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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Trippin' on out

Miss Eagle is signing off for a few weeks. She departs at the weekend for The Nine Mile where Mad Max and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert were filmed. For more details of Miss Eagle's destination see here. The focus at this time is not on blogging but on preparations. Miss Eagle is getting the desk cleared at work; getting the Mitsubishi in order (it has new tyres, it has been detailed, and to-day the mechanic comes); and organising the gear.

And, dear Reader, your correspondent does not travel light. She has tried it and it doesn't work. She wishes she could say differently. So the spare bed has two small suitcases on it (one for undies - it already has the thermal underwear in it, one for the rest); an old Persil box full of writing materials - journals, coloured pencils and markers and calligraphy stuff; and camping and camera gear and a stack of CDs. To this will be added a box of books but a lot of those are still in her bedroom on the bedside table. Miss Eagle will be camping in her Mitsubishi wagon.

After The Nine Mile, it is over to Robertson to check out all that stuff that Denis and Anni blog about. Then down the south coast of New South Wales and across Gippsland to Upper Gully. So a few ks will get notched up as well as lots of good times.

So, blogging friends, see you in a while.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wedgies on the wing

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Denis Wilson of The Nature of Robertson has sent me a collection of Wedgetailed Eagle shots. Miss Eagle thinks they are wonderful - particularly the one where the wedgie is upside down, perhaps with an eye on some prey. Thanks to Denis, Miss Eagle has quite a collection.

Here are Denis's comments.

Here are a bunch of Eagle pix for you. Most are not good photos, (Miss Eagle loves them, Denis. Dont't be too modest.) but I have sent them, as a study in how the wings work. Some show the deep V shape when they are circling. When flying low and flat, the wings beat, and then the tips of the wings get bent back up by the effect of the air during the downbeat. There were 2 birds, one of which has a shorter tail than the other (regrowth after moulting). The long tailed one shows how its tail is also used aerobatically, as it is noticeably deeply V shaped (in a vertical sense) as well as being wedge shaped in outline. In other words, the longest feathers are held lowest.

None of these shots compare with the Sea Eagle shot, but they are interesting for various reasons. Wedgie wings 1 - the bird is actually flying away from me (not immediately obvious). The reflection is coming from the side of the V shaped tail (as the bird is turning it is using the deep V of its tail to help get turning power).

Wedgie wings 2 has a weird effect - you can see the close wing is spread, but the other wing appears to be closed, but uplifted on the tips, almost like a butterknife.

Wedgie Wings 3 has the bird looking almost perfectly in balance, and looking relaxed.

Wedgie Wings 4 has it nearly balanced, as it flies over, but its left wing is being uptilted by the wind.

These are just sent to you for interest. I used my 2 favourites on the blog tonight. I love the one where it is flying downhill, to the left (#1)

Monday, August 14, 2006

New from the industrial front

Amcor Flexibles
29 Bell St
[Between Chifley Dv and Albert St]

The AMCOR strike is entering a new phase tomorrow (Monday 14 August). To comply with a Federal Court order, the AMWU State Secretary will recommend a return to work at a mass meeting at 10am.

A letter given to the members states the intention of the meeting.
"The purpose of the meeting is to comply with section 1 (b) and (c) of the order"
These sections direct the union to "take all steps reasonably available under its rules" to ensure a return to work.

The Federal Court has threatened to jail AMWU officials and seize union assets if the union fails to comply with the order. Unions however are democratic institutions; the recommendation to return to work can either be accepted or rejected. The feeling to stay out until the issue of forced redundancies is resolved is strong. AMCOR workers need supporters before, during and after the meeting. More updates will come. You need to keep in contact with the website and the picket. Things could change very quickly in the new situation.

Please consider turning up and give your support if you haven't as yet. Spread the word. Messages of support:
Community picket roster: Paullie 0402 273 677
More info: Dave Kerin 0412 484 094 Joe Montero 0402 679 201, 9486 6306

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A literary meme - Part 2

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This follows on from the previous post.

6. One book that wracked you with sobs?

Miss Eagle doesn't think she was wracked with sobs when she read this book - and she can't remember the last time this happened - but the tears flowed. The book in question is Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. What a beautiful book! How Miss Eagle would love to be able to write a book such as this. Miss Eagle is a great fan of Kingsolver. I only have three of her novels under my belt (the other's are the Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees) but Miss Eagle's project is to read all of them.

7. One book you wish had never been written

If anyone is writing another conspiracy theory/mystery thriller which includes gnosticism and the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, could you please desist. Put down that pen! Delete that stuff from your computer! The world does not need one more piece of this drivel!

Back in the 80s, Miss Eagle read Holy Blood, Holy Grail which talked about the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Interesting ideas but nothing to write home about. Then in the 1990s, Miss Eagle came across Foucauld's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. This tour de force by one of the world's great public intellectuals covers everything - every mysterious organisation ever thought about by a conspiracy theorist. A sort of history of everything laid out in 600 pages with a satirical edge. Coming from the intellect of Eco, it is sometimes difficult and is nothing if not comprehensive. After that, Miss Eagle decided, why would one waste time reading The Da Vinci Code.

8. One book you're currently reading

Miss Eagle is currently immersed in Karen Armstrong's latest, The Great Transformation: the world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah. This is going to be another tour de force from a great public intellectual. And, while on the subject of public intellectuals, can we name Karen Armstrong - who describes herself as a freelance monotheist - the most intelligent woman in the universe? Now this topic takes a huge sweep through time and across cultures, regions, and religions. Miss Eagle will suspend judgment on whether this Axial Age concept is worthwhile or merely another bundling book of life, the universe, and everything. Miss Eagle got in early with her copy on backorder from Readings based on a review in The Age. You see, dear Reader, the eight century BCE holds a great fascination for your correspondent because of the eighth century prophets of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. This was a period of strong voices, often from simple backgrounds, speaking out on ethics, justice, and humanity's relationship with its Creator - and the consequences should we contravene these natural laws. So if this was the situation in the middle-east of that period, then Miss Eagle was eager to participate in Armstrong's exploration into this period in other spaces and places.

Miss Eagle thinks that the purpose in Armstrong's epic is to help us to understand one another better at the deepest levels of the human spirit - something she lives out in her own life. This understanding is something that humanity is in sore need of at this point in history. Let's take up the challenge and join her on the adventure into these little known realms.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.

Miss Eagle keeps a list of books she means to read in a Task on Microsoft Outlook. Now, this doesn't mean she gets to actually read these books but as interesting ones come to her attention listing them means they are not forgotten. One from this list is Traumascapes by Maria Tumarkin. Traumascapes is a book about place - places scarred by tragedy. Miss Eagle, dear Reader, is a great believer in the spirit of place and so the theme of this book is appealing. But let Miss Eagle tell you one story that almost certainly has not made it into this book. A friend of Miss Eagle's from her Mount Isa days is a keen historian. In her research, she visited Linda Downs. Linda Downs had been the site of a battle between Aboriginal people and police. Seven police died. The police then decided to take their revenge and killed ten Aborigines for every police killed. 70 people. My friend tells me that, in accord with Aboriginal spirituality which says the spirit of a dead person returns to a tree, there are 70 trees at this site. All are dead and the atmosphere is one of ethereal silence. A sacred place of great trauma, indeed.

10. Now tag five bloggers

Aah, who gets tagged now?

Cee at Voracious Reader, Daniel at,

Miss Eagle has actually tagged more over at The Trad Pad

A literary meme - Part 1

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Big Tree, Gardiner's Creek - Louis Buvelot

Collection of the City of Whitehorse, Melbourne

Anni Heino has tagged Denis and Miss Eagle with a book meme. So here is Miss Eagle's literary effort, Anni.

1. One book that changed your life

Miss Eagle's earliest memories of reading are the volumes of Australian poetry on her grandparent's bookshelves at Wilston in Brisbane. Here began her love of the Nationalists - those new generations of Australian poets whose stories of the social life and character of a newly discovered continent became woven into our lives; those poets who were published in the Pink Pages of The Bulletin.

Nana O'Carroll's particular favourite was Fair Girls and Grey Horses by Will Ogilvie. Needless to say, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson were there. But Miss Eagle's earliest very own copy was a volume titled The Australasian Book of Verse for Boys and Girls. This book was on her bookshelf for decades until it literally fell to pieces. All the greats were represented along with people who talked about "out where the crow flies backwards and the pelican builds its nest". In adulthood, this love of Australian poetry became a love of the bush and transferred itself to art in the form of the works of Louis Buvelot and the Heidelberg School and the novels of the period of which the foremost is Such is Life.

And then, of course, there is no substitute for seeing Australia for oneself which Miss Eagle has been doing consistently for three decades and will continue to do. Next weekend, Miss Eagle traverses central and north-western Victoria en route to Broken Hill and then across to Robertson in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales up behind the Illawarra where she may, at last, get to meet Anni.

2. One book you have read more than once.

For this, Miss Eagle has singled out a little known 20th century spritual classic, A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly. Miss Eagle tries not to be without a copy of this little masterpiece but has given away numerous copies. Last year though, on Ebay, she obtained from the USA a first edition complete with dustjacket. What joy!

3. One book you'd want on a desert island.

At the age of 17, Miss Eagle fell hopelessly in love with Boris Pasternak after reading Dr Zhivago. Since then, she is never without a copy on the shelf. Pasternak's masterpiece gives the appearance of prose but it is, quite simply, poetry paraded as prose. And if you loved the movie, Miss Eagle wishes it to be known that the movie is only a very small portion of the book. But the main reason Miss Eagle keeps a copy on the bookshelf is not the novel itself but the collection of Dr Zhivago's poetry which comes at the conclusion of the novel. Aaah, the romance, the religion and the tragedy of Russia!

4. One book that made you giddy?

The award for this goes to The Outcasts of Foolgarah by Frank Hardy. Outcasts is a political satire published in 1971. The book is dated now because the politicians it lampoons are virtually unknown even to people of middle years these days. The Outcasts were the dunny men. The thesis of the novel is that the only ones with true freedom are those who are very wealthy who can own or flout the system or the very poor who are outside the system. The dunny men were too poor to have mortgages from the bank over their homes. They built their homes out of materials salvaged from the dump. They owned their own homes and so had a wonderful freedom. Miss Eagle had led a sheltered Catholic girl hood in a respectable family. Frank Hardy gave Miss Eagle an education in amongst the hilarity of The Outcasts.

5. One book that you wish had been written

Miss Eagle has a dear friend, Jenny. We live far apart these days and our friendship is the occasional email letter interspersed with funny emails. Jenny is older than Miss Eagle and a former animal control officer and pound keeper. She is or was a world expert in her field and what Jenny does not know about animals and their owners is not worth knowing. Jenny is of British origins and grew up in Kashmir where her father was stationed with the British Army. Jenny had a privileged lifestyle. She came to Australia, completely helpless but ready for adventure, when she was 18. She knew precious little so when she wanted to learn something she asked someone to take her on and teach her. This was how she came to be a panel beater at one point in her life. Jenny's adventures were many and through them all she became a woman of great wisdom and great humour. Miss Eagle used to say to her that she had to write her story and, if she didn't, Miss Eagle would follow her around with a tape recorder. This has never happened and Jenny emailed Miss Eagle a couple of weeks ago to say she has lung cancer. She has returned from treatment to palliative care. Now Jenny is at an age where news of life coming to an end is not a surprise. But I don't think this what she or her friends would have chosen for her. So, it looks like Jenny's story will not reach a wider public. But there are those of us who love her very much and there will always be a very warm space in our hearts which is especially hers.

Miss Eagle will take a pause.

The second five questions of the meme will be in the next post.

Friday, August 11, 2006

An adventure on the journey of life.

Miss Eagle's good friend, Jim Phillips of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, was diagnosed yesterday with bowel cancer. Miss Eagle asks for prayers for Jim - particularly as his work, business, and family life have to be sorted out to enable him to seek treatment interstate.

In the Territory there is a saying: Get a pain, catch a plane. So next Thursday Jim is on a plane to Brisbane.

Tennant Creek (pop. 4,000) and Alice Springs (pop. 25,000 and five hours away) is not the place to deal with something as serious as this. Jim's dearly beloved, Sylvia, keeps the admin part of the business going. An excellent supervisor keeps the real work going. We need prayer so that Sylvia can be relieved of her admin duties - which are vital to the sustainability of the business - to be with Jim in Brisbane.

Jim and Sylvia walk and work closely with God day by day in every way.
Please be with them as they journey with Him on this adventure too.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

On a collision course: political ministry and social justice

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Business interests like to use their clout to buy individual politicians and buy governments. Newspaper interests can manage the media in their own self-interest. But in the end and on the day, each person has one vote. Corporate entities do not vote. The Australian and The Daily Telegraph and The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald don't vote. We do.

John Howard pretends that he ignores opinion polls but he doesn't. He is very attuned to them. The one that seems to have his fullest attention at the moment is the poll indicating the majority of Australians don't think much of his new IR laws and that this point of view could impact on the sensitive seats of those Liberal politicians in marginal electorates. Oooh-wah!

The point of democracy is that when the electorate is not happy, politicians get the pointy end of public opinion delivered where it can hurt the most - in their own hip pocket.

Middle-class Liberal politicians who have been in their seats forever or who are business or professional people clearly don't have a clue about the life of working people in factories, and small business, and offices and call centres. If they had the beginning of a clue, these new IR laws would not have seen light of day in their current form.

And now the Libs find that their slimey Kevin Andrews (who interfered with the affairs of the Northern Territory some years ago without any consultation with Territorians and what they wanted) can't sell their latest dogma - and it's beginning to hurt. So they have called in the jovial public face of Joe Hockey to assist the undertaker look of Kevin Andrews.

These two Liberal ministers are good Catholic lads: Andrews, from a family with a trucking business in Gippsland, was educated at St Patrick's in Sale in conservative, Irish Catholic Gippsland. Hockey's family was well heeled enough to afford the school fees at posh Jesuit school, St Aloysius' College at Kirribilli (Joe has not moved far geographically). Middle-class well-heeled Catholics moving against the social justice teachings of their church!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


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Just who do you wannabe?

Who'd wannabe an Aborigine? First the whitefella comes and takes your land off you - the land that provided your food, your shelter, your economy. Then, after two hundred years of being pushed around, you get some of your land back. Then along comes this mob of whitefellas and they decide that you, blackfella, have to own your house and land just like a whitefella and get into the mainstream economy of rising interest rates on housing, etc. And they have found a beaut way to get you, blackfella, to do this. You will have to buy your land, which you already own. And to enable you to do this a law will be passed in the Senate of the Parliament of Australia by Senators who haven't really bothered to talk to you, blackfella. Isn't this a great idea?

Just who do you wannabe?

A refugee? Australia locks you up, preferably in some other country that, in another context, the Australian Government refers to as a failed Pacific state. It locks you up for so long that you may never recover. In fact, you may never get out. You may become so mentally ill that you take your own life just as one refugee did in this week past. Isn't this great?

The Prime Minister of Australia is trying to instill Australian values into the population by fiat. Australia is a secular country in the Western Christian tradition. This Christian tradition has, as its central figure, a man who was a refugee. His life was threatened and he had to flee Palestine (yes, he was a Palestinian of middle eastern appearance, so he was) to that hospitable country of Egypt. You know that one - the country whose inhabitants Australians have traditionally referred to as WOPS (Wily Oriental Persons).

Now at the heart of the Christian tradition is the Bible and there are a couple of funny things in that collection of books. One of the books has outlined how people are to treat the sojourners (an old-fashioned word for refugee). Now this method does not include off-shore facilities or detention centres or temporary protection visas. In fact, the book reminds its original readers that they once were sojourners. Funny that. A bit like white Australians, the original readers of that book had to leave their own country and sojourn in another country to make a life for themselves. And in some other books, there was a useful little sentence about treating other people like you yourself would expect to be treated. Now howzat for some good Aussie values.

Miss Eagle wonders if this is what the Prime Minister of Australia expects for himself if he seeks to teach us traditional values - and the most basic tradition of all - To love your neighbour as yourself. John Howard loves himself by locking himself up in a concentration camp, oops I mean detention facility, on Nauru from whom the rapacious whitefella has stripped anything of commercial value. Yeah....well....

So who do you wannabe? And are you traditional enough to honestly want for other people, your neighbours around you, what you want and expect for yourself? Or turn it around the other way. Do white Australians wish to experience the mess they have made for other people?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Amend what? Our behaviour?

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To-day the Howard Government is out to tick off another one of its stick-it-to-'em agenda items - by moving amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. They have long been critics of the Land Councils which operate under the Act. You may remember, dear Reader, that this nation's illustrious leader once appeared on the television carrying a huge map of Australia which had huge areas of black on it. He was intent on informing the nation that Australia's Aboriginal people were intent on this huge land grab. Of course, while he did not say it word for word, the implication was that the world as we know was about to come to a sticky end. Miss Eagle thinks that Howard may now regret making this television appearance as much as he came to regret his comments about Asian immigration. The latter has been the cause for statements of public regret but no public regret has ever been uttered for the former.

Sean Brennan gives well-informed and lucid comment on the proposed amendments
here. As Brennan points out:

When the miners side with Land Councils against the government, it is a sure sign that government ideology about indigenous affairs is trumping workability and genuine stakeholder interest.

But the biggest rort of all is the government pretence over land and housing ownership in Aboriginal communities. It storms ahead ideologically without meaningful consultation in what appears as a land grab and government knows best attitude. This will change little. And if housing and land ownership is the issue there are other ways to do it which would be drawn out in an extensive two-way consultative process.

Australian governments, both Labor and Liberal National Party, have failed to bring active and meaningful economies into Aboriginal communities. Then there is their destruction in funding of public housing.

There are whitefella towns in this nation whose economic raison d'etre is to act as service centres for surrounding regions. This means that there are towns that exist purely on the basis of the delivery of health, education, and community services. Does it never occur to government to ensure that Aboriginal communities have some forms of economic exchange other than the community store and the - sometimes government enforced - canteen? Delivery of health, education, and community services can be developed into an economic base. This could not be done for each and every community but hubs could be developed which would fulfil this function. Regional Community Development! This - combined with private home and land ownership arrived at in an equitable way which did not impeach Aboriginal autonomy and Aboriginal ability to control their own affairs - could take things forward.

This government goes beyond white paternalism. It is dogmatic in ensuring its view of the world takes over. But does it back things up with money?

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Wadeye Shared Responsibility Agreement (21 March 2003)

PDF (39kb) RTF (281kb)

Take the Shared Responsibility Agreements, for instance. In that now well-known community, Wadeye (Port Keats), there is the now famous deal to eliminate truancy. Only if the kids turned up for school could they access the swimming pool. Reasonable idea, one would think. A bit of lateral thinking. And it worked. The kids turned up at school.

But....and it was a big but. There was no room for the kids who turned up. Did no-one know how many kids were to be serviced? Had governments been relying on kids not to turn up so they didn't have to expend according to the potential need? In other words, did government have a vested interested in kids not turning up and then not having to meet the need either with buildings, or staff, or employment of community skills.

The neglect of educational facilities for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory is the stuff of legend - denial of the use of silver bullets on The Barkly, refusal to buy a water cooler for the students at Rockhampton Downs, the kids who have been educated on dirt floors, and the list goes on!

So who wears the blame for all of this? Aboriginal people of course. Now Miss Eagle is not being chauvinistic. Aboriginal people, like everyone else, have to take responsibility for their own lives and their own choices. In every circumstance, Aboriginal people have to do their level best to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. And so many are - sometimes against tremendous odds. But whitefellas won't admit to the hurdles they put in the way. In fact, sometimes - not always, but sometimes - things would be helped if whitefellas would just get out of the road.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Call for Community Assembly at Amcor

Under the Howard Govt's new industrial relations laws, unions, their officials and individual members can face draconian fines for picketing. This doesn't stop the men and women of Union Solidarity. Union Solidarity doesn't picket. It holds community assemblies. The call went out last night for urgent support for a community assembly at Amcor. It is set out below. Amcor is under a cloud because of an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into a suspected breach of the Trade Practices Act which also involves Richard Pratt's Visy Industries.

Amcor Workers on Strike Urgent Support Needed

Community Assembly - Amcor Packaging
Friday 4 August
7.00am onwards
29 Bell StPreston
(Between Albert St and Chifley Drive)
About 100 workers at Amcor Packaging in Preston voted tonight (Thurs 3 August) to continue a strike in support of union delegates and members victimized by management. AMWU delegates have been targeted for forced redundancies. The workers at the plant defied a commission order to return to work and possible fines under Howard's new IR laws.
These rank and file workers require our full support!!
more info: Dave Kerin 0412 484 094 Joe Montero 0402 679 201, 9486 6306

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday to horses everywhere

To-day, August 1, is the birthday of the horse. So Miss Eagle takes the opportunity of wishing horses everywhere a Happy Birthday and hopes the next year brings lots of green grass, considerate owners, and a fruitful time of breeding, and winning.

Here are some famous Australian horses, including a reference to Miss Eagle's childhood favourite, Radish.