Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I wasn't going to do a New Years post, but I miss writing in this blog. I know I've been posting, but I wrote all those last week before we left.

I have so much to say, but I will TRY not to make this super long.

1. We're having fun on our road trip. We visited my in-laws in Gainesville Florida. It's so nice for us to see beautiful parts of America. Fort Worth Texas is lacking in that attribute. Even my parents (who LOVE Texas) admit to this. We've also spent nights in Bossier, LA, New Orleans, Destin, FL, Mobile Alabama, and now we're in Lafayette, LA. Tomorrow we head for home.

2. I actually have A New Years Resolution this year. I usually skip all that. My resolution is an extremely typical one. It messed me up a bit in the past. But this time, I plan to go about it in a healthy and reasonable way. I shall try to avoid any extremes.

3. Until a few minutes ago, I did not see what all the fuss was regarding The Office. But I just watched a bit of an episode with Tim. I laughed so hard. Australia was mentioned in one of many hilarious lines.

4. On our road trip, we went to a tourist place called Silver Springs. I wasn't very impressed. I thought it was overpriced, and I didn't like that they were so strict about bringing in your own snacks. But they did have a saltwater crocodile and two Emus. I was excited to see some Australian animals, although I'd prefer to see them in Australia. I was about to write that I'd prefer to see them WILD in Australia. But for the crocodile....that's not exactly true.

5. I saw on the news that scientists have put tracking devices on some Great White Sharks. If one of them gets too close to beaches in Perth, the lifeguards are going to get a text message. I thought that was so funny.

6. There was a used bookstore in Mobile. I tried to find some treasures, but had no luck. They did have two Australian books, but I already have them (The Fatal Shore and Toad Rage) Crap!. Now that I think of it.....I read Toad Away, not Toad Rage. I should have bought the toad book. Oh well.

7. I actually had The Fatal Shore with me on this trip. I tried rereading it. Despite my obsession with Australia, I end up getting bored by that book. I daydreamed through most of the book again...except for the part that interested me the first time I read it. I LOVE the part about Alexander Maconochie. I've decided he's my hero...or one of them. Anyway, I've decided to see the book more as a reference...something to consult when I want information. For me, it's probably better as a look-in-the-index type book, rather than one to read straight through.

8. In the car, I got into one of my fairly frequent corny mushy moods. I thought about how this blog and Australia obsession has brought so many wonderful people into my life. The funny thing is, not all of them are Australian. It's sometimes just a matter of one person leading you to another person. I met a new American friend via an Australian blogger. And through another Australian blogger, I was introduced to an American blogger. Then through his blog, I "met" this fantastic woman from India.

9. We talked about one of you at lunch. It's not uncommon. For some of you who comment fairly're household names in our family. I talk about you guys as if you're old family friends. Maybe it's because deep in my heart, that's what you are....or at least what I'd wish you to be.

I hope to meet even more awesome people in 2010. And I hope my current relationships with people will continue to grow and deepen.

10. For those of you who had a bad 2009, I hope 2010 is much better for you. For those who had a good 2009, I hope 2010 is just as good...maybe even better. I wish good health, happiness, safety, understanding, peace, wisdom, miracles, love, and laughter on all of you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Henry Budden

Henry Budden is the last name I added on June 10.

I wonder what he could be. Maybe he's another architect?

Yes. Lord Wiki says I'm right. He's an architect. He did his thing in the first half of the twentieth century.

He was born on 11 August 1871, in Rockley New South Wales. Lord Wiki says that's near Bathurst. I'm going to Google Maps to check it out for myself.

Bathurst is about thirty minutes north from Rockley.

Rockley has a small population. Lord Wiki says there are only about 174 people. Well, that's from the 2006 census. Maybe more people arrived since then. Although other people may have moved out...or died.

Back to Budden. His mother's family were flour millers. His dad was a British-born bank manager and storekeeper. Lord Wiki says that both Budden's mother's and father's family were active in the Congregational Church. Maybe that's how they met.

I guess there weren't adequate schools in Rockley. Budden traveled to Bathurst to go to the school there. Then when he was fourteen, he moved to Sydney for boarding school. I'm guessing with the dad in the bank business, they had a fair amount of money. The school that Budden attended was Newington College. I don't think I've heard of that one before.

Lord Wiki says it's a boys school located in Stanmore, which is in the western suburbs. I think one of my friends might live there. I've kind of forgotten. Well, she lives near Glebe. If Stanmore is near Glebe, this is probably where she lives.

It's nine minutes from Glebe. That's probably where she lives.

I didn't realize Glebe is so close to the University of Sydney.

Lord Wiki says that, after Budden's time at Newington, he was articled. I didn't know what that meant, but now I just learned something. It means he was an apprentice. He was articled in architecture to a guy named Harry Kent. Lord Wiki writes Kent's name in red instead of blue. That means he has nothing to say about this Kent guy. If Lord Wiki doesn't care about you, he writes your name in red. If he writes your name in plain black ink, he cares even less for you. But at least he wrote your name. That's something.

Anyway....while being an apprentice, Budden also did some studying at the University of Sydney and Sydney Technical College.

When Budden was about twenty-three, he won a scholarship that allowed him to travel. That's really cool. For part of that time, he did more schooling. He went to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Did having a British father allow Budden that honor, or did they allow International students? Maybe since Australia is part of the Commonwealth.....

Budden did some traveling around Europe. Lord Wiki doesn't specify where he went. Maybe I'll find that information later. Then he returned to England and worked for an architect named Aston Webb.

Next he went to America. He worked in Boston, at an architectural firm called Peabody and Stearns. Then he traveled back to Australia via San Francisco. That means he traveled across the whole United States continent. I wonder which states he passed, and whether he had any crazy adventures.

We're leaving on our road trip soon (although by the time I post this, we'll be on our way home) I'm excited, and a little nervous. I haven't been on a long road trip since I was a child. We're going to be visiting Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. In the past, I'd have little interest in visiting the southern United States. But now I'm all into that because my current favorite book series takes place there. Although if I had my choice, I'd probably want to do the southwest...New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, etc. And then Australia trumps all that. I would love to have a year to just travel around Australia. We just need to win the lottery. I should probably PLAY the lottery. We do every so often.....

Back to Budden. Now we're in Sydney again. Budden's parents lived in Hunters Hill. That's a suburb in the lower North Shore. With Henry Budden as architect, and Daddy Budden as developer....they built a bunch of homes in the area. Well, maybe there was just four. I'm not sure. Two of them were on Woolwich road....41 and 43 Woolwich Road. I can look at the street on Google Maps Street View. It's hard to look at individual houses though.

They also had houses on Prince Edward Parade, which is right near Woolwich.

Henry and his parents themselves lived on 65 Alexandra Street. There, Budden fell in love with the girl next door. He married her, and they moved to Woolwich Road.

Basically, the idea I'm getting is that if you want to see Budden's architecture....head to Hunters Hill. Although I'm not sure if all the homes are still there. Maybe?

Lord Wiki says the house in Hunters Hill that's the most distinctive of Budden's projects is on 16 Vernon Street.

Thanks to Google Maps, I'm traveling down the street right now. This is too cool. Right now, I'm on 12 Vernon Street. I'm almost there....

Okay. I'm there! I'm not sure which is the house. But it's a BEAUTIFUL area. It has a very nice water view. Plus, there's a ton of greenery. I wonder who lives there now.

During World War I, Budden was given the job of being 1st War Chest Commissioner. What he did in this job was help distribute comfort items to troops, items that had been donated by various charities. To do this, Budden traveled to Egypt, England, and France. It looks like he did well with the task. He was honored by the Order of the British Empire.

Lord Wiki says that Budden was active in his church community, and school alumni. He became an honorary architect for Newington.

In 1910, Budden, his wife, and their children all moved to Powell Street in Killara. That's about thirty minutes north of Hunters Hill. I wonder why they left Hunters Hill. Was it a financial issue? Were they downsized? Killara is farther from the water, and farther from the CBD. I'm guessing, therefore, real estate would be cheaper there.

Lord Wiki is not being very chronological right now. The move would have been before World War I.

What else....

Budden and his wife ended up with five daughters and two sons.

Budden died in 1944.

Lord Wiki lists all his business partnerships. I think I'll skip over that.

Instead I'll look at the list of his works.

In 1908, he built something at Emu Creek in Walcha. That's six hours north of Sydney. It's near Tamworth, but Google Maps won't calculate the distance for me. I have no idea why.

I'm not sure what he built at Emu Creek. Lord Wiki just says he built Emu Creek on Emu Creek Road. Maybe it's a house?

Well, Jack wants to eat. I'm going to take a break. Then I'll come back and look at more of Budden's work.

I'm back. For lunch, I started to make myself some nachos. But once I got the chips on the plate, I realized we had no cheese. Oops. Well, I guess I saved myself some cholesterol. Plus, it's more cow-friendly that way. I ended up sprinkling the chips with turmeric. I was inspired by a recent post by Daisy Dead Air, in which she praised the health benefits of this Indian-food spice. I suppose I sort of made myself Indian-Mexican fusion food. It actually didn't taste too bad.

Back to Budden. I'm guessing this post might be boring to some people. It's not really full of exciting controversy. But I'm enjoying the research. I like looking at the maps.

In 1912, Budden built a place called Griffith Teas on Wentworth Avenue. That's near where we stayed, I think.

It looks like the place is closed, but the Sydney Morning Herald has an article about it. Well, it's really less of an article, and more photo with caption. They say it was built in 1915, and not 1912. I'm not sure if it was a store, or a factory. They did tea, but also coffee and cocoa. I just used Google Map directions. The tea place is VERY close to where we stayed. The logo is still there on the building, I believe. It does look kind of familar. I'm betting we passed it at some point.

The next Budden project was done in 1922. It was in Woolloomooloo. It was a war memorial called Mothers and Wives Memorial to Soldiers. This war memorial website has a photograph of it.

Okay. Here is something BIG. I was waiting to see an important well-known building that Budden had been involved with.

He did the David Jones Building on Elizabeth Street. We've been there several times. We love the little food court.

Oh wait. There are multiple David Jones in Sydney. Maybe we didn't go to the one on Elizabeth Street. I'm pretty sure it was at least NEAR Elizabeth Street. Let me look at the map again.....

I think we may have gone to the one on Market Street.

Oh....this is bothering me. I can't figure out which one we went to. The one we went to was right near Hyde Park. And Elizabeth street is right near Hyde Park. Where is Market Street? Shit. That's near Hyde Park as well. Why would they have two David Jones so close to each other? Do both have a food court?

Okay. It looks like Market Street has the food court.

Here we go. I just read further down on Lord Wiki's explanation of it all. The Market Street and Elizabeth Street ones are connected. So it's kind of like one and the same. I wonder if Budden built both buildings. Lord Wiki says the Elizabeth Street building was opened in 1927. The Market Street one didn't open until 1938.

Budden had another project in 1927. This one was in Canberra. It's called the Brassey. It looks like it's a hotel. It's still around.....

In 1937, Budden did the Railway House on York Street in Sydney. This architecture website has a photo of it, along with photos of many other buildings. Wait, this other architecture site has even more photos of the building. They say it was used in the 2006 film, Superman Returns. I don't really remember that movie. Who was in it? I'll go talk to IMDb. Brandon Routh played Superman. I don't think I've heard of him. Kevin Spacey played Lex Luther. I HAVE heard of him. The movie had filming locations in both New South Wales and NYC...awesome. I love both those places.

In 1938, Budden did the Transport House on Macquarie Street.

That same awesome Sydney architecture site has photographs of it. They say it used to be the department of motor transport. Now it's an office building. I wonder who has their offices there.

It looks like Budden's last project was the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board Building on Pitt Street. From the architecture website, I can see that the monorail goes right past it.

Anyway, I think I'm going to end this here..... I was going to use the biographical dictionary, but it looks like Budden isn't in there. Well, he's in there a little bit. But he doesn't have his own entry.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

James Barnet

James Barnet is the second to last person I added to the list on July 10. He's likely to be someone from the political world.

Nope. I'm wrong. He's an architect. He did his thing in the late 19th century. Architect. That fits well with the book I recently finished reading. Pillars of the Earth. It was about church building in 12th century England. Have any of you read it?

Anyway, back to Barnet. Lord Wiki says he was not born in Australia. He was born in Scotland; sometime in 1827.

Barnet was the son of a builder. That's like Pillars of the EarthI . The dad was a builder, and so were his sons.

When Barnet was around sixteen, he moved to London. There he became a builder's apprentice. I wonder why he didn't become his father's apprentice. Was that usually not done in those days? Maybe it was better for his career to go to London.

He studied drawing under one guy, and architecture under another. Then he did work with something called the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. I have no idea how Barnet's building career led him into the world of fish. Well, Lord Wiki says he became clerk of works. Maybe that has something to do with building?

Ah. Yes! Lord Wiki says a clerk of works is someone hired by an architect to work on a building site. So, I guess Barnet did building work for the fishing people.

In 1854, Barnet got married. Then he and his wife migrated to Australia. Why? I don't know. Maybe they needed a change of scenery. Maybe the prospects were good for an architect.

Barnet would have been about twenty-seven when he came over. When he first got to my favorite city, he worked for a guy named Edmund Blacket. I kind of like that name. I like saying it aloud.

Blacket was an architect as well. He built a lot of important buildings in Sydney. Lord Wiki lists them. It's church's primarily. The one that's most familar to me is St. Andrews. I'm trying to remember where that is. Is it the one near Hyde Park? I'll look on Google Maps.

No, it's not the one I was thinking about. St. Andrews is on George Street which is west of the park. I'm thinking of a church that's east of the park. Maybe St. Mary's....

Lord Wiki says that Barnet worked for Blacket, and then became clerk of works for the University of Sydney. I'm not sure if he means that Barnet stopped working for Blacket, and went to work for the university. Or while still working for Blacket, Barnet went to work for the university. It could be the latter, because Lord Wiki says Blacket himself did work for the university.

In 1860, Barnet joined the Colonel's Architect's Office. This was the office of government that dealt with architecture. It seems they'd have one person designated as the main architect. Francis Greenway was the first to have that honor. Blacket had the job from 1849-1857. Then Barnet had his turn in 1862.

One of Barnet's jobs was rebuilding the lighthouse that Francis Greenway had built.

Lord Wiki lists the other projects of Barnet....

He did a wing of the Australia Museum. I love that place.

He did the main post office. I'm not sure if we saw that or not.

He did the Customs House near Circular Quay. I strangely don't remember seeing it, although I'm sure I probably did.

Well, I'm not going to list all that he did. I just listed the stuff I might have seen, or that sound familiar to me.

One building that Lord Wiki spends some extra time on is the Garden Palace/Royal Exhibition Building. It's gone now, for the most part. But there are some remains in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

It was built in 1879. It burned down in 1882.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a little slideshow about the Garden Palace.

Barnet had been in charge of the building. While the work was being done, he received a lot of criticism and went over budget. Then he got angry and ran back to his home in Denmark. Oops, no. That's the wrong tale. But he really did go over budget, and the project was sometimes criticized. In the end, folks liked it though. It's too bad it burned down.

Lord Wiki says Barnet's work was influenced by the Italian Renaissance. He was not interested in new architecture trends...especially ones coming from America.

As for personal stuff. Barnet and his wife had seven children....four girls and three boys. Two followed in his architecture footsteps. His wife died in 1890. Barnet died three years after Federation.

I just noticed that Lord Wiki doesn't just list the stuff that Barnet built. He has photographs as well. He didn't just build in Sydney. He did stuff in other places around New South Wales. He did a lot of stuff in Goulburn.

Now I'm going to move onto my old favorite site....The Australian Biographical Dictionary.

I'll see if there's anything exciting that I haven't yet learned from Lord Wiki.

Here we go. Barnet's wife's name was Amy Gosling. Isn't there a current actor with that last name?

Yes. Okay. It's Ryan Gosling. What has he been in?

Lord Wiki is taking a long time to talk to me about this....

Wait. Here we go. It's funny. I recognize his name, but I don't think I've seen anything he's been in.


Barnet did some defense building stuff. Lord Wiki mentioned that, but I ignored him. I'm like that sometimes. If something isn't interesting to me, I'll pretend not to see it. Then I see it on another website, and feel obligated to mention it.

He built two asylums. One was Callan Park Lunatic Asylum, and the other was Tarban Creek Asylum. I wonder if either is still around.

Lord Wiki says the Callan Park one is now part of the fine arts campus of Sydney University. Is that the same as University of Sydney? Well, from what I'm seeing on is. I'm also having Deja Vu here. Did I ask all this before?

The Tarban Creek Asylum was later named Gladesville. This website has a ghost story about it. I don't fully understand it. Were the mental patients he saw current living people, or did he see ghosts?

Here's something interesting....a little exciting. When they built the Garden Palace, there were night shift workers. What's so special about that? It was one of the first uses of electrical lights in Sydney.

Barnet received much bitching about his work. People were unhappy with the Garden Palace. Other people didn't like the wing he built for the Australia Museum.

Later in life, while doing defense work, Barnet had conflicts with a military guy (Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. de Wolski). Wolski wasn't a huge fan of Barnet's work. He felt Barnet took too long to hand over his plans and documents. I guess he felt Barnet was secretive?

A royal commission was brought in to investigate the situation. Barnet didn't do to well with them. He was found guilty of being incompetent, and his career pretty much tanked. Well, maybe it was less about incompetence, and more of an attitude issue.

In his viewpoint, Barnet felt he had been treated and judged unfairly. For the most part, he blamed Wolski.

This Sydney architecture site has a page on Barnet. They say he supported new technologies, and was the first to install a telephone in a government building. That's pretty cool.

Anyway, I'm going to quit because there's something else I want to work on now.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Robert Doyle

I'm going to assume Robert Doyle is another Premier. I have no idea which state he might be from.

Let's go see.....

Lord Wiki says Robert Doyle is NOT a Premier. He's the Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

Sometimes, Melbourne has a mayor, and sometimes it has a lord mayor. I'm really not sure what the difference might be.

From 1842 until 1902, Melbourne had mayors.

From 1902 until 1980, it has lord mayors.

From 1981 until 1982 it had commissioners.

From 1982 t0 1993, it was back to lord mayors.

It switched back to commissioners for a few years after that.

Then, In 1996, Melbourne went back to having lord mayors.


Baby Robert was born in Melbourne, on 20 May 1953. When he was born, Melbourne had a lord mayor. That would have been either William John Brens, or Robert Henry Solly. Well, there was a switch during that year. I'm not sure when Brens was replaced by Solly.

Lord Wiki says that Doyle attended Geelong college. I wonder if the family moved to Geelong...or perhaps he went to boarding school. Doyle later went to Monash University, and got a degree in education. Then he returned to Geelong College as a teacher. That's cute.

Doyle spent a few years working at Geelong College. Then in 1982, he moved back to Melbourne. There he worked at Lauriston Girl's School. I don't think I've ever heard of that school before. Lord Wiki says Doyle was a departmental head there, but he doesn't say specify which department. It might have been English, because next Doyle worked at Scotch College as an English Teacher. Maybe English was his thing.

For some reason, Doyle decided to jump into politics. Lord Wiki doesn't much explain the transition, or the reasoning behind it. I'm also not sure if he stayed in the education field while pursuing politics.

Anyway, in 1992 Doyle got himself into the Victorian Legislative Assembly via the seat of Malvern. Malvern is a suburb in the south-east of Melbourne. It looks it has always been Liberal. I guess it's a fairly conservative area.

The Premier at the time was Jeff Kennett. Remember, he's the guy who embarrassed himself by having a phone conversation with Andrew Peacock regarding John Howard.

Once he was in Victorian Parliament, Doyle was put on various task forces. By 1996, he was promoted to Parliamentary Secretary of Health Services. I'm not sure what the difference is between being a minister of something, and a parliamentary secretary of something.

Ah, good! Lord Wiki explains. The parliamentary secretary assists the minister. So the minister would be higher up on the job ladder than the parliamentary secretary.

In 1999, Kennett stopped being Premier. Bracks took over. Kennett resigned from Parliament. The Deputy Premier (Denis Napthine) became Leader of the Opposition. In doing that, he gave up his role of being Minister of Health. Doyle took his place, and became the oppositional health person.

In 2002, Napthine didn't seem to be helping the Liberal Party's chance of getting into power. Doyle challenged his leadership, and won. He became Leader of the Opposition.

It turns out though that Doyle wasn't much help to the Liberal Party either. They lost the 2002 election. Wow. It was a big loss. They ended up having only seventeen out of eighty-eight lower house seats. That sounds pretty bad.

Since there were no worthy-seeming alternate candidates for leader, Doyle was able to keep that job for a little while. Well, I thought Lord Wiki was going to say he kept the most for several months. It was much more than that. He had the job until he resigned in 2006. Wow. It's hard to imagine that the party couldn't find anyone to replace him.

He resigned as leader in May 2006. Six months later, he resigned from Parliament all together.

In 2007, he became Chairman of Melbourne Health. He still had that job today. This is a government health provider.

So....if you're an Australian, and you get the free government health care, are there different programs you can choose from? Does everyone in Melbourne use Melbourne Health? I mean besides the people who have private insurance......

Here's something I didn't know. The previous Lord Mayor of Melbourne was Chinese....John So. He decided not to do a third term as Lord Mayor. He stepped out. Doyle stepped in. Actually, he was elected.

Oh, and now Lord Wiki tells me that Doyle's great-great grandfather had been a lord mayor. That was back in 1861.

As Lord Mayor, Doyle has had some controversy. There's a street in Melbourne....Swanston Street. It has been lately closed to private vehicles. Doyle wants to open it back up to private vehicles. The Australian Greens weren't happy with that...neither were Bicycle Victoria and Public Transport Users Association. I can see their point. The world would probably be much better off if we had more roads closed to cars. Maybe people would walk and bike more...or take public transportation. It's better for the environment, and better for our bodies.

The Bike people have information about Swanston Street, and what's going on with all that. It looks like things are going fairly well. The latest article is from October 2009. It sounds like Doyle is working with the bicyclists, and other people who want the area to be bike/pedestrian friendly. The article says, A full assessment of the options and the role bikes will have in the street must await a detailed evaluation, but a quick review shows that Option C, called the 'Orleans' option, is highly promising. Well, hopefully they'll go with this option c. In option c, there will be designated spots for walkers, bikers, and tram riders. Hopefully, I'm understanding this right.

Now I'm looking at The Public Transport Users Association Site. I think I recognize the president....Daniel Bowen. I'm pretty sure I've read his blog in the past. Anyway, the site says that hopeful that one day he won’t need his car at all anymore, and will no longer have to check timetables to avoid long waits. I echo his sentiments. I would love to live in a world with no cars, and very good public transportation. It's not just because cars are bad for the environment, and they cause us to walk much less. I'm very scared of driving. I've always been scared, and avoided driving until I was close to thirty. Sadly, Fort Worth is very much a car town. I can't say honestly that I've tried to use public transportation here. But from what I see, it doesn't look impressive. I should at least try to use it though. It's just one of those cases where bus stops are very far apart. As for walking....In our neighborhood there are no sidewalks. We walk near the curb. I guess that's okay. Sidewalks though would make me feel walking is more welcomed and encouraged.

I should stop complaining and making excuses. I should try the bus thing. It might not be as bad as I imagine. Maybe I'll make that an upcoming project/adventure.

The problem is figuring out the bus routes. I'm looking at the Fort Worth Site now. I'm TOTALLY lost. I'm horrible with buses. I wish we had a train system. I think I'm better at figuring those out.

I think I'm just going to forget least for now. It's making me way too frustrated. Public transportation is somewhat inconvenient in the big cities....Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago, San Francisco, NYC, etc. It's even worse in the smaller cities.

Oh! Here's good news. There is going to maybe be a train in Fort Worth. That's cool. I wonder if will be convenient for me to get to. I mean I hope I don't have to walk two miles to get to a stop....or take two buses to get there. Well, I'm looking, and it doesn't look like there's going to be train stops anywhere near us.

The sad thing is it's so much more convenient, most of the time, to use a car...even though it's very bad and very terrifying. Well, I mean in towns like Fort Worth, it's easier to do the car thing. In big cities, I think it's often easier to use public transportation. Besides the health and environmental factors, there's also the horrific traffic issue and the issue of parking. In Fort Worth, the traffic is pretty okay, and it's usually fairly easy to find parking.

Anyway, back to Doyle.....

He has acted a bit snobby at times. Lord Wiki said he wanted to rid Melbourne of bogans and untalented buskers. This article talks about that. Apparently, Doyle said on a radio station that he didn't want Melbourne to become a bogan magnet. Yikes. This editorial defends bogans. They saw bogans should not be confused with the yobbos. Bogans are uncultured...prefer sport to opera and books. Yobbos are the ones who are loud, obnoxious, and sometimes violent. I personally don't like being in places that are dominated by the bogan or redneck culture. It's not my personal cup of tea. But I don't see why a city would try to exclude a certain type of people. As Helen Reddy sang in Pete's Dragon....There's room for everyone in this world, if everyone makes some room.
Big cities are great because there's such a huge variety of people. It's easier to find people you can relate well as finding people different enough to open your eyess and mind. Well, the good news is almost ALL of us now live in a sort of big city. We live in the Internet world. Here we get to encounter a huge variety of people.

I just found an editorial about Doyle. From first glance, it looks annoying to me. It's written in a way that's just very insulting. I know some people get all their laughs by insulting others, and some people greatly enjoy that humor. I personally do not.

The author, Catherine Deveny, MIGHT have some valid points. I can't deny that. She says here, Becoming lord mayor is the consolation prize for power-trippers with ambition but no talent. The gig's made all the more cushy by virtue of the fact that you have no real responsibility whatsoever. That's pretty harsh, but may be true. I'm not sure.

She goes on to insult Doyle in various ways. He's an idiot. He has no warmth. He has no original ideas. But he's not her only victim. Deveny says that buskers are all bad. That's their charm. If they were any good, they wouldn't be busking. That is SO not true. I mean maybe she's just being over the top. But it offends me. People (including musicians) have to start SOMEWHERE. And sometimes the very talented and successful begin with busking. This busker website has a list of famous people who were once buskers.

As for bogans, she says....As far as stopping the city being a bogan magnet, what's your plan? Bogans have to get out and about. If they don't, they'll breed.

Maybe she's just being sarcastic. I just personally don't like that type of humor. I mean I can't say I dislike all insults. Sometimes (in moderate doses) they're hilarious. I get annoyed though when people depend on that humor too much. I know people like that in real life. The majority of what comes out of their mouth is putting down others....their clothes, their personality, the way they wear their hair, their weight, the way they talk, their personal decisions, etc.

Anyway, Doyle and Deveny have something in common. They're both snobs.

I think all people are snobs to some degree. But Doyle and Deveny seem snobbier to a higher degree than average. Or maybe they're just more open about it. I don't know.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steve Bracks

Steve Bracks. Premier....or not a Premier. That is the question. Well, that's MY question, at least.

Lord Wiki says....

The answer=Premier.

Steve Bracks is a former Premier of Victoria.

He's the guy who was in office before John Brumby.

Little baby Steve was born on October 15, 1954, in Ballarat. That's where one of my friends lives. It's also where they had that Eureka thing. What was it called again? I'll have to look that up.....

Eureka Stockade.

Thank you, Lord Wiki.

Bracks is Lebanese-Australian. He's third generation Australian. His grandparents came from Lebanon.

You know, I recently told someone I was third generation American. But now I'm thinking I accidentally gave them false information. Three out of four of my grandparents were born in America. So actually I'd be fourth generation American.

For his education, Bracks attended St. Patrick's College, and Williamstown High School. From the photos I can see St. Patrick's College is a boy's school. I'm guessing (from the name) that it's Catholic as well.

Here's some disturbing stuff. Lord Wiki says there was a lot of sexual abuse going on at St. Patrick's College. There were six teachers who sexually molested the boys. Lord Wiki says the worst guy was probably Gerry Ridsdale. He was eventually convicted of abusing forty children between 1961 and 1987.

The bishop learned of the abuse. Did he fire Ridsdale? Nope. He got the guy some counseling, and allowed him to continue working with kids. That's really sad.

For his University Studies, Bracks went to Ballarat College of Advanced Education. That later became known as the University of Ballarat. Bracks studied education and business. Around that time period, Bracks became passionate about Australian Rules Football. He became a fan of the Geelong Football Club.

Lord Wiki says from 1976 to 1981, Bracks was a school commerce teacher. I'm not sure what that is. I guess it would be business related? Maybe it's what we Americans would call a economics teacher.

Sometime in the 1980's, Bracks became Executive Director of the Ballarat Education Centre. In 1985 and 1988, Bracks tried to get into the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Ballarat North. I'm actually not sure if he got into the seats. I'm not able to understand Lord Wiki. This article might clue me in......

Yeah.  That article was easier for me to understand. Bracks lost both times.

In 1989, Bracks was given the job of managing Victoria employment programs. Then he became adviser to the Labor Premier, John Cain. When Cain left the job, Bracks became adviser to Victoria's first female Premier....Joan Kirner. The other day I thought I had encountered the first female Premier....Carmen something? But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was Kirner.

Kirner was Premier from 1990 to 1992. Oh. Okay. Carmen Lawrence became Premier in 1992 as well. Lawrence started the job in February 1990....six months before Kirner.

In 1992, the Liberal Party got back in power with Jeffery Kennett. Ah! I thought that name sounded familar. Lord Wiki says he was the guy who had the colorful phone conversation with Andrew Peacock regarding John Howard.

In those early 1990's, Bracks worked as the Executive Director of the Victorian Printing Industry Training Board. I'm not sure if that's a government job or not. I think this MIGHT be their website. It looks like it's a nonprofit organization, partly funded by the government.

In 1994, Kirner retired from Parliament. That left her seat open and waiting for someone else to take it. Bracks quit the printing stuff, and took the seat. The seat was Williamstown, and it's in the south-western suburbs of Melbourne. That seat has been Labor since 1904. Lord Wiki says it was Liberal sometimes before that. But there was no Liberal Party back then. Maybe he just means it was from a party that was similar to the Liberal Party.

Once Bracks was elected into Parliament, he quickly became part of the front bench. By 1996, he was Shadow Treasurer. During that time period, John Brumby was Oppositional Leader. It came to people's mind that Brumby would make the Labor Party lose an upcoming election. He stepped down as leader, and Bracks took his place.

During the 1999 election, people believed that Liberal Kennett would win. Bracks and his Labor Party people refused to give up. They campaigned in regional areas that they felt Kennett had ignored. It worked! Labor ended up with forty-two seats, and the Liberal Party ended up with forty-three. If it was up to just that, I guess the Liberal Party would have won. But there were three independents, and they agreed to support the Labor Party.

In 2000, there were some train issues. I'm sure Andrew would understand all this.

It was called the Regional Fast Rail Project. I guess they wanted to improve travel times between Melbourne and various other towns....Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, and Latrobe Valley. Lord Wiki says the project was expensive, and the results were not too impressive. That's unfortunate.

In 2001, Bracks introduced something called the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Wow. You'd think something like that would be simple and straightforward. But Lord Wiki says it has caused all types of controversy.

I guess the issue is people can't agree on what constitutes intolerance. If I write something on my blog that criticizes Scientology, would I be breaking the law? Well, no...because I'm not in Victoria. But let's pretend I was.

In 2002, there was a conflict that began when someone from Catch the Fire Ministries said some stuff that was anti-Islam. I'm going to read this editorial about it. Actually, I'd rather read an article. I want to know more about what happened.

Here's one. It happened in 2002. A person from the fire ministry thing did a speech in which he talked about Muslims being bad people. That got him in trouble with the Racial and Religious Tolerance Law.

Basically, it's a battle between free speech and intolerance. My gut feeling is the law goes too far. I don't like when people say offensive things about various races and religions. But then who draws the line between what is okay and not okay? Well, I do think SOME line has to be drawn. Probably. I don't know. This all scrambles my brain.

I think it's probably best if the government keeps their hands off....unless it resorts to speech that persuades people to become violent. I think there's a big difference between saying Jews are ugly and saying Jews are ugly. They deserve to die. They MUST die! Anyway, I think government should stay out of it for the most part, and private businesses should do the censoring. For example, I'd say it should be legal for people to have hate websites. But then I think the companies that provide the websites should have their own regulations. Blogger has policies against hate speech. They say:

We want you to use Blogger to express your opinions, even very controversial ones. But, don't cross the line by publishing hate speech. By this, we mean content that promotes hate or violence towards groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity. For example, don't write a blog saying that members of Race X are criminals or advocating violence against followers of Religion Y.

Again. There's that line. And who decides who has crossed it? I know I have said things on this blog that are critical of Christianity. Could a Christian come on here and complain about my blog? Oh, and I've also been critical of atheism. Could I get in trouble for that? I've seen stuff on other blogs that were negative about Jews. Could I point that out to Blogger and get someone in trouble?

The interesting thing about the Islam/Fire Ministry Case is that some Muslim folks aren't happy with the law. The director of the Australian Public Affairs Committee(Amir Butler) argued against it. He says.... at every major Islamic lecture I have attended since litigation began against Catch the Fire Ministries, there have been small groups of evangelical Christians - armed with notepads and pens - jotting down any comment that might later be used as evidence in the present case or presumably future cases.

We're all going to be siting here waiting for people to say something mildly offensive, just so we can get them into trouble.

Butler also says the law interferes with the right of believers of one faith to passionately argue against or warn against the beliefs of another.

My feeling is people should have the freedom to say their crap. Then other people have a right to ignore them or debate them. There's a part of me that feels hate speech directed at individuals should be disallowed. But there were bloggers who wrote awful things about me in their posts. It was hurtful. I had trouble eating and sleeping. But after a few days, I learned to just ignore it, and stop visiting the blogs. It may have been more of a problem if they had mentioned me by name, and/or distributed my email address and other contact information. Also maybe there should be laws against hate speech that target people under a certain age. Besides that, though....let people say what they want to say.

Anyway, enough of that law. Back to Bracks....

In 2003, he broke an election promise. He had said that a new road would be a freeway. Then he changed his mind, and proposed that it become a tollway. The Howard government was not happy because they had given funds to the project. Oh yeah, and of course the general public wasn't too happy either.

In 2005, there was more controversy. Bracks announced that cattlemen would no longer be able to graze their cattle in Victoria's High Plains. I'm sure there were environmental reasons behind this. But it was not readily accepted because grazing cattle there was a 170 year tradition.

Here's an article about it. The land in question was Alpine National Park.

I'm going to skip ahead a bit. Sorry. I'm getting tired...and hungry. I could take a break and come back. But I don't feel like it. All that free speech stuff made my brain tired.

Anyway, Bracks did three terms as Premier. Then he retired in 2007.

Here's the Steve Bracks home page. I'll give it a quick look before I sign off. Well, nothing there excites me too much.

Oh, this article some juicy and disturbing stuff. Lord Wiki mentioned it, but I kind of ignored it. But now I'm feeling maybe I should mention it.

Bracket's son was arrested for drunk-driving. His blood alcohol level was at .31. That seems pretty high to me. The guy was fined $750 and banned from driving for fifteen months. I don't think the $750 dollars is enough, but I like the banned from driving part. That would be a huge inconvenience to some people; so it's a pretty good punishment.

The article says it's believed that the incident may have been part of the reason behind Brack's resignation. That happened two weeks after the accident. Yeah. I doubt the timing could be a coincidence. I'm sure that would bring about two reasons to resign. First of all, Bracks probably felt his son might need some more fatherly attention. If he retired, he might have more time to spend with his wife and kids. Second, the drunk driving would surely cause a scandal, and it would probably effect election results.

Wait. I misread the article. He didn't have a .31 alcohol level during the accident. It was at .129. Then the court installed what's called an alcohol interlock device. That later gave young Bracks a reading of .31. I'm not sure what this device does. Let me go see.....

Okay. I kind of thought this was what it was. What is it? The court puts it in a car. A person has to breath into a breathalyser, and pass a test, before their car can start. I personally think that's AWESOME. I think all cars should automatically have them. Yeah. I'm all for the freedom of speech. I am totally NOT for the freedom of drunk driving.

Now this is what I find to be completely crazy. After the court person lectured Bracks about having a .31 blood level, he ordered the device to be removed. What the hell????!!!!

I wish EVERYONE could have the device in their car. Really. You never know when someone is going to drive drunk for the first time. But if not that....I think once someone drives drunk, they should be required to always have that in their car....forever!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Brain

I want to talk about my brain. Okay? There's stuff I want to make clear, and stuff I want to get off my chest.

The other day, Tim and I got into a little argument. He told me about some woman on Fox News who acts dumb. Then John Stewart revealed, on his show, that she's a fake. Tim told me she plays dumb to make herself more likable to Fox viewers. In reality, she has a degree from an Ivy League school.

Tim described some of the stuff she says to viewers. She'll say she doesn't understand something. Then she goes and looks it up. Hearing this made me feel very uncomfortable because it reminded me of myself. I told Tim this. It sounds like me on my blog! I sometimes talk about my lack of intelligence. I often go to look things up. And guess what....Well, I didn't go to a fancy Ivy League School. But I do have a graduate school degree. I'm heavily-educated.

We argued about it. My feeling is even if someone is heavily-educated, it doesn't mean they're going to know EVERYTHING. Everyone is ignorant in some areas. From what Tim was saying, I could admire this woman. I like people who can admit they don't know something. But Tim insists she's being fake. That's a difference story. I don't like people who are dishonest. If she knows stuff and pretends not to know....then I'm not at all impressed.

I know I sometimes mention my lack of intelligence on this blog. I'm not lying; nor am I playing with false modesty. There are some areas where I feel I'm slower than most other people. I think the main issue is with memory. I learn stuff, but then it seems to exit my brain. I think the only way to get something to stick is for me to learn the same thing repeatedly. I have done a TON of research for this blog. I have learned so many new things. Unfortunately, not that much has stuck to my brain. I look at the names of people I researched a while back. Sometimes I remember very little about them. If I do remember stuff, it's usually become I had encountered the information multiple times.

This morning, Tim made a joke about my short term memory. I'm constantly losing things. My catch phrase in the family is, Have you seen my book? This morning I put down the laundry basket, and less then a minute later....I asked Tim where it was.

With my blog posts, I get very frustrated with my memory. What happens is I spend the morning writing about someone. It usually takes me 2-3 hours to do a post. Then several hours later, I'll ask myself who I wrote about. Lately, I sometimes can't remember! How sad is that? I have to really think hard before I can remember it. My excuse, though, is this. I'm usually dealing with three people a day. I have the person I'm researching. Then everyday, I proofread a post I wrote a few days ago. Then there's the entry I'm actually posting that day, and people are commenting about him or her.

This past year or so, I've REALLY been exercising my brain....probably more so then I ever did at school. I'm hoping all this exercise will IMPROVE my brain, and not fry it somehow.

Anyway, back to my intelligence. I have my weaknesses, but I also have my strengths (AKA where I allow myself to brag).....

1. I'm very motivated to learn. I think that's important. I'd personally rather have that than a high IQ.

2. I read very fast. This is a huge gift to me. I can zip through a book, website, etc when I want to. Books that might take other people months to read will usually take me less than week.

3. I write very fast. This is the reason why I can write 10+ page blog entries in one day. I used to write novels and screenplays within 2-4 weeks. I do sometimes take over an hour to write an email, but that's because I keep changing my mind about telling someone something. I write...delete....write...delete...write.....well, you get the picture.

4. I have a VERY active imagination. I think my dreams alone can prove this.

5. I have a fairly good long-term memory. I think this happens more with personal stuff. I'm good at remembering stuff from the past. Sometimes. I'm extremely impressed with my Australian trip reports....that I remembered all those details weeks after it all happened.

As for my weaknesses besides memory....

I feel sometimes I have a hard time comprehending things. I often have to read things multiple times in order to understand stuff. And sometimes I STILL don't understand it. I sometimes don't understand what you guys are trying to tell me in comments. I usually say this. I hope you don't think I'm being rude. I kind of prefer honesty to fake politeness.

I'm also pretty awful at spelling...although the Firefox spell checker helps me hide this.

Anyway, I know I'm not special in any of this. I think we ALL have our strengths and weaknesses. I just didn't want any of you to think I was like this woman on Fox. I'm not trying to pretend to be someone that I'm not.

P.S-I'm also being completely honest when I say I wrote this post DAYS before Anonymous offered his/her criticism on my David Bland post. I guess it was just a matter of perfect timing. It was almost like his/her comment was a trailer for this post.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Holiday Greeting

Merry Christmas
Happy Christmas
Happy holidays
Happy Yule
Happy Kwanzaa
Happy late Hanukkah
Happy early Boxing Day
Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!

For those of you who don't celebrate anything....Happy December.

If I've forgotten any holiday, feel free to educate me. I love learning new things.

Stay safe and healthy....and have a fabulous time!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

David Brand

David Brand. Who are you?

I'm going to guess he's either a former Premier of Western Australia. Or maybe he's the Chief Minister of one of the territories. I know I just recently looked up the latter, and I should remember the name. But what can I say? I've already forgotten.

Well, it was the first one that's correct. David Brand is a former Premier of Western Australia. I figured it might be the same as what I did with Tasmania....add the current Premier to my list, and then a former one.

David Brand is pretty far in the past. He was the Premier from 1959 to 1971. I wonder why I chose to write about him, rather than someone more current. Maybe there's something exciting about him. I hope so!

Lord Wiki says that Baby David was born on 1 August 1912 in Dongara Western Australia.

Dongara is now known as the rock lobster capitol of Australia.

What is rock lobster?

Well, I googled. There's a B-52 song called Rock Lobster. I wonder if they play that song at events in Dongara.

Now I'm going to look at Google Maps. Dongara is about four hours north of Perth. It's coastal, and near a town called Port Denison. I thought that sounded familiar. Then I realized I'm thinking of Fort Denison in Sydney. I'm guessing the two are named after the same person/thing.

Well, the City of Sydney website says the Fort was named after the Governor of New South Wales. Would it have made sense for a town, in Western Australia, to be named after a New South Wales Governor? I don't know.

But I'm getting way off track here.

Let me get back to Brand.

He was the eldest of four children. His father was a farmer. His mother was the daughter of a prominent geologist. Mr. Geologist (Samuel Mitchell) was also a politician. He had been in the Legislative Assembly from 1897 to 1901, via the seat of Murchison.

It seems Daddy and Mommy Brand didn't spend too long in Dongara. At some time in Brand's childhood, the family moved about two hours north-east to Northampton. The closest town to there that I recognize is Geraldton. It's about forty-five minutes away.

When Brand was about twelve, his family moved further east (and inland) to a town called Mullewa.

In all these towns, the family did the farming thing.

When Brand was fourteen, he dropped out of school to help with the farm. I guess he got into that farming thing wholeheartedly.  He joined the Primary Producer's Association, and became secretary of the organization.

In 1935, Brand went off to live in Kalgoorlie. That would have been during The Great Depression. I wonder if that's why he find work.

Lord Wiki says he ended up working at the Golden Horseshoe Mine. It seems that there he had a variety of jobs. When not busy with those jobs, he kept active in the Methodist Church, and was a scoutmaster.

Then World War II happened. Brand got himself involved with that. He joined the Australian Imperial Force. He fought in the North African Campaign, and the Greece Campaign. In 1941, he got hurt and was sent back to Australia. About a year after treatments, he was discharged from the army because of his injuries. But then it looks like he eventually got back into it all again. I guess his injuries healed. Well, he didn't go back to the war, I don't think. Instead he became a military instructor in Geraldton.

During his time in the Geraldton Military, he met a woman and got married. Their wedding was at the Methodist Church in Mingenew. Mingenew is about two hours south-east of Geraldton. I wonder why they decided to have the wedding there. Was the church very beautiful or something? Maybe there was no Methodist church in Geraldton. Oh! I know. Maybe Mingenew is where the bride's family lived. Yeah. That would make sense.

Once Brand was discharged from the army...well because the war was ending, he and his wife moved back to Dongara. There he took over the general store. I wonder why he decided to return to his birthplace....

Okay. Now we get to the politics. There had been a Labor guy in the seat of Greenough. He died in war action. Brand and the guy's brother competed for the seat. Brand won. Lord Wiki says Brand was the first person to win an election from the newly formed Liberal Party. The first ever? Wow. That's a pretty big deal.

I want to see if the Liberal Party website backs that fact up. Yeah. I'm not trusting the information completely. I fear either Lord Wiki is giving me the wrong information, or I'm misinterpreting it.

Well, they say that the Liberal Party won state government leadership in 1947 in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria. I guess Western Australia could have been first of those.

Oh wait. I'm being dumb. The Liberal Party website is talking about state leadership....Premier stuff. That didn't happen until 1947. Lord Wiki is saying that Brand won an election just to get into Parliament. I guess he was the first. And that would be back in 1945. Well, I'm not sure where to go to verify that information. I'll take Lord Wiki's word for it for now. If anyone knows anything otherwise, please tell me.

I do see that Lord Wiki has made a mistake here though. He says the first Liberal Premier happened in 1949....Mr. Ross McLarty. That's not what the Liberal Party website said. AND on Lord Wiki's Premier of Western Australia entry, he contradicts himself and says McLarty's Premiership began in 1947.

Anyway, once McLarty was Premier, Brand got some Ministries. I'm not going to list them all. In one of the Ministries (I'm confused which) he helped to establish The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company refinery at Kwinana.

Lord Wiki says this oil company eventually became the British Petroleum Company. Because of the whole global warming issue, the company seems to be branching out into other energy sources. Lord Wiki though says the company does not quite have an environmentally friendly reputation. I had a feeling I'd find something like this. In 1991, the EPA (environmental protection agency, I presume) listed BP as the most polluting company in the United States. Yikes.

At one point, BP was part of an organization called Global Climate Coalition. Their purpose? To promote Global Warming skepticism. A lot of prominent companies belonged to the organization....Ford, Exxon, Texaco, General Motors, etc. The good news is the coalition no longer exists. It slowly disbanded as people realized their companies would look better if they joined the fight against global warming.

In 2002, BP started promoting themselves as a company exploring alternative energy. Are they now environmentally friendly? Maybe. Probably not. In 2009, they were one of the winners of something called The Climate Greenwash Awards. These honors go to companies that pretend to be helping the environment, but are really not helping that much.

For the sake of learning about David Brand....I probably did not need to learn all of that. But I like knowing about these kinds of things.

This website has information about the oil refinery in Kwinana. It says it's the only oil refinery in Western Australia. The oil is used for cars, farm equipment, planes, etc. All other needed oil is imported.

Lord Wiki says that Brand saw the oil refinery as one of his greatest achievements.

I'm looking at Google Maps now. Kwinana is about thirty minutes south of Perth. I like to know where things are.

Back to the political stuff.....

The Labor Party got back in power in 1953. At this time, Brand became Deputy Leader of the party. In 1957, the leader (McLarty) retired, and Brand became Leader. About two years later, Brand became Premier.

There's more earthy stuff here. In 1960, the government lifted its ban on exporting iron. That ban had been in place since 1938. I wonder why.....

I'm looking at Google now. From what I'm seeing, it looks like it had something to do with Japan. Yeah. The John Curtin website talks about it. It seems Japan wanted the iron, and Australia said no.

Once Australia said yes, major iron mining happened. And other mining stuff happened as well. It looks like Western Australia found some wealth doing all this. By 1968, they were able to tell Federal Government that they no longer needed any financial assistance. I wonder if this still holds true today. I remember hearing (maybe in blog comments?) that Western Australia has threatened to make itself an independent country. They have so much wealth, so they don't need the rest of Australia. Will they ever separate themselves? I doubt it.

The mining success gave Brand a good reputation. He won the next few elections. The Liberal Party stayed in power for awhile. But then their glory faded a bit. It seems they put more emphasis on mining and wealth, and less emphasis on services for people in need. They also faced controversy regarding environmental and indigenous issues. On top of that, Western Australia Liberal government had conflicts with the Federal Liberal Party. Lord Wiki says the problem was related to wheat issues.

Brand became a stressed out politician. In 1971, he collapsed when making a speech. The Labor Party got themselves into power. Brand stayed on as party leader until 1973. Then he retired. He died in 1979.

Brand has a few things named after him. There's an electoral Division. Ironically, it seems to always have a Labor person in the seat.

There's a Brand Highway. Lord Wiki says it links Perth to Geraldton.

And there's a Sir David Brand School.

I'm looking at Google News Archives now....seeing if there are any fun treasures in here.

Here's a 1962 Sydney Morning Herald article. It talks about the newly acquired mining wealth of Western Australia. The article says that Western Australia is like Texas. Yeah. We have oil companies, and stuff like that, here too.

Western Australia suddenly found a wealth of resources. I'm sure though that the rapid exploitation of them hasn't always been easy on the environment. That's the way history seems to work. Humans find a resource. They happily exploit it. Environmentalists sound the alarm bells. Greedy people ignore them. Then slowly the general public realizes maybe people in the past should have been a bit more conservative and responsible with the resources.

Lord Wiki lists the big mining industries in Western Australia.

Lead was one of them, but I'm not sure if that's still happening.

Seventy-five percent of Australia's current gold-findings happen in Western Australia.

There's been coal mining.

There was some asbestos mining. Western Australia provided the world with the majority of its asbestos. But then Western Australia closed the mine in 1966...for health reasons. I'm shocked that they put health before greed. I'm sure there's more to the story though.

Lord Wiki says that Australia is the world's main exporter of Iron Ore, and 95% of it comes from Western Australia.

Western Australia provides about thirteen percent of the world's nickel.

It produces a lot of diamonds...has the highest volume of diamonds, in the world, currently. But the diamonds are not frequently of gem-quality. So they're not making the most diamond-money in the world.

Since 2008, bans on Uranium mining have been lifted. I didn't realize that. I actually thought they were still debating whether the bans should be lifted. Well, maybe the debates where on whether the uranium should be exported to certain countries or not.

This conservation website has information on mining's toll on Western Australia's environment. They say in order to do the iron ore mining thing, areas have to be flooded. This can cause some major problems. The other thing the website talks about his how certain materials mined (such as uranium and oil) can be used for purposes that can be incredibly taxing on our planet. Plus, anytime an area is used for industrial purposes, trees are going to be cut down. Natural habitats are going to be destroyed. There's probably going to be an ugly mess.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Colin Barnett

I'm going to guess that Colin Barnett is the Premier of Western Australia. It just surprises me that I haven't gotten to that yet. So I'm thinking maybe today is the day.

Let's go see....

Yes. Lord Wiki says I'm right. I'm thinking I probably recognized the name on a subconscious level as well.

Barnett has been the Premier of Western Australia since September 2008. Currently, he's the only Premier of Australia from the Liberal Party. Although I forgot the political persuasion of the Chief Ministers of the Territories.

Let me go check that out.....

Lord Wiki says Paul Henderson from the Northern Territory is Labor.

John Stanhope from the ACT is Labor as well.

Anyway, let's start talking about Barnett.

Baby Colin was born on 15 July 1950. Tim was born one day after his seventeenth birthday.
He (Colin, not Tim) was born in a western suburb of Perth called Nedlands. Tim was born in South Korea.

Barnett attended Nedlands Primary School, and Hollywood Senior High School. I don't see a website for the latter, so it might no longer exist. I'm not sure.

For his university studies, Barnett studied geology at the University of Western Australia. That's a very interesting major. I wonder if he had a passion for rocks and science....or was it about the prospect of making money through mining?

Well, whichever it seems the interest didn't hold for long. Barnett later switched to a major in Economics. He obtained a degree in that, and then went on to get a masters degree.

In 1973, Barnett became a cadet research officer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is in Canberra, so he had to move out east.

Yikes a statistics website. This might be too much fun.

I'll try not to stay too long. Let's just see if there's anything very exciting.

Right now, as I write this, the population of Australia is estimated to be at 22,076, 542. That's about two million less people than Texas has. This a pretty funny when you compare the physical size of Texas and Australia.

The state with the largest population growth this year is Western Australia. I remember hearing that before actually. Tasmania's population is growing the slowest.

On this page, it looks like female smoking has greatly decreased since the late 1980's. Male smoking has decreased as well, but I think female smoking decreased more. It seems the highest amount of smoking occurs in the ages of twenty-five to thirty-four range.

The website says that one in five people who smoke daily started their habit before the age of fifteen. That's pretty sad.

About 2.4% of Australians are morbidly obese. We're not talking a little chubby here..... This is some serious stuff.

There's a correlations between financial situation and smoking/obesity. The lower the socio-economic group, the more likely it is that someone is going to be obese and/or smoke. Alcohol consumption is different though. If I'm reading this right, those in the lowest socioeconomic group are LESS likely to drink.

I'm probably NOT reading it right. If someone wants to go check for me, I'd deeply appreciate that.

I should get back to Barnett....

Eventually, he was promoted to senior research officer at the statistics place. Then he moved back to Perth.

In Perth, he became an economics professor at the Western Australian Institute of Technology.

In 1981, Barnett became part of the Confederation of Western Australia Industry. It looks like it was a trade union. Although the link right there is to the Confederation of West Australian Industry. It might not be the right/same thing. Anyway, for the organization that Barnett WAS a part of....he was the first editor of their publication called Western Australia Economic Review.

Barnett soon became their chief economist. Then he became the Executive Director of the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce.

In 1990, Barnett got himself into the Western Australia Legislative Assembly. His seat was Cottlesloe. That sounds familar. I think maybe I've done a post on someone else who had that seat. Maybe it was Curtin?

No. Lord Wiki lists all the people who have had that seat. I haven't written about any of them. Maybe someone had a seat that SOUNDED like Cottesloe.

Cottesloe has been around since 1950, and has always been Liberal.

Once Barnett had the seat, he was pushed to the front bench of the opposition. So I guess the Premier at the time was Labor.

Yes. Lord Wiki says it was Carmen Lawrence, the first female Premier of a state in Australia.

Barnett became Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1992. Then in 1993, a Liberal guy became Premier. Under him, Barnett had the Ministries of Resources Development and Industry, Tourism, and Education. Oh! And he remained Deputy Leader. I was wondering about that. I thought maybe he had been a bit demoted.

The Liberal guy (Richard Court) was Premier until 2001. Then a Labor guy named Geoff Gallop became Premier. By this time, Barnett had become Leader of the Opposition.

In 2005, there was some kind of canal issue. Barnett wanted to construct a canal that would bring water from The Kimberley in the north down to Perth. This would end up being very expensive (billions of dollars) and would probably not be easy on the environment. John Howard refused to give Federal money to the project. And then there were mistakes in the costing document. It was a bit of a mess....probably embarrassing for Barnett. He ended up resigning as Liberal Leader. He went to the backbench and declared he'd be retiring from politics. Well, we know that decision turned itself around at some point.

The retirement declaration happened in November 2007. About nine months later, Barnett was back as Opposition Leader again. The previous guy retired, and Barnett was re-elected. One thing led to another, and by September 2008, Barnett was Premier of Australia.

Lord Wiki lists some controversial things about Barnett. In 2005, he decided to try and recriminalize homosexuality for people under the age of eighteen. The good news is the community (or most of it) shot that plan down.

I'm looking at what Lord Wiki has to say about current Western Australia gay/lesbian legislation. It looks pretty good...especially the adoption stuff. Well, it has the happy green check marks in the box, instead of the ugly mean red X's. They have same-sex joint couple joint petition. I don't know what that is, but I think it's a good thing. The only other place in Australia that has it is the ACT. And both places, plus Tasmania, have same-sex stepparent adoption.

Okay, I'm reading the details now....instead of the chart. In Western Australia and the ACT, gay and lesbian couples can adopt a child. In New South Wales, a gay couple can't adopt a child. But a single gay parent can do so.

If you're gay or lesbian living in South Australia and you want to adopt a's probably best to move to a different state.

It's interesting that Barnett has an anti-gay Liberal Premier, yet it has these nice adoption laws.

Jack often reminds me that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. We also shouldn't judge a state by its Premier, I suppose.

Recently in October, Barnett tried to do something with Cannabis Laws. I don't really understand what Lord Wiki is saying here. He wanted to repeal the 2003 Cannabis Control Act. I don't know what that is. Well, I guess I should to find out.

Well, I'm having trouble finding information I can understand.

Maybe I'll check Google News.

No luck there either.....

Maybe I'm having bad Karma with Google today.

Oh wait. I should have just read down a little bit. I think Lord Wiki explains it right here. He says the new legislation gives police the right to search and seize property without any suspicion or belief that a crime has been committed. What's really scary is another member of the Western Australia Liberal Party (Peter Abetz) defended the policy by pointing to how it worked well in Nazi Germany.

I'd really like to find more information about this. Let me keep trying. I hate relying on Lord Wiki's word alone.

This newspaper/website has an article about Abetz and his Germany thing. They say what Lord Wiki said. Abetz used Nazi Germany's story as support for the search and seizure laws.

And I finally found an article about the drug act. I had to use Google News Archive instead of just Google News. That's strange. The article I'm looking at is from October 2009. It's not that long ago!

It's pretty much saying that Western Australia is trying to become very strict when it comes to drug use.

Barnett says, Cannabis is not a harmless or soft drug. Research continues to show that cannabis can lead to a host of health and mental health problems including schizophrenia, and can be a gateway to harder drugs.
I was going to say the schizophrenia stuff is bullshit, but I looked it up, and it seems there really might be a link. This schizophrenia website has some information about it. What I'm getting is that if you have some certain genes, using certain drugs will greatly increase your chance of getting schizophrenia. If you don't have those certain genes, you're probably safe. The problem is many people have these genes and don't realize it.

I'm sure there are probably other websites/studies out there that say smoking pot is fine. I don't know. My personal experience....

Well, my ex-boyfriend smoked pot on a fairly regular basis. Years after we broke up, he sent me some letters that led me to believe he had become a paranoid schizophrenic. I know one piece of anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything. But it does make me wonder.

I personally prefer to avoid all recreation drugs...including alcohol. Do I agree with Barnett, that drug laws should become more strict? Definitely not. I think frequent use of recreational drugs is unhealthy. But occasional? I'm sure it's probably fine for the most part. It's like having a Sundae every so often is not going to make someone obese. It really all comes down to moderation and knowing your own personal risk factors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Woman From Bundaberg

I'm going to share yet another dream. It was kind of funny. There were two separate dreams, and then the storyline in both came together for a third.

In the first dream: I have lumps inside my mouth. They're a bit ugly and worrisome, and they cause some pain. I keep it a secret from everyone, maybe because I feel embarrassed.

I finally tell my mom about the lumps, and there's some amount of relief in telling her.
She acts somewhat interested and sympathetic but mostly dismissive. She has the attitude that we shouldn't worry about it too much. She does offer the idea of going to a doctor, but says they probably won't be able to do much about it. She also says that if they do end up doing something, it will probably be very painful.

In the second dream: Tim gives me a book to read. I start reading it. The plot confuses me at first. But then I realize it's about a man who whose best friend is a woman. The two best friends live together. Then the man finds a wife and gets married. The female friend continues to live with them.

Since Tim and I once had his female friend living with us, I'm wondering what Tim's motive is in giving me the book. Did he not know the plot of the novel? Is it just a coincidence? OR.... did he give me the book to be sympathetic, a way to say...hey look. Other people have gone through what we went through. OR... is he trying to prove a point? Maybe he is trying to show me that OTHER wives can handle a second woman living in the house. Why couldn't I? I feel maybe Tim is trying to prove to me that I had been intolerant. I start thinking though that it's different when the female friend came BEFORE the marriage. You can't expect old friendships to break apart. You can't kick someone out of the house if they already lived there. But It's much different when the friend came into the man's life AFTER the marriage began.

In the third dream: The whole family decides to go to the mall to do our holiday shopping. (Actually, it might not be the whole family at first. The number of family members seems to change throughout the dream.) We plan to leave soon, and I want to brush my hair and put on some make-up. I'm too lazy though, and I procrastinate. The next thing I know, we're all heading to the car. I complain about this; try to make people feel guilty for not giving me enough time to get ready. But I do secretly understand it's my fault for waiting until the last minute.

We seem to have started off in a car, but then it switches to us all being on a bus. I tell my younger sister Melissa about the lumps in my mouth. She tells her husband who is a doctor. He asks me some questions about them. But on the whole, he acts dismissive. He acts as if he's humoring if I'm bothering him for a trivial reason. He finally suggests that maybe there's a mind/body connection and the more I talk about the lumps, the more they'll be there. I get very angry and snap at him. I lecture him about his attitude. When we arrive at the mall, I'm still angry. For some reason, I'm not just angry at my brother-in-law. I'm angry at everyone. I walk purposely slow, and let the others go without me. They don't seem to notice my absence. I then walk in the opposite direction. (escaping my family is a common theme in my dreams).

Later, things seem to be okay again. I spend some time with my dad. I think about how everyone is staying together and how that's going to make it hard for everyone to buy each other gifts. I worry about what to get my dad and then decide to let Tim handle that.

At one point, I'm with my older sister. We look at these scarves that have become popular for hair. Our only encounter with them has been with my sister's daughter. She wore one once. I start thinking that I might want a scarf. I like the black one. We talk to the saleswoman who is dark-skinned. She has a slight accent. I can't tell if it might be British or Australian. I'm curious but too shy and embarrassed to ask.

We leave the store with my curiosity not satisfied. Then somehow outside the store (although in beginning, it seemed the scarves were at a kiosk, and not a store) I find information written down about the woman at the store. It turns out she's the one who wrote the book that Tim gave me. The article says she's from Bundaberg, and something it says gives me the idea that she's an indigenous Australian. (because I guess her skin color wasn't a big enough clue).

I forgot my shyness and rush back into the store. I start babbling like an insane person, asking if she's from Australia and whether she's....I can't decide whether to say Aboriginal or Indigenous. I choose the latter. I tell her about my blog. I tell her I usually read only Australian books....unless someone gives me a book. Then I'll read that.

I think it's so funny that the book I thought to be NOT Australian turns out to have been written from a woman from Bundaberg.

Basically, I make a fool of myself. I want the woman to like me. But I can tell she's listening just to be polite. And she probably thinks I'm too much of a complete freak.

Later, after the mall....we have three or four new bottles of shampoo. I end up drinking/eating an entire bottle of one of them. I do it without thinking. After the deed is done, I have regrets, and worry a bit.

The last dream I can remember having, about a shampoo bottle, was the one in which someone gave me a gift that was supposed to be from Julian McMahon. It was a shampoo bottle with Australian animals on top of it. This was one of the first clues I had that the frequent McMahon dreams were going to lead me into this whole Australia thing.

I wonder if this current dream is connected somehow. It could be symbolic of something. Will I ever know what it is? I doubt it. All I know is....I still feel grossed out about eating that shampoo. Yuck.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Package!

Yesterday I received the other package that I ordered. This one isn't food. It's books from Powells. I love Powells. Despite being in America, they have a lot of Australian books. Their prices are reasonable; and they offer free shipping if you order more than fifty dollars worth of books. I sound like a commercial. Oh well. So be it.....

Here are the books I ordered:

1. The Birth of Sydney by Tim Flannery-This is a nonfiction history book. I hope I like it. Sometimes I like nonfiction. Other times, I get bored and wish to be reading fiction. I've read one other book by Flannery. I forgot the title, but it was about kangaroos. I liked it. I hope I like this one as well.

2. Checkers by John Marsden.  I've liked all the previous Marsden books I've read. I'm betting I'll like this one as well.

3. Eglantine by Catherine Jinks This is a kid book about ghost hunters. It's by the same woman who wrote Evil Genius. I've liked most of her books that I've read. There's a mysterious green stain on the first page of the book. I hope it's not something gross like swine flu snot.

4. Australia Beyond the Dreamtime by Thomas Kenneally, Patsy Adam-Smith and Robyn Davidson.  This book looks slightly awesome. It almost looks like a school textbook. But there are no questions at the end of the chapter, so probably not. It has a lot of cool looking photographs. I'm excited to read this book. I hope it doesn't disappoint me.

5. A Family Madness by Thomas Keneally.  Sometimes I like Kenneally. Other times, I find his books to be a bit boring. Hopefully, this will be one of the Kenneally books that I like.

6. The Treatment/The Cure by Peter Kocan.  Kocan is that guy who tried to assassinate a politician, was put into a mental institution, and then ended up being a successful writer. These novels are likely to be interesting.

7. Out of Time by John Marsden.  It's another novel by the king of Aussie young adult literature. This one seems to be science fiction/fantasy.

8. Reincarnation by Neville Drury.  This looks almost like one of those gift books...a new age gift books. It doesn't look too complicated. I mean there's not a lot of pages or text. I don't think I'll learn anything new with the book. It will probably be more like a nice little review of stuff.

9. A Charm of Powerful Trouble by Joanne Horniman-This book was shortlisted for various awards. Hopefully, I'll like it. Sometimes I end up not liking award-winning books. Then I end up feeling a bit alienated from society. I end up wondering what could be wrong with me. Why do I not like this book that so many other people adore? Well, I guess we all have different taste. Hopefully, my taste will adore this book. And it's NOT because I want to fit in with the crowd...well, maybe sort of. It's just I don't really want to read a book that I dislike.

10. Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson. I think one of my commenters recommended this book. It looks good. And this one has won awards as well. It won the Miles Franklin Award. I've heard that's a pretty big deal.

11. The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan. I've read one other book by Flanagan, and I hope to read many more. This terrorist book sounds a bit like something Janette Turner Hospital would write.

Then I have one other new book, which I did not get from Powells. I got it from a book trading website...Bookins. It's People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. It's an Australian-Jewish type thing. It looks pretty good.

I'm going to start reading all these books very soon. For now, I'm rereading The Fatal Shore. I figure I probably need to learn things multiple times before they stick in my brain. I am happy to say that a lot of the stuff in the book, so far, feels like a review to me.

Before starting The Fatal Shore, I read the new Pat Conroy book. Have any of you read his stuff? He's an American author. His books usually take place in the south....or maybe all of them have. He's the one who wrote The Prince of Tides. I love this books, and I totally loved this one as well. His books seem to stick to certain themes....suicide, racism, social class, rape, etc......