22 December 2011

from foreign policy back to the chooks

I have put up this page on how to manage a small number of chooks (Australian English generic and gender free term to cover roosters, hens, chickens, chicks) in a suburban environment, relatively disease free and withou also raising hoards of sparrows, pigeons and less mentionable birds.

I have placed our place near Bodalla on the market, info here ... too hard to get there these days, sob.

I have been inhibited writing because of problems with my right arm, have now acquired some speech recognition software, hopefully will return to the writing, but perhaps via painting first... meanwhile, it is a very busy time with a food garden gone mad in this season of alternating rain and heat. Here some photos from back garden. 


First, this is the view north from my office window, 
this damp frog-rattly morning 22 December 2011. 
'Lawn' of chamomile and parsley, bush basil and rocket in seed, 
bangalow palm growing;
rose climbing below and peach leafing over window
- all this was grass and concrete path to clothes line three years ago.
Yesterday a blue wren sat for some time on that tall post (cypress, not yet sculpted) 
behind the young palm,
bouncing, as wrens do, landing to face 90º away each time,
a slightly apprehensive rotating lord of all he surveyed.

... looking northeast down the path from veranda, across the previous view:
rose, peach, banana, fig, rosemary, potatoes, more... 
tamarillo tree with huge crop developing, droopy leaves right side...
in a permaculture garden you seek to develop  mulch from what grows
and you take more interest in harvest from the cubic metre 
than from the heavily fed individual plant.
In time, the objective is to close the system, minimising inputs from outside, 
collecting seeds and cuttings, roof water; kitchen scraps and fresh pick for the chooks, 
chook poo back to the compost and garden.

Compost, youngberries, mosaic - always combine art and nature!
Always expect a photo to include limbs of parsley gone to see!

floral and food-al; 
two callistemon (bottle brush) bushes in company with sweet potato, pumpkin, mandarin;
marjoram and lotus leaves poking their heads into the bottom left of picture.

Here lived chooks before
— the well manured run now planted densely to asparagus, dill, strawberries, yacón, marjoram, mint, comfrey and more, including two white cedar trees
 (two white cedars being allowed to grow, many suckers being pulled up!)

I look around and see so many suburban gardens 
where the owners seem to try to impose a permanent look from the beginning, 
a recipe for mowing, snipping and reflecting a need to control nature. 
But nature evolves, ecologies change and they offer us opportunities to marvel at them.

This northern and eastern back garden in pictures above 
 has growing palms and deciduous trees 
It will turn into a great shade area in time, in summer, more open for light in the winter.

Already the eastern garden (below), around the corner of the house, 
which had two large established deciduous trees when I arrived ini 2008,
is heavily shaded in summer, open in winter. 
Work continues, to make this a rainforest room, with earthy women, 
ponds and a stile to enter and exit the bedroom. 
Source of cool breezes through the house later in the summer day; 
leaves off and warm early sun in the window in winter.

17 November 2011

Where on earth do we think we are going in strategic policy?

You can find here text of 1500 words I wrote today on the Australian-American alliance. I have offered it to a media outlet, but there is such a deluge of royal visit euphoria with the excellent President Obama here. We can see that both the United States and Australian strategic policies are being pulled by the tail of military options and military interests.

It used not to be thus as my text at link narrates.

The rot begun, or made terminal, by the invasion of Iraq, see my comments at the time here, has sadly set in brainlessness-droughted mud now we have what ought to be more thoughtful and more radical governments in Canberra and Washington.

I am now at a point where I have to say the next generations must look after themselves, if they'd bloody well come out of their creepy comforts and sullen retreats and address the issues.

16 November 2011

Nick's wedding

I wrote in August about uses of the web and devices of. I have just put up some photos I took last weekend at my son Nick's wedding. Easier, more permanent too, to have them within my own html designed pages.

You can take a look here.

31 August 2011

whither the blog

I guess as time passes the act of blogging diminishes in significance. It was useful when we travelled to Italy in 2010 and 2011 to have the blogs unmese (one month) and duemesi (Italian for two months) - valuable for keeping in touch with family and friends at the time, also of great value in supporting later recollection.

I had earlier 'blogged' before there were resources on the web for doing it easily, this remains my best record from those earlier times.

I had begun recording life via the web when it was important in 2000-2001 to keep people informed of my wife Margaret's wellbeing when she was being overwhelmed by a brain tumour. That experience led on to my hosting site 'aplaceof.info' hosting this collection of brain tumour resources I wrote several years ago.

I have used that hosting site, located at www.ipower.com, for a variety of other community projects some far away. I have also used subfolders of aplaceof.info to express some views, such as these. And it remains useful to build web pages for particular needs.

Along the way, it became clear that a web presence for community needed several vectors:

  1. a web site, which at best should be a static, easily encompassed calling card with background information. Web sites are not simple to conceive and design, and it becomes very mucky when you change them a lot. They are not the best means for recording news. Research has shown that people 'like' or 'dislike' web sites in fractions of a second, so in a fraction of a second you must grab the reader.
  2. a blog, now so easy with this blogger technology and others, which lends itself to the writing of the record as it happens. This record becomes of accumulated value over time IF you put good labels on every substantive entry, so you can track not only the chronological record, but mention of issues, places and people over time. 
  3. An email group, for private exchanges between members of a community, with email group hosts like yahoo and gmail offering huge free resources for holding files and photos, etc. This email group has been a very valuable group for hundreds, since I set it up in 2000.

Much has changed in the very recent past, however, with the emergence of Facebook and Twitter, where a whole new world of social interaction has begun and continues to evolve. I don't go there, however, as I value my privacy more than seems relevant to Facebook or Twitter, and I prefer reflective communication to brief passing utterances. I don't have time, if I am to paint, photograph and get the novel back on the rails. My apprehension is that those social media may tend to diminish individual creativity. The blog remains a different form of expression. Yes, there are trite blogs out there but it is inherent in this format that one write some substance. As it is inherent in the putting of labels on a blog entry that one gets to consider if one has said anything at all.

For the moment, I go back to the garden in spring. I must provide photos of my approach to edible landscaping, in a permaculture design.
Permaculture as a design system deals primarily with the ... need to establish plant systems for our own use on the least amount of land we can use for our existence.
My own view is that this can be done with a high degree of aesthetic concern and content, to build surroundings which are fun and uplifting, amusing and comfortable, personally reassuring. It is remarkable how, as we take a relatively small space and build within it smaller spaces, with passage from one to the next as surprise, how much larger and attractive all the space becomes... we can bring personal landscape to a scale where we can speak quietly and interact warmly with each other and our surrounds.

04 July 2011

life drawing

One of the riddles for me about life drawing is that while there is much to be achieved in drawing the nude form, and much beauty to portray - in anyone - the hands and feet, the head and face are critically important. I find that I don't get it, don't begin to draw the person well, without coming to terms with their character as revealed in their face or the excruciating difficulty of drawing a person's hands or feet.

I have been copping out, in a way, by using conté crayons, much like charcoal but less mess on the floor, allowing you to fuzz up and erase. Last week I could not find my box of tricky drawing stuff so I went out with paper and B4 pencil and discovered that I could find lines and could show light and shade and also, I think, mood.

The model was young and appropriately apprehensive, modelling for the first time. I could not quite catch the broad softness (and underlying strength) of a young face but I did catch her mood, I think. Her eyes - deep, dark, large - were almost constantly on the move and she chewed the inside of her lip, a full lower lip with a ring in it. How to represent the restless energy and emotion of such movement?

I am also trying not just to draw known features but light and shade, to approach minimalism.

Huh! When I edit this blog entry, Google (as it does with gmail) displays ads like "How to draw eyes." I remain happily uninstructed. I am attending a life drawing group, not a class. There is a freedom in being uninstructed. I do not know how I draw what I draw. I am constantly surprised at things that appear in front of me. If the artist does not know what he is doing (as Fellini maintained and I agree) do I want someone to tell me her/his ideas of what I am or should be doing? Much of the value, for me, in drawing, is in the struggle to produce: the birthing process, as well as the surprising baby. So exciting to discover this emerging on the page...

This is one of four drawings from a 15 minute pose. 15 minutes is a huge length of time when you look for the essence... and it's a huge time if you want to muck something up, not knowing when to stop.

30 June 2011


The kitchen bench was finished.

The writing remains on hold, physical problems writing/typing.

Some valuable life drawing, very meditative experience and pleased with these my first results, improving, wanting to work also on details and abstraction of light and shade after assuring myself of basic drawing skill. See below.

First, though, the kitchen bench with stove working well, bench constructed from ancient timber slab washed up by flood, also some paulownia slab, rot gaps filled with water-based putty coloured with red pigment, seven coats Estapol gloss varnish finish, some acrylic metallic colours added along the way. Painted (irises) bread maker behind.

Life drawing sketches, with conté on paper

26 May 2011

16 June 2011

9 June 2011

16 June 2011, trying especially to deal with strong shadows

02 June 2011

the discriminatory attitudes of the mighty who stand in judgement

There is a matter before the state parliament now as to whether it will ratify a decision by the judicial tribunal to sack a magistrate because of what would seem to be the risk that if he failed to take his medication for his bipolar disease, he might make an ass of himself.

One suspects that some mighty judges would think this magistrate had already made an ass of himself by his plain language and common decency in this advice to a young (and as it turned out, undeserving, as the gutter bottom of the Murdoch press hastened to crow) offender.

What is it that leads strong men to fear for their own manhood or whatever, when someone close to them has a mental illness. Hard to fathom, except in the simplest way in which societies now as then, engage in witch hunts and strike down those who remove certainty from their global self-importance.

The magistrates in their decency as more common folk, are up in arms.

The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner is concerned. That link reveals to me that there are two magistrates in trouble, something I did not realise when I wrote on 1 June 2011 to the Premier and others, also revealing something of myself.

Here tis:

Dear Premier Farrell and Attorney General Smith

I am writing with concern about the proposed removal of Magistrate Maloney, which I understand to be before the parliament now. 

I write as a person who in the 1980s was dealt with somewhat in the same high-handed 'tip him overboard' manner while in a very senior position in the foreign service, as ambassador to China, because of illness at the time. I became significantly more sick as a result of the chuck-out, hostility towards disability (and simple fear of disability) resulting in further problems over years. Spurned as if possessed. I remind you that the last person burned at the stake in England for being strange was deemed fit for burning because he was a Baptist (Edward Wightman 1612).

I was, years later, pleased by the passage of the federal Disability Discrimination Act in 1992. My treatment in 1985 would have been illegal had it occurred after passage of the DDA; there would have been greater benefit to my employer and less cost to the public purse were I properly treated and supported in work.

However superior the NSW court and parliament may feel it is to this federal law, however in some manner it is deemed that magistrates are not human or should not demonstrate human depths, I remain of the view that the removal of Magistrate Maloney on the grounds reported is not only an uncouth and antediluvian proposal from the court, but also contrary to the DDA, by the simplest test of the meaning of Section 5. Don't say that this section says if you'd sack him for what he did if he had no illness, so you can sack him. That's to miss the point of the illness and its correct-ability. If the brakes had failed on his car (through no fault or failure to perform on the part of the driver) and had caused an accident, what would the situation be then? 

If the case against the magistrate is no more than as reported in The Australian (and if it is something else then deal publicly with that) then you have a splendid opportunity to make clear to the courts that they are not above the principles of law (however some state law may seem to stand on the matter) and that even - even - a magistrate is deserving of decent treatment by his employers. In doing so with coherent and positive explanation you would enhance the standing of the parliament, perhaps also eventually of the courts and certainly of people coping with disability, in the general public eye. The distance between justice and compassion should not be astronomical.

For ease of reference, here is section 5 of the DDA.

I have copied this to members of the parliament in my region who know me: The Speaker, Acting Speaker Ward, Mr Green, Mr Park.

Hoping for sensible action, I am

Dennis Argall

23 May 2011

benchtop, first varnish after putty

I am pleased with the general artistic effect. Difficult (for me) to photograph without excessive reflection from fresh varnish. There remain two major requirements, apart from additional coats of varnish for the varnish's sake:
[1] food safety, to close off all holes and runnels; some of this perhaps with additional putty or perhaps an epoxy clear filler, or whatever colour (blue, green, red, gold) filaments and dots of putty.
[2] kitchen tool and device-proof. This may mean  just seeking a thumbs-up for tough varnish surface, may mean putting some tiles in place as trivets.

Anyway, here is the result of this afternoon's first coat. I do not want to lose the rough-hewn texture, this to be balanced by making food-safe. You will note there is a lot of putty filling gaps. It would be nice to have had all the wood texture, but there were many crevices and large holes. Pleased to do this today after night and morning of fibromyalgic miseries from carrying the beast yesterday, dammit!

22 May 2011

life drives art

We are currently doing projects at Helen's house and my house - which to be worth doing must be art, have beauty.

I have had to replace an oven which led me to begin the replacement of cooktop with gas in my kitchen — requiring a much larger bench-top. This I have been building from three pieces of a slab from this ancient of the forest delivered to our Bodalla bush block in last year's flood:

Full of cracks and rot and irregularity I have coloured a water based hard putty with red pigment (used otherwise in painting in house) and worked it into the various grooves and gaps. I've levelled the bench  (having made a terrible mess outside today with ground wood and red powder from hard putty) and brought the benchtop, with its angled hole for gas cooktop, back into the kitchen. The pale timber at the back, fourth slab is a piece of Paulownia.
  [photos can be seen full size by clicking; press the back button to return]

You will see from dribbles on the Paulownia that I applied varnish before the first putty treatment, to help keep the putty in cracks and avoid it seeping into timber generally. Some way to go, tidying and varnishing... and still the horror of not knowing if it will work, if it will look right, bright, exciting — or if I'll have to chuck it out and start again. I think it looks a bit better than the photo, but that may be a parent's view of a messy child. The clear gloss should darken timber and in particular bring the grind-paled putty back towards a blood colour. And look spectacular... :-)

The practicality is in having the cook not entirely facing the wall but with bench at an angle towards oven and convection microwave to the left, room under the front, outside cupboard and under bench, for an extra trolley. Lots of space now on the bench to crowd with stuff, rattle pots and pans.  The stove bench now 1800 long x 600 to 950 deep, you can see the front of the old bench in the new cooktop hole.


Speaking of Paulownia, I had a moment of excitement during the week with an interest in buying the three (Paulownia) panel screen that I put in an exhibition in Huskisson last year... but after a flurry of emails, the interest went away, so here the screen is, as photographed last week, available to you!  :-)

Here was the earlier life and death of the Paulownia, the first photo showing cutting of a Paulownia log smashed down by the big Eucalypt 15 months ago; second photo shows slab cutting. I have not been fit or well enough since mid-2010 to spend enough time at Bodalla working on that situation or retrieving and using lumber; very happily we have a family living in the cottage now, they got to experience the flood of March 2011, when the Tuross River downstream rose from 2 metres to 12 metres in several hours.

11 May 2011

[1] Home from Rome [2] Regarding the recent history of cameras

It has been a bit difficult to readjust to life at home. Almost a month now. In part plagued by continuing antibiotics for something acquired in Seattle. In part having difficulty finding things put in safe places by me before departure or by houseminder or cleaner in my absence.

First preoccupation has been collapse of kitchen electrics while we were away, which means I am working on four large wood slabs to make new kitchen cook bench for new cooktop, etc. Not confident to show photos till the job is done!!

The novel remains on hold, not sure where or how to resume. No use jumping on the toothpaste tube to force it out.

Beginning to review the travel photo collection. Far too many of the photos from the Fuji S3 are marred by dust on the CCD,  dark muck on images.

Detail of one of the Naiads in the fountain at Piazza del Popolo, Rome.
See the spot above her right shoulder (left as you look), generated by dust speck on CCD,
another larger blur to the left of that.
Easily smudged away in Photoshop where the sky is so even but some images impossible to correct that way.

Never again will I take an arm-breaking DSLR on the road with me. My right arm complained a lot (personal weak-side probem). In over-compensation I've bought one of these from ebay. I have also been reviewing merits of the Fuji F810 and Minolta A2 which I already have. The F810 close to the S3 in the look of its images, the A2 a bit big for pocket, though much lighter than the S3 and producing what I now recognise to be startling images.

The problem with mini-cameras is that somewhere back around that 8 megapixel size of the A2, they reached a point where there was no value in adding more pixels because the small CCD receptor of light in the camera gets very crowded. There were increasing problems of colour fringing (chroma) and noise (luminance) at any but slowest ISO speed. Yet the market and the marketing departments continued to declare the merits of more pixels. Moreover, the digital SLR (DSLR) cameras became cheaper — and of course it looked more manly or professional to use a DSLR than a compact camera, hello Dr Freud. The DSLRs had bigger receivers, CCD or CMOS, note please that quality (lenses, general performance and ease of use) depends still on money and many who will never use the quality still will shell out as much as $2000 or more for the evidence of doing best. The DSLRs had and still have, a problem of dust particles getting in, no matter how well one went about changing lenses. This has meant development of devices and actions inside the camera to wipe the chip or shake it to get specks off; mechanical complexity only partly solving a problem and eventually prone to breakdown. The compact cameras have by definition fixed lenses, dust does not enter. Psychologically interesting, at eBay, that people wanting to sell better compact cameras are prone to list them as DSLR rather than compact, for snooty reasons.

The A2 and the other cameras mentioned in that review were a wonderful last stand by the compact manufacturers competing to solve the problem of chip limitations and standing against the onslaught of the DSLR half a decade ago. The A2 was Konica-Minolta's last stand, immensely complex and capable, but too expensive for a market preoccupied by "good enough". Do your own search for the term 'good enough technology' or get the gist here. Konica-Minolta bailed out and sold its camera technology to Sony.

For this reason the better quality technology cameras of the mid-noughties, six to eight megapixel cameras with manual controls, are now wonderful value via eBay. I'm not going to tell you which!  :-)

There are some new compact camera developments, a resurgence in the last several years. About which a blather of commentary. This, the DMC-LX3 from Panasonic, was the earliest. Re-badged by Leica with some modifications as the Leica D-Lux 4 and sold for hundreds of dollars more (the incensed Leica traditionalists shouting "but it's not a Leica!").. The graph on this page I interpret as reflecting a stampede of D-Lux 4 users to D-Lux 5. Here are Flickr photos from LX3 and LX5. There may be a majority at the top end of the pocketable camera market wanting 'good enough' but always there will be a number wanting best, and the Leica badge rather than common Panasonic captures some of them, with some finicky comparisons out there of the differences — do your own search to compare the cameras. I've just bought a second hand LX3 from eBay. I suppose this means 'good enough' for me is buying last year's best or five year's ago's best, prices discounted.

The one strikingly different recent breakthrough in chip technology is in Sigma's DP1 and DP2 producing wonderful images from a much larger chip, but with 10 seconds saving an image before you can take another. Here's a positive review.

My affection remains warmly towards Fuji, for the general Fujifilm look the digital images have. Helen, while we were away, became besotted with photography for the first time, using her E900, though on review now the default processing in the camera may include some excessive sharpening. Photoshop is sorting this reasonably well. I was on this trip trying to learn my antique S3, an impractical course on a holiday. I borrowed Helen's camera for the modest quality films at our travel blog. (The Panasonic DMC-LX3 in the mail to me produces base quality HD film: sunrise and sunset examples.) Fuji since the mid-noughties have abandoned DSLR and run with the crowd to produce long-long zoom cameras producing high definition movies - but with such monster zoom lens quality is surely compromised and for the most part fully automatic cameras (looking at the credits of movies you will see the extent of Fuji dominance of the film market, a company dedicated to colour quality, this colour sense comes through in the digital offerings, colours historically different from Kodak). Now Fuji have produced a truly swoon-worthy high-quality handsome higher pixel compact camera, the X100.  I will await their next generation, or at least price drop via ebay. The basset hounds of the market will eventually run on elsewhere and sell off their x100s - or by not selling define the X100 as worth buying new.

Interestingly these new, higher pixel compacts for the most part depart from the popular expectation that compacts have zoom lenses (some as high as 30X). The Panasonic-Leica DMC-LX3 has a 2.5 zoom lenses, very fast aperture F2 to 2.8, which gives some prospect of managing depth of field, see this film clip. Fuji x100 is fixed, ditto Sigma DP 1 and DP2. Ricoh GR-Digital 3 also has a fixed lens. There is an argument emerging that with the image quality [IQ] and acceptability of higher ISO images (less of the chroma and noise, see discussion of such in most decent reviews of cameras) the photographer can return attention to composition, using, as some describe it, the 'two-legged zoom'. The higher pixel count enables cropping of detail with better prospect of printable image - depending on lens quality. See this page with 100% crops from Leica D-LUX 4 (based on Panasonic D-Lux 3). ("100% crop" means what a small portion of a huge image looks like when brought up from the usual reduced size on a monitor or print to 100% of what the camera recorded.)

This is Wikipedia's take on the Foveon chip in the Sigma camera. See the comparison of chip size down this Amazon page. Apart from Sigma, the other high end manufacturers are working with slightly enlarged conventional smaller chips with enhanced processing.

Well, these are my thoughts on the current state of quality compact camera development.

I am driven away from DSLR both because of the practical difficulty for anyone of handling big cameras discreetly and because my right arm is troublesome.

I have endeavoured in the above to link the reader to most of the best review places (see also Steve's). You will see different styles of review on a range from those who go into the lab to measure this and that to those who may disparage that approach and go into the field to try to make good photos. Both dimensions have merit, though the latter is most important and often at variance with the lab opinions. Emotions are more evident in the field, emotions are important, see this discussion.

I HAVE THE PANASONIC DMC-LX3 NOW: it is a world apart and on from those older cameras of which I have spoken fondly. But it's a bit like a classy dame.. moving up to having an LCD on the back with 440,000 pixels really is something, but what you see on the back is not the whole story in making good photos. I am thrust into a new world of some kind, new explorations... new brain stretches..

22 March 2011

War in Libya

I have offered this comment on a New York Times editorial wondering about the new war in Libya:

Your Submitted Comment
Display Name
Dennis Argall
Rome, Italy 
Forty-some years ago as a young Australian diplomat immersed in southeast Asia and the then preoccupation with the Vietnam war I was transferred to our Rome embassy. Surrounded by the events of Europe in 1968 and at real distance I secured new and critical perspective to our (and US) conduct of the Vietnam war. Curiously I now find myself again living in Italy for a time, retired, as a new war of alliance against wickedness breaks out in Libya. 
This discussion thread has at its most constructive been focused (appropriately) on the legality and practical feasibility of the US going to war. 
From here, I find that the greatest impression is the precipitate muddle of action.
There has been a breathtaking reaction in many places, including in the nations involved, to the very wide and imaginative interpretation of 'no-fly-zone'. This has placed at risk, perhaps permanently fractured, the massive international support for the action. And already there is reckless public bickering over what it means among leaders of the action itself, notably whether it allows decapitation of the Libyan Government. The evident value of surprise on the part of the enemy may have been overtaken by this loss of strategic coherence and support.  
The action takes place at a moment when Italy has been reoccupied by 150th anniversary celebrations and the difficult process of securing regime change from the Ten Billion Dollar Man Berlusconi. From resistance to military action Italy has been squeezed into a role, with sense of rivalry with France. Moreover, the left has now taken a vanguard position in articulation of action. Advocacy of a 'risorgimento also in the Arab world' (the 'resurgence' which brought Italy to nationhood 150 years ago, overturning Spain, Austria and the Papal States) has brought huge popular response for President Napolitano, life long member of the now defunct Communist Party. The leader of the Democratic Party, Bersani, Prime Minister-in-Waiting if egos can bring unity for change, has said that the constitution forbids military action for war, allows it for human rights... this is the leader of the party heir to the former socialist and communist parties. So with the complicity in action of the British Liberal Democrats we have a curious vanguard of 'leftish' or socially-sensitive leaders gunning for what is unmistakably a war. 
It is a very long time (65 years) since J. K Galbraith and others in the assessment of strategic bombing of Europe in WWII concluded that the strategic bombing campaign was a 'disastrous failure' that "at most... eased somewhat the task of ground troops."
The precipitate nature of western action, from which notably China, with its sense of how long history takes to happen, distances itself, reflects the infancy inculcation of our leaders with the speed of action of Sesame Street and the expectation of outcomes in computer games. 
The 150th Anniversary celebration in Italy includes celebration of Garibaldi and others in enabling an infant Rome Republic against French forces invited by the Pope to hold a hill in Rome for some months in 1849 - twelve years before the 150 years ago completion of occupation of all Italy by the Kingdom of Savoy; 21 years before the actual constitutional emergence of an Italian State, over 80 years before settlement of territory and status with the Pope... And as the Times main article on Italy begins: \"Encyclopedia Britannica describes Italy as"less a single nation than a collection of culturally related points in an uncommonly pleasing setting."  
It is time we began scaling and shaping military interventions, as and when conceivably appropriate, by realistic awareness of the time it takes to achieve any kind of outcome in the real world and the very different strategies we need to adopt in the real world. There is a huge element in this war decision not so much of interest in oil but pellmell response to public opinion and adoption of domestically politically advantageous postures: it is frankly bizarre for the Italian left to be advocating for war in the Arab world and Libya in particular — but for the need to get advantage over the Billion Dollar Man who had become a dollar-dealing mate of Gaddafi, resistant to war against him. 
Considering the business in Libya we might paraphrase that last quote about Italy to say that Libya is: "less a single nation than a confusion of culturally diverse points in an uncommonly challenging setting."

08 February 2011

now in another world

early February: This note is written from the Seattle-Vancouver BC train. We have been visiting Liz and Mike in Seattle, today heading for Rome. Writing at duemesi.blogspot.com... see you there!

Living here for a time, not running as a tourist. 

The difference between life here and life in Australia is challenging, broadening, demanding review of what we do at home in many ways. To begin, however, creative processes seem to come to a halt as we learn openly and allow the stresses of past work etc, to filter down out of the system. 

There are nightmares (literally) - you  cannot disengage from things and be in a free space without the subconscious running in all directions for structure, it seems. 

I am somewhat unnerved to find that my Italian returns better than was 40 years ago. Treated as speaking properly in Rome (asked about it in a friendly and welcoming manner) though regarded by many, in the outpost places we have been in, as something from the imperial court or worse. 

There are political issues of great heat, as always but perhaps of greater consequence, with unconstitutional 'reforms' pressed forward by the world's wealthiest head of government concerned mainly with his own good time (an aspiration which links him to a huge spread of the population), while the opposition, so articulate on so many matters, cannot evolve itself into anything or anyone as an alternative government. 

There is an historical moment, with celebrations this week of the 150th anniversary of the conquest of the rest of Italy by the Kingdom of Savoy and establishment of a Kingdom of Italy, something that happened somewhat contrary to the wishes of many involved and still resented by many. Italy remains, as the New York Times quotes Encyclopedia Britannica: "less a single nation than a collection of culturally related points in an uncommonly pleasing setting." 

There are things of great beauty in so many places, with thousands of years of history piled on itself, the weaving together of buildings so different in age itself a matter of magic. There are disturbing things, as with the church in Naples on the Street of the Tribunes (15% of the street seeming to be churches) founded in the height of the counter-reformation, in 1600, a brass skull and cross-bones on its entry rail, an enquiry desk handled by a beautiful young woman, a church committed to saving those in purgatory, diminishing their time there, at one time with sixty masses a day... Such a fortune in churches where people have often till very recently starved and street-begging still present.  

We are also here so close to what has been happening in Tunisia and Libya. While the internet also brings close the events in Japan... This uprooting and transplantation to Rome has the same kind of effect as it had on me 40 years ago, of shifting me out of local and petty preoccupations and perspectives back in Australia. Not that there are not millions of petty and local perspectives around me here... but it is the vast difference that doubles the perspective coming here. 

26 January 2011

the story of the end of apartheid on the south coast

I have finally mastered how to move a voice recording from my iPhone. Easy when you stumble on how to do it...

So I have moved recordings I made of Fred Moore, recounting the Aboriginal advancement movement from the 1960s, onto a little web page here. Good to have this up on Australia Day too!