Republic of Moreland

April 8, 2008

Your cardigan is a national security threat

Filed under: crime,politics — Kath @ 10:26 am

And your washing machine is spying on you. Read about it here.

March 20, 2008

“Tanti-social” toilets in Coburg

Filed under: Coburg,crime,Sydney Road,urban planning — Kath @ 11:45 pm

What larks to see Media Watch pick up on the Moreland Leader‘s sub-editing issues. And following The Republic’s exposé on Coburg’s über-toilet scandal (see post below), the Leader ran a campaign to “stop the tanti-social behavior” in Coburg toilets.

You what?

Tanti-social issues are one thing (and don’t we all have ’em?), but spelling ‘behaviour’ American-style is just a steaming pile of jobbies. Still, bottoms up to the Leader subs who remembered to replace “Toilet headline in here thanks ta” with:

Toilet backflip a big relief for Coburg shoppers

It’s punny, innit? (I bet you can think of a dozen variations — “Shoppers’ fears flushed away” and so on.) The story then describes a dangerous Alan Jones phenomenon in Cobes that’s threatening family values:

A lack of toilets in the central shopping district had forced families and parents with prams to use underground toilets also used by men cruising for sex.

I’m just busting for A Current Affair to pick up on this one. Read the full report here.

July 29, 2007


Filed under: Brunswick,crime,Sydney Road — Kath @ 8:45 pm

Yesterday I visited my beloved hardware store, a family business, a dusty vestige of old Brunswick, where they greet you by name, serve you from behind the counter and sell nails by the kilogram.

I was there to buy a tap and pvc pipes and elbows for our new tank. From behind me a small voice said, in a broad Australian accent, “Whatya boyin them for?”

I turned and saw a slight woman. A blue woman. The skin on her face was blue, her hands were blue, her limp, mousy hair had blue streaks, as did her synthetic tracksuit. In the few seconds that followed, some possibilities flipped over in my mind. She’s a performer, perhaps a mime artist, perhaps a circus player. Or else she’s got that peculiar skin condition some Vietnamese people suffer, where blue-black freckles appear as you age.

But these weren’t freckles, and this was a most unnatural electric blue. No, vibrant, aquamarine blue.

I said something and looked away, but I noticed that the bluest region of her face was around her lips, and when she spoke, the pink fleshy insides of her mouth looked almost obscene against it. And then I saw what she was buying: three cans of vibrant-electric-aquamarine-blue spray-paint.

She sniffs it! I whispered to C——, one of the storekeepers, as she took me up the back to choose some threaded pipe fittings. C—— told me: I know, I know, but what can we do? We’ve called the police, and there’s nothing they can do, either. Then C—— said: It’s terrible. I’m hard, you know, but I feel sorry for her. And she has kids, too.

June 25, 2007

Outing Moreland’s filthy kitchens

Filed under: cafes & pubs,Coburg,crime,food,health,Pascoe Vale — Kath @ 12:42 am

2006 was the year of renovating, and consequently the year of takeaway dinners, many home-delivered. One morning, it occured to me that I always get the runs (sorry) after eating a meal from a particular Coburg Indian restaurant. Not an especially good — or even moderately good — Indian restaurant (are there any around here?), but a cheap one. At beer o’clock after renovating, almost anything will go down.

I thought little of it. But one evening, sitting down to orders from said restaurant, Bloke on The Avenue and I noticed a hair in our dinner. Deal with it, you might say. But this wasn’t any old hair. About 7cm long, it was exceptionally thick and coarse. It could only belong to an animal like a goat, or a camel. Or a llama, or mule, or wild pig. Then we noticed a second, and a third, and then dozens. We could only imagine what was going on in that kitchen.

We complained to Moreland Council, and played a little phone tennis before we gave up on the matter.

I’d had a very different Council experience not long beforehand. On a sweltering day, Little One and I went to the Queen’s Park Pool in Moonee Ponds. The pool was closed. Now, any parent of a preschooler knows disappointment on outings is to be avoided if you want to keep things nice. So I hastily offered to buy Little One a gelato at Queen’s Park’s ice-cream van. Something I’d never done before, because we’re principled about the kind of treats we encourage. Until that day, Little One knew ice-cream vans only as ‘music trucks’. (And don’t get me started on the crap listed on “kids’ menus” — as if kids are incapable of selecting the real food they’ve enjoyed for centuries. And don’t get me started about the thoughtless parents who succumb to this poisonous marketing.)

Anyway, as the man was scooping pink gelati into the cones with no serviette wrapped around them, I noticed his hands were covered in scabby sores, some weepy, and his fingernails were FILTHY. It was sickening, but I had one of those moments where it would seem embarrassing to make a fuss. And nor did I want to disappoint Little One yet again, no Sir.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to poison my child, either. So I paid for the cones, noticing that the van’s interior, too, was grimy, and I swiftly suggested a game of throw-gelati-at-the-seagulls. Thank heavens Little One thought that was much bigger fun than eating them. We came home unsullied and I called Moonee Valley City Council, which promptly undertook an inspection, and the next week told me they’d suspended the poor man’s license.

I have so many Moreland food stories, including the one where Sydney Road’s Three Stooges Café (now under new management) served a scone carpeted in mould. So it was interesting to read the article in yesterday’s Age about the limitation to Councils’ power to publish results of health inspections. Lord knows there are many that wouldn’t pass the test in Moreland. What was more interesting was the push to give:

councils the power to name premises that have been successfully prosecuted.

Overseas studies have demonstrated the health benefits of naming foul premises. After Los Angeles introduced a public grading system for restaurants in 1998, the number of food-borne hospitalisations decreased by 13 per cent.

Surely, then, there’s a public interest argument here?

April 5, 2007

Terry Hicks to speak out

Filed under: crime,events,politics — Kath @ 10:27 am

They’ve silenced David Hicks, but they can’t silence Terry. Hear him speak on how the government forced his son to plead guilty and why Guantanamo must be closed. 1pm Saturday 21st April State Library. Speakers include Terry Hicks and  Bob Brown. For info call: 0407856628.

Endorsed by Civil Rights Defence, Liberty Victoria, Victorian Trades Hall.

April 4, 2007

Bring it on

Filed under: Coburg,crime,environment,Fawkner — Kath @ 10:13 am

Watch out, 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 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

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.

January 23, 2007

Car ‘accident’ by choice

Filed under: Coburg,crime,Fawkner,Moreland Road — Kath @ 7:08 pm

I’m not a dobber. I don’t believe in dobbing. Not really. But I just rang the police to dob in a motorist. (more…)

January 6, 2007

Dobbing on our neighbours

Filed under: art,crime,environment,gardening,neighbours,politics,water — Kath @ 12:07 am

Tough-on-crime serial dobber Bane of Malakas just emailed me. He alerted me to a blog on the site of a happening Melbourne music magazine, Mess+Noise. There, PaulsGrandfather writes:

“It is not anyone’s ‘right’ to water their concrete driveways. Or to take 20 minute showers. Or to hose down their windows.”

Hear, hear — naturally. Same, of course, with big urban 4WDs. Toorak tractors should be outlawed, for sure, and we should treat the ‘rights’ rhetoric coming from the motoring community car lobby with the tar-and-feathering it deserves. It’s no-one’s ‘right’ to warm the planet for the sake of Big Ego. But listen up: here’s PaulsGrandfather’s answer to water-crime: (more…)

January 5, 2007

Locking up our neighbours

Filed under: crime,events,politics — Kath @ 12:02 am

Next week, on the 11th at lunchtime, is the vigil for David Hicks. While we campaign for his return, it’s worthwhile also thinking about some Moreland victims of the Howard government’s war on terror campaign.

January 3, 2007

Don’t try this at home

Filed under: Coburg,crime — Kath @ 8:50 pm

Doof, doof, doof, doof, maaate. In Coburg, the hoon capital of Straya, it’s a civic right to burn as much fossil fuel and rubber as your hotted-up Commodore permits. It’s a rite of passage to sign the bitumen with your circle-work. The chicks, they love it. Water restrictions can kiss my skid marks. Mate, I got mag wheels and spoilers to hose.

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