June 18, 2009. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

National parks handover spin: town excluded from ceremony. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

They told a carefully selected gathering that they were making history. In fact they were fabricating it.
With no advance notice and no inclusion of the broader community in the occasion, last Friday Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon and Chief Minister Paul Henderson handed over to Indigenous interests six more of the Centre’s national parks.
Traditional ownership of the land concerned has not been tested before any independent authority as far as we know, and the many concerns about the deal expressed in Alice Springs were dismissed as a nothing but “CLP beat-up”.
Mr Snowdon asserted that no land would be locked up, ignoring (or else hoping that everyone had forgotten) the precedents at Rainbow Valley and Devil’s Marbles where access to the majority of the land has been restricted.
The three leaders claimed that the “historic” parks deal was a “win win” situation.
In 2001 Mr Henderson’s predecessor, Clare Martin, conjured up a scenario that Indigenous claimants would plunge the Territory into protracted litigation and vast expense if all parks were not given to them under land rights.
But the version presented by Ms Macklin in Alice Springs last week, to the approving nods of Mr Snowdon and Mr Henderson, was different altogether: “I do want to offer my very sincere thanks to the traditional owners for their very great generosity in agreeing to lease back their land so that others can visit and share in its great beauty and its cultural significance.”
She praised a “very considered approach to the process in which the land claims have been managed, avoiding a hearing and all the time and money that would have gone through that ... paving the way for the handover of other parks in the Western MacDonnells and other parks of the Northern Territory.”
In reality the ceremony, of which notice was given to the media less than five hours before it took place and only by Ms Macklin’s office (nothing from Territory politicians), was a manifestation of a town divided.
While Ms Macklin spoke glowingly about the nation having “the honor of sharing with Aboriginal Australians [their] ancient and ongoing culture,” the non-Indigenous part of the local community – apart from those employed by the Aboriginal support industry – were excluded from the event.
The Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Central Australia did not receive invitations to the function at the Telegraph Station, the parks’ key role in the region’s main industry notwithstanding.
On Friday Ms Macklin asked Mayor Damien Ryan whether he was coming to the ceremony, clearly expecting he would.
But in the absence of an invitation, and even prior knowledge of the event, Mr Ryan told the Minister he had accepted another commitment and would be keeping it.
None of this stopped Mr Snowdon from asserting in his speech that this was a “process of giving ... the people who own the country saying we want to share with you, the rest of Australia, all Australians and overseas visitors”.
Former Chief Minister Clare Martin personally oversaw an eight year process, entirely behind closed doors, of passing the region’s prime public assets into the possession of a minority.
Last week Mr Henderson continued Ms Martin’s surreptitious conduct by refusing to answer all but a handful of questions.
The Alice News handed these to his minder in writing – we got no replies and were told none would be forthcoming:-
Why, in all these years, was there no public involvement in the parks handover process other than a pamphlet delivered to households, which most people couldn’t remember, announcing that a decision had already been made?
Who were the traditional owners who demanded exclusive ownership of the parks, rather than continuing to be joint owners, together with the rest of the community?
What input will the general public have in the management of the parks?
What access restrictions will be introduced?
The Alice News asked about that at a brief doorstop prior to the handover ceremony. Reporter Kieran Finnane said there was concern in the community about land being locked up.
Mr Snowdon answered angrily: “No land is being locked up. Let’s be very clear about that.
“You know it. I know it. No land is being locked up.”
Mr Henderson joined in: “Can I just say in regards to that, it really was a political campaign run by the CLP.
“They talked about land being taken from the people. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Mr Snowdon and Mr Henderson are both wrong: free access is already being denied to 90% of the park at Rainbow Valley and 75% of the park at Devil’s Marbles.
Ms Finnane put to Mr Snowdon that there had been local opposition to the parks handover in Alice Springs.
Raising his voice, he said it had come “from some quarters”.
He got that right: three quarters, according to an online survey in 2008 by the Alice News, in which 75.6% of respondents answered “I agree” to the proposition “leave all national parks in public ownership but set up an Aboriginal park management advisory body”.
Only 16.1% said “I don’t agree” and 8.3% “I am indifferent”. 345 people participated.
Mr Henderson, administering a slap in the face not only to the CLP, but also to the strong majority of locals voting for that party to represent them, claimed the party had run “a scurrilous scare campaign”.
All three of the town’s current Members of the Territory Parliament are CLP (now renamed Country Liberals).
One of them, Adam Giles, is the shadow minister for Indigenous affairs.
He wasn’t invited to last Friday’s function either.
At the height of the parks debate there were two CLP Members in the town plus a conservative independent, Loraine Braham, all resolutely opposed to the parks handover.
Labor’s usual dismal showing in Alice Springs was further decimated in the Territory elections last August, no doubt partly as a result of the government’s parks policy, which has hit The Centre much harder than the Top End.
In the last town council elections, five of the six mayoral candidates wanted the parks to remain in public hands.
Jane Clark, the only candidate campaigning on a political party platform (the Greens), was the odd one out.
The CLP’s failure was that Senator Nigel Scullion could not convince his side of Federal politics – when it was still in power – to put an end to Ms Martin’s and Mr Henderson’s scheme.
The Labor leaders steadfastly refused to comply with a growing public movement demanding to be told what was going on with the publicly owned national parks.
A legal opinion the government said it had was never released.
It was claimed that the advice asserted that a High Court decision in WA cast doubt on the declaration of the Keep River national park in the Top End: the declaration may not have been valid given that certain native title rights may have existed over the land.
But the national parks of the Territory were cobbled together from land with many various previous titles, at least some of which would have extinguished native title.
So it was never clear why Ms Martin had rolled over, and conceded without contest inalienable freehold title to all the Territory parks (some in the Top End were later excluded from the scheme).
Mr Snowdon last Friday may have cast some light on what motivated Ms Martin.
He told the festive gathering that in the first blush of Labor’s electoral success in the Territory, after 26 years, he had taken Ms Martin aside to discuss the erstwhile “very confrontational approach to settling issues to do with land and native title”.
Mr Snowdon recalled: “One of the first things she did on my request was to hold a meeting on the 5th floor of Parliament House in the Northern Territory the purpose of which was to talk about what the way ahead would be in working with Aboriginal Territorians.
“I facilitated that meeting.
“And the outcome of that was to say to the Indigenous people who were there, we are no longer interested in litigation and taking you to court, we are no longer interested in fighting you about issues that we know are inevitably going to be resolved in your favor.”
The jury on the wisdom of the national parks handover is clearly still out.
It was land rights on the run.
The normal process for obtaining “inalienable freehold” was for the land councils to put submissions to an independent land commissioner, who considered evidence about traditional attachment, and then either recommended the granting of the claim or did not.
In this case Ms Martin, arbitrarily, and with the advice from Mr Snowdon, who has a long association with the Central Land Council, decided behind closed doors that the best land owned by the public should be gifted to a minority, with zero public input from the people to be expropriated.
There is no doubt this will bite Labor on the bum, not just electorally in The Centre, but perhaps in other ways as well.
As Ms Macklin handed out the title deeds to Chamber’s Pillar, Arltunga, Corroboree Rock, Ewaninga Rock Carvings, N’Dhala Gorge and Trephina Gorge, all to the east and south of Alice Springs, a guest at the ceremony called out that title was going to the wrong people.
The Alice News put to Territory Indigenous Affairs Minister Alison Anderson that traditional ownership had not been independently tested.
She said there “may be some issues”: she had heard “a lady in the crowd” calling out words to the effect, “You mob are giving title to the wrong people”.
Ms Anderson hoped that the handover would be seen in the light of “friendship” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people but she conceded that there was local “concern” and there may not have been enough consultation “to bring the population of Alice Springs forward on this”.

Scrymgour ‘was in the loop’. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Alison Anderson says her predecessor Marion Scrymgour was “part of the process” in developing the Working Future policy that will shape remote Indigenous communities and homelands over the coming decades.
Ms Scrymgour, who has left the government over the issue,  confirms that but contests other claims about her prior knowledge of the final policy, or her opportunity to obtain it. Ms Scrymgour is now sitting on the cross-benches, depriving the Labor government of its majority of one.
Ms Anderson says Ms Scrymgour, contrary to her claims in the media, was kept fully informed about the policy after Ms Anderson took over the portfolio, and that she, like all government members with bush electorates, was invited to a full briefing on the policy two weeks before it was launched on May 20.
Ms Scrymgour did not attend the briefing. Those who did were provided with copies of all policy documents.
Ms Anderson says there were “no changes whatsoever” between the policy as described at the briefing and as it was launched, and the “steps we are taking now” are “exactly” the steps that were described at the briefing.
Ms Scrymgour says that up until the date of the launch she was interstate undergoing treatment and then surgery, “which the Minister was well aware of”. 
“The last discussion I had with the Chief Minister in relation to the Territory Growth Towns and Homelands occurred eight weeks prior to the policy launch. 
“As I stated to the Chief Minister, receiving a text at 8pm the night before the launch of a policy – which by the way impacts on 40 homelands/outstations in my electorate –  is not good enough, particularly [in] the lack of regard for Aboriginal residents on homelands.”
She says the policy “broadly reflects” the arrangements in the paper, Towards a New Outstations Policy, that she released on October 13, 2008, but says economic modelling that was supposed to have been done has either been “deferred or abandoned”.
“The purpose of the economic modelling was to support the case for substantially increased funding from the Commonwealth to ensure that outstation communities are not left to wither on the vine,” says Ms Scrymgour.
She describes the current allocation, which will not be increased, as “woefully inadequate”.
Ms Anderson says the controversy over the policy’s approach to homelands or outstations is misdirected.
“This policy is not about driving people out of their homelands,” she says.
“Their lives will be improved by the hub and spoke model of service delivery.”
The majority will have “better services and “better access” to those services.
The services will be located in the 20 growth towns to which, for the majority of the Territory’s remote Indigenous population, there will be scheduled transport services from outstations and smaller communities.
And although the bucket of money dedicated to homelands will not get any bigger, by excluding from funding those homelands that are not inhabited for at least eight months of the year, there will be more to go around on the ground.
The Alice News asked for figures on how many homelands will be excluded but these were not received by the time of going to press.
As well, says Ms Anderson, allocations of funding will be transparent, made on the basis of the homeland’s distance from a service centre, its population and its infrastructure, and they will be made over a longer timeframe, so that residents can plan for the future.
Ms Anderson says that in the past there’s been no transparency in homelands funding: “Outstation resource centres haven’t told people how much money they’ve been getting.”
She is about to embark on a two month tour of all communities and homelands, explaining the policy to people.
“That doesn’t mean that the government will change policy direction.
“People have been over-consulted. We know what the problems are, but yes, we’ll talk people through the process.”
She says that no protests have been heard directly from communities or homelands south of Katherine.
The main centre of protest has been from the two resource centres, Laynhapuy and Bawinanga: “It’’s about their survival,” says Ms Anderson.
Ms Scrymgour includes these two in a list of organisations “with longstanding track records as significant drivers of development and employment in parts of some remote regions”.
“Although these organisations rely on government subsidy – as does the Australian car manufacturing industry – some of them, in particular Bawinanga, run substantial and successful businesses.
“Profits from the commercial operations can be applied to general running costs, including the payment of full or top-up wages, and providing social services, in particular to outstations,” says Ms Scrymgour.

Face lift for council dunnies.

The Town Council has received a grant from Local Government Minister Rob Knight of $150,000 for the upgrade of three free access public toilet blocks in central Alice Springs.
They include the blocks on the river bank at the end of Parson Street and the block near the RFDS.
This may help address some of the public concern expressed in recent months over public urination and defecation.
• Site preparation has commenced (photo above) on the Civic Centre corner at the junction of Todd Street and Gregory Terrace in readiness for the installation of council’s major public art project, the Gathering Garden.
Artwork – cast bronze seating in the form of upturned coolamons bearing designs by some of the Centre’s leading Aboriginal artists – is due to arrive in town on July 21.
• The number of people being encountered in river runs by Town Council rangers dropped in the month of May.  In April 431 men, 337 women and 15 children had been encountered on the runs and the figures had been steadily increasing since the summer. In May the figures were 215 men, 205 women and only four children.
The drop is down to cold weather and is seen every year at this time, says council’s director of Corporate and Community Services, Craig Catchlove. Liquor and litter were found at all sites.
• Council’s dog control program in the town camps will continue to the end of the calendar year, with additional funds supplied by the Commonwealth. To date over 350 dogs have been removed from the camps, and over 100 have been micro-chipped, de-sexed and registered.
• Council is examining the options for a communal Christmas Tree, with aldermen supporting a locally sourced tree, whether natural or artificial.
The costs, varying from $3000 to $44,000 (a rough estimate), had Alderman Samih Habib suggesting a trip to Mad Harry’s in preference.
Ald Murray Stewart wanted to be assured that the tree would look like a traditional tree. He opposed going to the community on the issue: “We might end up with a very left-leaning tree”, he warned.
• A sign on the footpath pointing to the town centre will be installed at the end of the Discovery Walkway, leading from the railway station. Apparently some tourists turn west on Larapinta Drive and end up in the wilds of Gillen.

Wearing a veil does not stop her loving the beach & rugby league. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Wearing the hijab or veil saves her from ever having “a bad hair day,” says Hanan Dover.
She is an Australian Muslim woman with four university degrees in psychology and who runs a three-clinic private practice in forensic psychology in south-western Sydney.
Ms Dover favours a simple white veil: “That’s just because I like being a plain Jane,” she says.
Veils can be as colorful as a woman likes and worn in different ways.
Misconceptions about the hijab and other aspects of Muslim women’s lives were the subject of Ms Dover’s talk at the Alice Springs Mosque last Sunday, as part of the mosque’s program for Islamic Awareness Week.
The talk wasn’t all one-liners, on the contrary, much of it was quite serious but delivered in Ms Dover’s relaxed, straightforward style.
The hijab is wrongly seen as a symbol of oppression, she says.
It is an Islamic obligation to wear it, but as a sign of devotion to God and nothing else.
In a free democratic country like Australia it is up to women themselves whether or not they respond to this religious obligation.
Ms Dover says some families in Australia, and certainly some Muslim societies, may compel women to wear the hijab but this is a manifestation of patriarchal culture rather than true Islam.
This does not make the hijab itself a “symbol of oppression”.
“There is a divine reason for wearing it,” says Ms Dover, reminding her listeners that “the veil is not an Islamic invention, it has been carried through from previous Abrahamic faiths.”
Mary, mother of Jesus, was veiled; Jewish and Christian women for a long time were veiled; many nuns continue to wear veils without anyone questioning their reasons for doing so.
There is no compulsion in Islam, says Ms Dover.
When the Taliban, for example, force women to cover themselves, that’s “political, not Islamic”.
She also says much of the critique of Islam as oppressive is based on practices in Arabic countries, yet they account for only 17% of the world’s Muslim population.
Most Muslims live in the sub-continent, with Indonesia having the largest Muslim population.
Wearing the hijab has become an increasingly popular choice for Muslim women in Western societies since September 11, says Ms Dover – as a sign of faith and identity.
Muslim men must also follow a dress code, she says. They must cover their body between the navel and the knee and wear loose-fitting clothing.
For women, the code is that everything is covered, also in loose-fitting clothing, except for the face and hands.
Where women adopt the full chador they must nonetheless uncover their face when they pray and if they have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, there they must also uncover their face.
A lot of Muslim women see the hijab as a form of protection, says Ms Dover. It lessens the opportunity for molestation, though she hastens to add that under no circumstance has anyone the right to abuse a woman, “even if she were walking naked in the street”.
She has never felt objectified; wearing the hijab allows her to be taken for her personality and achievements, rather than her appearance.
She grew up in “the Paul Keating era”. His promotion of multi-culturalism as a positive thing for Australian society meant that she always “felt Australian”.
She loved going to the beach – she may have been wearing a little more clothing than everyone else, but it didn’t take away from her enjoyment.
She was also, together with her father, a keen Rugby League fan and still is.
She says under John Howard it became much less comfortable to be a Muslim in Australia, but this is once again changing.
There are accommodations for Islamic beliefs at an official level. For example, the Victorian police have designed a uniform incorporating a veil for Muslim female members.
This is very good, says Ms Dover, commenting that Muslim countries by contrast are not often accommodating of other religious beliefs.
Ms Dover says the only leadership position not available to a woman of Islamic faith is to be able to lead a congregation in prayer. A Muslim woman can become head of state and some have done so. They may have been allied to politically powerful families, but even so it’s a breakthrough that has yet to happen in either Australia or the United States.
An Australian Muslim woman is entirely free to become educated and work in the field of her choosing.
She herself is a good example of both.
Apart from her high level qualifications, she is also president of the Muslim charity, Mission of Hope – elected as the best person for the job by men as well as women.
Once again she makes the point that restrictions on Muslim women in some countries are “cultural, or political, not religious”.
Muslim women retain their own family names when they marry; they are encouraged to have pre-nuptial agreements; they may divorce.
She herself has married twice.
There is no place for domestic violence in Islam, says Ms Dover.

Looks like new.

Sustainable Couture – do you give a frock?
That’s the title for a show of designer fashion made from embellished, recycled fabrics, to be launched next  Thursday, 6.30pm in Central Craft’s June Marriot Gallery at  Araluen.
The opening night fashion parade will be compered by Pip McManus and Russell Goldflam – expect an entertaining dialogue with the designers as their creations are presented three at a time.
Sustainable Couture is a distinctive fashion event  created by nine Alice Springs women who have fused their skills as artists, designers and skilled garment constructors, with a unique approach to recycling.
Their one-off designs made from recycled items as diverse as bras, wedding dresses, jeans, blankets and tyre inner-tubes, make a strong fashion statement at the same time as they allow their wearers to bank those necessary – and very trendy – carbon credits. 
The Olive Pink Botanic Garden will benefit from this aspect of the show.
To July 10.
Meanwhile the annual sell out extravaganza of ruffles, feathers and fabric, the Alice Desert Festival Wearable Arts Awards, have revamped categories to offer new challenges to young and old Alice Springs creators.
The adult awards will includes categories such as “New World Sustainability”.
The guidelines read: “Don’t just sit there and watch the artificial grass grow and the tip face cover your horizon. “Get up and strap on your solar powered roller blades, your wind powered helicopter helmet and your rubber glove twin set and put that man junk to good use and SAVE THE PLANET.”
Another category is “Desert Improvisation”.
“Your beaut Ute has broken down on a dusty highway to nowhere,” say the guidleines.
“The sand is swelling, your thirst teases your throat and when thousands of icy cold water bottles appear on the horizon you know you’re in trouble.
“Now’s the time to call on your inner bush mechanic or reacquaint yourself with ‘Mad Max’. Who will save the day?”

We need better than almost brilliant. By POP VULTURE with CAMERON BUCKLEY.

As the sun reaches its zenith on Saturday two flannelette-shirted drive-through bottle shop enthusiasts are discussing the alternating current of things pop cultural.
Red Flannelette: Is it two o’clock yet?
Blue Flannelette: NO!
Red Flannelette: It seems that with each passing week, more people are petitioning for spaces in order to practise, sell or showcase their craft.
Blue Flannelette: Examples?
Red Flannelette: Renegade silver screens are taking root, and a whisper on the wind echoes that there are more to come.
Blue Flannelette: Outstanding! I’m sick of mainstream cinema only showing films that are almost brilliant. With the exception of the new Tarrantino contribution Inglorious Basterds (due shortly), there is nothing but celluloid regurgitation,  dispelled mouthwash of films, with taglines like plastic fishing lures – “from the guys that bought you Superbad”. 
Red Flannelette: That’s pretty philosophical for a pre-two o’clock spiel ... is it two o’clock yet?
Blue Flannelette: NO!
Red Flannelette: Also, a new venue is in place in the industrial area, in its early germination albeit, but a seed has been sown.
Venues die and new ones rise from their ashes.
I think we may be entering an era of guerrilla night spots, makeshift showrooms for the dance floor repressed, a cultural fire burns now! More people want to throw their timber on it; contribution is boiling to the point of egotism. Call it the age of hubris. You see, a cultural collective is like a ravenous animal; it’s good to keep it ravenous, with demand higher than supply.
Blue Flannelette: You’re full of it, or full of yourself.
Red Flannelette: Yeah, maybe ... is it two o’clock yet?
Blue Flannelette: NO!
Red Flannelette: Araluen Art Centre is relaying a series of events that presents entertainment for pretty much every demographic.
The Kransky Sisters performed last Friday – I missed them because they were on post two o’clock.
Instead I ended up at a wake for someone who wasn’t even dead. Unique parties are like riddles strewn throughout the town. If you ask around you’ll find half a dozen every weekend … two yet?
Blue Flannelette: NOT YET.
Red Flannelette: Another thing! While we’re on subject pop cultural, there is a call to arms for any musicians who wish to become part of a compilation album.
“Popurtunity” beckons, like a post 6pm bottle of monkey blood. 
(Sadly our flannelette-donning cousins will miss out on the Jimmy Barnes performance, something about ticket sales only reaching about 25% of what was predicted.
When will promoters learn that Territorians wait until the dying hours to purchase show stubs?!)
Red Flannelette: When is it going to be two?
Blue Flannelette: Soon. That’s if you’re using it as a metaphor for a new cultural movement.

LETTERS: Ugly powerlines.

Sir,– The Rural Areas Association understands that Power and Water have submitted to the government costings of the overhead / underground options of the dual HV power lines from Mt Blatherskite to Heavitree Gap. It is now in the hands of the government to decide how much money they are prepared to spend on Central Australia.
If you are concerned that we might end up with overhead power lines gracing the entrance to Alice Springs, please play your part and express your concerns to the NT Government Cabinet, particularly Minister Rob Knight and Chief Minister Paul Henderson.
If you would like to see what these overhead power lines might look like, just spend a couple of minutes to drive a 100 metres or so along Karnte Rd (along the north side of the old Drive In) and look northwards. Late morning the view is pretty dramatic.
Please don’t leave it to “someone else”!
Rod Cramer
Chair, ASRAA Inc.

Keep digging

Sir,– Thank you for “keeping on” with your pursuit of probably the most important matter in Alice Springs – the inept, corrupt, cruel mismanagement of Aboriginal affairs, by governments, agencies, and the like. Thank you for pointing this out to all of us.
It’s possible to make a difference. I would like to commend the Alice Springs Town Council for its continuous efforts. Other non-government agencies, such as the Salvos, St Vinnies, the Red Cross, soldier on, quietly working small miracles.
The corrupt, uncaring, ignorant “leaders” in our community should have one of your articles about the “little people” read out to them before they can start on their bowl of breakfast cereal each morning.
I wonder if any of the Aboriginal people living on the “wrong side” of the Charles River will ever be invited to sit on some of the flash chairs in the new $16m building?
Julie Heller
Alice Springs

Carbon scheme

Sir,– NT cattlemen are calling for Senators to hold their horses when it comes time to vote on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill.
OECD countries can’t believe Australia and New Zealand are considering including agriculture in their emissions trading schemes because of the pressure it would put on food production.
Should Australia and New Zealand proceed down this track, they will be the only countries in the world to include agriculture in a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.  The rules as they stand only allow half the story to be told.
It is critical no decision is made to pass the Bill until we have assurances their international competitiveness will not be placed in jeopardy.
One of the most worrying aspects of the push to include agriculture in an emissions trading scheme was the unbalanced view that the industry is an environmental vandal due to emissions from livestock.
This conveniently ignores the natural carbon cycle existing in healthy systems, which sees capture of carbon in the soils, plants and water.
It is an absurd situation where natural emissions from animals that are essential to food security are counted, yet the carbon that is locked up in these systems is ignored.
Kyoto rules take no account of carbon capture methods other than the planting of trees, which is not a practical option for our rangelands, which are already covered by natural vegetation.
As it is becoming more and more evident the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, as it stands, is inappropriate for agriculture and our industry looks forward to working with government to look at how agriculture can play a positive role in removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Rohan Sullivan
NT Cattlemen’s Assn

ADAM'S APPLE: Alice A woman of substance.

If you were to ask any of the three billion Christians, Muslims or Jews in the world, they’d tell you that Adam is the oldest name on the planet. 
After making man with his own hands, God called his most precious creation Adam.
Cut to today and that God-crafted man’s namesake sits at his dining table dressed in trakkie dacks and a faded t-shirt. Not yet showered, sporting a lovely head of bed hair and with the remnants of breakfast smeared down the front of the aforementioned faded t-shirt, this Adam wonders if he occasionally gives a poor representation of what the Almighty had in mind when he made the first Adam.  
So Adam was walking around the Garden of Eden, thinking to himself that this living gig isn’t so bad. The only problem was that he’d really like to tell someone about it.
So God puts him to sleep, removes a rib and makes Eve.
Cut to today and the modern Adam, sitting at his dining table, often wonders if it wasn’t he who was consulted in the making of the first woman.
I often wonder if God, while holding that rib in his hand didn’t think, “OK, there’s this guy in 2009 who will love what I’m about to do.”
Women are the most wonderful of all of the Almighty’s work.  In my opinion women are above stars, planets and gravity on the Top 5 list of cool stuff God made. Better even than opposable thumbs and think about how helpful they are.
In painting and poetry, in songs and sonnets, since Eve took her first breath, women have been taking ours away.
I am a man of many words. I have read many of the poems, seen many of the paintings and sung many of the songs but I have yet to find the word sufficient to describe the beauty, wonder and joy of the female body.
The small of the back, the décolletage and the curve of the breast. The subtle smell of freshly washed skin and the pheromone rich aroma that secretly signals attraction. Nothing written down has ever adequately described the sensation we feel.
It was one of God’s greatest feats to fashion a creation so wonderful that despite the inordinate odds against two people loving each other through to even the end of the day, we seem to be able to do so much longer. I really don’t understand why women put up with us but I am absolutely certain that I know why I love women.
And yet in a world of celebrity, a world where perfection is not measured by happiness or social contribution but rather the quantity of collagen strategically injected into various parts of the body, in a world of wonderbras, tummy tucks and celebrity overhauls, women as a whole seem to have lost the understanding that they are in fact glorious. 
This week the University of New South Wales released a study. That study showed that men don’t prefer the slender waif-like proportions of Paris Hilton, or the plastic Barbie doll form of a Pamela Anderson but, perhaps surprisingly, it turns out that men prefer the features of the average Australian woman.
Size 12 to 16. As it happens we like curves and bottoms and soft bellies. I wonder how many women that study surprised.  
I also wonder if Alice isn’t a woman like that. I wonder how often Alice thinks she needs some work done. I wonder if she, like so many people, focuses on her imperfections without realising that there are a swathe of people attracted to her.  Not because of what she could be if she spent a fortune on cosmetic surgery but because of the beauty she already possesses.

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