptly added "...per customer". Then, being herself, offered a parenthesized "... , Bishop."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stuffed Banana Capsicums

Last night Alex and I made stuffed banana capsicums. These were a favorite in the Urbane household decades ago but have fallen off the radar. This time I made the filling (minced pork, chopped green prawns, coriander, garlic, fish sauce and black pepper) and stuffed them...

Cooking Banana Peppers

Before they were cooked, they looked like this...

Stuffed Banana Peppers

Cooking in Alex's sauce (a Thai red curry with lots of lime leaves)...


...and then completed. The best thing was Alex saying as we were eating that he'd forgotten how much fun cooking is.

The Finished Product

Technically, I'm back on leave. I went back to work for a week and now I'm off for another two. Of course, tomorrow I have to finish a business case, a recruitment report for one of my direct reports and respond to a bunch of emails that I just haven't got around to. I'm not being a martyr, by the way - I'm just not very well organised.

Julia and Graham

Julia and Graham

Julia and Graham came down to Melbourne from Canberra last week and we managed to catch up, good and proper like.

I've known Julia since I started my first grown-up job in Canberra in 1991. She'd been a graduate recruit the year before me and we hit it off pretty quickly. We're both madly conceptual and struggle to remember where we left our car keys.

Slowly, between meeting in 1991 and 2000, we saw less and less of each other as we worked in different places, and then in the late 90's she moved to Sydney with her then partner. In my last six months in Canberra I rode my bike to Sydney to stay with her and Stewart, and had a wonderful weekend of wine and song. I struggled to ride back to work on the Monday morning, almost running out of petrol between Goulburn and Canberra.

She's visited us a few times in Melbourne,and a few years ago, on the eve of her departure had a phone call from a chap asking her out. Some time later, she and Graham were married.

We've been clubbing together, been to Earthcore together in 2003 (see video below) and this time we've...

wandered through Vic Market together (bratwurst for six, please); had dinner at Sigiri (our local Sri Lankan restaurant)with Alex, Emmy and Will (Emily turned out to be a total party girl); and spent an evening at home just talking. She and Graham flew back on Thursday and we'll miss them.

Thursday, January 1, 2009