Republic of Moreland

March 28, 2007

Justice for young Moreland men

Filed under: crime,events,Glenroy,neighbours,politics — Kath @ 3:02 pm

Few people swallow the federal government’s spin that David Hicks’ guilty plea vindicates the charges against him or his treatment. As Bob Brown told SBS last night: “David Hicks’ guilt will always be in doubt. John Howard’s guilt won’t be.” Or something like that, bless him.

Last night, at a legal briefing organised by Civil Rights Defence, concern was expressed that while Australia is rightly worried about the treatment of David Hicks, few of us are aware of the Guantanamo-style conditions happening to those branded ‘terror suspects’ in Melbourne. (more…)

Catherine Deveney tells it like it is

Filed under: crime,environment,politics — Kath @ 11:41 am

Bravo, bravo, bravo.

March 21, 2007

Time to outlaw petrol-heads

I’m starting to be a bit of a fan of Moreland author and stand-up comedian Catherine Deveny. She has an oped in today’s paper which, despite its meandering, is spot on:

HOW about that Grand Prix, eh? One look at the racing fans is all it takes for me to realise that some suburbs should have fences around them. Knuckle-dragging petrol-heads, anorexic bottle blondes marinated in fake tan and middle-aged blokes with man boobs and pimples on their arses paying exorbitant money to watch cars go fast…

I’m sure the parents of terminally ill children suffering rare diseases that there is no funding for researching will take comfort in the fact that the State Government has probably spent $30 million on loud, polluting cars while their child dies. They’ll be at peace knowing that Bernie Ecclestone has pocketed a $20 million licensing fee. (more…)

March 19, 2007


Filed under: Brunswick,politics — Kath @ 12:08 am

We received a notice last week urging us to help Little One’s primary school working bee today. It requested that we bring a wheelbarrow and broom and rake if we can. I love this kind of thing. As a friend of mine often remarks, schools are centres of communities, and Little One’s school is a particularly good centre. But as Bloke on The Avenue asked, what kind of government doesn’t give our schools enough for very basic maintenance? What kind of government sponsors carbon-emitting tossers to hoon around Albert Park while schools like Debney Meadows PS have to create new classrooms by squashing kids up and separating existing rooms with a row of lockers? (Meanwhile, Wesley builds boatsheds for its new elite fleet.) As Helen so adroitly puts it today: ”it’ll be a fine thing when the Defence department has to put on a cake stall to buy a fighter jet”. She’s just warming up:

why should I cough up for a raffle for a private school which, to all accounts, I’m already unwillingly supporting with my taxes, on top of the fees they collect? Haileybury is already “(a) major beneficiary of increased funding from the Federal government“, and I don’t think it should be. The public system needs a mighty injection of funds right now to bring its resources up to scratch and pay teachers properly. Instead, my taxes get spent on making Liberal mates private businesses wealthier… we have abandoned the right of all children to a decent public education and are diverting my taxes so that schools like Haileybury can spend on marketing and extra sporting facilities.

March 17, 2007

Communism: a love story

Filed under: books & writing,politics — Kath @ 9:52 am

At last, The Age has published a review of Morelander Jeff Sparrow’s magnificent biography, Communism: a love story. As Amanda Lohrey has observed, the book rollicks along like a good novel. You can also read about it here.

The MUP website has a sample chapter you can download and read. It’s not the book’s best chapter, in my opinion, but it’ll give you a taste. What I love about this book is that while it IS a love story (or many) of the erotic kind, it also profiles many famous Australians’ doomed love affair with Communism without sentiment or dogma. There’s a lot to learn in there.

March 15, 2007

Brunswick music festival

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,events,music,notices,Sydney Road — Kath @ 9:15 pm

starts today. Dunno what to go and see.

Coburg lanes get a pasting

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,food,gardening,health,neighbours,recipes — Kath @ 9:50 am

Having moved house this year, we don’t have a quince tree. But we harvested far more quinces from Coburg’s laneways than we ever managed to grow on our bug-infested Brunswick tree. This is just part of our harvest from an afternoon walk, during which we collected apples, pears and quinces. There were also grapes, lemons and figs overhanging the lane, and remnants of hundreds of plums gone to waste. Coburg lanes are like Victory gardens.

I was determined this year to avoid quince paste recipes. Most are so goddamn convoluted. Aside from the tedious peeling and coring and processing and straining, there’s the relentless stirring. All that for a lump of paste from two dozen quinces. No wonder the stuff costs forty to sixty bucks per kg, depending on whether you go to the Vic Market or DJ’s food hall. (As an aside, I’m boycotting DJ’s because of their corporate thuggery towards the Australia Institute. Arseholes.)

I like the recipes that tell you to chuck in pips, cores ‘n’ all. And instead of stirring for hours, after stirring for about half an hour, I let the paste thing happen over a couple of days. You spread it onto trays and put it first in the oven on low heat, during which time you repeatedly mesh the crust that forms into the rest of the sludge. Then, when it starts resembling soft paste, you put it in the hot sun under a tea-towel and do same. Stephanie Alexander writes of one chef who puts the sludge on a tray in the back window of the car until it goes lovely and leathery.

After that, it’s divine quince paste with soft white cheese. Mmm… paste.

March 10, 2007

Fair enough or “ludicrous overreaction”?

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,crime,Pascoe Vale,politics — Kath @ 9:40 am

In a move described by the Law Institute of Victoria as a “ludicrous overreaction”, our local member, Shadow Attorney-General Kelvin Thomson, has been forced to quit the front bench because he unknowigly wrote a reference for notorious gangster Tony Mokbel seven years ago.

The Age this morning reported that Kevin Rudd was tipped off by an anonymous source and that, given that Smearfest 2007 is in full force, Thomson had to resign. Apparently Thompson didn’t know Mokbel, didn’t remember the reference, and the reference was “a pro-forma”.

The LIV president Geoff Provis said there was no evidence that Mr Thomson had done anything wrong, and that the use of “past associations” to damn politicians was approaching “McCarthyist America”.

I’m fence-sitting on this. I kinda agree with Provis, but still, politicians shouldn’t be writing references for folk they don’t know or haven’t checked out.

March 6, 2007

Playing with TMcK

Filed under: Brunswick,events,music,notices — Kath @ 10:43 pm

This notice comes from Helen of cast iron balcony. She’s performing with Tess McKenna at the Brunswick Green (313 Sydney Road) every Saturday afternoon this month, 4:30 pm. Helen reckons: “They make a bloody good bloody Mary!” Just the ticket for folk like me who simply forgot all about the Sydney Road Street Party. FREE for all ages. Having never seen Helen play, I can’t vouch for her musical skills. But if her playing is as spicy as her thinking, you’re in for a treat. And you can hear McKenna here.

My neighbour’s facial discrimination

Filed under: Coburg,crime,neighbours,politics — Kath @ 9:11 pm

Last year I left the wilderness of Coburg and went to the National Security Summit and Expo in Canberra, in part to have a look at new biometric software.

Biometrics — technologies that measure people’s physical or biological features — aren’t foolproof. They’re easy technologies to foil. German journalists at c’t magazine outsmarted face recognition systems, iris scanners and fingerprint readers by simple tricks like holding life-size photographs to their faces. As Charles Mann reported in The Atlantic Monthly, “many of the fingerprint readers could be tricked simply by breathing on them, reactivating the last person’s fingerprint.” Not all biometric systems are so easily fooled, “but all of them fail badly.”

I was disturbed to find the Summit’s face-recognition demonstration featured close-ups solely of Asian and Middle-Eastern faces. This seems a pretty racist assumption to me. Historically in Australia, the overwhelming majority of acts of terrorism have come from far-right, Croation emigré and neo-Nazi groups: not Middle-Eastern groups.

Which isn’t to suggest middle-Eastern types couldn’t commit acts of terrorism here, as they have overseas. But two of the three Australian men convicted of terror offences in recent times were Caucasian, not Middle-Eastern. A forth accused, Brisbane schoolteacher John Howard Amundsen, is Caucasian.

So why are People Of Middle Eastern Appearance (I shall call them POMA) the only ones singled out for security checks at our airports? Or so my Lebanese neighbour told me this afternoon. Her over-the-fence account does not a fact make, but I have no reason to disbelieve her. She said whenever her twenty-something son gets on a plane, local or international, he’s picked out from the crowd and rigorously scrutinised, along with all the other POMA.

I believe her because I observed it first-hand, in another scenario. At the trial of one Melbourne man accused of terror offences, there were rigorous security checks at the court. After emptying my bag and being screened, I got in no worries. So did others. But one man was stopped and questioned. He was a POMA. He said he worked as a freelance journalist, just as others had said. But not having a card or press pass, he wasn’t allowed in to the court room. Others weren’t asked for IDs or press passes.

Making national security judgements based on appearance can be fatal. In the US, two air marshalls thought they heard 34-year-old air passenger Rigoberto Alpizar say “bomb” (something other passengers deny hearing), and shot him dead. No explosives were found in Alpizar’s luggage; no link to terrorism was found. In the UK, 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by police officers who wrongly assumed he was connected with the London bombings. (Not long afterward, in a ₤2 million operation, London police shot 20-year-old Abdul Koyair, who was later cleared of any terror suspicions.)

I can see why Mrs Neighbour is worried about her son’s forthcoming trip to the US. He’s a lovely, generous and gentle dude despite his doof-doof music. He experiences ‘appearance’ discrimination all the time, she said: particularly on transport. Especially since the war on terror began, even here in Coburg, and despite being Christian. Meanwhile, as I wrote in an earlier post, his Muslim neighbours are also experiencing the pointy end of Howard’s $20 billion war on terror campaign.

March 2, 2007

Backyard experiment #2

Filed under: Backyard experiment,Birds,Coburg,urban farming — Kath @ 6:25 pm

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: if you have a broody chook, you can mail-order live eggs to stick under her. After they’re kept warm for 24 hours, they start to incubate. And after 21 days precisely (depending on what fowl you choose), they hatch! Cuuuute. (Stay away, Spooky and Kitty.) Gawd knows what I’ll do if they turn out male. (On second thoughts, S & K…)

I ordered some live eggs from Abundant Layers, one of the many live egg mail services. I wanted Rhode Island Reds, but they advised me that Isa Browns (cross between Reds and New Hampshires) are the best layers. So I ordered five Isa Brown eggs, figuring odds are at least two will be female. One of them arrived cracked, and had to be discarded. The remaining four went under broody Mrs Chooky (pictured, above).

Someone I spoke to a few days later said they’d had problems with Abundant Layer livestock, so I went and visited Deb from Book a Chook in Coburg. (I discussed Book a Chook in a previous post.) Deb gave me three live eggs from her Bantams, chickens I initially wasn’t too keen on, as they’re less productive and have smaller eggs. But hers are very, very nice birds. So I put those eggs under Mrs Chooky as well.

Twenty-one days passed since the Abundant Layer eggs were adopted. Then 22, 23, 24. None hatched, but I kept them under Mrs Chookie just in case. Then this morning, two of the three eggs from Book a Chook hatched (one chick is pictured next to proud adoptive mother, above). Little One was thrilled, and I’m a bit pleased, too. Out of curiosity, I cracked open the Abundant Layer eggs that had been kept so warm this past month. I wanted to see how much — if at all — the chicks had developed. When I cracked each one, it exploded disgusting liquid muck that smelled pure evil. (Just thought you might like to know.)

March 1, 2007

VCAT to review decision to abolish Coburg High School

Filed under: architecture,Coburg,events,notices,politics,urban planning — Kath @ 1:28 pm

The pain of school closures from the Kennett years is still felt by many Victorians. Coburg High School was one of many Jeffed communities, and 11 years later, its site remains a source of contention. This is among a number of pictures of the heritage school site taken by Peter Robertson and available on his blogsite. As Peter reports, residents who opposed the Council decision to demolish the heritage building are attending a VCAT hearing to determine the validity of the Council decision. 10am, 7 March, 55 King St, Melbourne.

Blog at