Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Silly Mister Abbott...

...always sticking his nose in where it's not wanted.

It started in March when Tony Abbott addressed a group of students at the University of Adelaide about the evils of abortion. Then, a few weeks ago, the ABC showed the amazing documentary My Foetus. In the lead up to that, Abbott suggested that feminists had changed their minds on abortion. Catharine Lumby explains here how little Mr Abbott understands about feminism. "Pro choice" is not actually a euphemistic label. Women who call themselves pro choice are not necessarily pro abortion. Many could not face having an abortion themselves.

As usual, a politician trying to over-simplify a complex issue to win votes.

Tonight on SBS that crazy Robert Winston and his moustache will be chatting to a group about how IVF is used to screen for genetic disorders and also to select the gender of the child. More detailed story here. In NSW it's legal to screen IVF embryos for gender. Abbott says, "I certainly think the New South Wales Government ought to reconsider its position. I don't believe the community standards of New South Wales, or Australia for that matter, would encourage this kind of practice." He doesn't think that abortion should be illegal, despite having strong views about it. So why should this much earlier screening, before the embryo is even implanted in the mother's womb, be outlawed in NSW? Am I missing something here?

Monday, August 30, 2004

Election time

So John Howard has finally called the federal election. There are so many reasons why winning should be a struggle for him, not least the inquiry into the children overboard affair which will continue in the Senate.

But he's such a successful politician that I can't bear to speculate about the result. Somehow he'll find a way to defeat much legitimate opposition.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Why the old Palm IIIx is still the coolest thing ever

I've been thinking about getting a PDA for ages but the cost of both the object and wireless Internet stalled me.

I mentioned this to Daniel and he said that he had an ancient Palm IIIx lying around that I might like to try. Old technology! Oh well, I might still use it as an address book and diary. Worth a try I guess. And I shouldn't be buying expensive things when I'm not working anyway.

Due to the slowness of the serial cable (apparently there once was a time before USB was popular - I know, I can hardly remember either) and only 4MB of memory, syncing my email to it is stupid. I made that mistake at first, and it was a bit painful to undo. There's no wireless Internet, no colour screen and most applications available for download won't run on old OS 3.3. No bluetooth, no built-in keyboard, no phone, no Microsoft applications, no camera, no radio and no mp3 player.

BUT AvantGo has changed my life. I no longer need to sit at my desk to read the newspaper (or other excellent publications). I can take the newspaper on the bus without all that tiresome broadsheet folding that makes it hardly worth it. I can take it on the balcony with a plunger of coffee, where a slight gust of wind isn't going to blow it off the table. I just put the Palm on the cradle in the morning, press the sync button and magically the new pages are there.

Not only that, but when watching a fine British production inspires me to read Jane Austen again, I can. Reading in bed on something smaller than a book is easier on the tired arms, with the advantage of a backlight if the person next to you is trying to sleep.

There are also plenty of games to download (although admittedly not as many as for more recent OS), including some of the tried and true favourites (I never thought I'd be so pleased to be able to play Solitaire in bed).

Daniel pointed me to a place where I could download and convert Infocom games for the Palm, and now I'm having a great time being driven completely crazy by Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Of course the diary and address book functions are also fine, and I'm starting to use the notepad more and more - to get my thoughts down during the ad breaks of Neighbours. Conveniently, Daniel also had two keyboards for me to plug in, so writing something while waiting for Karl to discover that Izzy's baby isn't really his (gasp) isn't the chore Graffiti alone would make it.

You can buy one on Ebay for around AU$50.

Chickpea & spinach pasta

Sounds ordinary, tastes fantastic. Meat-eaters love it. Really, I promise. It's also the best meal I know that can be made without many fresh ingredients and will still impress your friends. This recipe is adapted from Sarah Freeman's.

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250g frozen spinach
  • 300g tin chick peas
  • 500g dry spiral pasta
  • Grated cheese (something milder than Parmesan) to serve if desired.


Finely chop the onion and fry in the oil on a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft (not brown). Add crushed garlic and fry another two minutes. Stir in cumin and coriander and fry a further 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, a little salt and a bit more pepper and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. While the tomatoes are simmering, cook the spinach according to the directions on the packet, leave to cool slightly and then chop fairly finely. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Cook pasta according to directions on packet and drain. Add chickpeas to tomato sauce and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add chopped spinach at the end. Stir pasta through sauce and serve.


Friday, August 27, 2004

Sport stupidity

A friend from Canada emailed me today. She congratulated me on Australia's success in the Olympics.

I've just finished watching Roy and HG's daily comedic rundown of events from Athens. It's certainly the only part of the games I'm deliberately watching - and that's probably only because there's nothing else on at 11pm.

I do appreciate the beauty and precision displayed in some events. I even have a slightly disturbing desire for Australia to do well. But what's more disturbing is that Australia IS doing so well. Relative to our tiny population it's downright ridiculous. So what's going on?

The answer, of course, is MASSIVE government spending on sport facilities and training. And anyone who thinks this is justified when our schools, hospitals and welfare system are so poorly funded is not my friend.

But no politician will ever deprive the masses of their opiate. And Australians don't look like abandoning this crazy obsession with sport anytime soon.

More evidence that we don't live in a real democracy. This does not mean that I have the ludicrous opinion that Australia is a fascist regime. No, Australia has free elections. We're probably more democratic than the US because our compulsory voting laws mean that both rich and poor vote in elections (although the rich have the opportunity to give massive donations to political parties). But Australia is by no means a participatory democracy. Call me idealistic, but I reckon that if people we taught to think critically, they would realise that the government should spend less money on sport and more on health. But they're not taught to think critically. I only learned how to do it properly at university. It's so essential to democracy that I should have learned it at school.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Australian music is not dead

FBi Radio is doing really well at promoting unsigned Australian (particularly Sydney) talent in an effort to revamp Sydney's dead live music scene. (Gambling has replaced music. This has been documented with some help from The Whitlams and Pia Miranda.)

Australian Music Online have a great listening room with streaming Australian music. Even though this music is at the post-demo stage, AMO deserve credit for providing this try-before-you-buy opportunity to Australian artists.

Matt Damon is nice

Matt Damon is in Australia and every time I turn on the TV he's being interviewed. I know it's stupid to be pleasantly surprised when a celebrity happens not to be an arsehole. It's like someone being impressed with me if I happen to do the dishes just because I never do them. But he is nice. And Andrew Denton interviewed him well here. I love the bit about his mother's response to the media -
"Proud of my son? What, to be on the cover of this rag, this thing? This is the exploitation of my son in order to sell people things they don't need!" ... She's very proud of both of her sons, but probably for different reasons than most people would think.

Gay marriage banned in Australia

I'm a bit slow off the mark as this happened a few weeks ago. The fabulous Rob McGrory and Somali Cerise (she has a gorgeous chihuahua who once met our cat) worked tirelessly and suffered a great deal of stress trying to stop it. They give a good explanation here of what happened, why it happened and why we shouldn't give up. Hooray for the generosity of these people who work so hard for the rights of others. Boo for the SSO hecklers (see the end of the article); what are they doing to promote equality?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hyvää hääpäivää

My friends Manne and Suvi are getting married this weekend. They're such an excellent couple. Unfortunately I can't be in Finland for the wedding. Congratulations to two beautiful people.

The best pumpkin soup ever!

BUTTERNUT PUMPKIN SOUP (adapted from Charmain Solomon's)

  • 1 tablespoon butter/marg/cooking spray
  • 6 spring onions (pref) or 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 1 kg butternut pumpkin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups full-fat or half-fat milk
  • finely ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream (if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • croûtons, to serve (if desired)


Melt the butter and fry spring onions over low heat until soft and golden. Peel and cut pumpkin into pieces. Add to pan with spices, cover and cook on very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add stock and cook until pumpkin is tender.
Cool until lukewarm (or don't if you're brave enough to handle hot splashes), then puree in an electric blender or push through a fine sieve. Return to pan, add milk and season with salt and white pepper
Heat until almost boiling. Put a spoonful of cream (whipped if you like) on top of each serving of soup. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with small croûtons.

SERVES: 6 (as an entree)







Heidi's back

Heidi came back from Europe on Friday, marking a near-end to the Australia Centre. Yesterday we had mediocre overpriced food at East Circular Quay. Next time we'll choose substance (food) over style (view).

Welcome home Heidi!

She's gonna kill me for posting this!


I'm also not working right now, and not doing anything else much either, so I do feel like a kept woman. Of course that's sexist bullshit, but sometimes it's hard to escape the demons in one's mind.