Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday paper

Some weekends, the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald just seems to hit all the right notes.

I see that Mark Dapin has started writing for Good Weekend again.  He's the sort of bloke with whom I think I would have little in the way of common topics to talk about over a beer, but I have always enjoyed his wry, self deprecating writing style.  Take today's column, for example.  I found it particularly interesting for the mention of the "I'm not really dead, it's all a mistake" dreams after his grandfather died, since I had many of them myself after my father died.   As I think I have written before in this blog, they seem to be particularly relevant to how a certain resurrection story recently commemorated around the world may have been created; but then again, if lots of people have experienced parents dying young, as they often did back then, why wouldn't skeptics be saying  "don't be daft, you've just had the generic grief dream that we've all had when Pop died."   (I wonder if Mel Gibson knows how that translate that into Aramaic.)

One other writer who has started appearing regularly in Good Weekend is Benjamin Law.  Look, when he's talking about himself he can come across as too gay-ly self absorbed, but he does win me over with his cheeriness and (again) a large dollop of self deprecation.  He appears to enjoy good relations with his Asian family, despite his sexuality.   Here are his comments today about the weird reluctance of the Australian hotel industry to embrace wi fi.   He is, generally, I think, another good writer.

Speaking of self deprecation, Richard Glover reminds us (it's certainly not an original thought) that Australia loves a loser.  But, like him, I think it an endearing part of the national identity rather than a problem. 

As for straight journalism, David Wroe writes that one advantage of the JSF purchase is that it will boost local high tech manufacturing.   This is a not insignificant point, given what's happened to the car industry:
Some $335 million in manufacturing work has already gone to Australian firms and it is hoped this will rise to $1.5 billion. All up, including servicing and support over coming decades, the government says business opportunity could reach $7.5 billion. It will not replace the car industry, but it is high-tech work and a green shoot in manufacturing.

But those opportunities depend on our buying a decent number of the fighters, also called the F-35 Lightning II, from the US. The original expectation was for 100 aircraft. The Abbott government's announcement this week takes Australia's commitment to 72 - and possibly up to 24 more when the current Super Hornet is ready for retirement from 2030 onward.
I don't know enough to say how few fighter jets one can realistically purchase to have a viable set up of local maintenance and training, but given we virtually never use fighters for anything resembling real warfare, my inclination would be to keep that number as low as possible.  I suspect we could get by with many fewer than 72, though.   In the 50's would be my guess.

Update:  I forgot to add - Bob Ellis reviews Bob Carr's book (favourably, of course) but I can't find a link to it.  I also was interested in this article about the author Stefan Zweig, who Wes Anderson said "inspired" (very loosely, apparently) The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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