27 December 2003

The Very Secret Journals of the Fellowship of the Ring

I am happy to announce (over much coffee after spending 23:30 to 03:13 watching the Return of the King that the The Very Secret Diaries of the Fellowship of the Ring are to be continued by a different writer as The Very Secret Journals of the Fellowship of the Ring...

Anyone know a good way to get some sleep after raving about the film over way too much coffee at 03:30 in the morning?

24 December 2003

Happy Christmas

Thanks for reading my stuff, thanks for commenting. I hope everyone survives the relatives you only see at Christmas and the season brings you everything you want.

D�clarations, Mises au point, Messages, Lettres de Sa Majest� Norodom Sihanouk

The king of Cambodia has a blog (you'll need to read French) but the governor-general of Australia is silent. Why is this?

PM asked if he could borrow plumed hat. Told him to get a grip.

PM asked if he could open parliament. Told him to get a grip.

PM suggested he get an official uniform including an ornamental circlet or head covering, made of precious metal set with jewels. Told him to get a grip.

PM suggested that next time he gets sworn in by several archbishops in a cathedral with an ecstatic crowd yelling: 'Vivat primum ministrem!' at the top of their voices. Told him to get a grip.

The viceregal blog is perhaps not such a great idea after all...

Heat is on in the great 600-metre dog paddle

It's a unique variation on the traditional Christmas Eve get-together, a chance for the spectators to catch up with friends and family.

Today Roger Harvey is hoping his affectionate mongrel, Teddy, can swim to his third successive win in the small-dog category.

'Before it starts, they all start to scrap and sniff each other,' said Mr Harvey, 47, a cartoonist from Bangalow, on the far North Coast.

'But then they all become very focused and bark hysterically. Teddy didn't know he could swim until three years ago when he chased another dog.'

When Mr Harvey first entered the contest a few years ago, his mother-in-law, Madeleine Gilmour, gave him 'a withering stare' - upset that a dog swim had taken priority over a family gathering. But these days, with Teddy's success a source of pride, and given the popularity of the competition, the family drinks and dinner have been postponed - if only for a few hours.

Watching Teddy go through his paces yesterday was Ben King, a Scotland Island local and wharf builder whose legendary black kelpie, Diesel, is a repeat winner in the big-dog category.

Mr King, 28, said he was not keen to enter this year's competition, but cited no particular reason. 'Who knows, though? I might have change of heart,' he said, eyeing off a smaller rival.

The Great Scotland Island Dog Paddle is one of Sydney's sillier institutions. That's why it's important. Legend has it that some years ago a famous champion died before the race, was fibreglassed by his owner and then towed to victory on a long rope. And I had to blog something in case anybody thought I'd been taken by a shark.

Xmas is strange in this part of the world. We sing endless songs about snow, which most of us have never seen, and fantasise about a white Christmas when the thermometer is registering around 35 Celsius. You used to be able to buy spray cans of artificial snow to apply to your windows...

After that, competitive dog paddling even by deceased dogs, seems less surreal.

22 December 2003

US Saddam claims being challenged

US intelligence officers have concluded that Saddam was directing the postwar insurgency inside Iraq, playing a far more active role than thought.

Despite his bewildered appearance when he was hauled from his hiding hole last weekend, he is believed to have been issuing regular instructions on targets and tactics through five trusted lieutenants.

Documents found in Saddam's briefcase indicated that he had been kept informed of the progress of the insurgency, but did not suggest he had overall control of operations by former Baath Party loyalists. But since the arrest and interrogation of guerilla leaders named in the paperwork, US investigators now believe Saddam headed an elaborate network of rebel cells.

The investigators have put together a picture of Saddam's support structure, enabling him to issue commands without using satellite phones, which monitoring devices can hear.

McGeough stayed in Baghdad throughout the war as an independent journalist. His analysis has generally been reliable. It's another question that will play out over the next few weeks. My first impulse is to ask how Saddam, a strategic and tactical moron who had alienated most of his armed forces by privileging the SRG, somehow turned into a competent guerilla commander with the loyalty of his irregulars.