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Even Dictators Have Friends
but the closest friend is power
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In about seven hours, a cute, smart German woman will be stepping off a plane, making her way through Customs and looking nervously for me amongst a throng of unfamiliar faces. I'd like to say that my welcome will reflect the sacrifices that she has already made to be part of my life, but I'm not sure its possible. I'm both excited and humbled that someone would do that for me and I can't help but wonder what the me of ten years ago would think if someone had told him this would happen one day.
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You can blame any mistakes on the fact that I’m writing on my brother’s extremely cramped keyboard. For some reason, I can’t seem to maintain a connection on my computer at our new house. After moving six times in the last seven times, we decided that once more would bring us good luck or something. Well, that and the fact that my brother is going to the UK for an extended period. Fortunately for him, he is both a Pom and a Nurse, so he didn’t have any trouble getting a job. After working in a hectic Emergency ward for quite a while, he is taking a much less stressful job flying patients in to and out of the Old Dart. He deserves a rest and I’m sure that as a renowned dance machine, he’ll enjoy the clubs in London and elsewhere.

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Last week was very muddy. The rain over the last 6 weeks has been fairly consistent, so that quite a few of the playing fields around Adelaide have been reduced to bogs. Quite a lot of Touch games have been cancelled due to the fields being in poor condition and the oval that I often train on or nearwith my running group has really been given a huge workout by the Aussie Rules teams that play on it. One of the grounds along Mackinnon Parade that usually gets turned into a quagmire was probably saved by the grounds managers giving it a rolling workout on one of the dry days. On the weekend this ground is occupied almost every daylight hour by both competition and organised pick-up games of football (or soccer for those of you who use that term).

The last week has seen the start of the campaign to find a new rental place. Where we are living now is a bit too small for three people and the neighbour's dogs are literally barking mad, which kind of drags you down after a while. We've checked out a couple of places so far, and because we are not in a rush this time, we hope we can make a bit better choice than we did before. That the bathroom sink has decided to get blocked for no explicable reason is also another incentive to move.
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Big lists of books have been posted at gthsand hbdeath, so why not here?

The idea is to

- bold those you've read
- italicise started-but-never-finished
- underline those you own but haven't gotten to yet
- add three of your own
- post to your livejournal

so here it goesCollapse )

I choose to add

448. The Beast of Heaven - Victor Kelleher
449. Semi Madness - Geoff Goodfellow
450. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
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The revelations about paedophilia in Adelaide's Anglican Church and the expensive St. Peters school have been the subject of a lot of discussion over the last few months. Apart from the sadness involved in these cases, a number of things come to my mind.

In the face of an obvious case of child abuse and corruption, the Church clearly illustrated its fundamental nature. Rather than sticking to its professed tenets of 'brotherly love', humility and compassion, it preferred to behave like just another multinational corporation, government bureaucracy or political party. Instead of carrying out a systematic review of its child-protection practices, or counselling the victims, it chose to hide or ignore evidence and treat the victims and their families with what must ultimately be considered contempt. The perpetrators of terrible acts against their child victims were either allowed to continue their predatory behaviour, or encouraged to flee overseas where they could presumably continue to inflict their unpleasant will upon those who expected guidance and protection, not sexual assault.

Like so many organisations that are caught out committing unethical or immoral actions, the recriminations and apologies come only after the fact. Only after the damage to the organisation or person at the top of the hierarchy becomes unmanageable, is the damage wrought admitted. The rigid hierarchical nature of the Church only added to the reluctance to admit fault, as did the overarching belief that the Church is the organisational manifestation of God's will. Those at the top, or close to the top, could instruct others to ignore or deny the evidence and be quite confident that their instructions would be followed. With their views likely unchallenged, the leaders of the Church would be more likely to be convinced about the correctness of their actions than if they were subjected to rigorous debate where they faced exposure if they did not meet the moral and ethical standards of their peers.

The discourse of "faith" could only add to the desire to keep things quiet. Faith does not allow an easy entry for those who wish to talk in terms of evidence, reason and ethics (as opposed to morality) that are a result of dialogue, consideration and action. Just as the God of the Christians expects Abraham to kill his son as a show of faith, so the Church leaders and priests would almost certainly have tried to placate or console their flock with calm words of "we know what is best" and "the Church must not be damaged". Young boys were thus surplus to the need to protect organisational image (dare we say 'brand'), Church assets (Ian George admitted as much in an inteview with ABC's Stateline) and personal reputations.

While I am an aetheist, I should say that I'm not attacking the belief in God per se. I do fundamentally disagree with the notion of God as many religions present it. However, what I find more disturbing is the way in which this case illustrates (yet again), the moral and ethical bankruptcy of hierarchical religious organisations that have repeatedly failed to be the exemplars of honesty and integrity that they purport to be. While people continue to accept organisations that mix religious faith with hiearchical organisation, they will continue to be disappointed by their leaders who will time and again illustrate that they are ordinary, if not less than ordinary human beings who do not even approach the dizzy heights of the character of Jesus.

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

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Finally, one of these things that is kind of appropriate!

P. B. Shelley
You are Percy Bysshe Shelley! Famous
for your
dreamy abstraction and your quirky verse,
you're the model
"sensitive poet." A
vegetarian socialist with great personal
charm
and a definite way with the love poem, you
remain an idol for
female readers. There are
dozens of cute anecdotes about you, and I
love
you.



Which Major Romantic Poet Would You Be (if You Were a Major
Romantic Poet)?

brought to you by Quizilla

Current Mood: cold cold

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It's really quite amazing how much better you can feel once you start eating 'properly' again, get back to drinking more water and getting enough sleep. Even though I did get quite smashed on Saturday, I've been feeling a lot better over the last week. Starting running again has helped I think. After having quite a long break, increasing my level of activity has left me feeling more, rather than less energetic.

Last week, I watched a Frontline (the US program, not the Australian parody) program on SBS about people dieting in the U.S. It was really quite amazing how people would believe anything about diets if it meant they wouldn't have to change their behaviour too much. Having read a reasonable amount on food, nutrition and exercise, I understood that most of what the diet gurus said could not be true. However, not ever having been on a 'diet' I didn't quite understand how lunatic some of the ideas involved were. It was also disturbing to know that for many people, there is little option but to get fat given the foods that they can afford to eat and the amount of activity that they are able to fit into their days.

Of course, in the past few years, there has been a lot of hot air spoken about how 'Australians are getting too fat'. However, a lot of the discussion has been unwilling to broach the impact of multinational food corporations on our diets and our bodies, the impact of work practices upon our activity levels and the way in which many people's leisure time has been reduced.

So now, as in so many areas, the 'market' lovers have been forced into the realisation that public and primary health matters cannot be left to the market. Of course, this is not a 'market failure', rather it is a moral failure of individuals. So now, we have John Howard (a very fit man according to Alexander Downer, who of course, should know), urging schools to take up more 'sports'.

Now while kids playing more sport could be a good way to stopping our slide into obesity (I use the word 'our' loosely - I'm nowhere near overweight), I am very wary about an overemphasis on sport. Getting kids into physical activity does not have to be through sport. Yes sports can teach you valuable behaviours and keep you fit, but if the focus is on team sports and the desire to ram kids into sport no matter what, then there may be thousands of kids turned off from physical activity. Not everyone wants to be in a team, nor does everyone want to do a 'sport'. Running around aimlessly, dancing, riding your bike to school and skateboarding all involve agility, aerobic capacity and strengthen bones.

Even if the school systems do increase the amount of physical activity the kids get, this won't mean too much if we are all still eating the energy dense foods that we are taught to crave both by our taste buds and the advertisers. However, I'm not expecting too much action on that, at least for a while.
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