We had great eclipse viewing conditions in Edinburgh yesterday morning. (In your face, Transit of Venus 2004.) Armed with a pinhole camera and just the right degree of cloud cover, I even managed to get a few decent photos. No eyeballs were harmed in the taking of these images.
I grew up thinking of Malcolm Fraser and Australia’s Liberal Party as the bad guys, a view which only became stronger when I immersed myself in 1975 lore as a political science student in the late 1980s. When Gough Whitlam died last year, I lost a hero. Once I would as happily have danced on Fraser’s grave as on Margaret Thatcher’s.
But while Thatcher’s legacy in Britain becomes more toxic by the year, Fraser’s is more benign. His government presided over some positive changes—welcoming Vietnamese refugees, establishing SBS, opposing apartheid and white minority rule in Rhodesia, and the Northern Territory Land Rights Act—and saw through some of what Gough started. I’ll never approve of what he did in 1975, although I attach most of the blame to Governor-General Sir John Kerr for cravenly going along with it. Dismantling Medibank was a blot on his copybook as well, as was making a minister of John Howard. But after his time as prime minister he did and said a lot worth admiring.
David Pope’s cartoon in the Canberra Times captured it best. I love his reference to the old jokes about how Fraser looked like an Easter Island statue, too.
Time to relinquish the rage.
Illness and work combined to break my blogging habit* for a month, so here’s a backlog of links.
Wolf Hall was essential television, but how true to history was it? Count up the bodies.
A sad day for fans of comic fantasy, a genre Terry Pratchett pretty much came to define.
My copy of The Colour of Magic dates from 1985, the first Corgi paperback edition, which described the story on the front cover as “Jerome K. Jerome meets LORD OF THE RINGS (with a touch of Peter Pan)” and on the back as THE WACKIEST AND MOST ORIGINAL FANTASY SINCE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (who knew Death started out as a blurb writer?). The comparisons had a whiff of desperation, but did the trick: as a teenage fan of Tolkien, Douglas Adams and Three Men in a Boat, I paid my A$4.95 and started reading.
Honk. (Mouseover: Quack.)
The joy of a deadpan Amazon review when you least expect it. Nice punchline in the comments.
Cory Doctorow: It would be madness to hand over our archives to VCs (Boing Boing).
All my blogs are dead (“so I’ve started backing up my work”: oh dear, oh dear).
Have a dekko at Cathy Wilcox’s grouse cartoon A-Z of all things Oz.
A few final links on Charlie Hebdo I missed before, plus some further thoughts first posted in the giant Metafilter thread about them.
When I first moved to Edinburgh in 2001, I spent a lot of time in its second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, which were more prevalent then than they are now. On one visit I found a small hardback with a title and author that seemed to come from one of those “awful books” compilations, and picked it up for a pound on a whim.
Satellite images reveal the extent of Boko Haram’s destruction in Baga. I posted a MetaFilter thread on the attacks the other day.
Week one of the new EU VAT rules. Terrible for digital small businesses.
Ship Your Enemies Glitter. Offer may not be available in the EU.
Why the EU doesn’t need new anti-terrorism legislation. It isn’t as if there aren’t other laws that could be used to prosecute. Pretty obvious and old ones.