Iraq in Asian Games Soccer Final

The streets of Iraq were quiet for 90 minutes as the soccer team played in the Asian Games final, hoping for gold. People were anticipating victory, as a united nation, but the simmering ‘sectarian’ tension remained…

“I urge the people not to shoot in celebration of the victory of the Iraqi team,” Sheik Abdul Hadi Mohammedawi told worshippers in Sadr City hours before the game began. “It squanders ammunition.”

For the record, Iraq lost 1-0 to Qatar.

Still Smoking

We had a “grads” Christmas party last week, and we’d invited along the summer interns mostly to make up the numbers. As soon as we settled in to start the night, a group pulled out cigarettes. And they kept going through the night. Now, I’d seen it often enough in Europe, and given the reputation of the continent, I could accept it. But my impression of Australia, and Australian ‘youth’, was that smoking was on the way out, a rarity at best.

I’m no innocent; smoking is prevalent enough in clubs that I know how much it happens. But the constant, almost chain smoking style of cigarette consumption was more than a little off putting. As a principled stance, I walked away as soon as it wasn’t blatantly rude – everyone’s free to choose, I say, even if I don’t like it – and stayed away for most of the night.

It puzzles me; these are intelligent people, and most of them are around my age (I’m still the youngest :D). We’ve had the education, the advertising, all the information we could ever need, and yet, these people still persist in doing so. The women were more into it than the guys – it seemed if anything to be an image thing.

I don’t know; I’m not entirely sure what my point is. Basically I was disappointed that people are still smoking by choice.

Movie Review: Casino Royale

Enough Politics! Casino Royale, the 21st Bond film, goes back to the “start”, the story of how Bond became Bond.

Only… it’s not. It’s full of little cues to all those standard Bond quirks. The ignore-what-happened-last-time persists, as in all Bond flicks, but Bond’s never gone backwards, as it were. For cryin’ out loud, Q (or his ertswhile replacement John Cleese) is missing! The whole atmosphere feels like it could be, should be, set against the cloak-and-dagger of the Cold War – but it’s the international terrorist financing that provides the bad guy (don’t worry, this isn’t anything spoilerish).

But that’s only the first 10 minutes. Slowly you come to realise this is a paced Bond, a movie where drama takes more of a role in moving the plot along than pure action. It’s almost as if, for once, the scriptwriters got the upper hand on the special effects and stunts guys. They deliver quite well too – some good dialogue, and sharp wit to match. There’s occasional glitch-in-the-Matrix moments when you think something ended up on the cutting room floor that probably shouldn’t have, but it’s easily glossed over.

Daniel Craig even does well filling the shoes of Pierce Brosnan. Craig isn’t as suave or stylish as Brosnan, but he’s got the look (or gets it eventually), and it’s hard to imagine Brosnan filling the demands of Bond’s character in this movie quite so well – Bond does get his hands dirty in this one, and that’s not Bond’s established style. Fitting then that Craig as the newcomer can pin the role so well. Caterina Murino as Solange has but a bit-part, which was disappointing. However, Eva Green as Vesper Lynd does exceptionally well. This is most likely due to the fact that she actually has lines to deliver and a role to play, rather than just being the usual Bond girl.

Overall, ★★★★☆. Excellent movie, well worth your money and time, even if occasional pacing issues do crop up. No big car chase or the usual array of Bond gadgets, but the drama easily pulls it off anyway. Best Bond since Goldeneye.

Politic

The last week of the year for the parliament was an action-packed one to say the least – the like that goes “one week’s a long time in politics” was shown to be quite true.

Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard replaced Beazley at the top of the Labor party, something which I would consider just about the smartest move made by the Labor party over the least 5 years. Beazley had lost it somewhere in his mumbles, and someone who’s lost that many times just within his own party was never going to be a serious contender against the master of Australian politics that is John Howard. Rudd started the week with a couple of strong lines against Howard, willing and able to drudge up the 22% interest rates from when Howard was Treasurer.

The electorate in general is adopting a wait-and-see approach so far. Rudd doesn’t have the down-to-earth populist appeal that Latham originally had, but he’s got savvy and, more importantly, he knows the areas in which he can pitch battles. To put it briefly, he’s about 10 times more likely than Beazley to have an impact. In a world where China is steadily growing in influence, Rudd’s ability to speak Mandarin (fluently, apparently) should hold him well in the future, should he get past Howard.
Continue reading “Politic”

What Cricket?

I genuinely feel sorry for the English; it’s not like they’re that bad, actually. Any other side in the world, they’d do fine (probably), especially if they put this much effort into it. It’s just that the Aussies are just that little bit more arrogant, that little bit more self-believing, that they’ll put in those last hard yards the English just can’t scrounge up, and they beat them.

I think it’s cricket that’s suffering; I don’t really want to watch it any more, if every script ends with “Australia wins”. I can’t stand how arrogant and unsporting they are about it.

Going Backwards

I’ve hard enough of the Hemmingway design. I originally intended it as a way of provoking me to write more per post, but it’s ended up making me write less because I didn’t have the big things to write, or I just wanted to jot down a quick line. So it’s back to the original design while I work something out. Probably to be soon replaced by K2 as a bridge to something more “me” again.