It’s a hard knock life…

It’s the hard-knock life for us! – Did I mention that I’m spending the next 5 days on the tropical islands Magnetic and Dunk…
It’s the hard-knock life for us! – all expenses paid, during work hours (or over the weekend which I’ll get to take work days off as replacements…)
Cotton blankets, ‘Steada of wool! – well probably satin actually.
Empty Bellies ‘Steada of full! – Well I’ll probably be quite full.
It’s the hard-knock life!

So yeah I won’t be blogging for a couple of days.

Uncategorized

Myopian Utopia

“Build a better world” activists lobbyists Amnesty International don’t have too much to do in Australia now Hicks is back, but they’ve gone a bridge too far with its latest criticism of John Howard. In what is surely an example of rabbitical hyperbole (or rabid hyperbole… nb try searching for “rabbitical hyperbole” on google – there’ll now be two entries) they have compared the diminutive Aussie PM with Zimbabwe’s fashionable dictator* Mugabe. While that comparison may be apt if you’re a crazy neo-leftist who thinks anything short of marxism is a form of oppression – I have no problem with that tool of political persuasion. I do feel that Amnesty struck a low blow when they called Howard short sighted. This is clearly making fun of the PM’s disability. A practice frowned upon in an age of politically correct social discourse. Luckily their claims will probably fall on deaf ears.**

* insomuch that he is the archetypal dictator – or the dictator a la mode
** boom boom tish

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Damned with faint praise

Mud slinging didn’t work. Advertising is failing. Polls are in. The Prime Minister is in trouble. And he knows it. Rudd has a cliche for every occasion and he has his MP’s on message trotting out the “John Howard is a clever politician” mantra at every turn. They’re singing the same tune, and people are listening. Howard has apparently gone a bridge too far, he’s an old man and it’s time for change. While Howard has been condemned for negative campaigning Rudd has been subtly digging the foundations out from under the seemingly unassailable castle Howard. He displayed an air of cockiness right up to the Federal Budget where he changed tact. RUDD: There’s still a few months to go before this election. But he’ll get a surge in the polls and I dare say I won’t. Here’s a progression of statements from K-Rudd over the last few months:

“I’ll say to you friends one and all, win this election we will.”

“I’ve always said we’re up against a clever politician and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

“You can’t hand out a bucketful of money to the Australian community and not get some bounce.”

It will be very much a marathon and … I expect we’ll take a pounding in the opinion polls as a result of this budget.”

Both parties are desparate to secure underdog status prior to the polls because we all know Australia loves an underdog. The PM has gradually been moving away from blatant antagonism to something more subtle.

“I’m not boasting that I’m going to win, as my opponent is.”
“The public opinion polls suggest we would not just lose but be annihilated.”
“People might think I’ve got a rabbit to pull out of the hat. I don’t.”

The Howard government waited for Labor’s inevitable implosion under Latham – but it seems unlikely they’ll get the same result from the artist formerly known as Dr Death, K-Rudd. He seems to have his temper, and the Labor factions under control. So Howard’s boys have joined the chorus line – they’re now dishing out back handed compliments to the Labor front bench.

“Julia Gillard’s on the front cover of the ABC magazine, she’s in Women’s Weekly
and all those things,” Industrial Relations Minister Joe Hockey told reporters.
“I’m not as pretty as Julia Gillard, obviously.”

Finance Minister, Senator Nick Minchin told ABC radio today: “The Prime Minister
was just stating the reality that on current polls, if these current polls
continue then there will be a change of government and a Rudd Labor government
would be elected decisively.”

Labor’s response was once again elegantly on message…

“I think that’s a piece of political trickiness for which the Prime Minister is notorious,” Labor MP Kelvin Thomson told reporters.

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God will be God and you will know it

God has been getting a bit of publicity lately – and not much of it is good. This is likely to continue as long as his representatives (the church) keep screwing up their key messages. Public Relations strategy centres on sticking to a key message – and not straying to the peripherals. Andrew Denton’s balanced “God on My Side” was screened on the ABC last night and showed the American Religious Right for what it is – a mixture of crazy zealots hoping to bring about Armageddon through war in Israel and a group of well intentioned Christians keen to spread the gospel through whatever mean necessary. As Christians we are called to preach Christ crucified. To proclaim the “good news” that Jesus is the key to forgiveness for our inability and refusal to live life God’s way, using puppets is fine for that. We are not called to get on TV and promise new pancreases to diabetics. While the concept of judgement is a pillar of Christianity there is no biblical text to support the idea that we should be acting to hasten judgement – instead we’re called to make hay while the sun shines (John 4:35). The church’s inability to stay on message sees it getting bogged down in debates it doesn’t belong in. Obscure theological debates (premillenialism v postmillenialism etc) should be played out in bible colleges and published journals – not fought out in public between churches or Christians. The issues of sexuality and sin – which the bible is quite clear on – need to be presented in the light of the gospel – yes, the bible clearly says God is against homosexuality, but he’s also against lying, any sex outside of marriage, pornography and any form of theft. People who indulge in any of these areas are unfit for ministry – but are more than acceptable to God if they repent. There is no sin that God won’t forgive (except final and absolute rejection of him). When the church publicly condemns sexual sin it opens itself up for accusations of hypocrisy. It is not the church’s place to judge – or condemn anyone – there but for the grace of God we all go. While a belief in Christianity fundamentally (and logically) renders every other religion false – that does not mean that we should hate – or want to nuke – followers of other religions.
The intersection of Christianity and politics is one that has raised the ire of many over the years – and interestingly the separation of church and state is not really constitutionally enshrined – the role of Christians in parliament is something Ben and I have fiercely debated all year. Non-Christians should not be worried that Christians will impose their system of morals and beliefs onto everybody as law – Christians are called to be counter cultural – not to set the culture. We should be lights to the world – we can’t do that if everybody is doing the same thing.
The scary reality is that God is real, he’s in control. If God is God – we can not dictate how he should rule, or make him in our own image. We can’t stand here and shake our fists at perceived injustices.That’s not how the philosophical concept of God works – nor is it how the God of the Bible works. People who have problems with God have a problem. People who have a problem with the behaviour of the church I can sympathise with. There have been terrible atrocities committed in God’s name. There are people around with a terrible understanding of how the Bible fits together. But I can’t help but lack tolerance for this guy. Dawkins is the pin up boy for atheists. He has written a number of books criticising belief in God. He is to atheism what terrorists are to Islam and what the crazy eyed fundamentalists from the American far right are to Christianity. But he’s also widely respected as a scholar and an intellectual. Dawkin’s extremes make his fellow atheists so uncomfortable they feel compelled to explain his statements – in the same way that Muslims dealt with the uncovered meat statements from Hilaly. While I’m not sure I completely agree with the idea of persuading people based on the odds – Pascal had a logical argument or wager supporting belief in God.
Being a Christian isn’t the latest intellectual trend – but the church does itself a disservice whenever it strays from its calling and into the murk and mire of stupid debates. Let God worry about when the world is going to end. Let God worry about bringing punishment to sinners. The more we focus on what divides the church, and what divides society, the less people are inclined to listen to what we’re saying and the more likely we are to do something stupid like invading the Middle East under the pretext of a holy war. In conclusion – Dawkins is an idiot but then the wider church is full of them.

May contain nuts

Vegetarians have struck a blow for good taste and Mars have backed down from a controversial decision to revisit a traditional method of chocolate making which involved the use of animal products in their chocolate bars – the anti-animal crackers* have stormed the offices of Mars Inc demanding they cease and desist – 6000 complaint calls were made from the UK’s estimated population of 3 million vegetarians and vegans. Methinks Mars would have saved themselves the trouble if they’d included a “May contain traces of cow” warning on their label and listed the ingredient rennet as “cow stomach” right from the beginning.

The powerfully stupid lobby group known as the general populace (also known as the audience of Today Tonight and A Current Affair) have struck a few blows lately with the Howard Government introducing a fairness test to placate those voters who are worried that the new IR laws will lead to a decrease in working conditions for ordinary Australians. Does anybody actually know anyone who has been personally disadvantaged by the IR laws? There’s plenty to suggest that employment has gone up since their introduction – and only anecdotal and occasional news stories about the abuse of the new IR freedoms. Labor and the unions have been peddling their idealistic opposition to the IR platform like a deviant drug dealer dishing out dime bags of dope to school children – repeating the mantra “a bridge to far” like a group of monks hell bent on hypnotising the electorate.

Crikey contained a very interesting opinion piece on politics today which made some good points about the way the government seem to be unable to get their fairly compelling message (a good track record of managing the economy) across to the electorate. I guess their handling of the “emotional” issues like climate change, David Hicks, the war on Iraq and other hot topics (a little climate change joke there…) has overshadowed any other achievements they may like to hang their hats on. I’m still not convinced that wall to wall Labor governments is in our best interests. One look at water, health, infrastructure and education – areas the State Government is meant to look after suggests Labor aren’t doing their job at a state level – and they’re all the one party people… Maybe I just don’t like Rudd – and maybe it’s because everyone else seems to (a little like my disdain for U2) and maybe it’s because the Prime Minister called me an “enterprising Townsvillian” when I met him last week, but I don’t like the idea of the polls translating to actual success on election day.

Anyway, one last thing for all you conspiracy theorists out there – the Townsville Bulletin ran a small ad on page 3 today which has uncovered what I believe is a very scary possibility – the existance of a Secret Government Agency (SGA) dedicated to creating an army of psycho psychics who have no qualms about murder and other unconscionable crimes. Brian Pedder was a human lab rat who was regularly abducted by this SGA – for some reason he now remembers the atrocities he committed while under their power. It’s compelling reading, but a little scary that this guy paid for advertising space in a regional newspaper seeking anyone who he may or may not have committed crimes against in the past. I can only wonder if it’s not some sort of viral marketing campaign for these web designers. But I think he thinks he’s for real…

* At the very least they don’t like animal crackers in their soup…

Eddie Bones Himself

Nine’s nominal head honcho (nominal because nobody really seems to be running the show) Eddie McGuire has boned himself. “Boned” of course being the euphemism he coined for terminating employment at Nine – an action trotted out with increasing frequency at the station that formerly ruled the roost. Nine’s ratings are plummeting. People in newsrooms across Australia are starting to speak out against the administration and James Packer has recently announced his family will split their evil gaming interests from their pure and wholesome media interests so that investors don’t get confused between the two. While Eddie has boned himself from the top job it seems he’s given himself another job within the organisation. Somewhere in the creative department. I guess one of the perks of being CEO of a sinking ship is that you can arrange a cushy new job somewhere on board as the rest of the rats jump off. I like mixing metaphors.

Turning a blind eye

I have a disability – I don’t know if you know this, and I don’t really tell many people (except now I’m potentially telling the world) – but I am one of the 5% of males worldwide who suffers from colour blindness. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I don’t really notice. I don’t really notice lots of things actually – red flowers on green trees, the difference between traffic light colours (that one’s a joke, I can tell the difference between extremes at each end of the red and green spectrums). Colour blindness is a profound philosophical issue – do we all see the world the same way? How would you describe a colour to a completely sight impared person? Colour can be a pretty abstract concept – particularly if you’re unable to make the distinction between two binarily opposed colours (red and green for example). I can never truly be sure if an outfit is colour coordinated, or what ball I’m actually aiming for in pool, or which wire to cut in a dramatic scene involving a ticking time bomb. It’s ruled me out of careers in the military, the electronics industry and the design industry. And now I can comprehensively show you why. This is a purpose built picture I put together in photoshop – featuring tones from the red and green spectrums – I see simply green… I know there are two colours there because I made the picture using a colour palette function. I can work out the distinction between the colours if I stare at them for long enough.

Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet – you can understand how I see the world with this colour blindness simulator.

It doesn’t quite do it justice – I see more a blurring of the circle with the background and if I really focus on it I get a headache. But this Ishihara diagram will probably help you to see the difference in what I see… unless you’re Joel.

You’re supposed to see a 6 – and I now believe it’s there because I played with the saturation and hue settings in photoshop and I could see it. If I look really hard at the unedited image I can now see where the six is, but I’d have no chance if I hadn’t cheated.

The avid reader will notice that this post has been edited – this occured after I met John Howard and shook his hand – there will be more on that in a later blog.

One perfect day

Despite suffering flu like symptoms I managed to have the perfect day of dining yesterday – it’s days like it that make me really appreciate my job.
Starting with breakfast at Betty Blue and the Lemon Tart – one of Townsville’s dining gems and a frequent haunt for Robyn and I for their all day Sunday breakfast. I had Sunday Mail journo Alison Cotes up this week checking out Magnetic Island and Hidden Valley Cabins and this was her last meal in Townsville before returning to Brisbane. Breakfast was Mini fried donuts with white fudge, turkish delight and ice cream followed by bacon and eggs on doorstop toast – that donut dish is a combination of all my favourite sweet foods.
After that breakfast I’d planned not to have lunch because I had a dinner engagement on Magnetic Island with another media group – but a meeting at work had ordered excess catering and a platter of soft cheeses, fruit, biscuits and sandwhiches was left in the staff room – I’m not one to turn down free cheese.
Dinner was three of my favourite dishes of all time – Caesar Salad, followed by a medium rare sirloin steak, followed by creme caramel.
What a day. What a job. And to top it off I’m at home having a sick day today so I can engage in my other favourite activity – sleep and hopefully overcome this flu.

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Think of the children…


So what about the children
Remember when we were children
And if not for those who loved us and who cared enough to show us
Where would we be today – What about the Children, Yolanda Adams


Benny has real problems with childcare – more specifically problems with funding for childcare – problems that I must admit I don’t really care about. Well I didn’t. But he makes a valid point. There’s a range of factors playing behind the scenes in the childcare debate – the economic argument – childcare encourages parents back into the workforce, the social argument – are children are better off raised by their parents than being pushed through ABC learning centres, and the political argument – should childcare be a political issue.

The economic argument seems simple on the surface – if parents can put their young children into affordable childcare they can return to the workforce and a household becomes a double income household contributing more to the economy via tax. The argument is pretty simple when it comes to single parents needing subsidised childcare – but in this double income situation it’s a different question. The politically correct brigade who want to argue that having children is a choice and society shouldn’t be burdened by those who make that choice are kind of missing the point – they can all die out. Their estates can be held in trust distributing to whatever crazy social cause they want to and this selfish ideology should hopefully die out with them. Both religion and Darwinism would argue that a primary function of human life is to recreate – or procreate – or have children. These evolutionary throwbacks are probably doing their bit by not spawning offspring with the same intolerable world view. But that’s a tangent. The reality is our society needs children. Economists would argue that if we stopped having children we could rely on migrants to pick up the population slack – but economists are often restricted to thinking within the square and forget about human issues. If we were all robots that would work – but while there are people like Pauline Hanson – who suggests that anyone who is offended by the Australian flag should leave the country – I think we need to realise that the human condition involves placing value in intangibles. That’s another tangent – and here’s another one – someone today wrote a letter to the editor in the Townsville Bulletin that suggested that the budget was simply the Liberal’s attempt to grab votes. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what politics is about – providing a legislative framework that is the most popular within the electorate. So excuse me if I don’t share the cynicism of this particular letter writer – I thought all politicing was overt vote grabbing. Now that the tangents are over I’ll resume the point on childcare – at the moment there is barely an economic argument for single mothers to re-enter the workforce after childbirth. The government provides important family payments to ensure children don’t die of malnutrition and that sort of thing – if a mother returns to work she is entitled to less money from centrelink and has to pay more tax, plus childcare – it just doesn’t add up. I think, at this point, the government should be subsidising child care – or publicising it (making it a public service) – which they already do for education. The current situation of unregulated privatised childcare is only great for the owners who are out buying private jets and stuff. Which is where Benny’s argument starts to make sense:


“Government is subsidising childcare to the point where the industry is built on profitably exploiting the subsidy. If it is continued to be subsidised in this way, we will be paying excessive amounts for childcare through both direct payments and taxes, whilst the childcare owners will be dancing around on piles of money.”

Which is true. Ben thinks the Government’s willingness to extensively subsidise childcare is creating a viscious cycle where private businesses are jumping on the childcare bandwagon and charging more than they have to because of the subsidy.


“What are people asking for when they complain about expensive childcare? Is it an arguement that the government is failing or an arguement that they dont like paying free-market childcare rates? If the government is to subsidise childcare in this way, it isnt going to make childcare cheaper, it is going to make it more expensive. It is going to increase childcare demand, increase the already extensively profitable childcare rates, and result in more profits to private childcare. Basically, the current state of childcare is basically a goldmine to private firms who get it organised. The belief in society that childcare should be cheap and readily available has created this incredibly inefficient market that is costing a fortune.”

Ben suggests that there’s a belief in the inherent right to childcare – a belief that the Government should be providing care for its youngest citizens. It seems to me that this belief comes from a variety of factors – there’s an economic argument for getting parents into the workforce and providing further stimulus to the economy through high employment. But there’s a social cost to having children essentially raised by the state, or by a corporate body designed solely to make money from the commodity of children. Parental responsibility should extend past choosing the most beneficial child care centre – regardless of the criteria used to assess each centre. I’d like to think that parents will choose the best option for their kids, not the cheapest. But the fact is one on one parenting is a better relational model than putting kids in the daycare environment where they are spending time divided amongst a number of carers who are spread across every child’s needs. I can’t help but think that childcare is a bad model encouraged by purely economic factors. There’s a reason school doesn’t start until a kid is 5 – parents can’t abdicate every responsibility to either the state or a third party. That’s not what parenting is about.

On the political front – looking after the “family” is smart politics – the family remains the dominant social unit despite the growing trend for remaining single or childless – no one wants to be seen to be against the family – except militant vegan lesbians who want everything to be geared towards their impact free life choices. The “for the children” mentality is safe political territory operating on the following syllogism:

P is good for children
Children are good
Therefore, anything related to children is good
Therefore, P is good

Which doesn’t quite work – but it’s the way people think. It’s manipulative, it’s good for gaining votes and that’s politics. Without winning votes you don’t win. Ben made this interesting point:

“I have this theory because before you have a family, you have higher free income and can afford more and have more time to display personal principles, and argue about the economics and social justices regarding issues. However, families just want to get by, get more money to put away for kids, and somehow get through their childrens education. to them, childcare rebates sound like a win.”

One other thing

I forgot to mention the budget. Consider it mentioned. I thought it was interesting to see the budget dealt with Climate Change in exactly the way Ben and I thought it should – it ignored it. Climate Change is an issue overheated by overzealous scaremongering from the latte left. It seems logical to me that the ice caps have been gradually melting for a long time – why we’ve suddenly decided that our carbon emissions are responsible for environmental change is beyond me – other than the fact that there are elections coming up in the US and Australia – and a potential Presidential candidate made a propaganda filled movie the likes of which have not been seen since Michael Moore trotted out his award winning anti-Bush tripe a few years ago. In real terms the new IR laws have created jobs, kept inflation down and kept productivity stable – while the unions would have us believe that we’re all one contract away from the sweatshops. The unions of course have nothing to gain from convincing the public that workplace agreements are bad… oh that’s right – collective bargaining is their bread and butter. Union membership in Australia is steadily on the decline because we’ve never had it so good. K-Rudd should spend his time picking the real issues with the Howard government rather than trying to box shadows (in the pugilistic sense). It’s time for them to stop attacking Howard’s age (and implying he’s out of touch) and to start making suggestions of real policy – something last night’s budget seemed short of. The government has obviously overtaxed us for years – a surplus of $13.6 billion is not a sign of fiscal responsibility but an indication that they’ve taken too much money from the electorate. Although any public servant expecting to be paid superannuation when they retire would probably suggest that we need more money in the surplus – not less.

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Paris for the weekend

I feel no pity for Paris Hilton – instead I’m still filled with mirth every time I picture the poor heiress (that’s called juxtaposition boys and girls) to the Hilton fortune curled up in a prison cell wearing regulation orange overalls. Paris Hilton drove drunk. Paris Hilton had her licence revoked. Paris Hilton was warned not to drive while disqualified. Paris Hilton’s agent told her she’d get away with it. Paris Hilton listened to her agent – not the court – and Paris Hilton got caught. That’s the long and the short of it. And now she’s in jail – or she will be from June 5 – for 45 days. Not content to go down without a fight Paris Hilton has launched a campaign via her MySpace – suggesting she’s much too good looking to go to jail. Another MySpace campaign is not so flattering – a right wing cult leader/nut job/conspiracy theorist is so tired of Paris and the league of false role models that he’s launching a campaign encouraging people to burn her CDs outside Hilton hotels. His protest is based solely on Hilton’s lack of suitability as a role model and is not making an aesthetic judgement on the actual CDs – which I would have thought an equally compelling reason to burn them. Sucks to be her – apart from the millions of dollars she flouts while out and about trouncing around the country side (there are lots of “ou” words in that sentence). For someone who writes “socialite” on the employment section of any forms she probably could have claimed that she was in fact using her motor vehicle for “work” related activities – a defence Winona Ryder tried out during her 2001 shoplifting trial (some stories claimed the shoplifting incident was “research” for a role as a criminal.

In other news – Manchester United are the champions – after years of putting up with Chelsea’s incredible bankroll and backroom deals the Red Devils are again the top dogs in the English Premier League. Thanks to Arsenal, which makes the victory extra sweet… Now if Manly can maintain their current vein of form in the NRL it could be an almost perfect year of sport.

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No Comment

As an experienced PR person (I feel one year on the job and a 5 year degree makes me an “expert”) there’s one piece of wisdom I’d like to pass on to anyone out there who has anything to do with the media. NEVER*, NEVER**, ever say “no comment.” It’s poor media management, it takes away an opportunity to express your point of view in the public sphere and it just makes you look guilty. Don’t do it. Ever. Someone should pass this advice on to Sylvester Stallone and his management company. He copped a hiding in the media after he was busted trying to import 48 vials of illegal “stay young and fit” growth hormones on a promotional visit to Australia – eager to avoid uncomfortable questions in the future the Stallone camp has banned Australian journalists from attending his press conferences. The ultimate “no comment” – as a result every major Australian newspaper ran a story about his poor sportsmanship and recalcitrance. The rules for dealing with the media are (for those of you planning on ever being in front of a camera, or talking to a journalist).

1. Figure out your key message and stick to is – say nothing else if need be, all the reporter is looking for is a quote to write a story around – if you only say one thing that’s the only thing they’ll quote.
2. Never say no comment – if you don’t want to comment come up with a standard line explaining you won’t comment at this point as you’re waiting for more information – by the time that information comes the story should be well and truly out of the news cycle.
3. Don’t lie to the journalist.
4. Don’t try to unsay something you’ve said – that puts a big flashing neon sign over the statement – corrections are ok, flat out denials not so good.
5. Don’t get angry with what’s said. K-Rudd apparently needs to learn this one – what’s printed is printed, you can’t unprint something. Nor should you try to put pressure on a journalist – that breeds contempt and that’s bad. K-Rudd is looking into his media management strategy.
6. Don’t crack wise with journalists – if you say something that can potentially be taken out of context it probably will be. Only say what you want to be quoted.

Funnily enough, I started writing this entry yesterday just before I had to say “no comment” to a journalist – although he was a uni student trying to break a story we didn’t want broken so I’m not overly concerned about the far reaching implications of that – and I didn’t “no comment” him – I just didn’t return his calls.

*capitalised to indicate importance.
**repeated to indicate importance.

If the hat fits

It’s funny how a series of unconnected events can be strung together to make a cohesive topical argument – we could link a series of stories about North Queensland in the papers recently. The death of a tourist at the spectacular Yongala wreck dive on her honeymoon a couple of years ago and the subsequent questioning of her husband, the case of the missing sailors on Kaz II etc can be linked to suggest North Queensland is Australia’s Bermuda triangle… Or, in the case that I’m actually writing about I’ll link a TV series with an Australian news story and this Pakistani story…

In an episode of the West Wing filmed as a direct response to the 9-11 attacks, White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry is interviewing a terror suspect who works at the White House in a policy role, his name has come up in investigations – or someone with the same name – and he was once questioned in relation to a bomb threat at his school… here’s a little bit of the script:

ALI: It’s not uncommon for Arab Americans to be the first suspected when that sort of thing happens.
LEO: I can’t imagine why.
ALI:Look…
LEO:No, I’m trying to figure out why anytime there’s any terrorist activity, people always assume its Arabs. I’m racking my brain.
ALI: I don’t know the answer to that, Mr. McGarry, but I can tell you it’s horrible.
LEO:Well, that’s the price you pay.
ALI: (angry) Excuse me? The price for what?
LEO (to the agent) Continue the questions.

After the real terrorist is caught Leo goes to see Ali in his office.

LEO:[solemnly] Good evening.
Ali looks up.
LEO:[stiffly] That’s the price you pay… for having the same physical features as criminals. That’s what I was gonna say.
ALI:[quietly] No kidding.
LEO: I’m sorry about that. Also about the crack I made about teaching Muslim women how to drive.
Ali looks down, taking this in. Leo, nervously, stiffly, his eyes wandering a bit, searches for the correct words.
LEO:I think if you talk to people who know me, they’d tell you that… that was unlike me, you know? We’re obviously all under, um… a greater than usual amount of… you know. And like you pointed out, with the shooting and everything…

A long silence falls between them. Ali looks up and searches Leo’s face.

Mistaken identity must suck if you’re of Arab descent – Bulldogs winger and Lebanese internationl, Hazem El Masri was recently at the wrong end of some from the NSW Police. El Masri was sitting outside a cafe in Sydney with two friends when 9 police officers came from nowhere and surrounded them – El Masri and his lawyer have, of course, claimed that this was racially motivated.

NSW Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Frank Mennilli says the community expects groups of loitering Arabs to be approached. He said the men were spoken to because they were sitting on a bench outside shops late at night and there had been break-ins and vandalism in the area over the past three or four months.

“We’ve got three male persons sitting on a bench after 11pm at night, the shops are closed, and I think the community would expect the police to go and speak to these people.”

Sure, it sucks. The police have to do this sort of thing because that’s the nature of the business – lebanese gangs have been responsible for all sorts of social ills in Sydney – but spare a thought for this guy…

“Pakistani intelligence agents have arrested Osama bin Laden twice, it was revealed Monday. Or at least they have arrested a man who looks very much like the al-Qa’eda leader.

More than six feet tall and with the same aquiline nose as bin Laden, Sher Akbar comes from an Afghan village, Bagh e Metal, in an area where US officials believe bin Laden has been hiding.”