The Xander and Nico Pod

Friday, 10 September 2010

Farewell and All That

Well, this is it. I said, once the Federal election was over, I would wrap up my blog - as I've said in posts over the last few months, I've completely lost my mojo and the timing seems right. But now that the time for the last post is here, I'm not quite sure what to say, except for one thing.

Thank you. Thank you to everyone who's ever read a post, come back to see what else I have written, left a comment (supportive or otherwise!), looked at the photos, followed a link, thought about what I have said. Many of you over the years have said that you've enjoyed what I've written, which has meant the world to me. When I look back at my first post, it doesn't feel like all that long since I wrote it, and yet. When I started this blog, I was 24, living alone in Newcastle, and Xander was a kitten. I'm now in my thirties, married, living in Sydney, and Xander is "mature" according to veterinary standards (which puts a slight lump in my throat when I think about it). Over the last seven years, I've had five jobs, lived in four apartments, covered three Federal elections, made tasteless jokes, infringed copyright and tried to incite violence. It's been a great teacher, both of writing and HTML. But nothing lasts forever, and it's definitely time to go. Thanks again, and I hope to see you all at my new project soon (I'll post the link here when it's ready to go).

Where we attempt to wave goodbye.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Penultimate

Best laid plans being worth the blank fields they're typed on, I was intending to do a last-ever post here the day after the election, then finally get started on my new blog.

That plan was predicated on the notion that we'd know who had actually won the damn thing by then.

So, I'm going to keep on keeping on here, and wrap up when this whole electoral mess does. May God have mercy on us all.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Time To Farewell?

Dear readers. I've been running this blog for nearly seven years now. I never thought it would last this long, not in my worst nightmares. And in recent months, I've hardly been posting at all. This is because I think I've pretty much said everything I have to say. I've complained about politics and every day life as much as they can be complained about. The fact that there's a Federal election upon us and I can't bring myself to write about it is a clue. I've already covered two elections, you know? Makeovers aren't helping; this blog has been through nearly as many colours as my hair over the duration.

So, although it will hurt - a lot - I am thinking of letting the Xander and Nico Pod die a natural death. I want to focus on something else, like an idea for a local photography blog I have in mind. I've got nothing left to say and I can't force it anymore. I think some of what I've written over the years was actually pretty good, but whatever mojo I've had is gone now.

But I'm not certain at this stage. I'm not expecting to be begged to reconsider, but I'd be interested to know if anyone really thinks I should keep going. Doing a token post every now and then to make the ten-year mark is one idea. And if the Coalition win the election, I'm sure my anger will help fuel the sort of half-decent posts that came from my rage during the Howard years. But otherwise I'm not sure I can see the point in continuing, like a sad old pop star who could have retired and their peak, but is just embarrassing themselves now. Actually I'm past my peak. I don't want to become the INXS of blogs.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Once A Socialist

"The man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart, but the man who is a socialist at 40 has no brain".

We've all heard that quote. I know I have many times, mainly from people who expect I will grow out of my politics, just as they hope I will grow out of being a Goth. I'm afraid that the latter hasn't happened yet, and I'm guessing the former won't either.

As I get older I'm shifting more to the left, and I'm not alone. Last week I went to see Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, speak at Leichhardt Town Hall (one of the joys of community involvement is spending a lot of time in cold halls eating cake). I expected the audience to be full of dreadlocked student types, but instead the bulk of the crowd was aged between 40 and 60. It could be because students are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings who didn't want to shell out $15 on a rainy winter night, but I rather think that the more decent people get to look at the world, the more leftist their views become.

The underlying philosophy behind left wing politics is the belief that what happens to other people is as important as what happens to you - the values that Barack Obama spoke of at the 2004 Democratic Convention. The ethos of the conservative, on the other hand, is "Screw you, I've got mine (and I want more)". We see this not just in big business, but in "average families" telling the Daily Telegraph that they will cheerfully switch allegiance to whoever keeps interest rates low, plies them with tax cuts whilst services suffer, and keeps those nasty boat people who are crowding the country away. It's a mindset we can thank John Howard for; part of the shameful legacy he left this country with. But there is another way, a better way. I won't be sopped to by the major parties.

And I don't think capitalism works. Oh, I know it "works" financially, a bit, sometimes. Kind of. But there's more to humanity than that. The idea that the market is the perfect arbiter of value is insane - as I declared to myself when, not long after having been laid off last year, my partner working double shifts as a nurse to support us, I saw a poster advertising that the Chk-chk-boom chick was making a guest appearance at Home nightclub and no doubt, getting more money for showing up than we would see in a month. But the market says that is all fair, right and good.

So yeah, I'm a socialist.


I'm always upset when I hear of acquaintances having their baby sons circumcised (not as upset as the baby, of course). My feelings about it are so strong that I never quite know what to say, fearing I'll go too far and be labelled a lunatic. But now, if I hear someone is considering the procedure I'll just ask them respectfully to read this, by far the best piece I have read for the case against circumcision. It's respectful, non-hysterical, compassionate and accurate. I'd encourage everyone to read it and pass on what you have learned. Please.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Where I Briefly, Despairingly, Comment on the Election

Yes it has been a long time since I last posted, certainly in light of there's a Federal election coming up soon. But I've been busy...we were in between computers for a time...and also the whole thing is so depressing it makes me want to flush my own head down the toilet.

Maybe I'm getting cynical in my old age. I've seen quite a few elections now (especially since I took an active interest in the things long before I was old enough to vote), and even though I didn't agree with them on everything, I at least always wanted Labor to win before. But I'm so disgusted by their current shift to the right I can't bring myself to make a 2PP choice at all (God knows, if Turnbull was leading the Liberals right now, is it just possible I may have given my preferences to them? Surely not, but I wonder). Everyone has their own bugbears - here's mine:

Equal Marriage Rights - two unmarried, atheist female ministers (one the PM and the other herself a lesbian) oppose this. Why? Because they find it all a bit icky, or are they just afraid of an electoral backlash? I rather fear the latter. If they are personally opposed to gay marriage, the simple solution for them is to not enter a gay marriage themselves, but don't deny others the right. I'd have thought this would be a no-brainer by now.

Cash For Clunkers - marriage right exasperates me but this one makes me furious. If we're going on about "my taxes", well my taxes have gone towards the war in Iraq, funding baby bonuses for high income earners, and all sorts of other things I haven't been keen on. But that I am contributing to people buying new cars - the environmental benefits of the plan are dubious at best - whilst I've never learnt to drive because cars are killing the planet - well, I'm rapidly filling with rage.

Boat People - we have a new, "leftist" Prime Minister and what is practically the first thing she does? Panders to rednecks on asylum seekers and then tells us we're not allowed to call them rednecks any more. Instead of urging compassion, instead of dispelling the myths, Gillard opens the floor to talk back radio callers spewing venom. Not to mention, and perhaps worst of all, deliberately confusing the issues of asylum seekers and population growth in the public mind - as if the tiny handful of boat people who arrive each year are somehow a threat to the Australian way of life. Oh to see someone in power and stand up and say "boat arrivals are a small problem. We can handle it".

(Here's a statement which could be taken out of context) but I'm not sure the Australian way of life is one that should be protected, not in a country still bearing the scars of the Howard years - primarily selfishness. There's a new Liberal party ad that begins "This election is all about you". Great! Who cares if hospitals are funded if my family isn't sick. Who cares if services are available to help the poor, it's their own damn fault. Focus on my family, my unsustainably huge mortgage, me me me!

Not that anything I or any of the vast number of much better left-wing bloggers say will matter. Labor doesn't care about us. They don't care if we all vote Greens - they assume they'll get our preferences anyway, so why bother keeping us when we're not really lost. What they care about is losing voters to the Liberals; and politicians no longer have the courage to try to change public opinion, they just respond to it like yapping dogs. Our only hope is a Greens balance of power in the Senate, and just maybe one or two Greens seats in the lower house. But generally I'm quite despondent about the whole thing, so unlike the last two elections, I won't be posting a great deal more about this one.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

So We Have a New PM (Or, Labor Eats Its Own)

Remind me never to serve in a Labor government. I'm rather a sensitive sort, and I don't think I could handle the hurt and monumental ingratitude of being dumped by my own party, in my first term, so shortly after being Australia's most popular ever PM. But hey, that's me.

It's a ridiculous situation when looked at that way. The Australian electorate, it must seems, are pretty darn ungrateful. It's not enough that Rudd saved us from the GFC, oh no; at the first thing people are brainwashed into not liking (the mining tax) everyone gets cold feet. It's like walking out of a marriage at the first argument over which in-laws to spend Christmas with. Even that may be understandable (the electorate have pretty short memories, after all) but what's unforgivable is that Labor, instead of standing by Rudd, threw him out on his ass at the first opportunity.

That's what's wrong with non-Conservatives. They care too much about being liked; they spook too easily. Howard never wavered. He sat there grinning as he sent us into Iraq, sent troops to the Northern Territory to tell traumatised communities how to raise their kids, as he sent us to do two-hour shifts thanks to Work Choices. I despise him and what he did to Australia, but dammit he and the Liberals have the courage of their convictions. He stayed the course, with the party's support, till the (very) bitter end.

I had my own problems with Rudd - mostly over social issues. The Apology was great, but what about gay marriage, ending the Intervention, standing up on the asylum seeker issues. But we owe him a debt of gratitude for getting rid of Howard in the first place, and for all that we kept our jobs (this from someone who lost hers). Rudd's press conference this morning was unexpectedly moving. If only he had shown such emotion before, acknowledged he was a human with feelings and flaws, we may not have been in this situation.

As it all built up last night, I hoped Gillard would refuse to run. Realistically she didn't have a choice. She is giving her press conference as we speak, admitting she wasn't elected PM and will not delay the upcoming Federal election. It's a bit of a worry. Abbott and co will argue that Labor couldn't even get through one term intact, how can they be trusted with the ongoing stewardship of the country? It's not an invalid point. I shall not be sending my vote their way, though. It will be interesting to see if this means my local seat really will go to the Greens.

Of course now we have our first female Prime Minister. Yes, that's a good thing but do we have to keep pointing it out? It shouldn't be a factor that decided a vote (God help us if we had Julie Bishop PM, let alone President Palin). It's a shame it happened like this. Labor needs to harden up, frankly. Let's strap ourselves in; it's going to be a long nasty election campaign ahead.