Showing posts from December, 2009

New tolls

Sydney and the Toll Booth

Is it me or does the toll increase every 1 January around here? When most people are out having a good time on New Year's Eve on Sydney Harbour, the state government wants to remind everyone that our money is like the beer we drink at the pub. It's only ours for a short time. Some describe it as 'on loan.' We have it for now, but it will leave us very soon. Same with our funds in our wallets. The government will have it soon enough, thank you very much.

Take the increase in the tolls. Every three months the rates can rise. They could fall. (Someone wake me up-- I was dreaming for a moment) According to the law, the rates are fixed to the CPI the Consumer Price Index.

For instance, officially, the CPI has risen 36.5 per cent in the past 10 years, but tolls on motorways have gone up by between 52 and 100 per cent during the same period. I was a mathematics teacher in my 20s, and even though the governments of the world have brought in new maths, an…

Sherlock Holmes...action hero?

It's like reading a menu at a New Jersey diner. So much to choose from, so little time (129 minutes). A little CSI and NCIS. A little The Wrestler. Throw in characters from the original Arthur Conan Doyle. A little Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Mix in Da Vinci Code and Columbo, and you might have the movie Guy Ritchie made of Sherlock Holmes, this time around. And we shouldn't forget Indiana Jones.

Kenneth Turan and Michael Phillips didn't rave, in fact Phillips gave it 1.5 stars. Ouch. The queue at Sydney's Fox Studios yesterday went out the door; those folks don't read Chicago or Los Angeles reviews.

My head was in it, but the real thrill was the action. It was cleverly re-hashed before the hashing. In the opening sequence, Holmes is being chased and has to deduce his escape. "First point of attack, right ear," Downey whispers in voiceover. "Two, throat. Three, cracked ribs. In summary, neutralized." Clever indeed!

Ritchie is not the first to do th…

Two views

Looking back, looking forward

It can be confusing and downright dangerous to have your eyes looking in different directions. We are designed to be almost unidirectional. Our feet and our eyes and arms and ears all face the same way. If someone contorts into a different position we think they belong in the circus.

And yet at this time of the year we review. We look back. We want to know who died in 2009. We want to know what were the best moments on TV or the funniest interviews. We look backwards.

The Melbourne Age reported today the top 10 technology stories of the year. Safeguarding the internet from the scourge of illegal pornography, gambling and criminal activity was top of the national agenda this year as Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy continued to push his proposed mandatory internet filtering scheme.

Considered a misguided policy by many, the debate took a dramatic turn in March when a list of blacklisted websites was published online. The Government forged ahead regard…

Christmas... looking like this

Originally uploaded by Odessea Some say that Christmas should be met with barbecues and prawns, with beach side esky parties and shorts and thongs. That's the way we do it in Australia. But for many up north, this scene is more like they imagine. It's Christmas if it's snowing and cold. Culture is a funny thing. Irving Berlin, a Jew, wrote "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" no doubt with such a scene in mind. Tree tops glisten. No sleigh bells in this MOMA shot, though.

Others make Christmas into some shopping extravaganza with ribbons and boxes and all-night wrappings to make little ones happy when they awaken, way too early on this morning. The snow is designed to calm people, but little ones with trees and hopes for reward for being nice, not naughty, well it's too much for young ones.

Presents and trinkets, tinsel on the tree and merchandising. So much goes into making the holidays, the yuletide bright.

Or does it?

What about those millions of Ch…

End of an era....still singing

Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plain.

I like the chorus of "Gloria" in that Christmas carol. And I like the songs of the season. Maybe you do too.

But somebody sent me this link today and it reminded me of my old days, back in the early 1970s, singing at Full Faith Church of Love in Kansas City Kansas, with Brothers Ernie, Catron, and Tom Blasco and so many others, letting loose and thanking God. I imagined then that we were singing with angels. It was early charismatic days, the choruses abounded. The clapping was thunderous in the old building on South 42nd Street.

Were angels heard on high then? Were they singing sweetly o'er the plains of Kansas? Maybe, but the chorus lent itself to merriment and I liked things that way. Sung in the key of G, you know, high enough to make us sing louder.

Now Brother Ernie is doing so. He's singing with angels in heaven. This year, Nick Willems, Oral Roberts, Frances Hunter and Billy Joe Dougherty...and …

Hanukkah 2009

Originally uploaded by fantartsy JJ * Busy off and on* The lights will be lit, the dreidels spinning, the latkes frying... what a great time to be had by those who celebrate this holiday. The date roams around the December calendar, since the Jewish calendar is lunar. Each year, the holiday falls out on the 25th of Kislev, this year, that's 11 December. My family and so many others will gather worldwide to remember the holiday.

What is it we remember? The victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, under King Antiochus Epiphanes in about 165 BCE. And the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. And the finding of special oil, enough to last one day, but it lasted 8 days, according to the story.

Jews for Jesus will be celebrating this holiday together on 18 December, the last night, when all 9 candles are lit in Sydney. Specifically in Five Dock. For the info, check here...

Latkes, dreidels, singing, a Bible mes…