Thursday, March 22, 2007

ARU muddle

There's a strongly held view in Australia that the Australian Rugby Union have seriously lost their way. This is the same view that holds that John O'Neil is the saviour - he's always seemed a prat to me. Regardless, current CEO Gary Flowers is no fool. He was one of the group that forged the professional framework including the tri-nations. That said, this is bollocks. Gary, mind-games are a valid form of gamesmanship, but mate, seriously mate, this latest attempt, you know, when all but the Force are at the wrong end of the Super 14 and the Wallabies appear like a bunch of aged journeymen... mate, it's shite. Best you give it a rest.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rudd's race

Watching Kevin Rudd, I'm reminded of the legend of Jack Lovelock; particularly his win at the Berlin Olympics. Lovelock was one of NZ's greatest ever athletes and an Olympic gold medalist. He was part of a select group of runners, stars during the '20s and '30s, who purused the dream of a sub-4 minute mile.

What's all this got to do with Kevin Rudd? Lovelock's race tactics might be just the thing for Rudd.

The "Lovelock kick", the unexpected but decisive break, is what won Lovelock gold in Berlin in '36 (David Robertson's short film is a brilliant dramatisation of Lovelock's training regime). It's about knowing your opposition well enough to know when they're attending to their own race and not paying attention to yours. It's also about having the stamina to break when you're ready and also about being able keep up if they go first.

Rudd's in this race, much more so than the last couple of Labor leaders and his position and strategy appear much more robust. He's overcome the initial wrestle for position, he'd copped a few elbows but he's still got form, a good position and appears calm under pressure. His current lead will undoubtedly reduce in the run-up to the election so he needs to focus on when to make his decisive break.

Howard race tactics already appear all too familiar but I can't see any mileage on interest rates, none either in Iraq, and possibly not even in migration. On IR, the government is very vulnerable.

Watching Howard on the 7.30 report last night, it was clear he was behind - the Santoro scandal blunted any advantage the he'd hoped to gain through his negative campaigning.

So where too next? Rudd has to be thinking "who cares, I'll make my move when I'm ready and if he moves first, I'll run him down".

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mr. Sylvester McMonkey McBean

I've never been particularly fond of Canberra. It feels vaguely sterile, perhaps because it is a city by design (Walter Burley Griffin in fact) rather than evolution? It is a town populated almost exclusively by public servants and, being a public servant myself, I'm somewhat happy about that (it at least means the profile of amenities suits my lifestyle and I'm not talking about Fyshwick). I'm down there a bit at the moment (and will be for the next six months or so) on a project for the Commonwealth.

Security is big in Canberra, which makes sense as the Australian capital, however I've been surprised by how much more security conscious Commonwealth agencies are compared with State. I used to work directly next to the building where State Ministers have their offices - a target of sorts I guess (not wanting to sound particularly paranoid) - and yet our security wasn't particularly zealous, nor did it seem were other State agencies. Canberra however is the land of star-belly sneetches; almost every single one of the city's workers wears a photo ID, so much so that you needn't wear a McDonald's uniform - if you don't have a photo ID you must work in FMCG simple as that (cautionary tale, returning to Sydney wearing your photo ID is-not-on... I know this thanks to a Tori Spelling-lookalike who advised me of this potential fashion faux pas).

So anyway, for the next six months I work for the Commonwealth, I am one-of-them (the rivalry between States and the Commonwealth can be significant). I'd like to say I'm a schizophrenic policy mercenary but working for both Liberal and Labor governments has so far been surprisingly easy because, basically, all sensible public servants accept that politics is for their Ministers, not for them.

Oh and Mr Sylvester McMonkey McBean... both parts of his little scam can be seen here and here.

Howard's end?

Scandal, disaster, death and deception. Australian politics has it all at the moment, you'd never guess election season had begun.

Howard's on the back-foot on many fronts, but it's the misbehaviour of his Ministers that'll be most frustrating him. First it was three Queensland members, including one Minister, under investigation for allegedly misusing allowances now two Minister's have been forced to resign for dubious dealings. Ian Campbell's resignation was convenient; sure he'd met with disgraced former WA Premier, Burke, but only as part of a delegation, whereas Kevin Rudd had dined with Burke. Sadly for Johnny, Rudd's popularity has only increased and now a third Minister has been forced to resign, this time for failing to properly disclose his investments.

Perhaps its the problems at home that led him to speculate about increasing Australian troops in Afghanistan?

NSW voters get their chance next week and appear odds-on to re-elect Labor for a fourth term. The Liberal leader has all but conceded defeat in the hope he'll pick up a few more votes but I can't see it. Iemma's played the cleanskin well. After the 24th, he'll likely lead the largest party in parliament , but with train failures, cover-ups, and even feral senior civil servants, he's going to have to deal with an expanded number of independents as well as the radicals such as the fanatical Fred Nile. Fred's called for a moratorium on muslim immigration - always the moderate - fortunately states' exercise no power over immigration thus enabling both Lib and Labor leaders to sidestep this controversy.

On less banal matters, the plane crash that claimed five Australian lives hit home for me this week. I was in Canberra and attended a lunch at the National Press Club. It wasn't until the MC reminded us that a several of the Australian victims were regulars at the Club that I really thought about the tragedy. Many who lunched around me knew and worked with some of the people who'd been on the flight and were clearly distressed by their passing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

International man of mystery...


create your own here

Chippy's bought my attention to this little personalisable map to allow me to reveal my complete unworldlyness.

I've visited a measily 4% of the world's countries. If Mrsbackin15 creates her own, I suspect she'd have visited well over 50% (and before anyone asks, I know what she sees in me).

I take some solace from having lived in four cities in NZ and one in Australia during my adult life. I'd like to add to that number, particularly if somehow I can land a flash job in Barcelona.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

So many things

Life's been busy; change of jobs, parent stuff, family stuff, other stuff... conspired to keep me away from blogging.

The new job's interesting. Commonwealth government means great IT support and lots of blokes in cardigans (with facial hair of dubious fashionable value). There'll be a bit of inter-state travel which is both appealing (overnight's in hotels with the latest shitty blockbuster DVDs) and shitty (overnights where Mrsbackin15 has to finish early and do the dreaded breakfast-dropoff-pickup-dinner-sleep-breakfast routine).

Parent-stuff... some little treasure's a biter.

Family-stuff... Already there's bids for Christmas '07.

Other-stuff... house-hunting in Sydney...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The storm's coming

The temperature's dropping out at at the Sydney airport, 8 kms away from home, which suggests the forecast storm is not far away; thank Christ!

It's been in the 30's most of today. Last night was unbearable. At midnight, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the apparent temperature (explanation here), was 27.6 degrees.

My capacity to lead a carbon-neutral life is severely diminish by my love affair with airconditioning...

Friday, March 02, 2007

WTF is John Mitchell on about?

Mitchell's Force and playing the 'Tahs tonight, should be an average game between two ordinary sides where one or two talented players dominate. The Force will target new Five Eighth Beale; fair enough he is (a) young, (b) inexperienced and (c) the bloody Five Eighth for crying out loud. So what the hell is this comment about:

"When you are gifted and instinctive like Kurtley [Beale] you can tend to premeditate what's in your mind as opposed to indentifying what's in front of you," he said. "And when you are challenged by defensive teams in your career those gifted players sometimes don't take the opportunity that the opposition presents. That is probably going to be the biggest growth curve for Kurtley."

I think his point is that rather than responding to what's in front of you, some players determine what they're going to do regardless of the defensive pattern which can get them into trouble... Could he have said it more simply?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I want to go home...

How ridiculously cliched; half a dozen tracks by the Finns, McGlashin, Che Fu and even Shihad and here I am looking up airfares and jobs... I was worse after Dave Dobbyn's gig... this wasn't it but it's nice nonetheless...


I know the bags under my eyes probably won't go away. They're not temporary, I'll not recover the sleep I've lost. I've realised this is a small but significant badge; perhaps I'll sleep when she's 3? But Don, Don you've aged mate. You taught me trumpet (WTF is a sousaphone?) and that moment when I told my big brother than my music teacher was the lead singer for Blam Blam Blam...

Ahhh fuckit, you're still lyrically, stylistically, fashionably cool.

And Don, the gig you did at the old theatre in Wellington, the gig for the opening night of Jackson's Frighteners, fantastic.

Downtown train

It's bedtime and I was thinking about who I'd like to sing me to sleep; Tom Waits or JJ Cale?

You think I should've had a woman? Whatever...

Here Tom Waits sings a lullaby. Here JJ Cale does too. Can anyone find the Waterboys doing A Man is in Love?

mo' better blues

I've linked to this before, I'll link to it again.

'mo better blues.

Branford Marsalis trio from the Spike Lee movie featuring the late Kenny Kirkland.

Night all.

Continuing the theme

When I was about 16 I decided to replace some of my Father's jazz favourites with Cds. He'd very carefully looked after his vinyl for years but it was time. Marbecks was the authoritative place to go in Auckland and I wandered into their Queen St jazz shop and rather pretentiously approached the counter with my unbelievably cool question...

"Do you have any Ahmad Jamal, maybe Live at the Pershing?

...... blink

......... blink.....

............ supressed derisory snort...

"Have you looked in the Ahmad Jamal section?"


I've recovered from that point and I've now taken my Father to see Ahmad Jamal at the Sydney Opera House (with Mrs backin15 and my stepmother in 2005). It was one of the best performances I've ever seen but more importantly it was thanks. Thanks to the artist but also thanks to my Father for the introduction.

For your pleasure: Surrey with a Fringe.

How to make my Dad check out my blog

Joe Morello's definitive moment. Paul Desmond was there too.

I regret, seriously regret, giving up playing music to do six subjects at School Cert. It was a significant error of judgement. I was about a year away from making the transition from awkward little guy on the bus with extra bag to the man-with-the-saxaphone-plan... I perhaps would have been the first in Mangere but...

The Purdie shuffle

I was watching a doco about Steely Dan recently which included footage of Bernie Purdie and his famous Purdie shuffle... see if you can play along...

Forget Iran's enrichment program, it's the Frat parties you've gotta watch

He started it!

Why don't light saber's come in non-fluorescent colours?

Pulp Fiction meets Ralph Hotere

You know, that headline's not quite right but there's something there yeah? Maybe McCahon? Hmmm, didn't do nearly enough Art History.

Here's the link.

Hat tip: Cleverblogname.

Kiwi comes good (again and again and again)

There are so many Kiwi's living in Australia, I suspect we're quietly taking over.

Successful Kiwi's are offered a form of citizens' citizenship; the "hail jolly fellow well met" type that entitles you to a beer at every pub provided you can name the last time the Wallabies beat the 'Blacks in the dying minutes of a game that really matter mate... (oh and was it really '87 when you last won the Cup?). Russ has it (but not the official variety), Neil and Tim too, and so does Alan Brough. Alan's success has been a quiet one. He's been around for long enough, everyone assumes he's an Aussie and when they find out he's from the western island they're so surprised they can't be arsed even making the usual jokes.

Alan was a contemporary kindy inmate with Mrs backin15 in Hawera (that's Harwara to the locals) in the '70s. Now he's part of the ABC power-trio that are Spicks and Specks, the greatest television show evah!