The politics of cats. From across the ditch comes news of a divisive political issue.

The Press in Christchurch reports that a website called Cats to Go has been established by economist and businessman Gareth Morgan, who has branded the cat a “friendly neighbourhood serial killer”. Morgan wants owners to make their current cat their last to protect New Zealand’s native birds and environment. “That little ball of fluff you own is a natural-born killer,” his website says.

Replacing Senator Who? If you asked me at the start of this week to name the Labor Party Senator from the Northern Territory there would have been head scratching and hard thinking. As for nominating what great things Trish Crossin had achieved in 15 years of upper house service I would not have got past faithfully toeing the party line. Australian public life is not going to be worse for her leaving the red upholstery.

Just a little something to keep in mind when passing judgment on Julia Gillard’s pre-emptive strike to ease the way of Nova Peris into the Labor Party and probably then the Senate.

An appropriate venue for Kevin? I noticed on Salon this morning the headline “The World Economic Forum doesn’t matter — The global elite are on a Swiss mountain to hobnob and make bad predictions.” And then this on Fairfax: “A spokesman for Mr Rudd, who is travelling to the World Economic Forum in Davos, said …”

Not that our Labor backbencher will be lonely and without fellow Australian company. Twittering on the way to this year’s IGWEL* where the theme is “resilient dynamism”:

*For the uninitiated, IGWEL is how an Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders is referred to by Davos insiders like Kevin and Craig.

An alternative to computer games. Have time to while away sitting in front of your computer? Barack Obama’s inauguration has provided some wonderful political time killers.

From the Wall Street Journal there’s an interactive comparison of how often presidents through history used selected words in their inaugural addresses. Compare Thomas Madison’s 1,210 words in 1813 with Barack Obama’s 2,085 of yesterday and note how free/freedom replaces war as the most common.

Or move on to The Washington Postand click away on the heads of presidents past to discover such important information as Dwight Eisenhower at his first inauguration taking the oath using two Bibles: the Bible used by George Washington in 1789 (belonging to St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1), opened to II Chronicles 7:14; and his own personal “West Point Bible,” opened to Psalm 33:12. The second time around President Eisenhower just stuck with the one open at “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance”.

News and views noted along the way.

  • The Force — how much military is enough?
  • The death of Aaron Swartz — Peter Singer and Agata Sagan write how “access to the Internet, and the prosecution of Swartz for the crimes he was alleged to have committed in advancing that cause, are not, however, the only, and perhaps not even the most important, issues raised by Swartz’s death. A third about which he also wrote, though less often, is depression.”
  • The EU is an empire, and empires mean war
  • The accidental activist — “She appeared to be the perfect plaintiff in a case that changed America’s political landscape: Roe v. Wade, decided by the Supreme Court 40 years ago this month. But Norma McCorvey, now 65, was never what she seemed: neither as the pregnant Texas woman who won fame as abortion-rights icon ‘Jane Roe,’ nor as the pro-life activist she would become.”

Peter Fray

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