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January 30, 2005
[ 1 ] Robert Corr has posted an excellent overview of Pandagate, from start to sputtering finish: relive the magic with access to source material and commentary from key figures. Experience Pandagate like never before with stunning Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound at everyone's favourite semi-serious oz politics blog, Kick & Scream.

[ 2 ] Miranda Airey-Branson still has a blog and nobody cares anymore: therefore neither does she. This gives further weight to my theory that RWDBs exist only to make decent people angry, and disappear in a puff of smoke when they cease to do so.

[ 3 ] Lleyton Hewitt plays Marat Safin in the men's singles final of the Australian Open. I, like you, will be extremely satisfied when Hewitt loses. I'm also offering a valuable prize to anyone who can find a photo of Lleyton with his mouth closed: I imagine I'll be keeping my valuable prize to myself.

[ 4 ] Numbered lists of slightly interesting things are only a reasonable last-resort post when you're ill with something impressive like Pneumonia, because various important people have died of it throughout history. Like Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland. Pretty important, eh?

[ 5 ] If you play 20 Questions against the computer you'll find yourself amazed and addicted (in a wholesome way, not an LSD kind of way).

[ 6 ] It was my birthday yesterday.

Today's anecdote:

I was on a tram with Alice and vegetarians Amy and Emily. Emily had just given me a sticker from PETAKids.com with a drawing of a sad chicken on it and and the words 'Meat's no treat for those you eat.' There was a barbecue smell wafting into the tram and Alice commented that it smelt of food. I pointed to the sticker with the sad chicken on it and said 'It's coming from this: It's a scratch and sniff!'.

Only Alice and I understood how funny this was. Then Amy asked what we were laughing about, and I said that I didn't want to explain it to her, because it was tasteless to vegetarians. Then Alice said 'That's right, tasteless to vegetarians!". Because they don't eat chicken! Once again only Alice and I found this funny. I'm asking you, anonymous reader, to either confirm or deny whether our witty dialogue was as great as we thought it was at the time.

A Fun Thing For A Rainy Day: Your vegetarian friend must choose between eating veal, or another calf being slaughtered. You could hope for something like 'I would give the veal a proper burial and then rescue the calf' but I only got this once, most say they would eat the veal. You wouldn't want to try it on someone who's just an acquaintance because you may lose a few friendship points. Totally worth it though. Totally.

January 27, 2005
You may have noticed. Though I liked some aspects of the old design, I was looking for something lighter, sleeker, and more suited to presenting information. The images were once plain forties clip-art, which I added to (some would say defaced) in Windows Paint to make them look robotic: when I get Photoshop I'll do a smoother job.

The reason for the new design is to make this blog more accessable. If you like the new design as it is and wouldn't change anything, let me know. If you like it, but think some things should be changed, let me know. If you liked the old one better, I have it saved, and can switch back at any time: so let me know. The design of A Mechanical Australian is subject to the whims of general concensus. Let yourself be heard.

A revised blogroll and links will be added very soon, and you can expect a few tweaks, fiddling with fonts and colours, etc.

In a sentence, let me know what you think: it's for your usage, after all.

January 25, 2005


Journalism [approximate ENTER score]
La Trobe - 89
RMIT City - 93
University of Melbourne - 97

Doing 6 subjects.

AAAAAAHHHH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAArrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggggg!!!!! WWWWaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! NNNOooooooooooooooooo!! AAAAAAYYYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! Rrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! MMMMMMMmwwwaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

And that's it. Wish me luck.

*

Recently, I freaked out about Google. Now, a commenter ('dls') has caused me to freak out more. And all because of this:

EPIC.

Googlezon is coming in 2014...


January 23, 2005
Everyone who uses the internet has a few funny websites they visit from time to time. For a lot of us, blogs fulfill much of this need, but there are some purely humor devoted sites that are truly great. Here are a few of my favorites - I hope you can link me to a few of yours in return.


Real Ultimate Power.net
That's right, it's the official ninja website. If you don't know why that ninja is wailing on a guitar, you clearly don't know anything about ninjas.

Facts:

1. Ninjas are mammals.
2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.
3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

Whitehouse.org

Funniest satire on the Bush administration you'll find. Rummy, Powell, Condoleeza + Laura, Jenna and 'The Other One' Bush all cop a well deserved serve. All I need to do is get myself a credit card and order a 'I Support Meaningless Jingoistic Cliches' bumper-sticker to enter a Zen-like-state of satiredom.

With headlines like: 'Transcript of President's Inaugural Address Promising Greater Freedom® for Freeified® Freefolk® to Freely® Enjoy Freetastic® Freegasms® of Freedomosity®', you can't go wrong.

GeorgeWBush.org

Satirical website dedicated solely to Dubya. Created by the Whitehouse.org crew but not updated as frequently. Still very clever, and very funny.

What's Playing On The President's iPod?

We Are the Champions – Queen [listen]
I Drink Alone – George Thorogood
[listen]
Killing an Arab – The Cure
[listen]
White Christmas – Bing Crosby
[listen]
Working 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton
[listen]
Rapture – Blondie
[listen]
Dallas Theme – Television's Greatest Hits
[listen]
Jesus Hold My Hand –
John Ashcroft
...

Landover Baptist Church
You should know I hate crazy right-wingers, especially the religious kind. This website is a vicious satire on one of my least favorite kinds of people. If fundies also make your skin crawl, you will love the Landover Baptist Church.

Sample Headline:
Tsunami: Oriental for God's Wrath
God Fails to Break His Own Record for Killing True Christians know from the Great Flood that one of God's favorite ways to indiscriminately kill enormous swaths of children is by drowning them...



We Are Robots
Quick to load Flash cartoons about a collection of robotic characters with issues. A favorite of mine, and the inspiration for the theme of 'A Mechanical Australian'. Watch the 'Tendertron' cartoon for the specific reference, though Angrybot, Robokopf and Sad Robot are all essential viewing.

*

OK, now you owe me some!


This meme is totally stolen from Mark, who totally stole it from Robert Corr. Totally. It's music related, how could I resist?

1. What’s the total size of music files on your computer?

I don't keep music files on this HD. I have 20.39 Gigs on my iPod though.

2. What is the last CD you bought?

The Ocean's 12 Soundtrack, as a present to myself for saving $500.

3. What is the last song you listened to before you read this post?

7/29/04 The Day Of -- David Holmes

This song woke me up this morning. It's from the aforementioned Ocean's 12 Soundtrack, and a perfect way to start the day.

4. Name four songs that you listen to a lot or that mean a lot to you.

Amsterdam - Coldplay

I listen to this song a lot mainly when I'm feeling reflective. It's a really beautiful piece of music and can convey both sad and optimistic meanings.

The Harder They Come featuring Nelly Furtado & Tricky - Paul Oakenfold

This song approaches the issue of love with a sense of despair and melancholy. Vocals are simple and heart-felt. This song means a lot to me when my mood mirrors that of the song.

The Best Things In Life - Filter

I like sad music. I like it because there's a lot of happy music, syrupy music, angry/defiant music, but not enough sad music in the world. I also have this thing for minor chords. Anyway, this is a song about hopelessness. Richard Patrick's school-yard/nursery rhyme vocals, morphing into an angry scream, are truly effective, and the submerged bass effect at the end is an aural experience in itself.

Sunday Afternoon - G&M Project

This is trance. I can hear the wails of protest already, but I assure you it's tasteful. It's almost like a symphony, and very uplifting. See, I'm not all doom and gloom, after all. It's strange that my music tastes are a lot more depressed than I am...

5. Which three people are you passing the baton on to and why?

You, you and you.

January 21, 2005
Let's pretend you, blog reader, are both wise and wordly. I need some advice.

I've fallen out big time with a friend and don't want anything to do with him, but I'm soon going to be put in a position where I have to see him and be around him every day. I'm going to be ignoring him, and he's going to be ignoring me. I want advice on how to do it less stressfully and awkwardly, how to do it better, and how to keep it up for a long period of time. Maybe someone believes cold pleasantries may be a better option? How would you handle yourself in my position, if you believed this person didn't deserve to be acknowledged at all?

Basically, how do you handle a mutual, permanent, blank, with poise and grace?...

How do you win a two-way battle of ignore?

January 18, 2005
I was there as the news on Latho broke. OK, I was watching Oprah when a little update slid its way across the bottom of the screen, but I'm couch-ridden with the flu, so Oprah has to be the place I get my news. Mark Latham quits politics. A little while later, part of his speech was televised. Latham cited his health and an invasive media presence as the cause of his decision. Any of us who were hoping for a more progressive Labor leadership were quickly put out of our misery by the announcement that Kim Beazley has his eye on the top job with support from state ALP figures. At least it's refreshing to see the words 'support' and 'ALP' in the same sentence.

I think this is an appropriate moment to plug the Australian Greens.

Now that I've coughed and spluttered all over the keyboard and screen whilst typing with sluggish, erratic fingers, I'm going to return to my couch cucoon with tea and watch some tennis ponder the future of Australian politics.

Update: Ms. Fits has posted a heart-warming tribute to Latham. It's kinda like a blog version of 'Tsunami: A Time to Remember, A Time to Hope', but replace the word 'Tsunami' with 'Latho'. Someone might be spending a little too much time at Channel 9...

Yes, I remember my basic Pandagate knowledge. But I don't have a Pandagate T-shirt, so there's hope left for me.

January 15, 2005
Some of you will have already heard about gmail.com, others will not have. It's Google's upcoming e-mail service, still in beta stage at the moment, which markets itself on the premise that you will 'never, ever, have to delete an e-mail'. With 2gb of storage space, I can see why.

Still, I can't help but be skeptical. Not of the g-mail service itself, but of Google's intentions. With a monopoly on internet searches, blogs, and soon e-mail, this immense centralization of service allows the Google company to virtually control all of the internet's primary functions. Along with the upcoming g-mail service, Google has also announced plans to make the texts of several of the world's greatest libraries free to view on the internet. If we are entering a time where a majority of the information we gather from the internet is coming through Google services first, the company is able to wield great power over what we can and can't access, and what we can and can't access for free.

So far, Google doesn't seem to have cashed in on our priveleges or curbed our rights, but this could also be consistant with an eventual move to do so. The company has painted itself as being 'for the people', making information and communication services available to anyone and everyone, free of charge. It offers free services that are superior to the paid equivalents of other companies, and naturally, these services are used by millions.

Then, with a change of ownership, a change of heart, or a well implemented marketing move - the result of years of positive brand building - we see every service that was previously free transformed into a paid one. With the benefits of a potential customer having years to trial such reliable services as the Google search-engine, g-mail and Blogger for free, coupled with an extremely positive brand image, it's no question that many users will shell out real dinero for services that were previously free. Are all these no-cost, no-ads Google services merely an investment in future profits? With the recent addition of Google shares to the stock-market, one can't help but feel the company is readying itself for something big.

More worrying is the thought that Google might begin to censor or withhold information from its millions of users. If you can imagine a situation where the company is taken over by a staunch Republican, corporate fat-cat, or an avowed Christian, such an individual might object to some of the information their services are providing. We might see certain websites rise high on the search rankings, and others drop to page 117, while those mysteriously high-ranking websites seem to be appearing as top 10 results for completely unrelated searches, and e-mails (or 'G-mails') are censored by bots trawling for text and image titles. The ability to access information and communicate with others is subject to the whims and ideology of one, giant company.

Google. "Look mom, no ads!".

Worst and most troubling of all, Bloggers begin posting conspiracy theories about search engines. Well, one blogger in particular. But you know you can count on me for that kind of thing.

Similar to the FTheVote movement, where hot liberals were encouraged to screw republicans out of their vote for Bush (a joke), Date To Save encourages all the 'hot women of the LORD' to date heathens and convert them to their man Jesus Christ. Check out the 'Date to Save' rundown here, from feministing. With a tag-line like: "Not only can we date cute guys, but hopefully we can lead them to God and help them get saved them [sp] from the burning fires of Hell," you can't help but admire the compassionTM of these good Christian men and women.

January 14, 2005
A proper, leather-bound notebook is something I've always wanted, but seemed to have missed. It began when my grandpa showed me his memoirs, not the content, but the thick green-bound book he'd written them in. The pages were unlined, tinted yellow, and brimming with potential. Since that moment, writing has, for me, lived in a place like that. On unassuming paper, between elegant covers, written with pen or pencil. I've written in excercise books, notepads, post-it notes and diary books and never has it felt like real writing, the kind authors and other serious people do. What I write is archaic, not quite reality, a little bit of fantasy, and it never feels at home emblazoned on a glaring computer screen, or on the too-white pages of an excercise book. I bought a notebook today, by chance, with a black vinyl cover and hundreds of quiet pages. It's not quite what I imagined, but it's proving to be enough, and even if I don't write anything of substance, it just... feels right. At least one of my resolutions is off to a good start (see below list).

Blog culture can be a little overwhelming at times. With the intention of focusing on other things I've neglected for a while, I won't be reading blogs for at least a week. If you're reading this and I normally comment on your blog, don't think it's because I hate your work - unless my comments lately have been mean, in which case I probably do hate your work, just like you're hating my work right now. I'll sleep on it, and come back with something better tomorrow.

January 12, 2005
That's right people, you'd thought you escaped them, but here I am clocking in with my resolutions nearly two weeks late. Because they are late, they aren't really valid, and this means I won't feel too bad if I don't live up to expectation, i.e. cease to do any of the following things:

01) Pass year 12.
02) Get my L-plates.
03) Get an ENTER score of at least 87.5.
04) Save up for a car.
05) Not lose any more friends.
06) Study.
07) Write fiction again.
08) Enter a writing competition.
09) Learn to read music & write more songs.
10) Be better informed.

There's not much about myself I would change, because I've worked hard to make myself intelligent enough and rational enough to roll with the punches and fix what needs to be fixed. My goals for the future are quite simple: to be a journalist, to be stable, independent and knowledgeable, and to never take my friends and family for granted. It would be very well to say in future I would like to 'be happy', but more effective to list what I need to do in order to be happy. If I can achieve those goals, which I believe are very attainable, I will be happy, unless my heirarchy of values convolutes itself into something different over the course of the year. It's possible, but my perceptions of the world are pretty constant.

I haven't gone through any major image changes, barring a transition between not wearing band apparel and wearing band apparel, and a period where my hair had pink running through it, then was dyed bright red. Since I began to care about politics in the year 2000 (keep in mind that I don't have that many years to gamble with), I have been left-wing, pro-abortion, for affirmative action, for homosexual-marriage, for the rights of gay couples to have children, anti-war and against the detention of asylum seekers. I've never even vaguely entertained the thought of spirituality, or religion; never believed that there are things that women can and can't do, and things that men can and can't do, or that any person is devalued because of their race or sexuality.

If there was an opportunity for these views to change, it has long been and gone. I'm now inclined to believe that I have a strong sense of self, and the foundations of who I can be and who I want to be are firmly established and ready to be built upon. There are bad things worked into that foundation, but they are things that I can't change, can't get rid of, merely try to control, yet these things are also a fundamental causation for many qualities I am proud of, or, adversely, many bad qualities that have come from something that was good.

One example is my rationality. At five, I started showing symptoms of an anxiety disorder that caused me to undergo severe bouts of irrationality related to specific things. At that time, I was worried about squashing teddy-bears, that one would be trapped under my mattress and die when I slept on it, or that I would roll on my teddy-bear Benjamin as I slept and kill him. Eventually I wouldn't sit down because I thought there might be teddy-bears on the chair so small that I couldn't see them. It was only after days of trying to rationalise with my five-year-old self that teddy-bears were made of stuffing and couldn't possibly be alive that this fear faded. It sounds simple enough, but when your mind has entered that high-anxiety, highly irrational state, internal rational arguments are severely blunted by fear and panic, and thoughts that you can't get rid of.

Over the years, this irrationality has manifested itself several times, usually with typical symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, mainly torturous thought-loops where you lose control of what you are thinking, or rituals you have to perform lest bad things will happen. In probably the least serious case, I would think about something bad happening to someone I loved, and to prevent it, knock on wood. My mind would keep dredging up these thoughts, despite how much I wanted to quell them, and I'd have to knock on wood again. If I thought 'It's merely superstition, it doesn't do anything to knock on wood', the anxiety laden part of my brain would counter with 'But what if it's not superstition? Surely the act of knocking on wood is easier than taking the chance that something bad might happen?'.

So many what ifs! After all those years of making the mental shadow-box with myself, I became very good at it. When not gripped by those brief periods of irrationality, most of the time I was incredibly rational, able to view situations and arguments clearly and practically, and to understand my own strengths and limitations. Now I rely so heavily on rationality that it hinders me from holding anything more than small goals, anything more than mediocre expectations, and stripped me of the ability to think in terms of anything but molecules and science. A quality moves from bad, to good, to both bad and good.

My characteristics, like those of all people, are gestalt. I can't change one thing without changing everything else. If I am happy with the whole, then I can accept my negative qualities as part of that, and do so proudly. As this person, I anticipate all the stress, challenges, shocks, rewards and achievments 2005 will bring.

Hey, I'm allowed one introspective rant per year, aren't I?

Mmmm. Maybe not.

January 10, 2005
Spent the day in beautiful Warburton, which is a town nestled in a forested valley with a gorgeous river running alongside it. In summer, there are orange and purple wildflowers blooming on the banks, and you've never seen greener grass. There is no better picnic place in Victoria. Unfortunately Tracy Bartram lives in the area and if you step in to get a Lime Ice Cream Soda at a certain eatery she may be having coffee out the front and lower the tone of the whole area. Speaking of Z grade celebrity sightings, Emily swears she saw Judith Lucy at Piedemontes. She's blown my Tracy Bartram sighting out of the water.

You were expecting something about Mixtapes. Now you have it. If you like free stuff and don't mind a speck of rap music here and there, you can download the tracks to this Underground Hip Hop Mixtape for free, and for real (in other words, legitimately). It's not like you have anything better to do. Besides, everyone who reads this blog is, of course, musically open minded, not to mention intelligent and attractive to boot... Stinking rich, yet left-wing and suspicious of Capitalism. You also play a musical instrument and speak a second language. Anyway, enough about you.

Underground, Side 1
01 Monday Night At Fluid - King Honey & MF Doom K [3.1 mb]
02 Say Somethin' - EDO. G [3.5 mb]
03 Give It To Me - 427 [4.9 mb]
04 Good Life - Cali Agents [5.0 mb]
05 Last Man Standing - Cash Brown [4.2 mb]
06 Ultimate - Large Professor [2.7 mb]
07 Sound Quest - Divine Styler [4.7 mb]

January 08, 2005
According to Emily I have a knack for thinking of 'out of the ordinary' places to go when planning to hang-out. A few weeks ago, it was the Zoo. Yesterday, it was the Melbourne Aquarium. Are you noticing a trend that carries between these destinations? I am like a mum planning holiday outings for my gaggle of young children. Still, we faced a few hurdles throughout the day, the first being that we only knew that the Aquarium was somewhere around Crown. There was a woman on the tram with her son who were leafing through an Aquarium guide, and we assumed she was on her way there. In a not un-stalkerish way, we decided to follow them when they got off, but it seemed they'd already been and finished with it because when they did get off, they got off way too early. Still, we spotted the mural that covers its walls from the tram and all was well, though I must admit that when I saw the queue to get in I was surprised, not being trained in the art of the school holiday outing to a place that attracts lots of school kids.

There were fish and that kind of thing inside. And kids. A whole lot of kids. We thought briefly about Legionarre's, but not much. The highlight of our time within those tinted glass walls was the ride on 'Ice Age', where you strap yourself into seats on a moving platform, watch a rollor-coasteresque simulation on the projector, and the platform shifts to coincide with what's being shown on the screen. The simulation was, it seemed, set in a land where people harvest blocks of ice. It was also in the future. I couldn't work out if we were supposed to be a block of ice or a truck, but either way, we could often defy gravity. But hey, it's the future. When we shot through a town of igloos, tribal music started up. We were expecting to be attacked by eskimos, but no such attack was forthcoming. When 'Ice Age' finished, we were syphoned through the merchandise store, where, like Ice Age, anything vaguely water related seemed to be acceptable.

We had coffee on an a porch overhanging the Yarra. Then we walked down South-Bank, next to the Yarra. Our activities after the Aquarium were strongly Yarra-related. When we got home and rested our tired legs in front of the TV, one of the news headlines was 'Yarra River Health Warning'. We decided we should probably watch to see whether we were at risk of contracting some life-threatening illness simply by breathing in the river's rank fumes. Luckily, this kayaker went so far as to get Yarra water up his nose before his eyes jaundiced, skin turned the color of a banana, lungs hemorrhaged, and his liver began to fail. This was caused by a bacteria carried in animal wee getting into the water system.

Government representative: "There is every indication to believe that the Yarra's water is safe."

Kayaker: "You can smell it, you can see it... the water's not clean."

I tend to go with option 2.

*

Nu-Ju is back from his sunny holiday in Vietnam.

January 04, 2005
Having lived in Victoria's Northern Suburbs all my life (barring a brief spell in Mooroolbark during Primary School), glimpses of Eastern Suburbs grandeur were brief, and occurred while I was mainly 'just passing through' places like Kew, Toorak, and Mt. Eliza. It always struck me how different these suburbs were to the North, that you could tell a middle-aged couple were stinking rich simply by how they wore their clothes, or moved through the streets. Yesterday, mum and I drove to Dromana, where she was born, and Sorrento, where she grew up. To be on the Napean Highway during the Holiday Season! For every mid-90's Holden, there was a sparkling 2004 Honda, Mercedes, or BMW, ferrying rich-types in leisure wear to their beachside homes or holiday houses, wind-surfers and jet-skis zipping across the bright-blue ocean, out of shape Toorak couples lounging on the sand in bikinis and Speedos, yachts and boats skimming across the still waters - it looked as if the Mornington Peninsula had, by virtue of circumstance, become a vast photo-ad for Peter Jackson's cigarrettes.

An interesting irony in Sorrento, with its streets full of middle-aged couples decked out in jewellery and bland summerwear, was the community's ability to bar a McDonald's from opening within the town, in the interest of maintaining its 'historic feel'. Despite the perceived loyalty to maintaining a historical atmosphere, some new developments were springing up by the main-road: ultra-modern houses painted purple, orange and biege, with metallic fixtures, spas and swimming pools. I guess the desire for a historical feel always yields beneath the desire to live in a designer home. It reminds me of another instance where McDonald's came up against history, but this time, it won. It won because this case occurred in Brunswick, not Sorrento, and the piece of history was a terrace house that had been around since the 1800's. Despite fierce campaigning from locals, the house was bulldozed, and replaced with another oh-so-familar temple to the Golden-Arches.

As for finding my mum's childhood home, we could only find its general location: she only lived there until she was three, and none of the houses rung a bell. She didn't have many stories to tell about her time there, or at least, none of them particularly happy, though she was able to recount that after the house-hold cat gave birth to a litter of kittens, walking in on her dad drowning them in the laundry sink, and getting in more trouble than she can ever remember being in. I guess, despite the 'farmyard mentality' people held in those days, my grandpa was bothered by the task. It's hard to imagine the kind face I remember, well, doing something like that.

Along with the traffic jams, road-rage and crowded beaches and towns, it wasn't such a good trip.

*

There are, I think, at least two 'Blog Awards' going on at the moment, they are: The Best of Blogs and The 2005 Bloggies. Head over to these destinations and support blogs you enjoy reading. I've voted for The Metal Communiques, as it's nominated in the 'Best Overall Blog' category at The Best of Blogs. At The 2005 Bloggies, you can vote for any blog you like in their various categories. I've nominated a few blogs for various categories, including The Paper-Trap, Reasons You Will Hate Me, The Metal Communiques, Kick & Scream, Suki Has An Opinion and The Great Shark Hunt. There are some excellent big blogs, usually political, that I enjoy, but probably don't need my support to do well, so I've voted for others that are smaller, but are also of great quality. I voted for myself in Best New Blog, in the hopes that the URL might show up somewhere and cause a few people to click it (desperate measures I imagine are common in really little, tiny, not linked to or read much blogs), and then felt kinda bad about it. Oh well.

January 02, 2005
ABC News in the US has called bloggers the 'People of the Year' - yes, even those with cross-hair mouse pointers, written like one long SMS message; you know you've seen them, if not, just click 'Next Blog'. I guess we're kind of deserving of that title; a blog is a means to see the world from another person's point of view - thousands of blogs, thousands of points of view, from Victoria, to Iraq, Sri Lanka, blue states and red states. We can no more understand a current event or political climate than to observe it from the eyes and words of a blogger living through it. Blogs broaden our understanding, our knowledge of the world, of other cultures and other life-styles. They allow us to experience a point of view we may never have considered, never understood or never knew we held. Through a snippet of writing, a scrap of art, a verbal snapshot, we are given a gateway to the global community, a place to chat, debate, argue with people we have never seen and never will see through anything but words. We hold so much knowledge between us, and we share it profusely.

I sound optimistic, don't I? Even though Fox FM is awarding a holiday to any person who can convince their cousin that they want to be more than friends (Fox FM's Cousin' Lovin' Competition). Because the collection tin at work for 'CARE' Australia was absolutely full after being out for three or four days. When CARE were collecting money to address global starvation, the tin stood only about 1/8 full after several weeks. I don't get us, Australians; maybe I just don't get humans in general. Either way, some of us are, well, kinda OK.

It's amazing what people will do, how they will unify in solidarity and empathy with those they do not know, have never met, when given all the facts, when there is no spin, when the mainstream media reports with some degree of compassion. If only we, as a nation, or as the Western world, could all respond with that same solidarity to the thousands of dead in Iraq through war, or in poorer countries through starvation, genocide, disease. This disaster has shown that we can do it. But what does it take?

At the risk of being sentimental, I think it takes the truth. Bloggers carry it in vast amounts - and I believe that's why it's us who are the 'People of the Year'.