Magic

One of the things I really like about playing with my friends at L'Arche, and one person in particular, is the way in which magic returns to the games. Playing hide and seek with someone who can't see or hear that well and has some minor cognitive hiccups is so exciting. I really can disappear from a tiny bedroom for minutes at a time and in the tiniest of places. And when I re-emerge from the hiding place at truly is a marvel and warrants much shouting and hugging and declarations of love and fondness. It is totally magic.

A little bit on fire

J: Can I have some raisin toast?
R: Yes. Why did you smash the cups? Was it because there wasn't enough butter for you to cook the mushrooms?
J: Yep. There wasn't any butter so I had to throw the mushrooms in the garbage. I couldn't eat them. And the fan caught a little bit on fire. So I had to turn it off.

Gran Torino

I went to see Gran Torino by myself on Friday while I was waiting for other things to happen. I had been pretty optimistic about it, because I'm a big Clint Eastwood fan. But having had a couple of days to reflect I have to say that it was not that great. It was a nice story, although fairly obvious and blunt. And Clint was good. There was no love interest, which was a plus. It was a South-East Asian minority that doesn't seem to get a lot of air time. It also had a totally sweet car and there were a lot of guns. Sadly though, it was all a bit soft. The dialogue was average. The car didn't actually have anything to do with the film - I think you see it driven once for about three seconds. There were a few too many cultural cliches and it was all a bit cute. But even thought Clint Eastwood is almost entirely responsible for this film, I still like him a lot.

Shocked Disbelief

Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity - myself especially - are in a state of shocked disbelief.

Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve

This is hilarious. A very large part of this man's job was acting as a check to the self-interest of lending institutions. The real question, though, is why the extremely important job of maintaining stability in the US finance sector was ever given to somebody who didn't think his job was at all necessary.

Hamas Weakened

In an Australian article about the various ways in which Israel is winning the war against those Palestinians not yet dead, there is an interesting statement from Yuval Diskin, the Shin Bet security service chief. Hamas is apparently softening its stance and the chief thinks that many Gazans are furious with Hamas for "bringing a disaster on Gaza." I think the term disaster is entirely appropriate for this war.

Last time I heard, one Israeli soldier had been killed by Hamas fighters (and four Israelis by "friendly" fire). The Hamas fighters aren't what's important in this slaughter, and I seriously doubt they are even the target. The only reason Hamas continues to survive is due to its popular support. I don't think Israel will persuade people to change their vote by killing their families and friends, but then I suppose that when it comes to collective punishment I'm not the expert Israel is.

Thirsty Babies

And the baby talks to the stomach and tells the stomach when it wants to come out. And hey presto! When we get back to Sydney, we walk to the nurse's house and say the baby wants to come out, and would like to come out, and please take the baby out now because it's so thirsty. The baby really does want a cuppa. I'm not joking.

Fair Poverty Commission

The cover story of today's Australian is about the minimum wage and some of Ian Harper's thoughts on the subject. He's worried that linking maternity leave pay levels to the minimum wage will be a disaster because middle-income mums would have to survive on working class money. He doesn't want to have any more people with a vested interest in the level of the minimum wage. It's hard enough convincing the working class they aren't getting a bum deal, but if you have to start persuading everyone else you'll have no chance.

It doubles the constituency of people with a vested interest in the minimum wage from 150,000 to 300,000. Now half of them are low-paid people. The other half would be saying: 'How can I pay for all this baby gear on this miserable wage?'

Our concern is what this does is conflate, to confuse, two policy objectives which are very, very different. Some of those mothers will be low-paid but many aren't.

I still get surprised sometimes that folk can come out and say shit like this without any sense of self-consciousness. For Ian Harper, the thought that high-income mums might have to make do on minimum wage for what he calls a "brief period", truly is a horror.