Saturday, January 31, 2009

+ Architectural crimes against humanity

+ the UN really should look into setting up a commission for the prosecution of Architectural Crimes Against Humanity.

+ was there ever a more smug profession than architecture?

+ when architects' creations are grand and remotely useful, they pile each other with awards and self-congratulations in the most ridiculously expansive terms

+ when architects build duds that blight the landscape and their inhabitant's lives for generations, they appear to get off scot-free

What happens when there is all reward and no punishment for architects? It seem unnatural and counter-evolutionary (sic) not to build in some kind of disincentive for self-aggrandising experimentation at the expense of society.

Check out these gems, gleaned at random from just 5 minutes research in an architectual mag. With fruity stuff like this, who needs satirists?

  • a beautifully resolved steel stair leads up to the supremely private master bedroom
  • the architect cleverly proposed that ...
  • the home offers a rich sequence of sightlines that sympathetically but assertively marries old and new
  • the clients are an architects's dream - educated and socially conscious, with a refined aestheticism that is evidenced by their collection of Scandinavian-inspired furniture. They have resisted the urge to add bedrooms, a media room, and a huge deck...
  • Tom decided to push back against the hostile context with what he calls an industro-residential architectural vocabulary (DH swears this is for real, and not a Larsen cartoon)
DH, too, has decided to push back against the hostile context of a roof with no insulation in a glasshouse facing west, with the clever solution of something she would like to call a plastic spray bottle of water intermittently directed at the portable fan. Yet she chooses to marry old and new by retaining that ever-servicable houso-tenantial vocabulary of " w...ers".

+ 08 National Architecture Awards

Thinking to give the architectural profession an opportunity to redeem itself, DH checked out the 2008 Australian Architecture Awards for Public Architecture. They went to 2 of our ritziest private schools, no doubt paid for by funds dragged out, along with the toenails, of public education by Howard et al whose legacy looks more and more repulsive by the minute. Here's some more prose...

  • The Centre for Learning and Leadership ... creates an enduring positive impact on the design of the public domain and on those who use and visit its facilities ... achieving an even greater public presence that conveys, through architecture, a commitment to the highest standards of education and the development of the individual in society
  • The architecture ... conveys a “no-nonsense” message – a bold and purposeful architecture that is heartening to contemplate when considering the education of young women.

Bold and purposeful alright, though DH prefers the terms "brazen" and "relentless" when considering the upper classes' capacity to cream off the fat of the land for themselves and congratulate themselves for it to boot. Pity the ordinary school kid who doesn't get to "use and visit" such wonders.

Let's be fair. No-one wants to put chains on anyone's dreams, and DH dreams of winning the lottery and having a dream home too. She has to admit that she is utterly ignorant of egalitarian movements in architecture as no doubt there are such, and looks forward to educating herself further in the future.

Meanwhile, there's "Architects Sans Frontieres" and "Emergency Architects".

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spilling some beans on NSW govt's inability to pay bills on time

The time has come for a confession.
DH has a fair idea why the NSW government cannot pay its bills, and she is partly to blame.
The short answer in her experience is SAP, short-staffing, and short-term funding. But first:
A short excursion along DH's career path.
DH is a somewhat incompetent geek, with limited capacity for multi-tasking, an obsessive and time- consuming attention to minor detail, a treacherous short-term memory which condemns her to spending 1/2 her waking hours searching for that piece of paper she just had in her hand, and 1/2 of the rest cursing her inability to find a ringing mobile in the 3 compartments of her handbag.
In a capitalist world dedicated to speed and efficiency DH is a job tragic.
DH sometimes thinks she is the Typhoid Mary of teetering NGO's and hopeless government departments. When they are reduced to employing the likes of her, it's a sure sign that they are on the brink of brutal restructuring or death.
If DH was an employer she would never hire herself, but of course she can't tell them that otherwise Centrelink would breech her. So she keeps amassing a more and more impressive and lengthy CV as she reels from job to job that she is not really suited to
With the Howard government dedicated to a punitive proddy work ethic, a hatred of perceived shirking, a total failure to respect human diversity, and a commitment to brutally stuffing square pegs willy-nilly into round holes, DH must needs be made to play her small part in the downfall of capitalism.
Thus it was that she found herself as assistant to the project manager of a major governmental capital works project. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!
Well, it wasn't all bad. Being an aspie geek, she's a bit of computer whizz. So a lot of her time was spent being nursemaid to a fiendishly complex, 5 page (A3 page yet!) wide spreadsheet.
Yes folks, some of our major government departments, who promote themselves as state-of-the art project managers, had not yet heard of the technical innovation know as the Database! (In fairness, this was way back in the technological dark ages of 2007, so perhaps we should be a little bit forgiving)
When DH apprised her bosses of the possibilities of technology, they finally twigged that it might be good to invest in an upgrade. But it seems that with government funding to its own internal consultants being only approved from year to year, they did not dare to spend money to save money on infrastructure in case the whole project was torpedoed in the next financial year.
But that is a diversion from the bill payment question.
Part of DH's job was processing payments to contractors, poor souls, regional mum-and-dad partnerships, who sometimes had to wait for months to see the money, and yes, it was her fault alone.
Her department meanwhile was staggering under the imposition of a new (fiendishly complex again) SAP system that couldn't cope with the specifics of their particular kind of work. Her poor boss, while running multi-gazillion dollar projects was literally reduced to spending at least one precious day a month just hunting down the codes necessary to fill in his timesheet!
Her predecessor had been sacked for failing to cope with the complexities of The-Spreadsheet-That-Wanted-to-be-a-Database, under some approbrium, totally undeserved, as of course, training is an ideal rarely achieved in any workplace that DH has been associated with. And with every department running on a shoestring budget with minimum staff levels, there was no redundancy in the system so when someone left, Grade 11-12 public servants would find a good part of their day relegated to training up Grade 4-5's to process Accounts Payable. It took a good 6 weeks for DH to learn the ropes, and attend to the numerous crises that affect stretched workplaces. Meanwhile the creditors floundered.
And that's about it. In between days spent trying to force-feed SAP with codes it couldn't swallow, ministering to spreadsheets, soothing desperate project managers going spare about wasted time, and DH's desperately absent-minded paper-shufflings, poor old contractors slid to the bottom of the priority list.
It's a miracle anything got built at all really.
That it did was a massive testament to DH's fellow workers, who despite being hampered at every turn, gave 200%, and of course, extra hours without pay, to get it all done miraculously more or less on schedule.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DH demands national conversation on Vegemite

This site is a Vegemite free zone!

For too long, Australians of refined sensibility have been oppressed by the Vegemite-guzzling majority.

How much longer must we endure their smear campaigns?

We demand that the "Vegemite Question" be put on the agenda for a genuinely inclusive Australia Day.

Dodson's national conversation kickstarted by his opponents :-)

It's amusing to find that while vociferously rejecting Patrick Dodson's call for a national conversation on Australia Day, all the usual rightwing rabble rousers, Albrechtson, Akerman, and Henderson were off like hares this morning, first off the mark to kickstart the conversation they don't think we should have :-)

Much as DH admires Rudd, she thinks his "no" was premature, priggish and excessively fearful of backlash, though an understandable attempt to hose down a public overwhelmed by change. Unfortunately there's no supressing an idea whose time has come once it's "out there".

Debates about whether or not the Aborigines had a utopia before 1788 are irrelevant. The 26th of January simply opened up a new nightmare for the indigenous inhabitants of this country. Even from a no-armband, utterly blamefree point of view, smallpox alone brought suffering to the land.

Unfortunately when we face a crisis, like 9/11, or the current financial meltdown, we return to more caveman-like impulses, and the finer impulses to social progress are stalled. But eventually the day will shift as it must.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Howard govt housing inaction still coming home to roost

So Australia is home to three of the most "severely unaffordable housing markets" studied by Demographia, an international policy group, and all of it happened under the imperial aegis* of those self-styled paragons of solid, responsible economic management, Howard, Costello, What's-his-name, and not forgetting the egregious young Hockey Minor.

Though DH is a timorous creature, she likes to think she cornered Hockey at her local "politics at the pub" approximately thus: "As one of the traditional renters of Sydney who are now doing it tough thanks to your govt's 10 years of neglect and failure to address housing policy, can you explain how this happened under your watch, when you had 10 years to anticipate it , and do you think you owe us an apology?". DH could swear he looked like a guilty rabbit caught in the headlights for a second, before he recalled himself and returned with the Liberal mantra: ... it's all the fault of the States, ... failing to release more land ... state taxes ...

"Clueless and lazy" sums it up.

And they're touting this otherwise amiable bozo as the future Liberal saviour of the NSW!

*aegis (n), the shield of Zeus, bearing at its centre the head of the Gorgon, she whose gaze turns men to stone... Which is a very unkind thing to say about Amanda Vanstone

Friday, January 23, 2009

Go Nathan!

For the sake of stability, DH desperately wants Nathan Rees to get it together, despite yesterday's prevarications.

She reckons he just needs to call on his inner Obama, keep in touch with his ideals, find his own voice and articulate a truthful and realistic message, and the public will respect him for it.

DH admires him for the way he appears to have started following this path from the beginning, and perhaps Obama's example can continue to inspire him and fuel his determination.

His "sack me or back me" call (as described by the Telegraph) seems spot on, and today he appears to have prevailed, at least as far as us ordinary punters can hope to know.

DH is willing to bet that most of NSW want him to succeed and be the best he can be for all our sakes.

Dubbo: When the natives get restless

How heartbreaking to see the ABC doco When the natives get restless about the impact of the Housing Minister, Cherie Burton's 2006 decision to raze Dubbo's Gordon Estate.

Excerpts from Hansard 11 May 2006, the day of the announcement:

Miss CHERIE BURTON: ... The cost of maintaining properties on the estate is 300 per cent higher than the cost of maintenance on any other estate in western New South Wales. Since 1995, 46 properties on the estate have been destroyed by fire.... all 278 Department of Housing properties to be sold.... the community will be consulted every step of the way...

Mr Andrew Stoner [Nats]: ... [The Minister has not answered] where these tenants are going. Where is she sending the tenants?

Miss CHERIE BURTON: ... [Tenants] will be found appropriate housing in an area appropriate to their needs and the needs of the community ....

Mr Andrew Stoner: You just send them somewhere else...

The doco now shows us the exactly where the "appropriate accommodation" turned out to be, in the case of one woman with 7 children, whose 4 bedroom place was replaced by a caravan in Wagga. The children were torn away from their grandparents who remained in Dubbo. So much for building stronger communities.

The grandfather soon died in Dubbo. There was a chilling scene where the children were entertained by a new "uncle" in the caravan park, a lugubrious, blood-curdling maniac who would have defied belief even as a cartoon character.

Was this a family of "troublemakers" who deserved their fate? There was no trial, and we will probably never know. But all the children looked under 13.

Well, that was Cherie Burton's watch. Now let's see how new Minister, David Borger manages with Rosemeadow (below) ...

Rosemeadow: When the natives get restless ...

While Cherie Burton took a scorched earth, take-no-prisoners approach to social problems at Dubbo, David Borger appears to be attempting surgical removal of the offending families.

But first, the evictions have to be approved by "The Tribunal", the CTTT. Since October 2008, the CTTT has a new social housing division to deal with the huge volume of work sent its way by Housing NSW.

It will be interesting to see the Tribunal's verdict.

DH wonders whether

  • the same legal processes were followed for the indigenous inhabitants of Dubbo
  • the CTTT's social housing division is independant of both the Minister and HNSW

Watch this space, as she is awaiting advice from a legal eagle.


Update 31 Jan 09

The legal eagle reminded DH that Dubbo was abt transfers, while Rosemeadow is abt evictions. DH still wonders what pressure was applied, and what legal recourse tenants might have had if they didn't want to move. Keep watching....


DH has long contended that the CTTT was used, at huge cost to taxpayers, to intimidate tenants over trivial arrears, seemingly at the discretion of individual staff, giving huge scope to bloody-minded individuals to bully tenants.

For the saga of DH's own drama with the Tribunal Merry-go-round which nearly cost her her job and her sanity, check out this blog in the months of Jan to March 2006

  1. DH gets Termination of Tenancy notice!
  2. Just plain desperate... (the emotional cost of the process)
  3. The outcome

DH has mixed feelings about evictions. Were she her former carefree and idealistic self, her response would have been that everyone must be housed, and adequate supports must furnished by the state. But having seen estates terrorised by a few tenants who are a danger to themselves and others, she wonders just how far the art of the possible extends.

She might once have agreed with Ben Franklin's (paraphrased) dictum that those who sacrifice civil liberties for the sake of perfect security, deserve neither. Yet to sacrifice the security of the reasonably responsible majority for the sake of the civil liberties of those who are simply not capable of exercising any responsibility, seems to defy basic comon sense rooted in the biological and evolutionary laws which must have some sway over all living things, with the possible exception of sociology professors...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Dastyardly move by NSW ALP Head Office

Thanks to 2 articles in the SMH, DH is having second thoughts about her exhortation to NSW Labor, below, to "stand by their man".

Call her fickle, but bamboozled is more like it

What can anyone without inside knowledge, really know about the ambitions, personality clashes, secret interests, toxic alliances and pressures to toe the line, that appear to make up the sum total of NSW Labor? When it comes to NSW politics, truly what-t-f does DH think she knows? She should probably stick to her brief, which is to whinge about the Department of Housing and Centrelink. But these days, with all renters doing it tough, it seems churlish to complain. And with the old class struggle intensifying as laissez-faire Cap melts down, DH has no intention of becoming a wedge to divide the underclasses. So with her chances of getting a job receding rapidly into the never-never, she has time on her hands to meddle in things she has no idea about.

First, DH is mightily disturbed by Andrew Clennell's Taxpayers fund ALP man's move into Rees office about Sam Dastyari's dizzying climb to a 6 figure salary. How does a 25 year old become a "senior official" from ALP headquarters? Since when is a wet-behind-the-ears eager beaver a "man"?

And despite the Devine Miss M's general dodginess, when she opines that, Frankly, the best option is Sartor, perhaps she has a point. Perhaps DH is wrong to support Nathan Rees based only on conventional wisdom rather than inside knowledge: "Let's draw a line in the sand, stop chopping and changing, work with what we've got, and get on with it". And DH is feeling sheepish about her prejudiced remarks about an ethnic mafia. It turns out Sartor, Costa and Tripodi can't stand each other. Not that a mafia mindset precludes factions, but, mea culpa.

Now DH was, until late last year, a member of the Labor party. Yet still she has no idea what's going on in the party. She spent her time in the party dutifully sending motions on deadly boring, but no doubt vital, topics like cement loaders and rogue fig trees to some elephant graveyard in the sky, never to be heard of again.

Every now and then, there were rumours of a mysterious entity called "head office", which apparently was redolent with faceless (does anyone have any idea of what Karl Bitar even looked like before he was whisked off to higher things?) ambitious wogs with no devotion to the idealistic passions of her mainly Anglo/Celtic playmates in the Inner West Labor Left playpen.

Now this young Dastyari fellow, who according to the SMH has been foisted on Nathan Rees by Head Office: again, wtf does DH know, but Dastyari was convincingly described to her in the most contemptuous terms by one idealistic young world-changer who was too disgusted to stick it out in Young Labor,

And how do 25 year olds, whose only qualification is to turn up tenaciously at meetings that no self-respecting young activist would touch with a barge-pole, get to become power brokers in what is after all, our major political party?

So anyway, for all DH knows, Frank Sartor may be as good a caretaker as NSW gets till the Messiah comes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We have a dream again!

What a magnificent speech from Barack Obama!

DH pledges to refrain for a day from all cynicism and lampoonery while she dares to dream of a world in which satirists are unnecessary

Monday, January 19, 2009

Christmas Island the New Jerusalem

DH is not usually given to doling out advice on foreign policy, but since her inbox is overflowing with invective from the Leftist Republic of CloudCuckooLand and their benighted Messianic opponents, she feels she is rapidly become as expert as the next punter. Having weighed up the polemic from both extremes,  the idea of the Middle Path so appeals to her that this may be her last missive before converting to Buddhism.
As a suitably detached neo-Buddhist Sage-in-Waiting and Equal of Heaven, then, here's her take on the Middle East conflict.  
Posing as mild-mannered welfare-workers come to straighten out the corrupt Palestinian Authority, Hamas' mustachios-with-fists got themselves elected by the desperate Gazan mainstream. While carrying on their welfare shopfront as a smokescreen, they prosecuted their real agenda. Holy War against the Infidel in their midst. 
What have they got to lose by taking 1000's of potshots at Southern Israel? Either the Israeli people living there give up, or else the testosterone crowd that tends to run governments and military, eventually succumb to doing what comes naturally and go ballistic.
DH wonders what Hamas cares if their people die? They believe in a glorious afterlife after all They've turned the whole state of Gaza into a suicide bomb. And they've got their allies in the Republic of CuckooLand backing them up in the propaganda war.
Poor Palestinians. Poor Israelis.
DH suggests a prisoner exchange. Lets round up all the fundamentalists, Jewish, Christian, Moslems, Socialist Alliance, and anyone else caught wearing silly hats. Then let's exchange them for all the normal co-operative flexible people stuck in the middle east who just want to get on with their lives.
Christmas Island. With all its facilities ready to go,  wouldn't that be a magnanimous and aptly named gift to the flotsam of Zion. Anyone for the New Jerusalem?

NSW Labor. Stand by your man

DH reckons NSW Labor should quit their shenanigans, pull themselves together and get behind Nathan Rees come hail or shine. He shows every indication of intelligence and character, and if he lacks experience, those who think they're smarter should get over their personal ambitions and for the sake of the state, build him up and guide him.

Enough bull from creeps like Obeid and Tripodi!

Maybe those in the know have reasons for supporting Frank Sartor and the ethnic Labor mafia. No doubt like all strong men Frank is a mixed bag of good and bad. But DH knows, or thinks she knows, one thing about him. During his tenure as Mayor, while she was working in the City of Sydney Library she and her fellow-workers had the lowest wages of any library staff in Sydney. Needless to say, she does not see penny-pinching as equivalent to masterful economic management.

Monday, January 05, 2009

On the 15th day of Christmas...

And they wonder why DH gets desperate at this time of year! The list below is for real! It's exactly what DH's dear old mum gave her, although the numbers are somewhat under-stated.

With genes like this running through the family, what lifechances did DH ever have?

On the 15th day of Christmas, her mother gave to her

15 Anxious phone calls
14 Full of griping
13 Crochet doilies
12 Knit clothes hangers
11 Shirley Temple photos
10 Andre Rieu CDs
9 Old "Women's Weeklies"
8 Gold lamé jackets
7 Leftover sandwiches in
6 Layers of gift wrap
5 Oven Mitts!
14 Christmas cards
13 Channukah cards
12 Old underpants
. . . and a monologue on family history