Don't Just Stand There, Do Something!


We're approximately at the half-way point between Rudd taking over the Labor leadership last December, and a likely November election, and it seems like a good time to take stock of how things are going.

On the face of it, pretty darn well. Even after Costello's "big spending...on everyone we in the Coalition like" budget last week, Labor has "surged ahead" (I love the language of the pundits) in the polls, leading the Coalition 18 points on a two-party preferred basis. Things seem pretty rosy for Rudd and Labor right now, as even Howard admits (though he could just be trying to claim the valuable "underdog status", so beloved of Australian pollies in the lead up to an election).

Having been burned so badly by the 2004 Federal election, I can't help but remember that the poll results were looking good for Labor back then too, but as
this graph (scroll down) shows, Labor's poll performance now is far ahead of where it was three years ago.

Leaving that aside, it's fair to ask what, exactly, Rudd/Gillard and Labor have done to attract these positive figures. I was concerned enough when they assumed the leadership to
beg of them, "Please, for the love of God, don't f**k this up". They haven't. But they haven't done much of anything else either.

Getting the smug, slack, arrogant Coalition government out of office after the eleven years they've had to make Australia a country fundamentally diminished in so many ways must be the top priority. And whilst any alternative would be welcome, it would be great if the alternative really was an alternative. Labor have announced no radical new policies, no dramatic shifts in thinking, taken almost no risk at all. They merely take cues from the Coalition; if the Government is doing something that Australians seem to like, Labor vows that they will do the same and lots more of it. If the Coalition's position something unpopular (Iraq, the IR laws), Labor takes the path of least resistance in deciding where to stand.

But in terms of taking a brave stand of their own - silence. The Labor party cannot really call itself left-wing, or even Third Way. It's seems to be more a case of looking at the sentiments of the Not Happy John brigade and saying "Not John. Happy?". It's not enough, and could well send those of us looking for a real alternative into the arms of the minor parties. I'll be voting Labor at the Federal election, because as I've said removing the Howard government is the most important thing Australia has to do right now. But I don't like this pact with the devil I feel I've been forced into. As much as I wish Rudd would take a stand - on gay marriage, phasing out Australia's use of fossil fuels, re-evaluation the U.S. alliance - I know it won't happen, as he'd rather be standing on the winner's podium come election night. Understandable, but the frustration at this lack of real courage is enough to make you scream.

It's Not Just You; However...


I've recently been enjoying the book Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit: The Encyclopedia Of Modern Life. It's an amusing look at all that is wrong in the world today, from cafes that charge an extra $5 for a slice of tomato with your cooked breakfast, to grown-ups who read childrens' books with "adult" covers,in order to escape public scorn.

It's a familliar theme though. There's just so much that is whinge-worthy in modern society, and my goodness, do people enjoy whingeing. Just read through the weekend supplements in any major newspaper, and witness the orgy of complaining-about-the-small-stuff being engaged in by columnists. Too worn out by the woes of modern life to read? Not to worry, you can receive your gripes in television form, thanks to the
Grumpy Old Women and Men series.

And I must admit, I like all this enough to engage in it endlessly myself, as any read through this blog's archives will show you; posting diatribes about manners, music, supermarkets, advertising, and (over and over) public transport. Why do we all love it so? Speaking only for myself, I think we all have a certain amount of anger in us, and it needs to come out; focusing on the big issues, such as global warming; the humanitarian crisis in Darfur; the rise of the Neo-Cons in Western Politics, whatever the hell you call whatever the hell is going on in Iraq, is all too confusing and complicated. Who, though, can't relate to the feeling of utter dismay at discovering there's 43 different kinds of milk in the supermarket chill cabinet, or seeing a 16 year old with an
emo haircut sending text messages in the cinema?

Whatever the case, it looks like whiny is the new gay/carbon neutral/plaid/urban boho/low carb/parrot love, or whatever the "new black" is this year (you know what I don't understand? Trends!)

They're Kidding...Right?


Sitting on my desk at work is a desk calendar with an "inspirational" quote for each day. They're not funny quotes; it's a company-supplied calendar and it's boring, to match the job. Today's quote however gave me pause for thought, though probably not in the way the manufacturers intended:

"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top."
- O.J. Simpson


O.J. Simpson on the topic of taking responsibility. I can't help but wonder if it's the work of some menial underling at the calendar company, resentful at being given the task of hunting down 365 meaningful quotations, who slipped it in as a joke and wondered if anyone would notice.

Or maybe the whole thing's for real. Are there any other absurd-but-true quotations floating around out there?

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