Thursday, 24 March 2005

Thank God for the conservatives ...

I shouldn't be surprised to read Miranda Devine's latest op ed piece although I'm staggered by her arrogance and idiocy once again.  The government has softened its stance on asylum seekers; that's great – who do we have to thank for this?  Conservatives. 

The government has just issued a new form of visa that will allow some of the immigrants who are lawfully (but immorally) locked up to live in Australia (at least until we can justify a reason for kicking them out).  It's taken five years for the Liberal party to realise that indefinitely locking up illegal immigrants is wrong and now that they've learned the errors of their ways they should be thanked.  Why the change in perspective?  Australian industry needs these desperate people to do the jobs that Australians won't do (we can exploit them) and Muslims who convert to Christianity will be persecuted if they go back to their theocratic countries (why do you think any of these people left their own countries?).  Too little; too late.  Everyone from the human rights watch to the UN has been telling us this for years.  If you want to thank anyone for this Australia-wide change in perspective why don't you consider the thousands of protesters and lobbyists who've been conducting a grass-roots and pointed campaign that shows the sheer inhumanity of Australia's policy on asylum seekers.  It's great that some are being freed but there are still far too many who are not and I'm not going to praise anyone for doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.


Wednesday, 23 March 2005

The Final Solution

Read a great book the other day – here's my review …

Come, friend Watson, the curtain rings up for the last act.


Pulitzer winner Michael Chabon has enough credibility not to have to worry about being branded an author of fan-fiction as his latest novella brings the greatest literary detective back to the page.  Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle's classic sleuth is alive and, if not well, still in possession of a deductive powers beyond that of mortal men.


Despite not being mentioned by name the identity of the hero of 'The Final Solution' soon becomes obvious.  References to his talent and his past adventures are subtle but obvious to a fan of AC Doyle's work (or anybody who's knows the Holmes reputation).  The famous pipe and magnifying glass are still in use and it is not hard to picture an old version of Basil Rathbone or Christopher Lee playing the detective as he potters away his final days as a beekeeper (as Doyle had always intended).  He is still revered by Scotland Yard although to his neighbours he just a crazy old man with a bad hip who nobody feels very comfortable being around. 


The 'old man' (the only name that Chabon gives his hero) is dragged out of retirement by the discovery of a mute Jewish boy who is in possession of a grey African parrot that is prone to reciting strings of numbers in German.  The mystery deepens when the boy's parrot is kidnapped and a British agent is brutally murdered.  What is the importance of the parrot and the numbers that it recites?  Swiss bank accounts?  The cipher to the German Enigma code?  Holmes is given a second lease on life when he takes the opportunity to use his tremendous mental powers again (perhaps for the last time) for the seemingly innocuous mission of reuniting a boy and his bird. 


Michael Chabon writes in the style of a bygone age.  Each paragraph-sized sentence is elegantly crafted and littered with Victorian references and stretched out with deftly placed commas.  In fact, I would find myself desperately longing for a full stop to put a brake on the narrative so that I could catch up.  Chabon also jumps from character to character, revealing information about the players whilst still keeping the mystery intact.  Even Bruno, the kidnapped parrot offering a bird's eye view of the world, holds a key to the mystery of the numbers that he can recite but not understand.


The novella has the best of both Chabon (beautiful language and a wonderfully alternative view of history) and Doyle (the reduction of a mystery to its elemental parts) and at only 130 pages it is a quick but intensely enjoyable and satisfying read.  Although the scope of this story could easily have been stretched out to a full-length novel its brevity means nobody has an excuse not to read it.


Monday, 21 March 2005


I know it's not just me who has an issue with RailCorp.  In the process of trying to fight City Hall on a wrong issued infringement notice (travelling without a ticket).  Was speaking to the Local Court trying to work out what the options are (heaven forbid that RailCorp, the issuer of the infringement, actually letting me know what I have to do in order to contest the ticket) and found that even the court officers can't stand the bastards.  The girl I spoke to ended up ranting at me how much she disliked them and the problems she was having with them.  In any event, it appears that not buying a ticket is not a crime.  The issue is being caught without a ticket, no matter what your reasons are.  Despite "proving" to the inspector and later, the processing bureau, that I had obviously purchased a ticket (which had subsequently been lost) for my trip it turns out that simply by not having a ticket on the other end means that I am liable for a whopping fine.  Am I making a big deal out of nothing?  Well, sort of.  It's not a huge amount of money but it's the principle of the thing.  And now I'm going to have to go to court to fight it … Yay.

Friday, 18 March 2005

Things are looking up

It appears that the journey I plans to take won't be as arduous as I originally expected.  This is good.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Message 1

First posting to the Evil Melon blog starts now ... Real content will start later.