October 17, 2003


David E. Sanger of the New York Times on George W. Bush’s Australian visit:

Then it is on to Australia, which provided special forces for the early days of the Iraq war, and where Prime Minister John Howard has made the alliance with Washington a key element of his tenure.

Past presidents have taken in the restaurants of Sydney or the wonders of the country. Not Mr. Bush: He cut the trip down to a visit to Canberra, a capital that is a bit like Ottawa but not quite as vibrant.

"Sanger", by the way, is Australian slang for "sandwich". A "david sanger" might from this point be known as a "shit sandwich".

(Via reader John S.)

Posted by Tim Blair at October 17, 2003 04:56 AM

I'm from Canberra. Much as I hate to see a foreigner put it down, I must admit that vibrancy isn't one of its strong points.

It's a shame Mr Bush won't be visiting elsewhere, as Canberra wouldn't be my first choice of destination to send any new visitor to Oz.

Posted by: PK at October 17, 2003 at 05:28 AM

PK, go pick up a case of brew and make it vibrant. Your fellow Canberrians are counting on you.

Posted by: Ken Summers at October 17, 2003 at 06:15 AM

Democracy has no place in the world of Bush, supreme commander and Howard, sheriff. The world as fashioned by Bush - Howard as echo chamber - is too dangerous for democracy

Then the man's a fool when democracy got him this and this and this. Perhaps "moron" is a better word. I must be hearing the voices in Margo's head.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at October 17, 2003 at 06:36 AM

Wrong thread. How'd that happen? It couldn't be those tequila shots I had for lunch...

Posted by: Tongue Boy at October 17, 2003 at 06:37 AM

I feel I must defend Canberra from disparaging remarks. I enjoyed my brief visit there. The war memorial museum was spectacular, which was the main reason I took a side trip to the city. It was a very pretty town with beautiful surroundings (although I don't know how it's looking after the recent fires). And I had a funny and friendly conversation over dinner at a pub with some guys telling me stories of the practical jokes they had played on each other. The one I remember had to do with feeding a goat a laxative and locking him in his friend apartment. All in all, I had a good time in Canberra.

Posted by: Polly at October 17, 2003 at 07:28 AM

Vibrancy is overrated...

Posted by: Skinny Hippo at October 17, 2003 at 03:59 PM

I don't like bread.

Posted by: Tony.T at October 17, 2003 at 04:37 PM

"You New Yorkers think a hero's some kinda freakin' sandwich!"
-- Kelly's Heros

Posted by: mojo at October 17, 2003 at 04:46 PM

Polly is gracious about Canberra unless she was using biting sarcasm in her story about some guy recounting how he stuffed a goat with laxatives and locked it in a friend's apartment.


But seriously, can you imagine living in a city built in the 1930s exclusively to house public servants, simply because the Melbourne and Sydney bureaucracies couldn't decide which was to be the Nation's capital?

Even the Prime Minister chose to live amongst real people in Sydney instead of the usual Prime Ministerial Canberra residence, The Lodge. For which he was roundly criticised by the lefties and the Canberra press gallery. Imagine spurning that lot. No wonder they hate him!

Posted by: ilibcc at October 17, 2003 at 05:30 PM

I had a great time living in Canberra for 18 months. Drank like a fish and tried to shag anything in a skirt that didn't move for longer than 30 seconds. It was a bit of a bummer having to beat the shit out of the local wogs in the nightclubs every so often to keep them out of our faces. Then again, that is standard behaviour for cadets at Duntroon. The little kids in the child minding facility called the Australian Defence Force Academy appeared to try and match our lifestyle, but were a poor imitation. On the rare weekend when there was some spare time and we were sober enough there was heaps to go and look at. Did an exhibition of Grand Masters (da Vinci, Michaelangelo etc etc) at the National Art Gallery in under two hours - marvelous. Didn't think much of the wood poles painted by the kindergarten kids near the entry though (Aboriginal Art they called it) - ashamed to be an Australian when I saw that stuff being show cased compared to what the Europeans had done - Not in my name!

Posted by: Razor at October 17, 2003 at 05:58 PM

Well aren't you a classy one.

Again we see some tinpot redneck racism in Blair's comments - its reassuring in a way.

Posted by: Tom at October 17, 2003 at 08:05 PM

No sarcasm, just a few too many beers (them & me) with the locals.

Posted by: Polly at October 18, 2003 at 02:58 AM

"Sanger", by the way, is Australian slang for "sandwich". A "david sanger" might from this point be known as a "shit sandwich".

So...my name is shit, eh? Wanna step outside and say that?

Posted by: David Perron at October 18, 2003 at 04:11 AM

Canberra is an exceptionally boring place. SO mayny roundabouts. Oh, so very, very, very many roundabouts. Going around roundabouts is all there is to do.

Posted by: Am at October 18, 2003 at 02:46 PM

Ottawa is somewhat older than Canberra but has been described by all my Canadian friends as the epitome of boredom. It has good art galleries and lots and lots of publically financed open air art works, mostly, from what I remember, non-representational. Bear in mind it is one of the largest northenmost cities in North America and under snow for much of the year. It is on the border of Quebec and I gather that was the side where the rioting took place during the recent mass blackout. The Canadian parliament is a 'fine' Victorian-era building, and looks perfectly ghastly, sort of like a cathederal designed to produce athiests.
Bear in mind I am prejudiced. My grandparents fled Canada around 1900, and I have in-laws and relatives still up there.

Posted by: John Costello at October 19, 2003 at 11:33 AM

Ah, lovely Ottawa. A blackfly infested logging town picked by Queen Vickie as capital when she got annoyed at the demands of Toronto and Montreal to be chosen. The posting most famous in diplomatic circles for having to write yearly justifications for why the air conditioning bill is as high as the heating bill. A place so boring that a couple of broken shop windows led to the local media headlines of Rioting and Looting in the Streets of Ottawa!!! during the blackout.
I am definetly going to have to make a trip Down Under if just to visit the place the NYT considers worse than Ottawa.

Posted by: Jack at October 19, 2003 at 12:16 PM

Tom - it appears you are calling me a racist. If that is because of the use of the term Wog, then you are off the mark. They call themselves wogs and have made movies and live shows about being wogs. I wasn't saying they were lower than anybody else, just that they used to get in fights with us. Put one of my mates in hospital while he had his jaw wired when he got isolated one night due to being tempted by a piece of skirt.

And if you are implying that my art criticism is racist then you are wrong too - not liking art because it is crap isn't racist.

Posted by: Razor at October 20, 2003 at 06:43 PM

I thought only Willy Clinton got off on bits of skirt. Most guys manage to keep a lid on it till they get past the wrapping...

anyway, compared to many other capital cities in the world, sure canberra is lacking. but compare it to any other city around the world of under half a million people and it rocks.

Posted by: baker at October 21, 2003 at 03:56 AM

We use the word 'Wog' to make fun of people like you. When you use it it's a way of labelling us, putting us into a box, and a way to insult. When I use the word Wog to describe myself or my friends it's to make fun of the people who use it to describe us.

Razor: "I suppose you'll be eating garlic, greasing your hair and watching soccer on the weekend"

Me: "Yeah because that's what us wogs do"

Luckily to most Australians this 'Us and Wogs' mentality has gone but I'm glad that Tim Blair runs this 'Museum' just so we can show our kids what it was like in the olden days.

Posted by: Simon at October 21, 2003 at 05:08 PM

Simon, I still reject the assertion that calling a group of people by the same name that they use to call themselves is racist.

I watch Fat Pizza on SBS and fall off the sofa laughing as they make jokes that you obviously think would be racist if I made them because I am not of the same ethnic grouping. I have to say that your view is a load of crap.

And as for the us versus wogs mentality, the funny thing was/is that because the population of cadets at Duntroon represents that of Australia, there was/is wog cadets fighting the local wogs. Were they racists too?

Racism is doing something negative based on race. There is no logic to your argument that a racial group can label themselves but no one else can use that label because that would be racist.

Posted by: Razor at October 21, 2003 at 06:29 PM

try bringing your "logic" to harlem or southeast dc razor, and see how well your dialectic dissertation on the inherent contradictions of the cultural impermissability of whites' use of the word "nigger" goes on before you end up bloody in the gutter. context -- as well as content -- is a crucial part of an act of speech or communication. You can complain all you like that that isnt "logical" or you can learn to accept it and work within a social framework.

Posted by: baker at October 22, 2003 at 02:11 AM