Friday, 18 April 2014

A few musings on characteristics

I'll start with a couple of amusements and then get on to some more serious stuff.

Frances was reading "How England made the English From hedgerows to Heathrow" by Harry Mount.  She was particularly taken with the  sentence:
"In England 100 years is nothing, and 100 miles is enormous.  In America its the other way round."
A somewhat similar approach to international comparison was evident in a comment about motoring when I first emigrated:
"Australian drive European cars American distances on African roads."
Australians certainly won't be driving Australian cars any time in the future.  When thinking about the quality of the roads one starts thinking about the quality of the politicians who are supposed to manage them.

This week that line of thought leads pretty quickly to the NSW Government, where the Premier resigned after misleading the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC)  in the matter of an expensive  bottle of wine.  Needless to say the Prime Minister (aka Dear Leader) was hot on his mouth to say what a principled chap the Premier was.  This quote from the ABC website:
The Prime Minister said Mr O'Farrell's apparent memory lapse was understandable."If you're in public life, you meet lots of people; from time to time people give you things," he said."They might give you ties, they might give you pens, a bottle of wine and, sure, a bottle of Grange is pretty special, no doubt about that, but given that premiers and other senior politicians have very crowded, busy lives, I don't think it's reasonable to expect everything from some years ago to be front of mind."
The Dear Leader also got stuck into a journalist (surprisingly, from The Australian) to question whether the NSW Government was corrupt.  The following comments come from another ABC story"
Nicola Berkovic (The Australian): "Do you trust this government - the state government - that is proving to be corrupt, to deliver your major infrastructure?"
Tony Abbott: "That, if I may say so, is an entirely unjustified smear. Let me not mince my words, madam, an entirely unjustified smear. And frankly, I think you should withdraw that and apologise, because there is no evidence whatsoever for that. Can you please tell me what your evidence for that is?"
[couple of irrelevant sentences omitted]
 Nicola Berkovic (The Australian): "I think that voters will have questions to ask about who a Premier who specifically said yesterday that if he was delivered a bottle of that nature he would remember it. Today a thank you note is uncovered and he resigns. I think voters would be quite sceptical about the way this has unfolded."
I think that the journalist missed the point.  The corruption was not so much the mis-statement to ICAC but a culture in which accepting a bottle of very expensive hooch from a businessman is seen as quite acceptable.  Vide the first quote from the Dear Leader above.  Note also comments by Nick 'Kermit' Greiner (a former Premier of NSW, also shafted by ICAC) that he should just have put it on a Register and it would have been OK.

Another point which no-one has pursued is that the Premier has not just forgotten being given the wine but also drinking it (unless of course it is still under the Premierial house with all the other 'things' he has been given).

Possibly this proves a point made by Peter, a friend who shared a bottle of '72 Grange with us for my birthday in 1987.  (I'll point out that we bought it in 1975 for $7.00 (the cost then of 6 bottles of beer) a bottle when Penfolds had to clear a warehouse to make room for the next vintage.)  We accompanied the wine with Turkish pizza and he commented that the combination would always be memorable, whereas knocking back Grange with filet would just blur into the gustatory background.

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