Perhaps, by the end of this decade, the view that the Iraq war of 2003 was essentially motivated by oil will become routine among western analysts – and the fact that it was close to academic heresy at the time of the war forgotten. If so, it will be a case of the west’s opinion-formers catching up with views embedded in the middle east, whose own experts have long since recognised that this indeed is the “great game” of the early 21st century.
I caught a snippet of The Bill the other night (co-parent is a dedicated watcher, so I can't avoid seeing bits and pieces) - two of them were off to go undercover into a gay bar (every Bill plotline seems to have its queer dimension these days). Someone asked someone else (I wasn't actually looking at the screen), "Have you ever been in a gay bar before?" ... as though they were about to enter the netherworld.
Thanks to Vanessa for the link to this Rolling Stone article which considers our* approaching future as we run out of oil. (*In fact the point of view is squarely American, but the rest of us face variations on the same 'long emergency'.)
The Energy Bulletin, a clearinghouse for information about the peak in global energy supply, added these notes:
Kunstler has the wit and venom to put him in the league of other great writers for Rolling Stone like Hunter S. Thompson. Kudos to Rolling Stone for appreciating his talent and for printing this article which lacks none of Kunstler's usual frankness.
We hope that this kind of wake up call can perhaps help to mitigate some of its own worst predictions.
A British election is approaching. Voting is non-compulsory there and winners are decided on a first-past-the-post basis - not preferential voting as in Australia.
This presents leftwing voters with a dilemma. Do you register a protest vote against Tony Blair, especially over the Iraq deception? Do you protest by not voting? Or do you vote for someone like the Lib Dems who might have a faint hope of winning if enough people turn against Labour?
Political journalist John Kampfner went on the road in three traditionally Labour electorates in the north of England to try and gauge the mood. He concluded that people really do care about being lied to over Iraq. And that racism and far-right politics are billowing up again.
Further thoughts: Perhaps I shouldn't have posed this as a dilemma for leftwing voters, but for Labour voters in general - strength of feeling against Tony Blair seems to be very strong in Britain across a wide range of those who initially supported him.
Something else which emerges from that article is the generally positive feeling about the state of the British health and education systems. I guess that's the difference we face here in Australia - although our governments are aligned on Iraq, John Howard and Co. are in the business of running down public health and education.
Last week they celebrated Harmony Day at school. That afternoon I asked Olle what the day had been about. "No racism" he said. But he only had a vague idea of what racism was. So we had a little chat about how it was not good to hurt someone's feelings by making fun of their appearance. This is a delicate area to tread, as young children tend to be very straightforward and matter of fact about bodily differences and as a mother I don't especially want to have to introduce the idea that some people put others down for being different. However, these social realities begin to appear in filtered form anyway...
We were having breakfast yesterday when Oll said, "N. is a bit Japanese but he says he doesn't mind if people say 'easy peasy Japanesey'. [N's father is Japanese, his mother Polynesian.] We can say 'easy peasy lemon squeazy' but N says he doesn't mind. Or 'easy peasy Lebanesey'."
It was hard to figure out from the ensuing conversation if this had been a topic of discussion in the classroom or in the playground. His teacher may or may not have been the one who suggested that the kids substitute 'lemon squeazy'. This discussion may or may not have taken place on Harmony Day.
We pointed out that even if N (one of Olle's friends) says that he doesn't mind, his feelings probably are secretly hurt if other kids make fun of being Japanese. It's not exactly 'making fun', of course, but that concept is the simplest one I can find to discuss this with a six year old, who may himself one day be teased for being different. And I think he is very sensitive to that possibility, such that he was made uneasy by this chant at school, uneasy enough to bring it up with us.
We ended up having fun thinking of possible endings to rhyme with 'easy peasy'.
Later: A few hours after writing this, I suddenly thought, "ah! I spelt 'squeezy' wrong!"
I'm one of those people who would have been a good candidate for Spellbound - I was always the last child left standing in class spelling bees in primary school. I rarely use a spellcheck. But when I wrote that entry, I looked twice at 'squeazy'. It looked wrong to me, but I couldn't figure out why. Looking at it now, I see that its location so near to 'peasy' is what threw me off.
Andrew Stoner, leader of the Nationals in NSW, thinks it is a disgrace that the Education Department has helped fund production of two school readers which feature children who live in two-mum and two-dad families. He wants the books banned. The Daily Telegraph carried an idiotic article in which Fred Nile says "Kids at this age are innocent until you start putting these ideas into their heads".
And what do they do once these ideas are in their six-year-old heads, Fred? Run out and start performing unspeakable acts?
[Funnily enough, our son asked us yesterday while we were on a bushwalk (we're so weird), "Can two dads have a baby?" We explained that, naturally, only women can have babies, but that sometimes women will agree to have a baby and then give it to two dads to raise. And sometimes two dads adopt a baby whose parents aren't able to care for it. Maybe just one dad adopts a baby, just like one mum we know who adopted a child. As with all these types of conversations, we give information and simple explanations which he appears to think about for a couple of minutes before going on to the next matter...]
Vicki Harding, co-author of the books, wrote:
Now is a critical time to send congratulation letters to the organisations that have supported this project, as well as letters to the paper and the politicians involved. Government funding for anti-homophobia work is getting harder and harder to secure, especially leading up to an election - funders just don't want to take any risks. Unless they have letters of support to counter these sorts of attacks, they will drop all of these sorts of projects to minimise risks.
I've been writing letters this morning, which begin "I am a taxpayer..."
Lucinda from Rainbowcake has passed me a stick of questions about music. I'm hopeless at answering these 'favourite' types of things, memory like a sieve, but here goes:
1. What's the total number of music files on your computer? That's easy, as there are none. I used to occasionally play a CD on my computer while emailing or webbing, but found it distracting. I don't have an iPod and frankly have very little motivation to get one.
2.The last CD you bought was...? Probably an audio-story for my son at Christmas time, but I guess that doesn't count - before that, we were given 'Songs from the 42nd Parallel' by kd lang and "Want One' by Rufus Wainwright, but being given them probably doesn't count either. I bought 'Shadows and Light' by Joni Mitchell around the same time, so that's the one. I only buy 4-5 CDs a year these days. I don't know if that's typical of people in their 40s. In my teens and 20s I of course bought albums very often, every week at least. This tapered off in my 30s and has almost ground to a halt now.
3.The last song you listened to before reading this message was...? To be completely accurate, it was probably some music played by Angela Katterns on ABC radio when I was in the car yesterday. (Something bluesy which I didn't especially like.) In terms of music I chose, it would have been something by Madonna, whose 'Immaculate Collection' tape is in the car or "She'll be Coming Round the Mountain' sung by Pete Seeger from 'A Child's Celebration of Folk Music' which we played at breakfast yesterday. I'm such a groover.
4. Name five songs you often listen to or which mean a lot to you. A CD I've been playing quite a lot recently is Kiri by Kiri te Kanawa - the first track on it is Puccini's 'O mio babbino caro', the theme song from 'A Room with a View' - on a sunny Saturday morning, with all the doors and windows open, it's beautiful music to fill the house with. It makes me think of my mother and of when I got together with co-parent (who made me a tape of Kiri singing Broadway show tunes).
A track which makes me think of my father, who died a year ago, is 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning' from 'Oklahoma', sung by Yvonne Kenny, which was played at the end of his funeral.
But I'm not really a classical or light classical kind of person.
I love Leonard Cohen - can I squeeze two of his songs into one here? I really like 'Famous Blue Raincoat' - it's so evocative and melancholy. It perfectly captures that sense of people's lives intersecting intensely before they go off in different directions. I used to have it on record sung by Judy Collins (perhaps I still own that record, somewhere in the attic), I still have it on a Leonard Cohen CD (and the Cohen-covers CD Tower of Song) and play it every so often. The other song by Cohen is 'So Long Marianne' - it's not that I especially like that song more than others by him, but it reminds me of someone who was my first great love and who in fact introduced me to Cohen's music when we were still at school - it always brings to mind that photo of the woman who I think was the real Marianne (Cohen's lover) on one of his album covers in the 70s - I think the photo was taken in a whitewashed house on a Greek island. It all seemed terribly sophisticated (in a bohemian kind of way) and out of my reach at the time...
'You Have Been Loved' by George Michael. This makes me think of the gay men I knew at the height of their AIDS crisis in the 80s - men who died and the friends and lovers who survived them. I was in London during that time - George Michaels' home city - so I think of the people I knew there, I think of Soho and gay cafes. (This song came later than that, but takes me back to that time.)
'Who's That Girl?' by Annie Lennox (the Eurythmics). Early 1984: my lover was having an affair and I was trying to be cool about it though secretly tied up in knots of obsessive jealousy. This song was a hit at the time and chimed in perfectly with my mental state. I heard it again very recently and immediately thought back to a dark winter holiday in Wales where I could not get it out of my head.
5. Which three people are you going to pass this stick to and why?
That's a hard one. They may not be reading this! Let me see: Robyn, the Other Mother, because I have no idea what sort of music she would like, though she often writes about what she's reading. Lushlife (I hope you haven't been given it already) - she wrote about a concert the other day and is sure to have some favourite music that's different from mine David of the Chooks - I'm wondering what sort of Anglo-Germanic combo he might come up with.