Windfarm Commisioner

And here’s some of the Australian government’s dirty laundry this week:

Why should federal government fund public education?

Guards in detention centres on Nauru bartering for and taping sex with asylum seekers 

Did Australians really use tax payer money to pay people smugglers to sail back to Indonesia?

And some general changes to legislation like:

stripping people of citizenship, reducing the renewable energy targets, copyright amendments and piracy infringements, indexing fuel excise, social services.

When in doubt, call something a death cult and an enemy twice a day. It’s even more effective in shutting down debate than accusing someone of being the PC thought police and un-Australian.


Government is threatened with High Court Case that challenges the legality of imprisonment and processing of asylum seekers offshore and the legality of spending tax payers money to do so. Government rushes through amendments to the new Migration Act to retrospectively create new laws so that offshore processing and spending tax payers money cannot be challenged in the High Court.

Man, I wish I could just change the rules every time someone threatens to challenge me on anything. “Actually, no, sir. You may have written that coffee was $4.30 but see how I’ve just crossed out the price on the menu and replaced it with $1? I’m paying you $1. Pfft, never mind your reasoning behind the $4.30 or the consequences of my actions on your current staff.” Or, “Man, I know that you can probably prove that the ocean has water in it but I totally don’t want to think about how small and inadequate and possible incorrect that makes me and can you imagine all the textbooks we’re going to need to reprint and all the angry people who are going to yell at me, again? Actually, this whole thought process has been really inconvenient and expensive.   Nope, I decree that the ocean is made up predominately of luminescent aardvarks and that you can never bring this up again. Oh and the nature of the ocean is a topic of national security and the space in which we become who we are as a nation so, no, really don’t bring it up again.”

Woodshed Brewery

The Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery. Micro brewery, refit of a historical woolshed, historical homestead and Ye olde cottages and paraphenalia, water recycling, cheese, river views, local produce. My inner inner westie /wanker from Williamsburg soul just shed (hah!) happy little tears. Ploughman’s lunch, ale and a bottle of wattleseed balsamic vinegar so I could reproduce Calpernum Station’s toffee.

The only thing that could make it better would be tiny vintage irons. Oh wait, there were tiny vintage irons.





Housing development in Sydney

What’s the right density? Sydney has a chronic housing shortage but also has a chronic infrastructure problem, a slight debt problem and a chronic inability to implement and maintain economically and environmentally viable solutions.

See Sydney Morning Herald report (with a typically misleading title) on a proposed development of the Ashmore estate in Erskineville.


5-7 January

The sun is setting over tourist downtown Cancun. I´m sitting in a well-appointed computer and tv room inside Hotel Mundo Joven on Uxmal Street, about a two minute walk from the ADO bus station. Beside me is Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I finished King Leopold’s Ghost a few days ago in Montreal. Outside the hostel there is a mish mash of apartment buildings and villas. Some are hotels, some are hostels, some are bed and breakfasts, others are commercial buildings and the more gentrified homes of local residents. Matt is reading Donald Westlake´s God Save the Mark on a deckchair of the hostel’s rooftop terrace bar (complete with sauna, hammocks, palm trees and wood paneling). Occasionally the bar staff put on American rock to drown out the sounds of traffic, nesting birds and barking dogs. 

This morning we took advantage of a snorkeling tour advertised by the hostel. A tour bus picked us up at 7am. We stumbled over basic Spanish greetings. Gracias, gracias. We picked up two other couples from resorts in the hotel zone, driving along the edge of Cancun’s notorious lagoon before heading to ‘Snorkeling Adventures’ (written in an Indianna Jones font) somewhere in the Puerto Morelas park. The sand was cool and white, the weather warm, the wind mild, the water green or blue depending on your optical spectrum and propensity to colour-blindness. We swam or rather bobbed in our life jackets (propulsion supplied by flippers), saw colourful fish and slightly less colourful coral. It was fun. After snorkeling we relaxed in ‘Snorkeling Adventures’ beach-front garden. Deck-chairs, drinks, copious amounts of sunscreen, tips in conch shells.

Before I came to Cancun, wikipedia had informed me that Cancun was once a fishing village and had been earmarked for development as tourism. It grew and grew to become the swirly lumpy vomit that ensues from millions of Americans (and Canadians, Australians etc) swilling alcohol and partying on their week vacation. I saw signs advertising wet tshirt competitions and Cancun’s Playboy Club, photos of Latino Hooters girls and taxis advertising ‘The Principles of Pleasure, an Adult Spa.’ I am yet to see the lumpy vomit. I suspect that I am not looking at Cancun closely enough. I also haven’t spoken to any Mexicans.

This evening has been spent trying to get a grasp of Cancun’s history. In brief: Cancun consists of the mainland and a long barrier island that, during the construction of tourist Cancun, was joined to the mainland through the building of causeways. These causeways meant that the Cancun lagoon, an important fish breeding ground, no longer connected to the sea. Large tourist resorts were built on e island forming the Hotel Zone. Cancun’s geology is calcareous and largely porous. Some bad decisions were made with waste water. Bye bye clean drinking water and bye bye healthy lagoon. Land was set aside for agriculture to feed Cancun. Unfortunately the soils in Cancun were too thin to support the level of production required to feed the exploding population. Cancun is fed from imports. Mexicans migrate to Cancun in the hope of capitalizing on the millions of tourists. Social stratification increases. I now have a much better sense of which particular chunk in the Cancun vomit is mine.

Wiese, P.V. 1996. Environmental Impact of Urban and Industrial Development. A case history: Cancun, Qintana Roo, Mexico 
Weise, a retired exploration geologist, outlines the construction of Cancun and the environmental and social impact of that development. The linked paper was presented to a conference on Earth Sciences Processes, Materials Use and Urban Development and is now hosted on the UNESCO website.

Torresa, R.M., Momsen, J.D. 2005. ‘Gringolandia: The Construction of a New Tourist Space in Mexico’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 95: 2, 314 — 335

Cooper, M. 2003. The Real Cancun: Behind Globalization’s Glitz. The Nation. Republished on

Note to self: Would like to spend more time providing more detailed history of Cancun and my place in it that uses more references to discourse and less to vomit analogies.