Charles Gutjahr

Melbourne, Australia

June 2019

Charles Gutjahr

A short opinion

Parliament is back next week

Federal Parliament is back next week. I know a lot of people were surprised that the Coalition was returned to government, and my many left-leaning friends were disappointed. I take a slightly different view: I'm disappointed that we have a majority government at all!

If the choice were between Labor or the Coalition, I'd rather have seen Labor in government. But even better than that would have been a minority government where neither party controls the House of Representatives. Then politics would have to be negotiated on the floor of parliament — in public — instead of decided in the one-sided groupthink of a party room. I think that would do more to improve our government than either side winning total power.

Charles Gutjahr

A short opinion

Cocoa versus cacao

Cacao is cocoa that hasn't been roasted properly.

However unlike cocoa, cacao is recently fashionable due to its alleged health benefits of antioxidants and minerals etc. Though it is true that high temperatures do tend to destroy more nutrients than lower temperatures, cocoa still retains much of what cacao does — just at lower levels.

The big difference is that cocoa actually tastes nice, whereas I find cacao unpleasantly sour.

So, my suggestion: replace cacao with nice cocoa, add an extra spoonful to make up for the missing nutrients, then actually enjoy eating it!

Charles Gutjahr

A short opinion

Australia May Well Be the World’s Most Secretive Democracy

I try to post an opinion here once a week, but missed a couple due to being overseas.

Only two Australian news stories made headlines in Europe while I was there: the appeal hearing for George Pell, and the raids on ABC by the Australian Federal Police. I thought it interesting that the ABC raid featured so heavily, and especially interesting that coverage was so negative on Australia. The New York Times headline "Australia May Well Be the World’s Most Secretive Democracy" illustrates what typical coverage was like.

I agree that we are too secretive in Australia. I have been glad to see opening up in some areas, for example the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate (traditionally a very secretive security agency) recently giving speeches about what ASD does is great. But I think the foreign media's assessment is correct: Australian government is still too secretive, especially when the words 'national security' are invoked.

I don't doubt that AFP and ASD are trying to make our country safer but when they don't explain what they are doing the void gets filled with speculation and bullshit. The result is a lot of worry about our government — worry that may well be unnecessary but we just don't know. Not providing enough information to us has costs, just as providing too much information could be harmful. I hope our government agencies recognise that.

Charles Gutjahr

Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin
Life isn’t all beer and pretzels, but tonight it is.

Charles Gutjahr

Aeroporto Internazionale Roma Fiumicino “leonardo da Vinci”
Trying this would be my third espresso in two hours... but what is it they say about “when in Rome?”