Archives: September 2006

28 Sep 2006, Comments Off on Unnnnngggghhhhh!


Author: Helen

I’m not sure what this guy’s ultimate point really was in this rather waffly opinion piece, but the timing of this quaint and avuncular observation

No woman can be hit on TV, and rightly so. Yet nobody seems to notice if men are hit. Can this be right?

was a bit unfortunate, given that this sweet little chick flick was aired on Channel 7 tonight.

26 Sep 2006, Comments Off on That’s MRS Satan to you, Pal

That’s MRS Satan to you, Pal

Author: Helen

I reckon this blog has about 50 US warheads trained on it after the googling I’ve been doing. But it’s been fun. I’ve been looking at the recent claim by overseas airlines and their security staff that terrorists can carry deadly explosives onto planes in little separate bottles, mix them together and Bob’s your hideously disfigured uncle.

Image from

Cooking up this deadly mixture, however, is far from the walk in the park that the news reports had led me to believe.

Blogger Jacob of A Man, a Plan, a Trash Can thinks it might be possible to bring down an airliner using small amounts of explosive, but on the other hand, the restrictions on shampoo and contact lens saline bottles are going to be ineffective anyway.

Garrison Keillor weighs in:

The way to stop terrorists on planes is to encourage passengers to bring loaded firearms aboard: guys in orange vests sitting in exit rows with deer rifles on their laps, ladies with Mr. Colt in their purses, kids with peashooters. Somebody wake up the NRA. Does the Second Amendment say ”The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except on commercial airliners”? Where is the right wing when you really need them?
This way, if some guy in a burnoose sets up a chemistry lab in row 24 and mixes hydrogen peroxide, sulfuric acid and acetone in a big beaker that is packed in 15 pounds of dry ice to keep it cool, and cooks up some triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, the passengers will be able, in the several hours it will take him to make the deadly explosive, to bring him under control, assuming the fumes haven’t knocked Ahmed out. And they could nab the mastermind, too, the monocled guy in first class petting the white cat.

See, it just doesn’t appear to be that simple. (Cooking up the recipe, I mean, not nabbing the mastermind.)Possum talks to his local pharmacist, who elaborates:

“So, imagining for a moment that you’re a jihadi and you’re actually going to try to cook up TATP on an airliner, what would you have to do?” I asked.

“Well, firstly you’ve got to understand that TATP isn’t a liquid, it’s a white crystalline powder. Looks like sugar and it makes nitroglycerine look safe. I read in one breathless story that the alleged bombers got the recipe from an ‘al-Qaeda website’. Why would al-Qaeda bother? Everyone who studied chemistry knows the recipe. And it’s on Wikipedia.

“The three ingredients are acetone, sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The acetone and sulphuric you can buy at the hardware store without attracting suspicion, but the hydrogen peroxide has got to be virtually full strength. You can’t use the stuff you buy over the counter at the pharmacy because it’s 97 per cent water. Well, you could, but you’d have to buy a lot of little bottles of peroxide and boil off the water, which is very risky. One false move and you’ve burned your house down.

“Anyway, you can premix the peroxide with the acetone – a couple of litres might make a useful amount of TATP – and carry that onto the plane in a single container but you’ve got to keep it cool and the only way I can think of to do that is to carry it in a Styrofoam container with some of those cold bricks from the supermarket. Plus, in your kit you’ll need to have a stirrer and a thermometer and a glass beaker or a stainless steel bowl to mix it in.”

“Hang on a sec”, Joadja said. “You mean you’ve got to get a cooler box and all that stuff on as hand luggage? That’d raise a few eyebrows!”

“Sure would, but let’s pretend you use your Jedi force on the security folks and get it on board. Next, you’ve got to get all your gear into the toilet. So you get the cooler down from the overhead luggage and lug it up the aisle. And then you’ll need to take out a mortgage on the toilet, ’cos you’re gonna be in there for a long time….”

Read the whole thing – it’s a riot.

So, what was responsible for the aeroplane with the blown-off roof in the picture? Well, I don’t want to bore you, but it was an ageing aircraft with weak rivets and corrosion. Good old-fashioned cost cutting and profit making, in other words. I’m more worried about the endless casualisation of maintenance staff, and outsourcing of aircraft mechanical repairs, than some guy trying to smuggle an esky into a plane. But they should definitely watch out for that guy with the monocle and the white cat.

25 Sep 2006, Comments Off on Girl Germs redux

Girl Germs redux

Author: Helen

Sam Holt, whose DVD “Being Dad — the Baby DVD ” is mentioned in this article, replies to this post (comments closed there now because the spambots move in after a few weeks).

I have just been forwarded your blog by a friend and i must say it was interesting reading. I am Mr Holt, please call me Sam. I trust that you haven’t seen the DVD we produced but have managed to draw your opinions on us and the DVD from a couple of quotes that made it into the press. I don’t take offence to your spray but i would encourage you to watch the DVD (I’ll happily send you a copy) so that perhaps you can draw your opinions from a more balanced perspective.
The DVD was not made because we are saying guys don’t read the books that are out there.

Well, what Sam said was: “”The reason we made it is because there’s nothing out there for dads…There are lots of things out there for women, by women.” Both of which statements are demonstrably false. The baby and child book market is positively bristling with male names. Perhaps the quotation was taken out of context from a longer and more reasonable statement – we all know how journalists do that. But it seems pretty unambiguous.

I read the majority of pregnancy and birth books and found them to be comprehensive in their advice and medical information. I would encourage all of my mates to pick up a copy of Up the Duff or Baby Love because they will give you plenty of info that our DVD won’t.

So, there is something “out there for Dads”. So why did the authors of the DVD want to say there was some kind of crisis, that men had literally nothing to guide them through the treacherous waters of early fatherhood? Well, they needed to advertise their product, and they went for it. Good for them. But I wish they had used a sales pitch which didn’t imply that a body of knowledge perceived to be completely dominated by women (and I hope I’ve made the point sufficiently that it isn’t), must be worthless as far as Dads are concerned.

Just to be clear, do I think books shouldn’t be written which are Dad-friendly? No! That would be silly, since dads taking up more of the nitty gritty of parenthood is exactly what we need and want. (Employers can’t deny employees family friendly conditions so easily if male and female employees are demanding parental leave and flexibility in equal numbers.) Baby books with pictures of Dads doing stuff, not just “ladies with babies?” Yay! I’d just like to have had the idea expressed in a way less… disrespectful, I guess, of “wimmins stuff”. I’d like Travis to have said “Wow! this is really hard. I’m looking at all these mums with prams with new eyes. And all the stuff in these baby books can be quite technical.” and I’d have liked Sam and Troy to express their opinion of their new DVD as the niche product it is, something to add to a useful body of work which will be especially useful to Dads, instead of the somewhat apocalyptic vision of men in a dreadful Information Vaccuum.

Personally speaking, the two most useful baby books I had were Christopher Green’s wonderful Babies! and Richard Ferber’s Solve your Child’s Sleep problems. Both by blokes, as you can see.

The premise of the DVD was two fold. 1. Not everyone likes reading books or finds them to be their preferred medium through which to learn. 2 we thought that many guys would appreciate listening to the stories and experiences of other men who are talking honestly about their feelings and emotions and not trying to macho it up or make it a try hard comedy act.
Whilst you may have taken 5 seconds to google some book titles i suggest you try reading some of them (which i have) that are targeted at men and get back to me with your honest opinion as to there readability. Even the odd good one still comes from the viewpoint of one individual or expert, we wanted to demonstrate the diversity of experiences that pregnancy and birth provides by showing lots of different people.
I would also encourage you to have a look at the feedback section on our site. You will see that there is a great deal of positive feedback from women who have also found the DVD to be a more preferable format to books and many who have said that it gave them another perspective on their pregnancy and birth.

There seems to be some confusion here, and it’s probably the journalist’s fault rather than yours, as to why exactly Travis and the rest of us are buying and reading this material. The DVD in question seems to fill a good and worthwhile niche – something to watch while expecting a child or while babies are still little, which can normalise a variety of experiences and show differing viewpoints, without going too much into the nitty gritty learning detail, as you say. But a lot of baby books and childraising books are for a very different purpose. Sure, info on breastfeeding may be irrelevant to Dads, but everything else is pertinent. If you’re looking for advice on tantrums, what to do when the kid has croup, what that funny rash might be, or when vaccinations are due, you don’t put on your gender-tailored DVD. You go to a book – and you don’t really much care who it’s written by (as long as they’re good). As for “readability”, well, that’s why Christopher Green and Kaz Cooke sell megasquillions of copies. (Well, so does James Dobson, but there’s no accounting for tastes.)

We didn’t make the DVD to make a fortune, we both have our own businesses that we are focused on. We believed, and still do, that this DVD would provide a different perspective on the millions of parenting publications that are out there. Perhaps if you were not so keen to try and make this a man v woman issue or one where you are seeking to criticise men, or women for that matter, for creating a differentiated product that others may wish to watch or read you may be able to see that.
If you are suggesting that we should have just accepted the material in the marketplace as opposed to creating something which we believed was missing from existing titles then perhaps you should stop blogging and just let people read rants from others that were doing it before you. Why reinvent the rant wheel?

Well, in general it’s good to get an idea of what’s out there first. Here we’re starting to find out what the DVD is really good for – as I said, getting others’ experiences and thereby normalising your own. But it would have been great if Travis had just had a bit more patience with learning from mothers’ experience and not behaving as if he’s a creature from another planet. (I blame that John Gray, myself). You know what would have been really interesting? If Travis had read one of the publications from the last decade or so which seek to answer the very problem he spoke of:


“It ended up being the most stressful time in my life,” says the 31-year-old IT consultant…. I felt a bit ripped off, because nobody had ever warned me it could be a bad time.

“…I thought it was meant to be happy.”

The fact is that this has been much discussed in baby books and the press over the last couple of decades, and I wish Travis had shown the insight that lots and lots of mothers feel exactly the same way. Contrary to popular wisdom, women don’t have a magical ability to parent just because of their gender. And you know what the books say about who’s most likely to freak out in the first few weeks? Highly organised, professional women. Why? because they’re used to being organised and in control, and with a newborn that’s hardly ever possible. Travis, being an IT consultant, is obviously at risk. I’m not being facetious here – as an IT consultant, he’s used to being organised and attacking a problem in a controlled way. With newborns, there’s no algorithm to make them sleep and burp and stop crying on time. If you want help with that, and the architectural diagrams, you do have to go to the baby books – and remember that every kid’s unique and they’ll never help 100%.

It would make a happy tear come to this patriarchy-blamer’s ageing eye if the Travises realised that in this respect they’re not so different, and perhaps men and women could come together and share knowledge about this and other things without obsessing over whether their manuals are coloured pink or blue. Is this an impossibly idealistic notion? maybe. But I read a lot of younger bloggers who are just starting out in family life and I get the impression that they are less hung up on gender roles in parenting, so I live in hope.

I commend your blog, and all blogs, and respect the fact that it allows you to have your spray. Do me a favour though and take the time to watch the DVD and, if you hate it, spray it. You should know better than to read a few lines quoted by a journalist and form an opinion on people and products without taking the time to see for yourself.
As a parting note i would like to say that your insinuation that we are wanting to ‘dumb’ the experience down for dads is quite insulting. I strongly believe that the DVD actually improves the birth and pregnancy for mums and dads due to the diversity of people in and experiences it shows.
All the best with your blog and let me know if you’d like a copy of the DVD…

(Snip silly last sentence implying that I’m a mad hormonal strawfeminist unable to think straight for Teh Emotions™ Surely that one’s ripe for retirement by now.)

Thanks, Sam, for the offer of the DVD. As a blogger I’m a bit over-punctilious about who I give my postal address out to, but I’m sure it will hit the local library after a while. Here’s a link, if anyone wants to check it out— maybe one of the first-time dads to be in the blogosphere can give it a try. The “dumbing down” reference was a reference to the paragraphs I quoted from the interview, which said that men didn’t want to know a lot of technical details and finer points and would rather just watch a few anecdotal stories with their mates. Then, there’s the capitalised BLOKES DON’T READ on your website. Again, I think the article is a bit confused as to what niche the DVD really fills. As a standalone product, it’s probably excellent, but it’s not a replacement for baby and child books. That’s the thing – I feel a bit silly devoting such a lot of time and space to what after all was little more than an advertorial, but I was questioning the assumptions behind the marketing exercise.

21 Sep 2006, Comments Off on The Vivisector #2

The Vivisector #2

Author: Helen

Girl at a Piano by Paul Cezanne

This is for the Patrick White Reader’s Group. If you don’t like Patrick White, just talk amongst yerselves until I post some more snark.

I’m interested in how White wrote chapters 4 – 7 of The Vivisector. Have you noticed how they go together?

The length of the book’s chapters varies hugely. Some are just a few pages long, while others form mini-novellas in themselves. Chapters 4 and 6 are like this – you could cut them out and publish them pretty much as they are, and they could stand alone with an edit or two. They almost seem to be more than just chapters. So, it’s odd to see the little chapters 5 and 7 sandwiched in there.

Chapters 5 and 7 are codas. Each belongs to the chapter preceding it. That’s clear enough. But it is interesting that chapters 4-5 and 6-7 follow the same rhythm. Chapter Four is dominated by Hurtle’s love affair with Nance. Nance becomes his muse as well as his lover, and inspires a new series of paintings. With her, Hurtle is at times inspired and at other times wallowing in suffering, filth and squalor. Nance dies at the end of the chapter.

In Chapter 5, the coda, Hurtle is seeking solitude, but is approached by “the grocer”, “the fat man”, Mr Cutbush, a character who is in some ways a coarse and ignorant Everyman, but in another way an interlocutor who helps gather the threads of what has gone before. He is the sounding board for Hurtle to talk and think about himself, in a place where the story stops and takes a breath– although even now, Hurtle’s artistic sense is hyperactive, envisioning a huge, obscene painting.

Chapters 6 and 7 are the same. Chapter 6: an almost novella-length account of Hurtle’s love affair with Hero. Hero becomes his muse as well as his lover, and inspires a new series of paintings.With her, Hurtle is at times full of inspiration (and able to mix with high society again) and at other times wallowing in suffering, filth and squalor.. sounds familiar? As Nance and the “rocks” merged in his last series, Hero becomes conflated with a bag of cats, drowned by her callous husband (there isn’t any way to write that without it sounding ridiculous, but in the novel, it does sort of work.) Hero dies at the end of the chapter.

Coda, chapter 7: Hurtle, seeking solitude, is approached by another Everyman, “the printer”, Mothersole. Interlocutor number two. The surnames of these two sound a bit Dickensian, don’t they? What’s with that? And with their bland occupational titles? Mothersole is a sounding board for his memories of the events in the chapter before and again his inspiration to paint is given a new impetus.

Now I’m into chapter 8. An almost novella-length account of Hurtle’s love affair with Kathy Volkov… Becomes muse as well as lover… inspires more paintings… Hurtle alternately transcends and wallows in suffering, filth, squalor, especially given the incestuous, Lolita-ish nature of this relationship… and so on… yada yada…

I’ve sneaked a look ahead and [SPOILER ALERT] I don’t find the same little coda chapter with a new, male interlocutor with a Dickensian surname. Instead, there is a meeting with someone from Hurtle’s old family, and the chapter length flattens out. Interestingly, though, Cutbush returns as a friend of Kathy Volkov’s family, although he doesn’t figure in any of the dialogue or action – he’s just there. I wonder why, and I wonder whether Mothersole will make another appearance.

What is the real meaning of Mothersole and Cutbush? Are there any more parallels in chapters 4,6 and 8 that I haven’t picked?

You will point out that I’m ignoring some very important characters, like Olivia Davenport (chapter 6) and Rhoda (chapter 8 ). That’s true. Women who are counterpoints, kind-of, to the lover/muse person? Poor old Hurtle, who only ever wants to be left alone, doesn’t seem to do much unless it’s in response or reaction to another eccentric or tortured person.

Update: Mike at Prawnwarp describes the Cutbush and Mothersole characters as act as a kind of grout. Which, of course, is something that fills interstices. Brilliant!

20 Sep 2006, Comments Off on Not over the top at all, really, not at all.

Not over the top at all, really, not at all.

Author: Helen

Declan the Work Experience kid* was on the job today in the ABC online news section:

ABC online news 20 09 2006

I don’t know who organised the Steve Irwin extravaganza funeral, but they seem to be continuing the trend to turning the death of an “ordinary bloke” into a complete schemozzle.

Irwin’s public memorial will take place at Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from 9:00am AEST and will be telecast both throughout Australia and internationally.

A red carpet will be rolled out to welcome more than 1,000 invited guests and 3,000 people who secured free tickets.

Prime Minister John Howard is expected to begin the hour-long proceedings, which will be attended by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, zoo staff and friends of the Irwin family…

…The service will include a performance by singer John Williamson [BCIB: Hasn’t that family suffered enough?], but the identities of other celebrity guests and details about the order of events have not been confirmed. There will be a burlesque performance by Amanda Vanstone and Alexander Downer, who will don fishnet tights and balloons, encouraging the guests to pop them.

Actually, I made that last sentence up.

A family friend, showing an alarming irony deficiency, was quoted as saying “I think I’d like to keep it as a simple ceremony …”

er, yeah.

*Some people think Declan the Work Experience Kid is a figment of the GG’s imagination. I expect the GG to be on the red carpet, poppin’ them balloons.

20 Sep 2006, Comments Off on What really depresses me about this Wa-Wa thing

What really depresses me about this Wa-Wa thing

Author: Helen

It’s not that the cannibal story was a complete heap of shit. That’s just what we have all come to expect from Today Tonight , A Current Affair and other tabloids. And the whole “Naomi Robson Arrested on suspicion of Journalism” idea was pretty funny.

No, it’s that when I first saw the headline about Robson and her crew being arrested, just for a split second, I thought they might be redeeming their miserable gutter-journalism arses and reporting on the conditions in West Papua, digging some legitimate dirt on the TNI and mining companies for a change. What could have brought on such a moment of loony optimism?

Do you see the irony in the Indonesians’ reaction? If the ACA program had gone ahead, it would have helped them no end. Uncivilised savages, no wonder they need the exploitation guiding hand of the kindly Indonesian government and military forces, and so on.

They should have welcomed the ACA traveling circus with open arms, the eejits.

Image from Wikipedia
A real cannibal

19 Sep 2006, Comments Off on Ahoy, avast, ye swabs!

Ahoy, avast, ye swabs!

Author: Helen

Aaargh! Oi have just been reminded that today is Talk like a Pirate day!

Oi am not going to post an update on the Vivisector, ye scurvy dogs, cos it would be bloody difficult to do it it Poirate speak, ah-haargh. Me hearties.

Instead, oi’ll do what Cap’n Tigtog tole me ‘n post a link to my favourite poirate adventurerrrrs!!
This is the picture on Wikipedia showing the FW tied up at Melbourne Docklands last month.

Farrley Mowat be tied up in Melbourne dock for quoite a whoile, me lads, and me and the little swabsboyos got taken for a tourrr around it, aargh! It’s all black and it does fly the Jolly Roger, mateys, it’s a way cool poirate ship. Boys be planning to run away to sea, now.

They reallly do scuttle those scurvy dogs of Japanese whaling ships, me hearties, but they be careful to do it when noone is on board, aargh. Cos they’re noice poirates. Aaargh.

17 Sep 2006, Comments Off on The Vivisector

The Vivisector

Author: Helen

Image from

This post is for the Patrick White readers group.

I missed commenting on chapters 1-3, so we’re up to 4 and 5 now. By now, this big, baggy Howl’s Moving Castle of a novel has truly hit its stride. The Vivisector is a big, raucous, messy thing, with hair sticking out of its apertures and stinky breath. It traces the life of an uncompromising artist from his grittily portrayed working class beginnings through a kind of Rake’s Progress of urban adventures, embracing the extremes of experience from the poor Bottle-o’s family, boarding-house culture and prostitutes to the drawing rooms of the rich and cultured. And everything in between.

Quite a few people complain about it. Does it have Portrait of the Artist elements? Does it contain selfindulgent cliches of the gifted young man alienated from society and his peers? Yes, and yes. It’s long, lurching and– something many readers can’t stomach– definitely not “plot driven”. That’s no hardship to me, because all my favourite novels are heavy on dialogue and character. Plot, to me, is a bonus. In The Vivisector, the protagonist, Hurtle Duffield, simply muddles through the different stages of his life as an artist and as an eccentric, who carries his own little cloud of chaos around him, much like the cloud of dust around the Peanuts character Pigpen (who he sometimes resembles.) Both women and men from every stratum of Sydney society are drawn to him, which makes for some interesting situations.

In chapters 4 and 5, having been de facto “sold” by his parents to the well-to-do Courtney family, Hurtle – now reverting to his old name Duffield – turns his back on their world and plunges once again into Sydney slum life. Chapter four, which is very long, is divided between an inner city boarding house and “greasy spoon” and the bush shack which Hurtle moves to in order to paint, living in solitude like a mad anchorite.

Chapter four is also the Rabelaisian story of his first love affair with the prostitute Nance, and I want to say more about that but I’m worried about spoilage; so, more about that when it’s time to do chapters 6 and 7. I loved the sheer earthy exuberance of the language. If anyone’s hesitant to read White because of the Australian prejudice against elites and elitism, please don’t be put off. This writing is anything but prim and intellectual.

Here’s a passage which many Book Groupers loved:

‘I thought to make a puddun, Mrs Lightfoot, but am fucked for fat,’ the old woman said. ‘Could you loan me a penny or two for suet?’

Hurtle the artist, and lover, is a bit like a big, drippy, confused expressionist painting himself.

…there stood the tree studies of Nance propped on a converted balcony after the style of Nance’s own*. Two of the versions had gone so cold he dropped the parcel of fish scraps. He rushed, mumbling moaning for his own shortcomings, and kicked the boards into a corner. Then he got down, and tried to help the abortive paint with his fingers, but already it had hardened. Only the black-and-white drawing of the spreadeagled female form coaxing fire out of a grate led him to hope; thought he kicked that too, more gently, up the arse. He thew himself on the floor, and lay there functionless, till the abrasive carpet began to grow meaningful, under his cheek, and in his mind.

After chapter four ends in tragedy, chapter 5 is a kind of stocktaking. Hurtle muses about his recent life story with a stranger, while creating a surreal and obscene work of art from the landscape around them.

Published in 1970, when the new hippie-alternative-lifestyle culture was in flower, it’s interesting that White creates a central character who takes a similar way of life to the extreme, while placing him in a 1940s setting.

It’s a good read. Try to hunt it down if you can.

17 Sep 2006, Comments Off on Don’t mess with Moomins

Don’t mess with Moomins

Author: Helen

Coincidences dog my life. (No, dog as in follow, this isn’t a dog blog.) The day after I’ve been into Readers’ Feast to buy a copy of You Must Like Cricket! for my cricket mad Dad, and it has occurred to me I’ve been meaning to buy a copy of Finn Family Moomintroll for Boychild, because it’s a children’s book I have loved all my life, so I buy it, and today I visit Crooked Timber and find this post.

If you haven’t read the Moomintroll series or bought them for your kids, you must do so, at once. Then you will know the story behind this:

Belle and I also have plans to construct a plush Groke toy for children’s beds. It will have an opening in which you insert one of those athletic injury cold paks, so in the morning your bed has a horrid cold spot.

Image from

There used to be a quiz to find out which character you are in the Moomin series. Sadly, it’s gone, completely, it seems. I was the Muskrat, the grumpy philosopher. Bah! Humbug!

Like me, John Holbo dislikes people messing with his childhood books. There’s a new Moomin comic strip out, which you can sample from the Crooked Timber post. Is that a blessing or a curse?

Now that I see samples for the first time, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, the art answers gorgeously to my need to feed my eyes on all the antlers and pajamas and especially the triangular noses and the over-sized ones. But the characters are all changed.

Japanese and European anime artists have already produced comic strips and animations. One day Bloody Disney will discover the Moomin series, and then I will be truly desolate.

17 Sep 2006, Comments Off on Goodbye to the Spin

Goodbye to the Spin

Author: Helen

An annoying, ragged hole, like the one that shows up in a favourite old jumper, has opened up in my Sunday.

Not Sundays spent away at the coast or Doing Stuff. I mean, the Sundays I wrestle away from gregarious family and endless activity, to spend pottering at home, maybe cooking a few slow-food recipes, weeding the garden and generally Getting Things Done. These Sundays are my Radio Days.

If I haven’t had a late Saturday, these start with Background Briefing on RN. Ockham’s Razor is great, but that’s really early for a Sunday. BB is the kind of political program I love, as it tackles some really obscure and interesting topics, shining a curious light into some dark and cobwebby corners of environmental, economic and social issues. (Today’s program, which is fascinating as usual, includes comments by Kieran Healy of Crooked Timber.) After BB and Sunday cooked breakfast, I’m usually doing something or other to Julie Rigg’s movie program.

After that, I’d listen to The National Interest, religiously. I know, I know, Terry Lane’s a silly billy and a total nong on many issues. But I loved the way he can nail voodoo economics and his droll takedowns of neoliberal thinking and government policies such as privatisation. The Cast Iron Balcony is a broad church, although our eyes may roll sometimes. The National Interest is still there – Peter Mares isn’t as much fun as Terry, but it’s still good; Tim Flannery vs. Ian Lowe, for instance.

After the National Interest, I’d go over to 3-RRR to The Spin, a talk program with a panel of PR people. This is the one which has left the gaping hole, because a couple of weeks ago they broadcast their final program.

Again, you’ll probably say, WTF is a pinko green-voting latte-sipping cheese-eating surrender monkey like you listening to a bunch of right wingers and ex-Kennett-advisors like that? (I know, ewwwwwww!) and you’d be right, but I did enjoy it, although the nasal whining of Delilah (or was it Willo?), I’ve-dumped-on-Unions and Trades-Hall-again-am-I-not-witty?, did get on the nerves after a while. Tip: Saying any reference to AWB is such a bore and so last week doesn’t make you a sophisticate, it makes you a spin doctor, which is what you are. I’m quite aware Howard’s using people just like you for that very purpose. (Look over there! a Terrorist! Oh, look over there! a History summit!).

Anyhow, apart from the irritations, the program was a complete riot. I heard plenty of scurrilous gossip, laughed a lot and I’ll miss it terribly.

Moving right along from The Spin is JVG Radio Method, by which time I’m usually outside weeding or something, so the theme song “Big John” will always make me think of kikuyu, oxalis and tomato stakes. John Von Goes picks a different theme for each program, so, for example, it could be “rain” and you’d get “Stormy Monday”, “I can’t stand the rain”, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and so on. He must put a shitload of work into compiling the thing each week.

Something I didn’t know about JVG – he’s a a celebrant. Both weddings and funerals.

Actually, The Spin has been replaced by a gardening program, but it didn’t appeal to me last week. Of course I’ll give it another go. But if it doesn’t grab me, my dilemma is whether to move over earlier to 3-RRR for the wonderful Einstein a-go-go and the cooking program Eat It, then back to RN for the fabulous Street Stories. Either way, I’ll probably get over it fairly soon, because let’s face it, we’re spoiled for choice on Sundays.

Hooray for public and independent noncommercial radio. Long may it survive the fiddlings of Coonan the Barbarian.

What radio programs can’t you do without? If you’re not in Australia, is there a favourite program site with podcasts which you can point us to?